***If you received an e-mail for a new post on Tuesday and followed the link only to find an Oops! message, I apologize. I had a total brain misfire moment and instead of saving a draft, published it. Face palm! Goes to show we all make mistakes no matter how hard we try.
***And if you looked at your inbox this Sunday morning and found no new post from me, well I figured out why that was, too. Problem fixed. Lesson learned. And here is the blog post. *Rolls eyes at my technical ignorance.*
A few weeks ago, I announced that I will be launching the Acts of Bravery website at the end of April, designed to inspire+empower+motivate you on your brave journey to fully realize your dreams. If you missed it. Check out all the details here.
A portion of Acts of Bravery is BraveResources, divided into four sections—BraveYou, BraveRelationships, BraveParenting, BraveCareer.
Last week I gave you a sneak peek at the BraveYou resources. And this week, I’m introducing BraveRelationships. Here’s a snippet of what it’s all about:
BraveRelationships won’t just focus on romantic entanglements. I plan to help you bravely strengthen and deepen relationships with all the people in your life. I’m talking friends, siblings, parents, coworkers, neighbors. Although, *rubs chin thoughtfully*, relationships with our partners tends to infiltrate our entire lives. Am I right? So, I’ll have a ton of good material to help you with day-to-day living with the man or woman of your dreams.
But to do BraveRelationships justice, I concocted a little surprise! As a woman, I can only offer a female point of view of relationships. My hubby, best described as Captain America, promised to give his unique perspective on living bravely as a husband, father, friend, and man. I’m so excited to share Tim’s wisdom with you!
This week’s blog fits right into the BraveRelationships vein. We dig deep to the very core of where a healthy relationship starts and thrives.
And next week? You guessed it. I’ll give you a preview of BraveParenting!
What is the #1 Foundation of a Healthy Relationship?
In a few words?
Show up. Be present, be vulnerable, and honest. Allow yourself to be seen. Live fully in your skin and take up your God-given space in the world.
Easy peasy, right?
Not for me. It took me well into my late thirties to realize this truth.
But I’m getting ahead of myself; let me take you back a few years…
Back in the day, all I wanted was to escape my life. Give me a cabin alone with a view, an apartment far-far away from here, a destination vacation of indefinite length. I didn’t care where or how, I needed to run away. NOW!
But back then, when I looked at my life, I loved it. My husband was awesome and supportive of my dreams. My kids were thriving. I had numerous friends who loved me and saw me. I got to write every day.
So, what was the problem?
I couldn’t figure out the disconnect between the reality of my life and the overwhelming urge to flee. But then, I discovered a simple concept that encapsulated showing up, being present, vulnerable, and honest, being seen and living fully in my skin.
I call this “Being big.”
What the heck does “Be Big” mean?
Let’s use me as an example.
Back in the day when I ached to get away, I tried to make myself as small as possible. I didn’t want to take up too much space for fear that I would be “that person” the one who made everything all about them. I feared rejection and was even more terrified of betrayal.
My solution to ensure I evaded rejection and betrayal? I hid. I became as small as possible.
Being small required me to keep my opinions to myself, which in turn made me keep my needs to myself. Since no one knew my needs weren’t being met, they asked me for more and more. And more.
“Rachelle’s strong. She’s so good at this or that or the other. She can do it.” And I would.
My life busy life spun out of control because I said “yes” to everything so I wouldn’t let anyone down, my needs weren’t getting met, which made me feel empty, drained, exhausted, and overwhelmed. And every time I said “yes” to someone and “no” to myself, I spun the vicious cycle further into chaos.
This pure exhaustion coupled with the inability to be honest with myself and others led me to the conclusion that if I could just escape, if I could dig my head in the sand and hide, everything would be better.
The bottom line? Being small made me miserable.
What does “Being Big” have to do with relationships?
Being big is about showing up for yourself first. Before we can be part of healthy relationships we need to know ourselves—especially our boundaries and limits. If we don’t understand what we can or can’t do (or better yet, what we will or won’t do—choice) then we open ourselves up to being walked all over. For me, this “doormat syndrome” triggered my self-protection tactics—anger or hiding.
This defines being small.
Being small was such a way of life for me that I never really showed up in relationships. Sure, I was there physically, but I never allowed my heart to be seen.
If we’re hiding our true selves, how is it possible to contribute to a relationship? Hiding is the opposite of relationship. It’s self-preservation.
But in the middle of my chaos, I realized something. I wanted my friends to show up completely. I wanted them to engage. I wanted to know their hearts. Even with my heart closed off, I knew if they were being honest and vulnerable or if they were holding part of themselves back.
And angel choir epiphany! If I wanted to know them on an intimate level, they probably felt the same way, too.
This cut me deep. How did I miss it before? My husband wanted to see me. My kids wanted to see me, my friends, my family, my coworkers, the clerk at the grocery store. Well, maybe not her.
But you get my point, the people in my life wanted to see me 100% of the time, just like I wanted to see them. Anything less sold our relationship short.
How to be big.
I had my aha moment. But applying it was difficult, because I had to lay down my self-preservation techniques and trust myself to be big and stay safe in the process.
This process boils down to three things. I could write a post on each one, but I’ll keep it brief.
- Know yourself.
If you want to be fully engaged in a relationship, first you must know who you are. Here’s a few questions to get you started. What are your values? Morals? Where is your favorite place to eat? Walk? What activities do you find enjoyable? What’s your idea of fun? Taking personality tests help a ton. My favorite is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Fun fact: I’m an INFJ).
The good news? These answers aren’t set in stone. Life is fluid and so is our growth. You get to decide who you are. Not anyone else, regardless of how loud they scream. So, land on who you want to be and if you’re not quite there yet, start growing.
- Stand Firm in Your Boundaries.
Even now, anger is the first indicator that I’ve allowed someone to cross my boundaries. Your trigger might be different, but learn what it is. Here are the top signs that your personal boundaries may need an overhaul:
- You put others needs before your own.
- You always say yes even when you don’t want to or are too busy.
- You don’t have a daily self-care regiment.
- You go nonstop.
- You feel like you’re holding on by a thread.
- You can’t remember the last time you had fun.
If you can relate to just one of these, you need to reevaluate your boundaries.
- You do you. Let the other person do them.
When we stop being responsible for others’ behavior and let them fail and make mistakes, and focus instead on our own inner brave journey, the elephant pressure of life lifts. When you’re doing you—growing in personal development, learning to take up your space in the world, and focusing on achieving your dreams—there’s no time to do this in someone else’s life.
And let me tell you, the people in your life will thank you for it. Because when you try to be responsible for someone else, it may feel like you’re helping, but to them it feels like control and manipulation. So, let go, enjoy your relationships, and let the other person take care of themselves.
Wrapping It Up…
What’s your first step to “be big”? Is it taking a personality test, taking time for yourself each day, daring to speak up when you feel vulnerable? Whatever it is, take the step! And once you decide on the step you’re going to take, write it down in your journal and practice it all week. And second, for accountability, tell two of your trusted people. Then, tell me too. I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!
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