Most of my life I’ve been known for being too blunt. When I was younger, it was a way for me to shock people for attention and to take out some of my adolescent aggression. As I got a little older, it wasn’t quite as cute for me to act that way, so I had to learn to take it down a notch and become more aware of how people might receive my “honesty.” In other words I had to develop more compassion. But, ironically enough, as I’ve settled into adulthood, it’s become clear that compassion is not all about being sweet and accepting. Real compassion can actually require using some of the bluntness I’ve been working to tame.
Brené Brown says it best: “compassion cannot exist without boundaries and accountability.” So, even though it’s important to have compassion for someone else’s situation, it’s also important to set boundaries and accountability for the behavior we’re willing to accept from the people around us. In other words, real compassion can actually require having tough conversations from time to time. But, that’s part of loving somebody, to step up and lovingly share what you’re seeing when they might not be able to see a situation clearly for themselves.
Where I’ve been tripped up, and still am sometimes, is in thinking that I’m sharing something from a place of “honesty” when it might actually be tinged with judgment or nagging. One thing I’ve learned is that I should often ask permission before I launch into a tough conversation, and that the more I try to understand the other person’s position rather than blaming them for being in that position, the more likely it is that the conversation will have the desired impact. That said, if you avoid the tough conversations altogether, then you may actually be enabling bad behavior in the people around you, and maybe even enabling your own bad behavior as well. As Iyanla Vanzant says, “go out there and tell somebody the truth!”
Have a beautiful week!