If you follow my Facebook page, you know the posts are frequently about the philosophies and rules I live by. Recently I posted the statement: “Don’t share your problems with people who can’t help solve them. That’s just wallowing in victimhood.” As expected, it got a lot of likes and shares. But it also got something else…
Thankfully, many of the people who follow my work are critical thinkers and aren’t afraid to challenge me when they think I’m missing the mark. That’s what happened here. Speaking in absolutes isn’t a very smart strategy if you’re looking to develop more wisdom. Wisdom is a subject I wrote about recently here, and I followed up in my Friday Filosophy newsletter with a deeper dive about the crazy way humans think – and how we will desperately cling to illogical and bad premise thinking if the facts interfere with our preconceived beliefs. And this sometimes happens even to your favorite blogger…
Guilty as charged.
As Valerie pointed out, there’s great value in being able to share a problem with someone who simply listens, acknowledges, and receives. This can allow you to feel that you’re not alone. Debra shared that she often gets clarity by talking through something – and the other person doesn't have to be able to "do" anything but listen and reflect back to her. Shawne suggested that sometimes the help is simply a listening ear, and Donna talked about how sharing can sometimes ease a burden. And Ian spoke of ways of talking about our problems without claiming victimhood.
These people were right, and I was wrong. What was really happening…was me projecting my own issues on the world. Over my lifetime I’ve developed responses to protect myself from high stress situations. For many reasons, my childhood and neurodiversity not the least of them – I have sometimes experienced crippling social anxiety and been extremely guarded about opening myself up to others. Since today is #WorldMentalHealthDay it’s a great chance to discuss issues like this.
In my defense, a big part of my thinking in this type of situation is my desire to remain in prosperity consciousness. I’m maniacal in wanting to keep my mindset and foundational beliefs grounded in prosperity consciousness. As an example, I’m pretty much in constant pain from my spinal stenosis, and the four surgeries to treat it. (Having battled addictions my entire life, I choose not to use opioids which might alleviate the pain.) If the surgeon asks me how I’m doing, he’ll get the honest answer because he needs that information to determine if there is a better treatment or medicine that can help me. But if anyone else asks how I’m doing or feeling, I usually reply, “Great, thanks.”
That’s a lie. And I repeat it as often as possible...
Because most people are asking simply from habit or being polite. Of course, some actually are interested in the answer. But in either case, they can’t make the pain go away. Worse, if I talk about the pain, that starts a discussion that has me affirming a lot of negative statements in my subconscious mind that will likely produce more pain in the future. And speaking about the pain gives power to it. You attract more of whatever you give your attention to. To keep centered in prosperity consciousness, it’s better to focus on anything but whatever pain I may be experiencing in the moment. It’s a minor but useful tool to keep my mindset positive.
Now on the other side of the equation, this strategy to shield against physical pain is not nearly as helpful with emotional pain...
Which brings us back to the issue of sharing a problem with someone you love, just to talk out the problem, have someone to listen to, etc. Of course, that approach never even occurred to me because I almost never do that. In my state of emotional development, problems present as a binary choice to me:
Of course, as the astute readers mentioned above pointed out, there is a third and better way. There are people who you can trust your problems to. People who may not be able to solve them for you but can provide you a soft-landing spot.
There are two keys to making this work. First, make sure you’re not opening up simply because it's giving you an emotional payoff for being a victim. This can be quite intoxicating and if you do get sucked into it, you will end up wallowing in victimhood. The second key is choosing the people you trust to open up about your problems with. Make sure they’re not fellow victims who want to commiserate in feeling victimized together. Find someone who loves you and wants the highest good for you. Someone you can be sure is safe to allow into your inner world. You can even tell them you aren’t asking them to “fix” the situation, but simply be a friendly ear to confide in.
I’ll be the first person to raise my hand and admit I need to do a better job of seeking help in challenging situations, and allow myself to be less stoic, more vulnerable, and accept the abundance those who love me are offering. So, for everyone who checked in on the original post – thanks for letting me share my problems with you!
Peace, - RG
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