Authentic Responsibility #12: I am responsible for letting others know how I feel and what I think, instead of requiring them to read my mind.
I knew something wasn’t right with me, but I couldn’t pinpoint it. I was really feeling disgusting and hating everyone, and my newest BFF was feeling the brunt of it. He couldn’t do anything right, every decision he made got on my nerves, and I basically was being a jerk. But I hadn’t talked to him—or anyone else—about what was going on with me, so he basically was just left to wonder. Besides, I reasoned: he should just know. He should know that I don’t feel good and that this is just a bad time for me. But he didn’t figure out my issue. And what exactly was my issue? PMS. Eventually as the week wore on, I admitted to him that I wasn’t feeling my best and I identified the culprit. “When it comes to that, you have to just tell me!” he insisted. He was right: I shouldn’t have expected him to read my mind and know my issue.
Authentic responsibility #12 is a timely reminder for me that people do not just automatically KNOW what I am thinking or feeling, and that I need to communicate with them and not be angry when they don’t read my mind. This authentic responsibility has “women” written all over it—but everyone does this! And here are a couple of ways that we can all stop expecting telepathy and start experiencing reality:
- Be willing to say “I don’t know.” Truth be told, I didn’t know right away that I was experiencing PMS. I didn’t know what was up with me. But instead of admitting that I didn’t know, I said nothing at all. Saying “I don’t know” is its own authentic responsibility, but to refresh your memory: if you don’t know how you feel or what you think, then admit it! Sometimes we need time to figure out our thoughts and feelings on things, and that is normal. So say “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” and then re-open the conversation once you have figured it out.
- Be honest with yourself, then others. Examine your feelings to find any underlying emotion (sometimes, anger can be a secondary emotion) or issue that needs to be addressed. Once I took the time to scrutinize my feelings and my calendar, I realized what the exact issue was. Dwelling on my feelings of anger and dissatisfaction did nothing to help the situation; they intensified my negative feelings and made the situation difficult for my friends and family. However, when I took time to be honest with myself and then others, I was able to pinpoint the issue and clearly communicate my feelings, thoughts, and needs.
- Be prepared for varied responses. Some people and situations will gladly welcome honesty about your feelings and thoughts. My friend was very glad to know that there was a reason behind my change in personality, and he asks for that honesty. Sometimes, however, people are not used to honesty or ready for it, and they will balk when they receive it. Know what you will say if they are accepting and if they are rejecting, if they are supportive or if they are uncooperative. But be wary of allowing others’ opinions and reactions to define you or your desire to communicate more effectively.
Proverbs 14:8 says, “The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way, But the foolishness of fools is deceit.” Be wise: seek to understand your ways and communicate to others without expecting them to read your mind, and you will find less strife awaits you!
How difficult is it for you to let others know how you feel and think?