One of my biggest weaknesses has been taking responsibility for another person’s feelings. As someone drawn to Stoicism, this is a basic failing: trying to take responsibility for something I don’t have control over. There have been numerous times I’ve held myself back from asking for what I want. The reason? My mind would start coming up with ifs and buts. What will they think? They might feel bad. They might react negatively. All this time, I used to think these actions of mine was evidence of my compassion towards the other person. After all, I cared about their feelings, right?
In recent times I’ve realized that I wasn’t concerned much about the other person. I was actually just thinking about myself. I was concerned about what they would think of me rather than their well-being. Because if you think about it, not voicing my needs meant that the other person didn’t get a fair chance at contributing to my needs (and to the relationship). I grew resentful on the inside and the relationship suffered. I was so caught up in a self-protective mindset that I ended up acting in ways that did a disservice to the relationship and ultimately I ended up hurting myself too.
As I look forward to 2023, I wish to cultivate the courage to communicate in a compassionate way. It will need untangling an unhealthy habit that has accumulated for years. I know there will be days when I will be at it again. There will be days when I will know what to do but lack the courage to follow through. There will be days when I will know what to do and have the courage to follow through but fail to communicate compassionately. On those days, I hope to cultivate the courage to communicate compassionately with myself.
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