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Show, don't tell.



‘Show the readers everything.


Tell them nothing’.


The belief that suppressing our feelings is harmful has been around for a long time.


So long that it appears self-evident.


During my recent close encounter with the tarmac, and subsequent rehabilitation, this subject came up quite regularly.


‘You must let it out. Don’t bottle it up’.


Let what out?


Feelings, apparently.


The prevailing wisdom says ‘bottling up’ emotions is dangerous.


Because we are likely to ‘dump’ them elsewhere.


Somewhere inappropriate.


Here’s a story:


Strapped to a trauma board waiting for an MRI, I notice an old man out of the corner of my eye.


He is sitting in a wheelchair, watching me.


Eventually he rolls across.


‘That looks like it hurts’, he says.


I laugh.


I hear him weighing me up.


Then he places a gnarly old hand on my good shoulder and says:


‘You’ll be alright, son. Tough it out’.


He rolled away gently.


Tears welled up. It was the nicest thing anyone said in all the time I was there.


In such situations there isn’t enough mental bandwidth to express one’s feelings eloquently.


Words seem inadequate.


I am occasionally told by those I work with that they feel pressured to ‘open up’.


Even though doing so feels awkward, intrusive and not particularly helpful.


‘Don’t do it, then’.


Recent research from the University of Cambridge suggests that suppressing negative thoughts may actually be good for our mental health.


According to Professor Michael Anderson:


“We’re all familiar with the Freudian idea that if we suppress our feelings or thoughts, they remain in our unconscious, influencing our behaviour and wellbeing perniciously.


What we actually found runs counter to the accepted narrative”.


He goes on to explain that suppressing negative thoughts appears to be beneficial.


Left unattended, such thoughts diminish.


That’s not to suggest that feelings of despair should be kept to oneself.


But if it feel forced, awkward or unnecessary?


Then don’t do it.


Note: *Here's a link to the article about the Cambridge University study:


_____________________________________________________________________________________


My name is Clark. I tell potential clients they'll know within 20 minutes whether we're a good fit.


And so will I.


For some, my matter-of-fact style doesn't work.


I'm cool with that.


Those I do work with prefer the straight-talking, pragmatic approach.


If you drop me a line and we decide to chat, in 20 minutes you'll know.

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