“It is difficult to be in your own skin when you’re struggling with shame” – Monica Lewinsky

I wish I could say it better, but she nailed it. And I don’t know of anyone who could say it better. If you haven’t already, look up her TED Talk.

I have and sometimes still do struggle with shame and I know other do to. Nothing helps me more than sharing with those who I am close to and nothing brings me closer to someone than when we share something so viscerally scary as our shameful moments.

What are you ashamed of? Who do you have in your life to share with? Who is someone you can draw closer to and share in your hardest moments? Who can you be there for as they share in their shameful moments?

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Feeling with Others

I recently watched this video on empathy illustrated by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) using material by Brené Brown from one of her TED Talks. The talk is very much like many other TED Talks and perhaps you’ve already seen this specific talk. It is a good talk, I enjoy it, and I have seen it many times. The video by the RSA, as they are more popularly known, is an excellent revitalization of her talk. The talk is as true today as it was they day she originally delivered it, though her dates and references might be dated. However, the core of the content still rings true. 

The core of illustration by the RSA also rings true. It is a visualization of Brené’s words. It resonates with me. It reminds me of when I hurt and what it means to bring comfort to someone else. The illustration reminds me to say, “Me too.” before I even consider saying, “At least…” The video also reminds me to tell my story. To tell people about who I am and where I have been. To be willing to be painfully authentic even though I am scared or worried about the opinions of others. 

The RSA’s illustration reminds me to listen to other people in such a way that I am saying, “I hear you and I am with you!” without ever actually saying a word. 

Maybe you are the one that is hurting right now. Maybe you are the one who is doing great.

Either way, are you telling your story? Do people know how you are doing right now? As you hurt, you have to tell your story. You have to tell people where you are at. Right now. You have to tell someone. Otherwise you are still alone and no one even has the opportunity to say, “Me too.” 

No one has the opportunity to join you in your pain.

There is the other side of the coin as well. You are doing well, right now, and you do not hurt. To you I would ask, “When someone opens up and tells you their story, do you say, ‘At least…’ or ‘Me too.’? Would anyone you are listening to ever say you are actually listening?


What We Talk About, When We Talk About Our Opposites

I have noticed people’s conversations with me can be somewhat polarized. Not generally referencing me, more in regards to talking about the things I like and endorse. For instance, I am an Apple user. I appreciate the Apple ecosystem. I like the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iMac, Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, Retina Macbook Pro, and I’m sure one day, I’ll even have an WATCH. 

Not everyone likes Apple, their hardware, their software, their philosophies, or their mode of operation. 

It is good for everyone to not love Apple. 

They are not the product for everyone. 

Oddly enough, I might be able to argue, this country was founded by some people who didn’t exactly want to have one mode of operation for all people. I wouldn’t carry that analogy out too far, but it does begin the discussion of my greater point, we all march to the beat of our own drum. 

This is so good. It is good for me to march to the beat of my own drum and you to march to the beat of your drum.

I bring up the Apple versus Microsoft, or the Apple versus Android, or the Apple versus Rolex conversation because it is a great analogy for the greater conversation. The conversation revolving around the people I don’t disagree with. When someone brings up their opinions on Apple, I quietly nod my head, make noncommittal remarks, and generally try to steer the conversation away from technology. I don’t like talking with people who want to talk in terms of extremes.

I especially I don’t like having to listen to people who are going to build straw man after straw man and angrily set them on fire. 

These are the conversations and exercises in listening where I am most pained. I want to create conversations where we can disagree with one another and there is not baseless name calling or wide sweeping assumptions based on limited knowledge or zero experience. 

Perhaps, you cannot relate to the example I am using. Apple is too tertiary for you. You do not resonate with technology. How about the Ford versus Chevrolet debate or the Republican versus Democrat debate. Maybe the conversation is better suited for you to discuss religion in these extremes, perhaps atheist versus christian is the conversation you know better. 

In any of these conversations, I do not ask anyone to ever change what they think about the other side of the coin. I am more interested in how you talk about the other side of the coin. Do you talk about the other side of the coin as if they are intelligent people, products, or options? Or do you talk about them as if they are less valuable than day old popcorn on the floor of your town’s 

How do you talk about the people who march to the beat of a different drum than you do?