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We're All in This Together

In early 2012, I developed the above logo and started putting the title of this blog as a tagline in my signature block. Driving this message became somewhat of an obsession for awhile.

Everywhere I looked, whether in our society or the portions of it to which I was exposed on a daily basis; i.e. my work, I saw fragmentation. It felt like everyone was in their own silo and it was more important to “be right” than to be working together to create solutions.

I am seeing this mentality starting to fray around the edges. Many people are tired of being angry all of the time. They are tired of the stress it creates, the unrest it creates in their work environments and families. They are starting to take a look in the mirror and recognize where their behavior is part of the problem.

Once we recognize where we are part of the problem in our society, whether it’s something like road rage or failing to address our unconscious biases of others or thinking that we know what other people are thinking and why…or simply expecting others to show up like we think we would in those situations.

If we are to heal as a society, we must use new energetic tools to do so. We must listen with the intent of understanding where someone is coming from and instead of just waiting on our turn to speak, to instead follow up with questions to further understand someone’s perspective. When we do this, the person speaking to us feels heard. 

I think many in our society are yelling their message over and over because they haven’t truly felt heard in a long time. Now there is a difference between hearing someone and agreeing with them. It’s a conversation I have often with my daughter. As a result, I have learned to become a better listener and a more compassionate communicator.

For example, one aspect of communication that has helped me tremendously is validation. When I validate how someone felt about something, it goes a long way to helping them feel heard. When my daughter feels heard, it helps her to actually process the emotion she’s feeling, whether it’s disappointment, hurt or frustration. The reason this works is that once she feels heard, she’s not spending any more time trying to convince me why she’s feeling what she’s feeling. I get it and she knows it because I will repeat back to her what she said and ask a more probing question about how she felt about that. When she tells me how she feels, I listen with the intent to truly hear her and validate her by saying something like, “I understand you felt hurt by what that other girl said to you. I think it’s normal to feel hurt in a situation like that and I would feel that way too.”

This is very different from how I used to communicate and I truly wish I’d had this tool in my first marriage. My first wife was not a willing communicator and would hold things in until she pretty much had an emotional explosion. I had no idea how to handle all of the emotions coming out at me and so I would go into an analytical mode and focus on trying to help her solve the problems that she was most frustrated about. In doing this however, I was invalidating her power to solve her own problems. She didn’t need me to solve her problems for her. She needed me to listen to her!

This pattern also manifested in my second marriage and I have to say, over eighteen years into our relationship, sometimes I can do it well and sometimes it’s still a bit of a challenge. When I struggle, it’s because I have pain attached to whatever topic she is upset about. Maybe I feel embarrassed or ashamed that I didn’t do something better earlier in our relationship and so when my wife expresses a disappointment about something that happened, instead of being able to compassionately validate her, I am triggered by my own emotions surfacing and cannot be there for her in the way she needs.

Often when a couple has amassed too much emotions that they haven’t processed, they end up divorcing because they now have too much evidence that the other person doesn’t love them or support them in the ways they need.

My wife and I model for our daughter how to validate each other and listen to each other with the goal of understanding. When emotions that have been repressed for a long time come to the surface, those emotions can be intense. However, if you have people around you who don’t judge you for it and understand that it’s simply your pain coming to the surface to be healed, then being able to listen and validate helps you release the emotion and gain the wisdom of the experience instead of just collecting another piece of evidence as to why “life’s not fair.”

When circumstances show up in our lives and we feel emotionally triggered, whatever we feel is about us. Whatever the other person feels is about them.  When we are aware that this is what’s happening, we stop focusing on what the other person did or didn’t do and turn our focus inward to how we feel.

That emotional energy you feel is not something trivial. It is powerful and if a person avoids, denies, minimizes or represses it, it will find a way to present itself again in a similar situation. If we get caught up in the story and think what we’re feeling is about the other person, we are abdicating our responsibility and avoiding the fact that whatever is presenting itself in our lives is there for us to heal it. And one other point here, if it’s showing up, we have the power to heal it.

That being said, I will admit sometimes it’s like the quote from Mother Teresa, “God told me He wouldn’t give me more than I could handle; but I wish He didn’t trust me so much!”

Whatever pain is showing up in your life is there as a reflection of something for you to heal. You can do it a little bit at a time in layers and you don’t have to do it alone. I utilize many methods and have a village of healers I utilize for any given situation.

Find your village. Start your healing process.

Stop telling the same old stories to justify why you feel what you feel. The emotion you feel is just there to show you that you have something to heal, not to rationalize why you should feel angry, sad, hurt, etc.

This week’s homework:

1.       Pick an area right now for which you feel emotional. It can even be something you felt when you read something in the news. It can be something happening at work, in your relationships and it can be something you’ve experienced recently or something you’ve held onto for a long time that still comes up from time to time.

2.       Write down all of the emotions you feel about it.

3.       Tell a friend you trust what you’re feeling and have them do nothing more than tell you with as much compassion as possible, “It’s normal to feel ________. Anyone would feel that way.

4.       Then allow yourself to just feel it. Feel it wherever you feel the physical sensation of this emotion in your body and just breathe into it.

5.       Be gentle with yourself and don’t force yourself to face more than you’re ready to face at one time.

Start practicing the art of validation with others. Notice that to do so, you may have to change the way you communicate and instead of just waiting for your turn to talk, for you to validate how someone else feels, you will start listening with empathy.

This will come easier for some than others and don’t assume that it is necessarily easier for women than men. Many people in our society have been taught to shut down their emotions, to not express it and to be more logical and analytical. This can especially be true for women who succeed in industries that have traditionally been male dominated.

If we are to heal our country, we have to find our heart again. We have to listen with our heart and communicate from it. People crave that kind of authenticity and need to feel heard. As you learn to do this for yourself and others, it will open up a whole new world for you that you never knew existed. It brings about a richness and depth to life that can make even the simplest experiences delicious.

Drop me a line and let me know what you experience using this technique.



© 2024. All rights reserved.

Jeff Scholl is a Certified Spiritual Life Coach through Holistic Learning Centers and a Board-Certified Holistic Health Practitioner through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.


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