When Wanting More Or Less Contact Is Stressful

An inquirer wrote me recently and asked me to write about the experience of people being offended when you set a boundary.

Of course, I don’t know the exact situation and what everyone involved is thinking, feeling, assuming, wondering or feeling stress about.

But what a great situation to investigate….because I’ve got a personal example.

Let’s say you email, send letters, send gifts, call someone, make contact every so often….and you do indeed care about them, it’s not like you hate them or anything….

….but they never respond very quickly. Or at all.

Sometimes people have this experience with family members, their kids, their grandchildren, an old neighbor, someone they used to work with.

It’s a kind of dud communication. Uneventful, unsatisfying, or just nada. Nothing there.

Then let’s say….a completely different kind of communication goes on in another type of situation, where you are the RECEIVER of emails, letters, texts, phone calls, requests for coffee, how-are-you messages….

….but YOU don’t really feel moved to write back or return the call. 

I’ve had both. 

You may lean one way more often than the other, depending on your personality or preferences. 

So what’s going on when you feel trouble in either side of these scenarios?

Usually, some basic assumptions are going on….that hurt: They don’t like me, they think I have nothing to offer, he is too demanding and needy, she is too impatient, I need to tell him to stop, I need to tell her I’m giving up and won’t call again, that person is rude, they think I am rude, I need him to call me, I need her to stop calling me, scream!

So whatever your situation, whichever side of the scene you’ve been on, whether you’ve been reaching out to no avail, or someone is over-contacting you and won’t stop…..let’s do The Work.

I need to do something (speak up, set limits….something). 

Is it true? Are you sure?

Feel what is happening in your body. Are you trying to control the situation? Do you feel nervous, or afraid, or sad? Are you thinking that person isn’t safe? Are you feeling hurt?

Do you have to do something?

Well. No. I could pause. 

How do you react when you believe you have to do something about this error in communication? Whether too much or too little, for you to be happy.

Wow, all kinds of reactions. Like…FINE, I’ll stop ever ever making any attempts to contact them. FINE, I’ll delete their phone number from my cell phone. FINE, I’ll write a goodbye letter explaining how I will no longer be their friend. FINE, I’ll make myself forget about her. FINE, I’ll send an email saying Do Not Contact, No Exceptions.

But who would you be without the thought that this is not acceptable, and you needa do something about this whole communication break-down?

“True communication is communion–the realization of oneness, which is love.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

One of my favorite teachers, Anthony de Mello, speaks often of the burden of being a slave to the behavior and attitude of People. When people reject you, or praise you, notice the power they hold. Rejection may mean silence for you, praise may mean they call you back right away. 

Notice how you assess them based on their reactions, efforts, contact, appropriateness. 

Who would you be if it did not matter how others respond, or do not respond? Who would you be if you knew you were one with life, with the present moment, and within that present moment people come and they go?

Without the belief that you MUST do something to stop or start better communication……you may or may not do something, and you may enter another place of being altogether with those others. An unknown place, mysterious, clear, open to change at any moment, resting without change. 

No need for control, or being nice, or pushing, or complying.

I turn the thought around: I do not have to do anything about this communication situation. I have to do something about communicating with ME in this situation.  

There are no rules about who should communicate when, or how, or how frequently, or in which manner. 

I am moved to speak, with peace, or respond in perfect timing, or notice that I can’t actually get to all the emails I have. Nothing personal. 

“Isn’t what you really want is to meet the world, kicked back? Without the thought that you need anyone is to be open to every human being, every cat, dog and tree. And you don’t have to marry anyone just because they’ve flattered you.” ~ Byron Katie

I notice that every moment I can question my mind. I can see what my story is and see if it’s really true. Even in small (or large) communications between me and other humans. 

When I communicate with myself, with love and compassion and trust, when I care for myself so dearly and lovingly and give myself exactly what I need, I notice that I am very kind to others, very open, very interested. 

Or silent. 

If they object to how I respond to them, I might say “tell me more, I want to understand.” 

But only if I really do. 

Much love, Grace

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