Having friends over for dinner can be stressful. You have to clean up the house, plan a fancy meal, and pick up dessert. You have to set the table with the fancy dishes and tablecloth. You will have guests for three to four hours and still have to clean up everything after they leave.
Let’s make hosting simpler, more frequent, and less formal with B.Y.O.D. — Bring Your Own Dinner.
Formal dinner hosting like this can be overwhelming, which may explain why it doesn’t happen more often. We have convinced ourselves it has to be some big fancy event.
Forget that! The point is to enjoy everyone’s company; dinner is merely icing on the cake. There is no reason this can’t be a casual, once a week event.
The other day I talked to an old friend. It turns out, she actually cares about finances. Now let me remind you wife and I have been debt-free since early 2010 and have taught Financial Peace University twice — and yet it’s still hard to find people who actively want to improve their finances.
So it was refreshing to discuss money with her. But to top it off, she asked for us to keep her accountable to her budget! The answer was a most obvious yes. She’s level-headed, didn’t whine about trading restaurants for retirement, and even listened to a couple of our ideas.
My jaw hit the floor and stayed there for some time.
Wife and I assumed people like this existed somewhere in the universe. I’ve heard of them, and even met a few. But man are they rare. Wife and I had pretty much given up hope of being close to any of them. Let alone mentor one.
It’s such a temptation to curate your own image. To manipulate your role as projectionist: portraying only the best side while hiding the worst.
Where does that path lead? In the short term, it’s a get out of jail free card. An escape from an embarrassing situation. A way to save face and prevent judgment.
In the long term, it leads to the realization you are a phony. Lacking authenticity.
Incapable of being yourself.
You can’t stop people from trying to shame you. It’s a telltale sign of insecurity and pride issues, which are all too common.
But there’s something you should know about shame.
I get it. Your boss/sister/friend/acquaintance has just blamed/caught/scolded/embarrassed/confronted you in a devastating way. Then shame flowed out of you. You wanted to crawl into a hole and hide, it felt so bad.
Just realize it doesn’t have to be this way.
Shame is the result of interaction between two parties. One sends, the other receives.
There is no force involved. Both sides willingly participate.
The receiver, however, often feels helpless against the attack and internalizes awful feelings as he has many times before. He assumes he has no defense.
Boy, do I disagree.
Let’s hear what Seth Godin has to say in his book The Icarus Deception:
The thing is, shame is a choice. It’s worth repeating. Shame can’t be forced on you. It must be accepted.
–Seth Godin (emphasis added)
There’s no stopping others from casting shame in your direction. You cannot control what others do.
But there’s nothing forcing you to accept and internalize it.
Why do you accept shame? What would it take for you to deny it instead?
The more I open my eyes, the more I see the scars of deep sorrow. Pain wears the masks of friends and coworkers. They travel wearily with heavy footsteps — walking bags of hurt.
Brown paper bags held together by shadows.
Yet no one escapes difficulties, troubles, and trials. No one is spared anguish or hardship as overwhelming lessons are learned.
Will you see for yourself?
The woman who just cut you off on the highway? Hurting.
The young man who delivered the pizza? Broke, yes. Yet broken.
The child running around the playground? Missing her daddy, whom she visits twice a month.
The nice old man next door? Widower. Ignored by his children.
Your boss? Numb from alcohol and other distractions.
You feel like no one has noticed, but we have. You try to keep it hidden inside despite how much worse it makes you feel. Still your pride forces you to isolated misery in the dark corner.
In some areas you are strong and confident. In others you are a helpless infant, crying from fear and lack of trust and hopelessness.
The rest of us are the same. We also struggle and fall.
You are simply not aware of when or how. Not yet.
Remembering this allows you empathy for each walking bag of hurt you find, each person screaming silently in thin skin.
Knowing this, how will you treat others?