The Space Between What You Want and What They Think

I'm hopping on a plane this afternoon to head back to the Midwest to spend time with my family for a few days. I've been trying to finish as much school work as possible for the past week so I can have a relaxing couple of days at home. With that in mind, Craig Morton graciously wrote a guest post that I'd love to share with all of you today. Craig is a life coach who writes at Ignite Change.

There is a small, yet important moment in a conversation when you tell somebody about your new plans. That last word out of your mouth hangs in silence and before your conversation partner responds, there is an overwhelming sense, a silent yet tangible sense of vulnerability.


This very powerful but usually overlooked brief moment has more meaning than all of the words that you just spoke. This is the point where you now publicly own your thoughts.

Those ideas that you were so animated about just seconds ago about quitting your job, moving, stopping drinking, leaving your partner, getting up early to exercise, going to a therapist, writing a book, losing weight, coming out of the closet, leaving your faith or whatever conceivable possible idea that you have been privately incubating are now floating in the space between your mouth and their ears. It is now no longer theoretical.

This takes more courage than skydiving, jumping off a cliff, driving with my 97 year old grandfather and/ or entering into some sort of mixed martial arts nuttiness that I keep seeing being advertised.

But once you’ve gotten those words out and for those few milliseconds before the other person gives their reaction, you need to inhale and be so completely proud of yourself because you have just taken action in the face of absolute fear.

You are the definition of courage.

At this point, once the words land on the other person you need to be solid in why you have told them this information. You might have thought that you were looking for their approval, but in reality you aren’t.

What they think for the most part is largely irrelevant. You would like their support and feedback, but it is not necessary. You’ve told them because you needed to share this vital part of your soul with them. You wanted to expose your self for who you really are and let this part shine. So whether it is met with a hug and smile or scowl and a “Are you nuts?”, you need to hinge your self esteem on the action of telling them and not their reaction. You are seeking self expression and not approval.

This shift allows you to enter the space with them as the messenger rather a child showing his completed homework, and changes the whole dynamic. You no longer need to convince them that this is the right move for you, but rather, you are simply explaining why it is necessary. This takes the expectation of acceptance out of the interaction and remolds it into that of an invitation to join you in your process because with or without them, you’re doing it.

And the reasons why are yours, not theirs.

What is something that you need to tell somebody, but cringe at the thought of their reaction? What shift needs to occur so that your reasons for sharing your ideas are to inform rather than seek approval?