I’M feeling quite sad today. I can’t explain why, exactly… just a deep ache in my heart space.
Last night, I had a lovely dinner with friends and we stayed up until the small hours enjoying each other’s company, laughing together, chatting and generally putting the world to rights.
We came home, went to bed, I dreamed and woke up feeling contemplative. I woke up thinking about all the imbalance in the world – all the damage we’re doing, not just to the planet, but to each other, and to ourselves.
There’s an old saying… something like ‘if you could hear what your friends were saying about you behind closed doors, you wouldn’t have any friends’. And it’s so often true, isn’t it? We’re all so fragile. So insecure. So fearful. We’re all just trying to be loved, to be accepted.
Sometimes, just sometimes, we’ll say things about other people just to make ourselves feel better, or more confident, or more in control, regardless of how that person might feel if they heard our words. On other occasions, we might hear someone saying things about one of our friends and do nothing to defend them; is that better, or worse, than those hurtful words leaving our own mouths?
The WhatsApp test
In circle a few months back, I talked about an imagined scenario where everyone we knew could tap into everything we said to other people… like a giant WhatsApp where all our conversations were stored (if you haven’t heard of WhatsApp, it’s a smartphone application where you can leave voice or text messages for your friends, and they can respond in their own time). During that circle meet, we were talking about authenticity. My point was that if we gave different versions of the same story to different people, or partial pieces of the jigsaw to different people, in order to elicit our desired responses, we probably weren’t being authentic.
I asked people in the circle to imagine that scenario being taken a step further… imagine one of your friends heard one of your WhatsApp messages to someone else and realised you’d given them only a partial truth, or a skewed version or, worse, heard you talking about them to someone else. How would that make them feel? How would it make YOU feel?
From there, we stepped up the scenario to yet another level. Imagine every conversation you had with your friends and family was captured on this giant WhatsApp messaging service, then imagine ALL your loved ones sitting around a table and listening to all those things you’d said, perhaps hearing all those different sways to the conversation & piecing together partial truths. Would you be comfortable with that? And if that scenario makes you squirm even a tiny bit, might that mean you’re not actually being authentic?
It’s a tough one, isn’t it? We all talk about being authentic and walking in truth and beauty, yet how many of us really scratch the surface end ask the difficult questions of ourselves… and even then, how many of us answer ourselves honestly? Sometimes, deep, warts and all self reflection and examination is the most difficult task of all.
Trust and unconditional love
Last night, when we were all sitting around in that lovely space with trusted friends, how many other people were out there feeling lonely? How many other people were out with people and trying desperately to be accepted, or trying to be someone else in order to feel loved and wanted, or feeling terrified that they’d be talked about negatively the second they turn their backs? How many people have never experienced the kind of scenario we had, where we could truly be ourselves, safe in the knowledge that we’re loved and accepted anyway?
It seems such a simple thing, to be loved for who you really are, and to feel so secure in that knowledge that we don’t need to put on an act, or betray the feelings of others in order to feel we belong. And yet, the simplest things can often feel to be the most difficult states to attain.
My point… and I do have one…
The point of this blog? To be honest, when I began writing I didn’t really have a point. I was just talking about how I felt. Now, though, as I reach the end of this particular piece of writing, I’m wondering if we should all use that WhatsApp scenario as the litmus test; maybe we should all consider how comfortable we’d feel about other people hearing our conversations before we actually open our mouths. And if the thought of other friends listening in makes us uncomfortable, maybe we should ask ourselves why and then start to work out how we can heal that need/impulse/issue in ourselves.
There is, of course, another point here worth remembering. Don’t take ANYTHING for granted. Live in the moment and be really, really thankful for the beauty we have in our lives, no matter how small. My wife and I might have had a wonderful evening with friends last night, where we could truly just be ‘us’ without fear or judgement, but lots of people never feel that level of unconditional acceptance, and I’m realising just how blessed we are.
Until next time,
Walk in truth and beauty.
PS: as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and keep talking with you. If you’ve enjoyed this blog, or if it’s made you think, please do post a comment. 🙂