living intuitively


Posts tagged interpersonal relations
Helping the H U R T
Images by Abbey Armstrong Photography  Color edited by me

Images by Abbey Armstrong Photography

Color edited by me

Hurt people hurt people. That’s how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation. Break the chain today. Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness. Greet grimaces with smiles. Forgive and forget about finding fault. Love is the weapon of the future.

In the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unrestrained. All work stops, and every man, woman, and child in the village gathers in a large circle around this individual.

Next, each person in the tribe speaks to the individual, one at a time, each recalling the good things the person in the center of the circle has done in his/her lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy, is recounted.  All his/her positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully and fully.  This tribal ceremony often lasts for several days.

At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration occurs, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe.


I’ll go ahead and answer my own question: phenomenally beautiful

We all know hurt people hurt people, right? If you didn’t realize that then, well, now you know. It’ll explain A LOT on why people do what they do.

If people are acting a fool and are being rude/unkind/inconsiderate/nasty/etc, it’s because they’re not right with themselves. They’re insecure/traumatized/etc. They’re so consumed by pain and negativity, they have little to no capacity for empathy and love. And since anger feels better than pain/shame, people lash out. Here are some examples of people masking their pain/insecurity with hatorade:

  • An employee vilifying their boss for not promoting them

  • A jealous person blaming the other woman/man for “seducing” their partner (“You homewrecker! You ruined my relationship!”)

  • A business owner demonizing a competitor

  • An individual reviling a provider of well-intentioned constructive feedback

We could go pretty deep here exploring the many elements to this, but suffice it to say: Hurt people hurt people.

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I’m grateful I realized this truth early on in my life. It’s softened the blow when I’ve had venom spit my way, or faced betrayal. Don’t get it twisted: it can still sting, but at least I understand the cause, and know not to take it personally. That’s crazy liberating. It’s like there’s an invisible bubble protecting your sense of self worth, deflecting the hate and doubt from permeating.

And just because you empathize with the causes of someone’s negative behavior doesn’t mean you condone it. That’s where boundaries come in. You can still love them while making it clear certain words/actions are unacceptable.

And also - and this can really bite the big one - be wise and humble enough to recognize the truth bombs in negative feedback. Sure, that person’s delivery could REALLY USE SOME FRIGGIN’ POLISHING, but try to remain open. Try not to shy away from reflection. View it as an opportunity to become even more of an allstar. If the feedback hit a nerve, that right there reveals an unhealed part of you. Lean into it. Figure out why.

And maybe the affected nerve is the one of caring too much of others’ opinions, and requiring external validation. The key to making it through the cleansing - but often brutal - fire of negativity-inspired self reflection is to operate on a solid foundation of self love. Knowing your shadows don’t define/control you, and neither do others’ opinions. Knowing you’re strong enough to brave the blows and use them to become even STRONGER and more self aware. Knowing you can directly face the negativity and extract what you need to evolve and get better, not bitter. This comes from loving yourself through ALL of your phases, even the ones where you feel beaten down or less than. You may not feel you’re quite there yet, but it is absolutely within your reach.

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The hardest thing in the entire world is to remain kind even when people aren’t. Remain honest even when you’re met with lies. Remain good even when things go terribly. And above all, understand the pain and heartbreak you feel isn’t a reflection of something you’ve done wrong or anything you lack. When people hurt you that means there is pain within them and something they lack that they haven’t figured out how to process or heal from. Hurt people hurt people. But don’t let them change you. Understand those are the people who need love the most.
— Kirsten Corley

So I was listening to a podcast with Marianne Williamson on Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations. Marianne introduced a novel perspective:

When people are physically injured, we typically react with compassion, and usually try to help. You’re bleeding, I’mma grab a bandage/tourniquet/etc. But if someone shows us (intentionally or - more often - unintentionally) their insecurities/traumas/etc, it’s easier for us to ignore/judge/dismiss. But they’re the people who need the most compassion!

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Sure, as I mentioned, boundaries are key. You can empathize with people and not condone certain behavior, and it can be tricky distinguishing between empathizing and enabling. But no matter what, you can always offer love and kindness. Sometimes this must be from afar, but love is always the answer. We all get “hurt” and all need love. Some are better at healing themselves than others, but we all have healing power within us we can apply to both ourselves and others.



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The O T H E R
Styling and Images by Whitney Richardson Photography  Model Lily Cuoio

Styling and Images by Whitney Richardson Photography

Model Lily Cuoio

“I’m here to challenge you.”

As soon as my warrior queen friend Julie told me this, I acknowledged its brilliance and added it to my phone’s Notes. We’re all here to learn from each other. The people in our lives are there for a reason, I truly believe this. Every interaction, no matter how seemingly minor, has a purpose. We’re all here to learn from each other, inspire each other, empower each other, LOVE each other.

Everyone you meet has something to teach you. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. I’m willing to go out on a limb and posit you’re like me and haven’t mastered every single thing there is to master in the universe, and don’t know every thing there is to know. No matter how mature or advanced or enlightened or “woke” we are, there is ALWAYS something to learn. Maybe it’s a productivity hack. Maybe it’s a fitness pointer, or a financial tip, or a navigational shortcut. Maybe it’s a spiritual revelation. Maybe it’s even an example of what not to do.

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And technology has shrunk our world even more. More people from whom to learn and with whom to connect. So let’s all do each other a solid and keep (respectfully + lovingly) challenging each other.

And I challenge you to challenge yourself. Watch news from a different network, read a book outside your area of expertise/comfort, learn about a new religion, try something new - not to confirm pre-existing notions, but to question and expand your beliefs/outlook/assumptions/repertoire. Grow baby grow.

As Holocaust survivor/activist/author/professor Elie Wiesel advises, the more we are able to accept the many aspects of who we are, however contradictory those aspects are, the more easily we can accept others, with all their contradictions.

The extent to which we accept ourselves is the extent to which we accept others - ALL others, not just those aligned with our beliefs/lifestyle/etc.

So again, this requires:

  • Self awareness

  • Shadow work (face your demons, your repressed emotions, your fears, your S H A D O W S)

  • Self love

If you have issues with others, it’s a sure sign you have an issue with yourself. You’re projecting somehow. Our perceptions of others are reflections of ourselves. If we see a trait in others we don’t like, it’s because it’s triggering something within us, a shadow part of us. It’s triggering a fear/hurt/etc. It’s the ego at play, trying to protect us: protect our mental/physical/emotional health. Trying to preserve our dignity/sense of self. Our learned identity.

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It is the otherness of the other that fascinates me... What can I learn from him? What does he see that I do not, cannot?
— Elie Wiesel

We each have blind spots, just as every candle casts its own shadow. Only when you place a second candle next to the first do the shadows disappear, illuminated by the other’s light.

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A beautiful aspect of diversity is we EACH have our own way of perceiving the world, mixed with our unique set of background/chemical makeup/experience/etc. Even identical twins don’t share exactly the same outlook. We’re all like snowflakes, and we ALL have something distinctive and special to contribute.

That’s why:

  1. It doesn’t matter how saturated an industry is: We all have our individual eye/voice/view. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a photographer amid 25,000 other photographers in your city. No one has your same eye, your same touch.

  2. It’s crucial you nurture and celebrate and promote your individuality! Your quirks and eccentricities. They’re what SET YOU APART and make you SPECIAL. They constitute your superpower!

The distance between us is necessary, not something to turn away from.
— Elie Wiesel

When encountering someone with differing beliefs, listen to them. Listen to find their strength, not their weakness. Listen to enhance your own understanding, to enrich your own perspective; not to find holes on which to pounce, or incompetencies on which to judge.

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And respect the distinctions among us. If we believe we’re all the same, we might be tempted to prescribe identical solutions to all. In other words, we might think others are feeling the same feelings we are, and require the same remedy we do. Sure, it’s important to recognize our commonalities and collectiveness, but let’s not forget to acknowledge and celebrate our differences!

We need each other precisely for our differences and our diverse experiences. Those differences can cause conflict, and that conflict can be destructive or constructive, depending on our approach and mindset. Sometimes conflict can be good, to challenge the status quo, or our way of thinking/believing. If we never had challengers, we’d never have innovation. We wouldn’t have scientific breakthroughs, or technological advances, or humanitarian improvements.

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Entertaining different opinions and outlooks fortifies our understanding and stimulates our thinking. Even if we end up keeping our perspective, it can strengthen our grasp of the matter at hand. Staying in our echo chamber, shunning opposition and diversity, only weakens us, in ever way.

So let’s do our part to open our hearts and our minds to the “other.”



Y tu?!
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

I have the kind of friends who make you feel like you’re the coolest person on earth. They make you feel like there’s nothing they’d rather be doing than hearing about your newest venture, or your date last night, or your upcoming getaway. They actively listen and ask follow-up questions. They present the appropriate corresponding facial expressions (eye rolls, knowing looks, cheesy grins) and happy dance as necessary.

They friggin’ rule.

They also inspire me to be better.

I hope you have friends like this too, because as I’m sure you’ve realized by now, not everyone is like this. If you don’t believe me, tag along on 90% of my dates!

For a number of reasons (social anxiety, lack of self awareness, self absorption, insecurity, all of the above, etc) people keep the spotlight on them. They’ll tell you allllll about themselves and once you’ve finally politely excused yourself, you realize that after 20 minutes of “conversing” they didn’t ask you a single question about you…but you know all about their new car and their daughter’s bout with the flu and their upcoming vacation and and and…

In moments like this, it’s easy to get annoyed, but important to remember some people just don’t know better! And/or they’re socially unsure of themselves and find it easier to rely on what they do know: themselves/their lives. It’s their comfort zone. It doesn’t even dawn on them to ask about you.

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Don’t try to impress others. Be humble. Take an interest in others.
— Philippians 2:3-4

Another reason for monologues is they feel compelled to “peacock” and show/tell you how great they are. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve dated some awesome, considerate guys, but man - I’ve also dated beyond my share of peacocks. I’ll get to the end of the date and know they couldn’t tell you three facts about me because we focused solely on them the.entire.time. They didn’t bother to reciprocate any of the questions I initiated. Or if they did…they’d interrupt me to hijack the spotlight and turn it back to them. Not very enjoyable, as I’m sure you can imagine. When I’m particularly maxed out on their showboating, I’ll just clam up and stop supplying questions/conversation starters. I’ll watch them fidget awkwardly in the silence, marveling how they don’t realize that to end the silence, all they have to do is ASK ME A QUESTION. These guys.

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You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in others than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
— Dale Carnegie

Feeling and expressing a genuine interest in others is an INVALUABLE friendship trait. Hell, not only a friendship trait - a human trait! Making people feel worthy of interest and attention is the surest way to not only win people over but - more importantly - to connect with them. Making an effort to listen to and connect with others fosters empathy, understanding, mutual interest, etc. All the good things!

Tips to be more charming:
1. Smile more
2. Remember names
3. Be authentic
4. Be curious
5. Offer value

But genuine is the key word here. Authenticity is crucial. People can immediately sense when you’re merely going through the motions and just posing. Ain’t nobody likes a poser. And it’s not enough to just ask questions - you must also listen! How obnoxious is it when someone asks you a question then immediately checks out by scanning the room/scrolling on their phone/interrupting your story/etc.

Here are some tips for enhancing your social interactions by cultivating and expressing genuine interest in others. In other words, here’s guidance on how to be the kind of person others want to be around!

  • Offer customized compliments

    • Sure, it’s nice to hear “You look good” but how much better do you feel when someone notices and compliments you on something special and specific to you?

      • Examples: “That color looks amazing on you!” or “Your home has the most inviting energy!”

  • Ask specific, attentive questions

    • Show you’re truly interested in learning more about the person/the topic they’re discussing. Listen to what they say and ask follow-up questions.

      • If you’re not sure what to ask, maybe request clarification or note how interesting what they said is and ask, “What do you mean by ___?”

    • It’s important to come from a place of curiosity, rather than judgment.

    • If you happen to know more on the subject - keep it to yourself! It’s not a “who knows more” contest so just chillaxxxx and let them share what they know. And who knows - you might even learn something from them! At the very least, you’ll hear a fresh perspective.

    • Try to maintain that balance of showing interest without getting all up in their business. Ensure you’re on solid footing before asking probing questions.

  • Reciprocate their questions

    • Piggybacking off the previous point, is a great hack for when you’re feeling socially unsteady and not up to carrying the convo is simply to ask them what they asked you!

It’s important to mention some people don’t like talking about themselves: they’re shy, they’re insecure, etc. So honor where they are and try to find a common interest, or focus on safe, general topics like current events/mutual contacts (sans the gossip because gossiping is ew).

The more you really listen and get to know people, the more you realize how FASCINATING people really are! I can’t tell you how many times people have surprised me with their experiences/back stories/insights/etc. Everyone has a story and everyone has something to teach us.



When you are alive with joy, gratitude, and genuine interest in others, you are your most beautiful. Remember that. Now go stun the world.
— Brendon Burchard
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