Been thinking a lot lately about the “Rights” people often believe they have regarding others. More specifically…
So many people honestly and vehemently assert that they have the right to know what you know, and to know it now! Some examples: A family member feels you must tell them why you didn’t attend a friend’s funeral; or a friend demands to know details about recent marital problems you’ve been experiencing; or a co-worker feels justified in insisting you tell them details as to why you were out of the office the day before.
Wanting to know a thing – and demanding to know a thing – these are definitely separate. Yes, I would love to know more details behind the choices my family and friends make, but I never insist that they tell me. I’d love to be their soundboard, their confidante, to help them, but I never feel obligated that they do so.
Anyone who demands personal details about your life and even claims it is their right to know these details, then… it’s obvious that they are making these assertions for selfish reasons and not primarily out of love or concern.
The details of our life are ours. Because of social media, we increasingly have less and less control over how many of these details are seen or shared, and even less control around attaching any real truth to the perceptions of these details. This is especially true when your details are communicated BY others TO others.
I recently had an instance where I took an action that upset another person (I’m person “A” and the subject of my choice is person “B”). Shortly afterwards, I was faced with a demand by person “C” to know the reasons for my choice so that they could then relate those reasons to person “D”, who would then relate them back to person “B”. When I responded that this issue was between me and person “B”, both “C” and “D” responded with confusion and outrage. They sincerely felt it was their right to know my reasoning, to know it now, and they felt sorely offended that I wanted to keep others out of that communication loop.
How do you explain the reasons for the things you say or do when, at times, you’re not 100% sure yourself? And, that said, why should I have to?
There are things that have happened in my life that I’ve never told another living soul; not family, not the closest of friends, not even an anonymous hotline. Things occasionally happen to us or involve us that take time to process, time to face and absorb, and time to come to terms with. Those things are yours.
You Own Them.
In fact, they are among the very few things in this world that you truly do own.
Once they are “out there”, you no longer own them. Others do. Others translate them, redefine them, judge them – and you. They snip them and resew them into something more easy to wear. Or they change, delete or add ingredients to make them more palatable, more digestible.
Sharing things with people nearly always implies permission for them to offer advice, to press you with their opinions, and – all to often – to then share your “thing” with someone else. And, of course, it’s absolutely OK for them to share your “thing” because they’re sharing it with someone THEY trust.
One of the few things that still truly upsets me these days are instances when someone insists that it’s their right to know something I haven’t shared. They can ask, they can offer assistance or a welcome ear, but NEVER TELL ME that it’s your RIGHT to demand my information.
My list of things that immediately piss me off is pretty short these days, but this is still definitely one of them. It’s a work-in-progress.
To anyone reading/listening: Never feel like you do not own your narrative – your story. It’s yours! Tell it, or don’t. You choose ‘when’, and please remember that choosing the answer of “Never” is definitely one of those options. There is no title (spouse, child, parent, lover, friend, boss, etc.) that possesses an inherent right to your story.