The Rules of Self-Disclosure

When I was a young child we used to have a poster up in the kitchen with a verse on it entitled Children Learn What They Live.

If children live with CRITICISM, they learn to CONDEMN
If children live with HOSTILITY, they learn to FIGHT
If children live with RIDICULE, they learn to BE SHY
If children live with SHAME, they learn to FEEL GUILTY

If children live with TOLERANCE, they learn to BE PATIENT
If children live with ENCOURAGEMENT, they learn to HAVE CONFIDENCE
If children live with PRAISE, they learn to APPRECIATE
If children live with FAIRNESS, they learn JUSTICE
If children live with SECURITY, they learn to HAVE FAITH
If children live with APPROVAL, they learn to LIKE THEMSELVES
If children live with ACCEPTANCE and FRIENDSHIP, they learn to FIND LOVE IN THE WORLD.

That verse hung in a kitchen that saw plenty of tolerance, encouragement, praise, fairness, security, approval, acceptance and friendship.

But it also saw its fair share of criticism, hostility, ridicule and shame. As any family kitchen does.

Even as a 7 year old child, I understood on some level that the poster was a symbol of who we were slowly becoming, rather than who we already were. And it didn’t matter that we fell short on a regular basis.

What mattered was that we came back to it again. No matter how far we had strayed.

Yesterday may have been a disaster but today is another chance.

The same is true of the lessons of self-disclosure I talk about in the 30 days of Self-Disclosure. Just because I know the rules, doesn’t mean I live them all the time.

It was a Thursday night and I was in the pub with my husband and a couple of friends. We were getting ready to leave when I clocked a guy I used to work with. He was ordering a drink at the bar with a mate. Nice guy, easy to chat to. But for whatever silly reason in my head, I dropped my eyes to the floor and made sure I got out of there without having to go and talk to him.

It wasn’t that I was pushed for time or anything, I just made a split decision that I didn’t have the energy to talk to him and the stranger he was with.

Self-disclosure is about not being afraid to tell the truth to yourself as well as the people around you, so let’s get something straight. What was really going on in the pub was that I felt self-conscious and was basically afraid to talk to them. There would’ve had to have been an introduction to his friend and that was just too much uncertainty for me to deal with in that moment.

Crazy, right? It seems so pathetic, but this is the way we go through our lives. Even when we know better.

That kind of silly little thing right there, THAT more than anything else, is what’s standing between you and the business and life you really want.

The tactics and mechanics? That’s easy.

The strategy? Piece of cake.

Keeping your inner crazy on the leash and transforming your mindset? That’s where the real work and the real rewards are.

So if you’re like me and you fall off the wagon on a daily basis, it’s good to have a set of rules to come back to. Something to refer to when you feel like you’re losing your way. Something to remind you of who you are and what you are striving to do.

Here are the Rules of Self-Disclosure:

1) It is always OK to tell the complete truth, even when it is embarrassing.

2) Don’t expect to be good at everything, and don’t try to be either.

We live in an 80/20 world. Own your weaknesses as well as your strengths.

3) Remember you are not your work.

The people who care about you believe you are significant and worthy of love even if all you did today was wake up breathing.

4) You are either helping or hurting.

People only inflict pain on others because they are trying to deal with the pain inside themselves. Always communicate with people’s highest intention.

5) There is no good without bad, no bad without good.

This is true of every thing, every event and every person.

6) A short term solution is no solution at all.

Short term solutions are half truths doled up by the demon on your left shoulder. Long term solutions are the whole truth whispered by the angel on your right shoulder.

7) Nothing is more powerful than purpose.

Ask yourself why, openly and often.

8) Life is relationship.

The quality of your relationships determines the quality of your business and the quality of your life.

9) In your relationships, always respond to attack and aggression with empathy and kindness.

Keep on loving, even when you’ve been hurt.

10) Always tell the truth. Especially to yourself.

Now that you’ve got the rules you have something to come back to when you stray. And you will stray. That’s how it works.

Get the 30 Days of Self-Disclosure email series here.