There are times when a hurting or broken relationship could be restored with a simple apology.
There are moments when saying, “thank you” for help received, could strengthen trust, and foster a new connection with another.
It is in these times that we must make a very difficult choice. Do we stand firm on being right, or do we follow the healthy path and do what is right for the relationship.
Trouble is, many of us have not learned the power and value of being humble. We are not willing to make a minor sacrifice of ego or face in order to build something vital and healthy.
There are a handful of real and reasonable phrases that proclaim a state of correctness and are unfortunately used as an excuse for not meeting another human being halfway.
I have a RIGHT to be upset
I DESERVE an apology
It is the PRINCIPLE of the matter
I am JUSTIFIED in my reaction
It’s not my FAULT they are so sensitive
In select cases, I have heard others almost saying, “I am allowed” to be in this state. As if they were waiting for an opportunity where the would be justified in a large reaction and letting go of that opportunity is not something they are willing to take lightly.
Others seem to be fearful that they will lose respect, status, or inherent value if they were to be the first to admit to how their participation accelerated or heightened the encounter.
Some believe that the situation is a win/lose encounter and that if they apologize or give thanks, they will lose and that is not acceptable to their nature.
In other situations, people seem to be trapped by their own black and white view of the situation and do not seem to be capable of bending that view easily.
Whether it is a choice or a mental block, it is often true that the effort needed to move beyond these thoughts for the benefit of the relationship is not applied and no action is taken for the better.
Improvisation has allowed me to understand the power of the apology and the thanks. By giving an apology for my part in things, I do not lose respect, I gain it. By extending my hand first, I am not weaker, I am stronger; nor am I losing, I am winning. By seeking to understand the purpose behind the other person’s actions, I am gaining something of greater value than the opportunity to be right.
Once you begin to empathize and apologize or connect and thank, it becomes possible to find a new satisfaction in facilitating healing in the relationship and valuing that above any of the other trappings of our own ego or viewpoint.
Try it this week. Meet the other person halfway. Give them an honest show of gratitude without believing you will be weaker for it. Apologize for your part in things without worry that you will lose.
I began this post with the intention of talking about my new /now page on jimkarwisch.com, where I now list everything that my life is about at this moment.I did a quick hop over to google to find out more about the /now movement and how it started. This led me on a rabbit trail of fascinating information about intentionality and authenticity, which I will share with you now.
All of the relevant text is a part of this article so you won’t need to click the links to get the knowledge. This trail can be read from beginning to end here on this page.
I’m home in New Zealand, being with my boy, teaching him to read. I was supposed to be in Tanzania for the past three weeks, but I missed him too much, so cancelled my entire trip, including TED. Fair trade.
I spent most of the last two weeks learning the C programming language — something I’ve wanted to do for years. Since all the other languages I know are based on C, it feels like learning Latin. Though I like how the great “21st Century C” book compares C to punk rock, and it’s tempting to try using it for my next few projects. (If you know other languages, but were always curious about C, try that book or “Beginning C, 5th edition”.)
I’m just starting to learn Portuguese, using Michel Thomas audio, and daily conversations booked with a native speaker through iTalki.
There are some other things I’m considering doing, but I’ll update this page when I do them.
Shouldn’t you announce your goals, so friends can support you?
Isn’t it good networking to tell people about your upcoming projects?
Doesn’t the “law of attraction” mean you should state your intention, and visualize the goal as already yours?
Tests done since 1933 show that people who talk about their intentions are less likely to make them happen.
Announcing your plans to others satisfies your self-identity just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work needed.
In 1933, W. Mahler found that if a person announced the solution to a problem, and was acknowledged by others, it was now in the brain as a “social reality”, even if the solution hadn’t actually been achieved.
Four different tests of 63 people found that those who kept their intentions private were more likely to achieve them than those who made them public and were acknowledged by others.
Once you’ve told people of your intentions, it gives you a “premature sense of completeness.”
You have “identity symbols” in your brain that make your self-image. Since both actions and talk create symbols in your brain, talking satisfies the brain enough that it “neglects the pursuit of further symbols.”
A related test found that success on one sub-goal (like eating healthy meals) reduced efforts on other important sub-goals (like going to the gym) for the same reason.
It may seem unnatural to keep your intentions and plans private, but try it. If you do tell a friend, make sure not to say it as a satisfaction (“I’m going to run a marathon!”), but as dissatisfaction (“I want to lose 20 pounds, so kick my ass if I don’t, OK?”)
I grew up on the Jersey shore, and besides loving all things that taste and smell of saltwater, I developed an early curiosity for life sciences. In fact, I was originally a pre-med major before my 60’s-style search for meaning and my love of all things bookish drew me into more literary pursuits. I loved school so much that I kept going until I could no longer afford it. Then, in the mid-70s, I moved to Washington, DC, to try my hand at journalism–which I’ve been doing ever since.
Passions, circumstances and opportunity intersected to shape my journalism career, but I have always had a strong focus on human behavior and health. I started out writing for the National Institute of Mental Health, where I was immersed in cutting-edge work on the brain and neuroscience. My subsequent jobs included: psychology editor at Science News; editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, health and science editor at US News & World Report; columnist for Newsweek, Scientific American Mind and, most recently, the Huffington Post. I now write two popular psychology blogs–“We’re Only Human” and “Full Frontal Psychology.” Each of these jobs has reinforced my belief that every story, whether it is about war, or love, or crime, or economics, is at its heart about human psychology–how each of us uses our brain and mind to interpret the world, make choices, and learn from our experience.
The area of cognitive psychology described in On Second Thought will continue to evolve as talented and curious psychologists study human behavior both inside and outside of the lab. Great literature, current events, pop culture and my own life experiences–all these provide lenses for examining human behavior both old and new. I hope you will join me in an ongoing discussion as I continue to blog about the science (on http://www.wrayherbert.com/), what it means (and doesn’t mean) and how you and I can use it in our lives every day.
I live and make decisions, choices and judgements, both good and bad, with my wife Susie and dog Zooey in Washington, DC.
I grew up with a habitual overclaimer. He wildly exaggerated his expertise, at times claiming knowledge of things he couldn’t possibly know—people, events, ideas that simply do not exist. Being unfamiliar with overclaiming, I just called him a liar.
I couldn’t have known the word overclaimer, nor the concept. The word didn’t exist, and is only used today in the world of psychological science. Even so, we’re all familiar with these people who feel the need to overestimate what they know about the world. What underlies such assertions of impossible knowledge?
A team of researchers at Cornell University—Stav Atir, Emily Rosenzweig and David Dunning—have a theory about overclaiming, one they decided to test in a series of studies. They had the idea that people’s perceptions of their own knowledge of specific domains—biology, personal technology, sculpture—might play a role in overclaiming expertise in that domain. So for example, if I believe my understanding of biology is excellent, and you are a little shaky on the field, I will be more likely to claim knowledge about biology—even non-existent biological concepts.
The scientists decided to test this connection in the area of personal finance—a domain where a distorted sense of one’s expertise could lead to devastating results. They first asked about 100 men and women to rate their general knowledge of personal finance, and to compare themselves to the average American. Then they asked the subjects to rate their knowledge of specific terms related to personal finance. But here’s the rub: Only some of these terms were real—fixed-rate mortgage, home equity, and so forth. The others were non-existent terms invented by the scientists—pre-rated stocks, for example, or annualized credit.
The results were intriguing. The more that people viewed themselves as knowledgeable about personal finance, the more they claimed impossible knowledge of made-up concepts. This remained true whether the subjects were genuinely knowledgeable about finance or not.
The Cornell scientists ran several other versions of this same basic experiment, illuminating some nuances of overclaiming. In one, they showed that overclaiming is domain specific. That is, if I see myself as an expert on personal computers but not Renaissance art, I will only claim impossible knowledge in the area of personal computers. Interestingly, even warning subjects about the bogus concepts ahead of time did not diminish the effect. This suggests, importantly, that self-perceived knowledge prompts mistaken claims of impossible expertise—not dishonest claims.
The scientists also demonstrated a clear causal link between self-perceptions and overclaiming. They experimentally enhanced only some subjects’ self-perceived knowledge of North American geography, and then tested them on both real and made-up places. Those with overblown perceptions of their general knowledge of North America were much more likely to claim specific familiarity with non-existent places like Lake Othello, Wisconsin, and Cashmere, Oregon.
These findings, taken together and reported in a forthcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science, suggest that the seemingly straightforward task of assessing one’s knowledge may not be so straightforward after all. It seems that people do not simply consult a mental index that catalogues their knowledge. Instead, they draw on pre-existing self-perceptions to decide what they do—or should—understand about the world.
That’s it. You followed along with my rabbit trail. Now you are free to roam about the cabin.
The beauty’s eyes were nearest a copper shade My presence in her house I tried to explain Is an ill-fated tale of fleeing a creature Who or’turned my truck, with no righting-feature
To her path, I ran a neat, tidy trail Lest the horror behind me unite with my tail From her tree, at the front, I broke off a sharp limb I educated the fiend with a stab to its brim
Her belief in my story was obviously tenuous Till the hum of the beast made her shift right to tremulous My next move, decisive, was to or’take her rifle And the creature fell dead without notice or trifle
While adding new shelf paper in our new rental house there was a knock at the door. When I opened the door I was greeted by a congenial and intelligent man who expressed his need for help. He had just moved in with his family down the street and he did not yet have a job. In Alabama, where he used to live, he worked for a landscaping company. Without contacts, he explained, he was having a difficult time getting hired onto a crew near his new home. He asked if he could do any work for me in my yard to raise money for his family. As we walked around the back of my new house, he started to call off the names of the different plants he passed and talked about what I might do if I were to make a change to the landscaping. Back home he had graduated from technical school with a specialty in horticulture. “When I first got there,” he explained “I didn’t even know where carrots came from. I thought they grew from a tree! Now I know the Latin names for all of these,” he said, pointing around the yard.
If you have ever heard me talk about my philosophy for intentional encounters, you know that I always attempt to Lower the Ladder and Only Lift Up. This is how I live life and is now the working title for a book I am writing.
Lowering the ladder means to help someone out of a hole they are in by adding a tool or knowledge that allows them to get out of that hole under their own power. I believe this is an important part of helping people not become enabled into defeatist behaviors and allows them to feel a sense of accomplishment even though they did receive help getting there.
Only Lifting Up means that in every encounter where a need is discovered you are helping that person reach a new level in their life in a way that does not put you in a bad place yourself. If you cannot help the person, then the alternative is to avoid pushing them down by instilling in the conversation a sense of hope and retained dignity.
Most people’s first impulse would be to give him a few dollars and send him on his way. I do not see this as really helpful and could inadvertently push him down. As we walked around the yard, I asked him questions about his sudden move from Alabama to Georgia. I asked more about his mother who was ill and his daughter’s epilepsy. I listened closely to see if I could identify what would act as the ladder in his particular situation. Then I heard it. If he were able to get his hands on a lawn mower, he could get started mowing lawns and could work his way out of his hole under his own power.
Now a lawn mower is not an overly expensive item, but it is still more than I can afford, having just gotten into this new house and put down deposits and paid for household items. So I started to look around on Facebook marketplace for an affordable used lawnmower. I am also going to put up information on facebook about this story and see who would be willing to donate a few dollars to help him get a lawnmower.
My goal in the whole situation is to see him get to a new level in his life and be able to make a real difference in helping his family. If the lawnmower is the answer then it is time to get the man a lawnmower.
I am an applied improviser. This means that I solve problems, teach difficult complex concepts, and coach others toward their goals, all by utilizing the foundations of improvisation. Improvisation is who I am, what I do, and is the core of how I treat others. It would only make sense that the things I am looking for in a relationship are the same things I would be looking for from an improv scene partner.
#1 – Acceptance
In improvisation, accepting the reality of our scene partner is the foundation of the trust necessary to play together. In improvisation, we have no idea what will be thrown at us or what we will discover. The same is true for our relationships. The idea that I will be accepted for exactly who I am in this moment and that I do not have to try to be something I am not or pretend to be something in order to gain favor is something that is a must in my relationships.
#2 – Listening
As improvisers, listening to understand, accept, and build is the core of our performances on stage. It doesn’t work well otherwise. In my relationships I seek out others who listen actively and are interested in building something together that would be bigger and better than what could be built on our own.
#3 – Alignment/Mutual Purpose
This is probably the most important part of a scene being improvised in front of an audience and also the most important for me in a relationship. We need to have a mutual purpose, even if we have different perspectives. Though we may not always agree on every element of a strategy or a tactic, we are always in alignment and seeking mutual purpose. If we seem to lose that mutual purpose at any given time, we recognize it and start the journey back to each other.
#4 – Heightening
In improvisation, heightening is taking something and making it more important to the story. In a relationship, it is vital to me that the other person is raising the stakes of my actions in order to accelerate us both toward our mutual purpose. Without heightening, we do not have the needed healthy tension that drives us into needed action.
#5 – Humor/Playfulness
As improvisers, we do not need every moment on stage to be funny, but we do need for the other person we are working with to have a sense of playfulness and a good sense of humor. We need them to have a sense of humor and playfulness about life, themselves, and the relationship itself. If we take the actions we are doing too seriously, we end up with just the action and not the relationship built from the actions. Our humanity must be present in our work and in our relationships, and humor combined with playfulness is a great aspect of what can make it happen.
What about you? What elements of a relationship do you look for when starting out on a new journey with someone?
Let’s do an experiment you and I. I’m going to share with you some people that I personally admire and then encourage you to watch a video and read a bit about them. You will receive their name, their qualities, a video about them, and the introduction to their Wikipedia article. Then I will encourage you to think about these people and ask yourself “What qualities do I need in order to admire someone? Who are those that I admire most?” Sound good? Ok, let’s begin.
But first, what are some of the qualities I admire in other people?
Courage – both the ability to do something that frightens one as well as having strength in the face of pain or grief.
Humanity – humaneness, and benevolence.
Clarity – transparency, certainty, purity, and intelligence
Kindness – the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
Humor -the quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in literature or speech.
For his COURAGE, HUMANITY, CLARITY, AND KINDNESS
I first heard about Daryl with his connection to befriending and affecting the hearts of white supremacists. Then I learned he played with Chuck Berry and is an amazing musician.
Davis is a Christian and he has used his religious beliefs to convince Klansmen to leave and denounce the KKK
For his HUMANITY, CLARITY, KINDNESS, AND HUMOR
Lin-Manuel captured my heart first with his Broadway musical “Hamilton” and then by watching numerous interviews and documentaries about him. It also doesn’t hurt that Emma Watson is in this video as she would fit into my “admire” top twenty list if there were such a thing.
For her COURAGE, CLARITY, KINDNESS, HUMANITY, AND HUMOR
You don’t need me to say anything about Ellen. You know her already. Give the video a watch.
From Wikipedia: Ellen Lee DeGeneres (/dɪˈdʒɛnərɪs/; born January 26, 1958) is an American comedian, television host, actress, writer, and producer. DeGeneres starred in the popular sitcom Ellen from 1994 to 1998 and has hosted her syndicated TV talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, since 2003.
I discovered Tawakkol Karaman while researching for this blog entry. She is amazing.
From Wikipedia: Tawakkol Karman is a Yemeni journalist, politician, and human rights activist. She leads the group “Women Journalists Without Chains,” which she co-founded in 2005. She became the international public face of the 2011 Yemeni uprising that is part of the Arab Spring uprisings. She has been called the “Iron Woman” and “Mother of the Revolution” by Yemenis. Karman, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, were the co-recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Of Karman, the Nobel Committee said: “In the most trying circumstances, both before and during the ‘Arab spring’, Tawakkul Karman has played a leading part in the struggle for women’s rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen.” The Nobel Committee cited the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, adopted in 2000, which states that women and children suffer great harm from war and political instability and that women must have a larger influence and role in peacemaking activities; it also “[c]alls on all actors involved, when negotiating and implementing peace agreements, to adopt a gender perspective.”
Over the past 20 years, I have worked my way in and out of believing in my dreams. Sacrificing and working hard for what I want is something that was instilled in me by my parents, but sometimes, even with hard work, our goals can stay just out of reach. Below are five things in life that I wanted, thought had become unattainable, and then achieved:
Find someone who gets me and whom I can support
I’m sure everyone has had that experience of “the one who got away.” By the time I moved to Atlanta in 2001, I was fairly certain that the right person for me was someone I had already dated and was already out of my life. What I was looking for was someone who could deal with my peculiar personality, my eccentricities, as well as my anxiety. As I started to date in Atlanta, the belief that the one for me had escaped grew stronger and stronger. Even though I was still asking for dates, I couldn’t shake that I wasn’t going to find someone who could understand me and be able to put up with me on a daily basis.
The main criteria I had for finding someone to marry was that I needed to be able to “back their play.” This meant that I would be able to support how they treated and spoke to others in their lives. Knowing that I had created an unattainable set of criteria, I all but gave up looking.
I finally met the woman of my dreams in the office I worked in at SunTrust Bank. She always walked by my desk staring straight ahead of her and never noticed me. This, of course, made me crazy and I went about looking for some way to both get her attention and keep it. We have been happily married since 2004.
Find my way back to improvisation
From 1996 until 2011 I was after one thing, Improvisation as Theatre. I wanted to make a type of improv that inspired others to think of improv as art in addition to being comedy. As the years went on I invested myself more and more until, around 2009, I started to burn out. I was stretching myself too thin and nothing I was touching was working well. Finally, in 2011 I was done. I closed the doors to my improv theatre and walked away to find another life.
Anytime I thought about improv it made my stomach hurt and my bones ache. I decided I was done. That chapter of my life was over. I was pretty sure I would never return to it.
Then, in 2013, a part of me woke up again. I started to think about improv in a way that seemed healthy and productive. In 2014 I was given the opportunity to use all my years of improv training and experience in a new way at DuMore Improv. Now it is clear to me that improv never left me. It was in my bones and in how I treated others. What left was what place it held in my life and what priority it took.
Leave a nine to five job and work for me
When I was hired by DuMore Improv in 2014, it was a few months after I had made the leap into entrepreneurship. When I left the safe confines of my nine to five job, it was one of the greatest feelings of my life. True, it was scary, but it was also exhilarating and freeing.
Over the years I had seen multiple opportunities come and go that would have allowed me to leave my day job. Each time one of those opportunities came, something else happened that kept me in the safe zone. The epitome of these opportunities was in 2007 when I was just about to step out on my own and was confronted by the Sub Prime Mortage crisis.
Finally, in 2014, I was handed a severance package along with the rest of my team. When I saw the amount of severance I would get, I realized that this was the opportunity I needed to get out there and make this happen.
It is 2017 and I am still out here making it happen.
Have a child
I have had a rocky relationship with the idea of having children. When I was young I had a constant worry that if I were to have a child that something in me would cause me to leave my family the same way that my biological father left me. When I got past this fear I was met with another.
For many years I feared that my anxiety would make me incapable of doing right by a child or being a good father. When I got past this fear I was met with a reality.
In 2004 my wife and I got married. We began trying for a child. Years went by. We weren’t getting pregnant despite all of our reading and studies and it was constantly on our minds. We decided to try paying to have the sun and the moon align for us in a turkey baster, but still… no child. We decided to stop trying and just try to accept that we wouldn’t have kids. When I got past this, we were hit with a tragedy.
In 2009 my wife and I finally got pregnant. We made it all the way to finding out her gender. The very next day, we lost her. It was horrible. Here is what I wrote to our friends and family:
To all of our Friends and Family,
Mary and I wanted to let you all know that sadly, we lost our little baby girl last night due to an unforeseeable and likewise unpreventable issue with her cervix. We are still at the hospital but will be going home today. We are both making it through and, though we are grieving, our faith is seeing us through this hard time.
Her name was Sarah Katherine. We named her that just Tuesday, in fact, when we did the ultrasound that shared the good news that she was a she! That name is hers and we will love her always as our first child.
If you are asking the question “what can we do to help” the answer is to please pray for us and for the first day or so please do not call as we will be trying to enter back into our lives and catch up on some sleep.
Thank you all so much for being so amazing in our lives! – Jim and Mary Karwisch
This was the hardest place I think I have ever been as a human. Mary and I clung to each other and healed with each other. We continued to heal but we were sure at this point that whatever had allowed us to get pregnant was too much of a fluke to count on happening again. When we got past this, we believed it was not ever going to happen for us. The door was closed. Then it happened…
In 2013 we got pregnant with our son, Elijah. Mary immediately went on bed rest and stayed there for five solid months. He made it through with flying colors and at the time of this writing, he is a happy and healthy five-year-old boy.
Find a place where I feel safe letting my son play in the yard
This week my wife and I signed a lease on a house here in Rome, Georgia. We are an hour and a half from Atlanta and most of it is for the simple reason that we want Elijah to experience being able to play outside with his friends and not have something horrible happen to him. Mary and I both grew up in the 80’s when you were sent outside for the day and called home for dinner. In today’s world living near a major city just doesn’t allow that to be possible. I read a story not too long ago about a mother who allowed her child to cross the street and play in a patch of manicured grass. Someone called DFCS on her. She had to defend why her child was across the street from her house.
Now I live in a house I never thought we would have, where a child I never thought we would meet can play, while I work from my home office I never thought I would sit in, to book improv training I never thought I would be doing, supported by a wife I never thought I would find.
So what about you? What is still possible for you in life that you have given up on?
While watching my son play in the yard with the neighborhood kids, I received a call from an old friend whom I had not spoken with in a very long time. He described his life now and what he had been through the past couple of years. Being the kind hearted listener that I am, I reminded him that I will always listen without judgement anytime he is willing to talk. He paused and then, in kindness, said, “I know you understand me, James, and you may have been ready to listen, but I wasn’t in a place to tell.”
This was a fantastic reminder to me that timing involves both parties. Being someone who can offer a safe, judgement free space and an ear to listen, with a focus on understanding, is only one part of the equation. The other person has to be ready. What someone needs in order to be ready to tell you what is happening on their side can be varied and even tenuous.
When we offer a patient ear, we may need to practice a level of patience that transcends our normal conversational expectations. We may need to give time. Real time. More than we think is appropriate based on our own limited understanding of the situation.
My experiment for today was to improvise a story based on ten random words from TextFixer’s Random Word Generator. With no preconception of the story I would tell, I decided that I would use one generated word, in order, per sentence, and loop them until the story had some sort of ending. I gave myself the limitation of not using the delete key and only editing for grammar afterward and not for content.
Here are the words: westwork, eight, brightly, elsewhere, elephants, wartime, already, ideal, headquarters, freakish.
Results are below!
Ethan stepped to the edge of Westwork Inc’s rooftop, his polished wing tip shoes peeking over the street forty floors below. It was three minutes till eight which meant he had three minutes to make a very difficult decision. He glanced at the Westwork illuminated logo three floors below him, its soulless neon shining brightly on the windows of condominiums one street over. Ethan wanted to be elsewhere, anywhere, even home, if it meant escaping his entangled fate. Footsteps sounded like elephants on the metal stairs leading upward to the roof exit. He turned around and faced the door, his adrenaline causing his heart to percuss upon his rib cage as though in wartime. The seconds were stretching as he breathed-in the end he knew was already upon him. He held out a small pistol he had taken from David’s desk drawer, though not ideal, it would speak to his intent. The door opened revealing a stream of armed FBI agents, two of whom he recognized from his last visit to headquarters. As they lined up around him, he made his decision and raised the pistol toward the nearest agent, his face broadening to a freakish grin.
“Ethan, you don’t need to do this” Said one of the more familiar agents “Westwork doesn’t deserve your loyalty.” From his pocket, a chime played on his cell phone indicating it was eight o’clock. Two of the closest gunmen switched on their flashlights brightly illuminating the rain soaked roof. Elsewhere, sounds of a helicopter grew louder though not in sight. He remembered a story about elephants who learned to be helpless when, as babies, their tails were tied to a stake in the ground. Ethan let the gun go limp in his hand as he stepped backward off the ledge, his final contribution to the wartime project, to Westwork inc, and to David. An agent rushed forward to catch him, but it was already too late, and Ethan was already free.