As children, we learned to align our feelings with those around us.
We learned to change our opinion to go along with others and not feel different.
And that’s okay. It’s a survival tactic. We did what we had to do. And it worked.
But as we get older and gain a more mature understanding of relationships and communication, chronic agreeableness is a skill we must unlearn.
Otherwise people pleasing will get the best of us. Otherwise our opinions will be supplied to us. And we will start organizing our lives in ways to make sure the people around us are always happy and feeling warmly toward us.
Doesn’t that sound exhausting?
It’s like my client once warned me:
You’re so easy to work with that you’re difficult to work with.
Turns out my client service style was accommodation to the point of annoyance. Crap. Duly noted.
And so, from my own journey of taking more chances with my opinions, here’s an exercise that you might try to gauge your ability in this area.
Think back to yesterday. Think of all the things you saw that weren’t okay with you. Think of all the people you so badly wanted to call bullshit on. Then ask two questions.
1. Did those experiences make you feel anything in your body?
2. And did you take advantage of the opportunity to put your opinion forward?
For most of us, the answers are yes and no, respectively. Because any time our values are ignored, challenged or violated, our body speaks to us. It uses somatic symptoms to get our attention, as if to say:
Hold on, let’s talk about what’s happening here, because this is not okay.
The hard part is heeding that voice and exposing our opinions. Especially if a chorus of agreement sweeps around the table, and keeping quiet means keeping the peace. Better to stand mute, we assume, avoid conflict and prevent the risk of somebody pointing out that we were wrong.
Of course, this is the opposite of what we should do. What we should do is remind ourselves:
You are a valid, valuable person, and there is no need to justify yourself or validate your opinions.
Because the last thing we want is to be so easy to work with that we’re difficult to work with.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Do you refuse to go along with the group’s plans when your values are being ignored?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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