We’ve all got problems, right? They exist. We can’t just close our eyes and pretend they aren’t there. Well, actually we can, but pretending won’t really make them disappear. Our problems will still be waiting when we work up the courage to take another peek. So, we might be tempted to think that talking about them couldn’t hurt. We might even believe that unburdening our troubles will relieve some of our stress. And to some degree, it does. But at what price?
Likewise, we all experience good fortune. I think the frequency of good fortune has more to do with perception rather than how many times good stuff falls in our path—but hey, that’s a topic for another blog. The point is that no one’s life is without good fortune of some kind. It may be as humble as a hummingbird’s visit or as grand as realizing your dream, but everyone—at one time or another—has something to celebrate.
So my question is: In this age of social media and quick communication—where rants, tirades, and envy abounds—should we share both our problems and our good fortunes, one but not the other, or keep our thoughts to ourselves and just post goofy cat videos?
All of these options—including the cat videos—have pros and cons. Every action has an effect. And it’s not just a matter of what other people think of us. The very act of verbalizing our thoughts has an effect on us!
If thoughts have power—and I believe they do—then how much more power do we create by turning those thoughts into words?
When we speak or write, we give form to our thoughts. The form (language) focuses our energy onto those ideas. We energize those ideas with our attention and empower them with our concentration. The more we repeat our words, the truer they become. Like layers of wet cement, our repetitions seem harmless enough until they harden into reality.
Doesn’t that sound like a great argument for never sharing our problems and shouting our good fortune every chance we get? Not so fast. We have other people to consider. Or not.
If we’re verbalizing our thoughts for our own eyes and ears, then yes: It might be wise to declare our blessings with mind-numbing repetition and avoid any mention of our problems. But when it comes to sharing these things with others, even a bombardment of good fortune can invite undesirable consequences.
So, with the goal of fostering mindful awareness, I thought I’d list a few pros and cons. Some will seem important and others frivolous. Think of them as a catalyst for thought—a mental warm-up, if you will. An intentionally incomplete list to spark new ideas. So, without further ado…
PROS FOR SHARING PROBLEMS: Lightens the load. Builds relationships. Demonstrates commonality. Encourages sympathy and support. Promotes understanding. Puts situations in context. Makes our subsequent achievement or improvement feel more pronounced.
CONS AGAINST SHARING PROBLEMS: Focuses our attention on the negative. Breeds dissatisfaction for our lives. Fuels our problem with energy that keeps it alive and helps it grow bigger. Diminishes the confidence others might have in us. Undermines the confidence we have in ourselves. Harms our relationships through constant negativity.
PROS FOR SHARING GOOD FORTUNE: Positive energy inspires more positive energy. Keeps our attention on the positive, making us feel more content. Gives others inspiration. Builds relationships with caring generous people.
CONS AGAINST SHARING GOOD FORTUNE: Too much of a good thing can become tiresome. Discontented people might feel envious, angry, or bitter. People might make erroneous assumptions based on limited information. People can mistake positivity for self-denial.
Some of these pros and cons will resonate with us and others won’t. We might not care at all what effect we have on others or how they interpret what we say, write, or post. We might only care about the positive or negative energy we generate for ourselves.
I share these thoughts not to offer a preference on whether or not to share but simply to raise the question and offer points of consideration.
Everything we say causes ripples of effect—good and bad.
While we need to be able to speak freely with those closest to us, we don’t need to speak so freely to the world.