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What do people really mean when they say I’m a private person? There are so many ways one can interpret this statement. I’ve experienced two distinct implications that capture the essence of what people are trying to say. The first is that they do not like the spotlight, fame, or need for the added attention. They stay to themselves and keep a quiet personal life away from the crowds and noise of it all. They are not one to voluntarily put their business, thoughts or views out there on social media or on any public anonymous setting. While they choose to stay recluse from the mainstream in many ways, they do not necessarily withhold their personal life from the people they choose to allow in their space. With these people that are in their inner circle, they are incredibly open, willing to share with all manner of transparency.
Now the second implication of the phrase I’m a private person has some overlap to the previous one, yet, the caveat is that these individuals who say they are a private person really have a bit of cognitive dissonance. Yep I said it. I used the overly used psychology term, but it is incredibly appropriate and applicable for this description. You see the second set of people who say they are “private people” operate in a manner that is convenient for them. The privacy to them works to their personal defense. Meaning, I’m going to say that I’m a private person as a warning to you to not ask me any personal questions or delve into my inner thoughts or space. The main reason they say this is because they do not want to be “found out.” They do not want to be “discovered.” If people get to the core or find out any bit of internal discovery about that person they have grounds for making decisions or soliciting opinions about them. So the other person who says they are private would rather not even have people enter into that space because they do not want to risk being discovered. Discovery to them is frightening, because it can lead to anything! Rejection, embarrassment, vulnerability, admittance to failures and flaws, the list goes on. Even the most externally confident among them will put up this wall of “privacy” in order to defend their territory. While the stakes are high, and the risk is real, what these private people unfortunately miss out on is the chance to connect at a deeper level with another person. This level of intimacy is incredibly powerful and empowering. It’s touching and life-giving in many ways. Even the quote un quote negative things that may be discovered. It’s a transformatively necessary and good experience that remains untapped by those who choose to remain “private.” Having said all this, I do believe that it is wise to guard your heart and your inner being, because everybody does not seek to connect in this way. There are some who choose to enter in for the purpose of dismantling, manipulating and controlling people. We need to use our discernment to recognize these individuals and keep the privacy wall up. These are not individuals who deserve our intimate space.
I was discussing this topic with a friend recently and they told me that it’s amazing that the people who say they are private are the main one’s putting all their business out there and telling you everything about them. Cognitive dissonance at it’s best folks. It is true what my friend has said, as I’ve experienced this from a few people myself. I met a lady who told me all the depths of her life in the first few days of knowing her, yet she told me that she stopped going to small churches and getting involved in small group settings because it was too much for her. Meaning, people were getting too close into her personal life and providing feedback that she did not like. So I guess to her she could do the dance of convenience when it was to her liking and benefit but when things got too close for comfort she then became “private.”
In my ebook Conversation Starters, I talk about individuals who take this stance with their faith when they say “my faith is private.” They can profess a certain faith in secret but when it comes time to boldly declare where they stand, they shrink back into their “private faith.” I certainly get, who willingly wants the persecution and pushback of it all. Avoiding the conflict is easier and requires less energy. Trust me I get it. This is one of the reasons I said no to all the people who told me to do this podcast or begin speaking publicly. I did not have the energy to receive all the unimaginable feedback and disagreement. Yes, it’s all in how you look at it and how you seek to handle the un-chartered territory. Having the expectation that things can quite possibly go awry and not in your favor could set you up to be more ready to receive and handle the replies.
Additionally, have a neutrality of identity affirmation from the praise and rejection is also a way to journey through it. What I mean by this is, when you decide to share what’s intimately connected to you with others and other people either compliment you or they condemn you, you don’t allow that feedback to validate you as a person. That feedback does not boost you up or tear you down. You remain solid in the foundational identity that you brought to the table and you simply say “thank you or “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Now don’t get me wrong we shouldn’t just discard all things and think our way and our thinking is 100% right and accurate and we don’t need to change or receive feedback regarding our “ways.” Being this close-minded is no good either. But what I’m trying to relay is the affirmational need for acceptance. When we allow ourselves to put that in the hands of people and what they say to us as our ultimate defining identity that is where we get out of whack. And that is why a lot of people choose to say they are private people because they have not secured an identity in a source that has already validated and affirmed them.
For me that affirmation and validation comes from the truth’s in what God says about me. So I can go into a conversation, open and transparent with others knowing that ultimately my identity is secure and solid and whatever this person has to say to me I can take it back to the source (God) and allow God to advise me on to what degree I need to adhere to the feedback and produce change. There’s a sweeping thought that God can’t use other people to speak to oneself because why would God reveal it to them and not reveal it to themselves. This arrogant thought has to be dismantled because it creates a standard and criteria that elevates oneself over the other. No one has a monopoly on revelation. Thus if revelation has occurred to a particular individual it would behoove us to be at the very least open to hear what they have to say. Again, it is then up to you to take it back to the source and ask God what to do with it. But to simply discard other people because you think well God will show me or if I need to know it or change it will happen only when it is revealed to me by God. You know that old story that says there was a man out to sea that needed rescue. Three boats passed him by and three times the man denied rescue because he said he was “waiting on God.” The man ultimately died and when he got face to face with God the man said to God – “well what happen God why didn’t you save me?” and God said well I sent three boats with people in them and you refused the rescue. So there you go.
There’s layers to this thing. We can’t be to one extreme or the other if we want to reach our God-given potential in life. You are more than welcome to though as each one of us has a choice to do whatever. But of course, I’m encouraging you today if you are one of those people who say they are private to examine the true motivations of why you proclaim to be as such.