How do the stories told about us affect who we are? Time and again I’ve observed the power of stories in interactions. The way we treat others affirms or destroys the beauty of who they are.
If the negative story starts early on and becomes concrete in their mind, change can be grueling. But with the help of people who care about them, they enter an ecosystem where their best self is being supported and encouraged.
-If someone is treated poorly time and again they will begin to feel poorly about themselves.
-If someone has never been deeply listened to by another person, they will become closed off and untrusting.
-If someone is expected to fail it is likely that they will.
-If someone is dominated and abused then they may become a dominating abuser.
-If someone is seen as deviant on a fundamental level, what is their motivation to change?
How are your expectations of another person affecting them?
Are your words building them up and evoking the best that is within them? Are your words tearing them down and lowering their self-esteem?
The fundamental need of every person is LOVE.
When someone feels unseen, unheard, unloved and unlovable a monster is created.
How do we help others thrive?
#1 Ask yourself, “am I the right person to talk to them?”
Sometimes it isn’t your place. Maybe your role with them is too solidified and your words will fall on deaf ears. Maybe they aren’t safe for you to speak with. Maybe you haven’t dealt with your anger yet. Be self-aware.
-Before you go to speak to this person sit down and write up all the positive qualities you see in them, the ones you want to see more of. Discover your reason for speaking with them. What is the goal? Do you want to be better friends? Are you excited to see them grow in a specific area of their life? Get really specific and intimate with the goal. Spending time in thoughtful reflection about the person will infuse you with a glow of support when you speak to them. They will see it.
#3 Start with the positives and package the negatives strategically.
-No one wants to be approached with a full force beat down. Chances are, if you’re dealing with a difficult person it will be tempting to tell them off.
-Tell your story, not theirs or anyone else’s involved.
-List off all the beautiful qualities in them. Even if you only see tiny glimpses of virtue, exaggerate those qualities. If you can see those things, no matter how small, there is a possibility for massive growth given the right support and encouragement.
-When the negatives come into play make sure they aren’t packaged as an attack. Explain how their actions affect you and them.
-Give them a compelling future. Talk about the positives of who you see them becoming. Explain how the negatives are holding them back from their greatness.
-End with more encouragements and love.
-Open the conversation up for discussion. Get ready to listen without judgement.
-Once they self-reflect and respond with openness have them commit to a change. Make it as concrete as possible.
#4 Evaluate your role.
-How are your actions keeping this person stuck in a role? Are you expecting them to fail or are you treating them as if they are already the best version of themselves.
-Brainstorm new ways to interact. When someone is trying to change but the people around them don’t grow and change with them it can be very difficult.
-Be their ally, not their enemy. Form a foundation of trust, intimacy and listening.
-Ask them how you can be helpful in their growth.
#5 Remember that change doesn’t happen overnight.
-Consistency and patience for the process are required by all parties.
-NEURAL PATHWAYS: Your brain is being shaped, molded and changed by your experiences everyday. This is neural plasticity.
Think of Neural Pathways in your brain like hiking trails through the woods. The more a path is used the larger and more cleared out it becomes. The less a path is used the smaller and more overgrown it gets.
Whenever you focus on something you are creating a strong Neural Pathway. Whenever you stop giving attention to something the Neural Pathway weakens.
So in order to make desired changes or challenge our projections in relationship we need to consciously devote energy to the thoughts and actions we want. Habits are tough to change, but as we focus on expanding a more beneficial neural pathway each and every day we will find that change can and will happen over time.
For a while, the neural pathways that have been developed around the negative habit will be strong. As we challenge this it will weaken and we will form a strong neural pathway that speaks our truth.
#6 Give them a fresh start.
Focus on treating them like the person you know they are and want to be.
Change the ecosystem.
Call Out Culture and Social Media
We are living in an interesting time relationally.
Our core desires remain: to be loved and to be seen.
Social media gives us the illusion of these needs being met. It gives us the illusion of being known. It is a straw man.
NOTHING can replace a real life relationship. Humans are living, breathing, magical beings. When we interact with one another we exchange energy, support, inspiration and physical comfort.
On top of social media’s relational facade we have an overwhelming “call out culture.” All of the tactics I mentioned above fly out the window on social media. I, myself, have been called out for insane, unnecessary things. I have been called out while posting about someone beautiful and meaningful. People will find the SMALLEST thing to bring attention to and then package it as an attack.
How does this create a more peaceful and loving ecosystem around us? I believe call outs should always start privately, if possible, and follow the steps above. If that fails, we may change our tactic to something more public if there is damage or hurt being brought by this person.
But remember. Hurt people HURT people.
Alway approach someone in love.
Without that key ingredient you’ll most likely be met with defensiveness.
When approaching a stranger online.
If you have something you want to say to a stranger online start out by NEVER ASSUMING you know what they meant by something.
I have been called out by someone on my social media for posting a video of foraging herbs where I didn’t “thank the plants” more obviously in my video. It began with the statement, “Wow, maybe spend a few moments talking to the plant, thanking it, asking it’s permission before harvesting…?”
She went on to make some valid points…but those were lost after how she started the comment. Whenever you approach someone with a “Wow…” You’re basically communicating that that person is shockingly inept in some way. It says, “are you kidding me…are you an idiot?” The person receiving the comment will fill in the blank and be less responsive to having a conversation. If the person’s desire is to change the way we harvest and how we harvest then they need to start with how they go about the conversation. People don’t respond well to being aggressively called out by a stranger.
I have also been called out for “foraging too much”. One of my wedding installation photos had a comment that said, “Wow, do you really have to take so much?” The assumption was that I was over-harvesting. I responded, “These are actually all invasive species here in Oregon.”
Use Curiosity instead of Assumptions
ALWAYS use curiosity over assuming you know what the person was trying to communicate. In the situations I mentioned above they could have said, “I’d love to hear about your process when harvesting? How do you go about it? What are your rituals?”
The conversation is opened up with questions. That gives me a chance to share what I do with them. After we’ve developed some trust with one another after a few kind back and forth messages (privately) I am more receptive to hearing their thoughts on harvesting.
These examples are TAME compared to the other types of comments I’ve seen out there. But if my social media, which is heavily focused on beauty and sewing goodness into the world, can be attacked then we have an issue in how we communicate. You have to SEE the other person. You have to KNOW where they are coming from and utilize that in your interactions with them.
Most people aren’t malicious. And if they are, then they are heavily wounded themselves.
Always search for the best in people and utilize that.