Wouldn’t it be liberating to authentically share thoughts of the mind and feelings of the heart without the fear of being judged, criticized, or rejected by others? Although we can’t control the reactions and responses of another, we can certainly take responsibility for what we wholeheartedly decide to reveal about ourselves. It could range from the details of every day life to the true dreams and desires that we hold close to our chest. Furthermore, we can make the conscious choice to not take the opinions and reactions of others personally. Therefore, we have already self-protected ourselves from harm and self-doubt. On paper, this concept seems straightforward and perhaps easily achievable, but putting it into action and believing it within our being may take some practice and willingness.
Many times when we engage in conversation with a romantic partner, family members and dear ones, colleagues, and even perfect strangers, we tend to either take two stances. The first is recounting experiences that are difficult, hard, and problematic within our lives. It allows us to vent and garner support of those who are willing to listen. We also reciprocate and listen to what they have to say, too in a similar vein. The second approach is that we deflect what is truly on our minds and engage on a superficial level through small talk, joking around, or by keeping up appearances. We may have learned to smile on the outside yet our internal emotions are on the contrary. But there is actually a third option. Why not share something positive that happens in the course of the day, a special event, or something that is quite important such as personal achievement? We paint pictures of ugliness but forget about the beauty that resides alongside of it. It’s about finding the balance of reality, but also choosing to express a point of view that ultimately is more pleasant when spoken and listened to. Chances are that those who are engaged in conversation with us are also willing to happily listen and share, too.
While enjoying lunch at the home of a dear “nonna” (Italian grandmother), it dawned on us both that most conversations come from a place of discord rather than harmony. Many times we tell others about the difficulty in our relationships yet go silent when things are going well. We complain about the service at a restaurant only to forget that we’re in good company and the food is really delicious. We share horror stories of childbirth yet omit that it is one of the most life changing experiences—welcoming a new baby into the world. If misery likes company, then perhaps happiness likes company, too. Instead of feeling guilty or ashamed for the joy and successes in our lives, we can actually transmit our rightful pleasure yet temper it with sincere modesty. There’s always two sides to every coin. It’s only up to us to change perspective, sentimental expression, and presentation of how we tell our life stories and how much energy we’re willing to give and receive when conversing. It’s about being self-aware and also being considerate of who we’re having a discourse with. We can simply ask ourselves this question and proceed accordingly: Is it a conversation that is depleting or rejuvenating?
As “nonna” was telling me about “la giornata” (which translates to “the day” in English) and all she had to accomplish with great effort, I started to laugh. “Lucina, tell me something really beautiful about your afternoon so far rather than the usual tasks that weigh you down, ok?” With a big and warm smile she replied. “It is with great pleasure to cook lunch for you and spend time together! This is what I looked forward to this morning and prepared everything with love.” I returned the affection as it too was a special part of my day.