Since all we can control in our entire life is how we feel, nothing else, he urges clients to take their often unruly reactions, that others trigger, and bring them back to your cave, mediation cushion, and therapeutic work so that you can fully understand the roots and lessons of any anger, joy, or frustrations. Joseph Campbell encourages us to do just that, “the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”.
As mentioned above, Bill critically touts and echoes the findings of Harvard’s 75-year longitudinal Grant Study: “the study’s most important finding is that the only thing that matters in life is relationships”
“What the research showed is there’s nothing more important in life than relationships,” O’Herron said of this study on the podcast Conversations with Connors. The health of the community, self, our success and the well-being of our children, everything comes down to relationships, period.
With regard to relationship building, O’Herron says that in order to really connect with and learn about someone else, the two key ingredients are empathy and vulnerability.
Vulnerability in this context means a willingness to risk sharing more about oneself. When we share our experiences, we make it easier for others to share theirs. It is a natural mammalian response, and this is where professional bonds emerge as a common ground is found. Take the risk to share more first.
“When you start hearing somebody talk about their vulnerability and their sense of rawness and just what life experiences they have had, it can trigger your desire to share,” O’Herron told Adam Connors. “It might not always do it, but that’s one way to start. But just being candid and vulnerable, it’s amazing. People start to respond.”
He goes on to say that the only way to truly empathize with another is to empathize with yourself.
“Mammals have this natural need to be empathetic and to relate,” O’Herron said. “The problem is we’re not relating to self. It’s hard to relate to others. It all comes back to self.” Our logic-based, adult attention resists our deeper, childhood-based reactions. We spend a ton of time avoiding this part of self he says. Why? Simple. Because there is fear, pain, and longing in there.
But to embrace these parts is to become wiser, more patient, and less unconscious. “The truly great and valuable lessons we learn in life are learned through pain. That’s why they call it ‘growing pains’ (Cancer, Schmancer).