In my last post I talked about “edges” — those dysfunctional, provocative moves we make when we are not at our best. As I stated in that post, these edges take their toll in our relationships and in our lives. Left unchecked, our edges can wreak some serious havoc.
So this week, let’s talk about how to start working those edges so they don’t cause so much damage.
Five steps to Working Your Edges
1. Acknowledge you have them. Denying, rationalizing or explaining why you do what you do is not going to help you get where you want to go in your relationships or life. Stop the denial and find the humility and courage to be able to recognize your edges, acknowledge them and change them.
2. Get clarity on what they are and what they cost you. Finding out what our edges are is fairly easy if we’re open enough to looking at ourselves. What do you do when you are in the heat of the moment to get your way, calm things down or end a stressful interaction? Do you yell, intimidate, shut down, manipulate, control, please or _______________________? If you’re not sure, ask your loved ones what you do that they don’t like. Chances are people have complained to you about your behavior countless times, but you dismissed it or blamed your responses on their actions. Stop dismissing these offerings and start to take them in. When you have clarity, ask yourself how this edge has helped you and is hurting you. Be honest in your assessment.
3. Observe your edges when they show up. Once you come to grips with having them (which we ALL do), you have to learn to recognize them when they show up. What does it feel like in your body? What are the triggers? How do you typically interact verbally and physically? Notice how you react in the heat of the moment. Pay attention to your volume, your physical presence and the typical move that you use to get people off your back or to get your way. Also notice what or who triggers you to use this edge. The more aware you are of what your edge is and how it shows up, the better you will be able to shift it.
4. Get clarity on what a healthier response would look like, sound like and feel like. What should your new move be? If you rage, then you will need to breathe, slow down and step in with a Grounded Powerful Strength (GPS), NOT an aggressive strength. If you shut down, you will need to get centered and stay in it. If you play the victim, you will need to stop thinking the world keeps conspiring against you and begin to take ownership for your actions. The “healthy” move is often the opposite move of your edge. Take some time to think what that would be and then begin to walk yourself through what that would look and sound like.
5. Practice this new move everywhere and anywhere. Start with the lowest risk situations and move from there. In the heat of the moment, learn to recognize when you are feeling triggered and SLOW IT DOWN. Take a step back, stop speaking, breathe and then step in with the new move. With more minor upsets, start out with the new move and see what you notice.
When it comes to our edges, we all have them, and . . . they get in the way of healthy relationships. Learn to recognize, acknowledge and work on yours and start reaping the rewards of more connected relationships.
Challenge: Be daring this week and take an honest look at yourself and your edges. Walk through the steps above and check back in here with your results. Let us know what you see! Good luck!
For helping professionals who would like to work their edges in a safe place with other helping professionals, come JOIN US for a 6-week teleclass!