I’m convinced that the simplest phrases are always the hardest ones to say. No matter how many times we use them, spitting them out is always a terrifying, sweat-inducing experience.
It’s not because we don’t know how or when to say them, but because speaking them out loud makes us face things that are challenging – things that make our hearts beat a little faster. We become vulnerable, and in case you haven’t noticed, vulnerability is UNCOMFORTABLE.
When you’re vulnerable, you’re putting yourself out there. It’s like emotional nudity – your feelings, reputation and desires are out on a figurative chopping block for the world to see. That’s terrifying. More terrifying in fact, than a lot of things that are genuinely scary, like spiders or roller coasters. Spiders and roller coasters can kill people, you know.
Here are some of the simplest yet hardest things to say. Maybe they should al be printed as bumper stickers so we get more accustomed to seeing them around town.
1. I’m sorry. Apologizing is akin to admitting you were wrong or taking the blame for something that caused others distress. Not a fun position to be in. What’s more, just saying the words doesn’t automatically resolve a situation, it can make it worse when it initially brings things to the surface. But saying I’m Sorry isn’t something anyone ever seems to regret, and it usually leads to feeling better before too long.
2. I need help. Asking for help is hard when it makes us feel like we’re incapable of something that we want to execute independently. It reveals the simple reality that we can’t accomplish something without support and humbles us into relying on others. I’m very independent so this one’s sometimes a teeth-gritted-grimacing kind of desperate plea.
3. I don’t know. Why not just scream, “I’m an idiot!” That’s pretty much how it feels to admit this. Like at my first internship in college, when I had to tell my boss I didn’t know how to use a coffee maker. There’s a caveat to this one, though; sometimes it’s a great ice breaker or gateway to get something you want.
4. I want more money. It probably wouldn’t come out this directly, but no matter how you spin it, salary negotiations can be icky. I guess there’s an art to asking for more money in a non-greedy manner, but it’s not one I’ve mastered. Women are constantly reminded that we need to fight for equal pay, but our emotional intelligence interferes and alerts us of a risk of offending someone.
5. I can’t drive right now. Impaired driving is a horrible thing to do. Selfish, dangerous and stupid. Yet so many people avoid admitting they’ve had a few too many to drive, and the inconvenience and embarrassment take precedence. This is one that everyone should practice and use, even if it’s awkward or scary or hard to explain.
6. No. Because it’s awkward, and makes us feel selfish.
7. Yes. Because it’s awkward, and makes us feel selfish.