In our current social media world, the new normal appears to be sharing everything.
Going out to dinner? Insta your meal!
Trying to figure out what to wear today? Snap your outfit!
Have a fight with your mom? Tweet your frustration!
It’s common and sharing is now accepted, and even among certain circles, expected.
But if you’re interested in finding stillness in your life, then I have a novel proposition: Keep it to yourself.
This advice actually goes much broader than whatever social network app you’ve got loaded onto your phone.
Here’s how it works:
You go to grab coffee from Starbucks and some guy cuts in line and starts an argument with you. You react. Maybe you even get quite upset.
The standard reaction to this event after it’s happened is to tell a friend about it.
Maybe there’s nobody to tell until you get to work. You walk in and Becca the receptionist ask you how it’s going, and you are compelled to tell her: “This guy at Starbucks was so rude!”
It’s like you just can’t keep it to yourself.
Or if it’s a big-enough rude — like, it’s something between friends, or you’re planning a major party and there’s some kind of disagreement with your mom about it, or in a meeting your boss totally snipes at you in front of the whole room — then it’s likely you’ll feel the urge to pick up the phone and call someone or text your BFF and vent about it.
We all do it.
But what if you didn’t?
What if you went through your morning and experienced some type of snub or difficult interaction with another person, and you just let it go and didn’t replay the whole incident again with your buddy later on?
Or you had a mishap of some sort, a paper cut or you pinched your finger in the door or stubbed your toe really bad, and you just kept it to yourself and didn’t tell anyone that it happened?
This can be especially powerful if you practice it on those challenges that can come up in intimate relationships.
You know, the standard “he said/she said” back and forth thing (or “he said/he said” or “she said/she said” or “they said/they said”) that everyone experiences at some time or another with those we love.
I’m not suggesting that you stuff your feelings. If you’re already someone who tends to keep things bottled up, then the exact opposite advice might be better for you! But for anyone who tends to seek relief from the infractions of the ego by verbalizing them to another person, then this suggestion is about corralling that instinct. If you need to share what happened with someone, then that’s fine, it’s not like there’s anything wrong with doing so. However, it disperses the energy and perpetuates the infraction; it reinforces the sense of being victimized or wronged.
It’s very likely that whatever the a-hole did to you was at least in part unintentional or accidental. It’s pretty rare where, in everyday interactions, people seek to actively hurt another person. Sure, it happens, but usually it’s more of a misunderstanding or someone not being mindful or attentive in how they’re trying to get their needs met, and when you’re trying to get your needs met at the same time, then there are inevitable crossed wires from time to time. Our reactions to the initial incident is often what makes it into an offense; that’s where things can get out of hand and the emotions can kick in.
On both sides, it’s usually about defending myself and judging another’s behavior.
What if, the next time you experienced some form of a slight or a “I can’t believe she did that!” type incident, you just smiled and let it go — and really let it go?
There is tremendous power in just accepting the event and letting it process through, without regurgitating it through the victim lens and seeking external gratification about how wrong the other person was and how awful it happened.
There are definitely situations where you need to speak up and enlist allies and get support from the outside world.
But for the standard misconnnects of modern day life, maybe try it this way one time, and see what happens.