Self-Limiting Thoughts

Perhaps this, the third item I’ve written since I got up around 5 this morning, will satisfy my desire to create something I am willing to share. The first two provided me with outlets for thoughts about intellectual and emotional searches but were not suitable for the public realm.

How is it, I wonder, that we decide what is suitable for sharing? Or, on the other hand, how do we determine what we do not want to share? The answer might initially seem straightforward, but when I focus my attention on the question, the answer begins to cloud until, finally, it becomes nearly opaque. As I unleashed my thoughts earlier, I found myself documenting a state of mind that might be subject to misinterpretation. A simple bit of minor melancholy could be mistaken for overwhelming sadness. A shred of humor could be misread as evidence of delirious happiness. An expression of a desire for isolation might be interpreted as a wish to abandon everything heretofore dear to me. And qualifying words, meant to convince the reader that all really is well, could be viewed as artificial reassurance.

Because certain subjects tend to raise red flags, we tend to avoid them, even when dialogue about those subjects might be healing and healthy or, instead, simply chit-chat. On the other hand, raising some subjects, including those that might be considered innocuous, can indeed be evidence of cause for alarm. So, if the topics or subjects on one’s mind have the potential of triggering false alarms, we avoid those red flags.

I saw a Facebook post the other day, posted by the daughter of a friend, that turned the “undue alarm” idea on its ear. The post said, essentially, “If you need to talk about something, just talk about it. Don’t hint around about it on Facebook to try to generate concern. Either spit it out or shut up.” That sort of insensitive attitude is also a reason one might avoid tentatively raising sensitive subjects. In my opinion, many people feel the way my friend’s daughter does but have the decency to hide it rather than share it with the world. But, then, perhaps honesty is the best policy?  No, I think most people would rather not say out loud, “Honestly, I am an insensitive prick.” They prefer to feign compassion.

This bit of writing is not accomplishing what I’d hoped, either. Today must not be my day for shareable thoughts. But I’ll share it anyway. And I might one day return to the other two pieces I wrote this morning and I might share them, too. I have 343 other unshared pieces (also called drafts), waiting in line. They are not secrets. They are protected pockets of mistaken ideas. They are not the self-limiting thoughts that make their way to this site. At least not yet.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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