How much do I tell, how much do I withhold?
When does self-revelation serve a conversation, when is it self-indulgent?
It’s a game of context and social risk.
As we consciously play the game of life, we ponder these questions every day.
Here’s a case of somebody getting it right.
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, just announced a bold initiative to better tackle mental illness in the city. His initiative features increased access to mental health services for all New Yorkers, in recognition of the causal link between mental health issues and homelessness in New York.
To drive home that mental health is everybody’s issue, de Blasio makes the announcement surrounded by his immediate family. And in conversation with NPR’s Linda Wertheimer, his outspoken wife Chirlane McCray by his side, de Blasio explains his family’s very personal link to mental health.
Chirlane and I both talk publicly about recognizing now, as adults, what our parents were going through, depression in the case of Chirlane’s parents and alcoholism and PTSD in the case of my father. And then, you know, what happens to us as a couple, our own daughter, Chiara, went through both substance abuse and anxiety challenges. And so, you know, we can’t say we’re going to address this problem and break down the stigma but not talk about the fact that it’s in our own lives.
This, of course, is not an Energy Boost about mental health.
We’re talking context and social risk.
Yes, de Blasio got it right. His family story made me listen. Made me care more deeply about a cause I thought I knew. Not with data. No, with well-considered self-revelation.
De Blasio plays the game we all play every day. Context and social risk. Business meeting. First date. Cocktail party. Holiday gathering. Official announcement.
What to tell, what to withhold.
Most of us went to the school of playing it safe and transgressing only under the influence. Not superior training for charting a deeply connected life. Each time we play it safe, we run from context, shun social risk.
Prime holiday season is upon us. Chock full of social occasions, the professional and the personal kind. A veritable playground of context and risk.
Why not play a bit of the self-revelation game? Play it well. These will be your rewards for considered self-revelation:
I will care about you. More.
I will care about the causes you champion. More.
I will commit to you. More.
That’s a good thing, every single time.