This morning, my girlfriend and I were scheduled to go for a sunrise hike. Yesterday, she cancelled on me.
I felt ‘irritated’ – the nice way of saying angry.
Now my anger was not ‘rational’.
She’s extremely busy at work, her grandmother is very sick and she’s starting her own company. The fact that she wants to cancel her plans for the weekend makes total sense.
And, I didn’t feel like her canceling was a reflection of how she felt about me. But, I was still pissed.
In the past, I would not have let her know this. I would have sent her a text along the lines of “Ok, that’s fine. Take good care of yourself”. (I’ve sent so many of those.)
But this time, I decided to let her know what I was actually feeling.
She happens to be a super cool person, so a text conversation ensued. But at the end of the day, I noticed I still didn’t feel good. I wanted to say something but I wasn’t sure what it was. Something about how she had done this before, so she should know…blah, blah, blah.
This morning I woke up still wanting to say something but my desire to ‘give her feedback’ on her ‘track record’ of canceling on me didn’t feel quite right. It wasn’t completely true. Because I actually have no idea how many times she’s cancelled her plans with me, it just ‘feels’ like a lot.
So, I asked myself what was even truer than ‘her track record of flakiness’?
What came to me is this: While I have no idea how many times she’s cancelled over the years, I do know that there have been many times that I have not expressed to her the way that I have actually felt about her changing her plans.
Many times that I’ve just plastered a smile on my face (or sent a little wink-y face over iMessage) and pretended like I was happy.
So, this is the text I sent:
“Good morning bella! Woke up feeling like I left our conversation from yesterday unfinished. What’s true is that there have been many times you have cancelled/changed your plans that I have felt angry or sad about it and not expressed it to you (at least directly). I tended to say ‘ok, have a great time’ no matter how I was really feeling. So now, I’m changing up how I’m playing the game, I’d rather express how I’m actually feeling than fester about it.”
I knew that this was true because I felt closer and more connected to her after I sent it.
A wise woman once told me that ‘anger is a sign that something needs to stop’.
In this case, what needed to stop was not her canceling on me (like I originally thought) but me lying to her about how I truly feel.
The way I was able to discover this was by letting myself feel what I was feeling, expressing that and then getting curious about what was actually going on.
So my suggestion to you, the next time you’re stuck in a situation that looks ‘Ok’ on the surface but doesn’t actually feel good inside, is to ask yourself “What’s true here?” Over and over again, until you land on something that allows you to relax when you say it.
Hint: If your truth focuses on the other person, or starts with “He, She or You”, it is probably not true. So try again.
But if your statement starts with ‘I’, try it on in your head, then express it to the other person involved. And, watch what happens next.
If you don’t feel closer to the other person yet, it just means there’s another layer to go.
So rinse and repeat. As many times as necessary.
Then watch the relationship magic happen.