“Don’t Talk To Strangers!”
– Pretty much everyone’s Mum and Dad ever!
It is a pretty safe bet that you have heard those four words when you were young. Quite probably several times, be it from parents, other adult relatives, teachers, TV programmes and more. It is also highly likely that if you are a parent or an uncle or aunt or teacher, that you have said the same thing to your children.
At the time we were told this, it was absolutely the right thing for us – indeed, some of us quite possibly owe our life to paying heed to that message. Clearly it was a message delivered from a place of concern and love for us, but imagine how the message came across. Depending upon how much the concern was expressed, rather than a friendly “Don’t talk to strangers”, for many it comes across more as “DON’T YOU DARE EVER TALK TO STRANGERS BECAUSE IF YOU DO THEY WILL KILL YOU AND YOU WILL DIE AND MUMMY AND DADDY WILL BE VERY VERY UPSET WITH YOU!”
Furthermore, as if receiving that message wasn’t bad enough, consider this – has anyone, ever, said to you “You know what, you are old enough and grown up enough now to be able to look after yourself, so it is now OK for you to talk to strangers.”?
I’m guessing the answer is “Never”.
So, given you and I have been told, probably very firmly, to never talk to strangers, and given that we have not been told it is now OK to do so, is it any wonder that some many adults these days have such a problem when it comes to talking to strangers?!
This certainly struck home for me when I started looking at those situations in which I used to be really shy. I was always comfortable talking with shop keepers, for example, but not other strangers. Or a hotel reception staff; until they came out from behind the desk and were chatting in the lobby. Interesting! Of course, it’s because they had gone from being people in positions of trust and responsibility, to being regular strangers. When I was growing up, I lived in a small village, knew all the shop keepers, and my parents also ran a shop. So people in a position of trust were safe, it was other strangers who were to be feared.
Something which lived with me way into my adult years until I realised what was happening, and I used some of the same techniques which I use with my clients, completely knocking that problem on the head!
And meanwhile, if you are still in the position of finding that you can’t talk to strangers, then let me say this – “You are big enough and old enough to look after yourself now, it’s OK for you to talk with strangers” – that’ll at least help to get you on the right road, the road so many of my clients find themselves enjoying as we work together!