Walking on Eggshells

1 min read

‘Walking on eggshells’, ‘on thin ice’, ‘overly cautious’, ‘beating around the bush’ are a few expressions used when clients share about the difficulty of relationships.  What does it really mean?  Are we afraid to be ourselves, be honest?  Are we afraid of the reaction we will get such as rage, defensiveness, blame or criticism?  Are we following unspoken rules such as topics that are off limits, issues that are unsolvable, or memories too painful to discuss? I can almost hear someone saying “Yes – ALL of that!

It would be great (and unrealistic) to say that we just need to speak our mind, and all will be ok.  That is an option for sure and sometimes it will work out, however that can be pretty risky.  There are techniques and skills that can help us communicate more effectively and in a way that bring about connection and understanding.  Notice I did not say agreement or approval, but connection and understanding, which can be more powerful than simply agreeing.  Especially since some of us use agreeing as a strategy to “walk on eggshells”.

First step would be to spend time in understanding the function or purpose that ‘walking on eggshells’ provides you. You guessed it, the first step is increased self-awareness. What are you trying to avoid or not break, and is this method effective?  Is it healthy or costing you something that is beginning to break you?  Spend some time in reflection through prayer, journaling, talking to someone you trust or seeking counseling in order to better understand the ‘why’ or purpose of ‘walking on eggshells’ and how this is impacting you.  

Awareness and understanding is not the end, but rather the beginning.  How can you begin to utilize your awareness and understanding in order to build and work for the relationship that you want (and this implies you know the qualities of the relationship you want). Skills such as active listening, soft start ups, validating statements, using ‘I’ statements and taking breaks to self-soothe are all helpful skills to facilitate healthy communication.

Unless you are playing a game in youth group or at a party, ‘walking on eggshells’ is not fun, but will continue to take an emotional toll.  There is help to get onto solid ground for yourself and in your relationships.  Take the first step in understanding yourself better.

You have a story to tell, and I want to hear ALL of it! I love hearing people's stories, and there is something healing in sharing. I have been engaging in people's stories for over 30 years whether through training, mentoring, discipling and now counseling. I lived in 3 different countries and cultures, I understand how important a role it plays in our daily lives. I believe in purpose and developing a strong foundation of values in order to have worthwhile goals. Your life has value and purpose - let's develop that so that you may live life to the fullest

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