Why I’ve Been Talking About Myself | Steve's Quest: The Animated Musical Web Series

Why I’ve Been Talking About Myself

I recently noticed that, over the years (and it has been years) that I’ve been blogging, I’ve become less interested in giving advice to other people about what they should do, and more interested in just sharing my own experience of living.

I thought it would be interesting to take a moment and ask why I’ve moved in this direction.  I mean, let’s face it — the most popular posts in the blogosphere seem to be lists of the best ways to pitch your business, the best iPhone apps to buy, and so on.  Why would I shy away from this “prescriptive” approach people seem to like and just start talking about myself?

“Prescription” Ignites My Inner Two-Year-Old

The most obvious reason is that I simply don’t like being told what to do.  When someone tells me something like “here’s how you should introduce yourself to people,” my first instinct is to resist and perhaps even do the exact opposite of what I’m being told.

I may be unique in this sense — maybe, for some reason, I never fully grew out of the “Terrible Twos” stage of psychological development.  But my sense is that a lot of other people also instinctively dislike being told what to do, whether by their mothers or some random dude on the internet.

My Rejection of Projection

At a deeper level, though, what I’ve come to realize is that, when I’m writing about what someone else “should do,” I’m usually, in reality, talking to myself.  If I’m telling someone how to organize their living space, for example, my own (physical or emotional) space is probably somewhat of a wreck, and I can likely stand to take my own advice.

Psychologists call what’s happening here “projection.”  Because we don’t want to acknowledge what we’re feeling and what’s going on in our lives, we pretend as if someone else is having the experience we’re having.  If I say “you sound really angry,” it’s likely that I’m projecting my own anger onto you because I don’t want to admit that I feel it.

It feels riskier, but more honest, to drop the façade of telling you what to do, and acknowledge what’s going on for me and what I want to do.  If I tell you that I want to be more organized, I take a risk, because I admit that I’m disorganized and therefore imperfect.  Still, it feels liberating to be able to simply speak my truth, without trying to look good or avoid criticism.

It also feels great to me when someone else tells me what’s going on for them, and what they want and need.  It gives me a sense of permission to let down my own guard, and helps me to feel a connection with the person I’m talking to.

So that, in a nutshell, is why I’ve taken to navel-gazing lately, and why you should do it too (just kidding).

27 thoughts on
Why I’ve Been Talking About Myself

  1. Jay Schryer

    Well said, Chris. Well said, indeed. In fact, I couldn’t have said it better myself :)

    The truly unnerving thing about projection is that people don’t realize how often they do it. It’s a function of our unconscious mind, and (by definition) we are largely unconscious of it. It’s only when we see the results of it, and come to understand a little bit about the way our minds work, that we can begin to see it within others first, and then within ourselves.

    One of my best friends is a Jungian therapist, and she has this saying: “Tell me what you hate, and I’ll tell you who you are.” Or, as Jung himself put it, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” We project all the things about ourselves that we don’t like onto others…and it’s only by recognizing that we are projecting that we can come to integrate our shadow into our persona.

  2. Cathy Taughinbaugh

    I can so relate to this line – “The most obvious reason is that I simply don’t like being told what to do.” I find I need to resist. have a little voice in me that says, “I’m doing it my way” when I feel like I’m being told what to do. People love to read about experiences and your story, so that is a great way to go. We all do learn from each other. Happy New Year! Much happiness to you in 2013.

  3. marianne

    Hi Chris,

    This is a great point. I find myself attracted to blogs that convey personal stories rather than a “prescriptive” formula. Although, if I’m looking for information I like a little personal narrative with short “how to” points.

    I found your blog through Cathy at Treatment Talk and thought I’d come check it out.

    I think I’ll check out “Inner Productivity”. Sounds like something I should do. :)

  4. Evan

    Hi Chris, my dilemma is how I can mix this with actually getting a following on the internet (in the self development blogosphere – how people love (partly) being told what to do). Wish I could say that I have found a way, I haven’t (yet?).

  5. Coleen Patrick

    Yeah, I don’t like the being told what to do thing either. I don’t mind lists in a post so much, but now that I’m thinking about it, I shy away from reading (and writing) rant posts. Maybe it’s because I feel like I’m being lectured. Thanks for pushing my brain to think a little more today. :)

  6. Kelvin Kao

    I think many people still like to be told what to do, though. They don’t want to have to think.

    I don’t mind reading someone telling what to do, but that’s probably because I don’t necessarily believe everything I read. Many of these things are just opinion anyway.

    Talking about yourself does encourage others to share a little bit about themselves though. That’s a good thing.

  7. Chris - Post author

    Hi Jay — yes, I like that way of putting it — by noticing what I tend to tell other people to do, I can determine what it is that I need to do and I’m not conscious of.

  8. Sandra Bellamy

    Hi Chris. I think this is an excellent post.

    I was very interested to know more about what you meant when you said: “It also feels great to me when someone else tells me what’s going on for them, and what they want and need. It gives me a sense of permission to let down my own guard, and helps me to feel a connection with the person I’m talking to.”

    Are you talking about in a relationship with someone or a friendship? And what type of thing would you be looking for them to say and how would that relate to you?

  9. Kimbundance

    Hi Chris!

    I too don’t enjoy being told what to do, unless! it’s something that is actually worth trying or a more effective way to do something. I think as we grow older, we think we should know how to do everything correctly and effectively, when there can be hundreds of different ways to go about doing something.

    I think it all depends on the person, everyone has their own style or ways of going about their tasks.

    Happy new year!

  10. Chris - Post author

    Hi Marianne — maybe it’s about having the best of both worlds. I don’t find that what I have to say usually fits well into 10 bullet points, but perhaps that works for others even when they’re just sharing about their experiences.

  11. Chris - Post author

    Hi Evan — yes, it’s been difficult in my experience as well to come up with a strategy for attracting attention — at this point I’ve given up on that and I just say whatever I want and play whatever music I want, and that’s a lot more satisfying to me.

  12. Chris - Post author

    Hi Coleen — yes, I can definitely relate to that desire not to be lectured at. In my experience the more I get of someone’s personal story and the less I get of their interpretation of its meaning, the more satisfied I tend to be.

  13. Chris - Post author

    Hi Kelvin — yes, I think that’s another benefit of sharing about ourselves — others feel freer to share their experiences too as a result.

  14. Sara

    Chris — I smiled all the way through this post. It was one of those “been there; done that” feelings. I started out blogging with the “helpful” tips kind of blogs, but like you realized they were but mirrors for myself.

    What you said in this post is so true. Sharing our own lives and experiences without “telling someone what to do” seems so much more realistic and what blogging should be — a sharing of the blogger’s life, challenges and dreams.

    It’s interesting. I’ve been blogging a long time now and it seems a lot of bloggers come to realize sharing ourselves, our lives and even sometimes our problems is a way of connecting to others; a way a list of the “things you can do” don’t DO. I’ve loved sharing your journey by reading the posts you put up. In your posts, I always come get something — nuggets of wisdom, a smile, a new song to listen to….These mean so much more to me than a list of how I can improve my life:~)

  15. SnaggleTooth

    Funny how we’re all so curious n interested in what’s going on with other folks…
    I started long ago just relaying some of my day n opinions. I’m horrible at taking advice too! Usually other folks descisions don’t apply to what I deal with.
    I think experiencing thru others blogs is enriching in itself- Without this connectivity, I am so isolated!

  16. Chris - Post author

    Hi Sandra — I’m just talking about someone telling me how they’re feeling, even if it’s something traditionally perceived as “negative” such as sadness or anger. Those conversations, regardless of who they’re with, are much more fulfilling to me than conversations with people where we’re exchanging information, trying to fix or impress each other, and so on.

  17. Chris - Post author

    Hi Kim — yes, I like what you say about the importance of remembering that we always have more to learn, regardless of how mature or experienced we might perceive ourselves to be.

  18. Chris - Post author

    Hi Sara — thanks, I’m really glad you’ve enjoyed my posts as much as I’ve enjoyed your feedback on them. It’s funny, on the surface, it might not appear that telling each other about our life experiences “adds value,” but for me it actually adds a lot more value than advice about how I should live.

  19. Jannie Funster

    Dear random dude on the Internet telling me what to do…

    should is an s-word best set a-free on the ocean, I agree.

    I think the Universe brings us into this world with all we need, so it’s natural to balk at being told what to do.

    I am open to suggestions, but ultimately I choose my own path, whoooohoooo. and glad you do too.


  20. Angie Mizzell

    When I first started thinking about writing a book, and beginning a blog, I had to make similar decisions. I had to realize for myself that the story I was telling wasn’t “self-help”. I wasn’t coaching anyone towards anything. I think some of the most valuable insights and life lessons come from simply sharing our universal experiences.

  21. Chris - Post author

    Hey Jannie, ooh, I like that perspective, that we actually come into this world fully equipped with no assembly required, and the key is to throw away all of the manuals written in Esperanto and Ancient Akkadian that we’re constantly being handed, and okay, I’ve probably taken this analogy far enough.

  22. Chris - Post author

    Hi Angie, yes, that definitely sounds refreshing — having faith in your ability to transmit whatever message your story might contain without phrasing it as a series of instructions, and having faith in the ability of the audience to get that message.

  23. brad

    Hi Chris, this post is great. You expressed the same feeling that I’ve been having and why I’m now writing more about my path, not advice, as well as exploring poems and sharing good news. Simply being myself and following my interests.

  24. Gabriela

    Great post. I can totally understand why you have made this shift. I read an interview with Chinua Achebe and he says: We may not be able to teach you what you need or what you want. We can only teach you what we know.
    I always connect more with people’s personal experience – especially when, like you, they can transcend that experience and understand it on many worthwhile levels. Thanks.

  25. Chris - Post author

    Hi Brad, whoops, it looks like I overlooked your comment for a bit. It’s refreshing to me to hear about your decision to just share whatever’s coming up for you — I imagine that may help you relax as well.

  26. Chris - Post author

    Hi Gabriela — yes, that quote definitely resonates with me — all I can really do is tell someone what I’ve experienced, and hope that there will be some universal lesson to be derived from what I describe.

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