We all know how that phrase ends ….
If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all (my father said it better … If you can’t say something nice, then keep your damn mouth shut.)
What the phrase doesn’t say is that if we can’t say something nice then lie! Re-read that so you have the words correctly on your tongue …. if we can’t say something nice doesn’t mean we should lie.
So, why do we violate our own authenticity on a regular basis? Are you raising your eyebrows at my calling us all out as liars? See if any of these scenarios fit:
I can go on with the examples and I get ‘social niceties’. But here is what bugged me – and has me on a soapbox – last week an acquaintance posted on a social media this wonderful tribute to her husband on their anniversary. She went on and on about what a great guy he is, how supportive, how she appreciates him … lovely! EXCEPT, I happen to know this couple is so unhappy they barely speak.
Now, I’m not suggesting she should have broadcast what a jerk she thinks her husband is or how disconnected they may be. I AM asking … why say anything at all? Why not ‘keep her damn mouth shut’ as my father would say? Why lie?
Another person on social media had a birthday. Well-wishers came out of the woodwork … lovely! EXCEPT I know some of those well-wishers not only can’t stand the birthday girl but actively trash talk her. So, again, why lie? Why not just keep your damn mouth shut? For my part, this person is not someone I want to cultivate a relationship so I simply didn’t post anything. If I had chosen to wish her a happy birthday, that would have been inauthentic!
We preach ‘authenticity’, ‘be your own person’, and ‘it doesn’t matter what other people think’ – but do we live it??
One last example – and this may be what has me in a tizzy – an old acquaintance (someone I might have once called a friend) posted a picture of me from years and years ago. She ‘tagged’ me and wrote this sweet comment … lovely! But, was it authentic? I haven’t seen or spoken to this person in YEARS. I can’t help but to wonder what inspired the sudden loveliness? (*see important note below for a rational mind’s interpretation)
Want me to be super authentic – the picture that former friend posted was one of my least flattering. My inner critic, my inner bitch, is trying to convince me she intentionally posted that very picture to make me think badly of myself and to make her look good. My rational brain says that’s crap. My emotional brain is banging a war drum. I’ll spend a bit of time calming the beast within.
One of the reasons I write this blog is to give people who struggle with Excess Emotional Energy ideas for calming themselves and using that energy to make the next best decision.
I’m struggling right now because I want, desperately want, to use my writing time to beat up this person and beat up myself. You see, the picture was from “before” my mental breakdown and it showcases all that I lost (my career, my friends, even my religion) … so it’s very painful to see that picture and more painful to see it on social media.
I WANT her to have posted that to purposefully hurt me. Why? Because then I can wallow in how awful she is instead of wallowing in how awful it feels to have lost so much. If she intentionally hurt me, then I can focus all my energy on hate instead of healing! Hate is easier. Do you see how an emotional mind often becomes about self?
I have a choice to make – in this very second, I have to decide what to nurse or how to channel this excess emotion. It’s too flammable to take out and hold right now. I need to cool it down. I’m shuffling through all the techniques I’ve learned in therapy, rehab, life.
Strangely, I have the Wall Street Journal with me (this is the first time I’ve ever bought one) … I’m going to read two articles, circle any ‘big’ words, look those words up and use them in a sentence. By the time that’s done, I’ll be better able to choose healing over hatred. I’ll be able to look at that picture and hurt. It’s okay to hurt – it’s a part of being human and emotional. But the difference will be that I hurt because of what I’ve lost not because of what someone else said or did. But, I also am able to remember that picture and remember some of the wonderful moments of ‘before’.
If it still hurts, I’ll take it therapy! Eventually, I have to deal with all that my career was and how badly it hurts to have lost it. That’s one area that stays too hot to handle!
First, my husband was reluctant to have me post this blog. He’s worried that the people I’m mentioning will recognize themselves and I may cause problems. He’s right. But, I promised authenticity and that’s what I’ll give. And, seriously, if they recognize themselves then maybe that’s okay.
Second, my husband operates out of a rational mind most of the time. He said that maybe the person posted an old picture of me in an effort to “have a genuine and safe way to reach out and see if there is any mutual desire to reconnect or mend.” Every thing we see, think or believe can be viewed from a different lens.
I’m a bit disappointed – I’ve read six articles and no ‘fun’ words. But, the desired effect was met. I’m calmer. I will NOT be wasting time on hating … and, I think I’ll have to take the career loss into therapy – it’s just too hot for me to hold by myself.
I learned a lot reading those articles – I learned there is a lot more to learn!
In April 2012 I had a mental breakdown. The real thing. I have about 36 hours that I don’t remember....