So I was watching that train wreck of a show “Back With My Ex” on Netflix the other day and I found myself yelling at the TV about what poor communication skills these people had. Poor Mr. Man watched me rant on and on about how if those couples could just say to each other what they say to the camera in their individual interviews, then maybe their lives would be so much easier!
But most of us don’t say to everyone what we say in our heads or in private conversations! And what I realize though, in my wise old age of being 29, is that it’s about vulnerability. And really and truly? It’s about being vulnerable with yourself, admitting a bad feeling you are having and then allowing someone else to see your darkness or not-so-perfectness.
In a sense, it’s the same with my students & ballet technique. When my student says “I just can’t do this turn,” rather than give in to letting them believe they can’t do it or letting them believe they are incapable, because they’re ARE capable, I say “yes you can, but what feels wrong?” Generally, they can identify what just doesn’t seem to be working and then that’s the skill we work on. They were vulnerable enough to see what wasn’t happening, and then address it.
It should be the same in real life. We shouldn’t shut down because things seem hard, or conversations seem tough. Shoot, I remember getting so angry once when I told an ex boyfriend how I felt that dance was my language. That sometimes it was easier for me to speak through dance than through words. He proceeded to tell me how that just didn’t make sense and that that was wrong. Now, I CAN say that that wasn’t a very nice response, but neither was me getting worked up and letting smoke come out of my ears and storming off because someone didn’t understand me. I shut down. I understood me and rather than accept that he didn’t and allow that to be enough, and simply see that that wasn’t a relationship for me, I put a hand up, got angry and continued to let that situation be a part of my reality and fester for months.
A lot of times we don’t say what we want to say because we are afraid someone won’t understand, we might be wrong, or that it might paint us in a bad light. No one wants to ever tell someone that they are jealous, or mad, or lonely, or hurting because we don’t want to drag someone else down with us. And okay, that’s valid, we don’t want to taint someone else’s day because of something that could be construed as negative. BUT these feelings, these happenings are normal. We all feel them at some point or another. What might be beneficial is asking someone before you unload, is if they are emotionally capable of handling what you are about to unpack…. if they are in a mental space to do so. It shows courtesy, but it also shows self awareness that you and another person are about to go on a journey together. Or if you happen to open up a conversation about something that someone else doesn’t want to talk about, then both sides of that party need to be respectful of what the other can handle at that moment.
This might be a sensitive example, and I only say this to be a clear, but if a friend that is dealing with a cold is complaining about their cold to a friend with cancer, either that person with cancer might welcome that distraction or they may not want to hear it. They are two different situations and they could encourage different reactions depending on the hour or the day. In that situation, odds are most of us could look at that and be like, yeah, could go either way and respect if the friend with cancer didn’t want to talk about it or vice versa. All feelings and situations are valid, and while yes, some might be bigger than others, we all have to deal with our own realities.
That same respect should apply to any conversation or any side of the story. And I mean, let’s be real, if I haven’t had coffee or food in the last 3 hours, odds are I’m probably hangry and anything emotional that comes from my mouth might be misconstrued as a projection of anger, frustration, sadness, or just PSYCHOTIC tendencies, when all I really need is someone to bring me some Mac and Cheese. So the point? Self Awareness and Admittance. Being aware of what you are afraid to be vulnerable about. What you want to be vulnerable about. What you want to express and having the capability to express it. Admit it. But also being aware that when you are vulnerable with another person, you are offering them a chance to be vulnerable too, and they can take that journey with you, or leave it. AND ACCEPT THAT.
Oh…..and just to go back to this…. don’t watch Back with Your Ex unless you want the ride of a lifetime. You might find yourself shouting at the TV or, as happened with us, in a very deep and vulnerable conversation about how you appreciate the person and people you DO communicate well with and how you grew to be the people you are now.