Communication. Talking. Saying what you feel, what you mean. Being honest. Seriously, why are we so bloody crap at it? I write this agony aunt column every month for Natural Health magazine (yeah, yeah, don’t laugh) and really, I could answer pretty well every dilemma in one word: TALK! Spit it out. Say what you’re feeling.
Don’t be mean: say what you mean.
Cos most people aren’t psychic. They won’t intuit what you feel. They won’t hear the words unspoken. You have to bite the bullet and say it. Not in an aggressive ‘you total manky bitch’ or ‘you ignorant fecking bastard’ way – but in a straightforward, honest ‘this is how I feel’ way. Simple huh?
So why don’t we?
I guess sometimes it’s because of fear. If you know someone will act with anger or aggression, that’s good reason to keep schtum. But then, I wonder, should you really be around someone who reacts that way in the first place? Sometimes, maybe, you don’t want to ask the question because, in your heart of hearts, you’re scared of the answer. Or you’re scared of looking and sounding foolish, of making an arse of yourself.
And some people, of course, use silence and lack of communication as a kind of power game.
But really, all of it drives me crazy. So much misunderstanding. So much time, so many opportunities, lost through lack of words. So much hurt and pain sometimes. Through lack of truth and honesty.
The mind, left to its imaginings, can be an inventive beast. It can come up with all kinds of scenarios; all sorts of hurt and paranoia. And thought is creative. How we think can affect how we feel. Magicians would go one step further and say that how we think can affect matter – because, really, it’s all just different forms of energy. So we should be careful with our words, with our thoughts, with what is said and what is thought. With what is unsaid. Can something be unthought though? No. Only pushed away or buried or – better - replaced with something new.
Anyhow. Let’s be honest (ho ho), I’m not always great at the communication stuff myself. I’m not one of life’s great splurgers. Generally I don’t talk a whole load, truth to tell. I love silence. And silence loves me. And, yes, sometimes there can be too many words banded about. I once spent a car journey pondering the maths on how much Adrian speaks in comparison to me – I think it was a ratio of 750:1 or thereabouts. I’m a good listener though – most journalists are. I guess it's balance again - a question of knowing when to speak and when to shut the feck up.
Last night there was a deep and not remotely comfortable silence in the house. Adrian and James weren’t talking. Again. Ye gods. To be fair, Adrian is pretty good at expressing how he feels. And he will readily admit if he’s done wrong. But James is a tougher nut to crack. He’s a Scorpio, one of life’s natural silent brooding types. I’m determined that, if I can teach James one thing, just one thing (after the self-esteem thingy of course), it will be to communicate; to be honest about how he feels. To state his feelings clearly, openly, without losing the plot. Yes, that will sometimes bring him heartache, of course it will, but it will also save him heartache in the long term. So, after a suitable period elapsed (cos everyone needs to wallow for a bit), I followed him, cornered him in his lair and made him look me in the eye and talk. And eventually he did. And instead of launching off into ‘And he said this…’ or ‘And it’s so unfair…’ he talked about how he felt. He spat it all out and felt – he said - much the better for it.
As the old adage goes, better out than in.
So, today, maybe…try being honest. Say what you feel. Is there an elephant in the room? Name it. Something you’ve wanted to get off your chest for aeons? Shift it. Can’t say it? Write it. Put it in a letter and sign it with a kiss (or knot). Because, really, life can be too short for miscommunication, misunderstanding. Yet another person I know died this week (no, no, please no commiserations – I didn’t know him well – the husband of a friend). She heard his key in the door but he never came in. When she went to see what had happened, she found him dead on the doorstep. You never know how long anybody has got. Use your time wisely eh?