Click on link below for the part one conversation about sex culture, sexual exploitation, and pornography
(There is a minor tech issue with just one presenter’s face being shown the first several minutes, but it will revert back to the full group.)
Do you ever have one of those weeks where nothing goes your way? Like the entire universe is against you and laughing at you…
I was having quite a pity party last week. I was not feeling the best, worked long hours, traveled a lot for work, and had numerous unpredictable mishaps. Not to mention, when you feel you’re having a bad week it seems you stub your toe on every corner, bite your tongue a few times, and don’t seem to get quite enough sleep. You name it, and I was complaining about it.
This happens to us all from time to time, doesn’t it? We just get in this rut of ‘life is hard’ and ‘I can’t even”. But I will tell you about an experience I had last week that totally changed my mindset. It was a great reminder that life really isn’t all that bad.
We had a youth event at my place of employment last week where homeless youth could come in for a hot bowl of soup and a free haircut. Amongst the youth walked in a 52 year old homeless man who had a long ponytail and looked disheveled. But one thing I noticed about this man is that he was in great spirits.
He stated that he heard we were giving free haircuts today, and of course we welcomed him openly to the event regardless of his age.
Along with getting a free haircut, this man grabbed himself a hot bowl of chili and started eating in our conference room. I walked into the conference room to say hi and have a conversation with this man, however I felt awkward staring at him while he ate. A coworker suggested I grab a bowl of soup and sit down with him, so I did just that.
Now trust me when I say that this man did not come up for air when he spoke to me. All it took was me sitting next to him with a bowl of chili for the flood gates to be opened. It took patience and some active listening from me to sit through this man’s unending and repetitive stories for an hour, but I tell you it was the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. It was a beautiful thing to witness unfold.
The art of listening is so powerful, and not something we utilize often enough as a society. We would gain so much from being able to listen to others, and not just listen to them but also hear what they are saying.
The reason I was able to be such a good listener that day is because I knew that this man probably hadn’t had a single person listen to him in a very long time. He was alone, homeless, and an addict who was working towards becoming healthy again. All it took from me to make sure this man felt heard and loved that day, was to listen. And how simple is that? The simple act of listening and allowing someone to feel heard is so ridiculously powerful. Yes, it took an hour out of my day to do so, but what better way to spend that hour than to be sure you’re making a difference in someone’s life who is less fortunate than you. I have a warm home to return to, I know I will have food in my belly, and I know I have a huge support system of people who I can turn to. One hour is not so bad when you think about all the great things you have in your world.
Amongst being homeless and disheveled, this man was grateful, he was cheery, he was warm, he was harmless. Once I started listening to him, I did not even see what was on the surface. I only saw his great spirited attitude. Once we give someone a chance, rather than focus on judging at first glance, we can learn so much.
Without any prompting, he told me about where he was from, his past, his addiction, his health, his life goals, and his art that he is so passionate about. After he left, one of my coworkers said to me, “Wow, you did such a great job listening to that man, I would not have been able to do that”. That is when it dawned on me that it is really difficult for us in this society to take time out of our day to listen instead of talk. But not only to listen, but to hear what is being said….To take what is being said and apply it to our lives in order to better people. It truly is a difficult task that takes some humility and discipline to accomplish. But by doing this, we gain so much, and unfortunately it is so overlooked.
How often do we just wait our turn to speak next? Not listening to the one currently with the microphone, but just waiting our turn to say what we think needs to be said. How often do we have a question or thought while someone is speaking, and then make that our focus rather than continuing to hear what that person is saying? All to often, this is how we communicate in our society, thus not leaving any room to grow and learn as individuals. It is through others that we learn about humility, acceptance, and diversity. And I was so grateful to have that opportunity on the day that I met the 52 year old homeless man in great spirits.
When asked if my cup is half full or half empty, my response is always that I am grateful to have a cup ~
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‘First thought wrong’ is a concept I learned from comedian Mark Lundholm. I first heard about Mark when working at a psychiatric and addictions hospital where his motivational and comical videos were utilized in our treatment facility. I fell in love with his concept of ‘first thought wrong’ as it pertains to individuals suffering with the disease of addiction and their impulsive mindset. I also feel this concept can be utilized in many other aspects of our lives as it helps to remind ourselves to s l o w d o w n sometimes.
My definition of First Thought Wrong: Acting compulsively and speaking impulsively. Not taking the time to filter through our thoughts which leads to inappropriate responses. Speaking or doing too quickly. ‘First thought wrong’ is the concept of reacting too quickly therefore our responses may be wrong.
When I am using my emotions to think through a problem or disagreement, that is where I need to utilize this concept the most. How often do we respond impulsively using our emotions, rather than taking time to filter our thoughts and process our response before blurting it out loud? It is when I am deeply connected to something that is being questioned that I get defensive and utilize my emotions to respond quickly, not giving myself any time to filter my words. ‘First thought wrong’ reminds me that typically in these heated and emotional moments, the first thing I plan to say may be wrong and better kept to myself. It is a reminder that I should back up and count to 10 before acting or responding. This helps me to react logically and professionally rather than with my emotions.
One thing I have learned through social work is that silence is a good and helpful thing. Sometimes, no one has to say anything and we can all just be silent, process our thoughts, and take time to think things through. This is difficult, as sometimes 10 seconds can feel like 5 years! However, I have noticed that a little silence goes a long way, and sometimes not saying anything says a lot. Practice being comfortable in moments of silence, and do not feel badly about verbalizing your need to take some time to think through your response…. It is okay. You are benefitting yourself by slowing down and taking the extra time to formulate your responses.
Mark Lundholm states that sometimes his ‘first thought wrong’ can take many days to process through. It can take that long to remove ‘first thought wrong’ and replace it with the right thing to do. Sometimes it will take us days to replace ‘first thought wrong’ to produce a positive thought which leads to appropriate and calm responses.
Think about a time when you could of utilized the concept of ‘first thought wrong’…. What would of have been different had you used this concept? What benefits could ‘first thought wrong’ have provided in this situation?
Take the extra time to calmly and correctly respond. You will learn more about yourself in the process, and that is something special!
“First thought wrong becomes next right thing” – Mark Lundholm