Sunday, September 07, 2008


What seems to me to be a very foolish and sometimes potentially DANGEROUS approach to life is the viewpoint that "if some is good, MORE is better!"

Case in point: Tammy Fae Baker. Now, I'm not much of a cosmetic queen. Most days my face goes au natural. I do put on a little blush, lipstick and mascara for hot dates, job interviews and some church functions. But I cannot for the life of me understand how ANYONE would think they looked BETTER with that darn much goop plastered on their face. Now, I don't mean to be unkind or to speak ill of the dead, but seriously, she is/was to me the epitome of excess in this area, rivaled only by Mimi Bobeck on the Drew Cary show.

But face paint is a generally benign area that I am using only for example.

Use of pain medication (or ANY medicine for that matter), pesticides, and punishment are all areas that are considerably more serious.

From sprinkling salt on your eggs to how much risk to take in your investments, finding the right balance of not too little and not too much is a balance each person must figure out for themselves.

Then there is the issue of sharing personal information.

SOME opening up in an authentic way is a good thing. It is the stuff that builds bonds with others, creating a sense of being known and establishing intimacy.

But there is a limit to how much is a good thing.

The thing is, what feels appropriate in terms of privacy and making public for ME are no doubt somewhat very different than what they are for YOU.

In some contexts I can be an open book. In others I am considerably more guarded. That makes total sense to me since some settings are safe turf and others are more like walking through a mine field. The trick is how I determine which is which. SOMETIMES I get them mixed up. Sometimes I can be in a completely safe, supportive setting but will confuse the signals, defining it as a time to clam up completely. Other times I will think I am on sacred ground with someone I can trust, peeling back my layers and laying my heart bare only to see it get shattered.

I'm not always great at distinguishing what is safe and what is dangerous, how much is enough and how much is TOO MUCH.

How do you figure this stuff out??

Since moving I've been attending a new congregation of my church. I am looking forward to getting to know the people I now associate with and for the most part have found them to be a very friendly group.

But there is a difference between being FRIENDLY and having true friends. A big piece of that difference is how much we are willing to share of our private selves with specific individuals.

We all start out by putting our best foot forward, in most cases. We act polite. We want to be "nice". (At least in a church setting.) But somewhere along the way in personal conversations with this person or that person we begin to share more of our challenges, our concerns, etc. I find myself walking VERY CAREFULLY in this area. Who do I be open with and who do I not? I can enjoy and appreciate just about everyone I meet there. But who do I TRUST?

Maybe I make a bigger deal out of this than in needful. But history tells me that somewhere in this group of people I may find my next best friend AND I could also end up feeling really stupid or embarrased if I choose wrong. So yeah, it feels like it matters.


Jen said...

I have been thinking about this a lot lately as well. It surprised me to see this post written from you, actually. My perception of you has always been that of a person who is able to set clear boundaries.

I'm trying to notice when others disclose, and reciprocate appropriately. I know I need to develop a better understanding of when its appropriate to self-disclose.

Jess said...

When around new groups (new job, church...) I tend to just listen in the beginning as I can usually guage "who" I need to be in that setting.

I think it is good to be guarded about various matters in life, but that doesn't mean that you aren't being who you are just leaving a bit of mystery.

My life is pretty much an open book for anyone that ask...or happens across my blog. :)

Belladonna said...

I think my issue is that if I error, it is on the side of remaining more closed off than I would like to. I'm very comfortable talking IDEAS but far more cautious about being open with my feelings. I'm trying to change that pattern somewhat.

I'm a pretty good listener and I know how to keep a confidence so I have lots of people who share things with me...but when it comes to me being willing to open up about my own personal matters I can be pretty darn cautious. I do NOT want to give that up - I think it is a wise pattern in most cases. But it makes sense for me to be able to choose some instances where I can be more open. For me the issue is determining how, when, and with whom.

Jess, I could relate to your comment about guaging who you need to be in different settings. I do not think this is a matter of being fake or's just that we all have different dimensions to our total self and the part of that matrix we will share in one setting will be different from how we are with others.

I agree that it IS good to be somewhat guarded about some matters of life...still, it is through sharing who we really are in our most authentic self that our most cherished bonds are built. I participated in a training called "Spectrum" several years ago in Boise, Idaho. In one of those sessions they talked about "lowering the waterline"...saying what we show to others is like an iceberg, with just a small percentage showing up top and the major bulk of what's there remaining hidden under the surface.

I wrote about this back when I first started this blog HERE

Rozel said...

Hmmmm. . .good question. I tend to trust everyone and then get burnt. The good news is I only get burnt once and I know very quickly who to trust and who not to trust.

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