One of the scariest things for some people to do is to put themselves “out there.” You see in being “out there” we are exposed. Our feelings, our emotions, our thoughts, our actions are visible and available for someone else’s approval, perusal, and potentially criticism and judgement. Most people have a strong need to be accepted by others. This need is heightened when we are personally vested in the situation- either we have feelings for the other person, have professional goals at stake, or hold the other person in high esteem.
The fear of exposure leads us to hold back that which should or could be shared. We walk the line gingerly, giving some but not too much. We think that allowing ourselves to be fully seen and accepted is unnecessary and unwise. After all, we have enough evidence to the contrary to know that very few people ever “put themselves out there like that.” The result? We have a number of relationships that are not operating at their fullest and greatest potential. And this, in my opinion, is a sad state of affairs.
In general, the American culture has become a lot more fear based. It’s the arena of political correctness. We don’t want to offend others in any way, shape, or form. Most of our interactions are based on getting along. With that as our basis, however, we are very inauthentic. If the goal is not to offend, we can still work toward that end. In sharing our true thoughts, feelings, and emotions we can still be kind. There is no rule that says the truth must be delivered with meanness. Kindness can come even when the harshest of assessments is being given. If we desire to be kind, we will seek to deliver kindness. I know of people who state “I don’t tell them the truth because I don’t want to be mean.” My response? “By not telling him that you are not interested you ARE being mean. You are building hope for him where there is none. ”
We are a politically correct society. In many cases this works to our detriment. We are also a society of selfish people. We don’t go out on a limb because we are protecting self. It has nothing to do with the other person. I have recently been doing a lot of observation of romantic relationships, both married and otherwise attached. What I have noted is that in the relationships that appear to be working really well and are the happiest there appears to be at least one person who was willing to go out on a limb for the other person. I know it can be frightening. After all, life holds no guarantees. But I’m noting that the willingness to say and show how much you care, look like a “fool” to others, and fail, if that is what happens, also holds the promise of the greatest rewards. I noticed the same thing in friendships. The friends who are able to fully share their thoughts and feelings yield friendships with the greatest bonds. As an example, I spoke with my best friend today. They were aware that I was a little less than satisfied with some of our recent conversations. The reason? They went out on a limb to give me their unedited opinion about something that was bothering me. The opinion was not fully what I wanted to hear, but that was ok because my friend knew that I needed to hear the unvarnished truth. Again, I didn’t love the response but that was ok. We are good enough friends to accept the truth on both sides and hang up laughing after discussing it a bit further. A person who tells you ONLY what you want to hear is not a true friend. The person who goes out on a limb to tell you the truth will go out on a limb for you in other ways.
I have been struggling with this out on a limb concept lately. I know that it can have great rewards, but again there is also the possibility of great pain. I guess the thing to remember is that the road to greatness is not easy or pain-free. Take the chance. The risk is outweighed by the reward. Be willing to say this is who I am, this is what I think, this is how I feel, and it’s ok. And if the limb breaks? Well it’s really not that far down to the ground now is it? That pile of leaves will break your fall and you can get up and start all over again. The safe road is never the most rewarding.
Spread love…peace and blessings.