I loved this blog post earlier in the week by the fabulous Lisa Clark on Spilling your Truth Juice! It’s about how important it is for us to tell our own, true, unique stories – and it really is.
It got me thinking about all the reasons why we don’t do this often enough, and I identified my own top barriers to speaking my deepest darkest truths.
With the very best of intentions, if you spill your emotions onto a page or webpage, well meaning folks will give you advice. Except, you probably didn’t ask for it or need it! Sometimes, our feelings just *are*. We don’t need them to go away, or improve, we just need to be heard.
It’s hard, especially as women, not to give advice when we think somebody is in trouble. I have to stop myself all the time! I’m learning both to resist giving unasked-for advice, and saying that I’m not asking for advice when I share something.
Another thing we lovely, caring types are super good at is validating each other’s sob stories. A lot of the time, when I’m telling myself a sad old tale about how miserable I am, the last thing I need is somebody going ‘oh, poor you’ and giving me permission to keep by posterior a-seated on the pity pot.
I find that communicating things with a little self-deprecating humour takes care of most of this, and if it does happen I try to appreciate the kind sentiment behind the validation, but not the validation itself.
3) Getting frozen in time
Years ago, I went through the break up from hell. It was messy, I was messy, it was all rather horrid and I had quite a few friends who got wet shoulders as I sobbed copious tears and told them how ghastly it all was.
For years afterwards, when I was a moving-on glitter train of awe and SO over it, there was one particular friend who, whenever they saw me, would treat me like I was still the crying wreck they’d comforted all those years ago. I deeply regretted showing my broken side to this person, as I felt that it wasn’t letting me ever be anything BUT the grief-stricken, weepy, shouty mess I’d been for a few weeks, whenever I saw this person.
In the end, I just made a point of saying how very much in the past those things were, and gently but firmly changed the subject when it came up. Eventually, we were able to progress on from our old friendship and have a new one as the people we are now.
I make it a firm rule that, when a friend in need shows me the bad days, I always remember it’s a bad day. Next time I see them is a new day – sorted!
4) You’ll look so phoney, baby!
Both of my professional roles, as a director at The Art House and a Creative Faciliator, require me to motivate and inspire people. I’m more than up to the job, but that doesn’t mean I’m a perfect human being or any less prone to nonsense than everybody else. Of course I have bad days, mammoth feck-ups, tantrums and severe cases of foot-in-mouth.
It’s not all rope swings and finger painting, y’know!
Occasionally, I have to fight back the feeling that showing my imperfections will ruin my reputation as a glitterbombing ray of sunshine. The truth is, by showing my flaws and vulnerabilities, I gain more respect, not less!
Can you imagine how annoying a perfectly perky, happy person would be?
There’s nothing worse than a leader or teacher who appears to totally have it together. A perfect person is not something any of us feel we can aspire to be. So, to inspire people, we need to show the ‘bad’ stuff, too.
The best attitude to a friend in trouble, or a person sharing their pain or foibles is to accept that these things are a normal part of life.
Hear it kindly, yes, send love and healing, of course – but nobody wants to be pitied. I’d say my number one barrier to telling people when I’m less than happy is that I do not want pity, sympathy or any of that ‘aw’ stuff – it’s not really all that helpful and it kinda makes me cringe.
Yay for the offer of a hug, or a word of encouragement, or even a silly joke to make me smile – but no Pity, for Pity’s sake 🙂
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