When cellular phones were just becoming popular in my country, there was a particular phone that most people owned. This eventually gave rise to the slang “me too”. People would often say, “you have one of those? Me too!” You have probably shared a similar experience with someone, maybe regarding a different item. A couple years ago, both internationally and locally, there was the #metoo movement. This movement was geared towards addressing the issue of sexual violence and sexual harassment against women. It is also a way to encourage empathy and solidarity among those who have suffered as a result of sexual violence.
Both of these examples remind us, that we are never alone in an experience. No experience or situation is unique to just us. When we feel hurt or experience a painful or difficult situation, it is normal to feel like the particular thing has happened to us alone. This leads to feeling alone and isolated. As those feelings persist we find ourselves slipping deeper and deeper into an abyss of self-loathing. I am here to remind you, that you are not alone. Life is imperfect, humanity is imperfect, and whatever you are experiencing, there is someone else who can relate. Professor and author, Dr. Kristen Neff, refers to this as common humanity. It is the understanding that suffering and feelings of inadequacy is part of the shared human experience.
You Are Not Alone
When we look at things from this perspective, we feel less alone and isolated and recover more quickly from setbacks and painful experiences. Dare I say that this should be one of the first steps in our recovery – understanding and accepting the idea of shared humanity and that we are never alone. Whatever situation you are facing right now; you are not alone.
In her book Self-Compassion, Dr. Neff talks about an exercise called, “lines that divide us”. It was used with adolescents, and is designed to promote feelings of connectedness with their peers. The students were asked to line up on one side of the gym and a series of hurtful experiences were called out. Students were asked to cross over to the other side if they ever had that experience. For example, “please cross the line if you have ever been bullied, teased” … been humiliated”, etcetera. At some point all of the adolescents crossed the line. An indication that they have all suffered. Showing their shared humanity and connectedness. Showing the “me too” idea.
#Me Too – Helping Others
There are times when we are afraid to share with someone else what we have experienced or are experiencing, we may be afraid to speak up. But if we do, we will realize that the other person has either felt the same way or have had the same experience or know someone else who has. By speaking up you very well may find the help that you need, or even help someone else.
A favorite Bible verse of mine says, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Cor. 1:4. NLT). We have seen this demonstrated in a number of circumstances. Someone goes through a traumatic experience and uses it to inspire and to encourage others who may be going through a similar experience. It has resulted in several books, speeches and television shows. But this is not just for those who have become popular or recognized for doing so. It can also be applied to you and I, in our own lives. Every day, in small but meaningful ways, we can use our experiences to help someone else who may be going through the very same thing or something similar.
Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged
Another benefit of accepting our common humanity and embracing the idea of “me too”, is that it encourages us to be less judgmental and critical of others. In as much as you are hurting, the other person is hurting as well. Wouldn’t you like to be shown kindness and compassion when you are in pain? You have flaws and imperfections, you have been wronged in situations, so too has the other person. We are all imperfect. Don’t be too quick to judge or criticize. Too often we judge others, giving our mouths liberty and speaking on situations in other people’s lives, when we do not have all the facts or have not taken the time to consider the situation from their perspective. Too often, we judge when what is really needed is compassion.
Related: You are Enough
The next time you are tempted to judge or criticize another person, I want you to think, “me too”. That person has a shortcoming, “me too”, that person has made a mistake, “me too”, that person has been hurt, “me too”. That person is in need of love and compassion, “me too”. There is a popular quote which says, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
Matthew 7:1-2 cautions us, “do not judge others and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” (NLT)
Don’t Take It Personally
The other benefit of thinking in terms of “me too”, is that it will help you to not take people’s behaviors and attitudes towards you, personally. I participated in a recent book club discussion on Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements. One of the agreements he talks about in the book, is not taking things personally. “Whatever happens to you don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” You should not take it personally, because that person’s behavior has more to do with their own self, ideas, issues, pain, hurt, experiences, bias, etcetera, than it has to do with you. Think, that person has internal scars, “me too”.
I asked the question whether this meant that we should ignore when people are mean or rude to us or hurt us? Do I give them a pass, because I should not take things personally? A group member graciously responded, “it does not mean that we excuse bad behavior or do not stand up for ourselves or protect ourselves when necessary, but rather we do not hold on to things longer than we should.” The “me too” idea, can help us with that. Try to see yourself in the other person. Try to see that common humanity. Also, when we see that the other person is operating from a place of pain, resulting in them hurting us, we do not let the hurt consume us. We do not hold on to it longer than we should. We process it and let it go.
Humanity is a shared experience and it is imperfect. Thus, you are not alone in any situation you are facing. Allowing yourself to feel alone and isolated and staying in that place for too long will cause your recovery to take longer and make it more difficult. Use your experiences and the idea of this common humanity to help others. Do not judge or criticize others, but instead show compassion and love. Embracing the idea of “me too”, encourages greater compassion towards self and others. When dealing with others think always in terms of “me too”.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it feel free to share it with a friend. I would also love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
One reply on “#Me Too – 3 Benefits of Shared Humanity”
Me too# I can only say powerful.