Sunday, December 1, 2019

Real Talk: The Importance of a Safe Space

Real life - not staged perfection - is really important to me.  As a kid who got to grow up outside of social media, I can see how important it can be to see life as it is, especially in coping emotionally with our place in the world.  When we believe the carefully crafted photos actually depict the quality of relationships on the ride home or in the bathroom before bed, we start applying a standard to our own life that is unreasonable at best.  Social media aside, there is a lot of pressure to give the impression that everything in our life is great! Holiday events and parties are stressful for a lot of reasons, but largely because we want all of our insecurities and failures to instantly disappear, leaving only the best elements of us on display.  Some of the most iconic television or movie scenes involve sore attempts to deceive family into thinking the main character isn't single/broke/failing/etc.  Our culture loves a good hiding of the truth, doesn't it?

As a person who just wants to cut to the chase and have some real talk in every conversation, I have learned that not every situation can handle real talk.  Some people don't care.  Sometimes there's not enough time.  Some people can't handle that much reality.  But for you friend, there must be a place where you can have some real talk with real feedback that you aren't going to start a royal war over.  Why? Growth will abound when we can honestly process our experiences in a safe environment.  Without this real talk, growth just doesn't happen very quickly, if at all because so much of our time is spent trying to keep the illusion going that everything is fine.  So many of us are carrying around emotional burdens that quickly become too much, but we keep suffering and often cause real damage to ourselves and others.  It's easy to underestimate how important just talking to someone about what we're dealing with, but it can be one of the most freeing experiences you can have - especially when you are struggling with something heavy. 

If you are blessed with a friendship that is safe and honest, take advantage of it! Many people don't.  If you are blessed financially (insurance benefits or otherwise), take advantage of professional counseling!  There is zero reason it should have a stigma attached to it anymore because it is often as simple as just having a conversation about what's troubling you.  It can be no different than chatting with  an emotionally available mother that warmly invites you to tell her all about it.  And for those times in your life when there just isn't anyone able to listen, pull out some paper and pen and just write.  Write until the tears come and then write until there aren't anymore.  If you can't bear the thought of it being read or you don't want to keep it, feel free to immediately burn it.  The important part is that it is now outside of you and decreasing the pressure place on your heart.

I'm not a professional counselor (though I've thought about it before) and I do not have all the answers, but I'm always happy to listen when someone needs to talk.  If you need to chat or help finding someone you feel comfortable talking with, I would love to help you.  Rich or poor, young or old, we all just need help understanding what's going on in our world and inside of us. 

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