Many times, people tend to be wary of how others think of them and how they are perceived. And this is because of how they communicate and deliver information. This results in people feeling ashamed when they cannot communicate in a way that is expected of them. We all want to be socially accepted. That is why Whitney Lauritsen discusses why effective communication is essential. We need to identify and accept that some different barriers and challenges come with it. Let us remove the shame from poor communication by listening to this episode.
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Removing The Shame From “Poor” Communication
A big theme in my thought process, as well as episodes, has been fluid living. The word fluid has been resonating with me. It feels like it gives me permission to shift, change, evolve, and experience highs and lows. Isn’t that the human experience? It’s interesting that being fluid seems like it’s going against the norm or the tide. It feels like it’s the opposite of what a lot of us are encouraged or instructed to do, which is to follow the rules, follow the path, stay in line, and be consistent. It’s certainly fairly socially acceptable to color outside the lines. There is resistance there. I feel in the United States, there are enough people coloring outside the lines that it’s not a huge surprise.
It seems like it’s also a big generational thing. Is it a generational thing or is it that younger people always view people that are older than them as being more strict and rigid? As a Millennial, I think of Gen X and Baby Boomers as being more rigid and not being as flexible. I think of Millennials, Gen Z, and younger as being more open-minded and fluid. Thinking back to when Gen X or even Baby Boomers were younger, maybe they thought the same thing about older generations. I also find a lot of these boxes that we put different generations into categorizing them, making assumptions about who somebody is based on their age range is a little weird in and of itself. Let’s put that aside.
What I mean by fluid seeming to go against the grain is that it feels to me that it’s more socially acceptable to follow the path that most people are following and to do your best not to disturb structure. Over time, I’m recognizing more and more how it seems odd to me that going against the grain and doing things differently is seen as disturbing and socially unacceptable. Here are some examples. One is that I just got through responding to a batch of emails. I had hired an assistant for the first time in years. I’ve worked with a few assistants over my career and had a big gap during COVID of not working with anyone. I finally realized that I could benefit from the support of somebody who can help me respond to emails.
I struggled deeply with that. It’s a source of shame, embarrassment, or guilt. Some of those emotions come up for me, especially when it comes to not responding to what I perceive as being quick. I have a tendency to let things sit in my inbox for weeks, months, sometimes even years, to be honest. There’s this cultural pressure that I feel that you should respond fast. I do respond quickly to emails that I perceive to be urgent, but the great majority of emails I receive are not urgent. They are somebody else asking something of me that I’m either not ready to do or decide upon, or I’ve got a lot going on in my plate.
What’s also interesting, especially as I explore my neurodivergence, is noticing that a lot of people seem to struggle with this type of communication, neurodivergent or not. It seems to be one of the major experiences of people who are neurodivergent, which falls on the ADHD, autism spectrums, or otherwise in the neurodivergent categories. That communication is tricky. It also is common for people-pleasers, perhaps even for introverts.
Although the more I learned about neurodivergence, the more I think, “Am I a people pleaser? Am I somebody who’s trying to mask, cope, and hide the fact that my brain works differently? Am I an introvert or am I neurodivergent?” Those are things that I’m trying to explore. I’m also trying not to put myself in those categories and limit myself to things because I identify as something.
Let’s use this term, people-pleasing, in the context of wanting to feel accepted and validated, not wanting to “rock the boat” and upset people. I feel deeply uncomfortable with the possibility of offending somebody, letting someone down, disappointing someone, confusing someone. That isn’t in my control. That’s part of what I’ve been thinking about a lot even right before I started this episode, this inspiration to talk about how many of us aim to please through communication. At least it seems so.
I don’t want to generalize because I can only speak from my personal experience. I feel so much pressure to respond. Text messages are especially challenging. I have this message from a couple of people in my life that I haven’t responded to. One of these people had messaged me on two different platforms. This person seems to be someone who likes to share and talk a lot. I do, too. I go through those phases where I could talk and talk and talk. Having a show, I can talk a ton. This fluidity I’m talking about in terms of communication is I go through periods where I have so much energy for communication and other times where I have almost zero energy.People will see you as a poor communicator because of how long it takes you to respond. Click To Tweet
Addressing “Poor” Communication
That’s constantly shifting. When I’m thinking about this fluidity, I find myself wanting to start by addressing internally my need for fluidity, and then find ways to communicate that to others. I haven’t quite figured out how to confidently express this because it doesn’t feel so socially acceptable to be fluid. In my head, I believe that other people see me as being a poor communicator because of how long it takes me to respond. Maybe they feel I’m being rude.
That’s interesting too, to remind ourselves that we’re projecting our own beliefs, feelings, and experiences onto other people. I don’t even know for sure how people feel if I don’t respond to them quickly. Maybe they don’t get offended. Maybe it doesn’t matter to them. That’s where human communication can feel so tricky. Everybody is going about life with different perspectives and feelings. Everything is so relative.
What Triggers People
We have to remember that different things trigger people at different times. I was in my Beyond Measure group. One of the members was sharing how they were very triggered by something minor. They felt a little embarrassed to be so triggered by it. They shared to the group saying, “This isn’t a big deal, but it triggered me.” The whole group responded, “We get it. We’ve been there. It’s all relative. All feelings are valid.” That was helpful for this person, but it was also interesting to witness how they were afraid of being judged for their reactions. It’s also interesting how small things can bother us. Something that might not bother somebody else may bother another person.
I feel very sensitive and aware of that. I feel like I’m constantly monitoring myself and trying to figure out how other people are experiencing things. Something I’ve also reflected on is given that I believe I fall on the autism spectrum. For those that haven’t tuned in to episodes where I’ve talked about this, I’m on this journey to figure it out, but I’m identifying as somebody on the autism spectrum because I have so many traits of that.
One big thing that I don’t experience to my knowledge is I feel hyper. A lot of people who have autism have trouble reading other people. They can’t read their social signals. They misinterpret things. They also tend to take things point-blank or literally. I don’t know if I am like that, but I’m trying to notice it more like where do I have misunderstandings with people? I need a lot of information. I need time to process. Perhaps that’s my version of that mental experience. I don’t know if it’s a learning challenge.
I don’t want to use the word disability, but I’m someone that simultaneously can comprehend things on a high level, and other things have to be explained in different ways in order for me to understand it. I’ve been embarrassed about that. That’s part of my masking. I felt so much shame around that type of communication. When I don’t understand something, I’m afraid, in some cases, to tell people that because I don’t want to be perceived as dumb.
I value intelligence. I want people to think that I’m smart. I know that I’m smart and not from an ego standpoint. I know it but because of the way my brain processes things, sometimes I don’t fully understand what’s being shared with me. That’s interesting to think about in a social context. The people-pleaser wants to not make somebody inconvenienced by having to overexplain something. I’m a big advocate for clear communication. Part of the way my brain works is it’s super organized. in my emails and my text messages, I’m always thinking about, “How do I word this so that this person understands me?”
A huge fear of mine is being misunderstood. It makes me extremely uncomfortable when I’m not understood. This is probably why communication feels so tough at times. If I don’t have a ton of energy, it’s hard for me to communicate. Every communication that comes out of me is loaded with thoughts of, “How do I word this so this person understands me? Which words do I use? How long is this?” I usually edit things down, because I’m afraid that it’s too lengthy. I’m very used to people being short with me.
It’s pretty rare that somebody acknowledges everything I say and repeats it back to me and thanks me for it. That I thrive on. That’s where I feel super validated when someone says, “I hear you. This is what I heard. This is what I’m reiterating back to you.” That feels great but that also takes a lot of energy. This is contributed to me, struggling to respond to emails, text messages, and other messages because every single one I read with so much intention. I usually reread emails a few times to make sure that I fully understood them.
I take them in. I process what I want to say. I take the time to usually compose a very thoughtful response. I generally have the time to do that because it’s not super time-consuming, but it’s energy-intensive for me to share that. That’s fascinating because I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t have that experience. When I share this with most people, this is where the neurotypical versus neurodiversity comes in, it seems like neurotypical people communicate vastly differently than me. They don’t think that much. Their brains process it. They communicate fast. I’m a slow communicator. Maybe it’s not slowness. It’s intention.
Going back to this fluidity, there are times when my brain seems to operate faster than others. That’s an energetic bandwidth thing where I go through moments throughout the whole day. It’s like this little wave. If you’re not watching the YouTube video, I’m using my hand like a little wave as if you were sticking out the window of a car when you’re going fast driving. You can put your hand down and it feels like your hand is riding a wave. It’s a great sensation, for me, at least. That’s the motion I’m doing and how I feel throughout the day. It’s pulsing, too.
There are moments of me having a ton of energy. It could be a few minutes later and I feel my energy’s zapped. I have to be mindful of where I put that energy because I also have this fear of low energy. That’s interesting, too, because is that fear socially-conditioned? Have I associated low energy with not being good? It reminds me of Celeste Headlee who was a guest on the show. I adore her. She is an incredible author. In her book, Do Nothing, she talks about how productivity culturally, religiously, and historically all on the same lines, was perceived as religiously good.
It goes back to either the Christian or Catholic way of living, where it was associated with you are a good person if you are productive and get a lot of work done and you’re a bad person or not as good if you are less productive and lazy. It was the laziness that she talks about. It’s towards the beginning of her book. It is such a fantastic read. That book shaped a lot of these thoughts that I’m sharing with you. When I realized my own perceptions and even perhaps addictions to efficiency, I started to reflect on how much of that resonates with me versus how much of that is me trying to fit in and be socially acceptable.
I have that deep fear of being rejected and not pleasing people. It’s constantly, “What can I do to make other people happy?” That keyword make is so important because I don’t have control over how somebody perceives me. I don’t have control over how somebody feels. Given what I said about each of us viewing life through completely different lenses, everything is so relative, and the fact that as human beings, life is fluid, timing is big.
If that experience of having high and low energy pulsating throughout my day, other people must be experiencing their own version of that. Maybe they don’t even realize it. It could also be good and bad moods and feelings fluctuating. Speaking of feelings, the last Beyond Measure call centered around self-care. For those of you who don’t know about Beyond Measure, it’s a private community I developed years ago. We have group meetings and calls. The meeting/calls/events are all centered around a theme. I started off the call by sharing something called a feelings wheel, which I had stumbled upon.
The feelings wheel is a colorful wheel that has feelings written inside of it. It’s neat because it has three sections. If it were a pyramid, it would be like three tiers. The middle section has seven common feelings like anger and happiness and then five others. Each of those feelings branches out or expands out to the second tier or second circle which has other levels of those feelings. There’s a third tier, wheel, or circle within one wheel that has other emotions. You can start in the center, identify your core feeling, and then branch out to other feelings or do the opposite where you identify a feeling on the outer circle and go inwards to see what’s at the core of those emotions.Something makes me extremely uncomfortable when I'm not understood. Click To Tweet
It was such an interesting exercise to do as a group with the Beyond Measure members. Each of us had an opportunity to reflect on what we were feeling at that moment and at the end of the call after discussing it. Each person was noticing hidden feelings. When we recognize that as human beings, we’re so complex and our feelings are sometimes hard to identify and are constantly fluctuating, all sorts of things can impact them.
Our feelings and our mood could be shifting from second to second. The average brain has up to 50,000 daily thoughts. That’s one statistic, although I also saw one that’s myth-busting. Let’s say approximately, that’s crazy. There are 1,440 minutes in a day. Let’s say we have about 34 thoughts per minute. That would mean a new thought every two seconds. Please tell me I’m doing the Math right here. Math is a strong suit of mine in school. I like Math. It felt so straightforward, but my brain also had trouble and would confuse things almost.
It’s like a little bit of dyslexia which is pretty common for someone who’s neurodivergent as well. I was never diagnosed with dyslexia, but there are elements that I believe to be like dyslexia. I confuse things and do not know which comes before the other. The order of things is confusing to me. It’s also something I have shame around. Perhaps a lot of this comes out of my personal interest in how the brain works.
Socially, we’re not that encouraged to think about psychology and how our brains work. We’re encouraged to learn certain things and behave in the way that we’ve learned. It’s creepy for me when I think back when we were little and shamed and punished for certain behavior. It’s out of a genuine desire to help us, as kids, understand what’s okay versus what isn’t. In a lot of ways, many of us internalize that and start to feel this guilt and shame.
We see ourselves as bad. That has long repercussions for us. If we don’t develop the emotional intelligence, awareness, and even knowledge about psychology and the way the brain works, we go about life, almost seeing things as very binary, black and white. This is the right way versus this is the wrong way. This all ties into that lack of fluidity and this challenge with communication.
One thing that got me thinking about this, too, is I saw a TikTok from somebody I know who clearly had some bad experience with a friend because their post was about how hurt they were about being ghosted by a friend. Their caption came across as judgmental. They were basically saying that if a friend ghosts you, that says more about them than you. I could agree, but this hit me on a personal level. I’ve been on the receiving end of friends ghosting me. I’ve also ghosted friends.
In fact, Jason and I did an episode about ghosting a long time ago. I can’t remember if we did that before or after I had done some ghosting, which I feel some guilt around. That was a nuanced experience for me because I’m generally a very thoughtful, mindful communicator. When I feel unable to clearly communicate with another human being, I’m afraid that they’re not going to accept my communication, and most importantly, there feels a lack of psychological safety, I struggle to communicate. That’s generally where I’ll go quiet and probably ghost in the worst-case scenario.
With this particular person, it happened a few years ago. I was a complete mess when I realized I needed to end that relationship. I was crying for days. I’m not going to get into the specifics, but it was that hard. I thought over and over, “How do I do this?” I might have even written out or verbally spoken out privately to myself all the different things I could say and the different outcomes there could be. None of them felt right.
My psychological safety was not there with this person. I could not logically or even emotionally come up with a way to communicate effectively with them, so I decided to ghost them. I have so much guilt that I hold. A few years later, this person reached out to me a few times. Every time they reached out to me, they didn’t even provide an opportunity for me to start a dialogue. There was never, “Are you okay?” They never asked why I had stopped responding. They never asked how I was. They never asked for any context.
They reached out with the shortest little snippets that did not give me the opportunity to have an in-depth dialogue together. I didn’t have that psychological safety. This is what I was thinking about when I saw the TikTok earlier. I thought, “It hurts because I’ve been ghosted.” I’ve had a few friends that stopped talking to me. One, in particular, was many years ago. I still mourn that relationship. It was so hard. I wish that we could have worked through it, talked through it, or at least had closure. I never got it. This person cut me out of their life. I never heard from them again.
That was painful. That experience that I had ghosting someone a few years ago though did give me perspective. I’ve had a few other experiences that have given me perspective about sometimes a relationship is just over. There’s nothing else to discuss. Certainly, it sounds great to have a whole dialogue, but having a deep discussion to end a relationship is hard. If you don’t have that psychological safety there, it’s deeply challenging. It can bring up so much pain. You might want to avoid anger. You might not want to fight with somebody. You might feel like a dialogue isn’t going to help. Maybe it feels best for both of you to not talk anymore. It’s nuance.
What I took away, too, from that TikTok is we have to remember that our views on communication with somebody else are vastly different from how they’re viewing it. There’s no way for us to know fully how that other person is feeling and what they’re thinking. We certainly don’t have control over it. What we do have control over is our reactions. What we can do is say, “This hurts me. This feels uncomfortable. This is unpleasant.” I can work on handling, healing, and processing that without doing my best not to judge that other person.
Certainly, we can think about or maybe assume what that other person is thinking or feeling, but judging it in the sense, if we can do our best to not place any moral judgment on that other person, which goes back to what is right or wrong, good or bad. That binary thinking of, “What that person did to me is wrong. What that person did to me is bad. They should have done it this way.”
Should is another word that’s been discussed in many episodes of this show. The shoulding type of judgment is interesting the more I’ve learned about it because who are we to say what way is the best or right way to communicate with somebody? If we don’t know how that person’s brain works, who are we to impose the way our brain works on somebody else’s brain?
This is something I’ve learned about neurodivergence. I’m so grateful to at least assume that I’m neurodivergent based on my research because it opened up my eye as to, I think differently than other people. If I think differently, then that means that they think differently than me. How could I impose any thoughts or feelings onto somebody else? I can’t assume anything about that person. What I can do is accept and do my best to communicate. That also circles back to my desire for good communication.
Another example is I had a meeting scheduled with two people. This meeting was initially supposed to happen the week before. One of the people in that meeting canceled and said, “Can we push back and reschedule?” I said, “We’ll schedule it for this day and this time.” I’m a big advocate for Calendar so I sent them a Calendar invite. That also reinforces the date, time, and location. It’s up to them to put it on their calendar and see the email.You don't have control over how somebody feels and each of us views life through such different lenses. Click To Tweet
I understand that people’s brains work differently. This is something else. When it comes to scheduling meetings, I’ve had to work on that some people do not manage their calendars. In fact, a lot of people are very disorganized when it comes to their calendars. There are people that are forgetful. There are people that are late. There are people that don’t check their emails or their Calendar invites. They don’t see it. I have to come to terms with that. That’s not my responsibility for them to see it. It’s not my responsibility for them to be on time. It’s not my responsibility for them to act in a way that I perceive as respectful.
I showed up at the meeting on time, all prepared and neither of the people showed up. Time went on and I thought, “I’ll give them five minutes.” Five minutes go by. No message, no email. One of the people in the meeting has my email address and my number. We also communicate on Instagram DM. My brain does not think about Instagram very much these days. I mostly communicate professionally, especially career and work-related stuff through email and text.
Text is very secondary. It’s mostly through email. No emails come through, no explanation as to why these people didn’t show up, no apologies, nothing. I thought, “Interesting.” In the past, that would have deeply angered me. I would have felt so disrespected. Based on a lot of things I’ve shared and also a lot of personal experience, I’ve learned not to take it personally, but it is an opportunity to set some boundaries.
Sharing about this is making my heart race a little bit because I feel uncomfortable. I haven’t practiced being assertive enough to the point where I feel confident. I did read a great book on this. It was called The Assertiveness Workbook. It was a nice read. I read it a few years ago. It gave me some tools for being more assertive. As a woman typically and not to make this a gender issue, but to acknowledge the fact, it’s the Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships.
For me, identifying as a woman, being perceived as a woman, and having a lot of female feminine experiences, I’ve internalized a lot of this patriarchy. As a woman, I haven’t always been encouraged to stand up for myself to speak out. I have a lot of fear around standing up for myself. That also ties into my neurodivergence. A lot of people have perceived me as weird, controlling, and pushy. The more I understand myself, I recognize I need a lot of psychological safety.
I need to feel in group dynamics that I am valued, respected, and equal and that people will be patient with me. I can feel being comfortable, feeling that people I’m with value my comfort as much as they value their own comfort. It is important. That doesn’t always happen. In the past, when I was probably in college and early work experiences, I felt like I wasn’t valued. I didn’t feel I was equal. I was treated differently as a woman. I felt like I was treated differently because I was generally younger than the people in the room.
I had a lot of those experiences that made me feel small and diminished. I learned to please the other people so that I could keep my place. I learned to be a little bit quiet and not stand up for myself. I learned to reassure others ahead of reassuring myself. I learned that if I was uncomfortable, I wouldn’t speak up about it. That ties into this experience in the meeting. I didn’t see an email or a text and I moved on with my day. Later on, I noticed that I had an Instagram direct message from one of the people I was supposed to meet with. I instantly felt frustrated.
I thought, “Why did this person choose to send me an Instagram direct message instead of emailing me?” To me, that feels unprofessional. Does that mean that this person’s unprofessional? Not at all. In fact, this person is someone I respect. It’s interesting though that their communication choice was to go to Instagram instead of email. It’s interesting that I never heard from the second person that was supposed to join the meeting. It’s possible that they didn’t see that email, forgot about it, or never saw the Calendar invite. It wasn’t even a thought to them to join the meeting that I had scheduled for us.
When I think about these different experiences, it helps me feel less triggered by them. However, this Instagram DM was interesting because I chose to be assertive. I chose to respond to let this person know how I was feeling so that I could practice being assertive. It wasn’t about my dynamic with this person necessarily, although it was important for me to set boundaries. A little bit more context, this person had been late to meetings with me before, too, and never acknowledged being late.
That is a big trigger for me. To me, being on time is a sign of respect and being late without advanced notice or without acknowledging and apologizing for being late is a big professional boundary. For me, it’s crossing that boundary because I value my time like a lot of people do. It’s a signal when somebody is late, that they don’t value your time as much as their own.
I had mentioned in a previous episode that I have a tendency to be five minutes late. That’s common, not generally in virtual meetings. It’s rare that I’m late to virtual meetings because I don’t have much of a reason to be late. If I’m going to be late, I tell somebody on time. I was a few minutes late to this in-person meeting I had, and I texted them. That was our communication form. “I’m here. I’m just parking my car.”
Being On Time
I arrived at the location on time, but it took me a few minutes to park and walk over to where we were meeting. I communicated, “I’m parking. I’m walking over. I’m almost there,” all along the way. That makes me feel comfortable. That’s my way of showing respect. Although generally, in my opinion, the best way to show respect is to communicate or to be on time so you don’t even have to communicate that you’re late.
That ties into this whole original topic about responding to people. What I struggle with and I haven’t fully developed in my communication journey is I would like to develop a system in which I respond to people quicker, simply to let them know I need more time to respond. The reason I haven’t done that is I feel a little bit embarrassed. I feel people are going to judge me and be like, “If she had time to send me this email or this text, why doesn’t she have time to respond to the rest of my message?” That’s not up to me to control. It all comes down to where do I feel comfortable in my communication style and how am I showing up as my best. Also, forgiving and allowing myself to be that fluid person.
I go through those moments of being able to respond quicker than other times and not getting caught up in the shame and the guilt of my delayed response. This is the reason that I work with an assistant. Right before I started doing this episode, we had a virtual session in which she held me accountable. We went through every single email. We responded to them. We created a new system for it. She is supporting me with that so that I can feel I’m being more professional and get back to people in a timelier manner that I have somebody else to help me when I’m overthinking my responses.
The one thing I want to go back to is this Instagram exchange with this person. They didn’t write me until an hour and maybe a half after our meeting time which is also way later. To me, this is a form of ghosting, not showing up to something. If you’re going to cancel, don’t show up, and don’t communicate anything to somebody, that’s where I knew I needed to step up and be assertive. They wrote me a quick line like, “I’m sorry, we didn’t connect.” It’s not, “I’m sorry I didn’t make it. I’m sorry that I didn’t show up on time.” That was not taking into account a personal responsibility for their role in this.
I felt nervous about sharing and setting a boundary because I wondered if it would rock the boat what I come across as rude. That is strange. I felt this person was being rude and disrespectful to me, yet I also felt fear of being perceived as rude, a Karen, or all these negative connotations that assertive women get. The Karen thing is a whole another subject matter. When you’re assertive, sharing your feelings, and setting boundaries, there are these cultural fears of, “Is this person going to perceive something wrong with me, even though I’m setting a boundary because they did something that didn’t make me feel good?”It's a signal when somebody is late, that they don't value your time as much as their own. Click To Tweet
This is what I wrote. I said, “It’s okay.” I grappled like, “Do I say it’s okay?” Technically, it’s okay because I’m not holding a grudge. That was what I meant by that. I said, “It’s okay. I would appreciate a heads up if you can’t make a meeting in the future so I can adjust my plans. I’m a stickler to my calendar. I waited for a bit to see if you would join. I don’t spend a lot of time on Instagram so I’m just seeing your message now.”
I’m trying to let this person know what my preferences are, why it is, and the fact that this communication style didn’t work well for me. They wrote a nice response. I’m not going to read it out loud, but they did write a response. They called my feelings valid. They used that word. They said that they can relate. They explained how they missed it and they apologized, which was a nice way of structuring it. I appreciate that and I feel better.
This person took the time to acknowledge it, acknowledge my feelings, explain themselves, and apologize for it. It reminds me of the art of crafting a good apology is something that I would like to work on because I still feel a little confused and nervous. Not sending the “right or a good apology” can influence how somebody feels about you. This is the thing, too, going back to the fluidity. Not only are we constantly changing as human beings, but through changing, we are learning and making mistakes.
Even that word mistake is so tricky. What is a mistake? This is where the nuances come in. I struggle to view a lot of things as a mistake because what somebody pursues as a mistake might not be a mistake to someone else, especially the person committing the “mistake.” If they thought it was a mistake, would they have done it? No. Did they do their best? Probably. Did they do the best they knew how? Did they do the best that they felt in the moment?
Certainly, our opinions of things can change with hindsight, but does that make a mistake if, in the present moment, we’re doing the best that we can or the best that we know how? This is the thing, this whole mistake culture, this whole repercussion and cancel culture, accountability, and all of that stuff, it’s important for us to be held accountable for changing and learning. I suppose the word mistake could be used as an opportunity to learn.
The word better, for example, to learn and be better. Aren’t we always getting better? If the word better to me means improving or changing, we could “get worse,” but that’s tricky, too. This is where my brain goes. Everything is so relative and nuanced. Maybe as a culture, we put these labels on things. We put things into categories because it feels easier to process. My brain does not enjoy that at all. My brain sees the gray areas everywhere and does not feel comfortable in the black and white. It does not feel that comfortable in categories. I am a color-outside-the-line person, which sometimes means I’m going against the grain.
It feels uncomfortable for me because I’ve been conditioned to color inside the lines and go with the grain. As I’ve been learning about myself through this unmasking and this studying of neurodivergence, I’m thinking, “I have been doing that for others and not myself.” For me, to feel deeply fulfilled, to live a life that feels satisfying, happy, and honoring, I want to embrace my full fluid self and get deeper in tune with myself. Instead of looking outward for answers, permission, and acceptance, I say, “Does this feel good to me? Am I doing the best to my abilities and knowledge?” If the answer is yes, proceed.
Maybe that will help me become a better communicator. Maybe that will help me be more assertive and confident. Confidence comes out of attunement, balance, that inner knowing, and harmony with ourselves. I have to unlearn all of these messages I’ve been told about what’s right or wrong and good or bad because those have generally been about the external. Those have generally been about what other people think. Having this awareness, I have no idea what other people are thinking or feeling.
Even in this communication, I received with this person explaining why they didn’t show up for the meeting, it’s an honest “mistake.” It was an honest experience that they had that led to them doing something that did not feel in alignment with my boundaries and version of respect. I’m not going to blame this person. That’s why I started off by saying, “It’s okay” because it is okay. I’m not going to hold a grudge. If it’s a slightly different situation, maybe a different person, I perhaps would’ve set a boundary and decide not to communicate with that person anymore beyond that conversation.
I might choose to remove them from my life. I’ve certainly done that. This person, though, goes into a different context for me. They have been late before. They had canceled. They don’t feel reliable or dependable. There have been enough experiences where I don’t fully trust them to value and respect my time. That’s up to me to change the context in which we communicate. I had to do this with somebody else in the past who multiple times throughout the last few months had similar behavior.
I was not as close to that person. I don’t have any ill will towards them. They’re not a big priority. I’m not spending a lot of time and energy on this person. I’m letting that be more fluid versus in the past, we had a more defined dynamic together. There was more involvement in each other’s lives. Now, they’re more on the periphery and that’s where I feel comfortable. It seems they do, too, because it seems to be a bit mutual. it’s interesting because that experience with that other person has influenced how I feel about this situation I’ve been talking about.
Everything being relative, we have to remember that how someone reacts to us may be the result of an experience they had with someone else who’s not us. This can remind us not to take things personally. It’s fascinating. Wouldn’t it be neat to be in somebody else’s head and know how they feel about us? We have zero way of doing that unless technology advances to the point where we can be more connected to each other’s brains. I don’t even know what that would be like. It might be cool, but it’s all a big reminder that it’s okay to go about our lives in a way that feels good to us. It’s okay to be fluid. It’s okay to fluctuate in pulse. It’s all okay.
For me, that feels good. I don’t know about you. I would love to hear from you. As I often say at the end of the episodes, hearing from you brings me great joy. In fact, somebody reached out via Instagram and said that they could relate to something I had shared on an episode. Even though I was in one of those low points where communication felt tough, I was so excited to hear from this person that I found some energy to respond to this person quickly. I wanted to honor and respect that they took the time to write me after tuning in to an episode.
Clearly, you know more about me and how my brain works and communicates. I try to be very transparent about all of that so that you never feel unimportant. When you email me, direct message me, or however you find a way to communicate with me, that is valuable. I would love to have you in Beyond Measure and get to know you more. It is becoming a bigger and bigger part of my life and a great sense of joy because that works so well with my communication style.
We meet once a week through Zoom. We have this fluid, open, accepting, and loving communication conversation with each other. Everybody is accepted as they are and can show up in the conversations however they feel best. If they want to be silent and observe, that is completely acceptable. What I have seen and learned through doing years of Beyond Measure calls almost every single week is that people unfold and open up in such beautiful, surprising ways. In fact, a great example was when there were a few people that show up to every single call.
I hold that in such deep gratitude and respect because I respect people’s time so much. For someone to be that consistent is amazing. They’re showing up for themselves, not for me. That’s something I’ve seen shift a lot. When I first started Beyond Measure, a lot of people would show up to the calls because they felt like they were doing it for me. I’ve always wanted it to be about us, for them first, and me or the group secondary.The word mistake could just be used as an opportunity to learn. Click To Tweet
When people show up that consistently, I’m blown away because it’s rare that anybody does that so consistently. There are people that have been showing up to almost every single call every week for at least a year. It’s amazing. Anyway, there’s the core group that I can always count on to be there. You can, too, if you ever decide to join. Two people who’ve only shown up to a few calls each came to that. They were in that category of “new people” It’s not to make them feel like outsiders but to honor the fact that they didn’t have the experience of this group dynamic.
I felt I was trying to draw them in, but also give them permission to observe a bit and find their comfort level. It’s been so beautiful for me to observe how people will step into that space and watch them unfold and open up. that’s been the greatest joy of Beyond Measure in general. These people that come to most calls were once brand new to the group. To see the journey that they’ve been on and to notice the nuances and the times where I felt like they were a bit insecure and now have developed into more confidence and security, they used to say things about themselves that were maybe a bit diminishing and now they don’t say that anymore. They just talk with more confidence and it lights me up.
This is why Beyond Measure has been an extraordinary experience. It’s also a place where I feel we can have a circular group conversation which I yearn for when I do this show. As nice as it feels to share and not have somebody interrupt or have someone pause me to be able to let it all out for an hour, that’s very cathartic for me. There’s also part of me that feels a little strange about it because I’m sharing things that you probably have opinions and feelings on, and maybe it’s different. Maybe you could add things that I haven’t considered before.
That is deeply valuable. That’s why I encourage you to reach out. I would so much rather have a real-time conversation with you and introduce you to other people. That call is another example. It was centered around that feelings wheel that I mentioned. The topic was self-care in general. It was so amazing to watch each person take turns sharing something and have the opportunity to share some feelings and observations. Not only was that helpful for the person sharing, but each person in the group was learning along the way.
On Zoom, one person can talk and, in our group, everybody else mutes themselves to hold space and listen as each person shares. In the text chat though, people were sharing throughout. As one person was talking, other members of the group were typing little responses. You could see and feel how as one person shared, other people were learning, realizing things about their own feelings, opening up, and reassuring others. It was this beautiful, harmonious experience. It was one of the best calls we’ve ever had in these past few years.
I wish that anyone interested in Beyond Measure could have witnessed that because I feel until you get into that space, you don’t know what it’s like. It’s becoming this mission of mine to open it up and invite everybody in. I’ve been reading this book called The Art of Gathering. In it, there’s a section about how as the host or leader of a gathering, it’s important to be mindful of not just inclusivity, but who are you not letting into your space as a way of being protective of it? It’s shifted the way I’ve thought about Beyond Measure because inclusivity is deeply important to me. I want everybody ideally to feel included.
The truth is that to create psychological safety, you can’t necessarily have everybody in there unless everybody is on the same page. It’s impossible for everyone to be on the same page. In Beyond Measure, there’s an agreement on psychological safety. There is an emphasis on consistency, accountability, group support, and lack of judgment. Luckily over the past few years, I’ve never had anyone in there that has disrupted that. It’s because you have to take a few steps. You can’t just jump in like you could in a Facebook group or Reddit. You just create an account and start sharing.
In Beyond Measure, it’s very intimate. It hasn’t had the experience of trolls yet. Energetically, maybe there are some boundaries there that people have felt. Beyond Measure came out of my bad experiences on platforms like YouTube where I’ve received rude comments from people. That disrupted my own psychological safety. I’ve experienced that even on Instagram, negative comments, rude direct messages sometimes. I’ve even received even emails from time to time, sometimes from the same person over and over again.We’ve seen people unfold and open up in such beautiful, surprising ways. Click To Tweet
I’ve had a few people over the course of many years consistently write me messages which are so interesting, especially on YouTube. There was one person. I never knew because they hid their identity from me. From my perception, they almost seemed to have shame around what they were saying. They wouldn’t share their identity, but they would share critical things about me frequently. Yet they were watching every single video of mine. That person might have followed me into This Might Get Uncomfortable. I don’t know if they tune in to the show.
When I upload videos to YouTube, within a short span of time, maybe like an hour, there will be a thumbs down. I’m thinking, “The number of views my videos get, it’s likely that this person subscribed to my YouTube channel. As soon as they see a new video, they give a thumbs down.” This used to happen on my Eco-Vegan Gal accounts. I’ve always been simultaneously amused and saddened by that.
Anyways, luckily Beyond Measure has not experienced that. Although maybe this comes across as a challenge to a troll. Trust me, that person will be out so quickly because what’s different about Beyond Measure is it’s not about me. Beyond Measure is about the group. I feel like a mama bear protecting her cubs. You do not mess with other people. I take it very seriously in protecting other people. Beyond Measure has developed into a protected, safe space. If it’s ever unsafe, it will be the shortest span of time because I will jump right in there and take action.
I have so much confidence in protecting other people. I feel like Beyond Measures is my family. If you have been wanting to connect with me, but also looking for a place that does have psychological safety and encourages the freedom of expression, even if you feel like an outsider or socially awkward, I get it. I have identified as an introvert who has a lot of anxiety in social situations, but there are several of those people.
Beyond Measure who identifies that too, they have found psychological safety there. Those people tend to be the ones that show up the most frequently. My hope is that people can find their people through Beyond Measure. Anyways, that is my Beyond Measure share for now, my discussion about fluidity, and what communication feels like.
It’s a big opportunity for us to remember that humanity is complex. We are all in our own little bubbles of experiences. We’re all learning and hopefully doing our best. I hope that this episode brought you some comfort, perspective, or whatever it is. I hope that you reach out to me if you would like to. I am there to listen, take it in, get to know you, and hear you. I appreciate you. I’ll be back with another episode with a guest and another episode of me sharing something like this next episode.
- Beyond Measure
- Celeste Headlee – Past Episode
- Do Nothing
- Episode About Ghosting – Rejection, Ghosting And The Culture of Avoidance (Past Episode)
- The Assertiveness Workbook
- The Art of Gathering
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