When you don’t know what to do, communicate

Communication only works when it happens

Communication only works when it happens

I didn’t expect to write this blog today. I planned to write about running. Sometimes life doesn’t fit in with our plans.

Today life re-taught me a lesson. And sometimes, when we don’t expect it, life does that. Since it is so fresh for me, I’m going to share my lesson. Maybe you will be reminded that you’ve learned this lesson before too, or maybe you’ll be reminded of another lesson you’ve learned. Maybe you’ll learn a new lesson. Maybe you’ll have to learn this lesson for yourself despite reading – that happens too. That’s life. We often learn lessons the hard way. We often learn the same lessons over and over again.

Here is what I learned (or re-learned) today.

You know how sometimes you just innately feel something is wrong? You’re bothered and you can’t quite put your finger on it? Or maybe you even do think you know what’s bothering you, but you can’t figure out how to say it? Or maybe you even know how to say it, but it is too scary to say it? Maybe you’re worried you’ll hurt someone you care about. Maybe you’re worried you’ll turn out to be wrong, and you’ll mess everything up in the process. For whatever reason, you feel like things are wrong, but you don’t know what to do about it.

Today I was reminded that what to do in that situation is to communicate.

See, there was something I was uncertain how to say, or maybe afraid of saying, to someone I care about. I was worried I would hurt this person I care about if I said what I really wanted to say. And I didn’t know what to do. And it was bothering me a lot to say nothing, but I really didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing. Instead I second-guessed myself: is that actually what I think? Maybe the problem is actually with me? This could easily cause me to go around and around in circles.

Today the issue was forced. Today I had to pretend everything was ok or I had to start a conversation. (Isn’t that always the way? It is tough to do so many things until we really have to.) I started the conversation. And here’s what happened: I found out that the person I care about felt like something was wrong too. I found out that we were both pretending everything is ok and not knowing what to do. We were both doing nothing for fear of what would happen if we did something.

But look at this – since we communicated, there’s some relief. We still don’t know what to do, but at least we’re not both living with that isolating fear of hurting someone else. That feeling that we couldn’t act because it might hurt someone else. Now we can say the hard things to say and hear the hard things to hear, because we’ve acknowledged that we both see a problem. Communication means it isn’t so scary anymore. Still uncertain, but not so scary. Communication moves things forward.

And think what would have happened if we both kept pretending nothing is wrong: it would almost certainly only get worse, right? Ignoring an issue doesn’t make it go away. And chances are good that everyone involved starts to feel more and more that they aren’t heard or aren’t understood. Everyone gets entrenched in what they think or in second-guessing themselves… or both.

It is terrifying to start, but addressing problems head-on is how we solve them. Knowing the real situation, getting everyone’s perspective, that’s where the real work begins. Then maybe things get better. With communication.

This applies to romantic relationships, family relationships, friendship… basically any type of relationship. If you have an issue like this, an “elephant in the room”, there’s lots of ways you could get help. Family counseling with Cindy Fabico or Amy Smith can bring family members together to identify and discuss the real issues. Marriage counseling or couples counseling with Cindy Fabico or Risa Bos can do the same. And in individual counseling with any of our counselors you can figure out what you really think and then practice standing up for yourself or rehearse ways of having an important, but scary, conversation.

Our counselors at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando are ready to help you identify and then address the elephant in the room. Give us a call at 407-355-7378 to kickstart your communication today. It might still be scary, but it will be a start on making things better for everyone involved.

With compassion ~Krista Bringley