I picked a fight with my man one morning this week.
I was tired – it’s been a gruelling week in a lot of ways – commuting 4 hours a day to a day job with a couple of difficult cases and earlier-than-usual starts, continuing a test-run of my upcoming Desire Map Workshops, and it’s early February – ever since I was in highschool, February has been the month I just collapse, physically and emotionally, no matter how well things are going or how upbeat everything truly is. The winter just drags me after a while, y’know! (Although I seem to be faring better this year than previous years with it).
Anyway. I’m not a morning person at the best of times – I unfortunately am a Dragon first thing in the morning, because there are things to be done! A day to start! Full speed ahead! Green light! GO! And I rarely feel I can relax until at least some of the stuff that needs to be done is done, “front-loaded”.
And one attempt by him at being helpful just felt throwaway and pithy and uncaring, and I just snapped.
We talked it out afterwards – all the niggling things that have rubbed each other the wrong way for a while. And all the solutions we came up with require more effort.
MORE EFFORT?! MORE WORK?!
RAHRRR! Dragon smouldering inside! Indignation rising!
I have to give more?! I’m working a day job and building a business on the side, working on my commutes, sometimes in my lunch hours, into my evenings, at my weekends and I have to give even more when it feels like nothing is left?!
…in order to fix whatever is wrong, yes.
Past the indignation, the grievances and pain, yes.
I somewhat begrudgingly have been humbled and reminded of a cardinal life rule that I first learned properly just over a year ago:
If you want something to change, you have to take the first step. You can’t rely on other people to take that step for you.
Maybe the other person just isn’t as affected by a situation as much as you are and there’s no personal reason to them to act (except as a favour to you).
Or maybe the other person is just as scared as you are of making that first move, maybe they’ve got the same fears you have – rejection, push back, disconnection, marginalisation…vulnerability, perceived weaknesses…
…a fragment of shame underpinning it all.
A lot of advice around this point tend to make it about control.
“When you take the first step, you take control of the situation”…
…as if it was some kind of power struggle.
I don’t know about you but, whilst I agree that going first gives you the first say, the first steering of what’s to come, and arguably that gives you “control” over the sitation…
I really don’t like framing it in terms of control.
Control implies dominance, power over another, disrespect for another’s own sovereignty and prerogative…
…and it actually also implies that you believe that you are lacking in power to begin with. When you try to control, you’re grasping at something or someone outside of you to fill your own perceived power void. Yet, too few people in this world fail to realise the irony that the person who submits is the one with the power, after all – they choose who or what they give their power to.
I prefer to frame taking the first step in terms of building a connection and offering to begin a dance of conversation.
If Brene Brown’s profound work on shame and vulnerability has taught us anything, it’s that humans are hard-wired for Connection to each other – Connection to each other is our common goal.
In order to connect, you need methods of Connection: “pathways to connect to each other”, if you will. Luckily we have many, many ways to connect with each other and are free to choose how.
But we also need Courage to Connect – the more scared we are, the more Courage we need. Courage is not entirely synonymous with bravery – it’s origins are from the Latin word “coeur”, (heart), and its original uses were to speak the truth from your heart. That act does, however, require a certain bravery – a certain willingness to trust that something good will come from your bravery, your Courage.
And we also need Compassion – self-compassion primarily for what you’re going through, and Compassion for the other person who is trying to Connect with you. Like with Courage – the more scared you are, the more self-compassion you need.
So…how do you take that first step?
It could be any one of these things:
a confession – that you want to change things but you don’t know how, can they help?
<insert your ideas here>
…only you know what the right first step is, based on the situation you’re in.
Once you’ve decided how you want to proceed, rally your Courage and self-compassion, have a little faith and trust in the coming moments…
…and take the first step.