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Talking is taking

Hot on the heels of my Like A Pro training on Betty Martin's Wheel of Consent (the gold standard, when it comes to boundaries and consent), as well as the Radical Honesty weekend I participated in earlier this year, I have been noticing how often people talk AT me and/or my capacity to listen is breeched by others, who really seem to enjoy talking/sharing/offloading in my presence.

Of course, in a professional context, holding space is what I do. I have a profound capacity to listen. My presence is often enough for others to unravel and return to a greater degree of self-awareness and connection.

But when I'm not working, much as I do hold a still, spacious energy much of the time, I want balance in the giving and receiving of talking and listening.

It got me thinking.

* Is there something about my energy field and presence that invites people to share so effusively ?

* Are other people just a lot less aware of body language, energy and inclusion than I am and so unable to feel whether I am even available for their share or how much space they are taking up?

* Is my embodiment and enjoyment of silence and stillness felt as a vacuum to fill by those less familiar or comfortable with it?

* And - taking responsibility for this situation - what can I do to honour my limits and well-being, whilst remaining respectful and courteous to the other?

Within the framework of the Wheel of Consent, there's a catch-phrase that goes "talking is taking".

In that sense, talking for too long and hogging the conversation is regarded as a shadow expression of the dynamic of taking.

And - because, of course, there has to be an equal and opposite side of the coin - tolerating being talked at for longer than it feels comfortable (yep, that's me!) - is a shadow expression of the dynamic of allowing.

Since I am responsible for my experience, rather than blaming and moaning about the other, what I want to do is resource myself to handle such situations in a way that takes care of my limit.

My limit may vary, but broadly speaking, if I am being talked at for longer than 3-5 minutes without my consent I feel drained, uncomfortable and start to disconnect. (This is vastly different to being in a reciprocal conversation or when a friend checks in first by asking "is it ok for me to share right now?" or "are you available to listen atm?")

Now, although I'm talking about talking here, this same dynamic - one person taking too much/doing something not wanted and the other tolerating it - can be played out in other ways too. Such as intimacy and touch.

I made a video the other day, in which I describe 2 examples from my own life, where this dynamic got activated. In one case it led to me losing a friend. In another, to a man I was attracted to abruptly cutting off contact with me.

And all because I wasn't able to clearly state my limits, boundaries and needs at the time.

Nobody is the bogey-man/woman here. As I also share in the video, the reasons why these dynamics play out, much to our chagrin and regret, are to do with unconscious patterns and traumas engrained in our bodies and behaviour.

In my own case, that's to do with the conditioning to be the family listener, the threat of violence if I spoke up and having parents who were both so self-absorbed, that I was negated. My father liked nothing better than the sound of his own voice and my mother was too immersed in her own self-pity and neuroses to notice my needs.

Speaking of which, I have noticed a gendered trend in this regard.

In my experience, men have tended to be the pontificators/man-splainers and women the feelers/storytellers. Either way, there's a lot of talking without any apparent regard for or sensitivity to both the capacity/desire of the other to receive AND the merit of including and value-ing the input of all.

If you enjoy being at either end of this spectrum - cool beans. But if like me you don't - there's hope!

The good news is that with awareness, we can rewire those habitual responses, so as to create different experiences in future.

For me it's a continual work in progress and life is supporting that by offering me opportunities to practice !

Since this is an area of growth for all of my clients and, from what I see, most women, I offer one-to-one coaching around this, as well as a new group workshop offering: Just Say No. Be in touch to explore either option with me if it calls to you, love Shakti xx

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