In this episode of The Silver Lining, Claude Silver revisits the old phrase “misery loves company”. She brings it into a more positive light. We can approach people who feel distressed and lonely with heart-centered leadership. For her, we can be the company that heals misery.
Read this if...
- You feel miserable
- You feel lonely
- You want to help people who are miserable or lonely
Claude Silver is the Chief Heart Officer of VaynerMedia, a full-service digital agency focused on creativity, media, and influencer marketing, among other things.
the distilld lessons (extended)
When we hear 'misery loves company', it's usually in a negative context. It's wht we say to someone who we want commiseration from, for our own string of bad luck.
Claude Silver turns the phrase around, and sees it in a positive light. In this episode of The Silver Lining, Claude talks about reverse-engineering "misery loves company".
For Claude, misery loving company is not 'emotional contagion'. It's a chance for connection. When one miserable person connects with another, their energies bounce off each other. We can intervene with our positivity, empathy, and perspective. We can be the company that heals the other person's misery.
Here are the distilld lessons inspired by the “Misery Loves Company” from the The Silver Lining:
1. Be curious
Claude says 'misery loves company' is like The Law of Attraction. Our thoughts, positive or negative, affect our experiences. If we have positive thoughts, we have positive life experiences. The same is true for negative thoughts.
The Law of Attraction also applies to human nature. Like attracts like. Claude says we're predisposed to feel the need to connect with others. This is why people who are feeling emotions of misery seek people feeling the same way.
Who do we connect with more than people like us? People who feel negative emotions seek and attract others who feel the same way. Optimists look for people who look at life in the same positive light. No matter our disposition, we want to be with other people going through the same thing.
We can instead be curious about why we're feeling miserable. What about our human condition makes us think 'misery loves company'? When we understand the underlying reasons, we can understand how to be the right company. We can identify the right company we need when we, ourselves, are feeling miserable.
2. Lean into vulnerability
We may not be able to control whether misery loves company, but we can address how we deal with it when we’re faced with the feeling.
Claude says that heart-centered leadership can help us heal others. This type of leading requires honesty and vulnerability. It takes looking into our own pain to show those who are hurting that they will heal. When someone is having a hard time, we can share our own difficulties and use it to connect with them.
If someone says, “I feel bad today”, we can reply with, “So do I”. We don't have to stop there. We can follow up with questions like, “What’s making you feel bad? How can I help?” Even if both of us might not feel so great, we can also be the one that ends it. When we ask questions after acknowledging what others feel, our mindset becomes solution-oriented.
The solution starts with the heart and ends with the mind. When we open our emotions to those in pain, we let them open up to us. We tell them that we can solve these problems together.
3. Bring heart-centered leadership back to ourselves
We shouldn't limit our empathy to other people. Our empathy should extend even to ourselves.
Claude says that given the pandemic and the need for social isolation, loneliness may start to become more commonplace. She defines loneliness as what we feel when social needs go unmet, which is the case for many of us. These days there are few options for work setups, and most of us need to do it from home to stay safe and healthy. Human connection outside of family these days are scarce for that very reason, and the loneliness in the atmosphere has a rippling effect.
It's understandable that these are how many people feel these days. We can, however, find ways to address our loneliness, and that's through heart-centered self-leadership. We can be honest to ourselves about our feelings, and we can take the time to be in our emotions. When we give ourselves the space to think for ourselves and just be, we can figure out what's causing us to feel lonely.
From there, we can find ways to address that, and even seek out others either through social media or over the phone to begin to process our feelings.
We can also choose to deal with our other problems the same way. If we feel unaccomplished, we can take stock of our goals and plan them out in our free time. If we find ourselves feeling anxious, we can take note of our fears and seek help to face them.
We can address the misery we might feel from unaccomplished goals, unmet needs, or life events we've had to put on hold—with the heart. We can look at leading others, but especially, our own lives, with empathy, vulnerability, and positivity.
A lot can change when our perspective shifts. Even old sayings can take on new meanings. It might seem like misery loves company, but that's only half the story. When we can be the kind of person, the kind of company that leads with the heart, we can find better ways to cope with feelings of misery.
For a shorter conversation, the distilld lessons summary are here.