This week I was at the gym when I overheard a group of women talking in the changing room,
“I have another story for you ladies about Lynn!"
"What happened this time?"
"Well you know how she only calls me when she wants something."
"She's the worst."
"Did you know her marriage is ending?"
"Oh my god! Really? Tell us more!"
On and on they went talking about that woman. I showered, changed and they were still going at it.
Maybe it was a good sign that I didn’t feel like I fit in with them. It had been so long since I took pleasure in gossiping.
I had created more authentic relationships where we could be ourselves and talk about the challenges we were having without worrying about feeling ashamed.
We could hold each other up, rather than put other people down. I guess it was a sign of growth that I no longer surrounded myself with people who left me feeling drained rather than nourished.
It wasn’t all a waste of time because I came away with these lessons to share with you.
There’s something eerily comforting about talking about how badly other people are doing. It seems to make us feel better about our own messes.
We compare ourselves to them and think, “Well at least I still have my family, my job, my health…” In other words, we don’t have it THAT bad.
But when we silver line other people’s problems with “at least…” we’re automatically disconnecting from them and from our own pain.
We separate ourselves by imagining that what happened to them could never happen to us.
But what if we pre-suppose that we’re all interconnected?
You, me, her, him. It’s like trying to separate a wave from the ocean. You can’t.
Stay with me here.
If we go with this metaphor it would mean that whatever pain you’re going through, I can also feel. When there is a big current, every wave feels its impact, right? So I can’t help but connect with you because I’m a wave and you’re a wave and we’re all part of this great vast ocean that is life.
So let’s say you had a really shame-filled moment where you stood up in front of your bosses to give a presentation and you choked and were mortified.
In order to empathize, I actually have to allow myself to recall a time when I also felt mortified. Whether you know it or not you’ve sent me an invitation to go to this sacred space with you. And in order to do that I need to feel around for the mortified, embarrassed parts of myself so I can really BE there with you through your pain (instead of just watching it like a bystander at a train wreck).
I can say, “I’m sorry, that must have been really hard to choke in front of your boss. You know I had a mortifying moment once too…(be vulnerable tell your story and share your pain).”
The same is true for events we‘ve never experienced. Even if I haven’t experienced a loss of a parent, I know what loss feels like. Even though I haven’t been cheated on, I know what betrayal feels like.
But if you share your raw painful parts and I don’t want to acknowledge or feel my own pain than I'll create distance between us. I'll pretend that I have no idea what you’ve been through so I can stay over here (safe and dry) while you feel alone in your mess over there.
We disconnect from one another in order to protect ourselves.
(Brené Brown has an amazing animation I am obsessed with that illustrates this beautifully that you can watch here)
Real authentic connection – and I would argue true friendship and intimacy – requires us both to be raw, vulnerable and exposed, again and again. It’s like wearing our insides on the outside as a badge of courage.
While we can connect by sharing our “wounds” and battle scars, what I mean is that we connect through compassion and understanding that we are all in this together.
It’s much simpler to gossip about “those people” or judge and shame them, than it is to connect with our own vulnerability, to acknowledge that whatever happened to them could or may have happened to us too.
This week's mindfulness challenge:
This week, notice how often you gossip about or judge other people.
Try and catch yourself before you talk about other people. Ask yourself,
“What is my intention in sharing this news/story?”
The Buddha said it best:
“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”
If not, then practice holding your tongue and see what happens.
As always, if you would like to schedule a 90-minute “Live Full Out” Clarity Session with me where you get to experience powerful coaching first hand to see if we're a good match, please click here so we can create a roadmap that returns you to the fullest essence of who you are.
It's my gift to you. All that I ask is that you show up bravely and fully, be totally freakin’ ready to change what’s no longer working for you (even if that feels scary to declare). Be prepared to be called out on your excuses for playing it small. It would be my honor to help support and guide you on your journey to personal fulfillment.
With love and light,