Picture it, you’re in a room with old whatserface….gah you can’t stand old whatserface… and she says that thing she always says and you get so ticked off. OMG. Whatserface! You smile, and squint and nod and excuse yourself.
Then you think about her for the rest of the day. Your resentment of her lingers long after but we are decent people so we don’t talk about how much time you spend thinking about her. But you made up this BRILLIANT comeback in the shower a week later that would have REALLY stung her. DANGIT!
The same thing happens even when an encounter isn’t that big of a deal, but you tend to walk away with this lingering yuck. That’s a good term for it, the lingering yuck. It’s the things you should have said, the questions about what was happening, the fears that you said something wrong or were misinterpreted. The desire to do it over and do it better.
That second chance to relive a moment so rarely comes.
What you’re experiencing is called an incomplete encounter. You might not be surprised that this is a thing we do to ourselves A LOT. We diminish our input or our feelings or our vulnerability to a point that what we both give and get from an encounter is actually very minimal. Instead of saying “I am mad that I was just on the toilet without any paper.” You say, “Were you the last one in the bathroom? SOMEONE forgot to change the toilet paper.” Did you see that? In two different ways you bowed out of showing up with the truth. You’re mad! You sat down to poo poo and got stranded!! It’s okay to be mad about that! In this case, instead of owning your feelings and declaring them, you wrapped them up first in a question and second in the vagueness of accusing a “someone.” You have just set yourself up for an incomplete encounter. What are the ramifications of this type of incomplete encounter? Emotional residue. That’s a disgusting picture. From that encounter, left behind in your psyche are residual emotions, what ifs and should haves that sit and fester. Congratulations, you have officially packed that incident away for future use. You didn’t say the vulnerable truth in that moment and it will stick with you. Maybe someday it will mature into a full grown weapon that you will whip out in a fight. “Remember when you NEVER change the toilet paper?! How lazy are you?!”
It doesn’t just happen with yuck feelings like anger. It happens with affection too. You see your partner doing some adorable thing that they do and you just want to shout, “Oh My God BABY! You ARE SO CUTE!” and you don’t because that is weird. Maybe the checkout lady at the grocery store is so fast and accurate, but you don’t say “Nice work! That was awesome!”
Encounter Diminished. What are the ramifications of diminishing an encounter? Bruh, don’t get me started.
I’m not saying this is a dysfunction or bad behavior. It’s just…well… small. We are such rich creatures capable of such depth and beauty and connection and we diminish. We do it for so many reasons. Maybe we are scared or don’t want to seem weird or get in over our heads. This world is such a threatening place! We cannot be open. We cannot show the soft underbelly. Yeah, I accept that. I do it too, quite frequently. But I guess I can’t help but wonder how our lives would change if we approached each encounter with more wholeness, more awareness, more whole-heartedness, more of ourselves. If we lived out-loud instead of in our minds. If we said to Old Whatserface, “Girl, that thing you say drives me nuts. Can we skip it?” What would happen? If we told our friends what we really think of them, or catch our partner being amazing…What radical experiences might we find? How might we be powerfully changed?
If you long to enrich your own emotional and relational experiences toward a deeper more meaningful honesty, book an appointment.