I try really hard to maintain my positivity at all times. I believe – through years of serious experimentation and reflection on the subject – that we have a significant amount of choice in how we feel. To that end, I have learned that if I choose to remain positive, I find myself feeling happier.
A few days ago, I ran into a situation that made me stop and think about what has become an automatic for me.
For the last three weeks or so, I’ve been on a 30-day challenge to refrain from complaining about the stuff of life. It’s been going pretty well so far, in my opinion. I’ve definitely bitten my tongue a few times, and I’ve slipped up and whined a few times as well. All in all, I feel good about the challenge’s results.
My girlfriend said to me, however, “In your effort to keep from complaining and remain positive, I feel like you’re just opting not to say anything a lot of the time.”
So, here I am. I’m a guy trying hard to be positive at all costs. I’m trying to align my words with my thoughts, such that I am not allowing myself to verbalize my annoyances in the form of complaining. But I also believe that letting your guard down is absolutely essential to being in a healthy relationship. Ruh-roh.
It seems as though the age-old prescription of “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” might need to be listed with a few side effects. So here you go:
SIDE EFFECT WARNING: Failure to speak your mind might result in a loss of intimacy.
I was hoping for “an erection lasting 4 hours or more,” but I guess this is probably a less embarrassing side effect to deal with.
Here’s the thing: mutual vulnerability is the cornerstone of good relationships. Think of the closest relationships you have: your mom or dad, your siblings, your romantic partner. The one thing each of those has in common is your willingness to be more vulnerable in different ways with one another than you would be with anyone else.
Vulnerability, at its core, is just letting people see through the façade you present to the world. Irrespective of why you put up a façade, if you put one up, you are by definition being less vulnerable. And if you’re being less vulnerable, your closest relationships are going to be a little less close.
So, you want to stop bitching and whining because you believe your words help create your reality, but you don’t want to sacrifice your relationships in the process. So how do you make it all work?
For me, it’s a matter of distinguishing between that which is petty, and that which is worth discussing.
Bitching about the temperature, the traffic, or the shitty customer who was rude to you is ultimately petty. In your drive to carefully control your thoughts and your words, you have to take it from Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh. This type of shit happens every day. Repeat that mantra until your chill demeanor isn’t a façade, but a true way of being.
But when there’s something worth discussing, discuss it. Drop the desire to remain calm and above the fray, and sit down with your closest friend and get vulnerable. It’s not “negative” to discuss matters that are weighing on you. It’s obviously healthy and positive to get it off your chest. But it’s also advisable seek another’s opinion on the echoes rattling around in your headspace. And it’s essential to keeping your relationship thriving.
I feel like “The More You Know” thing should streak across your screen now.