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When something erupts, we must clean up before we can build again

Listening, Acceptance, and Acknowledging are the three key ingredients needed to clean up after an eruption

Photo by Darya Tryfanava on Unsplash
Photo by Darya Tryfanava on Unsplash

When something erupts, we must clean up before we can build again. It does not matter what that eruption looks like. If it is societal in nature, or if you did something that you’re not proud of or feel shame around.

Maybe you recognize this: You get to that moment where you look in the mirror and say, “this is NOT how I want to live my life.”

For me, that moment came when I broke my hand because I punched a wall out of sheer frustration and inability to express my emotions in a healthy and constructive way.

There had been many eruptions before that one, but this one was the turning point. A slow, painful turning point that lasted a long time.

The good thing? It didn’t get worse after that.

The bad thing? I was in a deep, dark place and I had dragged someone I cared deeply about with me. And getting out of that took a lot of hard work. It required that I got honest with myself. I had to admit that I did not like where I was, how I was treating myself, or how I was treating others. It also required me finding the support that I needed in order to process through this. It took a lot of courage. And a lot of patience.

After that hard work things started to get better. There were still eruptions, but they became less frequent and less intense. Slowly, but surely, things started getting better.

And with even more hard work, things started to get a whole lot better a whole lot quicker.

My hope is that this current eruption is that turning point for society in the US.

We are in the midst of this eruption.

When the eruption is over, the cleaning up begins.

It’s important to clean up before you can build again and there are a few essential ingredients that you need: Listening, Acceptance and Acknowledging.

It starts with Listening. Listening to yourself, to others, and most importantly, to others who do not think like you.

It is important HOW you listen. What works is that you listen with curiosity. Curiosity is the opposite of judgment, so where there is curiosity, there cannot be judgement, and vice versa. It is important that you seek to understand the other’s perspective. Active listening and letting the other person know that you hear them are important here.

Curiosity is the opposite of judgment

Because we are listening with the intention to understand, we can work on Acceptance.

Acceptance does not mean that you agree. It means that you’re willing to accept that the other’s point of view is just as valid as yours, based on their experiences, their concerns, and their beliefs. Acceptance also means a willingness to sit with the discomfort that comes up when you hear things that you do not agree with. Acceptance is hard. It is hard work. It requires empathy and it requires a firmly rooted conviction that the other is entitled to their own thoughts, opinions, and perspectives which are just as valid as yours.

With the combination of Listening and Acceptance, we can Acknowledge. Not from a place of seeking forgiveness, but from a place of acknowledging what happened, in each of our perspectives. You do not have to agree with the other’s perspective, but you can make an effort to get to know that perspective and let the other person know that you see, hear, and understand them.

This is where you take responsibility for your part in this situation. Acknowledgment includes taking ownership of your role or contribution to the current situation and the consequences that follow.

Before we can start the actual (re)building there is one final step. And that is to pick up the pieces and assess – what do I keep? What do I get rid of right away? And what is something that I know I need to address before we can build?

This is hard work. The hard work entails introspection, taking an honest look at yourself, a willingness to be open to hearing others and developing new belief systems. All that is necessary to be able to act on these new belief systems to bring about real change.

And it cannot be done by one person alone.

But it does begin with just one person.

Is that you?

If you or your organization are at a point where you say: “this is NOT the experience that I want to have in my life or in my organization” and if you’re ready to head in a different direction, let’s talk.

Comment below the word “CLEAN UP” or send me a private message.

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