The Conversation I Didn't Want to Have

I like to think I am an open book and I am honest with myself and others, however, I am learning that denial is subtle.

D - Don’t
E - Even
N - Know
I - I
A - Am
L - Lying

I was recently challenged to ask myself the question, “What is the conversation I don’t want to have?”  I immediately thought, “Nothing! There is nothing I am unwilling to have a conversation about!”  I started to think about my extremely quick response to that question and wondered if there was something I didn’t want to have a conversation about would I actually want to know? So, I decided to sit in curiosity with this question for a few days.

What is emerging has been transforming for me.  I started paying closer attention to my thoughts and actions; the ones that had always been there, but now I was watching and listening for.

For example, yesterday during work, a lot of technical issues popped up.

  • I received two emails I wasn’t sure how to respond to.  
  • I was having issues logging into an account and had tried the login at least 5 times.
  • I didn't know the answers to questions asked of me by the company redoing my website.
  • I started working with a new, complex software that feels overwhelming to me.

With all of this coming at me at once, my heart started racing.  When my heart started racing, I felt the urge to move. I realized I was hungry and so I started scurrying about the kitchen making my lunch.  I was unaware that in this process I was communicating the stress I was feeling to my family.

90% of communication is nonverbal.

Each of them began coming around asking me if I was “OK.” As the question came from my husband, I started spewing my stress about the technical issues out to him.  As I listened to what was coming out of my mouth, I could see the recurring belief in my statements: “I don’t have what it takes to figure out the technical issues.”

Without missing a step, my husband had my computer in his hands and was starting to work through the issues for me.

All of a sudden, I saw the dance that my husband and I have been doing for the last 25 years of marriage and 22 years of working together in business.  

The conversation I didn’t want to have with myself began to emerge.

I slowed down and started owning the conversation under the conversation. The conversation I was having on the surface was that I felt stressed about the technical issues.  The conversation I was having under the surface was about how ill equipped I felt I was to deal with the problems and in turn I was shaming myself because I didn’t know the answers.  

Based on the conversation I was having about the conversation, also called the “meta-conversation,” I began to externally express the anxiety and stress that this belief about my lack of capabilities was bringing up in me.  

I can now see that I was subconsciously wanting to escape the pain of not knowing something by being rescued.  

Up until now, I know that if I act stressed my husband wants my stress to go away so he decides to fix it by solving the surface problem that was creating the stress.  Up until yesterday, it seemed like a win, win.  On the surface he felt needed and I didn’t feel the stress anymore.

However, I can now see that the dance in unhealthy for both of us because I was choosing to manipulate in order to escape what is uncomfortable for me.  

Our ugly dance was: I feel less than (incapable of doing something), so I act out in stress, he comes to my "rescue", and the stress goes away...temporarily. 

Nothing is really solved because the real problem of my feeling "incapable" still exists. When I seek to be rescued, I don’t get to the root of the problem, I just put a band-aid on it.  At the same time, my husband feels good in the moment because he was needed, but over time he feels used and gets annoyed.

I am so grateful that I slowed down the ugly dance and had the conversation with myself I didn’t want to have, because what emerged was a beautiful outcome.

I went to my husband and owned what was going on for me.  He could see the ugly dance as well.  He gave me back the laptop.  I asked him a few questions about what I didn’t understand, and from there he left me to dive in. Within about 10 minutes I had gotten the software to do what I needed it to and I was so proud of myself.  He was proud of me as well. (YAY!)

Since then, I have felt joy surge through my heart every time I think about it because I realize the belief that “I can’t do it” is simply a lie that threatens to take me out of what is wanted and needed for my vision to become reality. I have a new level of courage and hope for the next opportunity where I get to grow in my knowledge about technical things.  I have what it takes, and my knowledge will increase one opportunity at a time.

Technical issues may not be your thing, but take a moment and ask yourself where denial might be getting in the way of what you really want.

What is the conversation you don’t want to have with yourself or with someone else?