Projectile Sharing / by Michelle Cowan

Sometimes, when I don’t share something that’s been burning on my heart—when I suppress it and refuse to speak it to another person for a long period of time—that something eventually comes out on its own. It will be shared… and often with the wrong people.

A friend and I were discussing this a few weeks ago, and she suggested I blog about it. The night before our discussion, she had laid out her heart for a group of people (not just an individual person) she didn’t know very well.  Yes, a little alcohol was involved, but not much. Sometimes, it doesn’t take much. When we need to share, we share.

When we go through hard times, we are hard wired to connect with others and pour some of those feelings and experiences out. We can’t hold them all alone. Unfortunately, it seems that many of us are hardwired to suppress the impulse to share. Why?  Perhaps saving face or feeling competent and in control are more valuable to us than feeling better. We do many things that prevent us from healing because our self esteem matters more.

It’s our self esteem we’re talking about here—not a small thing. We want to protect our self esteem, and it drives us to hide things that have caused us shame. This sometimes means that we go for long periods without talking about the heaviest things on our minds. And when those thoughts and feelings get too heavy, they come bursting out, all over people who may not be safe to share with.

Of course, some people don’t have this issue. They understand relationships intuitively. Bravo for them—for you if you fall into that category! Maybe I’ll get there one day. For now, however, I have to work to reach out and open myself up to perceived disgrace or rejection. I forget that people will more than likely embrace me when I share something difficult. I forget that I often leave the situation with more self esteem, because the other person validates my feelings or accepts me, regardless of what I’ve done or experienced.

It’s best to share when you know you need to. Listen to your heart, and when it aches, don’t wait. Call someone. Even when you’re not sure if you’re ready to share, you can get on the phone and tell someone that you have something you want to talk about. You can leave it at that, or maybe you will realize that you are ready to open up. The important thing is to let someone know that a secret burns within you, that you a have a burden that needs lifting, or that you have something wonderful to say. Speaking this truth starts a positive, active flow. If you don’t share, you’re damming the flow and possibly causing feelings of stagnation or depression.

I understand the fear of becoming a person that shares profusely, all the time, with inappropriate people. I am not advocating projectile sharing. Listen to your heart, and it will tell you when you need to open up and will often guide you to safe people with which to share. I’m trying to save you from the uncontrollable sharing that happens when thoughts and feelings lie dormant for too long. Stay in touch with yourself.

Those are my two cents. Don’t let the need to share build up to the point where it could spew out on anyone. If you are so concerned about what other people will think, wouldn’t it be best to share it with the people who are least likely to look down on you for it? Now is the time.