I was watching a life coaching video the other day, which I often do, to see how others flow their sessions, and how they direct their clients towards awareness. The video was with a married couple, whose marriage was on the rocks and nearing extinction. Observing human behavior, I was fascinated to watch the coach uncover the wife’s “tell” for when she felt uncomfortable—she would fall into biting humor. She would use gentle humor to de-escalate situations and biting humor to deflect being honest with her husband about what she was truly experiencing within. It was powerful to witness.
The “tell” is often a self-preservation mechanism that we have habitually put in place to spare us the agony of honesty within ourselves, to another, or in a stressful situation, that masks from us the discomfort, or even pain, of what our heart is screaming in our ear, be it muffled or clear as a bell. Often, these habits are so regimented and habitual that we begin to focus more on the safety and acceleration of them; that we no longer listen to the thin voice that is standing behind them. We use our “tells” to even hide from ourselves, so that the emotions being masked is less charring on our heart or mind.
So, what is your “tell?” Do you isolate? Do you avoid? Do you use intimacy? Do you eat? Do you overwhelm your schedule? Do you use sleep? Do you yell? Do you quietly cave-in? Do you use spite? Do you disconnect and fall silent? Do you drink? Do you become defensive? Do you become erratic and go wild? Do you immediately seek comfort from your children, a certain friend, or a pet? For a moment, I want you to also consider how your choice affects your overall physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Repeated denial within ourselves of who we are, what we feel, and what we need – there is a price for that.
The “tell” you’ve developed likely came to being when it once proved successful while navigating a difficult situation. Over time, you continued to pull that “tell” out of your toolbox, and it gained strength. But, what is it masking? Interestingly, I recently discovered one of my “tells,” and after careful awareness, discovered what emotion or belief I was masking to avoid feeling the feelings associated with it. It was initially very tender, to recognize this seeming limitation within myself, and how I was masking a deeper belief by falling into a habitual reaction. However, I always find such gratitude in these layers of uncovering, and as I gave awareness to my “tell,” I discovered the disempowering belief shielded behind it. So, as I felt myself wanting to fall into that “tell” reaction, I could consciously make a new choice of who I wanted to be, and carve out my reaction to forward myself in that direction.
What happens when we consciously stop our “tell” behavior? Well, we are faced with new frontier; a frontier we likely feel uncomfortable navigating. What is life if we always live within our strict box of expectation? There is no growth from this place. So, if we give ourselves permission to try on new hats of reaction, know that the first hat we reach for will likely be similar to the “tell” behavior that has become so comfortable. Reach farther. Give yourself permission to continue seeking for your desired responses and reactions, until you feel they genuinely represent you. What you will likely find is that it’s not one singular reaction that suits you, but rather a woven fabric of diversity that reveals your consciousness and openness to all of life. Uncover a freedom within to be who you are authentically.
What belief is smacking you in the face with your “tell?” Is it a belief you actually still believe as true about yourself? Or merely one that has become engrained, and holding onto an outdated self-belief? What if you allowed yourself to believe something new about yourself? Who would you be then? “My mind’s not creative.” “I’m not athletic.” “I’m not good at math.” “No one really sees me for who I am.” These are all very common beliefs, but just remember; they are only true when we live a life proving them so. So, be who you are, not who you’ve convinced yourself you are. The next time you hear yourself falling into your “tell” behavior, ask yourself: “What if I chose to be authentically me?”