Alphabet Series - Y is for You
Let me be clear. While this post is about you, it's not about you per se. It's about another you. It's about them - other person with whom you are speaking. You know, the one that you tell, "You're not listening to me." Or "You don't know what you're talking about." That's the you I want to focus on. I also want to talk about the person that you tell, "I love you" or "You really look great today." I want to talk about them too.
I would like you to consider the other person. And, in particular, let's focus on those people who you consider closest to you. The people you are most honest with and who know you best. I want to talk about your relationship with those people
I had a client once who wanted to start his own business and he invested a good deal of his money in seeking the guidance of a highly regarded PR person. Among the lessons he learned was to think about the other. What does the other want? What is going on with them? How can you address and support their needs?
Of course, we will never fully know what someone else wants, what is going on with them and how best we can support them. But, we can ask. We can be curious. We can want to know. Or do we?
Let's be real here - how interested are you really in what is going on in their lives of those closest to you? We are not talking about an acquaintance. We are talking about those you consider closest to you. With those people do you really want to know their aches and pains, their ups and downs and their fears and concerns? Do you want to hear about the best of their lives? Do you want to hear about the worst of their lives?
It is one thing to be curious about the other. It is another thing to get involved with the intimacies of their life. If someone tells you that they are having financial problems, do you feel a need to offer to help out? What if they are sick or need some support greater than your voice? Hearing about someone's life involves you in it, whether you choose to or not. You may offer to help at a greater level or not, but either way you are involved. You will respond in whatever ways you do. You may be gracious, loving and fully supportive about this but not so much with that. Their telling you is an action to which you have a reaction to which they have a reaction and it goes on. That is the process of life. This begets that.
Intimacy can be a lot of work. Which is why most people limit the number of people in their inner circle. Sure, people have large families whose lives intertwine with theirs whom they may or may not share the bottom line truths of their life. There are people who if they called you would be fully there for them and there may be people who if they called you would not be there in the way they wanted. There are also people who if they called you would be there, but they live far away and you have a life and so helping out gets complicated.
I was listening to a sports talk show and they were discussing do you tell your partner if something is wrong with you. In this particular case, it was whether Tom Brady should have told his wife, that he had a concussion. Some people thought of course you tell. Others thought that until more incidents happened and they were starting to experience the negative effects they wouldn't say anything. Why burden the other, unless the burden is really heavy. It's a call we all make time and again in our lives.
I imagine we all have some secrets, some things about our life or how we live it, that we keep to ourselves and rarely, if ever, share. So be it. (I have a chapter about this in the Relationship books if you are interested). You might hold on to some things until you felt comfortable sharing or felt you had to let the person know. The fact that you are consciously withholding something is an indicator of its importance to you and the fear you have in sharing it. In Tom Brady's case while hiding the truth may seem to be a favor I'd want to ask my partner if they would want to know or not. Probably best to ask that question as the relationship develops and not when the news comes.
In our close relationships we are involved in sharing our lives and enjoying the rewards of that friendship as well as the disappointments. No one can fully be there the way we want all the time. We can't even always be there for ourselves the way we want.
Relationships reach greater depths as vulnerability increases. You take a chance when you share a secret. You may grow closer or it could push you further apart. Hopefully those closest to us have demonstrated over time the range and depth of their connection to us. They will stand by us and away from us. They will bring tears to our souls, joy to our hearts, and touch us in ways no others can.
When it comes time to share your truth - be it wishing the other person would listen to you more closely or letting them know you have a concussion it is important to consider what they want and how they would feel if you told or didn't tell. Whatever you do there will be consequences. I try to consider those consequences before I share my truths.