I formed a philosophy for myself some time back. If I have an issue with someone, it is my responsibility to tell them. If I don’t, it’s my issue and not theirs. I own it, if I am not willing to share it. Or abandon it.
There are subjects in my mind that I will think need to be discussed, because they continue to fester in my head. But do they, just because they come to my mind? If I really examine it, is the timing right? Is the person ready to receive it? Am I in the frame of mind where I can speak with love and not anger or frustration? Am I ready to invest in helping them? Is it really a big deal (and doesn’t just feel like one because I am having a bad day)? Is this a battle I pick to invest in? While sometimes the answer to these questions is no, if you are a human being who invests in others, sometimes the answer also needs to be yes. Yeah, life’s complicated.
Often I must face the fact that perhaps I am the one who needs to truly own my reaction to the issue. I am the one that needs to change. I am the one who needs to give up my “right” to be right. Or let an issue just die on the vine. Or admit I am just cranky. Sometimes sharing is not what I need to do.
Honesty is not always the best policy. Whoever first said that was dumb. Whoever repeats it is dumber. I don’t mean that it is good to be dishonest, because no…..I abhor lies. Lying is not good. But because it is truth does not mean it always needs to be spoken. And you…oh wise one…do not have to always be the truth teller of the universe.
Sometimes “honesty” piles on to an already overwhelmed individual and further ties them up in knots. It is like this pile of jewelry I have that I can’t seem to untangle….so beautiful, but the more I try to get it back to rights, the worse it gets. I don’t usually solve the problem when I try. My brain is not good at looking at a mangle of knots and figuring out how to remove them. As this is the case, sometimes I am not the person who needs to be the one saying certain things to certain people. Even if they are true, and everyone else thinks so. Sometimes I just need to cut off the jewel and forget about the tangled chain. Sometimes I just need to throw it away.
There are a few people in my life that can very bluntly tell me something (criticism) and from them I hear love. They help me with their critical, but loving, words.There are not many of these people. Very few, in fact. Most others will issue the same criticism and it simply hurts. It is of no help at all. Not because we don’t have a good relationship….sometimes especially because we do. I can’t put it in perspective because they tie me up in knots. It is not that the criticism isn’t valid….it very often is. But still, it doesn’t help. We may thank the person (because that is what you are supposed to do, right?), but try not to let them see the tears in our eyes or the dismay they cause in our hearts. Usually they are totally oblivious to the fact that we do not consider it a gift. Sometimes their criticism adds to the problem and pulls us further away from the solution because they embarrass us, make us feel like a total disappointment, add to our insecurity and the obsession we already have with the issue, or just say things in a way that cut deep. Often we feel as though we are tangled jewelry, a bunch of knots with no value and no hopes of solving the problem.
Still, I don’t aspire to be the friend that tells you what you want to hear. You’ve got enough of those in your life, I am sure. You may catch me rolling my eyes when they speak to you, in fact. I try to speak truth with those I love. I try to not give baseless compliments or false flattery. I hope I am not the endless truth-teller, though. The friend that won’t ever let their truth about you take a rest or go away.
Sometimes it is my job to simply keep my mouth closed and not jump in the pile-on of all of your imperfections that others so “generously” catalog for you. Obviously if you are in my life, I see value in you. Let’s talk about that more than all the other stuff. While my responsibility may be to tell you if I think you are spinning out of control, or hurting yourself or someone else, or making choices without fully considering the consequences, usually that responsibility is one conversation initiated by me. When you may be ready to listen. When it might be helpful. Not to go on and on and on and make it the center of our relationship. Who needs that? Maybe you just need a hug as you try to get through this week or this mood or this problem. Maybe you need a reminder of all of the good you are in my life and in the lives of others, so you can clear your head and deal with the bad from a positive base. Maybe you need to talk about it all night long and I need to listen.Maybe we just need sleep and a new day.
There are times I get so caught up in myself and my need to point out what I have observed, that I don’t see I have crushed someone until it is too late (if at all). I’m working on that.
Let’s think before we speak to each other. Do we need to say the words, change ourselves, or release it and go on? Whatever it is, you own it. Until you share it. And “share” implies you continue to have some sort of responsibility to them….not just to throw a heavy weight on their back, but to help them carry it. Unless you need to drop it and leave it behind. And maybe help them do the same.