“no” = “I don’t love you”?

Sometime in the last few years, Facebook changed it’s event settings to going, maybe, and can’t go. They used to be something along the simple lines of yes and no/decline…I don’t remember but they were less, shall we say, gentle.

“Facebook’s goal is likely to get more people accurately responding to invitations by making them feel less rude for declining.”

I can’t be mad at that. It’s strategic. And, for those of us on the planning side, it’s definitely appreciated. Yet just about every time I’m on the invitee end of Facebook events, I wonder if we’re making things too simple, softening life up too much. Here’s what I mean by that.

Many of us (and I completely include myself in this) struggle with being upfront about how we feel when we think there’s a chance we’ll hurt someone’s feelings. That’s actually a good thing, on a certain level. We’re caring. Check.

However, these many of us often struggle because our pride is greater than our care and we don’t want to be known as the “bad guy.” So we play nice. We say we’re caring but we’re constantly massaging the truth so that we look good or so that we don’t “have” to feel bad. This is a sign of an immature emotional state. We really don’t have to feel bad–it’s typically a choice we’re making based on our insecurities.

This isn’t the same thing as being politically correct. I believe in political correctness because what I believe to be at the heart of political correctness is intentional respect for who people say they are. I don’t think of political correctness as a movement against honesty. Sometimes “telling it like it is” is an excuse for being lazy and/or plain old rude.

I believe in developing my awareness of who someone says they are so that I can respect them in a way they can grasp. That’s not always possible, yet I’m committed to trying.* What I’m afraid of is that we’re creating so many gentle approaches that it’s harder to grow in an emotional maturity that can actually be honest.

It’s becoming somewhat dangerous, it seems, to simply say, “I disagree” And when we disagree, it’s seems impossible to have a non-debate explanation of our differences. We go toe-to-toe and the person who can sound the smartest tends to “win”. And this word battle is best done in public where others can side with us otherwise the other person could go home thinking they’ve won and we wouldn’t want that so we opt for public encounters…too chicken to talk one-on-one.

We’re afraid to be honest but when we are honest we’re afraid to be wrong so then we lose all sense of gentleness. It’s a mess.

It’s all part of our emotional immaturity, an inability to separate our worth from what others say to us or what we say to them.

Or should a say, “Perhaps it’s all part of our emotional immaturity, an inability to separate our worth from what others say to us or what we say to them”? Does “perhaps” soften it for you? Does that one word position me more clearly as someone trying to figure things out vs someone who thinks she’s figured things out? And is that helpful to you? (I’m rolling my eyes as I write this.)

I want to be caring. I want to be sensitive. I also want us to all be mature enough to have freer conversations, conversations that aren’t always perfectly framed. I want us to  choose to extend to each other the belief that our hearts seek understanding. I want our patience with each other to grow deeper. Yes, we want to be valued, but at the end of the conversation, I’d love for us to recognize our value without having to receive a “yeah, you’re right” or an “I concede…you’re smarter than me.”

I truly don’t have this figured out. I’m sure of one thing, though: we’ve gotta get healthier. And perhaps a good place to start is by asking ourselves where we find our worth. Surely we can dare to answer that honestly, at least in our heads. Surely?

(By the way, if you can’t attend an event, just say so. Declining an invitation doesn’t make you the devil and doesn’t communicate to the host that they are the devil unless they have some serious self-worth issues for which you’re probably not responsible.)

 

*Let’s keep it real. I’m not always committed. Respecting folk in a way they can grasp is downright difficult. But I’m committed to trying to be committed…

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