We are designed for community. We humans rely on each other for our very survival. We have powerful emotional needs to feel connected, to conform, to be part of a group.
We are designed for separateness. We've only gotten here thanks to countless individuals taking initiative, standing apart from old ways and thought patterns, exploring creative ideas, experimenting with solutions. We have powerful emotional needs for our achievements and our rights to be recognised, to love and be loved by others based on who we are as individuals, and to express our point of view.
Therefore throughout our lives we all have to navigate our best possible way between opposite impulses:
* You want to start a family vs you also want a life and a career of your own* You want to speak up about something vs you want to fit in
* You want to do the right thing for friends/family/society vs you want to pull back and preserve your time/resources/energy
* You want to be understood by others vs you want others to respect your differences
* And so on...
It's up to each of us to work with our wonderful, confused, conflicted, intelligent, original, creative human brain. Only you can sift through millions of years of conditioning (that's not to even mention your individual, family and cultural circumstances), and find your own solution. This you can add to your very own personal bag of experience and wisdom. Ready? Let's go:
1. Figure out where the uncomfortable feelings are coming from
Stick to the facts, and how the facts are making you feel.
2. Know that your feelings are normal and fine
They just are. Remember you're hardwired to experience conflict between your desire to be part of a tribe, and your desire to be yourself. You don't need to justify your feelings or push them away. You just need to look at them and recognise them. There's no need to create extra layers of guilt, resentment, anger by adding toxic thoughts to the mix.
Meditation helps with this, but then I would say that because I'm a Buddhist. Mindfulness is a more universally palatable concept at the moment, either way it's about stepping back and cooling the boiling brew of self talk and thoughts about your feelings. This gives your intuition and wisdom a chance to emerge.
3. Be kind to yourself
Self compassion is strong and fair, not weak and self-indulgent. Remember- your feelings are fine, and you can respond to this situation as you see best. Be patient with yourself as you go through this, and make the best decision you can. This is all you can do.
4. Be kind to others
This doesn't mean being a doormat! Often the kindest thing for everyone concerned is to draw a realistic boundary (based on your own abilities and limits) and then keep to it. Or, you may notice that your thoughts and presumptions about someone could possibly be inaccurate, or unfair. Well done!
5. Figure out what you're going to do
Do this as calmly as possible. If it helps, write down your solution so you can look at it. Check in with someone else if you can and if that's appropriate in the circumstances. Thank your feelings for alerting you to the problem, then step as far back as you can to find the best solution for all parties including yourself.
Go do it.
You can think about how things are going, and adjust your actions if you need to. Remember: this stuff is difficult- don't beat yourself up!
And for what it's worth, remember that all human beings struggle with this stuff. Some are better at hiding it than others, but it doesn't take much scratching of anyone's surface to discover fragile, hurty or judgy bits. You're no different from anyone else, and you are entirely in charge of your own decisions and responses- how wonderful!