With each incoming challenge and truth, we choose to deal with it or deflect it.
Know which one you are choosing. Take inventory.
I was recently watching a show in which a character was dealing with cancer and making some decisions about treatment. Hesitant to process it aloud very often, her friend was a little surprised when she made a joke. The friend responded, “What are we doing with that today? Are we dealing with it or deflecting?” The answer in this particular exchange was deflecting. At least they both knew where they stood and could take the next step on the same page.
Ask people how they’re handling something:
- “Are we looking for truth or trying to create our own?”
- “Are we considering others or doing this our own way for our own benefit?”
- “Are we choosing healthy habits or short-term comfort?”
- “Are we using coping strategies or defense mechanisms?”
- “Are we taking responsibility or assigning blame (to ourselves or others) because it’s easier?”
You might soften the blow by using “we” instead of “you” to let the other person know you’re in the process with them. And obviously, you can’t be this upfront with everyone in your life. You would definitely accept this more from some people than others. Maybe you should even consider who you accept this type of accountability from and why. The way you answer might reveal something about your approach to truth, humility, and transparency.
You won’t always get the answer you want from your friends as you ask these questions. Your job isn’t to monitor their every move and change their minds as to how they’re dealing with something. But identifying their approach to situations is often enough to invite them to pause and evaluate why they’re approaching something the way they are.
None of us handles every situation in our lives in the best ways for the best reasons. But that is no reason to stop trying. We still need to lean into honesty and transparency, encouraging our friends and family to do the same. Encouragement isn’t simply affirming someone on the path they choose. It’s also helping them assess their process through truth.
Be honest with yourself and others today. It’s the only way to grow.