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Dr. Cassandra LeClair: Embracing Your Narrative and the Social Responsibility of Respecting Others

On Wednesday, October 25, 2023, Dr. Cassandra LeClair, an award-winning author, professor, motivational speaker and sexual assault survivor, met with UIS students and staff in the Brookens Auditorium to speak about the importance of embracing your narrative and respecting other peoples’ narratives. So, what does that mean? It means that we all experience life differently. In fact, two people could grow up in the same space, with the same experiences, and still become two completely different people. This is because our interpretations of our experiences are subjective. What affects one person may not affect another in the same way. It is important to remember this and be sensitive and respectful to others. It is perhaps more important to explore our pasts and patterns that have developed as a result of our past experiences, and then release these negative experiences, so that we do not condemn ourselves to self-loathing and project these toxic traits onto others.

Dr. LeClair emphasized a few tools for moving through difficult experiences:

  1. Keep a journal.
    1. It will help to pinpoint negative thoughts and keep a record of when and how often you experience them.
  2. Challenge your brain.
    1. When having a negative thought about yourself, ask, does this thought really define who you are, or are you being too hard on yourself? What are some other, more valid reasons for both the situation and the thought?
  3. Embrace your past.
  4. Find the ways you are toxic to yourself and correct yourself.
  5. Embrace self-compassion.
    1. It gives you power.
  6. Recognize that having needs does not make you needy, it makes you human.
    1. Doing this will help you build resilience.
    2. It is important to also be responsive to other people and the things that they need.
  7. Use your voice.
    1. You cannot use your voice fully if you are unaware of the things that are holding you back.
  8. Recognize your experiences.
  9. Understand your patterns.
    1. Keeping a journal helps you to sort these things out.
  10. Release and rewrite your story.

It is important to remember that the journey to embracing your narrative and the narrative of others is not a quick process. It takes a lot of time and effort. It is subject to much trial and error. Our work on improving ourselves is never done, but it is an important task for helping us move through our experiences in order to create communication and connection with others. Dr. LeClair emphasizes the fact that, as social beings, we have the social responsibility of respecting others, as well as ourselves.

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