Pick Connection Over Convenience

There’s a lot of things I’ve experienced in my 33 years of existence. I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world to exotic and remote locations. I’ve worked in a variety of industries from superyachts to office work, through to holding my own workshops. Throughout it all I’ve made a lot of amazing connections and not necessarily in the most convenience circumstances. Most recently I’ve found myself making those in depth connections in the most subtle of moments. From a passing smile exchanged with a stranger that turns into a drink, then a friendly local tour guide. All the way through to a an open first chat with someone which has then created a foundation for a friendship much stronger. All these situations have caught me slightly off guard and if I’m honest I was looking for these friendships, but not in the right places. I’d actually been working in quite a toxic situation at the time where the people around me were guarded, aggressive and became defensive whenever I tried to connect. This left me feeling disheartened until I’ve recognised what I already knew – good connections aren’t born through convenience situations, they’re born through connecting authentically with someone in a moment. They’re strengthened by both parties honouring that connection with respect, honesty and an equal time and energy commitment.

What I mean by this is that just because you spend a lot of time with someone at school, or work, etc it doesn’t mean that you can create an authentic friendship. Likewise a random conversation with a stranger can sometimes turn into a deep friendship very quickly if we’re open to it and it’s this that I’ve been practising now that I’m immersing myself back in the ‘real world’. It’s the openness to smile at a stranger, even though the PTSD part of me is telling me to look away. The openness to offer up the real version of myself and the values that I hold dear, regardless of the fear of rejection that makes me want to keep them locked up tightly. Sometimes I don’t find this so easy and of course anyone who has any kind of emotional wound can relate to this – once bitten twice shy right?

What I’m finding though, is that those moments when I’m open and true to myself are the moments when I’m connecting with the world again and that’s when I’m bringing the right people to me at exactly the right moment. I’ve literally found comfort and friendship in the most random moments when I’ve otherwise been in work/living situations where I’ve felt isolated and alone. What I’ve also realised is when I reflect on my current authentic friendships, the ones which have held strong through the most turbulent moments, I’ve recognised that almost every single connection was made through open and honest first conversations. Interactions where we speak our truth, become vulnerable and share that part of us that connects with another.

While I sit and reflect on this, I wonder how many of us honour the conventional connections which might not serve us? The ones built on old loyalties, empty promises and ease of situation, that deep down don’t feel good but we continue to keep them anyway. Rather than investing in the connections that feel good, challenge us to be the best versions of ourselves but might take a little but more effort to maintain? I’ll take connection over convenience every time thanks.

I’m on a mission to create a greater sense wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. To teach others how to connect authentically with themselves, so they can connect authentically with others. It starts with learning self-awareness, maintaining a strong value system that serves us, and having the emotional intelligence to move through a whole spectrum of emotions so we can connect without attachment. 

If you want  the EQ tools to connect authentically with your values and the values of your fellow humans, then contact me directly to see how I can help you. Find out more about workshops, training and tailored coaching packages at www.shereensoliman.com. 

Shereen x

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

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Are You Respecting Your Boundaries?

Respecting boundaries is a subject that has been rotating around various conversations lately and it’s caused me to think about what my boundaries are and how I go about communicating them.

When I think about the heartbreak and the attack, I think about the boundaries that I stated and communicated, and those that I didn’t. Ultimately we’re all in control of our own boundaries and by stating them we set the benchmark for how we allow others to treat us. In one of these instances I didn’t communicate my boundaries and when I allowed them to be overstepped I got frustrated and angry because I felt so vulnerable. In the other instance, I fiercely communicated my boundaries which weren’t respected and this literally ended up in a violent fight to protect them. When experiencing PTSD there seems to be a fear within me that I can’t control my boundaries and that they will get overstepped again. I especially feel this when there is the possibility that I might be in a vulnerable situation, particularly at moments when I have the potential to be intimate. What’s interesting is that because of the fear of boundaries being overstepped I feel a huge compulsion rise within me to protect myself and sometimes in a very fierce manner. This very action stops me from getting into situations where I can exercise my vulnerability and practice establishing new boundaries, leaving me in a catch 22 PTSD spiral. The reality here is that I control my boundaries and I have protected them before so there’s no reason to worry that they could be overstepped because the choice to allow that to happen always lies within my control.

I’ve received this lesson on boundaries on both ends in the last year and I even remember a friend shouting at me during an argument about it…

“But no one can say no to you Shereen” she screamed, when I asked why she let me stay at her house which was actually an inconvenience to her, rather than just saying no. This overstepping of boundaries led to a build up of resentment in the friendship which later destroyed it all together. What I’ve realised since is that we live in a society where difficult things aren’t talked about and people don’t like to say their truth, instead, we’re somehow encouraged to pretend like everything is ok even when we actually feel taken advantage of. This lack of communication leads to people being in situations that they don’t want to be in, situations where they’re not being authentic to themselves. Well, I’m going to be blunt here – if you’re not going to state and communicate your own boundaries then how can you expect others to know what they are? The human race hasn’t evolved to be telepathic yet so if you’re not using the communication tools you’ve been given then you can’t expect people to know what you want.

The other side of this is that women especially are encouraged not to speak out, as though to do so is some kind of shameful activity. I’ve faced this all my life when I’ve been told that I’m bossy when in reality I’m assertive and make things happen. Or that I’m too direct when I speak up against immoral actions of others, this isn’t being too direct, it’s having integrity. Another is when I call out sleazy guys who are making me or other women feel uncomfortable by their undesired advances. That one is usually delivered as overreacting when in reality I’m communicating boundaries.

Whilst I’m getting used to stating my boundaries, I know that my strength in character can push others boundaries and the statement that was shouted at me by my friend last year gave me an insight into the friends I’d surrounded myself with – some who allowed me to overstep their boundaries and then held resentment in our friendship against me and some who have the courage to stand up to me and point when I’m overstepping the mark. After the traumas, an intense light got shone on these friendships and it made me think what kind of people I want in my life. The thing is that when such emotionally intense things happen it can be difficult to see the wood from the trees and it’s more important than ever to have friends with the inner strength to say “Hold on a minute friend, you’re out of line there”, and without these friends I might have been even more reactive to the traumatic situations I’ve been through. These people are my signposts in life who steer me away from destructive situations when I’m clouded by my emotions, the ones who teach the lessons even if they’re hard to hear and ultimately keep me on the path of continuous self-improvement – isn’t that what true friendship is about? Thank you to all my ‘signposts’, you know who are you and I love you completely for being your strong authentic selves.

The shocking thing is that by acting this way I know we’re in the minority and worse of all that makes us look like trouble makers, but I’m done with feeling guilty for speaking my authentic truth and my horoscope this month even backs me up.

“You would be wise to pause and consider the possibility that people are intimidated by you. There continues to be an alignment of slow-moving, deep, and evocative planets in your sign. One response people might have to you is that things get real fast when you’re in the room. This is not your problem; don’t take it on. It’s been a long time since people in Western civilization have been this frightened of their shadow.” Eric Francis Coppolino.

Touche Eric! Not my problem at all so I’m dropping the shame around this and I’m stepping into who I really am – assertive, integral and with the courage to stand by my morals and I implore others to this too especially when it comes to setting boundaries.

So I leave you with this. What are you boundaries and are you communicating them? If not, why not? What would happen if you did? I’ve found that for me this has led to deeper more understanding relationships, even if there were a few sticky parts along the way.

In the end, it’s always worth it.

I want to create a world of greater wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. That’s why I’m starting an honest conversation about wellbeing; encompassing self care, emotional intelligence, body and mind awareness, personal development, and authenticity. If you want to learn more about these subjects then then head over to www.shereensoliman.com to find out more about the packages I offer.

Sending self care vibes,

Shereen x