The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
When I was training to be a professional listener, I had a clinical supervisor that regularly used the phrase “Thou Doth Protest Too Much.” She insisted that I pay close attention to people that propose that their lives are perfect without sprinkling in a few challenges once in awhile.
She said that no one is fine all the time and saying so was a smoke shield for something (perhaps something sinister even). She encouraged me to be suspicious and curious at all times (an interesting approach). I was not exempt from her suspicious curiosity. If I told her I was fine without offering up a struggle or two every so often she would say, “What are you not telling me?” She was right. If pressed, I could always offer up an obstacle I was facing that would benefit from some conversation. She said it just felt more genuine to share a blend of life experiences.
Now, after over ten years of professional and personal observations, I would agree with her assertion. I think we are socially trained to pretend that “everything is fine,” “my life is just so awesome”, or “I’m just so blessed.” Certainly, I hope that your life is fine, awesome, and blessed most of the time but it is impossible for it to be this way all of the time.
By no means is it my intention with this post to sound cynical or to deter people from sharing the wonderful things about their lives. I am just asking you to consider being honest with yourself when things are not perfect and being honest with the people that love you. We all have better days than others and we all encounter moments of imperfection (if not several).
I think with social media we are in a bit of a Catch 22. If you only share perfection people will say you’re bragging and if you share too much imperfection you are oversharing or begging for attention. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I think the best practice is to pick up the phone and tell someone you love you need a few moments of their time to talk (not text).
Because of my incredible supervisor, it freaks me out when you tell me your life is some variation of perfect. If you do try to pull that on me, I am probably going to slowly back out of the situation curiously suspicious of you.