Love and Knowing Their Story
Fred Rogers, the “Mister Rogers” from TV, was given this quote from a social worker that he always carried in his pocket: “Frankly, there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.”
There are two parts of this that need to be explained. Once you know how the two connect, you’ll see why this quote works.
We can understand anybody, at least in an empirical sense, through their descriptions. We can connect with a person’s “story” as they want to tell it, but it’s hard to get a feeling about the path to their telling of the story of the life. Their life is their history, the avenues of experience that brought them to the place they are today, the days and encounters that shaped your heart in friendship, love, pain, happiness, and faith.
This is what defines a life. This is what underscores the foundation of a life “story.”
It is a conversation supported by memory, brought to the present moment.
This is a cup of coffee, an hour or two with a friend. It’s not that hard, all you have to do is ask, then listen. Just be interested. And ask again.
But about that quote…
“There isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.”
To bring love to the conversation, you must be open and understanding, unconditional in your acceptance, in order to love them.
Their story could be about prison, discrimination, anger, and hatred. They may be self centered, narcissistic, shortsighted and arrogant.
This is where it gets tough. You know, that “love” thing.
Throughout my life, I have gotten the stories from everybody from clergy to convicts. I have heard the stories from kids to adults to those facing death. And I try like hell not to hold too tightly to my prejudgments. I am predisposed to find distasteful people that have had a history of being mean, angry, and egotistical…
…and this is where my judgmental mind shuts me down.
The Dalai Lama said that you can’t judge someone and love them at the same time. You can only do one or the other.
There’s a technique that I’ll share with you that I use when I’m stuck. When I catch myself being surrounded by my judgements and annoyance, I try the following. It opens me to better understanding.
To suspend judgement, just take a deep breath and watch them. Your attitude shifts, and you look at them like you’re watching your kids when they were little, a beautiful scene in nature, someone’s face from your childhood, or something you truly love and have nothing but good feelings about.
Then you just sit back and take them in. You experience their energy like you’re taking in a movie. After that, let them connect with you, and you to them. Through whatever words that communicate kindness and support, place these in your expressions. Use your eyes and ears to see and listen with your heart.
Next, just assess, and lightly. Just place a small identification on who they are. Your assessment should be brief, and it should contain these labels: “child of God,” “a brother/sister on the path of life with me,” and “somebody’s son or daughter,” then listen, listen, listen, and wonder how they arrived at this place. And when they leave you, given the spirit of good that you’ll feel, you’ll be able to respond with your best sense of kindness and acceptance. You will have arrived at that place of kinship and brother/sisterhood. And, before they leave you, thank them and offer any words of encouragement you can. End your time with them on a sincerely positive note. Leave with words of love and kindness.
The acronym of Watch, Experience, Connect, Assess, Respond and Encourage is “WECARE.” It works in understanding anybody’s story, and listening with attention the path they had to travel to get to the place they stand today (I’ve explained “WECARE” in a previous blog on “A Coach for Your Heart,” or “acoachforyourheart.com.)
Hearing somebody’s story alters our perspective; understanding and accepting their story makes an indelible change to our heart.
This is where the love begins. And this is where “you can’t help but love them,” no matter who
By entrusting us with your feelings, we help you take steps that you see necessary to begin and put forth the energy to make the needed change.
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