From a ‘creating positive change and stepping into reality’ perspective, it’s fair to say that sometimes the thing we would-be changers want to hear is not necessarily the thing we need to hear. Just like some of us think we need chocolate. No, we want chocolate.
We need oxygen.
For me, knowing what somebody needs to hear (regarding their situation, challenge or goal) is not nearly as important as knowing (1) whether or not they are ready to hear what I have to tell them (the truth as I see it) and (2) whether or not they are genuinely ready to do something about it; no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable that ‘doing’ might be. In many cases, the practical change process (psychological, emotional, behavioral) is not nearly as fun, fabulous or sexy as the self-help brochures would have us believe. In fact, more often than not, it’s kind of painful and scary.
For a while, at least.
So when somebody tells us something that we might not want to hear about ourselves (habits, outcomes, attitude, behaviours), there’s often an automatic (and understandable) resistance, if not anger, at the message. Or messenger. After all, sometimes it’s easier to get angry, than honest. Or humble. Hearing certain things about ourselves or our situation can be tough but the thing we need to ask is… is it true? In the middle of our issues and fears, it’s in our interest to find a way to turn down the insecurity and ego and find some degree of objectivity.
By the way, when I talk about this kind of feedback I’m not talking about unsolicited criticism from strangers (or even family, for that matter) but rather intelligent, constructive input from people we trust and respect. As a coach (etc.), one of my biggest challenges is to judge (1) when to share something and (2) how much ‘truth’ to present to my audience (be that an audience of one or many) without creating disconnection.
The right truth shared at the wrong time will do more harm than good which is why I don’t say as much… as I do.