This article is about your revelation of something that is a problem to you. What are the pros and cons in relation to such a revelation? What might you gain, or lose?
KEYWORDS: conversations, emotions, feelings, friends, happiness, law of attraction, negative emotion, negativity-positivity spectrum, philosophy, psychology, pleasing others, storytelling.
In this blog post I will focus on the common practice to tell your best friend about your latest big problem that you are now facing.
And I will try to evaluate this practice in terms of “utility”. In other words, is it more likely that this practice will be beneficial to you? Or is it more likely that you will be worse off than before?
Note that this blog post is especially focused on the idea that it is a “best friend” that you are confiding in. In the following text I am therefore not discussing the idea of “revelations” to people who are professional counselors, etc.
The premise of this blog post, we may say, is thus that the person whom you are confiding in is someone you know well, and is a “peer” of sorts. So I am also not talking about revealing something to your father or mother, or your son or daughter, although some similarities certainly may be found in such cases.
Venting with Friends
A person who has become really good at navigating in the world using the Law of Attraction would typically state the following: If there is one thing we should not engage in, that is the rehashing of stories about our personal problems. This is because problems attract problems.
Nevertheless, it is very common that friends do that anyway, whether they are aware of the law of attraction, or not.
So they provide a detailed description of their latest difficulty (or difficulties) in life, perhaps also along with a retelling of other, similar situations in the past, either experienced by themselves or by others.
Note here that it is not the storytelling itself, or conversation itself, that is at stake here. Stories and conversations are not necessarily bad. If the topic is positive, then it’s certainly all right.
But talking about personal problems seldom generate positive feelings or a positive mood, neither in the narrator nor in the person who is listening.
Rather, the typical presentation of a problem mostly generates various worries and complaints, and also sometimes triggers both old and new problems.
But what to do? For if it weren’t for all of our problems, what would we talk about?
What Is a Friend?
The reason why most people are not discouraged more often in telling their sob stories is because the counterpart in the conversation does not object too much.
Most people are trained, by family and society, to be “good”, and to be “hospitable” in terms of facing people in distress, of various kinds.
So the narrator of the sob story simply dives in and tries to explain it in a suitable fashion, so as to generate as much “sympathy” or “empathy” in the person who is listening to it all.
And because of this need for “sympathy” or “empathy”, the narrator needs to exaggerate and reinforce certain elements of the story. Maybe he or she even has developed an “art” of telling really juicy stories.
In any case, the point I am making here is that there is little “practical” resistance for the narrator to stop telling his story at the moment he is trying to tell it. It is not immediately evident to him or her that it would be better not to tell that tale.
For the common social idea is that “that’s what friends are for”: they are the pillars upon which we can lean on. Friends are polite, understanding, and helpful. And if they are not, then they are not really friends at all.
So it’s somewhat of a test: if you don’t accept to listen to those sob stories, then you, more or less, have proven to the other person that you are not a “good” friend (even if you really are a true well-wisher of him or her, maybe even more so than anyone else).
Friends, not Happiness
Most people want friends. And the reason why they want them is, of course, so that they can be more happy.
And that is, of course, a perfectly wonderful goal, and a goal that we all have for doing just about anything: we want to be in a position where we are more happy than before.
But the simple fact is that most people are not really more happy than before with their friends. But still, having friends is very popular, especially if it’s the right friends.
And by that I mean, socially acceptable friends, that are more or less “trophies”. So if one has such friends, one immediately may be accepted by other people, who also recognize those friends as “impressive” or “important”, etc.
So having well-respected people as friends is a status symbol. But that status symbol, of course, will be lost if the friend suddenly decides not to regard you as a friend.
Thus, the whole idea of “pleasing others” is born. If I don’t entertain my relationship with these popular persons, they may not wish to be my friend anymore.
Thus, the narrator of the sob story must be very careful to make his story very entertaining, which practically boils down to making it more emotionally compelling.
For something is at stake here: the narrator might lose his friend, his status symbol, if his negative story is too common or too boring.
The Emotional Effect
However, because of this tendency to please others, the narrator puts his own emotional state in jeopardy. For the wrong type of storytelling may actually increase negative emotional momentum.
And this is exactly what is happening here. For when the narrator is increasing the intensity of the story, and the seriousness of the story, he also must intensify his own emotional state.
And since that emotional state is already in the “complaint department” vicinity, intensifying it only makes it even more negative.
So then we may say that this is a very bad idea. For the narrator will be in a worse emotional state after his performance than before.
And because he is now in worse shape than before, he will now have to find ways to regain his previous level of emotion on the negativity-positivity spectrum.
So if he now, for example, has slipped down to being a “medium negative” N2 individual, he has to, somehow, take himself back to, say, being a “weakly negative” N1, or a “weakly positive” P1, or wherever he came from.
The “morale” of this “intensifying” of the story to make it more interesting and entertaining thus is working against the narrator, in terms of his own emotional balance.
The narrator is actively worsening his own emotional state, and thus preparing for the law of attraction to deliver more problems that are similar to the ones he is describing in his stories.
The Competitive Effect
To be worsening one’s own emotional state is bad enough. But the effects of this kind of storytelling doesn’t end there. There are also other potentially negative effects to consider.
So the narrator is making his stories more intense and more interesting, from his point of view. For the narrator wants not only sympathy and empathy from his conversation partner, but also understanding.
The problem with the word “understanding” is that it never really works. No-one else can really fully understand you. So it is almost impossible to actually get any real empathy or sympathy from others, although it may seem like they are expressing such emotions, just to be polite.
But when the narrator tries to make the conversation partner “understand” the situation, something else happens also. And that is that the conversation partner now gets hold of a great amount of information about the narrator’s own experiences, and his point of view.
And these, of course, are not just any experiences. These are the narrator’s worst experiences. These are his most frightening experiences, his most worrisome experiences, and his most humiliating experiences, etc.
In other words, the narrator reveals his “Achilles Heels” to his conversation partner. He reveals all those things that he is unhappy about: all the things he has failed doing, all the things he has failed getting, all the things he fears or are worried about.
And that puts him in an awkward position. For now he has not only lost his inner emotional status. He has also told his friend his inner weaknesses, which means that he now has also lowered his societal status. For which conversation partner can resist not retelling these emotionally intense stories to others?
Another effect is that it also may serve as a self-esteem booster for the conversation partner. So when the narrator tells the conversation partner about his problems, the conversation partner realizes that his or her own life is so much better than the narrator’s.
And once again, then, the narrator will “sink” in respectability compared to the conversation partner. So the narrator is shooting himself in the foot, more or less literally.
Although it certainly may be tempting to bring up your latest problem to your best friend, it is actually not in your best interest to do so. You risk not only your emotional status, but also your societal status.
My recommendation is therefore to gradually overcome this propensity to reveal your latest problems, and to instead focus on new positive ideas about how your own life can be better.
What are your positive plans for your next vacation? What are your positive plans for your new career? What are your positive plans for getting a more fit body? What are your positive plans for refurbishing your home?