Time to play offense, you ready?

coaching relationships wellness

Ever get advice that made you cringe hearing, but know it's the absolute truth?  It’s even harder to swallow when it upends your story of blaming others for your life’s difficulties and re-directs it back to guess who…yup, good ‘ol you!

When it comes to feeling taken advantage of or continuous burdens being put upon us by others, this quote has the potential to awaken some to their own role in things (warning: it requires a level of honest humility some aren’t ready for). 

So how do you take back your straw?

It's the 'ol it's simple, but not easy kind of method and it takes patience and persistence on your part to make lasting change to the rules of engagement with those who have been sucking you dry for a long time. Afterall, they've been allowed and have come to expect you to be a certain way.

For instance, you're their go-to person to vent to, or when they need a favor they think of you, or you're there to pick up their slack because they're not organized but you are, etc. etc.

But lately, maybe there's an uneasiness in you, something trying to get your attention and begs you to consider no longer being that go-to person in that way. Heck, you may have even tried a few times to change things indirectly.  Or more directly, you tried to talk to them about it and they said all the right things, but their behavior didn't change (nor did yours and therein lies the problem).

So how do you practically change the dynamic?  Play offense and stop playing defense.

They telegraph their passes, you know when they're going to do an end run on you, and their trick plays...well you've seen them before and they no longer fool you.  Basically, you have their playbook, but you're not using it offensively. Isn't it time?

^^It's football season, an all-time favorite season of the year for me, so I couldn't help myself with this analogy.^^

 Playing offense, the first 6 Steps*

1. Start with someone in your life that's less difficult - don't pick the hardest person to begin with.

2. Pre-plan how you'll respond. Because you have their playbook so to speak (common behaviors, requests, ways of getting you to do things you don't want to, etc.), literally write out paper/pen style "when x happens, I will y" or "if this__________occurs, then I will respond___________".  It's when we're caught in the moment with no pre-planning that we default into our regular patterns. We play defense and relent. We give in despite our inner knowing telling us not to (sometime shouting at us not to). You've got to be consciously proactive to play offense!

3. Start saying no if the reason you're saying yes is out of guilt, obligation or pity (for self or the other person). THIS IS HUGE!! It's a litmus test really.  And remember, with relationships, things can be complex, so stay away from the extremes or the all-or-nothing approach.  There will be times when you still say yes despite it being because guilt, obligation or pity, but it should be the exception not the rule.

4. Slow roll your responsiveness. Be less available by phone and text. There are true emergencies, but most of the time, their crisis isn't one, they just want instant gratification or immediate response. Set a target of say, 30-minutes, where you don't respond to text or phone call or email for at least that amount of time.  If 30-minutes is too long, try 20, or 10, or 5, but start somewhere and gradually built up the time from there.  It's remarkable how others with this insatiable need for instant responses figure out their issue or perceived crisis on their own - or - seek out someone else if you're simply not at their beckon call.

5. Speak up and give voice to your discomfort in the relationship. This is especially helpful with those who regularly use you to vent, particularly on the same topic you've heard 1000 times. There's numerous ways to re-direct the conversation in an honest, kind and genuine way. If you'd like to be pointed to some resources to learn how, reach out to me by replying to this message or by clicking here.

6. Reflect and give yourself grace. When (not if) self-doubt creeps in, such as "is this really worth it?" or your inner critic really starts railing on you for "not being a good person" for setting new rules of engagement or boundaries, a go-to solution is to use Byron Katie's "The Work" - click here for details and to download the worksheet. Be honest and compassionate with yourself as you answer the questions.

image credit: Byron Katie https://thework.com/instruction-the-work-byron-katie/

There are many more action steps and tools you could use/develop to make meaningful change in your relationships that aren't working for you and seem out of balance, but these six steps will get you started.

If this resonated with you and it's something you want to work on in earnest, I hope you'll begin today. Start with the low-hanging fruit so you can get some initial wins and boost your confidence.

If it seems to overwhelming to start, that's a sign you need help and support. Asking for help could be the most life transformative gift you could give yourself. The key question is: are you willing to ask?

Wishing you a life that aligns with your values and brings you peace of mind even when things are difficult and the path seems daunting.

To thine own self be true is the path to liberation and it takes work. You're worth it and yes, you can do it!

Have questions?  Leave a comment or contact me - click here.

All the best to you now and in the future,

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