I used to believe that everyone thinks the same way I do. I used to fret for days about the littlest thing that I had done or said to a friend, and I believed that they also carried this (potential) offense around with them. I worried that it fed all their insecurities and fears, in the same way that I pondered over the intent of every word said against me. Then, when I eventually brought it up and apologised for whatever it was that I had said, I could honestly not believe the other person when they said that they couldn’t even remember it and had no idea what I was talking about.*
Only now that I have discussed my thought patterns, worldview and self-image with medical professionals, am I beginning to understand that many people don’t actually spend hours weighing up how to phrase every email in a way that would not trigger the recipient’s suppressed childhood issues. Many people have conversations and then move on with their lives as if it was just one in a countless series of conversations throughout their life. That was an entirely new concept to me (despite how obvious and true it really is).
It is of course very good to be considerate of others, but also very unlikely that you will be called upon to recite and account for every discussion you’ve ever had, verbatim. Believe it or not, many people would appreciate your conscious presence much more than to spend time with someone who is still rueing last week’s choice of words, or worrying about what might happen in a few years’ time when you’ve known each other for so long that all conversation between you has dried up.* What about today? Who are you with now? What do you want them to know in this moment and what are they trying to tell you right here?
*These are actual concerns I’ve had. I know that some people reading this will think I’m crazy for worrying about such futile things, but I can’t be the only who has, right? Right?