- Steven Sutton, LCSW
You Don't Get To Control The Outcome
This is the third part of a series of articles on connecting with other people. Check out part 1 and part 2 in the BMP blog. People with the power to be open know that they can't control what other people think about them. It's not that they don't care what others think -- they often care very much. It's that they've accepted the fact that they don't get to control how other people see them.
Avoid the trap of no longer caring what anyone thinks of you. It's not possible and undesirable in any case. You do, and will continue to, care how others see you. That isn't a problem. The problem isn't wanting to be seen in a certain way, the problem is needing to be seen in that way in order to reveal who you are. If you're dependent on being seen only in a manner you prefer, you'll find it miserable to enter into uncertain situations with people who's perceptions of you may be difficult to discern. You may isolate yourself, have difficulty making new friends, or be surrounded by people and still feel lonely. Learning to be more open is a major step towards a remedy. Practice being open by doing so in low stakes situations. Think of something that you'd rather not reveal to another person but at the end of the day isn't of great consequence. Once you've identified it, make some plans to connect with someone in your life that you'd like to be closer to and intentionally reveal the information while you're communicating with them. It won't be easy but you'll usually find that you end up having a much higher quality conversation than you would have if you had never revealed anything. In the men's groups I facilitate, over the years some of the men who join would rather not share with friends that they've joined a group. When they are asked what they've been doing lately by their friends or family they usually don't mention joining the group. When I ask them about it they say something like, "I'd just rather not mention it..." or "I don't really want to talk to them about it." This is a great example of hiding and it makes a good place to begin practicing being more open. I can't recall a single time these men told their friend about joining the group and had anything other than a good conversation about it. Their loved ones are often curious about it. Or they relate and say they wish they had a group to join. The men end up connecting in a manner they would not have otherwise. It's a reliable demonstration of the power of being open. Try it this week.
Find something you'd just rather not share -- something that makes you feel like hiding but that isn't really that big a deal. When a loved one asks you, "What have you been up to?" Share it with them! Answer the question with openness and allow them to see you. Chances are you'll end up connecting. If not, you can handle it. Practicing openness is the best way to get better at it. Mastering the skill of revealing yourself is a superpower that allows you to make the strong, close connections you really want with other people.
Give it a try!