How does it work then?

So down to the details. This is an interview blog. I have compiled a list of twenty-one questions which I chose in order to explore some of the emotions we all experience most commonly. The facts of your answers are secondary. It’s your feelings and thoughts surrounding the details of your life that I’m interested in. For example, you might not be able to tell me that you ran over your neighbour’s cat in case they find out but you can tell me how you felt when “this thing” happened.

file000470641314I will need to record our conversations so as to do justice to your answers and not rely on my note-taking or memory alone. I feel that it’s easier to connect with people when you can see them so I will try to speak with you face-to-face. The ideal would be to meet in person (hopefully with some tea and cake involved) but I know that may not be physically possible so the next best option will have to be recorded Skype conversations. I may need to reassess this in the future but for now, that’s the plan. I would love it if I could publish some of these conversations as videos on the blog. I think if someone can see your eyes and facial expressions when you are speaking, it’s easier to make a connection. For the moment, I will leave this as optional. If you feel  it’s something you wouldn’t mind doing, please let me know.

So let me outline the good bits and the, ahem, less good bits.

Good Bits

  1. You will be doing a good thing. Someone who feels alone or isolated may read your story and feel less alone and isolated. So it’s like being a super-hero with very little physical effort. Sort of.
  2. How often do you get to give an interview without being some sort of celebrity/expert –type? I’m just interested in you and I want to hear your story.
  3. This is entirely voluntary.
  4. I will publish the twenty-one questions in my next blog post so it’s really like one of those open-book exams. You can swot up before you’re asked anything.
  5. You can change your mind at any time after offering to take part.
  6. You can pass on any question but I won’t publish the interview if there are five or more passes.
  7. I will email you your interview after it’s completed and before publication so you can change anything you’re not comfortable with. I will also show you your video interview, if you choose to do one, before publication so you can opt out at that stage.
  8. You can ask me to take down your interview at any time after publication.
  9. I will approve any comments made on this blog before they are published – so no nasty trolls to deal with.
  10. I’d rather if the interviews were not anonymous but I’m open to negotiation on this one.

Slightly, you know, awkward bits

  1. The questions are not easy. Even the positive ones are hard. I’ve answered them myself and there’s one I had to pass on.
  2. You will feel uncomfortable answering some of the questions. There’s no way for me to make that easier for you I’m afraid.
  3. People (hopefully lots of people) will hear your story.
  4. There may be repercussions from your bravery. Mostly positive, but possibly some negative ones too.
  5. If you are a naturally private person, as I am, this will be really difficult. I understand this completely and appreciate the effort it will take to do this. Even if we don’t get a finished product for publication from the interview process, at least you tried.
  6. Some of us will never be able to get over the fear of being vulnerable. We may dress it up as being “cautious” or “sensible”, but it boils down to being afraid of an adverse outcome, mainly that we will be judged by our peers to be unworthy and be rejected. If you are unable to take part in an interview, I ask that you do one thing. I ask that you think about the fear that stops you and how much better the world would be if we didn’t have to feel this fear. There are enough scary things out there besides being terrified of the opinion of our equally flawed, equally scared neighbour. And maybe pass this blog address to that person whom you are most afraid of judging you.

So that’s basically it. To be honest, I was holding off on publicising this blog until it was an all-singing, all-dancing, fireworks-shooting-out-of-your-USB-port phenomenon. But then I realised that I wasn’t helping anyone as long as I was labouring over every word. It’s a pretty simple idea. We have a chat, I pass it on and someone else hopefully reads it and feels better because you shared your story. So let’s get started.

Contact me on –

Email : STWYMO@gmail.com

Twitter : @NiamhSTWYMO

Or leave a comment.

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What’s it all about?

Welcome to Show Them What You’re Made Of  (STWYMO). The aim of this blog is to promote positive mental health by re-igniting our empathy and strengthening our connections to each other.

Every one of us knows what it feels like to be lonely and isolated from other people. Luckily, for most of us, those feelings are fleeting. But for some of us, they are constant companions, ever-present demons haunting our lives. We all know, if ignored, they can lead on to depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicide.

file000939307933We get caught up in our ordinary lives, racing from homes and families, to jobs and friends. In the midst of all this, we sometimes forget to see the people around us. We like to think of ourselves as empathic, caring, understanding people but sometimes we just forget. Above the noise of life, we just don’t hear the people who need to be heard most.

“The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: Me too.” This is according to Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, whose viral TED talks on the power of vulnerability and listening to shame partly inspired this blog. (See links on the sidebar.)

holding hands

For many years before coming across those talks, I wondered how we could get to a place where we could let down our guards and be more open about our struggles, our failures, our shame so that not one of us would feel that there was no-one who would understand us in our darkest hours.

The idea behind this blog is that brave people share parts of their story so that those who feel they can’t share with anyone might see that, yes, there are others out there who have felt what I feel, who have thought the things that I think; that I am not abnormal, weird, unwell; that there are others in the world who might listen and understand if I choose to let them hear me.

So I invite you to be courageous, share your story with me and help that one scared person who reads it and hears “Me too” in your words.

Email : STWYMO@gmail.com

Twitter : NiamhSTWYMO

Or leave a comment.