can we speak in flowers?

Tiana recently shared this great article with me. It’s written as a guide for personal growth within one’s relationships, but I find myself well familiar with the concepts it covers; being accountable, empathetic, grateful, introspective, and responsible are all things that tend to come naturally to me. I’ve also been actively working on (or struggling with) being more patient, forgiving, resilient, autonomous, and optimistic in the last few years1.

Instead, I use this checklist as a reminder of the qualities I should be seeking in others. If I’m going to invest any of myself into someone else — whether that’s time, energy, or feelings — they should have a general comprehension, if not a certain level of competency, in all these areas. I’m no longer in a place to teach someone how to be honest about their emotions, take responsibility for their actions, or listen with intent.

It’s difficult to let go of this basic expectation when I’ve already done a fair amount of work on myself to understand and practice these ideas. Spending time with anyone who reminds me of the person I used to be makes me feel like I’m regressing, and it doesn’t take long before I lose interest in their company. At this point, I’m doing everything I can to move forward, and that means being involved with people who are already good at relationships2. It’s so much easier for me to let down my guard and give myself wholly to someone when I have a mutual foundation to work with.

  1. Others may have the ability to develop such skills by themselves, while I need the guidance of a therapist, as some of my trauma is too severe for me to view certain situations clearly. []
  2. Something that generally requires a fair amount of intelligence, insight, maturity, depth, and ambition. I used to wonder why I felt strong connections with certain people until I realized this. []

4 comments

  1. ” I’m no longer in a place to teach someone how to be honest about their emo­tions, take respon­si­bil­ity for their actions, or lis­ten with intent.”

    I often feel this way, maybe about different specific things. It’s tough because I also feel a responsibility to share my knowledge to help others grow. But it can be so draining. Finding the right balance has been hard for me, but I think it has been because I’ve been unclear on my boundaries. I don’t need to alternate between all or nothing, but pinning down that nuance is challenging.

    • You’re right, it’s not a completely binary issue, and I occasionally find myself wanting to be a resource for the right person. But, I’ve also had too many painful experiences when trying to communicate and work with someone who’s actively hurting me, while they refuse to believe they’re doing anything wrong. I’m no longer in a place to find that balance or nuance; that’s why I admire your patience and willingness to deal with difficult people.

  2. Tiana is such a true friend. I envy you for havng such friends.

    These guides in the article are great, and good common sense organized. The thing is every concept (and maybe every word) is subject to interpretation. When two politicians fight against each other they both believe they are acting patriotically, that’s becuase they have different interpretations of patriotism. How one interprets things is a result of one’s character and background. I’ve seen intelligent, well-educated people believing in absurd things.

    • None of the people in my life are a coincidence; they’re all carefully cultivated. :)

      I’m still constantly surprised at how two people can view the same situation completely differently. One of the reasons I keep coming back to this article is cause it helps me reduce those kinds of miscommunications and disconnects. It may not be possible to perfectly in tune with another person at all times, but it’s definitely possible to get better at it.

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