My official title is:
My unofficial title is Lifelong Learner. I aim to learn something or confirm something from every experience, every relationship, and every interaction.
Everything we do provides feedback. Everything.
However, it is entirely up to us to be open to feedback and to use it in a way that moves us forward and helps us grow. There are opportunities to learn from everything we do. Everything.
I recently received some incredibly insightful and impactful feedback. This feedback has already had a profound impact on how I view the world, how I create connections, and how I will treat others moving forward.
To illustrate the difference between understandable and acceptable during a recent talk,I referenced the following example:
“Being disappointed in yourself after a missing a dunk is understandable… But not getting back on defense is completely unacceptable.”
I even took it a step further and said that, “I could understand how a player would feel.”
Which of course is a lie. I couldn’t truly know how anyone besides myself could feel in that situation.
I can have empathy for him.
I can have compassion for him.
I can even appreciate how he might feel.
But there is no way possible I could truly understand how he felt at that exact point in time.
Why? Because no two people, no two moments, and no two experiences are exactly the same.
Yes, there is common ground.
Yes, there are similarities.
Yes, I can imagine how that might feel.
But it is impossible for me to really know, or truly understand.
While usually well intentioned, saying “I understand how you feel,” is a subconsciously condescending, patronizing, and inaccurate statement. So I’ve chosen to remove that statement from my verbal arsenal and replace it with ‘appreciate.’
“I appreciate how you must feel.”
That sends a different message, one that truly validates the other person’s feelings. I couldn’t possibly understand how you feel, but I respect and appreciate how you must be feeling. Subtle difference, monumental impact.
The stakes are raised when we elevate the subject matter:
I can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be a woman.
I can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be black.
I can’t possibly understand what it’s like to have a child pass away, to have cancer, to be homeless…the list is infinite.
And even if I have lost a child, been diagnosed with cancer, or lived on the streets, I am not that person at that time, so it is not the same. I may have higher empathy having drawn from a similar experience, but I still would not truly understand.
I aim to respect and validate everyone’s journey and I feel very strongly this acknowledgment will help me break down subconscious emotional barriers and forge stronger connections.