Communication is something that codependents often struggle with, or to be more precise, honest and effective communication. This is not to say that codependents lie, but you can tell the factual truth without actually being honest. Honest communication and keeping my boundaries in place is something that I continue to work on and although I have improved dramatically there is still more work for me to do.
I find that I get into conversations with people easily, however when the conversations moves to a subject that I do not want to discuss, or if I am asked a personal question that I do not feel comfortable with, its almost like I revert to feeling like a child being asked a question that they feel obliged to answer. In my head I have all of the handy phrases like “Why do you ask?”, or “I do not feel comfortable discussing that.” Yet at the time of being asked the question these words just will not come out.
Having traced this back to my childhood I can see many examples of when my opinion was not taken into account, and because of this I stopped offering my opinion and went along with what was seemingly most pleasing to others. After many years of this I find that I still do not want to “rock the boat”, annoy people, or come across as being difficult. I also do not want to hurt the other persons feelings, which is me taking responsibility for their feelings, not my job. If they took it upon themselves to ask a personal question then they should be prepared for the fact that the other person may not answer. I would not dream of asking some of the questions that I have been asked, and yet I still put these people’s feelings ahead of my own.
I have come to the conclusion that there is no quick fix for setting boundaries in conversations. If you grew up in a home where personal boundaries were ignored, setting boundaries now will be like a muscle that has atrophied. The muscle needs to be exercised and through daily repetition you become more comfortable with speaking your truth. Another key point is that you need to remain grounded and in connection with your breath and feelings. This may sound like you will have a lot going on but paying attention to your breath is very important because when we become anxious, tense or nervous, we can have a tendency to hold our breath or take shallow breaths. Taking a deep breath and really connecting with your feelings is necessary. How is your body responding, if you are not able to respond in the moment you could try saying ‘Let me get back to you’, or a similar phrase that works for you.
The most important thing is to be patient with yourself. Patterns that you have repeated since childhood are not easy to break but with awareness and repetition it is possible. I would love to hear how you respond to invasive questions, or respond to awkward requests. Share your thoughts below.