Lessons from Love Actually

Every December 1st, I kick off the holiday season by watching one of my all-time favourite movies ‘Love Actually‘.  I adore this movie for a myriad of reasons – the phenomenal ensemble cast including Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, AND a then ‘unknown’ Chiwetel Ejiofor of (now) ’12 Years A Slave’ fame.  I remember watching it for the first time and not realizing how all their stories would interweave and beautifully demonstrate how inexplicably connected we all are to each other in one way or another.  I especially love the overarching message of how even in the most confusing and strangest times, love is ALWAYS all around us.

A scene that really impacted me though was this one because, well, telling the truth is something we all struggle with and I found this portrayal particularly refreshing.

If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s the classic story of the guy who is in love with the girl that he can’t have.  In this case, it’s Mark who is in love with his best friend Peter’s newlywed wife, Juliet.  Unbeknownst to anyone, Mark is secretly in love with Juliet but they would never imagine it because Mark, instead, pretends that he could care less about her.


It’s a touching scene because of it’s heart wrenching vulnerability.  The courage it took for not only him, but her, to be vulnerable in that moment should win a friggin’ Academy award.  What makes it so damn vulnerable?  I’d say every damn second…from when she opens that door and chooses to stay to listen, to him expressing his love to her, to him cracking jokes on those cards, to her not reacting harshly, to him knowing when it was time to quietly walk away, to her choosing not to just turn and go inside but instead to chase after him and sweetly kiss him to thank him for his beautiful honesty.

But what is truly awesome about that scene is how the truth literally set him free.

Notice how it wasn’t until he spoke his truth that he was finally able to let her go??  To say ‘enough’ and be able to move on?

Ugh, how many times have you found yourself in that same situation?  Forced to do something you don’t want to do, but you know you need to for your own sanity.  I know I have.  In both personal and work situations.  It’s definitely hard to speak your truth but when those times arise, ask yourself these 4 questions:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it necessary?
  3. Is it kind?
  4. Does it improve upon the silence?

Or use the handy acronym of THINK (True, Helpful, Improve silence, Necessary, Kind).

So let’s take our friend Mark here as an example of that:

Was it true?  Yes.  He knew he was in love with her even though he tried to cover it up for so many years.

Was it necessary?  Yes.  Not only so Mark could move on with his life, but it also explained all his bizarre behaviour to Juliet in no uncertain terms.

Is it kind?  Ummm, ya, I think he nailed this one.  Everyone felt better afterwards and he expressed himself in a loving way.

Did it improve upon the silence – hells yes!  Things were supremely awkward when Juliet figured out that Mark ‘fancied’ her (gawd I love British terminology) by watching the wedding footage that Mark captured as it focused solely on Juliet.  That moment was so embarrassing that Mark ran away leaving Juliet to watch herself on his tv in his apartment.  Again I say, awkward.  And I imagine any future interactions they would have had would have only multiplied that awkwardness by a million.  So he could have continued to try and cover it up at parties and be like “oh hey Juliet, how are ya?  hahaha, ya remember that time when you figured out that I was in love with you??  Ya, right after you married my best friend??  Ahhhh, good times, good times.  I’m gonna get a drink and then jump out the window.  Excuse me.’

So thank you Mark for instead choosing to speak your truth and let it go.  We can all learn from you and be reminded of how freeing the truth really can be.

What about you?  Is there any truth-telling that needs to be done this Christmas?  To yourself?  To someone else?  Tell me about it…





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