You are not Spanx.
This may seem obvious, but nonetheless, countless people walk around acting as if they are.
Spanx are meant to keep it all in. They’re a magical smoother of the situation that is the cellulite on most women’s thighs.
Spanx are great when you want to wear a bodycon dress but feel more bloated than a pufferfish.
They suppress what you don’t want people to see—smoothing everything out until all you see is a perfect curve, no extra lumps in sight.
This works for about three hours.
At this point, things start to get uncomfortable.
You suddenly start to feel trapped and can’t stop thinking about being stuck in a small place you can’t escape.
You want to be free.
So much so the first thing you do when you get home is run straight to the bedroom so you can tear them off.
Romance be damned; your organs are crying out for space.
Sometimes, we act like Spanx in our conversations.
Instead of sharing authentically and letting the truth hang out, we suppress it behind a layer of niceties. Simultaneously, we attempt to remain congruent with ourselves, knowing we aren’t sharing our whole truth.
Just like Spanx, this works for a short period.
But not long.
Because there’s an internal voice that will get louder the more you ignore it. And ignoring it usually leads to massive internal discomfort.
There’s a reason people say, “the truth will set you free.”
Yet we hide our truths to look perfect on the outside.
- We hide our ambitions from our parents.
- We hide our needs from our partners.
- We hide our opinions from friends we’re unsure we can fully trust. (If they’re not the friend you can talk about that relentless stray chin hair with, how can you expect to bear it all regarding your deepest vulnerabilities?)
So we package ourselves into smooth statements and avoid sharing the deeper truth. We trade our authentic self-expression for easy conversations.
But just like it gets difficult to breathe in Spanx after a while, it becomes harder and harder to breathe in our lives. Our sense of self starts to diminish. Our relationships start suffocating.
And that grows increasingly untenable until we burst—usually destroying things we care about in the first place.
There’s a different path, though.
By making things mentionable, we make them manageable.
The late Fred Rogers said, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
Trusting people with our feelings can feel scary by itself, though. Hence, why so many people go the Spanx route. But if you want to free yourself from stifling interactions, risking taking off the Spanx is essential.
The first step to getting comfortable mentioning things to others is being able to mention them to ourselves.
If we can’t be honest with ourselves, it’s hard to be honest with others.
When you feel like throwing on Spanx in conversation, consider asking yourself these questions:
1). What feeling might I be trying to avoid by clamming up right now?
2). What part of me is feeling like hiding right now?
3). Am I feeling this way because of something that happened in the past or because of some evidence directly linked with this person?
4). What is essential for me to share in this conversation to honor myself?
Most of us were taught to suppress pieces of ourselves at one point or another. Part of personal growth is learning to get in touch with our authentic selves, so that our inner worlds and outer worlds can begin to operate in alignment once again.
Leave the Spanx for the party dress. Allow yourself the gift of living authentically–even if there are some imperfect moments.
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