If you follow my Facebook page, you know the posts are frequently about the philosophies and rules I live by. Recently I posted the statement: “Don’t share your problems with people who can’t help solve them. That’s just wallowing in victimhood.” As expected, it got a lot of likes and shares. But it also got something else…
Thankfully, many of the people who follow my work are critical thinkers and aren’t afraid to challenge me when they think I’m missing the mark. That’s what happened here. Speaking in absolutes isn’t a very smart strategy if you’re looking to develop more wisdom. Wisdom is a subject I wrote about recently here, and I followed up in my Friday Filosophy newsletter with a deeper dive about the crazy way humans think – and how we will desperately cling to illogical and bad premise thinking if the facts interfere with our preconceived beliefs. And this sometimes happens even to your favorite blogger…
Guilty as charged.
As Valerie pointed out, there’s great value in being able to share a problem with someone who simply listens, acknowledges, and receives. This can allow you to feel that you’re not alone. Debra shared that she often gets clarity by talking through something – and the other person doesn't have to be able to "do" anything but listen and reflect back to her. Shawne suggested that sometimes the help is simply a listening ear, and Donna talked about how sharing can sometimes ease a burden. And Ian spoke of ways of talking about our problems without claiming victimhood.
These people were right, and I was wrong. What was really happening…was me projecting my own issues on the world. Over my lifetime I’ve developed responses to protect myself from high stress situations. For many reasons, my childhood and neurodiversity not the least of them – I have sometimes experienced crippling social anxiety and been extremely guarded about opening myself up to others. Since today is #WorldMentalHealthDay it’s a great chance to discuss issues like this.
In my defense, a big part of my thinking in this type of situation is my desire to remain in prosperity consciousness. I’m maniacal in wanting to keep my mindset and foundational beliefs grounded in prosperity consciousness. As an example, I’m pretty much in constant pain from my spinal stenosis, and the four surgeries to treat it. (Having battled addictions my entire life, I choose not to use opioids which might alleviate the pain.) If the surgeon asks me how I’m doing, he’ll get the honest answer because he needs that information to determine if there is a better treatment or medicine that can help me. But if anyone else asks how I’m doing or feeling, I usually reply, “Great, thanks.”
That’s a lie. And I repeat it as often as possible...
Because most people are asking simply from habit or being polite. Of course, some actually are interested in the answer. But in either case, they can’t make the pain go away. Worse, if I talk about the pain, that starts a discussion that has me affirming a lot of negative statements in my subconscious mind that will likely produce more pain in the future. And speaking about the pain gives power to it. You attract more of whatever you give your attention to. To keep centered in prosperity consciousness, it’s better to focus on anything but whatever pain I may be experiencing in the moment. It’s a minor but useful tool to keep my mindset positive.
Now on the other side of the equation, this strategy to shield against physical pain is not nearly as helpful with emotional pain...
Which brings us back to the issue of sharing a problem with someone you love, just to talk out the problem, have someone to listen to, etc. Of course, that approach never even occurred to me because I almost never do that. In my state of emotional development, problems present as a binary choice to me:
- Be weak, throw a pity party, tell others so they can feel sorry for you.
- Don’t be weak. Suck it up, work through it and get to the other side. Don’t allow it to diminish, distract, or defeat you.
Of course, as the astute readers mentioned above pointed out, there is a third and better way. There are people who you can trust your problems to. People who may not be able to solve them for you but can provide you a soft-landing spot.
There are two keys to making this work. First, make sure you’re not opening up simply because it's giving you an emotional payoff for being a victim. This can be quite intoxicating and if you do get sucked into it, you will end up wallowing in victimhood. The second key is choosing the people you trust to open up about your problems with. Make sure they’re not fellow victims who want to commiserate in feeling victimized together. Find someone who loves you and wants the highest good for you. Someone you can be sure is safe to allow into your inner world. You can even tell them you aren’t asking them to “fix” the situation, but simply be a friendly ear to confide in.
I’ll be the first person to raise my hand and admit I need to do a better job of seeking help in challenging situations, and allow myself to be less stoic, more vulnerable, and accept the abundance those who love me are offering. So, for everyone who checked in on the original post – thanks for letting me share my problems with you!
Peace, - RG
Having sat through thousands of AA/CA meetings over the years I never know when I'll hear the solution to my problem. It might come from the mogul restaurant owner or the panhandler in his parking lot. If I suspect somebody is going to do me harm that is a different story. I can also see the value in known problem solvers giving me advice.
many times you just need trusted friends to hold the space for you. They can't ' fix it ' just lessen and hold the space.. Herb Palmer jr at lobster lab media
Randy, this was one of the most heartfelt and touching posts I have ever read of yours. Thank you for being willing to listen.....and grow. And most of all, thank you for opening up to me and sharing your heart many years ago. I have loved you ever since!
Thanks Barbara, so great to have you in here. XOXO -RG
Oh boy, is this a toughie for me.. I had English parents and I don't what it is with the British, but man, do they ever love to complain, they even got their own word for it, whinging.. ever see that hilarious Monty Python sketch, we worked 24 hours a day, 7 days week, we lived in a box, oh you had a box!! You get the idea, I just hated all that whinging.. can't stand to listen to it.. got in trouble with almost every girl friend because I have little or no tolerance of listening to them bitch about their work day at the end of the day.. I've gotten better, can make the appropriate sounds and even suggest something that might work.. but for the most part it's just so repetitive and useless.. remember how Tony Soprano always wanted to be Gary Cooper, the strong, silent type.. saw himself as weak having to go to a shrink.. but look how much Dr. Melfi helped him with his panic attacks.. but in the end Tony wasn't getting much out of it as he learned, you got to come up with your own answers.. admire how you cope with chronic pain Randy.. that's a toughie for sure, played too much tennis, my ankle killing me, hard to accept as I hit the big 6 0 recently and those ouchies are going to start happening more and more.. even putting away the booze that I used to, has been cut back as the body has told me to cool it, you're not 20 any more.. just gotta accept it.. cheers David
Ever since I've started studying your work and philosophies, Randy, I can very very strongly relate to this same affirmation: "I’m maniacal in wanting to keep my mindset and foundational beliefs grounded in prosperity consciousness."
It's probably indirectly challenged people beyond their comprehension - and mine as well!
The underpinning belief premise is the one in your prosperity cd's "Your MInd is an instrument for poverty OR prosperity" and your creator wants you to be rich. Amen brother.
fast forward: I had a life changing breakthrough TODAY as to how I made every decision I've made since childhood. It was a very welcome revelation.
Infinite prosperity including perfect health to ALL.
Very grateful you became YOU.
You have shared your pain and vulnerability in various occasions. I get the point here about absolutes and humbleness. Thank you!
Hi Randy, forgive your father, LOVE G
Dear Randy, you know you are damn special, collectively people care about you, In my thoughts and prayers.LOVE G
Just another one, when do you know you have a good friend,,, my answer was.. you feel it and you know LOVE G
Finding the balance between sharing anxiety versus battling through the negative and building the positive during this pandemic is a unique situation. I told my neighbour about an experience with an allergic reaction which I originally thought was Covid 19. I was laughing at myself but she was so pleased that I had told her about my fear because it allowed her to tell me about a similar experience she had had also fearing she had contracted Covid 19. Before we had finished laughing about our mutual experience, a third neighbour joined the conversation and related her very similar experience. We are all widows of a certain age, living alone and acting tough, but I was so glad that I told the story of my experience because the other two ladies were then able to tell their stories which they both said they would not have told anyone if I hadn't told my story. I was very proud to have shown my vulnerability and foolishness which gave them the chance to open up about their fears. Sometimes it helps to open up.