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Reflective woman sitting under a tree

Embrace Transformational Tension

Courage is a practice. 

In therapy, I bear witness to this daily - people using their voices to find and connect to their truth. 

This is to all the ones engaged intentionally in their healing. Your active participation in your healing journey is a courageous act of truth-telling. 

Your voice doesn’t have to be loud. Sometimes it starts as a whisper. A single step. It evolves, transforms, and grows bigger over time. Till, it takes more space in your life; showing up in more areas as you grow and return to what feels natural to you. 

Your courage of voice and truth-telling is about:

  • Speaking up. 
  • Asserting your opinions. 
  • Constructive feedback.
  • Conviction.
  • Admitting mistakes and apologizing. And,
  • Risking being truthful to yourself while disappointing others (when needed).

Even when it only starts with telling one person in one room. 

Some of my favourite quotes about courage from those I’ve had the honour to work with are:

I've put a smile on my face to mask the pain. Courage is taking my mask off.
I can't live in pretense. People expect you to pretend along (with keeping up an image).

When you show up authentically with yourself first, it translates into your relationships. 

Sometimes, this means risking exposing your opinions, values, beliefs, and preferences. Which others may or may not welcome. Because, in fact, you’re changing the rules of your relationships. You risk being cast out, being excluded, and being rejected. 

What you gain is a new type of belonging: To yourself first. And then, with those who choose to understand, respect, and embrace this type of belonging. You gain a new community and newly improved relationships.

This requires a new set of skills. Like the skill of refusal, saying no, and turning down requests. 

Courage in Practice: How to Say No

Saying no can look like many things. Here are some examples listed based on levels of intensity (Source):

  • Level 1: Expressing hesitancy but saying yes
  • Level 2: Expressing unwillingness but saying yes
  • Level 3: Expressing unwillingness
  • Level 4: Refusing firmly, but reconsidering
  • Level 5: Refusing firmly, and resisting giving in
  • Level 6: Refusing firmly, and not giving in (standing your ground)

Relevant Factors to Consider

Many factors can come into play. Consider and decide which options to choose from based on the situation and the people involved.

Some of these factors are:

  • Priorities: Are there important objectives or goals to meet? What’s the strength of the relationship? Is your self-respect on the line?
  • Capability and Ability: of yourself and the person/people involved
  • Timeliness: Is this a favorable or useful time? Can you carve out time to be intentional with one another?
  • Homework: Do you have all the facts? Do you have clarity? Do you know what you’re agreeing to and what’s being asked of you?
  • Authority and Responsibility: Are you responsible for directing the person? Does the person have authority over you? Is what’s being discussed within your responsibility or theirs? Is there a shared responsibility?
  • Rights: by law, moral code, and the rules of the relationship you’ve consented to
  • The Relationship: Is this appropriate for the current situation and relationship?
  • Reciprocity: Is this a reciprocal relationship where there’s giving and receiving? Taking and allowing? Doing for the other and accepting from the other?
  • Long-term vs. Short-term: Will conforming and being submissive keep the peace now but create problems long-term? Will I eventually regret agreeing/saying yes?
  • Respect: Will saying yes make me feel bad about myself later when I think about it wisely? Am I acting helpless when I’m not? Can we respect the differences in our boundaries when the boundaries are healthy?

Key Ingredient: Transformational Tension

You may have historically engaged in lower levels of refusal. So increasing the intensity of your refusal may feel risky to you at first. It also means tolerating the anxiety, worry, fear, or guilt that comes with the risk of disappointing another. 

While it’s essential to be mindful of which relationships and people you could take this risk with and up your level of saying no when needed, it’s equally important to realize when you’re in the zone of transformational tension. This zone is where change happens. It’s also uncomfortable, foreign, and unknown. You might find yourself resisting this, quitting, avoiding or escaping, and rationalizing your way out of it because humans seek comfort and familiarity. 

What helps when you’re in this unchartered territory is to commit yourself to move through this with courage and curiosity and to build your skills of tolerating distress such as this one.

“Transformation isn’t sweet and bright. It’s a dark and murky, painful pushing. An unraveling of the untruths you’ve carried in your body. A practice in facing your own created demons. A complete uprooting, before becoming.” - Victoria Erickson 

Take some time this week to see which factors you may need to tune into more and practice. Consider them in a more intentional and consistent way.

You may have also engaged in lower levels of refusal. So increasing the intensity of your refusal may feel risky to you at first. So this also means, you’re practicing tolerating the anxiety, worry, fear, or guilt that comes with this risk of disappointing another. Be mindful of which relationships and people you could take this risk with, and up your level of saying no when needed. 

If you feel called to share with me (which I hope you would because I love to hear from you), connect with me, and let me know:

  • Which levels of saying no you tried?
  • What factors did you consider/feel drawn to?
  • What changes did you notice from the intentional practice of courage with your voice?

You may also want to check out these related reads:

We only recommend products we use ourselves and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that are at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. Thanks

About the Writer
Reflective woman sitting under a tree

Embrace Transformational Tension

Courage is a practice. 

In therapy, I bear witness to this daily - people using their voices to find and connect to their truth. 

This is to all the ones engaged intentionally in their healing. Your active participation in your healing journey is a courageous act of truth-telling. 

Your voice doesn’t have to be loud. Sometimes it starts as a whisper. A single step. It evolves, transforms, and grows bigger over time. Till, it takes more space in your life; showing up in more areas as you grow and return to what feels natural to you. 

Your courage of voice and truth-telling is about:

  • Speaking up. 
  • Asserting your opinions. 
  • Constructive feedback.
  • Conviction.
  • Admitting mistakes and apologizing. And,
  • Risking being truthful to yourself while disappointing others (when needed).

Even when it only starts with telling one person in one room. 

Some of my favourite quotes about courage from those I’ve had the honour to work with are:

I've put a smile on my face to mask the pain. Courage is taking my mask off.
I can't live in pretense. People expect you to pretend along (with keeping up an image).

When you show up authentically with yourself first, it translates into your relationships. 

Sometimes, this means risking exposing your opinions, values, beliefs, and preferences. Which others may or may not welcome. Because, in fact, you’re changing the rules of your relationships. You risk being cast out, being excluded, and being rejected. 

What you gain is a new type of belonging: To yourself first. And then, with those who choose to understand, respect, and embrace this type of belonging. You gain a new community and newly improved relationships.

This requires a new set of skills. Like the skill of refusal, saying no, and turning down requests. 

Courage in Practice: How to Say No

Saying no can look like many things. Here are some examples listed based on levels of intensity (Source):

  • Level 1: Expressing hesitancy but saying yes
  • Level 2: Expressing unwillingness but saying yes
  • Level 3: Expressing unwillingness
  • Level 4: Refusing firmly, but reconsidering
  • Level 5: Refusing firmly, and resisting giving in
  • Level 6: Refusing firmly, and not giving in (standing your ground)

Relevant Factors to Consider

Many factors can come into play. Consider and decide which options to choose from based on the situation and the people involved.

Some of these factors are:

  • Priorities: Are there important objectives or goals to meet? What’s the strength of the relationship? Is your self-respect on the line?
  • Capability and Ability: of yourself and the person/people involved
  • Timeliness: Is this a favorable or useful time? Can you carve out time to be intentional with one another?
  • Homework: Do you have all the facts? Do you have clarity? Do you know what you’re agreeing to and what’s being asked of you?
  • Authority and Responsibility: Are you responsible for directing the person? Does the person have authority over you? Is what’s being discussed within your responsibility or theirs? Is there a shared responsibility?
  • Rights: by law, moral code, and the rules of the relationship you’ve consented to
  • The Relationship: Is this appropriate for the current situation and relationship?
  • Reciprocity: Is this a reciprocal relationship where there’s giving and receiving? Taking and allowing? Doing for the other and accepting from the other?
  • Long-term vs. Short-term: Will conforming and being submissive keep the peace now but create problems long-term? Will I eventually regret agreeing/saying yes?
  • Respect: Will saying yes make me feel bad about myself later when I think about it wisely? Am I acting helpless when I’m not? Can we respect the differences in our boundaries when the boundaries are healthy?

Key Ingredient: Transformational Tension

You may have historically engaged in lower levels of refusal. So increasing the intensity of your refusal may feel risky to you at first. It also means tolerating the anxiety, worry, fear, or guilt that comes with the risk of disappointing another. 

While it’s essential to be mindful of which relationships and people you could take this risk with and up your level of saying no when needed, it’s equally important to realize when you’re in the zone of transformational tension. This zone is where change happens. It’s also uncomfortable, foreign, and unknown. You might find yourself resisting this, quitting, avoiding or escaping, and rationalizing your way out of it because humans seek comfort and familiarity. 

What helps when you’re in this unchartered territory is to commit yourself to move through this with courage and curiosity and to build your skills of tolerating distress such as this one.

“Transformation isn’t sweet and bright. It’s a dark and murky, painful pushing. An unraveling of the untruths you’ve carried in your body. A practice in facing your own created demons. A complete uprooting, before becoming.” - Victoria Erickson 

Take some time this week to see which factors you may need to tune into more and practice. Consider them in a more intentional and consistent way.

You may have also engaged in lower levels of refusal. So increasing the intensity of your refusal may feel risky to you at first. So this also means, you’re practicing tolerating the anxiety, worry, fear, or guilt that comes with this risk of disappointing another. Be mindful of which relationships and people you could take this risk with, and up your level of saying no when needed. 

If you feel called to share with me (which I hope you would because I love to hear from you), connect with me, and let me know:

  • Which levels of saying no you tried?
  • What factors did you consider/feel drawn to?
  • What changes did you notice from the intentional practice of courage with your voice?

You may also want to check out these related reads:

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We only recommend products we use ourselves and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that are at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. Thanks

About the Writer
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Hiba Khatkhat

A registered psychotherapist, life coach, and social justice activist. Born and raised in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), she immigrated to Canada and currently lives in Niagara. Hiba is passionate about Yin Yoga, interior design, travelling, dancing, and entrepreneurship.

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