Say It Straight or It’ll Come Out Crooked

If you do not say what is on your mind or what preoccupies you, then what you do say will carry undercurrents. The same goes for others when they are speaking to you. This can lead to misunderstandings and crossed conversations. This occurs when neither of you is talking on the same wavelength and you only discover this some way into the conversation. This is where the term “Freudian slip” originates. Something that is preoccupying you or is your real belief will “slip” through into your manner or your conversation. You are setting yourself and the other person up for an inauthentic relationship and misunderstandings.

The cure for this is to say what it is that concerns you. You don’t want what you’re thinking of to become the elephant in the room. You need to pick a good time and say what it is that concerns you with as little accusatory or emotional language as you can. You need to listen to the other person.  These tips will help you to iron out misunderstandings and avoid muddled conversations. You can say you have “concerns” about a particular matter and then bring it up.  An important tip when you want to find out why someone behaved the way they did is not to ask “Why?” but to ask “What happened?” or “What was your thinking?” This allows the other person to tell you their reasons and may lead to you feeling differently about what is going on.

Walking around with a whole lot of unanswered questions simmering away inside or a whole lot of things you haven’t said but would like to is a sure-fire recipe for undercurrents to thrive and misunderstandings and resentment to flourish. So say it straight or it will come out later in a distorted way. The result will be that it is impossible for you to have authentic or intimate relationships with the people you feel you cannot be honest with. If you are frightened to tell people what you think or fear they will not like you, try to remind yourself that the relationship you currently have is invalid as one or both of you is not being honest with the other, so you have very little to lose by being truthful and much to gain. You do not have to plunge in with a list of stored up resentments, just start to say how you feel in a low key way.

If it is your usual style to store up hurt and resentment to use against others later, remind yourself that the long-term loser is you. For every time you do not say what it is you need and want, what it is you like or don’t, you distort the other person’s view of you and who they believe you to be. You also distort who you are and this helps you to continue with behaviors which stop you from being close to people and being your true self. This is a vicious cycle and one that is hard to get out of. If you recognize this behavior in yourself, gradually start—with small incidences—to tell people (politely) how you feel. It is true that some people will not welcome this (they will like the status quo). They might have to change a few habits but gradually they will come to accept your preferences and boundaries and you will be much happier with better and more solid relationships that are relatively free of undercurrents.

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