Speaking up for your needs and values

Recently I had the experience of parting ways with a cleaning service.

We were on our second cleaning with the owner of the service, and it appeared that she missed something that I thought was to be included in our service. Hoping to clarify our understanding and negotiate what would be covered by our service, I asked her if she had time for a phone call.

At the end of our phone conversation, it seemed that we had agreed on what specific tasks would be included with the service. When I returned to my email on Monday morning, I was surprised to have received a message from her, expressing that she found my phone call to be "off-putting" and that she felt that I had accused her of not doing her job. Because of this, she stated that she would not be coming back.

This wasn't the first time I had to voice my concerns with this her. During our consultation, I expressed my need for green cleaning products and she assured me that was what she used in her work. The first time she cleaned, I smelled bleach.

At that moment, I realized I had to make an important choice. Let it go and accept the bleach even though I feel strongly about it not being used, or speak up and ask her not to use it again.

These conversations, and ultimately the outcome of the conversations, triggered some anxiety in me. Am I going to develop a reputation for being difficult to work for? Are my standards unreasonable? Worst of all: Am I a bitch? I think a lot of women have similar anxieties.

We are socialized to be "nice," and what that often translates to, is not speaking up.

And yet, when we don't speak our truth, when we are in the habit of making seemingly minor concessions that are important to meeting our needs, it is absolutely toxic because it builds resentment. And as the saying goes, "resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die."

This habit can be an underlying pattern in disorganized homes as well. In the moment, it feels easier to pick up after our loved ones rather than set boundaries. It feels easier to let someone store their stuff in our basement indefinitely than holding a conversation about a time limit. It feels easier to defer a decision about the fate of something you don't use and don't love by sticking it in your spare room and keeping that door closed.

When you make it a point of decluttering and organizing your space, you fully realize that it's not easier to do any of those things. Through the process of decluttering, you build powerful decision-making skills. You recognize what's in your control and what's not. You realize where you end, and others begin.

You claim ownership of your domain.

I'm not saying that you never compromise, give chances, or help people out. It's definitely not an excuse to be unkind. But when your daily life begins and ends in this empowered physical and psychological space, you can draw on that clarity and strength in your everyday actions.

My recent experience with this housekeeper was uncomfortable. Indeed, accepting responsibility for my life has put me in several awkward social situations. Being described with an adjective such as "off-putting" was the realization of a fear that has driven many concessions I've made in the past at the expense of my own needs and values. Now I know it's simpler to stand up for my needs and values, at the risk of rocking the boat.

Let this be a reminder that you're never going to please everyone. You have no control over other people's feelings, opinions, and interpretations. Not everyone is going to be an energetic match for you, and that’s okay. And it's okay to let people go when they don't accept your boundaries, your standards, and your truth.

With Love + Gratitude,

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