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The Power of Silence

Researchers have shown that it takes two positive comments to offset one negative, and some believe the ratio should be 5-to-1 for loved ones, spouses, parents, children, etc.

We seem to have a built-in bias toward negative information and negatives increase disproportionately over positives. That’s why personal insults or criticism hit us harder and stay with us longer.

Sunday night I wrote a post about my experience at the #140ConfOnt entitled . It was hard. It was terrifying. It was a mistake.

However, Monday morning I awoke to an avalanche of support. People thanking me for writing my truth. People who were proud, could relate and were relieved to hear they weren’t alone.

Close to two hundred of people read my blog. A huge amount left comments. Words of wisdom, support and thanks.

I was over-whelmed. I was thankful. I was happy with myself for publishing it when I truly wanted to send it to the trash. I was proud.

Then I showed it to a loved one. Someone important in my life. Someone I look up to. Someone I trust. Their reaction was unexpected. It shocked me.

I was lost. I was hurt. All the positives my friends had been saying all day were gone. Dust. Worthless. Irrelevant.

The sad part was that the person didn’t “say” anything. They just said “huh.” and shrugged it off.

Silence. Nothing…. “Huh.”

Silence – it’s a powerful tool. Almost more powerful than a negative in that it leaves the receiver at a complete loss as how to read the reaction.

Silences leaves you second guessing and, because of the “bias towards the negative”, always believing the worst.

People think I am strong. I am not.

I spiraled. I went right back to regretting the post. I went right back to feeling like I never should have walked in that room. I went right back to believing that the whole thing was a mistake.

I went home that night afraid to hear my husband’s thoughts. I knew he had not read it yet. He knew the topic and had seen some of the feedback but he hadn’t actually read it yet. What was he going to think. Would he be silent?

Lucky for me, he is a wonderful support. He was proud and just as positive as the hundreds of others. And, although I still have a knot in my gut stewing the sadness that one response created, somewhere in all of those research documents it must show that a husband’s love can overpower all the uncertainty the world can offer.

Jen

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What people think

People think I am talented. I feel mediocre.
People think I have all the answers. I do not.
People think I don’t make mistakes. I do.
People think I am strong. I am not.
People think I am fearless. I am terrified.
People think I have direction. I am lost.
People think I am an amazing wife. I am just a wife.
People think I am a “Uber” mom. I am just a mom.

This past week I had the amazing opportunity to join a fabulous group of individuals at the #140 Conference Ontario in Kitchener. A group that although I speak with a fair number of them on twitter on a regular basis, I really don’t “know”.

People think I am confident. I am not.

For me, walking into this conference was petrifying. Although I knew I had one IRL friend in the room (@jackiyo) and many others I “know” on twitter, I felt like I should be turning around and heading back to my car. Then, when Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver) opened the day by saying something about being in the room with 200+ of his best friends, I really felt like I was intruding on a private party. As much as I wanted to be a part of that amazing group of people, I felt like a fraud. A fraud who was desperate to sneak out a side door except there wasn’t one.

Then the stories started and I was transfixed. It was like a book you can’t put down or a movie you never want to end. It was life-changing. I could tell you how every speaker taught me something, because they did, but for me two speakers stood out.

The first was Brianne Jourdin (@touchbykenadie), a mom of a child with special needs. Yes, that fact alone connects us but it was two completely unrelated statements in her 10 min speech that flashed like a beacon to me. “I went to a tweet up and I got to the door and was so afraid, I turned around and left. I regret that now.” …..That was me!
Back in May, I went with @JackiYo to WomenInBiz Conference in Toronto and at the tweet up the night before; I arrived, I walked through the room and I left. I went back to my room, threw up (gross but true) and tried to DM my husband on twitter. He wasn’t around. Then after a thirty minute argument with myself, I went back to the party and ended up meeting a great group of girls (all named Jen, oddly enough) and had a great night. Yet here again, at this #140ConfOnt, I was feeling the same thing.

You see, I find the task of walking up to people and introducing myself nearly immobilizing. I NEED others to make the first move, to approach me, to start the conversation otherwise, I find myself sitting alone, feeling lost and wondering why I’m even there. I know that once I have that opening, I’m usually fine. I can fake the confidence after that but taking that first step is almost debilitating.

That brings me to my second ah ha moment of the conference. Lara Galloway (@mombizcoach) talked about the “Me Too!” phenomenon of the Social media world. When you feel like you’re all alone, or you’ve done something that you think people are going to judge you for, SM shows you that others have been there or are there with you right now.
…..”I just fed my kids peanut butter sandwiches for the third meal in a row. :/ ” ……”Me Too!”
…..”I just realized I didn’t shower or get dressed today. :S ” …….”Me Too!”.
…..”I don’t think I can walk into this room full of strangers.” …..”ME TOO!”

It was an outstanding day full of outstanding stories and everyone who left took with them the feeling that they had been a part of something sacred. There were numerous tales of heartbreak, loss, and pain mixed in with successes, lessons and encouragement. It was like a giant group hug and by the end, I did make the effort to introduce myself to four individuals… @tjzmommy, @touchedbykenadie, @optimom and @TheKarltopia.
I know what you’re thinking, but Jen…four?!?! There were well over 200 people there! Ya, but after four my stomach couldn’t handle any more. Four was an accomplishment.

People think I have it all together. I do not.

This conference showed me that I don’t need to feel alone.
That I don’t need to be all that people think I am.
That it’s ok for me to be me.

People think I am happy…. I think maybe I can be…
But please, if you see me at #BlissdomCanada, say hello. Help me break away from this fear and maybe, by the next #140Conference, I won’t be looking for the closest exit.

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