“Work begins when the fear of doing nothing at all finally trumps the terror of doing it badly.”Alain de Botton
What is the most honest way to communicate with people? What does it mean to be honest? How come it is ok to dust people off, and never say anything again? Or to block and discontinue communication without much said to the person being blocked? Since when is ghosting the appropriate response to people we might have difficulty talking to?
I have been thinking on these things for some time. Granted, I have been that person that has ghosted another from time to time (karma is getting me back for that), or chooses not to continue dialogue, or fails to express boundaries. But I know that isn’t the way to communicate with people. I have been on the other side too, being ghosted or forgotten about, or dispelled into the void of our minds. It doesn’t feel good, and it makes me a little sad even.
However, I have seen posts, blog posts, or poems even that says it is ok not to communicate, to not express, or not to say a thing to spare our own feelings. And while I think taking care of ourselves is important, we should also remember the people we are communicating with are also people, just like us.
I have seen many posts on my feed that describes male and female narcissists, and to cut them out and never say anything again. However, despite the well-intended message, what left me questioning them was how EVERYTHING was considered narcissism. Every little thing a person would do meant the person we were communicating with was a narcissist. I mean, while reading some of these posts, I could think of a dozen people at a time, and that either meant I lived my life surround by narcissists, or those posts are chalking every communication breakdown to narcissism. This isn’t helpful, especially when we want to be more expressive, or to communicate in a healthy way with the people around us.
There is something to gain when we risk ourselves to communicate with others, rather than being shy and never saying a thing for fear of reprisal. I don’t have statistics at hand, or any fool proof research to support what I am saying, but the memedom, or the mental health advocates and others that say to cut people off and block them are part of the problem.
What happened to expressing ourselves fully and honestly? What happened to the people around us being… well, people? Do people deserve respect? How about trust? What about integrity? Or a sense of belonging? Or are we living in a Tinder-like environment where the slightest thing said means “Byeeeeeee.”
I have been relearning boundaries lately, and part of expressing ourselves is setting boundaries. If something upsets us: say something. If something isn’t being communicated: Say something. Ask questions even. Easier said than done, I know I know.
With all this vitriol online as of late, especially when it comes to the politics of both Canada and the United States, or perhaps the discussion surrounding COVID and wearing masks, I can see a potential to be fearful of saying anything at all. The loudest can be intimidating, and perhaps it means to distance ourselves, to say nothing and let them be potatoes in a field with other potatoes. But what does that prove? That the slightest idea or set of words is enough to push us away? That the loudest can have their way in this world of ours?
My biological father will never talk to me again because we got in an argument, but he cut out my sister first. My sister and he couldn’t get along when he first found us over ten years ago, so he decided to cut her off forever because she was hung up on him abandoning us at a young age.
See, what he did was cowardly, and frankly, I don’t want that association on my conscious. But, when someone makes a remark I don’t like, or fails to say something to me that is important to me, or even makes a jest at my expense, I would be just as cowardly as him for not expressing how I felt about what was said (though with jest, you can tell if it is playful or not).
Maybe the reason not to say anything is to hold some level of integrity, or maybe it is because we don’t want to show weakness. Expressing ourselves is to be vulnerable, but how else are people going to understand what is going on in our heads? People aren’t mind readers after all, so why put people through the experience of trying to be one?
When I was younger, I spent a lot of time engaging in mind games and trying to figure out the motives of people, namely women. And frankly, it isn’t worth the time. What does work is being honest, right off the hop and saying how you feel or what you are thinking. And that too is strangely difficult because of how that comes off. But you know what, I think not doing so is disingenuous, and manipulative even.
And this isn’t something that only men need to work on. Everybody should be mindful of honest expression and sharing your honest thoughts when something comes up. Even in moments when kindness can be shared, it is always better to say it!
I have said it again and again, but taking a punch to the face is easy peasy, it is the honest expression that is hard. It might be funny to laugh at the memes that say “I didn’t respond in two weeks” and laugh, but that is not ok. I don’t know about you, but making friends in this day and age is hard, and it is partly because of this lack of communication or honest expression.
Things are hard too because not a lot of people are getting outside to meet with other people, so why not take the time to say something, and lay it all down on the table? I am still working on this, and I will most likely be working on this for the rest of my life. It does gets easier though, but you have to do it every day, that’s the hard part.
“Every day it gets a little easier… But you gotta do it every day — that’s the hard part. But it does get easier.”― Jogging Baboon from BoJack Horseman