(February 2014) A piece of my heart instead of my mind.

Even though much of what this site is about is me sharing a piece of my mind, it's also about sharing what's in my heart. That's not easy. It's easier to just say what's on my mind than share what's in my heart. I think that's true for a lot of people. And it's not just easier, often I think that it's necessary. I think it's necessary, mind you. It isn't actually necessary most of the time.

Why do we do that? Why are we so concerned with making sure our viewpoint is heard? I used to know a person who would speak their mind quite unabashedly any chance they got. They would offer corrections, or "more accurate interpretations," of situations, or facts, or stories. It was clear that this person thought they knew best - also, everything - and unfortunately, they were not very fun to be around.

I really am thinking about a specific person (who is not me) here, but you should also know that I am equally guilty of this myself. 100%.

I do this all the time with Jesse. Sometimes I catch myself at it. Sometimes I prevent myself form doing it. Is it really necessary that I correct Jesse on some minute detail that has absolutely no bearing on what we're doing and will not, left unchecked, affect our lives going forward from that moment ever again? It is not. Is it necessary for me to offer my opinion on his job (and how he does it), when he tells me about his day? It is not. (DO NOT, under any circumstance, do this with your spouse/partner ever. Very bad.)

Jesse knows that I'm smart. I know Jesse knows that I can often contribute something of value, something worth hearing/knowing, that he may or may not have thought about before. And I know he knows how to get those opinions from me. He can ask. I needn't offer them up willy-nilly.

I have to catch myself before I speak and ask myself these questions -

  • What's my end-goal? To show how smart I am, or to show that I care?
  • Do I want to alienate, or do I want to connect?

Maybe there are times when we think by sharing our "knowledge," by sharing our opinion, we really are caring for that other person. We think, they need to hear our opinion. Maybe, just maybe, there are times when they really do. But it probably doesn't happen as often as we think it does, and our "caring" is actually interpreted as arrogance or nosiness. I know that I don't feel cared for when I feel the other person is any of those things. (This is different than sharing your feelings about something. Feelings and opinions are very different things.) Anyway.

Sometimes it's best to just be present instead of being heard.

Sometimes it's better to be loved than right.

Jesse and I have started something new at night, and I like it. Instead of just asking "how was your day?" or other automatic-answer questions, we've started asking pointed, specific questions like "When did you feel loved today?" or "When did you feel heard/listened to/cared for/angry/frustrated/capable/accomplished/proud, etc today?" And instead of offering my opinions - because trust me, I have them - on any of his answers, I just listen.

I tried this one night and asked him a few questions. He answered, then we were quiet for awhile. Then, without me ever saying that I'd like him to ask me those things, he did. I thought it was nice.

It is in these moments that I feel I am doing a better job at sharing my heart. I'm trying to do a better job of being a heart-sharer in all our other moments throughout the day.

It's just better that way.