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Breaking Down Walls, Why It's So Hard...

Having the willingness and ability to have other people help you, or let them in and aware of your emotions or simply engaging in a conversation about different ideas can be difficult and full of emotional hurdles to overcome. Being truly connected to another person means letting them see where you bend, crack, fold, and also where you shine, spring up and create. I often witness people shying away from being their true self for the fear of burdening another person or being selfish or pride to name a few. It seems like being an individual and fiercely independent is something of a badge of honor to wear, yet it keeps us lonely, disconnected and empty. We then take to developing relationships with potentially unhealthy coping, by keeping secrets, over indulging, becoming inflexible to our own thoughts rather allowing other opinions in. When people do this a wall is created that separates ourselves from everyone, creating a sense of isolation and then an unwillingness to ask for help and possibly even to give it.

I remember when I was a little girl I learned a lesson that “if you don’t stick up for yourself no one else will”, which I think has the potential to lead people to advocate for themselves but another underlying message there is “don’t trust”, “don’t let other people see your weakness”, and/or “you must always fight”.

What happens when you get tired of fighting? What happens when you actually don’t want to be alone, isolated, or unwilling to ask for support. Perhaps the lesson that we all need to hear is “if you don’t stick up for yourself no one else will AND you can always ask for help”.

SO, lean on others and set healthy boundaries. Having one way or another only creates disfunction within ourselves, our relationships, our community at large. It all starts with saying “hey I want to share something” or “hey can I have some help”. If you start small, its really not that scary, and some of that stubbornness will lessen overtime and you’ll be grateful when it does.

Standing Up for Yourself

If you don't stand up and say something, you can't rely on someone else too. Being your own advocate is important every day. Whether its in regards to your feelings towards another person, your own personal values, or just to get your wants and needs met, you have to say something yourself. I have talked to people that think others can read their minds and know what they want, or expect people to anticipate their needs. First off, thats not fair to the other person, and secondly you'll spend a lot of time being upset. 

You want to value your opinion by sharing it, by honoring yourself and to not stay quiet when something you're passionate about is brought up. There is a DBT skill called FAST that stands for be Fair, no Apologies, Stick to your values and say your Truth. In other words, be respectful to others and yourself when sharing your opinion by not bashing others and honoring your own. Don't apologize for having an opinion or for your existence, its valid and important and so are you.  Act in a way that respects your boundaries and your values by not compromising them or allowing others to disrespect them. Finally, always be truth in what you say, especially if you want to be heard by others and feel aligned with yourself. 

If you can practice these techniques when in conflict, conversation, or in your own mind you'll most likely feel more proud and accomplished because you were able to honor others while honoring yourself.

Look at what these teens from Parkland High are saying and doing with there platform. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/parkland-shooting-victim-maddy-wilford-speaks-out-following-hospital-release-n851286

Teaching Adolescents About Healthy Relationships

How many times did you hear this as a kid? (To be clear "boy" can be easily swapped out for the correct gender pronoun)

"The boys on the playground are mean to you because they secretly like you?" OR "All boys want is to get in your pants."

I heard them several times each, and looking back these comments helped establish an unhealthy outlook on what relationships look like. I believed that if a guy is mean to me, that must mean he wants me to try to attach more, or tolerate the jerky comments in order to obtain his affection. Then later I began to believe that boys were to be avoided at all costs because they just want to use me... Wow, how confusing? 

I've put some thought into it, and perhaps these revised statements may help send a healthier message:

"If the boys on the playground are mean, what away because you don't deserve that" AND "If a boy likes you, he will respect you and respect your boundaries." 

These statements can teach children and teens that respect, self-love, and having personal boundaries are key components to having healthy relationships. 

"I feel fat"... How hearing this has me feeling some kind of way

When I hear "body hate" verbiage, it has my skin crawling.

Tolerating hearing people say:

"My friend told me I am getting too round.."

"Does this dress make me look fat..."

"I am always trying to squeeze my body into..."

"I think I need to diet..."

"No pain, no gain..."

etc...

All of these statements continue the discussion and spread of body hate, fueling the negative self-talk in our heads, and depriving us from joy of where we are in that moment. Suddenly we become so body focused, we forget what other feelings we are experiences and the mind most likely goes straight to "what's wrong" with you. Its time to set boundaries, change the conversation.

The conversation can look like:

"I am valuable"

"I am important, in every size"

"My body is my own, and I will honor it"

"I feel strong and hopeful"

"I am me, and that is prefect"

 

If you can find yourself stating these things or others like it, these conversations that you'll overhear or maybe be a part of, will have less emotional and mental impact on you. You'll grow tolerant and may be able to change the conversation to something healthy.