Thursday Thought: Shameless Worth

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

Today on my facebook feed I saw this:


Immediately I was taken back to various times I was shamed as a kid. No specific instances, but the feeling of being shamed. The lowering of my eyes, my head, my heart, my being.

The thing is, when I was a kid I didn’t know exactly what was happening. I just knew you felt bad. I didn’t know how to articulate myself that I was not a bad person, even if I might have done a bad thing.

My mom’s been dead and gone for more than 20 years now and I can still hear her voice in my head when I make mistakes in my life. Or even if mistakes are made in general, that I, of course, (must have) had something to do with.

“Dian, what did you do?”

Because I was taught by shaming that everything that goes wrong must be my fault, even if that wasn’t my mom’s intention. I immediately begin wracking my brain for the little thing I might have done to contribute to whatever wrong thing happened. And then once I find the thing I think I did, I begin thinking of ways to get around getting blamed for it. Because being blamed means being shamed; one was synonymous with the other.

I think of the lies I will tell so I don’t get in trouble. I think of other things I might have been doing instead, or some reasonable sounding thing I could have been thinking about in order to make me have done such a thing, if I do get found out.

All of that in a 10-second span out of fear of being shamed again. By a woman who’s been dead for 25 years.

I still have to practice actively considering if it’s safe to tell the truth or not.  Growing up, it wasn’t always safe in my house to tell the truth. Sometimes my mom would blow up at me, rage against the machine. I saw my mom as rage and me, the machine as a teenager. I had to be a machine and do everything right, perfect, without flaw, else suffer the repercussions. Sometimes, even in the smallest of situations.

Even as I’ve grown older (and progressed after years of therapy), the feeling, the behavior, the habit stays with me.

Take a few weeks ago when my wife was traveling. I stopped on the way home to get a burger from McDonalds because I just didn’t have the energy to make something — or pull food out of the fridge and reheat it.

After finishing my burger and fries I threw away the bag and before my wife got home from her trip I took the trash down to the dumpster so she wouldn’t see the remnants of my failure to be a good wife and eat the food she’d made. Only an idiot would do that. Only a disrespectful child whose only concern in life was herself would do that. Only a bad person would do that.

I have to remind myself that this is not my wife speaking. This is not even me speaking. This is my mother speaking, and in her worst moments, at that.

The irony about that particular incident is that I left the receipt out on the counter and when my wife came home she saw I’d eaten McD’s anyway. She made a small (non-shaming) joke about it, we laughed, and it was over. No wrath. No shame. No one was right or wrong.

There are countless other times where, when asked what I had for lunch or dinner–the question out of sheer curiosity–I have had to fight myself to tell the truth if I didn’t have a homemade green salad with grilled chicken and steamed veggies. I have to remind myself that I’m an adult and I can eat what I want. I have to remind myself that I’m not a bad person, even if I chose a burger and fries over heating up some soup.

I love my mom. She was a great mom; except when she wasn’t, of course. I don’t begrudge her for the mistakes she made as a parent. I also don’t want to be a victim of her mistakes my entire life.

My mom’s death when I was 16 had me grow up way too fast. And still, it took years and years (ten of them) of therapy before I was able to understand that I was (am) a worthy human being, regardless of the mistakes I make. That even though the mistakes I make have an impact on other human beings, I am not a bad or disrespectful or worthless human being because I made the mistake.

If shame is a part of how you raise your kids, you’re not a bad person. And also, there’s room for change to be a better parent. To teach your kids that making a mistake is not the same thing as being a bad person.

And if you grew up like me, thinking that every mistake was another drop in the [Your Name Here] is Worthless Bucket, practice being kind to yourself as you come to learn that only you get to decide what yourself worth is tied to, and it doesn’t have to be your mistakes.

Thursday Thought: Mind the Gap

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

When traveling by train we’re told to mind the gap. The gap between the safety of the platform and the safety of the train.

When traveling on your journey in life, there’s a gap to mind, too.

The gap between where you are now and where you want to be. That space between the two can be scary, exhilarating, life affirming, dangerous, and all of the above. After all, it’s the unknown.

That gap can be innocuous, though, if you’re aware it’s there and prepare to navigate through it.

In April my wife and I embarked on a journey from California to Illinois. We packed up our belongings, ourselves, and our animals and began a 2100-mile drive toward the unknown.

Except there were a lot of knowns. We knew where we would stop along the way. We knew where we would live once we arrived. What we didn’t know was what it would be like once we got here. Enter, the gap.

As a lifelong Angeleno I had no idea what it would be like to live anywhere else. Six months into my new life as a Chicagoan, I’m still minding that gap.

Winter is coming, they tell me. I’ve been told by strangers over and over again that I’ll be back in California after a year, that a Californian–an Angeleno, no less!–won’t be able to hack it in the biting cold of Chicago. I’ve seen the look in friends’ eyes, that I’m crazy for leaving behind the good weather and people of LA. Their words are encouraging and well wishing, but their eyes give away their fear on my behalf.

What feels big for you may feel small to another, and vice versa. Sometimes there’s a gap to mind in that, as well. This gap contains the negative feedback I’ll need to work through to feel solid once again in my decision.

Fall is actually here now and I need to consult the air outside to determine which clothes are appropriate for a run, going out for a meal, or taking Jackson for a walk.

The gap contains thought processes I rarely had to contend with in my former LA life.

When my wife travels for business I’m lonelier than before, because friends were always a short(ish) drive away and even if I didn’t make the drive back then, just knowing it was an option was comforting.

The gap contains navigating friendships in new ways so I don’t end up blaming Chicago, my wife, or myself for my loneliness (although the latter would be closest to the truth, but not for the reasons I would be telling myself).

There are many more gaps in this relocation that I’ll need to mind, but awareness that they’re there (or will be) is the first step to minding them. Only if I’m on the lookout for the gaps can I put myself in a position to mind them.

To be yourself is all that you can do.”
— Audioslave

Thursday Thought: Judgement

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

We tend to judge others by their behavior, and ourselves by our intentions.

Most people lie. Like 60%. On a daily basis. Like every 10 minutes.

Heck, 80% of women admit they occasionally tell “harmless half-truths.”

But when it comes to judging others about the behaviors they display, we do so without taking into account our own behavior.

The next time you feel yourself compelled to judge someone I implore you to take a deep breath and look back at your own behavior. It’s not going to change what anyone else has done, but it might change the way you see and/or feel about that behavior, or even that person.

If it’s about something small, find a way to let it go. How many times have you presented the almost-but-not-quite as the truth? And why do we do this? Speaking for myself, insecurity and fear.

If it’s about something big, dig deeper to understand why one might tell a lie like that. Speaking again from my own experience:

  • fear – when I was a kid I made up stories about why I was late for fear of consequences: if I could make it not my fault, I might escape punishment by my mom
  • hiding a different truth or reality (also fear)- I lied about having a brother with cancer when i was in middle school because I desperately needed attention but felt ashamed to admit that I was being molested by my mom’s boyfriend

Really, the big lies boil down to fear. So when someone is telling a big lie, remember they’re afraid of something bigger than the lie they’re telling. Also remember it’s not about you.

So maybe it’s time to skip the judgment, offer some grace and compassion, and save judgment for another day.

Thursday Thought: So Can You (Friday Edition)

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

If they can do it, so can you.

A couple months ago I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Chicago and saw a sign that read, “If Trump can run, so can you!” While that was bit bit of a play on words, it got me thinking about the whole, ‘if they can ____, so can you!” idea.

Which can be true. Except when we’re not willing to do what it takes in order to make ____ happen.

Take for example: If my friend Heather can finish a half marathon in under 2 hours, so can I. We’re roughly the same age, neither of us have kids, we both work out, and we both like to run.

Except … Heather works out twice a day. Heather makes different food and beverage choices than I do.

So I can’t just start training for a half marathon and expect that I’m going to beat my best time by nearly 10 minutes without a LOT of hard work. I need to be willing to commit to working out a bit harder and longer. I need to be willing to commit to changing my eating and drinking habits. I need to be willing to stick with these changes for the whole of my training, even when it’s hard or hot or cold or there are 10 other things I’d rather be doing.

It’s not that I can’t run a half marathon in under 2 hours. It’s that I can’t just say, If she can do it, so can I! There’s more to it than that.

I have to be willing to be honest about who I need to be to accomplish that goal. I have to be willing to realize that what works for Heather to achieve her goal may not work for me. I need to be willing to make adjustments. I have to be willing to do the things necessary in order for me to stretch to meet that goal.

Or I have to be willing to update my goal to fit something that works for me.

Maybe I update my timeline. Maybe I update the goal itself. Maybe I shift the goal in a new direction. Maybe I decide to change the goal itself entirely. Or maybe I decide that goal isn’t really important to me and I want to work toward something that I can truly commit to for a defined period of time.

So yes, it’s certainly true that if they can, so can you. And also:

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Community and Conversation

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

Another black man shot and killed by police. Another hashtag.

More anger in the black community.

More deflecting in the white community.

More fear in every community.

I understand the inclination to rage against the machine.

I understand the inclination to bury one’s head in the sand.

I understand that nothing is truly black and white.

I understand that there are always many sides to the same story.

I understand the complete and utter lack of belief that anything will change.


We need to be able to talk about our experiences openly. With curiosity and without shame. With humility and without judgment. With a true desire to hear, see, embrace something we’ve been missing all along.


I’m reminded of an India.Arie song, Better People:

there are skirts of information
That you can only get in conversation when…

Young People, who talk to
Old People, it would make us
Better People, all around…
(Yes it would)


If black people
Would talk to white people
It would make us
Better People
All Around….

If Republican people would
Talk to Democratic people
It would make us diplomatic people
[laugh] All Around…..

But not just talk, listen. Really listen. The act of taking in the sounds, the words, the emotion, the meaning of what someone is saying without trying to formulate an immediate response.

I don’t know how to change the world, I only know that when the world has changed before it’s rarely been by the act of one man, one woman doing a single big thing. That change has come from many people doing many small things that contribute to big change.

There is not one way forward, but many. There is so much we can do by way of active dialogue. If only we would listen during this dialogue, we might be able to make forward progress.


This conversation needs to continue and progress.

Thursday Thought: Reality

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

Last week a client brought this 2005 Kenyon College commencement speech by David Foster Wallace into my awareness:

Can’t view the YouTube video above? Watch it here:

I’ve been thinking about the content of this video all week. Considering realities that are not the default reality I’m habitually inclined to run to and believe at first experience.

Creating awareness around when I snap to judgement based on my habitual reality before considering any other possible reality.

Being mindful about accepting that one or more of those realities is truly possible, even if not probable.

And then being inspired by those potential realities to adjust my actions in a way that makes me feel good about who I am and how I’m behaving.

That last part, I’m still working on. I’m striving for practice making me better, not perfect–and even that is a work in progress.

What reality are you accepting today?

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