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March 08, 2006

In My Spin

Several years ago, I was in a friendship group with five other women. We had been meeting for well over a year. In this group we all committed to being authentic with one another--even when that meant difficult moments.

Throughout our time together, we had many inspiring, fun, and challenging conversations. All of us, at some point or other, had been on the “hot seat,” so we were fairly skilled at hearing difficult feedback and working through issues; until we got stuck.

Well, actually until I got stuck.

I held back some personal information from all but one of the group members, and this information impacted the entire group. The group tried to let me know how hurt they were by this and how they thought this was a bigger pattern in my life. The more hurt and anger they expressed, the more I told them they just didn’t understand.

I didn’t think they were being fair and I certainly didn’t think they were being empathic to my situation. So we got stuck. We got stuck in my believing they didn’t get how hard it was for me, and in them believing I didn’t understand how much my behavior hurt them and the group.

Today, several years later, I believe both views had merit. As much as I hate to admit it though, they were much more right on than I was. So why couldn’t I see it? Why did I hold so steadfast to my belief that they just didn’t “get it”? Simply put--I was in my spin. By “spin” I mean I was defensive and triggered and couldn’t let anything but my beliefs in. I was impenetrable.

I came from a family who believed in being strong and holding things close to your chest. For most of my life I got away with this. My friends would say, “That’s just Lisa, she doesn’t like to talk about what’s bothering her.” In this group however, I couldn’t get away with it anymore. You see, they believed that true intimacy requires mutual sharing (imagine that!). And they weren’t okay with me just being a good listener--they actually wanted a participant.

This experience taught me two lessons. The first lesson is about intimacy. I finally got what people meant when they said intimacy means “into me I see.” I understood that I have to share what is going on inside of me in order for true intimacy to happen (not an easy task for me). I realized that being a good listener was only half of the equation.

The second lesson I learned is that sometimes, no matter how hard we try to say things the right way or give examples to illustrate our point or reaffirm that we are saying this with love… it may not hit. The person may be in their spin and not able to hear it. I know I was in my spin that day, and even though all of them were my friends and all were saying the same thing--I just couldn’t hear it. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t healthy enough to take that information in and love myself at the same time. Instead, I hunkered down, walled off and protected myself.

Now I know my friends have my best interests at heart. I listen to what they say and take it in even if I don’t like it. I wish I had known that then…and was able to do it. If you can learn from this, I’m convinced it will save you much pain and accelerate your path of growth.

Challenge: If someone in your life is giving you feedback that is hard to hear--don’t just wall off and protect yourself. Take a step back and try it on for size. It may be the biggest gift you’ve ever given yourself.

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i absolutley love this blog. youre a great writer, i hope you can write for us. we'd love to put up a link of your blog.

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