Why Sharing Your Story Helps

Complete Me

Why Sharing Your Story Helps

Complete Me

by heidi juniper

“Most People Do Not Listen With The Intent To Understand;  They Listen With The Intent To Reply”  ~stephen r. covey

In a talk on “A Listening Presence,” Tara Brach describes how our spirits can be like fountains that get clogged by emotions we’re not even consciously aware of.

As I picture it: We feel stressed; we feel burdened; we feel some kind of sticky bad black feeling that coats everything. The dark mood we’re in seems to have been shadowing our lives for days, for weeks, forever… We somehow lose the capacity to step outside ourselves, to gain a larger perspective. We just know, “I feel bad” or, “I feel so stuck.”

Many different events can break through this dark cloud of distress—but Brach mentions a kindful intervention that can be surprisingly powerful: Listening.

Listening “dissolves the debris” that is clogging the flowing movement of our spirits, Brach says. And she adds:

“When we listen to others, it’s like the fountain in them comes alive.”

~tara brach

I’ve spent a lot of my adulthood—most of the last two decades—feeling isolated and invisible.

People who’ve know me a long while may be surprised to hear that. I haven’t been unhappy; just incomplete. I’ve certainly felt extremely lucky and connected in many ways, because of a supportive husband, good friends… I’ve also known the ecstatic companionship of countless wonderful books.

And more recently, with the discovery of certain heartfelt podcasts, and FB groups, I’ve at last stumbled into some of the missing members of my “tribe”, that I never seemed to meet “in real life”—people who are deeply drawn to self-understanding and self-growth.

But for so long, the most important parts of me (my true passions, my Life Purpose), have all been things I explored mostly in secret. I felt that the real Me was hidden from view, unseen and unheard… Even, unsee-able and unhearable.

     This is such agony.     

>>*<<            >>*<<            >>*<< 

I retreated because when I wholeheartedly tried, in my 20s, to share my offerings to the world…  It had gone horrendously badly. It seemed blazingly clear: sharing was doomed to fail.

Not only that–others seemed so uncomprehending & rejecting of what I tried so hard to get across, it started to badly undermine my own belief in myself. Maybe my whole life story was wrong & didn’t make sense; maybe my insights were irrelevant. Or maybe, they were simply invisible to others, and I could never change that.

I retreated, where I could keep my remaining self-belief intact, and my story “safe.”

This… didn’t work. Alas! I kept my truths so safely hidden, they started to feel like a faint, ghostly presence—even to me.

I began to break my misbegotten vow of silence… when?

I suppose it happened in fits and starts, over a long period… I would get brave, share something significant… clam back up. The joy of feeling more visible couldn’t crack me all the way open; too much was at stake to leave my safe cave of secrecy.

Many people in my life probably have saw me as pretty open–and I was–except about the most important things.  My Life Purpose things. Because I’d learned my lesson well! Maybe too well.

I think this is a common experience, this closing-off… And we maintain it until we meet a person who seems determined to understand and cherish the truth of us, no matter how awkwardly we reveal ourselves.  (And find within ourselves the bravery to keep sharing with this trustworthy person.)

For me, one of my best and closest Listeners… one of the people who has seemed most Determined To Understand me, is my friend and mentor, Tami.  (She is also, coincidentally, my cousin-in-“love.”)

Tami listens until she truly understands; she applauds and affirms me, consoles me, offers me empathy and hope. And endlessly celebrates my unique way of being, what I am and give.

I so dearly wish for everyone to find their Tami.

Tami came into my life at a critical time. I had a Mentor that deeply mattered to me, in my early adulthood, suddenly disappear from my life… then several years later, someone I also deeply trusted and considered my “best friend”, broke off our friendship abruptly, and with utter finality.

I decided that not only was I invisible and unimportant to the outside world–it seemed it wasn’t even safe to try to reveal myself to my most trusted Mentors and dearest, bestest friends. Because I couldn’t trust them–couldn’t trust anyone. Couldn’t trust myself. Clearly I had terrible judgment, and I ruined relationships.

>>*<<            >>*<<            >>*<< 

(INTERLUDE):

This is not my understanding, now.  I now understand that relationships are two-sided. Both sides have to Keep Trying, when things get hard. If the relationship hasn’t been tested, sometimes when a big test does come along, the sweetest people turn tail & run & hide. Because they don’t know what else to do. Because they haven’t learned to Stay and Work things out.

But it was incredibly hard, because they had seemed to say–“I’ll love and be there for you no matter what–” And “no matter what” didn’t, it seem, involve things getting suddenly quite hard.

I, too, made quite serious mistakes in those relationships.  I tried to use them to heal ways I wasn’t seen growing up; to find the Unconditional Clear-Eyed Understanding I’d always, always longed for. But my approach wasn’t mature. I think there were elements of me attempting to “merge” with these trusted figures in a co-dependent-ish, immature way. I don’t think I set great boundaries. I think I conveyed I was unwilling to take “I can’t give you what you’re seeking” for an answer. I didn’t know to test if we could weather small conflicts.

I’ve worked on my part in what happened, since then–and tried to not own the part that wasn’t my fault. I’ve tried to own that them giving up was on them–not me.  Because: the truth is: even when things got hard, I didn’t quit. Probably largely because I needed & wanted them in my life a lot more than they probably needed or wanted me.

But also, possibly, because I was braver and more resilient than they were. Because I knew how to keep trying–and have worked hard at getting (even) better at that.)

But when you lose trust in two or three really important people in your life, in a row…  Even if those losses happen years and years apart…  It starts to tear at your heart.  (Especially if you don’t know how to repair those tears.)

It’s all too easy to believe:  

People are the Worst.  

They can’t be trusted.

And to believe: “I can’t trust myself to choose well. I can’t take this happening all over again. I don’t know how to Do Friendship. And–it’s all too damn painful!

 

(End of Interlude)

>>*<<            >>*<<            >>*<< 

Tami’s steady kindness, and willingness to see me, and repair misunderstandings, has helped me to believe it’s possible to trust and not be bitterly disappointed; to work through even serious hurts and upsets. To know, deep down, that I can show up and others will… actually… see me.

A lot of people in my life have been spectacularly good friends to me.  This story isn’t meant to minimize those other beautiful connections; many of those were transformative, too.  This story is meant to convey:

Tami helped me, at a very low point, experience a confidence and sense of solidness I didn’t realize it was possible to regain.  And she’s more than once asked me for advice!  (And really wanted to know what my Inner Wisdom & background could offer her!)

She’s asked me to teach her from out of my deepest passions & areas of experience & expertise–education, psychology, & so many other ways of developing our Personhood.  She’s helped me step into my own Mentoring role.

Finding myself knowable and cherishable, by Tami, and by others in my newly found tribe, I’ve started doing more of this daring sharing. In conversations with long-time friends; with brand new friends.  In a dear, darling “Kindful Place” FB group that recently started up.

And now, here, at A Kindful Place, in this intensely public space.  (A site that can be found through Google searches! And subscribed to, and shared!  A really, really public place.)

Revealing my long-hoarded secrets openly is the most terrifying (and… exhilarating, liberating) thing I’ve ever done. I’m starting to learn that I’m good at finding people who have open hearts and minds, that will grasp the gist of me, even if I don’t explain myself perfectly (or even very well) every time.

I’m learning that even if it were possible to find the “perfect” words, they won’t resonate unless an understanding heart (yours!) comes along to read them.

Heart-connected understanding isn’t just my job; it requires you, out there, too, to open to what I’m offering, attempt to understand. It takes both sides. But I can’t find that sacred understanding–none of us can–unless we try to show ourselves.

(Hopefully with trustworthy, kind, encouraging listeners. Like Tami.  Like me.)

Though I still want to protect my words, perfect my story… More and more I’m acutely aware that perfection is unattainable, that waiting for perfect means waiting forever and I simply don’t have forever! I. can’t. wait! (My impatience, these days, is overtaking my perfectionism!)

This feels thrilling. I feel… more solid. Even as I also feel, frequently, giddy with the joy bubbling up through my whole body. The fountain of my insights and awareness is flowing freely, as I experience the power of others looking and listening and letting me know they’re receiving what I’m sending.

It’s becoming easier to be brave, the more I do it.

The efforts that don’t work, become less embarrassing, less memorable, daily. I’m forgiving myself for my mistakes.

I’ve forgiven the mistakes others made, I think–not because it’s required–but because I’ve healed. They weren’t truly toxic situations–just acutely, horribly painful. I’ve forgiven because they helped me to this profound understanding that relationships are two-sided; that we deserve feedback and warnings when things are going south. Because I learned, and can strongly assure you:

we really and truly deserve to have others stick hard things out–and when they don’t, that’s not our fault.

There’s a great peace in having acquired this insight–it’s a precious gift. Having something so precious to offer you is a tremendous consolation for that suffering.

There’s more to this story–and I have many more stories like it, to tell you. But I’m going to pause in the telling, here.  Because if there’s an urgent lesson in all of this–and there are many that glint & glimmer back at me as I sit with this, but the most urgent one, to me, is:

If you have an untold story–if you’ve felt isolated and invisible–it’s quite possible that an Encouraging Listener is waiting to hear it, and transform your life. (Or, to have your storytelling transform theirs.)

That person could be someone you already know; someone that’s been waiting nearby; someone you’re about to bump into. Maybe even me.

I do so hope–whoever your Encourager is–you’ll tell it to them. And keep on telling it.

I hope you tell Your Story for your own sake–for the sake of honouring & spreading all the wisdom and meanings stored up within you.

I hope you’ll tell if for the sake of what you could cause to flow for another, who might, by chance, find themselves reflected in what you share.

So! Please!…

>>*<<            >>*<<            >>*<< 

Join Me!
I invite you to join me in this brave, nutty venture, of Openheartedly Sharing, and Receptively Listening.

Because I believe that each of you have lived a unique and profound story.

Because I badly want to hear it.

Because I think many people will be helped by hearing you tell it.

>>*<<            >>*<<            >>*<< 

Sharing pieces of our story, we help others know they’re not alone.

In our hearts, we all recognize this; we’ve all been helped–and felt, somehow, understood–by people we’ll never meet. People who died before we were born, or, even, who are entirely fictional, can keep company with our hearts and sustain our souls. Giving this gift back, we help save others–and help save ourselves.

 

Feeling connected, feeling understandable—all of this helps us keep faith in our own inner wisdom.

This faith is crucial! What can we trust, if we don’t trust our own minds and hearts, our deepest inner knowing? If we can’t steadfastly walk in step to the pulsing beat of our own heartmind?

As children, we were generally not told or shown that our truths were important to others. Instead, generally, we were taught to treat our own feelings and insights as inferior, irrelevant. All too often, we then learned to distrust ourselves… Or to cling to a narrow, rigid set of views we angrily defend, without question.  Without nuance or openness.  (More on this in a future essay.)

But, crucially—young or old, confident or hesitant–still, only we have direct access to our inner wisdom.

Only we can give a voice to that unique meaning, contained within us… that special perspective that might save a wounded soul in crisis, help save the world… or “merely” help another being feel a little less alone.

The ultimate, long-term outcome of voicing our inner wisdom may never be ours to know; the good we do may be experienced by someone else, in secret, or, long after we’ve gone. As Jana Steidman has said, “I cannot do all the good the world needs; but the world needs all the good I can do.”

 

We can’t know the outcome; we can only obey the call to give.

>>*<< 

>>*<< 

Invisible and isolated, we aren’t able to fully come into our own power and potential.

The willingness to be vulnerable and real—to grow your best self, to give pieces of your best self—that deserves a response that honours your sincerity, your bravery, your effort.

You deserve to be received by people who are kind and responsible—who are capable of responding in kind to your authentic offerings.

 

Becoming our truest, fullest selves requires kind and full engagement… with everything inside our hearts and minds… and with kind, responsible others.

Why not become that, right now, for each other??

We can start where we are. We can learn how together.

>>*<< 

>>*<< 

The damming up of our words and meanings, is no small thing.

It shuts down our very life flow; it is profoundly demoralizing and discouraging.

It sucks the joy and purpose out of us.

Let’s reverse that!

Let’s pour out our words and meanings…  Allow courage to swell up, allow encouragement to flow out…

>>*<<            >>*<<            >>*<< 

If you knew others would “get” it, would get you… perhaps would even be profoundly helped by what’s been locked away inside you…

what would you consider starting to share?

I’m curious:  Reading this, what came up for you?  What are your experiences with these topics (such as, feeling another person is listening and truly understanding–or not)?  Do you have any important Untold Stories, buried inside you, waiting to come out into the light?  (If you think you might like to Share some of your Story, or gain support for your Authentic Life Purpose, click here, or here.)

 

I’ll see you in the comments.  🙂  –Heidi

If something on this page touched you, please *SPREAD the KINDNESS!*
heidi.juniper
Founder at A Kindful Place
Heidi Juniper is a recovering perfectionist and self-connection coach, helping people gain power and insight from their emotions, by honouring each person’s own inner wisdom, and offering tools from psychology and neuroscience.

She sincerely hopes that this fledgling community, as it grows, may help you find something meaningful or helpful you've not found elsewhere.

We love comments! If this is your first comment here, please sign the KINDNESS PLEDGE (located in Top Menu) by expressing agreement in the Comments Section of that page. Using an account that links to your real (first) name & a genuine photo is preferred. FB login will show in main thread if you "Reply" to a WP Comment. Thanks so much, for what you share! :)

4 Comments On "Why Sharing Your Story Helps Complete Me"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest
Sheila Bergquist
Guest
Wow. This is such a great article about being open and telling your story. I was like you for many years and then I went through a horrible ten year period that made my anxiety disorder show up again in full speed (something I am still struggling with). I started a blog and was really honest and open on it and it helped. I don’t know why, but with what I was going through I just didn’t care about hiding anymore. I think it is so wonderful that you have someone like Tami. And I also think it’s so brave… Read more »
Tami
Admin
Tami

I’m happy to say I’ll do my best to manifest the spirit of kindness, so aptly defined here. This is a much-needed endeavor and I’m looking forward to learning from and growing with you all.

Paul
Member

I … kind of wish I could have read this fresh. Without already knowing the story (and living through it with you). You mold such a welcoming and kind message – we are all deserving of love – and follow it with such a generous invitation – please share with me in this place I created for US. It also made me feel again the sorrow I did when you were first hurt by that rending. You really do have a beautiful voice.

wpDiscuz
%d bloggers like this: