When I write and put my writing into the world, I fear that some will think that I think I’m some sort of authority on life or that I’m a know-it-all about what people should or shouldn’t do. In reality, I write because I often need to hear what I’m writing. I’m learning/changing/growing, and the writing helps me to process, focus, and remember what I’ve learned.
Just yesterday, for example, I had a hard conversation. The courage to have that hard conversation came out of my last post. In working through my Happiness Project, I listed my Twelve Commandments. Commandment Number 3 was “have the hard conversations.” I included that in my list of commandments because I am utterly incapable of having the hard conversations, particularly where I have to ask for something I want or admit that I was wrong. Yesterday, I had a conversation in which I had to do both of those things.
I’ve known for months that I needed to have that conversation. But I didn’t want to. I feared being told “no.” I always fear the “no.” To me, the “no” is rejection. Rejection is devastation. Devastation means I enter into an extended seclusion of reading, writing, working, training and nothing else until I can muster up the courage to face people again. It’s just no fun at all, so I often avoid the hard conversation.
Yesterday, I initiated a conversation that was hard for me. I didn’t get a “no.” But I didn’t get a “yes.” And even though I felt disappointment, I didn’t experience rejection, and I felt no devastation. Instead, I felt relief and gratitude for the dialogue.
So what was the difference? Why was this conversation unlike countless past conversations that caused me to dread the ask and suffer many sleepless nights? Have I matured in handling the “no”? Am I stronger somehow today than the last time I encountered this kind of situation? Not at all. What I learned yesterday is that the difference wasn’t me. The difference was the other person in the conversation.
The conversation didn’t hurt because I was dealing with a good and gentle person. I didn’t get exactly the answer I wanted, but there was such a kindness in the dialogue that I didn’t walk away feeling gutted.
Maybe, rather than avoid hard conversations, I need to focus on surrounding myself with good people. Because a hard conversation with a really good person isn’t all that hard.