Conflict Resolution: Self-Care


If we're talking about conflict resolution, I think it's important to note that being in conflict can be really hard. To have something big unresolved or unsettled between two people can be emotionally draining and physically exhausting. This can be even further complicated if the person you are in conflict with is someone close to you like a spouse, partner, or close friend. The conflict can carry into our jobs, our relationships with other friends and family, our relationship with God, and sometimes even our conceptualization of ourselves. At its peak, conflict with someone we love can have the power to be all-consuming, making every area of our life seem "off." Knowing that "big" conflict is typically not resolved in a day, how can we weather the storm of relational tension while still maintaining peace within ourselves and our world around us? One solution is the predictable patterns of self-care.

Now, before you roll your eyes at me, we need to establish right now that self-care is not exclusively a woman at a spa with a facial mask and cucumbers over her eyes. The type of self-care I'm talking about is different- it's not a once-in-a-while activity like getting a massage or taking a vacation (though please do these things!) This kind of self-care is instead an activity, practice, or meditation that you can go to find rest, consistency, and a sense of self. And this sense of self is the really important part, because in the midst of conflict we often feel that we don't know how to "be" or who we are. We falsely conclude, "Everything is different! Nothing will ever be the same." 

In those spaces, we need to speak to our uncertainty and fear. We need to remind ourselves that, although this conflict is stressful and overwhelming, there are a few things that have not changed. There are things we can count on to be true, despite everything else feeling out of sorts. To find these things we need to ask ourselves, what can I do, outside of this relationship, that is life-giving, stable, and predictable? I'll give you some examples.


Self-care can look like running or walking a familiar route. The trail you take is known, familiar, and unaffected by the relationship in conflict. The homes, streets, and places you pass are wonderfully and graciously unaware of your tension with your spouse. You could also do something like cooking a meal for yourself. Bread, in the same conditions, has predictable rise and fall. A recipe has objective instructions that yields a consistent outcome. If you are in conflict with a friend, water still boils at 212 degrees. Re-read a favorite book. The characters, the story, and the ending are the same regardless of that last phone call with your mom. Remind yourself that the sun always rises, your coffee tastes the same each morning, and the mail is delivered every day but Sunday. Can you hear these patterns and rhythms of establishing grounding through knowing? We care for ourselves and we regain stability when do small things that are familiar and wholly for our own enjoyment. This steady cadence provides the consistency we need to see conflict through without becoming consumed. 

Think you might be interested in counseling? Contact me today, and let's get started.

Conflict Resolution: Values

Today we're going to look at our values and how they show up in the process of conflict resolution. Our values are present in nearly every single conflict conversation, but we rarely notice or address them. Conflict is almost never about the situation itself, but is instead about how a situation pointed out our values being in opposition and our rigid belief that our values are the "right" values to hold. Let's unpack this.

To value something is to find it important. Our values are rooted in our upbringing, our community, or beliefs, and our perspective of the world. We can value things like justice, creativity, flexibility, rationalism, etc. We can even value things as a culture, such as collectivist versus individualistic societies. Because we are all people with our own story, background, and personality, we will invariably value different things, with our values rooted in deeply contextual soil. Our dispersedly held values are part of what makes up a rich, textured society and deep, dynamic relationships. At their core, values are wonderful things and part of what makes us unique people, but where they get us in trouble is when we try to force everyone around us to hold the same values we hold. 

For example, let's say you and your partner or roommate keep arguing about how clean to keep your house. Here, you might value tidiness. This value could be rooted in a belief that a tidy home or workspace demonstrates that you are a responsible person. Growing up, you may have been taught that it is "good" to be clean and tidy, and may have experienced punishment for not keeping living spaces clean and organized. Your partner, however, may not hold a tidiness value and instead values living spaces that are more relaxed and "lived in." This could be rooted in the belief that cleaning is to be done only after more important things are finished. Growing up, they may have had homes that were consistently messy and chaotic and this was not stressful or problematic for them or their parents.

These individual values that you both hold are, in themselves, not "right" or "wrong," "better" or "worse," instead they are simply different. When we examine the root system of your values and your partner's values, we find valid sources for both. In the midst of conflict we rarely notice or discuss that we're actually arguing about our values being in conflict. Instead, we get focused on getting our partner or roommate to hold the same value that we do. These conversations rarely move in a productive direction because we haven't taken the time to understand our partner's root system. We become convinced that our way is the "right" way, not recognizing that it's possible for someone prioritize and look at the world differently than we do. We haven't asked enough questions, and we've become rigid in our beliefs. 

Ideally, in these conversations, we would slow way down. We would pause and ask ourselves- why is this important to me? What about my partner's behavior or lack of behavior is making me upset and what does that tell me about my value system? Is it possible that not everyone values this as much as me? What questions can I ask to understand my partner's values better? We'd then explain our values to our partner and ask questions about theirs, being mindful that values are rarely "right" or "wrong" and that it is good to be with someone who looks at the world differently than you. Statements like, "That was hurtful because I value ____." or "I think I value _____ more highly than I thought." "Can you tell me about why you value ____?" are good places to start. It is possible to be in relationship and still hold opposing values, but it requires an attitude of humility, curiosity, and the willingness to dig deep to sort out your own value root system and to understand someone else's.

Conflict Resolution: I Statements

Oh, conflict resolution. Every Midwesterner's favorite subject. It's really not that scary, but our tendencies to avoid feelings mixed with a preference for passive aggressive communication, makes conflict so much more complicated than it needs to be. I have a lot of thoughts on the subject, so I figured I'd start an open-ended series on some ways to make resolving conflict more bearable. 

Today we'll talk about "I Statements" by first addressing two of the main reasons people avoid conflict. The first is that they are worried about the conversation escalating into an argument. In fact, many people think that "conflict resolution" and "argument" are synonyms. This is especially true if you grew up in a family that was (to put it gently) loud. The second reason is the worry that the person they are talking with will just walk away or not say anything at all. This is especially true if you grew up in a family that was concerningly silent or absent. 

The root cause of these conversations escalating into arguments or people walking away is typically defensiveness. Defensiveness is a "walls up" reaction to a perceived personal attack. When we get defensive, we shut down and stop listening to what the other person is saying. We have suddenly become internally-focused and are now putting our energy into either returning the attack or leaving the situation as quickly as possible. Both are self-preservation techniques that unfortunately make having a productive conversation really difficult.

One of the best strategies to avoid defensiveness is to use "I Statements." I Statements are just as they sound- starting most statements in a conflict resolution conversation with "I." "I felt like you didn't care." "I saw it happen this way." "I thought this is what you meant." Entrenched within these simple statements is an underlying assumption that there is more than one way to look at the situation or event that is causing conflict. I Statements imply that there's a possibility that our perception and understanding of the situation is inaccurate. They open a door to a space in which two people can experience the same situation, but have very different ideas of what happened. I Statements invite conversation, and ask that the other person tell their side of the story. 

I Statements are the very opposite of "You Statements." You don't care." "You always do this." "You are wrong." Those You Statements can invoke from us a strong emotional response that puts us into a battle of "proving" something to the other person. When we are trying to prove something, we will ignore all evidence that does not find consonance with our point. Like a very excellent lawyer, we gather all our data and focus on loudly proclaiming why our side is right and your side is wrong. I Statements, however, are very difficult to argue with because they don't attack, they explain a perception. They don't assume that they are the experts on the other party's mental state or motivation and they don't bring judgement. I Statements allow us to calmly discuss how your perception and my perception might be different. Here, conflict becomes less about "winning" and more about understanding. 

You Statements can also have the opposite effect. Instead of bringing people into a place of trying to prove something, they can actually bring about feelings of shame and helplessness. This is where we'd typically see the response of shutting down or walking away. When we make You Statements, we may (accidentally or unfortunately purposely) be saying the very things that our partner falsely believes about him or herself. "You're a bad dad." "You are irresponsible." "You are not good enough." By keeping the focus on I Statements, we show respect and care and avoid digging our partners deeper into a hole of shame and self-hatred. Here, conflict becomes less about condemning and more about partners with mutual admiration for each other, working towards greater harmony.

On 100 Sessions and Being a Counselor

Recently, a client and I hit 100 sessions together. While this is far from the average number of sessions I have with my clients, it has me thinking about how grateful and humbled I am to sit in the role of therapist. About what a true privilege it is to walk through the valley with my clients, to hold their stories, to hear their deepest hopes and fears, and to be allowed to witness the tremendous growth and change that results from the intensely hard work that I ask of them every time they step into the office.

At just a handful of years into practice and only a few more years into life, I'm painfully aware of how little I know and how much more I will learn over time. And my goodness do I know how little I, counselor Katie, have to do with people's experiencing redemption and restoration. Truly, this therapy process is one of entering into sacred and holy ground. I'm reminded of a C.S. Lewis essay where he writes "The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken." I'm dually (and appropriately) disquieted and thankful for the role I'm allowed to fill by my clients. In short, I really love my job. I'm humbled by these 100 sessions, the hundreds more with others, and the opportunity to witness the true author of change at work. 

The Importance of Stating Preferences

This post is for all of my people who are good at "going with the flow." My people who are flexible, adaptable, and able to take life as it comes. You're often excellent at "reading the room" and discerning other people's needs and moods. You're a truly wonderful friend and partner, likely an internal processor, and may sometimes feel very unknown and very unheard. Why does this happen?

It's mostly because the people I just described often struggle to state their preferences. Here's how this might play out. A friend has had a rough day and she asks you if you want to go see a movie. Here's the dialogue that might run through your head, "I really don't want to see a movie. Not a huge fan of spending my money on something like that, and I don't like sitting for that long. I'd rather stay home. But, I know my friend's had a bad day and she really likes movies. I care about her so I can rally and go with her." Finally, out loud, you say to your friend, "Sure! Let's go see a movie."

On the surface, there is nothing wrong with this scenario. In fact, that's a good friend in action- someone who is willing to lay down their wants and needs for someone else. However, I think that this problematic in that the internal conversation you had with yourself was never said out loud. What we often see is that the next time your friend wants to see a movie, she automatically assumes that you'd want to go with her, because in her mind, you love movies! You've never told her that they're really not your thing. In your effort to be a good friend, you became a little less known. 

Ideally, in the same scenario described above, your response would be something like this. "You know, I don't really love going to movies. But, I know you do, and I know you had a rough day, so I'd be more than willing to go with you." In that process you actually still end up going to the movie, but your friend has learned something new about you. This may seem small, but it makes a world of difference. When we're "go with the flow" people and good at figuring out what other people need, we can lose our sense of self in our pursuit of loving and serving those around us.

A few things to remember. When we state our preferences to each other it is with the acknowledgement that they are truly preferences and not demands. Often my clients worry that in their stating their preferences they will be bulldozing their friends and partners by demanding that "It's my way or the highway." Quite the opposite- as in the scenario above, we often still end up doing the things that we don't want to do. Except now our friend can really see that our going to a movie is really an act of love and (minor, but significant) sacrifice.

Also remember, this is not about creating guilt. We don't state our preferences to make other people feel bad about theirs or to give us an excuse to be a wet blanket while we're participating in non-preferred activities. You don't get to be a massive pain the entire time- remember, you chose to go to the movie- no one made you! This is about knowing and being known by others. This is the meat of relationships and what will lead to a mutual sense of satisfaction and joy between two people.

And finally, remember that this is an investment in the long-term health of your relationships. The people I described often experience an imbalance in relationship where their partners feel very loved and known, but that feeling is not reciprocated. They're upset that their partners can't read them as well as they can read their partner. Or, when two internal processors are together, they are often both just taking random stabs in the dark acting out of what they think their partner wants but not really having a clue! Talk to each other. Preferences are not demands. They are a huge part of what makes you, you and that's worth talking about. 


On Apologies


I wish there was a formal class we could have all been required to take in high school about apologizing. It's a topic that is integral to the human experience, and yet I have found that most of us (self included!) are actually not very good at it. Here's what I see as the most common misstep in the process of saying sorry. 

Often what happens in the midst of an apology is that we somehow move from saying sorry about the thing we did, and instead apologize for who we are as a person. For example, say you had a plan to meet up with a friend for lunch. The day got away from you and you spaced and missed lunch. As soon as you realize what you did, you call your friend and say something like this, "I'm so, so sorry I totally forgot about lunch! I'm such a bad friend! I should have remembered, I'm such a terrible person!" See what happened there? The apology started with identifying what you did wrong, but then it quickly escalated into statements about your value as a friend and as a human. Why is this problematic?

The answer is twofold. First, this type of apology often leads to avoidance of responsibility for the thing that we did wrong. What typically happens after we make statements about how we're a terrible friend or a terrible person, is that our friend who was wronged by us often ends up taking care of us. They say things like "Of course you're not a terrible friend!" or "It really wasn't that big of a deal- don't worry about it! You're not a bad person!" The conversation shifts from us owning and accepting responsibility for the thing that we did and instead becomes about making us feel better. In that space we don't really have to sit with the uncomfortability of having hurt a friend- in fact- they're making us feel better right now! And more importantly, our friend isn't given room to talk about how it actually was really hurtful that you missed the lunch date. They don't get to be upset or express their pain because we've essentially said "My sadness over hurting you is more important than the hurt you originally felt from my wrongdoing." And perhaps our sadness is truly deep and upsetting to us, but in the moment of apologizing it's not about us. It's about the person we've hurt. 

The second aspect is more personal and involves identity. When we mess up and move from recognizing what we did wrong to drawing conclusions about our worth as a person, we've made a mistake into an identity statement. We've said that our behavior is the only indication of who we are as people, and that's simply untrue. If you ask you friends for feedback after the initial hurt has passed, they will likely tell you that you really aren't a terrible friend. You just made a mistake. One that hurt them and wasn't okay, but it did not cause them to experience a total reconstruction of who you are as a person in their minds. For the Christian these identity statements are especially inaccurate, knowing that our worth, identity, and value are found in Christ and are therefore stable and unchanging despite our behaviors. When we've made a mistake- even a very grievous one- it's our responsibility to own what we did AND not make it into something it's not.

How then, can we apologize in a healthy way? We can own what we did- which is often quite literally restating the wrong. "I missed our lunch date." We can apologize for that mistake. "I'm sorry that I did that." And we can ask for forgiveness. "Can you forgive me for missing our lunch date?" And then (and probably most importantly), we listen. We listen to our friends talk about the hurt or pain we've caused (and depending on what we did- this may not be limited to one conversation). We ask questions, we empathize, we talk about what we're going to do differently next time, and, when the storm has passed, we move on. Hopefully with a better understanding of ourselves and our friends, and with greater empathy for those who will wrong us in the future.

Minnesotan Mind Reading


I'm sure this happens all over the globe and in every relationship, but I think we have a particularly bad case of it here in Minnesota. Mind reading. Mind reading is the process of looking past what is actually verbally spoken by an individual and instead attempting to discern what they really meant by paying attention to what they didn't say or what their tone of voice, body language, or subtext implied. 

For example, perhaps there was a family event that you could not attend. You spoke to a relative and explained that you could not go, and she stated "Oh that's fine." However, you somehow knew that her saying, "Oh that's fine." actually meant, "That's not fine. You need to come to this event if you don't want me to be mad."

Or perhaps in a reverse situation, your spouse, partner or friend does something that upsets or annoys you. You don't tell your spouse what they did that made you upset because you think they should "just know." Instead of talking about it, you walk around in an upset or crabby mood until they either "figure it out" or finally ask you what's wrong. Sometimes even when someone asks us what's wrong, we say "Nothing." and expect that they would understand that we really meant "Something."

Mind reading is a passive aggressive communication pattern that places us in a different relational dimension in which everything that is said or unsaid is actually code for something else.

This is peak Minnesota. Mind reading is a passive aggressive communication pattern that places us in a different relational dimension in which everything that is said or unsaid is actually code for something else. When we ask others to read our mind or try to read someone else's, we ultimately walk into a space of confusion, best guesses, and almost certain disappointment. I'm sure you've felt how exhausting it is to play unspoken mental chess.

There's another way. In healthy relationships words carry meaning and weight. This is a space where what is said is actually what is meant. Where you take people at their word and trust that they are being truthful with you. If you're upset with a friend, you tell them that you are upset. If your relative said it was okay to miss an event, it is actually okay to miss the event. 

This often feels very foreign for people. Sometimes there's a sense of disappointment. I think we all long for having people in our lives that know us well enough to know what we need when we need it or know what we're thinking without having to say anything. While this seems ideal, we're unfortunately asking for an impossible thing. I'm sure you've seen that sometimes even you don't know what you need at all times. Additionally I'm confident you've had times where someone asked you what was wrong and it really was "nothing" but because "nothing" sometimes means "something" they pester you to "tell me how you really feel." This is maddening for you and your partner! Can I challenge you to be a person whose words are trustworthy?

Alternatively, we may desire to exist in relationships where everyone just says what they mean, but this may not be the desire of the other party. In that space, we must be the first ones to set boundaries and expectations. We have to tell people that we're going to take them at their word, even if what they say is not what they actually meant. We have to inform the other party that should they be upset or want something from us they have to tell us. In that place we also choose to not take on guilt, and choose to interact with others as if they held the same healthy, adult conceptualizations of relationships.

Often you will find that people will meet you in this healthier space- the space is actually quite relieving, peaceful, and clear. However, there will be individuals who refuse to engage emotionally mature relationships. And in that case, you may need to take a few steps back from that relationship. But please remember this stepping back is not an abandoning of that relationship, but instead is a setting of a boundary that says "I so desire to have a close relationship with you, but it needs to be a healthy. Meet me here and we can continue to grow and strengthen our relationship." 

On The Avoidance Bucket and Emotional Flooding

Raise your hand if you've ever said something like this: "All of the sudden, I just got really sad." "Out of the blue, I found myself really anxious." "What happened wasn't that big of a deal at all, but I was so mad and I don't know why." "I'm not really an emotional person, but sometimes I get so overwhelmed with these intense feelings that come out of nowhere."

If you have your literal or metaphorical hand raised, you've likely experienced what we in the biz' call "emotional flooding." This flooding is the experience of intense and consuming emotionality. The kind of feelings that make it hard to think straight and and knock you off of your feet. It often comes "out of nowhere" (or so we think), and catches us unprepared.

What causes this flood of feelings? It can be linked to a lot of things, like previous trauma or abuse, fatigue, panic, etc. But, what I've found to be one of the biggest culprits is avoidance. Avoidance is the process of actively ignoring or dismissing uncomfortable/unpleasant thoughts or feelings. For example, many people have this experience in the context of stress. My clients are often busy professionals with jobs that are intense, spouses or partners, kids, and/or commitments to various groups or organizations. They are constantly moving, moving, moving and don't really notice feelings of being anxious, upset, sad, tired, etc. They feel like life is mostly fine and that they are managing things well, but will "all of the sudden" be hit by a wave of emotions. Many people call these moments "breakdowns," where they are suddenly incapacitated and incapable of moving forward.

Imagine, if you can, a slow leak coming from the ceiling and dripping directly onto your head. Annoying, right? So you suspend a bucket from the ceiling and that bucket catches all of the drips from the ceiling. From where you're standing, problem solved! You're not getting wet and the drips are taken care of. It's basically like the leak hadn't happened in the first place. This bucket works super well until it reaches the point where it's completely full. And what happens next? The bucket overflows, tips, and you are now drenched in water. Sad trombone. This is avoidance and emotional flooding! This is what happens when we decide to ignore, dismiss, or repress uncomfortable/unpleasant thoughts and feelings as they happen. We suspend a bucket of avoidance and pretend that those things aren't happening or don't matter. And it works- for a time, but then something seemingly insignificant is the last drop the bucket can handle and now you're soaked. 

How do we avoid these incapacitating breakdowns and overwhelming feelings? The first step is acknowledgement and noticing. It's removing the bucket and allowing yourself to feel the drips as they happen and notice their source. It's being present-oriented and mindful of your surroundings. This allows you to handle these small problems and small emotions as they arise- it's so much easier to deal with a drip of water on your shirt than finding an entirely new set of clothes. It might require you to sloooow down (basically a curse word to many of my clients) and take stock of your true capacity. And it might require some deeper work, like we'd see in the counseling process. In whatever that looks like for you, be mindful of when you're placing a bucket and avoiding what's really going on inside your head.

To My Friends Who Have Been Told To "Pray More"

Too often in my office, I hear a very familiar story. You've finally worked up the courage to talk to someone you love and respect about how you're really doing. In a brave act of vulnerability, you talk about how your deep sadness or numbness has made even the smallest acts, like getting out of bed, incredibly difficult. Maybe you finally told someone about how debilitating your worries are lately and how confusing and exhausting your thought-life has become. Despite the fear of being judged or perceived incorrectly, you spoke up and shared, and you were met with this:
"Find your joy in the Lord." "Ask God to take away your worries." "I knew someone who felt like you and they started praying and reading their bible more and then they felt better." "I think you just need to have a better relationship with God."

Oh, friend. I hear you. I see you. And I'm sorry. I'm sorry that your vulnerability was met with dismissive, trite words. I'm sorry that you were told that suffering is indicative of a poor relationship with God. I'm sorry that instead of hearing and entering into pain, confusion, and messiness with you, someone instead tried to put a pretty bow on your experience and send you off with a prayer card. I'm sorry you did not experience Jesus through your friends and confidants. 

Here is what I wish you would have heard: "Tell me more about how you're feeling." "Thank you for trusting me enough to share your true thoughts with me." "Help me understand what it's like in your head right now." "This world is full of devastating pain and suffering, isn't it?" "How can I support and love you well through this process?" "I've been there, too. We'll get through this together." 

Too often, I think, we as Christians forget that we were meant to share each other's burdens. That we were meant to experience suffering as a group, rather than as an individual. Too often, someone else's pain is so deep, confusing, and unfathomable that instead of entering into that place of unknown with that person, we become panicked by our lack of answers. We become like Job's friends, who were well-intentioned, but also completely missed Job and his current experience in their search for the "why" of his suffering. We become like Jesus' friends in the Garden of Gethsemane who fell asleep while their friend was so deep in anguish that he sweat blood. 

To my friends who have experienced this deep disappointment of being dismissed or not fully heard, please know that this was not the right way to respond to your suffering. That your pain is deep and complex and requires time and space to fully understand. That this is not how Jesus would have responded to you. My hope is that the next time (and, with all my heart, please let there be a next time) that you are met with validation, more questions, and solidarity. My hope is that next time, you will meet encounter a friend who can say "me too" and you can be sojourners together. My hope is that you can experience Christian community they way it was intended.

To my friends who are not currently in the midst of suffering, but know someone who is, please be curious. Please take the time to crawl into the messiness with someone and ask them to describe the place they've been living in lately. Seek to know the walls, the shadows, and the landscape of your friend's pain. Enter into that room, but also step out of it, and offer words of hope that there's a world outside. In short, be Jesus to one another and "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."

Adulthood Secret: No Actually One Knows What They Are Doing

When I was in middle school, lost and confused in the midst of early adolescence, I remember thinking about the future 18 year old version of me. I imagined how she would feel confident and sure of herself. She'd know how to drive a car and picked a college by then, and once you know how to drive a car and got into college, you've basically got everything figured out.

When I turned 18 and assuredly did not feel they way I thought 18 year old Katie would feel, I was instead convinced that College Graduate Katie would definitely have her stuff together. She'd be 22, an adult, and she'd have a college degree. Surely then, she wouldn't feel like she was just making things up and she went along.

College Graduate Katie arrived and heavens was she disappointing. She had decided to go to grad school, but didn't know if that really was a good idea. She jumped into education that led to a specific career that she wasn't sure she'd even be good at (or like!?). She, too, was making stuff up as she went along. She was convinced that Graduate School Graduate Katie would know what was up.

And I'm sure you're getting the gist now, but surprise, Graduate School Graduate Katie ALSO had no idea what she was doing. It was then that I asked my mom, someone I'd always seen as wise, mature, and 'together' her thoughts on when I'd actually feel like I wasn't masquerading as an adult just waiting for someone to "find me out" as a fraud. I saw my mom as someone who'd "arrived" and settled into who she was. But what she told me is that she has also never felt like she knew what she was doing. Even with being the mom of two kids, she'd been the mom me as an 18 year old, so she'd definitely feel competent when my younger sister turned 18. However, when my sister turned 18, I had turned 21, and she'd never parented an 18 year old AND a 21 year old at the same time. All completely new territory!

What I had found out was a secret that I feel like we don't talk about enough, "No one, at any point in life, actually knows what they are doing." I have no idea, you have no idea, we're all just making it up as we go along. We see others as "arrived" or "together" but when you really ask those people how they feel, they always, always, always feel like some version of Middle School Them- fumbling, confused, slightly disoriented, and mostly flying by the seat of their pants. So, instead of pretending like any of us really know what's up, let's step into the unknown together and settle into our lack of understanding. It's okay. We've all been here this whole time- we just needed to turn on the lights.