There is a myth in personal growth/new age/self-improvement circles that there is something very valuable about sharing “your truth” with someone. People who have done this with me do it with an aura about them of giving me something incredibly valuable. One such person prefaced it by “I hope you don’t mind me being honest” as if she were doing me a great favor.
Next time, lie!
Why do I say that, you may ask?
How often do the people sharing this valuable stuff with you ask you a question? Have you ever been asked a question by them? Or do they bombard you with a series of statements about you, all of which are judgments and conclusions they have reached about you and your behavior. Do any of these conclusions and judgments about you have anything to do with your reasons for your behavior? I can tell you they don’t in my case.
I’m weird, I’m different, I do what works for me and not what people expect. People often attribute motives to me which are most interesting to say the least. I could explain why I’ve done what I’ve done if they cared to ask–but the catch is none of them do.
Instead, they jump to conclusions. They make judgments and decisions about what I’ve done and why I’ve done it, and then they give me the “gift” of letting me know what they think about it. First of all, as Terry Cole Whittaker’s book title said, “What You Think of Me Is None of My Business.” In other words, their opinions about what I’ve done and why I do it are just THEIR opinions. They are truly only their interesting points of view and really have nothing to do with me.
Even if their opinions of me did have something to do with me, they are wildly inaccurate because they are based only on their judgments of what I’ve done and why I’ve done it. These “friends” assume this air of superiority. They know better than I do WHY I’ve done what I’ve done and it’s their moral responsibility to correct me to their way of thinking. Sometimes this is called “constructive criticism.” WHAT is constructive about criticism? Criticism is always a judgment, and it’s never constructive.
Is this something you are doing in your relationships? Do you feel compelled to share your truth with someone “for their own good.” Do you offer “constructive criticism?” How well is it received? Is it ever well received?
I have a friend who describes the experience of having someone else’s truth shared with him as having his guts cut out. I didn’t know what he was talking about until someone called me up. This person was demanding her money back for a service I provided her, while telling me I had done it all wrong under the guise of “being honest.”
After I got off the phone with her, I felt like an old fashioned anatomy illustration, where the skin of the arms and legs remains, but the skin and muscle of the torso is removed to show illustrations of the internal organs. It was kind of a vivid picture of evisceration, “having my guts cut out.”
What’s the way out of this communication connundrum?
Tip number 1: Question, question, question. Asking, “was there a reason you didn’t do such and such?” is always easier to receive than an accusation, “You forgot to ….”
If you ask a question and have enough openmindedness to hear the answer, you may be amazed at how differently people look at things. I have often asked clients why they did things that made no sense to me, only to be told their reasons, which were ways of looking at the world I would not have suspected in a million years. It would have been easy to tell them what was wrong with what they were doing–but that would have dishonored them and their points of view, made me look foolish and incompetent, closed communication that I wished to open, and deprived me of the richness of looking at the world from another point of view.
Tip number 2: Don’t take your own point of view seriously. Was your way of looking at things handed down to you from God via Moses? Or is it your idiosyncratic take on the world? Your point of view is just your point of view. Until you become God (I know, the world would be better if you were, but you ain’t God just yet), your point of view is no more right, wrong, good, bad, correct, incorrect, or positive or negative than anyone else’s. It doesn’t have signficance or meaning–it’s just the lens through which you’re watching the world in this 10 seconds.
Tip number 3: Be ready to change your point of view on a dime. What if any choice or point of view were only good for 10 seconds? Then you could change it. It would take the pressure off of you to be right, would it not? Wouldn’t you have a lot more relaxation and freedom in your universe if you didn’t always have to be right, and be judging yourself to make sure you were right?
Tip number 4: If you must share what you’re seeing with others, using a string of statements rather than questions will make your points of view much more harsh. Take a look at what you’re planning to say. Have you included questions, or only statements? Almost all statements are judgments. Does it ever feel good to be judged? How much easier would your communication be if you deleted those judgments and conclusions?
Try these tips–they could create a lot more harmony in your relationships than you’re experiencing right now. Got any miracle stories? I’d love to hear them! Your comments are invited…but remember they’re only your interesting point of view!