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The Sidewalk Test: Who is walking towards you?

This is the sidewalk test: You are walking down the sidewalk and a person you know comes towards you.

Do you want to meet them and talk? Or would you rather go on the other side of the street and pretend you didn’t see them?

Do this ”sidewalk test” with the people in your life and from your past.

Who do you want to avoid?

With whom you feel uneasiness, discomfort or tightness in your stomach or chest when you think of them?

What is incomplete with them for you?

Those people we want to avoid are the very people we would benefit the most from talking with. Not because of them but because of you. You are carrying with you the unresolved issues. Your anger and your sadness is hampering you to be fully present in the here and now.

In Radical Honesty, we often talk about “completion talks” or “honest conversations.” We highly encourage people to complete the unfinished business from their past. The sidewalk test is one way to know if you have unfinished business with someone.

Yet, what exactly does this mean?

Completing incomplete things from the past is about having conversations with the people in your life with whom you’re still angry/sad/appreciative/etc. and have not yet (fully) expressed yourself to that person.

Or telling them the secrets you have kept from them. The talk could also be about something you have already expressed to them yet is persistently on your mind and still bothering you. Or it can be about something you regret having done or said in the past and now want to say: “I apologize.”

For many of us, our “unfinished business” lists are topped with parents, children, current partners, ex-partners and close friends. Also on many of our lists are (ex-)employers, (ex-)coworkers, neighbors and school-era bullies.

I have many different experiences with completion talks. Every single one them turned out differently than I thought it would. I was less loud than I thought I’d be, I got over my anger faster, I liked the person more. I felt relieved and mostly exhausted and sometimes confused.

The biggest one was with my dad.

With some people, I talked to them just once and felt complete. With other people, I’ve had several talks. I’ve talked to my mom several times and am embarrassed to admit that I sometimes still find myself wanting her to be different. And I plan to continue talking with her.

With my husband, Pete, I feel that “old business” between us is complete and now, when something troubling arises, I strive to talk to him about it in the moment and not leave it “unfinished.”

For me, the goal of completing is to let go of my anger, my sadness, my appreciation and, especially, my stories.

To stop carrying around the baggage of all that old shit. Saying difficult things out loud does make a difference for me. Something shifts in my body and my mind. I get more peace and freedom when I express and let go of old anger, sadness, secrets, etc.

Why have completion talks?

For it’s about freedom of the past baggage and more space to create in the present moment and for my future. With this newfound freedom, I create the life I want and have energy to be more present in the here and now. I connect with my loved ones more deeply and feel more love and compassion. With sharing out loud comes a possibility to hear, to be heard and to be understood.

Who do you want to complete with?

How do you feel in your body when thinking about the completion talks you want to have?

If you’re curious to learn more about the work we do, check out What Happens in Workshops.


PS. Watch this video where I talk about honest conversations and subscribe to Honesty Europe’s YouTube channel, where we post new videos every week!

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