[October 23, 2020] by Kathy Scott, PhD, and Bridget Sarikas
LIBERATE, LAUGH AND LEARN
This is our Healthy Me Series designed to encourage each of you to rethink what success looks like personally and professionally in today’s world. We start by asking: What is success in an era of geographic distancing, political and social unrest, social media overload, continuous change, conflicting values and priorities, and polarization on every front? How can we have the energy and insights to be all that we can be for ourselves and others? And why do I feel so compelled to reimagine a better way? This series is for those who are feeling the disconnect between head and heart, the status quo and a healthy future. This series is for you.
This first blog in the Healthy Me Series is focused on the power within each of us to alter our self-worth and the self-worth of others each day through small but meaningful ways. We’ll start with acts of liberation, laughter and new learnings.
To liberate someone begins with seeing them—actually seeing who they are, noticing them, connecting in a human-to-human way (yes – time to put down that phone, step away from social media, look up). It is not seeing others and judging them. It is about believing that all people have inherent value. It is about seeing another person as a human being who matters. Now who among us couldn’t use a little more of that these days?
This reminds us of a story about a young man who became homeless for a year to experience that lifestyle and all that comes with it. He talked about how he became use to not being seen – people would avert their eyes when he approached as if he didn’t exist. But on that rare day or moment when someone actually looked him in the eyes, it changed him for days. It shook him to his core.
Something about being seen means—I exist, I matter, I am here for a reason. In a day and age of so much focus on accomplishments and material possessions, many find themselves wondering about their own self-worth. It is liberating to be seen and to see others through a lens of empathy rather than judgement. Acknowledging someone through a look and a touch (a hand on their shoulder, an eye connection, a smile) is affirming, it’s powerful! It can be life changing for the giver and the receiver.
Be a liberator—see the potential in others-- their beauty and yes, even their pain. And then honor them in your thoughts and actions. This is one of the few things in life that costs nothing and yields a huge return.
Laugh is wedged between liberate and learn. It is about living in the present—enjoying what’s before you and not taking yourself so seriously. Being able to laugh at yourself helps others not take themselves so seriously and shows others your humanness. It’s also just good for the soul!
Laughter can be about learning from your failures—learning that it doesn’t destroy you and that failures can make you stronger. Laughter is a way to move out of your pride and perfection, acknowledging the human realities of every-day living. We are not designed to be perfect (and thank goodness)! Striving for perfection in ourselves or others is a path to blame, shame and destruction.
See the humorous side in life and be able to craft a story that creates an important message for others—at your expense, not theirs. Get comfortable with being human.
To learn is to change the way you think – which is not as easy as it sounds. It is about seeing the world in new ways and often involves having to rethink some of your underlying beliefs and assumptions. Learning also involves being curious, asking questions, listening more (a skill we could all benefit from these days) and staying open, rather than succumbing to pronounced judgments, talking at each other, or declaring your expertise. Life is full of contradictions and competing priorities that require more of us.
Learning involves letting others see you—being authentic, honest, transparent, dropping the perfect exterior and letting people in. Learning is about saying “I don’t know,” “I never thought about it that way,” “How can we create a win-win?” Stories are powerful tools that help us see and think about something in a new way—each person relating to different aspects of the story vs. being told what to do or think.
Learn to tell your own story in authentic and meaningful ways. Include your struggles. Your “keeping it real moments” is what makes you relatable. Your story will draw others in. And together, you can make better sense of the world.
It takes courage to step out and liberate yourself and others, laugh at your humanness and change the way you think. This type of courage can be anywhere from soft and quiet to strong and fierce. But courage is contagious, regardless of the form it comes in. It creates a ripple effect that moves others to take action, stand up, and start their own small ripple of change.
What is one courageous action, big or small, that you can do today – something that can help move you or others out of the paralysis that comes from fear, depression, fatigue -- or out of the cycle of frenetic activity that takes you to an unhealthy place? Try one small act of courage today for the health of it. Start the ripple effect.
“Some things are better left unsaid. Which I generally realize right after I have said them.” ~ Author Unknown