How to Use a Knife

This is a story shared via email with me,  from Ashley McDermott, Ph.D.:



In the post you titled “I know, right?,” you were talking about dwelling and getting sucked into shame of old memories and events that happened, especially ones that don’t matter! This is a HUGE hurdle I have. I’m taking an eCourse taught by Brene Brown that involved an activity that helped me to start processing some of these events. (tangent: I learned about Brene through the Bloggess and if you aren’t familiar with her work, you should definitely check it out!)

The eCourse is actually an art journaling course (cue self judgments about how lame that is…) and one week we were asked to find a picture or make a collage of a time in our lives where we really felt hurt and shame. THEN write a compassionate message to that version of you. What you needed to hear then. I was totally dubious, but I chose one of the events that I think is so stupid that I would get hung up about all the time. And after I did this exercise, I no longer dwell as much on it and the memory is less painful.

To make this all concrete, here’s the event for me:
I was visiting my boyfriend at the time and eating dinner. We started talking about different knife and fork etiquette, i.e. how Europeans eat vs how Americans eat. Then he and his dad started talking about holding your knife in an ineffective way and how ridiculous that looked. I played along and thought about it and said that was a really strange way to go about cutting your food. Later I realized that’s how *I* use my knife. Knowing them I know that they were just teasing and probably didn’t mean any harm, but as soon as I think about that I think about how stupid and clueless I was and everyone is laughing at me and all of these negative thoughts. And it’s such a stupid incident, right? Who cares? It was over a decade ago.

After capturing this experience on the page, I wrote a few different things, but what spoke to my pain was “It’s OK to be embarrassed” and “Everybody doesn’t get the joke sometimes. It’s OK to be like everyone else.”

And man did that start the healing process on that wound. I’m hoping I don’t have to make a separate page for every single incident and it might not even work with all of the memories, but I read your post and it really resonated with me, so I decided to share how I got through 1 of those memories.

I love your posts!


Ashley McDermott, Ph.D.
Cognition and Technology Guru

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  1. I read your posts here, and posts other places, and all the comments about how the posts speak to people and I wonder…how did we all get so broken? It makes my heart hurt to know that there are so many other people hurting, too.

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