Why are we so afraid to be honest? Because of other people’s reaction. Plain and simple. I mean, we’re not afraid to speak it alone in our room (unless we’re afraid to acknowledge it at all which may end up being another episode). Someone is not going to like what we say and then they will criticize, reject, abandon, use social media to publicly castigate, vilify and then we won’t be part of the group. In an animal pack, that spells death. Abandonment to an infant spells death. So are we hard-wired to blend in, be codependent, appease. We want attention but not THAT kind. We want everyone to like us and say nice things about us and smile at us in the hallway.
So what if we break from that flow? Go against the grain? Give ourselves permission to say things others might not like. (Notice the word “say” not “communicate?” We communicate a lot non-verbally, especially when we feel restricted from using our words, but that is fodder for another episode). WHY don’t others like what we are saying? Is it our tone? Volume? Delivery? Content? They have a right to chafe. Don’t we chafe at what others say at times?
FYI – I’m not talking about verbal abuse. That is another animal entirely and will probably be covered in other episodes. This is just plain ‘ole speaking your mind. Being brave enough to say what others might think but would never say. And they don’t say it – why? – maybe it will offend someone. Maybe it will hurt someone’s feelings. I dk about you but I am willing to go only so far in trying to manage other people’s feelings. Quite frankly, those are not my monkeys, not my circus. If we mince around constantly trying to be inoffensive and the recipient of other people’s kind regard then we are disrespecting part of ourselves and we are in yards that don’t belong to us. (“Yard” is a boundaries reference. If you would like, you can type “Let Your No Be No Boundaries Small Group” into the fb search bar, click on videos, and watch a class I taught on Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s seminal book on Boundaries).
I recently saw a magazine picture of a bride and groom and I want to say that I was full of positive energy and light but my gut reaction was how unattractive (I thought that was a better word than ugly…) the groom was and if there was a nuclear blast and we were the last humans left to repopulate the earth, I would have to be knocked unconscious. That was quickly followed by shame. Shame on me for thinking such horrible things, especially about a groom on his wedding day! Shame because I wasn’t the best looking chick on the planet either so I should just shut my mouth. Feeling that I should always say (and think) nice things. But I don’t. And I can’t. I was imagining the vitriolic comments I would get about what a horrible person I was, how shallow, etc, etc etc… As to the veracity of these comments, there is some truth there. I certainly can be a horrible, shallow person but I’m also honest and trying to expose this honesty in my podcast. I’m also a huge fan of people being themselves, loving themselves, and having comfort in their own skin but that’s for another episode.
So we learn to keep our nasty thoughts to ourselves, don’t we? I’ve learned how to keep my face from betraying my inner thoughts (unless I’m driving and THAT is definitely another episode). I mean, is it necessary for me to announce every time something repulses me? Of course not. But sometimes we have a right to speak our honest thoughts and feelings but we resist with everything within us because of the reaction we expect to receive. I’ve seen homosexual individuals struggle with this for decades, believing that if they are honest they will be cast out of their family, disowned by friends, abandoned.
I think maybe we stop in the middle of the story. Like how a fairy tale is usually a hot mess in the middle but if you keep turning the pages everything sort of straightens out. Yes, I know real life isn’t a fairy tale but neither do we have to deal with dragons, witches, or being housed in glass coffins (unless you’re in a Criminal Minds episode). What I’m trying to say is, what if you spoke your truth anyway, let the chips fall, waited for the dust to settle, then kept on walking? What if we refused to allow other people’s agendas to dictate our self-expression? If someone insults you, criticizes you, slanders your name? And? That says a whole lot more about them than it does you. If they refuse to be your friend or kick you out that would definitely leave a mark but that is not the end of the story. What if you saw it as the middle of your narrative rather than the end? What if you kept on going? Would you be wounded for a while? Sure. Would you be fatally wounded? No.
There is no denying it takes guts to expose your true thoughts and feelings and risk being rejected but what’s the alternative? Living a half-life (like Voldemort on Unicorn blood), disowning yourself and allowing others to dictate who you are and what you say? That sounds like a Stepford Wife episode. No thanks. There’s a whole lot more that could be said about our fear of rejection but I think I’ll talk about antifragility, grit, and resiliency in other episodes.