Episode #153 Learn Their Story

There is so much that we don’t know about each stranger we encounter, each acquaintance we make, and each friend or family member we love. This week, Dr. Michael Brown and life design coach David Denison encourage us to look more closely and listen more carefully to the people in our lives.

Show Notes

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think to myself, "I wish I would have asked my mom this. I wish I would have learned more about her."
David Denison

Five Problems

  • We will not understand an individual’s personal narrative until we have made an effort to learn about a variety of separate stories and experiences.
  • We are often only aware of the latest chapter of our friends’ stories while remaining oblivious to their beginnings.
  • The things we most enjoy and appreciate in a book or movie are the same things that we most despise in our everyday lives.
  • By hiding the most painful parts of our stories, we reduce their potential to positively impact the lives of others.
  • Our tendency is to ask too few questions rather than too many questions.

Nine Principles

  • Behind every face is a name, and behind each name is a rich personal narrative.
  • The greatest desires of every human being are to be fully known and fully loved.
  • When we explore the stories of others, their stories become our stories as well.
  • When we understand others more deeply, we find ourselves feeling more connected to them as well.
  • When we ask fantastic questions, we give others the opportunity to learn something new about themselves.
  • Our stories shape our identity – even when they involve storms, scars, struggles, skeletons, or secrets.
  • Even our most difficult moments are represented by just a few pages in our life story.
  • When we demonstrate vulnerability and transparency with others, they are more likely to feel safe doing the same with us.
  • A commitment to being authentic does not preclude us from cultivating healthy boundaries.

Three Practices

  • Take responsibility for the pain you have caused others, even if it was inflicted unintentionally.
  • Empathize with those who struggle to share their stories, as they are often guarded for a good reason.
  • Don’t allow the belief that you “should know this by now” to serve as an excuse not to learn something new about someone.