I have been practicing the art of communication. I have been saying my feelings loud and clear. I’ve been trying to express my needs, and I’ve been meaning what I say. I have suffered a lot emotionally over the years, always feeling like I am giving without having my needs met. My cup of love was never filled by those around me the way my heart craved. I was always hungry for something I wasn’t receiving, and over time it crushed my soul. Day after day, I’d have my mini victim party where I would feel sorry for myself because I felt that the people I loved the most neglected me. I thought, “How could they neglect me like that?” How could they make such mistakes? And above all, how could they be so comfortable in hurting me like that? It turns out that I needed a shift in perspective.
Humans are incredible storytellers; all you need to do is sit by yourself and string a few pieces of information together and come up with a conclusion that you end up believing as fact and you’ll have a complete narrative. Oftentimes, these conclusions are nothing but poison to our minds. We just want to confirm our worst beliefs about ourselves. They can sound like “no one loves me,” “I am not going to ever be treated right,” “no one cares about my feelings,” and “I am not worth it.” This takes us down a deep hole that ends up swallowing our peace of mind entirely.
It wasn’t until I met one of the closest people to my heart today who was an incredible communicator that I learned where I went wrong. My friend was asking for what she needed exactly in the most compassionate way actively every single day. She voiced her fears, her sorrows, her happiness, and her wants. She had difficult conversations and easy ones. She spoke and made things clear and made it easy for anyone to give her what she truly needed. I realized I had a lot to change.
Some of us really struggle with communication because we grew up in households that were too fluent in silence and in keeping our needs tucked away. Perhaps we tried to communicate before, and our self-expression wasn’t met well and that traumatized our hearts. Perhaps your needs were met with anger, disrespect, and dismissive behaviors, and I get it, this only makes us want to crawl back into our shells. Yet even though communication can be hard and can require you to be really vulnerable, it’s the bridge to getting what you want in this life. It can be your greatest strength. Your attempt to communicate might not always be met with grace, but it is surely an attempt to teach people to give you what you need to thrive in the relationship and vice versa. You might never get that raise if you never ask for it. You might never diffuse the tension between you and a friend if you don’t discuss it together. I used to be terrified to confront someone I cared about if they did something that hurt me. I used to say, “What if they dismiss it? What if they escalate things and what if it blows out of proportion?” And the truth is, it might be because anything is possible, but here are a few things I learned through the process.
What you think is obvious is not always obvious to someone else. We were all raised differently and we have different perspectives. You will have differing views and you’ll need to communicate to bridge the gap. For example, your friend didn’t return your call within two days, and you think it’s unacceptable but they think otherwise or aren’t even aware that this is something that would bother you. Instead of giving them no feedback, you should voice that you’d appreciate it if they were more responsive. The people who really love you, your people, will always try to accommodate you—within reason, of course—because they care. And the fastest way to test that out is to communicate. It’s the fastest way to find out if your friends, your partner, your employee, or your siblings care about what you have to say and are willing to fix issues as you go along. In doing so, both parties can learn more about each other and truly make each other happier. No one should ever expect to have their minds read. It’s an unrealistic expectation and it sets you up for disappointment. Sometimes people think that if you ask for what you need, it wouldn’t be special anymore. But isn’t it special to ask for something and have someone consciously put the effort to give it to you?
The moment I learned to communicate better, and especially when it came to the difficult things to voice, my life started changing because I simply became more readable. I learned the truth more often and worked around it. I am done with the pity party. If someone is going to let you down, it’s better to know it. If you’re postponing that difficult conversation, have it now, because if it is that threatening, it’s better to face it early on. Active communication creates this safety to become more vocal and not allow any baggage to accumulate. You apologize when you mess up and you hold others accountable for their actions. It makes you lighter. You become honest through it all and others start following you too because they see how much it improves their lives. Not everyone you meet will be a good communicator—not everyone will be willing to—but the best thing in life is reciprocity so make sure you try to find people who are willing to try to express themselves to you while you hold a safe space for them. Communication is the breaker and the mender, but it’s your guide to clarity and improvement every time. Give yourself the chance to communicate. You deserve to be heard and accommodated the way you’ve always dreamed of.
And on that note, I’d like to end by highlighting a quote by the poet Khalil Gibran that I absolutely love: “Between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said, most of love is lost.”