Am I being listened to?

I find myself pondering this concept while an ear that was supposed to be listening transformed into a mouth that won’t stop talking. Do we really desire to hear one another as strongly as we ourselves want to be heard.

Man Sitting Beside Woman

It occurred to me one day. It’s not always that I’m bad at vulnerability but that most people are bad at allowing real space for it.

After years of being that space for others, I’ve come to terms with speaking and not being heard. Sticking a toe out to test the water of my vulnerability only to say “OH SHIII!!” when I get burned by the reality that no room has been made for me.

I’m a sounding board to many. And it’s a beautiful gift that I relish in. I am given the curiosity and the demeanor to comfort others in their openness. As we all know, openness can be hard as hell. So it’s rewarding when others trust me with hard emotions and I watch as they soften in that trust when being open with me. Sadly, those who need me as this space are also the ones who don’t know how to be one themselves.

The examples I’ve encountered seem innocent by nature but in practice have only served to fortify my armor.

I ask questions to learn people not just out of curiosity but with the intention to learn the entirety of the person. This includes their past, present, and futures. Whatever childhood wounds, current struggles, and future dreams that may hold. I explore with care. Most importantly, I listen with the intent to learn thoroughly. 

In conversation, many love being given the opportunity to speak, to be seen, and heard without ever giving the fair chance for the opposing party to have the same. 

My struggle with vulnerability stems from suppressing all that which never received proper space to be expressed. If you ask me a sensitive question understand that in that simple question I have to first fight with myself to be open, to get raw, and to be seen.

When you choose to cut in the middle of what to you seems like a simple explanation, project your thoughts, and then refocus the attention back onto you…I will cease being open. You’ve let me see there is no space here for me; to you I am just your sounding board. Your mirror. Not a separate entity that possesses their own truths and scars. 

And boy do I have scars. 

We assume we know where someone’s open conversation is going so we stop listening. But I never take the thing someone initially says in a vulnerable conversation as gospel; I think of it more as a book cover summary, it reveals a little truth but with time and attention the full personal truth will begin to reveal itself.

Page by page, as the conversation blooms with their trust in being heard. Once people see they have the space they will gladly open. We are a space starved world, needing the opportunity to effectively be vulnerable in our truths. I am this space yet, I still starve for it often. 

Stressed black man sitting on couch

I am not just your sounding board though I may be the only real one you may have. Ask yourself, are you the safe space you seek? When your sounding board in your life needs the space you’ve grown use to, can you share it? Do you listen, intently to learn and not to project? Not to assume but to see what’s there? Are you a sounding board?

It’s clear that there are those who will never be able to be to me what I am to them; this is what makes it special to be a sounding board. However, I do believe there are more out there who can improve their ability to be a safe space with more active listening and less talking. Many who can use their energy in efforts of truly seeing not projecting. Being a sound board is often a selfless act. 

I’m not just your sounding board, I’m like you…I need space too.

Follow LBF on Instagram @lets_build_futures or writer @Kantoinette_theblogger

I know Beyonce would have me make lemonade but honey, right now I can’t even find the pitcher. The thought of making lemonade from the lemons life gives you is a lovely one but we often forget that it’s an actual process. The message is always the same; turn struggle into triumph, turn pain into healing, turn bitterness into forgiveness. Now, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it’s certainly not that easy.

As someone perpetually hell bent on sending light and love out into the atmosphere, I’ve found myself struggling against all of my instincts not to become bitter. The way I came about my lemons allowed me to understand why the stereotype of the angry, bitter black woman exists; where there’s a stereotype there’s usually a truth that feeds it. That truth being that the taste of these lemons has left a bitterness in my mouth and I ran out of sugar about three pitchers ago.

There’s not many places around allowing me to borrow sugar.

So here’s the question…What do you do when the bitterness of your lemons makes for a crappy pitcher of lemonade?

Sliced of Citrus Lemons

 

 

CaN I BorRow SoME SUGA?!

I woke up angry and bitter a few mornings ago; it was random. I previously had a good day but for some reason woke up with a dark cloud around me. Sometimes emotions catch you even on good days. As I sat and stewed in my resentments I realized; I was indeed becoming bitter. I need to correct the situation ASAP and here’s how I plan to do it.

 

Don’t Rush the Recipe

At times we can become so eager to taste the lemonade that we try to rush through all the steps that make it worth while. We become enamored with the idea of coming out on top that we forget to take the necessary steps in turning a sour situation into a sweet outcome. It takes more than blasting Lizzo’s Truth Hurts on repeat, working out vigorously for your revenge bawdy or knowing all the words to Lemonade the album. I’m guilty to all.

It takes more than time. Fighting against bitterness takes work on the inner self to correct all mental and emotional damage that occurred to give you those lemons in the first place. I’ve even gone so far as to name my lemons, there’s Anger (that bitch is bitter), Pessimism, and Doubt.

 

Anger Management

I enrolled into anger management coaching once I realized that I no longer had control over my temper; though my storm is a quiet one, when it rages…it RAGES HOT. My little yoga breathes and safe mental space cower in the face of my temper. I needed help. It had begun to influence my thinking and my overall well-being; turning my gentle spirit into this lady…

old woman dark GIF

My anger is fanned or encouraged by my bitterness so in finding a way to manage my anger I am denying my bitterness the sustenance it needs to continue on.

 

 

Gratitude Journaling

Subsequently I found that my thinking had become more toxic

“HOW TF COULD HE?!”

“THEY GOT ME F***** UP!”

and

“I WISH I COULD KICK THE WHOLE WORLD IN THE BALLS!”

An endless cycle of negative thoughts began devouring my mind. If my temper is the flames then my toxic thoughts were the match. Each thought is like a strike against a dry surface, waiting for my temper to ignite. I’m not saying that my emotions and thoughts weren’t warranted but they are not at all healthy and ultimately the only person suffering is me. My anger management coach suggested that I start gratitude journaling as a way to find the good things even the mist of the bad.

The JOUR app is free and easy to use. You can choose options that guide you through anxiety or forgiveness; or you can just use it as a personal journal. I fervently use it whenever I feel angry to understand the source and guide myself to healthier thinking.

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Doubt

The trickle down is continuous as my pessimism and anger mix well into doubt. Doubting that things will eventually turn sweet. Doubting that the wounds I have will heal.  Staying grounded in my faith helps to clear out the deception that things won’t get better. I surround myself with those who remind me of times when I’ve triumphed in the face of doubt and I steady myself in that faith. Because If I’m not careful anger, pessimism and doubt make the perfect pitcher of Diet, Sugar Free OLD People Lemonade and no one, NO ONE wants a glass of that!

 

That truth being that the taste of these lemons has left a bitterness  in my mouth and I ran out of sugar about three pitchers ago.

 

HEAVY ON THE SALT

Using your bitterness in a way that is useful is a lesson you either learn from life or don’t. You can choose to walk around with the sour face from sucking on those lemons or you can transform them into something extraordinary. The things is…it doesn’t have to be lemonade. In truth, I don’t even like lemonade i.e. the formula of healing and forgiveness that works for others will not work for me. I’m short on sugar these days but have an excess of fiery tequila!

margarita GIF

My recipe for healing resembles one for a lemon-lime margarita, heavy on the salt and sugar rim. I may heal but I will not be the same, I pack a punch now. Beautifully intoxicating. I own my bitterness by being self aware that it exists and won’t deny those who dare take a sip. When you can’t make lemonade, make MARGARITAS!

My healing recipe has included self reflection, transparency with a dash of dependency with those I trust.  I give voice to my anger without dwelling on it and eventually I will transform that bitterness into mere cautiousness; protecting my heart while finding the belief that there are things/people in this world who can match my light.

Those who will compliment my taste.

There are days where it feels as though I have an excess amount of lemons with no room for another jug of lemonade. It’s on those days that I am force to pour it all down the drain, I have to let it go because I can’t hold onto it. Some of you have a refrigerator full of lemonade and every time you look at it you’re reminded of the bitterness. You need to throw it out. You need to reinvent something else from that pain.

Remember your healing recipe will look different. Just ensure you’re not sucking too long on sour lemons only to complain about the bitterness.Take back control. Look at what you have and get creative about how to deal with it all.

Plus, there’s so many drinks you can make with lemons, don’t waste your energy frustrated about not being able to make lemonade.

 

Millennial Lesson: Make Your Own Healing Recipe

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Loving Let’s Build Yellow All Summer 19′

Ok Builders! Share the names of your LEMONS below and Let’s Build the best possible drink from out sour situations.