Guest Post by Kern Carter

When I think of the term common ground, I think of some kind of dispute resolution. That’s probably consistent with what most people think when they hear those words. And going by that train of thought, I could probably tell at least a dozen instances I was involved in which a compromise was reached, and both parties were able to amicably meet in the middle. But to be honest, I think there’s a bigger opportunity here.

Listening to Find Common Ground

A few months ago, I decided to stop writing and start listening. I was tired of writing stories from my perspective. Yes, I was sharing my thoughts in hopes of helping others, motivating many, possibly even inspiring some, but I didn’t feel like I was making a deep enough impact. So I stopped.

And I listened.

And started asking questions.

And here’s what happened. At the time I was getting ready to release my second novel titled Beauty Scars. Being in the mindset of wanting to have maximum impact beyond just selling books, I started collecting stories from people who live with physical scars. That turned into collecting stories of people who lived with emotional scars, which turned into stories of psychological scars. I’m talking about everything from getting stabbed in the hand all the way up to attempting suicide. The scope of the stories was insane.

For me, the most fulfilling part was seeing the reactions each story received. As I posted each piece, readers would comment on how they related to each trauma and commended the contributors for their bravery in sharing. And as I continued allowing people to share more of these experiences of feeling scarred, I realized something else: They all have something in common.

Listening to Stories to Uncover Our Common Ground

As I read or listened to each story, I noticed that at some point, all of these people who identified as being scarred felt like they were alone. They thought that no one else in the world would understand what they were going through. Even though they all had people close who loved them very much, either fear or the thought of being judged prevented them from reaching out.

…although our scars may be unique, the feelings around those scars are universal.

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So that is the common ground I want to speak about. The idea that at our lowest points, we all feel like we are alone. We all feel like we are facing these emotions and obstacles by ourselves. And the fact is, we aren’t. It’s very much the opposite. If these stories have taught me anything, it’s that we are all connected through our emotions. No matter geography, gender, race, or any other differentiating label, we all feel and understand emotions.

That realization can be healing. Removing the sense of loneliness and creating an environment of empathy can be powerful and help people to recognize that although their scars may be unique, the feelings around those scars are universal. And if we can approach each situation from that perspective, lifting oneself out of the depths of fear becomes that much easier.

In the end, I believe that is true impact. If there is one common ground that makes sense to us all, one attribute that can unite rather than divide, then let’s go there, let’s talk about it, let’s embrace it, and let’s use it to help those who feel defeated.

Guest Post

Kern CarterKern Carter is the author of Thoughts of A Fractured Soul, a novella that chronicles the internal musings and struggles of a young father. More recently, he released a novel titled BEAUTY SCARS, a fantastical story about a young girl faced with the onus of being beautiful. He also writes through his own blog CRY, along with other notable publications including HuffPost and Thrive Global.

Writer Kern Carter shares how the research for his latest novel helped him to discover a road to common ground by listening to the stories of others.

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