The #MeToo campaign has brought the darkness of sexual harassment and assault into the light of society. It has allowed long-held secrets to be revealed and has created a platform for people to be heard, acknowledged, and healed.
It has also created the opportunity for people to connect to each another via their shared experiences, simply summed up in two words: Me, too. Simple words, but with enough meaning to pack a powerful punch by anyone speaking or hearing them.
Our words are powerful. Using our words allows us to activate the natural connections that exist within us all—a connection to our shared humanity. We were never meant to experience life alone.
And there’s no better time to feel connected to others than when you feel betrayed, neglected, or abused. Similar to, “I know the feeling,” Me, too can express a complex understanding and perspective that only comes from experience.
Me, too creates instant connections between people.
When traumatic life experiences tear us open, we are left feeling vulnerable and alone. As we identify with others who may share our experience, we can ease our pain. And once we strip away the judgments and fear, empathy and compassion remain.
Me, too activates our natural states of empathy and compassion for others.
And by being connected to our feelings and experiences, we choose to process our own grief—and in return, be more sensitive to our own beliefs.
Me, too allows us to reconnect with our own feelings and beliefs about the world around us.
But, then, how do we learn from the past to create a different future? Simply recognizing and acknowledging our beliefs doesn’t create change; actions create change. And once we’ve been reminded of our core beliefs, we can choose how to respond deliberately to the world.
Here are some tips to activate compassionate and deliberate actions more often:
Practice perspective. Especially when we find ourselves in judgment, taking the perspective of others reminds us that we all have our own paths to learning. We can respect the paths of others—particularly when they differ vastly from our own—by putting ourselves in their shoes. We will never truly understand what anyone else is going through, but we can certainly try.
Engage empathy. Even if you don’t use the words, “Me too,” empathy lets us say, “Even though I haven’t experienced what you have, I can imagine how it must feel.” Or “I can’t imagine how that must feel, but I hear you.” You can express empathy that provides validation by simply being present, regardless of the situation.
Learn to listen. Truly listening is about paying attention to the speaker, not ourselves. When we stop our own self-focus and internal chatter, we can finally tune in to what others are really saying. This is a part of learning how to be present, focused, and respectful.
Vehemently volunteer. If you’re looking for an easy way to kick-start your own compassion, try volunteering. When we give of ourselves without expecting anything in return, we align with our natural instincts to serve. And since we are inherently wired to connect with others, volunteering allows us to serve others without identifying the WIIFM.
Share stories. Telling your stories demonstrates transparency, vulnerability, and the desire to make connections with others. Ultimately, this is the true heart of the #MeToo movement—to share our stories and remind ourselves that we are not alone. When we share our stories, we share our wisdom, which will always benefit the world.
Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is a career coach, author, and founder of The White Box Club™—live coaching and resources for people in career transition. Find his syndicated blogs on Thrive Global, Medium, and The Huffington Post. Learn more at michaelcreative.com