Keeping Your Side of the Street Clean

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Lately many of my friends and clients have been struggling with having hard conversations. These are never fun but they’re essential in relationships. And my advice is always the same: Keep your side of the street clean.

What this means, essentially, is to be accountable for your actions and show up in a way you can be proud of. They say this a lot in program, where people for most of their lives haven’t lived by this at all. It is an important way of thinking when having tough conversations, and it is something I address a lot here.

When you are faced with a problem, be it ending a relationship, talking to a roommate about an issue you have with the house-keeping, whatever, it is important that you show up calm, honest, and open. When you begin a conversation with a deep breath, it will help the room to slow down and you can focus on the content of your argument.

My problem is that I tend to fly off the handle very quickly. I’m an extremely impassioned person, and when I feel strongly about something it tends to come off as anger. What I’ve had to work on is a softer approach, because as they say, you catch more flies with honey.

And coming at someone with an enraged argument is about as successful as managing a business with dictatorship. It doesn’t work. Across the board, people want to feel heard and cared for, and regardless of the context, if you jump at someone in a accusatory way, you will not get the desired reaction. In fact, you’ll create a picture where you are painted as the bad guy, and your whole end of the conversation will be for not.

So keeping your side of the street clean is imperative for your role in both sides. And why wouldn’t you want to walk away from a conversation being proud of how you showed up?

You can never know exactly how someone will respond. They may surprise you. But nine times out of ten, if you approach a human the same way you would like to be approached, you can turn that hard conversation into an opportunity for compassion and growth. So use Justice, let fairness and truth be your guide, and stay witchy  ( *)

Teaching Others How To Treat You (Personal Responsibility)

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All too often we find ourselves being treated the same way by different people and we’re left scratching our heads as to why this keeps happening to us. Well, as the Justice card implies cause and effect and accountability, it shows us that we need to take responsibility for how we TEACH others to treat us.

Well what the hell does that mean? This is the question I asked myself in the beginning of my recovery. Because I had no idea what that looked like and that I just found out it existed, I time and time again found myself in unhealthy relationships. Which brings me to the cyclical nature of boundaries and values. If you can not name your core values, you can not have clear boundaries. If you do not have clear boundaries, people will go too far with you because you haven’t created a mental sanctuary of protection. And when you get hurt because of that, you lose further site of your values. This is why boundaries are so important.

I talk about this subject at length because not so long ago I had no boundaries and my life was pretty fucked up. But when I got the help and did the work, my boundaries started coming out of the ground, and my relationships of all kinds were strengthened. If you are like I was and have no idea what this looks like, let me offer up some clear cut instructions:

Step one: find a list of core values online. Write down the ones that stick out to you on a piece of paper and keep whittling that list down until you get to about 10 core values. This seems like an extremely daunting task because all of these values are super great, but this is a personalized list to find out what means the most to YOU. You’re looking for priorities, not abundance.

Step two: cut that damn list in half. Again, we’re looking for values with utmost priority in your life. This is tough, but use your intuition. Your gut will lead you to what is important.

Step three: look at the complete opposite of your value (aka your threat.) See what will come in opposition of your value and make a pact with yourself to not allow it in your life. This takes practice but this is how you create a solid and valuable life. You don’t deserve to tolerate someone or something that completely bowls over your values.

Step four: realize that you just created a boundary. Yup folks, that’s right. The ability to protect your value is the creation of a boundary. So congratulations!

Let me give you an example of what that looks like.

My top five values are authenticity, balance, courage, friendships, and self respect. From the balance area, I’ve created a boundary in which I will not over exert myself by working over 40 hours a week. I need my me time and so I have created a situation in which I am respected by my employer. If I feel like I can’t be myself around someone (authenticity,) I choose to not be around that person when I have the choice. And most importantly, if someone does not respect me, I stand up for myself because I do not deserve ill treatment. This includes shutting down my inner critic. All of these acts take courage, and a strong tribe to support you.

Through all of these examples I’ve tried to paint the picture of exactly what the boundaries/ values relationship looks like because I sure as hell had no clue when I first started my recovery. I am a visual learner, and having been stuck in a black hole of depression and martyrdom, I couldn’t see outside of myself far enough to know what a healthy relationship looked like. So don’t wait around for change. Grab a pen and get proactive. There are plenty of lists online so you don’t have to think up a value out of thin air. Get some values, create some boundaries, and stay witchy ( *)