A sign of maturity is when someone speaks about their major surgery, and you don't speak about yours. ~ Anonymous
I don't entirely know why, but this is something that I grapple with and I realize that this is something that I've done throughout most of my adult life. I'm not proud of it and my awareness about this habit comes in waves; sometimes I'm super aware and other times, I'm totally oblivious.
Why is it I inject myself into almost every single conversation I have? When I'm delivering any training to the sales team that I support at work I often share with them that the best way to get people to talk to you is to get them to talk about themselves; if you listen to the next five people that you interact with, I guarantee you will hear, "me...our...we..."...why?...because it's all about me, man...it's no wonder that that's become one of the most common phrases to see printed on t-shirts and just about anything else commercial, especially for kids. What are we teaching our next generation about humility and modesty?
What drives this behaviour, this notion? Is it insecurity? Narcissism? A way for me to relate to a situation? A method for building rapport and showing understanding or empathy to my co-conversant? Does every conversation have to have me add a "me too!" into the mix?
I think it's a mixture of all of the above, really...and truly, I hate it. Even when I'm in the midst of a conversation and I'm telling myself in my head to shut up, I just can't seem to help myself...
I've realized after five years of cognitive therapy (aka psychotherapy, where you are basically aided by a therapist to answer your own questions because ultimately, you know what the answers are) that I have spent a ton of energy in my life raising my hand, jumping up and down doing the Horshack, desperately seeking acknowledgement for who I am or what I've done..."look at me, LOOK AT ME!!...can you see what I can do?...did you see what I did?"
It doesn't seem to matter if it really is a shared experience (I have a tattoo too...see how cool I am too??...see??...see?!?!) or if my husband's working through a weekend and then comes home and I show him all the projects I did throughout the day (cleaned this, organized that, replaced this, created this, took care of that), I find some way to highlight myself. A desperate means of seeking validation which really does embarrass me.
I recognize now that I spent a lot of my childhood feeling invisible. My parents are and were great people in many regards and I love them dearly. As far as being involved in my life though, they don't earn any stars for that part of their job. They spent little energy engaging myself or my sister or just being involved in our lives. I of course have taken things to the other extreme when it comes to my own teenaged daughter (much to her chagrin at times I'm sure). I felt dismissed a lot; one of the best examples I can share of that experience was when the song Lean on Me came out in the 80s. I remember turning to my parents and saying to them, "it's like an anti-suicide song" only to have my mother look at me derisively and then have my father say to me, "What the fuck are you talking about?". Hhrrmm. Is it a wonder that I pretty consistently still seek validation in my every day being almost 40 years old now...
This is still part of my journey; part of the me loving myself and accepting myself work that I'm still about. It's recognizing that I'm an amazing person in my own right and that I don't need to make it all about me all the time.
So, to those that I've offended, my humblest apologies...to those that I've annoyed, please abide me with some compassion...and if I keep it up, feel free to do what my family does whenever I start to repeat my stories that they've already heard over and over...just raise your hand, show me five fingers and remind me that you've already heard it all before..."five times Karen, five times..."