I recently interviewed a lady called Lorlett Hudson for a podcast series with the Association for Coaching. The podcast series was my idea and I approached the organisation with it. Through that approach, they offered me some freelance work as Podcast Coordinator. This is a brand new type of work for me as I try to discover exactly what it is I really like. The series is about using creative tools with coaching. I am passionate about creativity, but I am also passionate about using tools that tap into our unconscious: tools that can bypass our thinking brain that tries to control what comes out and what is felt. Creativity accesses the intuitive, emotional parts of our soul – it finds the hidden stories, patterns, feelings. It opens up doors.
Lorlett was one of my guests and she created some cards in Jamaican patois. They all have proverbs on them and she uses proverbs to change perspectives, create connection with ourselves and others and break down barriers. She said they “metaphorically teach people something that might not be obvious.” She is very experienced and she holds some simple wisdom and a way of being that really impacted me. She called me out on something in the first few minutes, but without judgement and only compassion and it actually helped us connect. That’s what truth does – if you allow it, it shatters misconceptions, exposes bias and false beliefs and allows openess and humility. She was good at that and has a firm belief, “there is always another way.” From completely different backgrounds, different belief systems, different races but within a few minutes I felt her as an older sister. We found a commonality through proverbs and honesty.
During our conversation, she explained something so simple, but so poignant I thought I would share. She said that when she walks into a room of clients, corporate clients, young people, whoever they are she chooses questions to ask that prevent or challenge any blaming, shaming or complaining. She said she always looks out for these things – that we live in a soceity that likes to blame others, that likes to shame others or likes to complain. We don’t want to or can’t see that under that there is much more going on and by blaming, shaming and complaining we are avoiding that truth, we are avoiding what is really going on with ourselves and with others. She challenges people to go beyond that – she said to a place that feels empty, where there is no judgement. To go beyond is to be willing to learn what you never knew.
She talked about how blaming, shaming and complaining diminishes us and diminishes others and its where we get stuck or get worse. But if we more out of blaming, shaming or complaining we are already in a place of more empathy and compassion because it means we are willing to look beyond. What I understood by that, was that it means we are open to being wrong; we are open to new possibilites and new learning: open to curiousity and open to caring more – whether it is for ourselves or others. Just by choosing not to blame, shame or complain we start to grow and we start to recognise that my story is your story, that there are commonalities – things we are sad about, angry about, afraid of, things that have diminished us or taught us false ideas. We all have this.
Lorlett is an African Carribean woman who grew up in a strong sense of community and stories. She has experienced prejudice. I am white, from working class London family – one that had a lot of disconnection and our stories were often hidden not spoken of. What would we have in common? We discussed the saying “Children should be seen, not heard.” We had both heard and experienced that one and we knew the pain of it. Her story was my story. We are both women who had been brought up with beliefs about a womans role and felt the pain of that. Her story was my story. But we didn’t blame, we didn’t shame and we didn’t complain. Lorlett said, “people don’t know what they don’t know until they do.” What she meant was if you can help people choose not to blame, shame and complain you give them an opportunity to own that they don’t know; that they may be wrong, or right. If we shame them for being wrong, or for disagreeing with us, it keeps them stuck. It slams the door shut, rather than opens it.
Yet, she is right – we constantly blame, we constantly shame and we constantly complain. It’s not working well isn it? However, since having that discussion, I have paid more attention to myself – if I blame, shame and complain I know I am avoiding how I really feel – whether that is a fear, anger about not getting an addiction met or sadness. Blaming, shaming and complaining keeps us stuck but it also gives away our power to choose differently: it gives away the gift in that moment to have humilty and feel our emotions in the moment: and it closes our heart – we lack compassion and go into judgement, even of ourselves.
Also, wasn’t being blamed, shamed or complained at as a child the cause of a lot of our pain? It was a constant in my childhood and hence I have spent most of my life believing I am defective and unlovable. It’s not a light thing we do when we blame, shame or complain, especially about children. Blaming, shaming and complaining about a child is devastating to that little developing soul.
Blaming, shaming and complainging was and is used to manipulate and control others – if we make them feel bad about themselves then they are more likely to do what we ask. It’s pretty sick.
Blaming, shaming and complaining about our leaders, our governments, big business means we forget that the leaders we have reflect our soul condition, that as I have said we disempower ourselves and we are being dishonest with ourselves about our role in creation of what is in this world. Our collective soul condition creates unethical leadership and systems. You can state a fact about an organisation or leader, but if emotionally you are blaming them, then you are stuck and you are avoiding the causal places you originally felt powerless, bullied, coerced or oppressed. But leaders also use blame and shame to try and control us. We are wounded children being led by wounded children – their story is our story.
I was trying to imagine what the world would be like if we stopped blaming, or shaming or complaining. It’s such a ‘normal’ event that is getting worse its hard to imagine. Social media has opened doors for 24/7 blaming, shaming or complaining. As Lorlett says, we need to go beyond this if we want change – within ourselves and our communities.
We think we are the only ones suffering this way, but its so untrue. There are so many commonalties between us, so many interwoven stories, so many similar painful emotions. The story may vary in plot and character, but the themes are common and we should have more compassion for each other. We need to put down the sticks of blame, shame and complain if we are to have any chance of change. It may have become a habit, it may have become normal, but it is a choice we are making and we can choose something different. We can choose to reconnect with how we are truly feeling, what it is we are trying to avoid.
I am starting to feel how seriously disconnected from myself I have become, so that when someone asks me how I feel I can’t answer straight away. I was blamed, shamed and complained about as a child – to survive I disconnected from myself and became what others wanted me to be. Unhappy inside, as I got older I started to blame and complain more to avoid my shame. It’s a downward cycle that needs to stop. I am grateful, that Lorlett came onto my path. I followed a desire and it has given me this and many other gifts.
So as we go through our day, we can catch ourselves blaming, shaming or complaining about others or ourself and our body. As soon as we do, we are not being loving and we are disconnecting from ourself and our emotions and that’s just sad. We can chose differently – there is always a different way.
**I just wanted to clarify that the blaming I am talking about is when we are not taking responsibility for our own emotions (lack of humilty) and the subsequent behaviour of that. I am not saying that we shouldn’t be truthful about where much of painful emotions, such as low self worth, abuse, came from. What happened to us a children was not our fault and in that respect our caregivers are to ‘blame.’ However, the anger, fear and grief from our childhood is in our soul so we will be the ones who have to experience those emotions. Our emotional pain has increased as adults because we haven’t released those emotions, our fear increases and we subsequently find 1000s of ways to avoid how we really feel through physical, spiritual and emotional addictions – which causes further harm to ourselves, others and the environment.