Sometimes, when I'm at work, I just have to stop. I take one of those moments where I try to just focus on the idea that I am just a tiny entity in this sea of existence. I stop and just listen to the incessant chatter of the restaurant that surrounds me and close my eyes for a moment.
I let the low drum of my heartbeat become louder than the room, claim and release a few deep breaths, open my eyes and then resume being a normal human being.
It might seem strange but I'm sure a lot of you do it too. There is something refreshing about taking a moment to recognize the simple and astonishing fact that you are alive.
It's like getting to hit the restart button on the Nintendo right before Koopa is about to stomp on your Mario. You have all your lives back, a couple coins in the bank and your ready to kick some ass.
The last time I took a moment to drown out the noise of the bustling room I was standing in, I found myself focusing on it instead. I let the buzz of conversation fill my mind and tried to make sense of it.
There were waves of laughter and shouting, questions and concerns, delight and joy, arrogance and enlightenment, shrieking children and a mother's hushing... You name the emotion and it was likely in this room. What an incredible amount of feeling these walls were able to hold. No wonder people wish they could talk. They've got the juice on everyone!
In that moment I wondered, what if everyone in this room stopped talking and started speaking instead. Would it be as loud if they were saying what they needed to say instead of just joining the conventional white noise? After asking myself this question, a great silence fell over the reflection of the same room that was in my mind. Their voices wouldn't be resounding at all.
Sadly, we talk a hell of a lot more than we speak.
Why is that? How many of us walk around day-to-day silencing what needs to be spoken by constantly talking about what doesn't? Think about it. When you ask a friend how they are doing (not just in passing or small talk) 9 times out of 10 their eyes will light up with relief all but saying Thank God someone asked!
We all hold so much inside that a simple inquiry can open a floodgate of emotion. They will likely begin telling you about what their brother said to their boyfriend, or what a coworker told their boss, or what their mom did to their dad, or what their groomer did to their dog and so on and so on. They will tell you all about how others are making them feel.
After listening to all of the reasons everyone else is ruining their day, I like to ask this question: Well, did you tell them how you feel?
You'd be surprised how quickly the flames in their eyes ignite with this spark plug of a question. Tell THEM how I FEEL? You obviously don't understand the situation. This always seems to be the thought that immediately follows. No one understands it like I do, especially not them. They will begin to explain all of the reasons they just cannot confront the person who is causing the issue.
Usually the list includes these reasons:
1. It will hurt the relationship or friendship.
2. It will hurt someone else's feelings.
3. They will just NEVER be able to understand.
So, instead of risking having to face these, we choose to carry the hurt and misunderstanding around with us just so we can complain about it to anyone that will listen and it's all to keep someone or a situation as miserably comfortable as possible.
Hmm, that makes perfect sense.
I am just as guilty as the next person. And sometimes we really do just need to be able to vent about all the crappy crap life has decided to throw at us. That's what friends are for, right? But we should also try to be conscious of who we are complaining about and how often we are doing it. Seriously! If you have been complaining about the same person for longer than a week to anyone who will listen then you might want to have a conversation with that person rather than continuing to have conversations about that person. It's a crazy concept, I know, but it just might work!
And YES it's going to be uncomfortable and it just might hurt them or someone else or even you, but that is the only way to begin to eliminate your excuse of them NEVER being able to understand. How will you ever know that if you never give them the chance to?
It's so funny how we assume that we know someone better than they know themselves. That phrase used to be one I used often. I prided myself on "knowing" so many people so well that I would be capable of predicting or making their decisions. That was until a very wise woman showed me why I should in fact dislike this saying.
She broke it down for me like this: If you continue to try and protect others from confrontations because you already know how they are going to respond and know what decisions they will make then consider yourself narcissistic.
WHAT? ME? But everything I do is for everyone else and I am only trying to help them by making their decisions for them because I know them bett... Oh. Now I get it.
That day I learned what reverse narcissism was and just how much I had fallen into that category. You may think you are doing everyone a favor and putting them first by taking on all the hurt or difficulties in a situation, but really you are just putting them last by assuming that no one else can handle it as well or make a better decision than you. MIND BLOWN.
I learned a big fat lesson that day and I continue to try and utilize it in every sticky situation I get in. Sometimes it pays off to let someone else get, well, sticky. It may be an area that they need to do some serious growth in and who am I to play God and decide that they are or are not ready to handle it. Some things are just not meant to be in our hands.
So let's challenge ourselves to stop talking so much today and to start speaking more. When we talk it may be registered by the mind but when we speak it is absorbed by the heart. Listening is key to a patient and wise mind sure, but that doesn't mean we can use it as excuse to stay silent when the truth is desperate to be heard.
Speak slowly, speak kindly but please do us all a favor and just SPEAK. Don't be so concerned with who will understand or who will choose to listen. Those who are intended to be a part of your journey will be able to hear you from a mile away.