Earlier today someone said to me, in reference to a client, that the client was talking about a “smoke screen” instead of talking about the real issue. This conversation then expanded to include other situations, both personal and professional, where we are aware that a person is hiding behind their own “smoke screen” to avoid the real issue, whatever it may be. It could be deep pain. Or a strong dislike of ourselves, a mental illness or an addiction. How do you help someone deal with the real issue when they are hiding behind their “smoke screen”? Well, not easily, that’s for sure. But you can help them create movement by setting boundaries around how much attention you will give to their “smoke screen” issue. You can point out how their real issue is effecting you. You can change your own interactions around that person to drive change in yourself and those little changes you create in your interaction can have a cumulative effect over time.
We all have our “smoke screens” set up and we would much rather give these attention than give attention to the deeper issues underneath. We often don’t even recognize, or aren’t ready to recognize, what we are really hiding from. Even though we all have them, it does not give others permission to continue effecting us negatively by keeping the attention on their “smoke screen”. We have every right, despite our own shortcomings, to set boundaries and talk about our own feelings in relation to that other person’s actions. We can’t force them to change, or even tell them what to do. But we can change the dynamic by changing ourselves.
So start blowing on those “smoke screens” and see if you can’t get them to move. The more authentic we are, the more authentic others around us will be as well. Imagine if we all cleared the smoke and interacted in the clear. The world would be a very different place.