The Fire Drill of Love

I’m often asked if there is any prep work we can do to be ready to support each other in our worst and hardest moments. There is! And the really cool thing about it is that we can practice in our everyday lives.

My favorite way of talking about this right now is what I call the Fire Drill of Love.

How do we survive hard things? We survive hard things because of community, and because of our own self-knowledge and self-commitment. The way to survive when things go sideways is to build communities that can withstand difficult emotions and difficult conversations, and we do that before life goes sideways.

Think about fire drills. Why do we practice them? Because in the event of an emergency, we already need to know how to get out of a building. We need that knowledge to not be new.

So we practice difficult conversations, building relational skills. And we practice this in everyday, mundane situations, so that in the event of an emergency, these skills aren’t new.


When you hear somebody make a statement of pain, I want you to notice your impulse to jump in and make it better for them or hijack the conversation. Learn to notice your impulse to fix it or make it better and then don’t do that.

We hear statements of pain all the time, we just don’t recognize them as pain. Instead we treat them like normal conversation. Those are your practice points.

So here’s your homework! I want you to practice. I want you to practice these things before life goes sideways, so that when life goes sideways, these skills aren’t new for you.

The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to recognize when someone is expressing pain, and respond appropriately – with compassion and curiosity, not dismissal or correction.


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