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Naming Elephants: 10 Ways To Use Radical Honesty to Improve Your Relationship

Naming Elephants: 10 Ways To Use Radical Honesty to Improve Your Relationship

    When it comes to relationships, I believe that honesty is always the best policy. Not merely remaining faithful. Not in the sense of being able to say that you never really lie to your partner. I’m talking about Radical Honesty; actually coming out and naming the elephants in the room so you can deal with them before they trample all over your relationship.

    Radical Honesty requires that you speak your truth even when you feel sure that the other person won’t want to hear it. Radical Honesty means that you have to say how you really feel, especially when you believe that you could either avoid x or conversely make y happen by hiding these feelings from them. It is a commitment to authenticity that requires being true to yourself as much as being loyal to another.

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    How long can you pretend to be someone else?

    If you lack an intrinsic sense of self-worth you may be tempted to censor yourself; to try to express yourself in terms of what would be acceptable or desirable to someone else. In the short-term, you may even be successful in your goals. But, realistically speaking, just how long can you pretend to be someone else? And do you really want to be in a relationship with someone that you don’t believe could love you as you really are?

    Whilst the idea of being “strategic” is a popular one when it comes to dating, it doesn’t feel so warm and fuzzy to think that one partner actively manipulated the other into committing to the relationship. Is that really a good way to build a foundation for a trusting relationship?

    “I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have me”

    Your degree of reluctance to do this may be a gauge of how much or how little you love and accept yourself. In the words of Groucho Marx,

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    “I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have me.”

    If deep down you think you are “too much” or if there is any suspicion that there might “be something wrong” with you, of course you are going to imagine that everyone else is as turned off by you as you are.

    However, if you dare to share the sadness and longing that you are so embarrassed to admit, you may discover that other people come closer instead of abandoning you as you might have imagined. Just maybe it’s you – not them – that finds your vulnerability so unlovable. It could be your tendency to abandon yourself that you are projecting onto others. Ironically, it could be what pushes people away is not your weakness but how you act you when you are trying to hide it.

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    Giving up control

    All of this radical honesty requires a fundamental attitude shift and that is giving up the idea that you can control anyone or anything other than your own reactions. I find the more intelligent people are, the harder they find this to do. They quickly succumb to the trap of thinking that if they only try hard enough or think about it long enough or read the right book, they can figure it out.

    In addition, you may have more difficulty with this if during your childhood you learned  to try to predict or change the behavior of an unpredictable parent with your actions. This learned survival skill, combined with having a deficit of emotional security, is the reason that many people grow up to expend so much energy trying to control things. It doesn’t come from a malicious desire to manipulate in order to wield power; it’s a coping mechanism designed to try and make the world a safer place.

    The illusion is that somewhere out there is something you could say or do which would be the guarantee that everything will be alright. Searching for it can drive you crazy. How much easier is it to simply speak your truth without attachment to the reactions you may receive?

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    Ten tips to get you started

    1. Don’t let resentment build, deal with issues one at a time and as soon as they arise
    2. Stop trying to control or manipulate your partner’s feelings or actions
    3. Share your hopes, dreams and wishes
    4. Share your fears
    5. Be honest with yourself
    6. Share your vulnerability instead of your anger
    7. Express your disappointment gently
    8. Check that you both have signed on to the same contract (Explain what you think the unwritten rules are)
    9. Admit when you don’t know what to do
    10. Admit it when you think you may have made a mistake

    Radical honesty can be magically healing but it must always be used with respect. Remember that coming from a place of vulnerability instead of blame invites your partner to look for a solution with you.

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2019

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

    In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

    These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

    1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

    Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

    But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

    Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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    2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

    You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

    The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

    3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

    If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

    Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

    If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

    4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

    Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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    To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

    In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

    5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

    We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

    If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

    Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

    “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

    6. Give for the Joy of Giving

    When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

    One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

    So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

    7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

    Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

    Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

    8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

    When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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    So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

    9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

    Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

    It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

    It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

    10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

    There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

    But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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    Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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    Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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