How to talk about Life-Changing Experiences

So. You’ve just had this AMAZING experience.

It was LIFE-CHANGING and INCREDIBLE and AWESOME and everything you ever thought you knew about anything has changed and OH. MY. GOD!!!!!

And so, naturally, you want to rush out and let the world know about this AMAZING experience so they can enjoy it too.

So you do.

And they look at you as if you’re a bit odd.

They don’t seem to understand. They don’t seem to appreciate how important this is for you and how important it could be for them, too.

Some of them don’t even seem to be interested, for heaven’s sake!

What’s WRONG with these people?!

Can’t they see how INCREDIBLE this is???

Well – no. They can’t. And actually, some of them don’t want to.

Some of them will feel threatened by this sudden change in you and they will want to do everything they possibly can to persuade you that you’ve got it wrong or you’ve misunderstood or it would be much better if you forgot all these silly new ideas and went back to how you were before. They may not realise that that’s what’s going on for them mind you, they’ll just know they don’t like what you’re saying and don’t want to know about it.

Others will be more encouraging but won’t want to hear about it more than once. Although it’s been life-changing for you, it really hasn’t for them because they’re not inside your head. And even if they went through the exact same experience as you did, it STILL might not be life-changing for them because they’re not you.

But what about when you go through something that’s going to have an impact on your nearest and dearest? What if this life-changing experience is something that you really need to share with them so that they can appreciate that something profound has happened for you that is going to change the dynamics of your relationship?

Clearly, you need to have a conversation, and just as clearly you need to be very careful not to freak them out.

So the one thing you don’t want to do is to start leaping around shrieking about how you’ve just had this AMAZING experience that was LIFE-CHANGING and INCREDIBLE and AWESOME and how everything you ever thought you knew about anything has changed and OH. MY. GOD!!!!!

That won’t help, but it really WILL freak them out.

No, what you’ll need to do is to prepare the ground first. Tell them that something has happened and you’d like to have a chat about it some time.

Don’t whatever you do, use the phrase “We need to talk” unless you want them to understand that you’re about to break up with them.

Once you’ve sold the idea of having a “chat” with them, start talking very calmly about the FACTS of what happened – so something along the lines of “You know that course I went on? Well yesterday we did x, y and z” or *ahem* “You know I’ve been working with this fantastic coach? Well this evening were talking about x and y”.

Then say something along the lines of “I really want to tell you about what I learned because it feels very important for me and I want to share it with you”.

Hopefully you’ll get a positive response.

If not, you might want to say “We need to talk”, and move the conversation in a different direction…

If they’re up for it, then now is the time to tell them, calmly and soberly, what you learned and how you feel about it. And then give them time to process what you’ve said and ask you questions.

If it sounds to you like they’re being dismissive, or disinterested, or defensive then CHECK OUT YOUR PERCEPTION before reaching for your shotgun.

Throughout this conversation it’s really important that you remember that the person you’re talking to IS NOT and NEVER WILL BE inside your head and so will NEVER be fully able to appreciate exactly what you’ve gone through.

All you can hope to do is to help them to understand that something profound has happened for you, and then leave them to decide how they want to react.

And remember – the whole, entire world neither wants nor needs to know about your epiphany. Well, unless you’re the Queen or the President, and you’ve suddenly decided to give it all up and move to an Ashram in India. And even then, most people will really only want the headlines…

So – think very carefully about who NEEDS to know about what you’ve been going through, and then plan how you’re going to tell them.

And good luck šŸ™‚

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4 responses to “How to talk about Life-Changing Experiences

  1. Cathy I have friends that I am able to discuss my work with and others I cannot. I like my friends to share in my enthusiasm but because they don’t get what I do it is hard for them to jump up and down when I give them my good news. Hence I have to do a lot of jumping around with my children and husband and a few friends who don’t get my job but none the less are supportive.

    • Hi Naomi it’s interesting, isn’t it, how keen we sometimes are for people to *understand*, when actually what we’re really looking for is their *support*, which they can give without necessarily needing to understand. For me, it’s the support bit that most important, most of the time. I’m gladto know you’ve got that, and I’m glad that I now have a mental image of you and your family bounding around on a bouncy castle!

  2. Thanks for the sage reminder to consider audience and reaction when communicating. Pleased to have found my way to your blog!

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