You often hear about people who are voting “strategically” during elections. According to Wikipedia strategic voting occurs “when a voter supports a candidate other than his or her sincere preference in order to prevent an undesirable outcome”. However, this is not only happening with elections, for most people it is a way of living.
To be honest, I lived that way for a long time too. There were many occasions where I didn’t speak clearly about my preferences or true feelings, but said things that I expected would create a certain effect, or more often, would avoid a certain situation from happening.
Let me give you some examples. During a reorganization I was asked if I was still happy with my job. I didn’t tell my boss I wasn’t because I was afraid that he would remove me. Or, when my wife asked me how I felt in certain situations, I didn’t honestly share my feelings with her because I wanted to avoid tensions in our relationship or her leaving me.
Does this sound familiar to you? Are you living “strategically” as well? Perhaps more importantly, does it work and make you feel more happy?
Although we all learned that white lies can be helpful and are supposedly beneficial for everyone involved, I increasingly experienced that it wasn’t working for me anymore.
I found that my “strategic” behavior prolonged certain situations in which I didn’t feel happy, until the tension or unhappiness became too big to ignore and I had to speak my truth any way. I could have avoided a lot of stress and move on much faster in my life if I had been clear and honest from the start.
For example, I wanted to divorce my wife already for many years before we actually did. Not because I hated her but because our marriage in some way didn’t feel appropriate to me anymore. It took me many years before I honestly told her how I felt about things. Although she was initially shocked, she understood what I meant and after we effectuated the divorce our relationship has never been better because we both feel that we no longer need to pretend anything. There is much more balance.
Also for others it usually makes a lot of sense to be told how you really feel about things. How many times I didn’t hear: why didn’t you say so from the beginning? We could have done things differently then…! And, I always felt a deep relieve when finally telling someone what I truly thought or felt. It made me wonder why I lived “strategically” in the first place.
For me “strategic” living is no longer an option. I know that it doesn’t work in the end, but above all, I want to be honest with myself and others. That makes me truly happy and free. For me, it was a simple choice. What is yours?