IF YOU DON’T TELL ME HOW WILL I KNOW?
Last week Paul wrote eloquently about the tone of what we say and how it can be interpreted; how things lose their intent or meaning and things get lost in translation.
In keeping with that theme again this week I feel there is another important part to what we say, and how we say it. And that is actually speaking the truth and telling people who you are and what you want.
It is not just tone, though tone is one part of a large picture. The truth is many people don’t say anything, yet they expect you to mind read or respond in a certain way, when they have given you zero information to go on.
My daughters are my main laboratories when it comes to interpersonal relationships. I find myself often saying to them, “How will I know you if you don’t tell me who you are?
This usually comes after some kind of blow up or familial spat when someone’s feelings were hurt, their needs were not met, they felt misunderstood, left out or plain ignored.
One or the other will say; “You don’t’ understand me.” “ How could you say that knowing how I feel about”…fill in the blank. “I’m very sensitive about X.”
Or they just close down as youth does and they expect me to somehow respond or give them what they want or need.
It is then I say “How can I know you if you don’t tell me who you are?” Kids are learning about life, emotions, and feelings. They are new to speaking up about some things and clamming up about others. Sometimes they are embarrassed or shy, or just plain secretive. And in fairness to them they are in the process of figuring out who they are. But they expect that somewhere in the mom toolbox is the magic key to figuring everything out without any help from them.
Grown ups do the same thing. We expect people to miraculously understand us, give us what we need or want. Walk gently over our mind fields and treat our emotional bruises with care. But how about the fact we might not shared the darker, scarier, more fragile parts of ourselves with them?
And then they are shocked or confused when get hurt or wounded when they don’t respond with the care, tenderness or concern we feel we deserve.
Aside but with meaning….
Have you ever noticed when you get a shot that is the day everybody feels the need to jab you in the arm? Chances are they don’t know you had a shot. More than likely a sleeve is covering it. And when you get shots they give you a teeny tiny circle band-aide (if anything) that always falls off. So people are just being friendly and warm, they are not being sadistic and trying to cause you further pain. But you yelp and go “OUCH I just had a shot.“
Seldom as they get close do we say be careful of my arm, I just got a flu shot. If we did they would know to not give us a giant bear hug or squeeze our arm.
Well, it’s kind of the same thing. People want to be seen, they do, even if they hide. They want people to understand them. They want to be loved for who they are. They want acceptance for accomplishments and if not rewards then at least tolerance where and when they fall short. But how often do we actually really come clean about who and what we are and what we really want and need?
It takes practice. It takes confidence. It takes owning who we are and not carrying shame. It requires us to have the courage to tell people what we require in a relationship or the moment. It takes us pointing out our mind fields, while we are hopefully in the process of cleaning them up.
But most folks are not clairvoyant or mind readers. Most of us are trying to muddle through the day dealing with the crap life deals us and make the best of it all. We are working on cleaning up our messes, staying grateful and sometimes just getting from A to B.
Climbing into the pit of someone else’s psyche is so not on the to do list.
But how many times have you been busted for “not getting it.” How many times have you been admonished for letting someone down, when you didn’t know what was required to keep them up?
It’s really simple, we need to do it and we need to remind others to as well…..
How can I know you if you don’t tell me who you are?
Sometimes you have to ask and sometimes it’s your job to tell.
But it can never be someone else’s fault for not knowing something that was never told to them.