What I discovered recently and keep on rediscovering was tha, sometimes, the only REAL way to make a difference for someone is if you absolutely don’t care whether they like you or not.
Not that you don’t care at all. Because your brain will always want people to like you. No no.
What I mean is that your actions are not given by nor influenced by whether the person will like what you say or not.
I’m sitting on the train. It’s been a very long day. There is a black woman sitting to my right with two children both of whom appear to be roughly 10.
I turn to her…”how are you” I inquire.
She is literally forming the words “I’m great” when her sons start bickering. Her mouth rapidly changes shape and she starts shouting. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU TWO TO CUT THAT SH__T OUT?!?!?! (Insert another minute of angry shouting)
She turns back to me and goes “I’m fine”.
Now she doesn’t appear fine.
She’s mad as hell!
So one part of me wants to have a real conversation about what really matters to her. The other part is like “berry stop it. She’s not interested. She is sending all the conventional signals of wanting to be left alone. She’ll think you’re weird man. Dude you really are a WEIRDO just relax and let it go”
In that moment I discovered how hard it is to make a difference for people if your concerned with what they’ll think of you.
I closed down and didn’t speak to her further.
I could have said something like (of course, it never goes this smooth): “Excuse me ma’am. Wow I see you’re really frustrated by your sons bickering. I see you’re very angry. Now I know I’m a total stranger and its not common to talk to random strangers about what’s really important to you. And I also know you may just not be in a mood to talk. But I want you to know that if you do let me in on your world, it would be an honour and a privilege for me to hear what’s really going on for you.”
I didn’t do that. I closed.
I thought she might think I’m weird.
So I didn’t take the action that might have brightened her day.
A friend of mine told me recently that tanya has helped them with something they were dealing with and struggling with. And how exciting it was for them because it’s the first time they’ve felt Tanya is really practical.
I asked, “Is it completely resolved, whatever you were struggling with?”
Ok. Would you be willing to share with me?
Ok. And you may want to consider that the hesitation and uncomfortability you give it grants it power over you. Like, as if, there is something there that is shameful or threatening?
Oh yeah? So YOU tell me everything private in your life!
Ok. Ask what you want.
[He went there. I went there too.]
Ok, I said, now that we cleared that up, do you wish to tell me what’s going on?
Ok I said and went home.
Was that comfortable? I love people. You think I want to make people uncomfortable? NO.
But I also know that I’m fanatical about people getting some freedom in their lives around what they’re dealing with.
In the world of that commitment there is very little space for not saying things just because I think or feel that that person will think or feel something ABOUT ME.
P.S. Here’s what I’m NOT SAYING:
I’m not saying if you don’t want to talk about something with someone it means automatically that thing you’re dealing with has any power over you or is unresolved.
I’m not saying there is something wrong with choosing not to share something private with your friends.
I’m simply saying what I’m saying.
P.P.S. If you found this article in any way helpful, empowering or insightful, share it with two people you suspect might like it, resonate with it, or even strongly disagree with it.
With much humility, fragility and awe at the possibility of you creating lasting change in your life,