Humanity has achieved so much by doing things differently every now and then, and doing more things differently is what’s going to ensure its survival moving forward. It’s paradoxical that while this might seem like a no-brainer, many humans do, on the other hand, feel absolutely uncomfortable with things being done differently from what they expected. It’s as if every time an innovation comes to the fore, it encounters resistance born out of the comfort and safety offered by the familiar. That’s probably why an innovation is often called a “disruption,” wouldn’t you say? This resistance often comes in the form of an obsession with duality – the idea that others are wrong because you are right. Whitney Lauritsen and Jason Wrobel come to these realizations as they analyze a heartbreaking experience that Whitney recently had with a disgruntled client. Listen in and learn what a negative feedback from a dissatisfied customer can teach us about being human.
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Doing Things Differently: Reflections On Innovation, Disagreement And Dualistic Thinking
I’m going to start off with a personal story about how I got uncomfortable. It’s nice that I can share this. Oftentimes, when I feel uncomfortable, I think on the plus side, this gives me more content for the show. At least that allows me to step outside of any of that pain and think about it in a more positive light. I also feel like over time, the more distance we have from unpleasant parts of life, that the more perspective we have, and we can realize that an emotion we feel in one moment isn’t how we’re going to feel forever. It’ll go away. It’ll dissipate. I received an email from somebody who was frustrated and disappointed and didn’t like the way that I was doing things.
This was a customer service-related email. They had purchased one of the bundles, Jason and I participated in a few and I did one on my own. In addition to the several bundle sales Jason and I did, I also chose to do one on my own. I wanted to use it to launch my latest eBook, The Mindful Mug, which is about ethical coffee. I got invited to participate in this bundle sometime in the fall of 2020 and thought, “I’d love to write a new eBook. I’m going to use this bundle as the opportunity.” I at the time thought that that would be an easy project and I can get it done quickly, but I fell into a lot of procrastination.
Some of that was due to things that were going on in life at the time I was traveling and then the holidays hit, and I had my COVID scare. There’s so much going on one after another, plus I had the fortune of having a lot of projects come my way that I wasn’t expecting. My schedule, my to-do list started to fill up and this eBook kept getting put on the back burner. I was having trouble and still am having trouble completing it. I hope by the time this episode comes out, that it’s done. As of now, January 11, 2021, it is not complete yet. However, it was supposed to be complete before this bundle sale launched.
My workaround for that was to put up a little sign-up page and anybody who purchased the bundle through me or anybody else, for those of you who don’t know how bundle sale works, a bunch of different people come together to share their products and services and refer people to this bundle sale. Let’s say John who’s sharing his eBook in the sale. If he refers Susie to the sale, then they will not only get John’s book, but they’ll get everybody else’s, including mine. I had not been focused on making sales. Ultimately, I wanted to use this as an opportunity to get my eBook into more hands. I created this signup page and said, “If you purchase the bundle, enter your details here and I’ll send you a copy of the book as soon as it’s ready.” Do you follow the story so far, Jason?
I am right there with you. By all means, continue.
I’m doing my best, trying to get the book done, balance the rest of my life. I’m thrown off by a lot of things happening in the United States in early January 2021 as I’m sure many people can relate to. Jason, this episode comes out on Inauguration Day. I do have a tie in for that in some way because I wanted to mention that as an interesting time for us in the United States, which I know any of our readers who are based here can relate to, but even outside of the US, people are certainly affected by this. It’s been a tense time for a while due to COVID. It’s been tense due to a lot of the things happening, thanks to Black Lives Matter. I feel like we’re going almost through a purge. A lot of shifts, realizations, awareness and growing. Part of that process can be uncomfortable and bring outsides of people that aren’t pleasant.Deviants and disruptors are often misunderstood at the beginning. Only years later will people realize that they were onto something. Click To Tweet
I experienced part of that when I received an angry email from somebody who purchased the bundle, this is a complete stranger to me, who wrote me to say that they couldn’t believe I asked them to sign up and give them my email address in exchange for the book. I should have had my book available as an instant download like everybody else. They called me unprofessional. They accused me of trying to trick them into getting on my mailing list. They wanted to let me know that they wanted to get their shit and unsubscribe from my list. They reported me to the bundle organizers for being unprofessional and asked like, “Why couldn’t I do everything like everybody else?” In their terms, “Do things correctly like everybody else.” It was a tough email for me to receive. First of all, getting feedback like that which you’re not expecting is tough. I’m sensitive to feedback like that. No matter how many times I’ve gone through it, it always hurts. To get that it was like 11:30 at night and I was winding down. It was a Sunday and trying to take off. I already was feeling like I was doing way more work than I wanted to and this email comes in.
I got triggered, Jason. I felt hurt because those words feel hurtful to me being called unprofessional, being accused of tricking someone, being told that I’m not doing things correctly. Having then my products referred to as shit, which honestly was more like that concept of calling your thing shit like, “I want to get my shit and be out of here.” Still, I’m associating my eBook that I’m pouring my heart and time and any extra energy I have, which is few and far between now into this project and to have that associated with the word shit, I was like, “This does not feel good.” To make matters worse after I received that email, the bundle organizers followed up, saying this one woman complained to them.
The bundle organizers followed up saying like, “We need to know when the book’s going to be done.” On top of all this hurt, there was pressure and guilt. Me feeling like, “I’m not getting this project done fast enough.” I feel guilty that it wasn’t done the way that everybody else did it. It was this layered experience I had right before I went to bed and I decided, “I’m not going to be able to sleep with these feelings.” The best thing I can do to cope, given that none of my friends are awake, normally I probably would have called you Jason, but I know you’re asleep by that point. I probably would have turned to somebody. It’s late. There’s no one there. In a way, it gave me the opportunity to sit with myself and figure this out.
Sometimes that’s a good thing. We can go inward, meditate and journal. I’m sitting on the couch at the moment thinking, “How am I going to handle this? How am I going to get through this and feel better as quickly as possible?” Also, when these situations come up, my brain automatically goes to, “How can I resolve this? What can I do?” That’s part of my coping mechanism. If I can fix the problem quickly, then I don’t have to feel these feelings anymore. I ended up staying up a few more hours working on the book. I still haven’t gotten it done, which gave me a perspective. I’m like, “This project is big. It’s much larger than I ever expected to because I’m not creating shit.” The first realization was that this eBook is not shit to me. This eBook is coming from my heart and it’s taken a lot of time and energy to put it together. I felt resentful, Jason, which you can relate to of that pressure to get something done on somebody else’s timetable. I suppose that’s where we can begin. I’m curious how you’re feeling as you’re listening to this story and how you can relate.
It’s a lot of layers to unpack with this Whitney. First of all, I want to thank you and acknowledge you for bringing this to our episode and knowing you as a person and your psychology, your history, your spiritual cosmology, I know that this type of situation can be challenging and triggering for you. First off, thank you for bringing it to the table and speaking openly about it. It brings up a lot of different dimensions for me in the sense that when we receive critical feedback from a person we don’t know, it can be tough because my filter on it, Whitney, is that when someone doesn’t know me, doesn’t know who I am personally, I don’t have this person in my life, they don’t know what my aim or intent is.
It’s difficult when we have public facing brands and you as Whitney Lauritsen, you having the brand Eco-Vegan Gal, you having our Wellevatr brand, you doing Beyond Measure, you have a lot of programs. You have a lot of things on your plate is my point. There’s this increasing amount of attention as a public facing person on the internet, a content creator, a coach, someone who’s an author, you fall into a lot of these different categories. As such by putting ourselves out into the world, we’ve talked about this in previous episodes about internet trolls and YouTube comments and your struggles over the years and mine too with receiving negative, hateful feedback from people sometimes who don’t know who we are.
The initial reaction you’re describing of like, “This person feels they’re attacking me and they’re calling my work shit.” At least that’s how I’m interpreting it. It’s an opportunity for us to look at a person’s opinion of who we are, our conduct or our actions, and sitting with ourselves and asking, “Does this resonate?” It’s almost like when someone says something about us of, “You’re shut down or you’re not being vulnerable. You’re not being authentic or you’re this or you’re that.” In the new age community or the spiritual community, there’s this rhetoric of like, “Everyone’s a mirror to you.” If someone brings up feedback, you should take a look at it. To a degree, that approach is wise.
What I don’t agree with is this automatic assessment that I see with a lot of people in psychoanalysis and doing work on ourselves of, “They must be right. I must be an asshole. I must do shitty work. Their reflection and their mirroring of me must be correct. Maybe there’s a shred of truth in it.” Sitting with ourselves and being with those comments and feedback and seeing if they resonate, that’s a critical part of this, Whitney. I’m curious that I wasn’t available and maybe some other friends weren’t available at midnight or 1:00 in the morning to talk this through. What did you do when you sat with it? What kind of thoughts came up? How did you process this in real time?
I’m fortunate that I’ve been doing a lot of self-work for a while. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have everything figured out. I probably never will but what I do have is a lot of different tools like meditation, journaling and self-reflection, knowing what makes me feel good too, because I get the sense of a panicky sensation in those moments because it’s triggering for me. To your point, Jason, I try not to go to either extreme of either believing somebody or not believing them and getting defensive. It’s where can I find that middle ground and my true North? What at the core is going on here? Upon that reflection, the first thing I did was try to see what parts of truth I could find within that person.
Another great tool is Byron Katie’s The Work, where she has you go through the exercise of asking like, “Is this true,” and examining our beliefs. I didn’t quite do that work, but I do my own little versions of it. I was trying to think like, “What’s going on with this person? First and foremost, from a customer service standpoint, clearly this person had expectations that weren’t met.” We’ve talked a lot about expectations on the show and how they can lead to a lot of pain. Both of us had expectations. I had an expectation that if I was clear about the process in which to get my book in the state that my book was in at the time. I did my best on the website to write out. I have words on there, “The book’s in process. It’s brand new, please be patient. If you give me your email address, I’ll be sure to send you a copy of it as soon as it’s ready.”
I said that multiple times on the website, I thought I was being clear. I don’t know if that person saw that and still chose to write that email to me or did not see any of that and have this knee jerk reaction without investigating. That could certainly be the case. I don’t know. I may never know. I probably will never know. Trying to think like, “What’s going on with this person? How can I help them?” Not only does that seem the best thing to do from a customer service standpoint, it’s also part of my problem solving. My reaction is, “I did something wrong and this person’s calling me out.” I’m not quite sure if I did something wrong. I don’t believe I did but from this person’s perspective I did. How can I make them feel better? Which as a result, might make me feel better because I tend to be a people pleaser for better or for worse.
I tried to step back from myself after some deep breathing and think like, “What’s going on with this person?” I don’t know who they are. I don’t know their name. I’m not quite sure about their gender but clearly, they had some expectation because they’re comparing me. They’re giving me clues. They’re saying, “Why couldn’t you have done it like everybody else?” Which is a trigger for me because I hate being compared. Who enjoys being compared? Especially in that bundle sale where I’m with a bunch of other influencers, that sucks. It’s immediately feeling called out for being different, which is another trigger. Who wants to be told that you’re not doing things correctly and everybody else did it correctly? That sucks.It's tough to create great work when you're trying to do things the way other people want them done. Click To Tweet
That does give me context because in this person’s brain, they’re like, “Everybody else did something and this person didn’t do it the same way, which means they must be doing it wrong.” I am like, “They had expectations. There was a pattern disruptor and that was me.” I don’t know why they think I’m unprofessional but that was another word that stung. However, they clearly have a different viewpoint of what professional means. That’s an important thing here too. This ties into not my personal experience but this ties into many different elements of life, Jason, which is why I wanted to bring this up.
Why I also mentioned everything that’s going on in our country because I’ve had a lot of conversations about how different we are as human beings. That’s being revealed to us. We have different perspectives on COVID whether we should wear masks or not, COVID is real or a conspiracy theory. There are all these different viewpoints on COVID. Should you stay inside? Should you socialize? Should you to travel? Everybody’s handling it a bit different. We’re not all on the same page. Clearly, we’ve got an issue with race in this country and I’m sure in other countries as well. We’re not all on the same page with race. We’re not all on the same page with politics. It’s about 50/50 people who voted for one person or another. We’ve got Republicans versus Democrats.
We’ve talked about how there isn’t a ton of unity in the United States and in a lot of other countries or around the world. My big point is that because we view things as one way, because I view myself as being professional in the best way I can in this situation, this other person does not view me as professional. “Does that mean I’m unprofessional?” That is a big question. That’s this ongoing thing. That person called me and told me that I’m not doing things correctly. Does that mean that I’m not doing them correctly? Not necessarily. Does that mean I’m producing shit work or I’m trying to trick someone?
I don’t want to be tricked. It’s like, “I never intended to trick you. I thought I was being clear.” Through this person’s lens, they believed that I am trying to trick them and that triggered them. This is where it gets interesting, if you start to analyze it and this you realize this person is scared at the end of the day. This first person feels threatened. Maybe they’re afraid that they paid for something and they’re not going to get it. Maybe this has happened to them before or maybe this is a core fear of theirs like, “I’m not going to get my money’s worth or this person’s trying to take advantage of me.” If I look at it from that perspective, if I take myself out of the equation, there’s a lot to learn there and a lot to relate to.
The interesting part about what you’re saying in the context of doing things differently, someone calling you out, shaming you, being angry, upset or triggered that you “did something different.” There are many experiences in life like this. I remember being as an aside, there are many things to draw on. In school, for instance, I remember being in trigonometry. I remember the teacher was giving us formulas. A lot of math is formulas and figuring out how to implement different formulas to achieve a certain result. I remember I went through the backdoor. I didn’t use the formula that he taught us and yet I arrived at the correct answer. I remember having a discussion in class with him about this. He got upset with me. He’s like, “You didn’t use the structure and the formula I showed you.” I said, “I got to the right answer, didn’t I?” He said, “That’s not the point. Math is about structure and this.” I remember feeling shamed in that moment. I arrived at the “correct” answer, but he was upset with me that I didn’t use the formula and the structure that I ought to.
There are many other examples to draw from in life, Whitney. We look at the deviants in our society. We look at the disruptors. We look at people that are in a particular category whether they’re artists or entrepreneurs or inventors. We can think of a million examples of people who released music or created an invention. At first, they were ridiculed and mocked and misunderstood. Maybe years and decades later, people reflected back and went, “They were onto something.” We could go way back to look at Nikola Tesla and the time of Edison, where Edison dwarfed him but you look at the innovations and the genius that Tesla finally got credit for decades later. There are many examples that we can bring up.
The big thing that jumps out to me with is this idea that you didn’t do it right or you were trying to swindle or lie to this person or be subversive or cheat them. To your point, it sounds like it has a lot more to do with their personal history and their potential trauma or what they’ve experienced in the past and they’re overlaying that onto you, a person they do not know. The interesting tidbit is how people get triggered when we do things differently. When we act outside of the box, we create something and put it out in the world that’s foreign and bizarre that people can’t wrap their minds or hearts around it. That’s the most interesting part of this conversation to me so far.
It’s you as a rebel, Jason, this probably speaks to you so much because you either want to do things differently or you tend to do things differently as part of your nature. For me, I am in a different place with it. We’ve talked much about the four tendencies. The four tendencies are a helpful framework for me and Jason got the result of a rebel. I got the result of a questioner. As a questioner, I tend only to do things when they make sense to me. I will rebel. I will do things differently if doing them that way makes more sense. In this case, it does. Being able to finish my book in a time that doesn’t burn me out and doesn’t require me to create something shitty to have it done. That makes sense to me, it doesn’t make sense to me to put out crap work or how I perceive crap work to get it done.
It doesn’t make sense to me to stay up all night long to get something done in somebody else’s timeline. What made sense to me was I’m going to get this done as soon as I possibly can, given everything else I have going on in my life. What makes sense to me is that people can be patient, especially given that they bought a ton of different books. If this person doesn’t even know me, why the hell do they want my book badly? Part of me was wondering, “Is this even about my book? Do they care about my book?” On that note, Jason, my first reaction was resentful of this person, I was trying to think of a way that I wouldn’t have to give them my book. I’m like, “This person is rude. I don’t want them owning anything that I do.” I had to step back and say, “It’s probably nothing to do with my book. Chances are, I’m going to send them a copy of my book. They’ll look at it once and never look at it again. They just want their stuff.” That’s the other level of this obsession with possession like, “I need to get what I paid for, even if I don’t want it, even if they don’t need it, even if I’m never going to use it, it’s mine.”
That’s more what this is about. It’s possible that this person got excited when they saw there was a coffee book and they clicked on a button thinking that they would have instant access to it and they felt disappointed, that’s relatable. It would have worked better for me communication-wise if they had said that, if they said, “Whitney, I’m curious. When am I going to get a copy of my book? I’m looking forward to reading it. I was hoping I could use it because I want to use it for my coffee.” Something like that. A completely different response.
I probably would’ve stayed up all night to finish it. Instead, I did try to stay up all night, Jason, because I was like, “I want to get this book done. I’m annoyed. Let me see what I can do.” As I started working on it, I realized I don’t get things done that fast and be like, “I needed to sleep.” I went to bed at 3:00 AM and I had horrible sleep, but 3:00 AM was the latest I could handle even though I tried. It’s different energetically because I wonder if I had received a kind, honest email that felt supportive. Maybe I could have pushed through somehow because I would have had a different energy behind it.
When we create out of duress or distress or pressure, some people might argue with that. We’ve had conversations about this tendency for people who may classify themselves as procrastinators that they get off on the adrenaline and the hormonal rush of waiting until the last minute and that rush of energy and that pressure. For me, generally speaking, I find that creating with those emotions, distress, pressure, shame, feeling I have to please someone or fulfill some obligation. I don’t find that the work that I do under those frameworks feels that good. It’s not to say that deadlines aren’t important or setting metrics for yourself to complete things in a certain time frame, those are effective ways of conducting yourself as a creator and a businessperson. For you trying to get that book done under this pressure and stress or shame or this person accusing you of things, I’m personally glad you didn’t finish it because the energy in which you would have put into finishing it in that context probably wouldn’t have resulted in your best work. Would you agree with that? Does that resonate?We don't need to fight fire with fire. Just pour water on it and move on. Click To Tweet
It does resonate, but also how intuitively I couldn’t even go there. I started working on it and I noticed my joy again. I was like, “I love this book.” Even though the book feels like a burden now because of the energy behind it and the fact that I have guilt and I feel like I messed up because I have been procrastinating so much, it also leads me to another thing, Jason, is that some things can’t be forced. That’s part of the lesson here for me is that so much in life wants to force us to do things based on other people’s timetables, needs, desires and definition of how things should be. As we talked about in our episode with Tricia, the Joyologist, this idea of should. Creatively, it’s tough to create great work when you’re trying to do things the way other people want them done and when they want them done.
This is part of the huge lesson for me. I would so much rather be in a place where I have that flexibility to get something done, how I want to do it, when I want to do it with some accountability. That grace period. When somebody says, “This was your original deadline, but I’m going to give you an extension.” That’s such a great feeling because then sometimes that’s where the magic happens. On the other hand, the pressure of the situation also ended up helping my creativity. It pushed me in the direction to get some movement, which was helpful, but it was like my brain said, “You do feel the pressure. You are going to get some stuff done, but still it’s going to happen in the timeframe that it’s meant to happen.” That was part of the hardship of this experience was that I felt sad and ashamed of that. It felt like people didn’t understand me. It’s going back to this idea of doing things differently. When you’re doing something earnestly and someone says, “Your ways sucks.” You’re like, “I thought this was the right thing for me.” I still deep down believe it’s the right thing for me, but it sucks to be told that it’s not right even if you know it is right.
That requires a lot of fortitude, doesn’t it? Inner fortitude of being on the receiving end of a lot of criticism. I brought up somebody like Nikola Tesla or we could talk about Elon Musk, Steve jobs and Toni Morrison. There are many incredible humans we could discuss who in their careers faced an incredible amount of opposition, pressure and expectation. An unbelievable amount of people saying. “You’re wrong. You’re doing this incorrectly. You’re going to lose. You’re going to be defeated.” In some cases, certain people that wanted to revolutionize particular industries being crushed by the competition. One person that comes to mind in the pantheon of history is Tucker, who started the automotive company back in the ‘50s. The big three crushed him because he was introducing safety features and adaptive headlights and things that were going to keep people protected.
As an example, the big three, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler went on an entire campaign of following him, having him surveilled, soiling his name in the media. Eventually, the Tucker Car Company went under because they were on a mission to destroy him. In some ways that that’s a radical example, but what you’re describing, Whitney, is this reactivity from humanity not to understand things. You’re a different religion or maybe you believe in something I don’t understand, you’re transgender or maybe you use pronouns I don’t understand. What do you mean that you’re in a category of sexuality we don’t understand? There are many examples now, Whitney, of how people in our world are violently reacting to people who think, love, feel, act, and create differently.
It’s necessary. One of the only ways that humanity is going to continue to survive on this planet and who knows, maybe other planets, there are some interesting things being talked about. Elon Musk and other people wanting to create colonies on Mars by 2050. For human beings to survive in the universe, it is a necessary part of our evolutionary steps to do things completely differently, to innovate, to think outside the box, all those cliche phrases, but they’re true because if we keep doing things the way we’ve done them, what do we get? We get the same result over and over again. Do I want the same results with looking at climate change, the violence, the racism, the hatred, the apathy, the division, and all of the changes you described at the beginning of this episode, Whitney? We’re not going to solve those issues and come together and even have respectful, loving conversations unless we think and act differently because doing the same shit has got us to where we are now.
To your point, zooming out from this conversation, you’re right. If you feel in your heart, you’re doing something good and you are serving the world and you’re contributing to life, then if people criticize, you look down upon you, say you’re wrong. You and I, and everyone who’s trying to do differently, has to build the fortitude and the will to be able to endure those kinds of criticisms. Think about all those people we mentioned with and more, what if they had been like, “Everybody hates me and they don’t believe in me. Fuck it. I’m going to give up.” Think about what the world would have been robbed of in terms of the beautiful creations we’ve been blessed with if these innovators would’ve given up. I think about that sometimes. In your situation, I say fucking keep doing things differently. You know me, sometimes I’m like, “Fuck what people think, just do you.”
It’s easier said than done. If you have people pleasing tendencies, it can feel challenging. For much of my life, if not most of my life, I felt I have to put myself second behind somebody else. If someone’s not satisfied, I should listen to them and do things their way. That’s a coping mechanism. I associate that with survival. This is the type of thing that triggers it. It’s like I did something wrong. That’s the heaviness of all of this, especially that this person sent me that message and then they went and reported it to the bundle people, and I feel publicly shamed. That’s a form of control manipulation. It’s like, “I’m going to go report you so that you have to pay for that.” It’s such an extreme reaction, especially in this case. It reminds me a lot of writing somebody a bad review on Yelp or Amazon, it’s like, “I’m dissatisfied.” Instead of coming to you and asking you to help fix it, I’m going to shame you publicly and tell you how dissatisfied I am, which is going to impact your business.
It also reminded me of this product I received as a gift. When I opened it up, the first thing I saw inside the box was a little card that said, “Are you having any problems with this product? Send us an email first so we can fix it before you write us a bad review.” I felt sad reading that note, because clearly, they’ve had this experience where somebody received something, it doesn’t meet their expectation. It’s not working properly. They don’t understand it. Before they go to try to resolve it with the company privately, their knee-jerk reaction is to go publicly shame this person for not doing whatever they wanted it to do. We’ve talked a lot about cancel culture on this show and it’s similar. It’s like, “I disagree with you. You’re not doing the things that I want. I’m going to go try to cancel you, ruin you and destroy you. Make sure nobody else has that experience.” You and I have experienced this in many ways, Jason.
People did that to you with your television show. People have done that with negative reviews on our books. In fact, you and I received a negative comment in our course, Wellness Warrior Training, which in the grand scheme of things, I was like, “Whatever.” This person commented publicly in our course like, “This lesson wasn’t that great. I already knew all of this and it seemed like you weren’t getting deep into it.” I was like, “Screw you. Why would you write that publicly? What is the point, so that you can publicly embarrass us? Is it so you can prove publicly that you know better than us?” That doesn’t solve anything. It’s in the ego. It makes their ego feel good in that moment but it has such a ripple effect that most people don’t want to take responsibility for.
I hear a lot of this too with friends of ours that have brick and mortar businesses and are on Yelp. The horror stories of talking to some of our friends about their Yelp reviews and how one of our friends had an ex-boyfriend who was angry after their breakup and left this horrifying review on Yelp and how much struggle it has taken for her to get this Yelp review taken down. Saying to Yelp this wasn’t a customer, he’s never shopped in the store. He left this review because he wanted to do something awful to me after we broke up and heart, how it’s been nearly impossible for her to get that Yelp review taken down. This goes back to that the internet has created this artificial barrier of illusion where we think that our words and our energy doesn’t affect the other person on the other side of the screen.
We’ve said some version of this on the show before where I guarantee most of the people leaving comments like this would not have the gumption or the courage to say it to someone’s face directly. The tricky part is when we are putting out companies, products, businesses, coaching, books, all the things that we’re doing, that we open ourselves to the possibility of being criticized, hated, shamed and trolled. In some cases, there’s not a lot we can do about it. This is part of my desire at times to be off of social media and be off of digital media completely. I don’t want to be at the behest of people ripping my book, my TV show and my YouTube videos. I haven’t put out a ton of YouTube videos, but I still get negative comments.
It’s like, “What do you people want? What do you want?” I say that somewhat facetiously because I don’t exactly have an answer to what is the path to joy and contentment in this world, but I know that trying to please everyone is a road to one’s own personal hell, thinking that we need to please everyone. It doesn’t mean that we don’t try and address these customer service concerns. The foundation of this episode is talking about criticism, communication, reaction, response, people feeling entitled to things and people feeling triggered. There are many layers to this episode, yet I also think that this idea that the customer is always right. As a business owner, I do not agree with it. I will go out of my way to rectify a situation.In the journey of life, we’re not always going to get it right. And what does getting it right mean, anyway? Click To Tweet
I’ve gotten angry emails like this one from people saying, “You didn’t deliver this on time. Where’s my audio course? Where’s this thing? Where’s the bonus?” I try to go out of my way. In 2020, I refunded someone’s money for something they purchased even though they had gone through it and even though we had communicated. They were adamant about wanting a refund. They were like, “You have to give me a refund or else.” That kind of posture. I knew there was a part of me that was like, “I feel you’re wrong, madam. I feel you’re wrong, but I know that me giving you this refund is going to dissipate this energy. It’s going to dissolve the tension around us. I also don’t need to be right.”
In that particular situation, I had to swallow a lot of pride. I was like, “I feel you’re wrong now. Based on the agreement we had around this thing, you are breaking the agreement.” I also feel like in the amount of money that was up for concern and refund, Whitney, it was easier for me to say, “I want to let the situation go and I want you out of my life. Here’s your money back, good day.” I don’t feel that’s necessarily the approach in every situation, in that particular situation, I wanted to dissolve the tension and the anger and let it go.
I feel like trying to change somebody in those situations is rarely going to happen. It is often the path of least resistance to give that person what they want. Even though on some level it feels wrong because you don’t feel that person is deserving, and they maybe are taking advantage and you don’t want to reward their bad behavior. That was part of how I felt. It’s like, “Why would I respond to this person?” My fear was if I don’t respond to this person, is it going to be escalated? I had to put my ego aside and say, “I’m going to handle this with as much grace as I know how to.” I’m going to give this person what they believe they paid for. That’s it.
I’m not giving them anything else and then I’m going to block their email address if they come around and they try to claim something else or they want to shame me further or rip apart my book once they receive it. It could go to those other directions. It probably won’t. This is the other thing I’ve found time and time again. I responded to this person and they didn’t write me back. That’s the big thing that I have found over and over again with customer service emails is a lot of the times when you respond to somebody like that, they don’t even acknowledge your response. Sometimes I’m like, “What the heck? I took all this time to try to give you some answers and you can’t even acknowledge it?”
That happened with my, The Vegan Ketogenic Diet Cookbook. I might’ve talked about this in an episode, but this woman sent me an email telling me how bad she thought the recipes were and she couldn’t believe it and she wasted her money. I don’t know if she wrote an Amazon review, but I was grateful that she sent me the email. I immediately replied to it, within minutes, because I was in front of my computer when it came in and I never heard from her again. In my email, I was even like, “How can I fix this? What can I do?” No response. I remember thinking, “Maybe she needed to send that email. When she heard from me and realized I was a real person and I was trying to solve her problem, she felt satisfied and she didn’t need to do anything else.”
Oftentimes, that’s as far as it goes. It also gives me perspective and is a great reminder for how I handle things when I’m frustrated. Whenever I get to that point and I’m like, “I didn’t get what I expected. I didn’t get what I was promised. I want something in return for it.” It’s helpful to remember these situations that I’ve experienced and say, “I don’t want anyone else to feel that way.” I can’t control it because sometimes I could try my best to be gentle and somebody still perceives it or receives it as harsh. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder, but I can do my best and lead with that intention. That’s one big lesson that I’ve learned from this. It’s also a great opportunity to step back and notice my own triggers.
Sometimes it is a reflection, maybe not necessarily a mirror, but I have to realize that I’m interpreting this email in my own way based on my triggers and my experiences. Perhaps that person didn’t intend it the way that I interpreted it and that man or woman doesn’t have control over me and I don’t have control over them. Hopefully, doing the best that we can. That’s also how you dissipate it too. We can start to transform the energy a bit. We don’t need to fight fire with fire. I don’t think that’s helpful. Sometimes we pour water on it and move on.
There’s an -ism. I love bringing up -isms and quotes here. One of the biggest things that my mentor, Michael, has reinforced over the years is the idea that you can be right or you can be happy. I like to substitute the word “content” or “at peace” better than “happy” because I feel like contentment and peace is a more sustainable aim than being happy all the time. In certain situations, Whitney, I’ve become better at checking myself of, “Do I feel the need to be right here? Do I need to feel the need to beat this person, to show them I’m right, to show them how wrong they are?” A lot of our conflict, strife, separation and division in this world on a fundamental level is we go back to politics and culture and things we’ve interwoven in this episode that one of the mentalities that continues to exacerbate all of the chaos that we’re having is people’s vehement need to be right.
Whether that’s saying, “My form of sexuality is the only sexuality that matters or my God is the only God, your gods are all false gods. This particular political stance or this economic theory or the Theory of Creationism versus the Big Bang.” We go back to this dualistic approach, not just the duality, there is an inherent posture with dualistic thinking of, “Mine is the right way. I am correct and you are wrong.” On a fundamental level of consciousness, many of the conflicts, not all but I would venture to say most could be dissipated if people could let go of their position of needing to be right and proving the other person wrong to the point of violence, killing people, condemning them, bashing them, cancel culture. If we go a level deeper with, what is the need to be right all about? Is it safety? Is it security? As long as I’m secure in my viewpoint of God, sexuality, religion, politics, economics, whiteness, as long as I’m secure in my position, I’m safe because you’re wrong. I know I’m right. Maybe it is a safety thing. Maybe it’s an ego thing. I’m curious, why do you think people feel the need to be right? What do you think’s driving it?
It is a safety and security thing. It’s also not super conscious in most of our minds. It’s part of how we’re raised and the culture. We’re encouraged to treat each other that way in some ways, even though our teachers might’ve done their best to teach us to be kind to one another and accepting to one another as my school system did. I remember clearly that a lot of those lessons, even don’t judge a book by its cover. I learned about racism when I was little and a lot of wonderful things that throughout my life helped me, but that doesn’t mean that everybody received the same education or abided by it. We also have our parental figures, our friends and many other influences and not to mention, our current president, or at least now, the episode comes out.
We have a new president, which is a relief in the sense that our former president led by an example of division, ego, encouraging people to have knee jerk reactions and not being accepting of one another. Republican or not, I’m not a fan of that outlook. How can you blame people if they’re being told by the president that it’s okay to act that way? A lot of people might see that as permission, they’re looking at a role model. That could be your president, your teachers, your friends and your family members. Especially if all of them were on the same page, you’re going to think that that’s the way you go about life and that’s how you get what you want. I don’t see life that way. That’s not how I was raised and it’s not a president that I align with. It’s a different perspective than somebody else who might be in alignment with that.
This is one of the greatest challenges as we’re getting close to the end of this episode, how do we try our best to understand one another when our perspectives, beliefs, conditioning, programming are all different? At the core, what I hope to believe is that most human beings want the same things, Whitney. People want to feel safe and secure. People want to make sure that their families and their children, their loved ones are taken care of and that their needs are met, that there’s connection, that they feel loved and seen and heard that they feel healthy and vibrant. At the core, people are going about this in different ways, but there is at the core desire and maybe the core fear of human beings, we are a lot more similar than we give ourselves credit for.
That is not to say that I condone radical behaviors, hatred, disrespect, violence and people destroying one another. The desire and the fear of, “Am I going to get my needs met? Am I going to be safe? Am I going to be secure? Is this going to threaten my family? Is this is going to threaten my identity of who I think I am?” We see people reacting in interesting ways of “this might threaten the concept of who I think I am.” I don’t know. I wonder by the end of our lifetimes, Whitney, if we are piggybacking on a conversation for one of our guests, Ibrahim Sharkas of, “Are we going to find more peace on this planet? Are we going to find more unity with humanity?” If people were to maybe get in touch with these fears and these desires and looking how threatened they feel and need to protect themselves, maybe we can start having deeper conversations around like, “You feel afraid. You feel threatened. You feel like your identity, your safety or your security is being threatened by this thing. Can we get to a level of sharing resources, sharing ideas, not being so greedy and not being insular?”
I don’t claim to have any of the answers. We’re exploring this in real time as we always do here on the show but at the level of belief, fear, desire and identity, if people start doing hard work on themselves, because this shit is not easy. If we start to transform ourselves on an individual level, it has a massive ripple effect on this world. That’s been a huge shift for me. As an activist thinking, “I need to save the animals, the planet and the world. What about climate change, factory farming and racism?” I’m taking a critical look at our contribution to all of it and how we’re showing up in the world. That’s the only way we’re going to shift all of it.
As we conclude this episode, I want to go back to commending you, Whitney, for bringing this to the table and sharing such an intimate, personal challenge you’re going through. That’s one of the only ways we are going to get through, we ask each other for support, we figure it out on our own and we do the hard work on ourselves. That’s what our intention here with our brand Wellevatr and with This Might Get Uncomfortable is asking these questions. How do we shift, change, evolve and have difficult conversations with ourselves and other people? It is something that I don’t feel has an endpoint. I don’t feel that transformation has an end point. One of the reasons we keep rolling out episodes is that we’re on this journey of trying to figure out what the hell does it mean to be human?
Before we end, my question for you, Jason, what advice would you have given me if you had been awake when this happened and I had reached out to you and told you the story? What would have been the quick little suggestion that you would have had for me, if any?
Probably telling you to respond to this human being as directly and honestly as possible. “It wasn’t my intention to mislead you. I wasn’t trying to pull the wool over your eyes or do something subversive. I am putting these out in these bundles. I do want to build my email list because I feel like I have a lot of amazing resources and perspectives that could benefit you and you might be interested in. I’m doing this not to be sneaky, not to be sly, not to be subversive. I’m transparent that I’m doing things differently because in order to grow my business and get my work out into the world to help people, that’s my intention is to help and support people, I’m doing things differently. I’m sorry to hear that you got triggered by this. It wasn’t my intent to mislead you or misguide you. I want to make sure you feel heard.” Something like that is how I would have responded to that email.
I accomplished a good amount of that, but I would have found it helpful to hear that, Jason. I’m grateful to hear it now.
This is the journey. We’re not going to get it “right” every single time. That’s a whole other thing of what does it even mean to get it right or get it wrong anyway? It’s not easy, this human journey. That’s one of the core reasons why Whitney and I are here, we’re having these conversations and to you, dear reader, if this resonates, we always love when you share our episodes, when you spread this to your family and friends. We have many core readers that have been with us from the beginning. We thank you. To any new readers, thank you for joining us. If you’ve heard about us through any of our friends or guests on TikTok or social media, welcome, we appreciate you being here.
You can go to our website Wellevatr.com. We also have a free resources section with some incredible eBooks and some free video trainings talking about consciousness, consistency and taking charge of your life, the psychological, spiritual, physical, mental, cultural things that we like to dive into. Feel free to access those free resources, read the previous episodes. We’re here to give and support and be of contribution to life. That is our primary intention. Thank you for being on the journey with us. Thank you for getting uncomfortable. If you want to shoot us a message, you can email us at [email protected]. Until next time dear reader, we appreciate you. Whitney, I appreciate you for being open and vulnerable and willing to talk about this and we will catch you with another episode of the show. Thank you!
*We use affiliate links in our show notes. This means we receive a small sales commission if you purchase an item based on our recommendation.
- The Mindful Mug
- Eco-Vegan Gal
- Beyond Measure – Pinterest
- The Work from Byron Katie
- The Consistency Code: Reflecting On The Psychology Of Our Tendencies, Self-Care and Excellence – Previous episode
- A Life Without Should: Claim More Joy with The Life That You Want with Tricia Huffman – Previous episode
- Wellness Warrior Training
- The Vegan Ketogenic Diet Cookbook
- [email protected]
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