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What I'm Doing, (Maybe Where 🙂 & Why

I did a sales call sometime late last month. It was part of a job interview for another sales position.

Sometimes, I'll tell people that I do these sales interviews when I don't need the job because I want to improve my communication skills. Or, that I want to improve my sales skills for my own businesses.

But, I think the truth is that COVID has left me more isolated than usual and I want to connect with more people while gaining more opportunities to practice what I learn in PU.

The interviewer said she noticed that I'm very analytical. And, that's due in part to me using so many of the techniques I learned from the sales, persuasion, and negotiation Masterclasses I've taken in addition to some handy PU frame control. So, I appeared to always have a line ready or a script in my head of what I should say next because "this person said this, so I should respond like this to get them to think this".

The problem, said the interviewer, is that I didn't exactly seem "human". There were moments when I would smile, laugh, or communicate genuine understanding and she said that, in those moments, I was very charming. Yet, outside of that, I seemed very analytical.

After that interview, there was a disagreement that I had with John in this very forum. And, I admired the way Lucio handled the situation with a seemingly empathetic, caring, "we can all learn from this, it's OK," attitude. I wanted to be that understanding in my own life and daily situations because I could feel that it was coming from a place of love for his community and others. It felt human. So, I asked him how he did it. And, he told me it's about empathy.

Needless to say, I spent every day since then doing my best to practice empathy in an effort to develop a deeper love for people so I could become more "human". And, that's because the truth is, that interviewer was right. I wasn't human. Not yet. And, I knew that.

HOW I BECAME "LESS HUMAN" 

When I was 16-years-old, I was abandoned and left to die. I've spent every day since then trying to be for myself and others what no one was for me because I believe no one should ever have to experience the pain that I felt in those days—especially not at such a young age. I had become suicidal and the experience gave me PTSD (according to my therapist).

That point in my life was so devastating that I no longer knew how to interact with people. I spent a lot of time in my hospital bed with all of the lights and TV off, thinking of why everyone had turned their backs on me, including people I had spent years nurturing relationships with. But, mostly, I was thinking of reasons to continue living.

From that point forward, interactions became a sort of transaction. When I saw people, I saw them as only being willing to take an interest or curiosity in me if there was something in it for them. After all, if my friends and family had a big enough incentive—if I had been a billionaire or celebrity—they would have been there for me when I was being pumped full of morphine and rushed into surgery with no guarantee of living to see tomorrow. At least, that's what I told myself and began to believe. So, hardened by my harsh experience, I figured this is the way I should've been moving throughout the world all along and began to see others as only being worth what they could do for me as well.

When I was practicing empathy as a young teen, it was about accepting the challenge of taking an interest in others first and doing my best to keep the conversation more focused on them instead of talking about myself, even though I was in pain. Even though I wanted others to take an interest in me because, deep down, I didn't know how to live anymore.

And, that's where I struggled. I started to ask myself, "Why am I doing so much to empathize with this person if, chances are, they aren't going to reciprocate by taking a genuine interest in me? This feels like a waste of time."

So, I started to talk to God again. It was my way of coping because I knew I'd start to see myself as "crazy" if I got into the habit of talking to myself or to the wall. And, I brought up Lucio's message to me on empathy and how to do it. And, I remembered a verse that goes, "Treat thy neighbor as thyself."

The reason empathy wasn't working for me is because I wasn't treating myself well. The way I treat myself is harsh, difficult, and relentless. I feel like I had to become this way to climb out of my personal hell on my own after being where I was in life. So, I was never able to imagine myself treating anyone how I treat myself on a regular basis and that caused me to focus more on getting empathy back and less on giving real, genuine empathy.

Then, it hit me. I already knew the answer all along because I had already said it. I want to be for others what no one was for me.

It's not about loving my neighbor as myself now, but as myself when I was 16 and wanted someone to be there for me, wanted someone to understand my pain, and wanted someone to save me.

When I took that step back, my whole outlook on life and people changed.

The woman on the other end of the mock sales call went from being a "sales call" to a woman who is working toward her goals and scheduled this call seeking help. Seeking a way forward just as I was seeking a way forward to my own goal: making it out of my personal hell.

The cashier who was only a "cashier" that might make good small talk suddenly became a young adult looking for someone to start an engaging conversation with them because they're going through their own pain that life throws...the same way I wanted someone to talk to me when I was working as a cashier and wanted a sign that someone actually cared about me.

Every interaction suddenly became an opportunity to be for myself and others what no one was for me. To be for myself the parent I needed by pushing myself into somewhat uncomfortable situations that build character (such as a random conversation with a total stranger). And, to be for others the friend they haven't met yet just like I wanted a friend to be there for me, stand by my side, and help me find a reason to live again.

I'm still working on this mindset of empathy, but I think I get it now. It wasn't only about "understanding". That only left me thinking, "OK, I get their situation. So, what?" It's about what I can do for others through understanding. "OK, it sounds like this person...I bet they could use a laugh, or good conversation, or good advice in the form of information, etc."

Because, the last thing I want is for anyone to ever have to experience what I went through. To feel the pain that I felt. And, it was always when it was clearly obvious that someone was experiencing pain similar to mine that I would go out of my way to reach out, empathize, and do everything I could to help. At that point, I didn't need an incentive to help them because I had lived their pain already. And, I knew that I would have wanted someone to do that for me when I was in that pain.

Yet, I'm now faced with an opportunity to seek out the less obvious ways that others are like me (that others are in pain). The less obvious points of common ground.

I think that this time, whenever I'm presented with a social interaction or an opportunity for one, I'm going to try asking myself, "Would 16-year-old me have wanted this?" And, if the answer is yes, to go do that.

P.S. If you guys have any notes on this journal entry, please feel free to share. I'm looking to learn and grown and empathy is something that's very important to me these days.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Thank you very much for sharing this story!
It is a gift to the people on this forum.
I personally really appreciate it.

It looks like there were a vast amount of challenges along the way.
But you overcame a lot of those challenges.

It must have taken a lot of courage to look at yourself, write this post and share it on this forum.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Yeah, awesome and touching entry, Ali.

Glad you passed that period, and glad it was helpful to make you a better person.

Couple of notes from my side:

EMPATHY VS SYMPATHY

Empathy is knowing what others are feeling, while sympathy is feeling it yourself.

Sympathy "always on" can be a risk in life, since more manipulative people can latch onto it to take advantage of you (see "guilt-tripping" just as an example).
So it's good being able to "switch it off" sometimes.

ON BEING "NATURAL"

Many people, and most often guys, aren't naturally born and equipped with high levels of emotional intelligence and social skills.

I certainly wasn't one of those lucky ones.

I remember looking at some people around me growing up and thinking "wow, they're so good with people".
Now I meet many of those people again and I'm thinking "Jesus, these guys are really handicapping themselves socially".

So what I'm saying is your tough experience growing up might not necessarily be the reason why you weren't coming across as "natural".
Sometimes the reason is simpler: some of us just weren't born with an intuitive feel for social and power dynamics.

And that's great news!
No therapy to fix anything needed, nobody to blame, and all upsides from there.
Just some learning and experience and you can soon surpass 99% of those who were born with higher levels of emotional intelligence and social skills.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you for saying that, Matthew! I'm glad you appreciate it.

Admittedly, I was thinking about not writing it. But, I knew I needed a place to put this mental shift that I had and I couldn't think of a better place than this forum.

And, thanks for that note, Lucio. I found myself searching too hard to go beyond simple understanding and actually wanted to always feel what they're feeling. Your post will help bring me more clarity on how I should adjust moving forward.

Cheers!

*Warning: This is one of those journal entries that I usually keep in my personal journal.

Not feeling my best. And, I'm not sure what to do.

I'm not lost or hopeless, I'm tired. I feel like I've been fighting for a long time.

I got some news from my doctor last month I wasn't too happy to hear. Thought the worst was behind me since the bloodwork was looking good, but the meds started to give me side-effects we couldn't ignore.

So, they sent me to "nuclear medicine". They hooked me up to an IV where they flooded me with some radiation to get a closer look at my organs before they put me under this giant machine. We figured out what's wrong and, of course, it has to do with the same issue we've been trying to fix for the last four to five years.

I feel like a mess. I always thought it was funny how in some movies there would be the girl who had her heart broken by some guy after a break-up, and the girls would rush over to drink wine with her and dry her tears. I always wondered why I didn't have a support group like that. I looked to my family to be that support group, but they expected me to be tougher than my circumstances at every turn.

When I was 15, they laughed at me for crying when I told them my girlfriend had passed away. My mother told me I have the devil inside of me any time I didn't do what she wanted as a form of manipulation (which led me to fight her often as a form of self-rejection). My father was, at times, physically abusive on his bad days which seemed to be every day he had gotten back from work.

So, I bottled up everything. When child services showed up at my school and called me into their office, I told them my story. In the end, they asked me, "Is there anything else you'd like to tell us, or you'd like for us to know?" I said, "Yeah, don't believe anything she says." Stupid, young me. Of course, they weren't going to follow that request. They went to my house and my mother befriended them. They left believing everything was OK, and I got some of the worst abuse I'd ever seen in my life in the following years after that day.

I've come a long way since then. Which, I suppose, is what's causing my tiredness. My health isn't improving anymore, so the surgeons are going to have to cut me open again to take another look at what's going on. I wanted all of this to be over so I could move on with my life. People didn't look at me as being worth anything when I was slowly wasting away in hospital beds. I never want to go back to that place again. So, now, I have some more fighting to do if I'm going to make sure I never do.

STARTING A BUSINESS

I'm still on my mission to be for myself and others what no one was for me. That's why I continue my self-development and share my reviews of courses I take on this website. I believe in TPM and I believe everyone here is leading a better future. Regardless of how old you are reading this, you guys are contributing toward creating the world I would have wanted to grow up and live in. A world where people had this kind of information to be better fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, friends, leaders, and people.

And, when I was growing up, I always wanted to start a business. I was watching a lot of YouTube videos learning everything I could about how to do it and which one to start.

I've joined a program (it cost me $1,997) to learn more about entrepreneurship from an entrepreneur who owns a multi-million dollar business. It's a really great program so far. And, when I'm feeling up to it, I'm coming straight back here to share what I've learned for all of you.

As soon as I'm back on my feet. I'm not giving up, I'm just tired. I'll be back soon.

Lucio Buffalmano, Matthew Whitewood and selffriend have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoMatthew Whitewoodselffriend

Not happy to read this, Ali.

Stay strong man, my thoughts are with you, and a big hug.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Unfortunate to hear of these events, Ali.

I am here with you in this challenging time.
I have gained a lot through our conversations on this forum.

@matthew92379, @lucio

Thanks for the love, everyone!

And, special thank you to everyone who reached out to me via my personal email and phone. It really meant a lot to me.

Done with the scans:

And, feeling a whole lot better :).

I feel more rested now, so I'm going to do my best to get back into my groove in the forum.

I gotta say, my first couple of days without the TPM forum were rough. I was like a drug addict twitching and itching to come back and see you guys :D.

Happy to be back now, looking forward to catching up on everything I missed. And, hope you guys had a great Valentine's Day!

Lucio Buffalmano, Matthew Whitewood and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoMatthew WhitewoodBrightDemonselffriend

Very happy to hear that you are doing well!
Welcome back to the forum!

Great that everything turned out alright in the end.

Looking forward to catching up with you in the forum too.

Awesome, awesome to read that, Ali, very happy about it.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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