I love podcasts. On some days, I find time to listen to them on my iPad while eating breakfast, working in the kitchen, riding my stationary bike, brushing my teeth, getting dressed for the day or undressed for bed. They expose me to the most interesting people and enrich my thinking and my life. Recently, I’ve found a new podcast that gives me a glimpse into fearful worlds that are foreign to me … Stephanie Lepp’s podcast, Reckonings: An Exploration of How People Change Their Hearts and Minds.
As a “people person” who spent my career working in spiritually-oriented healing modalities, I am fascinated with Stephanie’s topic … how people change their hearts and minds. It is my belief that if we are ever to heal our divided and fragmented world, it is important to grow in our capacity to understand the experience and perspective of “the other.” It seems a major challenge of our time.
Listening to the stories on Reckonings gives me a potent opportunity to enter the world of “the other,” to begin to understand their experience, and maybe even to develop empathy for them. I think Stephanie’s podcast has the potential to make a significant contribution to healing the divide we experience in our nation and world.
Confession: I live in a bubble. I tend to associate exclusively with like-minded people. Despite how counter-productive I know this to be, I have a tendency to project sinister intentions upon those with whom I disagree. I am increasingly aware that I am a part of the problem. I need to change.
While I have only listened to two episodes, I’m curious about others. On her site, Stephanie lists other guests:
- a deeply conservative Congressman who made a dramatic shift on climate change
- a high-powered health insurance executive turned healthcare reformer
- a white supremacist who became a force for non-violence
Here are my first two episodes:
- Episode 16: Halley, a teen overcoming bullying — Challenge Day at Halley’s high school is what led to her change of heart and mind. Challenge Day is an all-day anti-bullying workshop with a goal of breaking down separation and replacing it with compassion. It focuses on empowering the students to respond in a healthy way to the challenges over which they have no control (living in a violent home, mother being jailed, being bullied). Empathy is extended to those who bully. When Halley awakened to how her bullying affected others, she sobbed. Aware she couldn’t do anything about her past behavior, she changed to become a better person going forward. Her story of Challenge Day is between points 9.27 and 12.30 on the Soundcloud recording, though I think the story of Chris, the other teen who turned his life around is equally compelling.
Another confession: My predominant coping mechanism growing up was being a “good girl.” However, when I was a sixth grader, fueled by jealousy of a classmate, I did participate in bullying behavior. Spending what seemed like hours in the principal’s office being confronted with the destructive nature of my behavior was enough to change me. Fortunately, my classmate accepted my apology.
Stephanie points out that showing compassion and empathy to the bully increases their intellectual flexibility and capacity to be open to new ideas. When a better way is presented, bullies change their opinions and behavior. There is hope.
She also points out that the common denominator among the people she has interviewed who have had a change of heart and mind is “experience.” I was excited to hear that because last December I wrote another blog post about the wisdom of sharing our experience. If you are interested in revisiting that post, you can find it here.
- Episode 18: Joe Lindsley – Roger Ailes groomed Joe to take over for him when he retired as the CEO of Fox News. Ailes told Joe’s father that Joe was more like him than anyone he had ever met. A comment from Ailes’s wife about their eating habits caused Joe to begin to reflect about how he was like Ailes. Realizing that isolation, unhappiness, and sadness filled their world, he faced the power sadness had over them. His soul forced him to be honest with himself about what was missing and that led to the transformation of his heart and mind. He has now written a memoir about his experience titled, Fake News / True Story.
The world of Roger Ailes and Joe Lindsley is definitely foreign to me and one I don’t understand and find threatening. I suspected that fear motivated their behavior, but had not imagined the power sadness had over them nor the extent of their isolation and unhappiness.
Joe’s story of changing his heart and mind gives me hope for humanity. That I could for just a moment walk in their shoes, imagine what it must have been like in their world of paranoia, and and feel in my body their isolation and sadness gives me hope for myself.
Perhaps someday I will have the courage to move outside my bubble and actually enter into a dialogical conversation with a flesh and blood person who lives in a world foreign to me. And that means I will have to listen to the experience of the other and the meanings under their words. My training as an Imago Relationship Therapist certainly gives me the skills.
I’m pondering my next step.
I would love to hear about your experience of entering foreign worlds.