Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘accepting others’

You’re Doing Your Best!

What if we could live by three tenants: Judge Not, Fear Not, Resist Not. Maybe – just maybe – we could get to the point where any limiting ideas or distorted perspectives of ourselves would simply fade away and allow our minds to refocus on the journey. We would see the joy and blessings of today, this very moment, where anything and everything is possible. By choosing this more positive mindset do you think we might become more tolerant with ourselves and a bit more compassionate with others?

For example, how many times have you played over and over in your head something that you wish you would have said or done differently? Can’t let it go right? That’s because you are playing the blame game and are probably becoming quite good at it! Unfortunately this game has no winners. The sad thing is that it accomplishes nothing and simply causes you to feel even more badly. I’m all for learning from experience but blaming or perseverating on what was – is not learning – it’s more like self flagellation. Color me gone!

Resisting, fearing and judging are all of the same negative ilk. These behaviors keep us locked into our microscopic world where we are judge and jury – but without legal standing. We have no remedy because we have no cause. Time to drop this case and move on!

Having more tolerance and acceptance for yourself begins when you realize that you brought everything you had to the past circumstance and did the very best you could at the moment – because you really did. Self reflection can be a positive thing when you cut yourself a little slack and admit you are human. I’ll bet if you think about a past situation when you feel that you didn’t bring your ‘A’ game to the table, if you really ponder it, you know you didn’t purposely choose to fall short of what you wanted to achieve. You just did. Things happen. Move on. Eliminate the blame and simply change it to a lesson learned by telling yourself, ‘The next time I face this type of situation I intend to …’ and do it. The operative words, of course, are DO IT.

Likewise, when we observe others and think to ourselves ‘why don’t they do this or that’ or ‘they should do it this way.’ Really? Since we can’t walk a mile in their shoes it’s probably better to stop judging and simply remember that they are also doing the very best they can at the moment. They are giving life their best shot – regardless of whether it hits the mark or not – time to give them a break as well.

We are all perfectly imperfect human beings who are trying to navigate life with the knowledge we have at the moment. When we have greater knowledge and experience we may choose to respond differently. But until then … there is no place for judgment, fear or resistance. We are better than that because we know that we are all on the journey of our chosen lifetime and learning day by day along the way.

So today, look in the mirror and smile, pat yourself on the back, and know that you are doing your best – with today’s knowledge – and that’s good enough!

Have a great few days!

Different Types of Love

How many times over the past few weeks have you said to someone, “I love you.” What type of love were you referring to when you said it? There are many types of love. In fact the ancient Greeks came up with six different types of love and all offer something for us to consider. When you say to a partner, family member or dear friend, ‘I love you’ how does that affect you? Did you feel it? Actually, love occurs not in the heart but in the brain. Our brains emit chemical signals to help us understand the feelings of love. These feelings vary greatly depending on the type of love we are experiencing. The six categories the ancient Greeks defined are worth considering.

Eros – this is the passionate, intense romantic love that arouses our sexual feelings and focuses more on self than the other person. Interestingly, this type of love may not last unless we develop deeper types of feelings of love that focuses on the other person to which we are attracted rather than just ourselves.

Storage – this is love based on family and friendship. It is also the type of love that we have for our children. It is unconditional – meaning it accepts the uniqueness – the flaws – in others and causes us to forgive them. It is the type of love that is committed and based on sacrifice. Feelings of security and total acceptance is experienced.

Ludus – when you see a playful type of exchange between two people such as flirting or teasing or even dancing in an early stage of a relationship you are seeing this type of love.

Philia – this is the warm, affectionate and platonic love for another which also involves the love of self.

Agape – this love is selfless and unconditional. It sees beyond the surface of another and experiences unconditional acceptance for all people. Unfortunately, this type of love has declined significantly over the past 40 years with the biggest decline being over the past decade – especially in the U.S. When we sort and select according to our existing comfort zones we can eliminate the power of experiencing Universal love which fuels the humanity in all of us.

Pragma – the long term, deep understanding of love between couples who have been together for a decades, possibly even lifetimes. Patience, tolerance and the ability to make compromises causes the relationship in this form of love to weather the storm of change because of our selfless feelings towards the other.

For a relationship to grow deeper with time all these different types of love need to be experienced. Ultimately, the ages and stages of happy, supportive relationships last due, in part, to the ability of each person to experience each of these types of love with their significant other.

Does that mean that each type of love is sufficient unto itself? Absolutely not! What it does mean is that there is an internal drive – a yearning – in each of us to experience the totality of love.

When we fall into the judgment mode in our minds separating others that we do not feel of value and certainly not worthy of our love or respect due to their differences we hurt ourselves. We fall into the trap of generalizations – and negative energy begins to surround us. Any judgmental energy can be felt by others which causes them to respond in kind. You may not like the behavior of others but to remember that each of us are reaching for acceptance and belonging would go a long way in reaching an Eros type of love for mankind. Our world would become a better place.

When we realize that love comes in many forms and each type is good for our soul – our spirit – amazing things happen. We become more at peace with ourselves and grateful for our place in the Universe. It gives us more energy which keeps our emotional motors running. We have a sense of something bigger, more important than ourselves which enlarges our world.

The next time you say to someone, “I love you,” think about the six types of love. It is a subject worth pondering.

Have a great few days!

The Magic of Hope

Continuing on the theme of how small changes can positively affect our lives the topic today is hope, that invisible feeling that results in happier tomorrows. Hope can keep the human spirit alive and is one of the most powerful forces we can create in our lives. It gives us a reason to go on when we meet what seems to be insurmountable challenges or disappointments.

Let’s think about the dynamics of our family and friends. We all have certain people that we relate to more easily. Sometimes we can even finish their sentences because we just seem to be on the same wave length. These relationships are easy for us to maintain. Not a lot of emotional or personal growth needed for us with these kindred spirits. Relating to them is like hitting the Easy Button on our desks.

There are other relationships that can be a bit more challenging. At times it can even be down right uncomfortable being together. We may anticipate seeing them and feel ourselves getting uptight about the encounter. We may have played the record over and over in our heads about what upsets us about them. Maybe they are poor listeners, interrupting constantly or frequently telling us what we should or shouldn’t do rather than seeking our thoughts and perspectives on a situation. Or maybe they are emotionally distant and only interested in their own world. The list of possibilities can be endless if we allow ourselves to stay stuck in a mindset that it is hopeless to expect them to act differently. Since we all have a range of personalities within our family and friends it can make life more interesting and rewarding if we start to look at them with hope and a belief that our relationships can improve over time.

When we accept the fact that everyone has a right to their own perspectives and that we do not have the right to judge others simply because they think differently than we do we begin to embrace life. Differences in age, life experiences, family dynamics and a host of other variables results in a unique set of lenses for each individual. Honoring these differences takes the tension out of our encounters. It becomes less about the right or wrong of a viewpoint and more about looking for the positives and uniqueness in another. Regrettably, it is too easy to dismiss or discount someone because they don’t think as we do. However, that behavior says more about us rather than them. The strong, confident person chooses hope for a better tomorrow and believes in the rights of others to be their unique selves without judgment. They are the ones who take home the prize at the end of the day.

Archbishop Tutu said: “There is no situation that is not transformable. There is no person who is hopeless. There is no set of circumstances that cannot be turned about by ordinary human beings and their natural capacity for love of the deepest sort.”

Hope is totally within our own minds and hearts to choose to manifest. It can give us a reason to try harder and become inspired and optimistic against all odds. It gives us a reason to give those challenging people in our lives another chance, and us another opportunity to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of them. We can develop a reservoir of hope so deep that no person or experience can take our hope and joy away. We live it, breathe it and believe in it with our entire being.

In fact, hope can cause us to change our view and begin to expect things to go better the next time we see that challenging individual. The magic thing about hope is that it creates and attracts more positive energy to us. Before you know it what or who you once thought challenging is not acting quite as difficult as you expected. You realize that you don’t need them to change because you hold both love and hope in your heart and are fully equipped to handle any situation. Those positive feelings become contagious even to the most recalcitrant
of people.

Have a great few days!

What’s Your Style?

Over the past three blogs, we have looked at Learning Style Preferences as a way to better understand what makes people tick and enhance our ability to communicate. We started by looking at extroverts – those people who get energy from others compared to introverts who gather more energy from learning, observing and internally processing ideas. Next, we looked at the second level of preference – Sensing which looks for cause and effect and is a more analytic approach or the Intuitive – those who prefer a more ‘what if’ style of thinking that considers options, and possibilities yet unknown. The third level of difference in preferences is in the way we perceive the world and process information. The Thinking approach includes those who prefer having plans A, B, and C, a more linear approach. These folks can make changes in their plans but prefer to analyze the situations first, develop a plan and then make mid-course corrections as needed along the way. The other Learning preference discussed was labeled Feeling. These folks prefer to seek consensus through more give and take in decision making. Their approach would be to consider options A, B, then jump possibly to F or Q as they consider the feelings or beliefs of others. Possibilities and decisions are more closely aligned to their personal values rather than logic.

The fourth and last difference in our Learning/Living style is in how we process information, using either a Judgment or Perception approach. Those that prefer the Judgment approach like to complete a job before the deadline or at least on time. They prioritize tasks, make ‘to do’ lists and are driven to completing goals. They want closure before moving on to the next task. They can handle having many balls in the air at once because behind each ball is a plan for completion.

Those who prefer the Perception style, choose to remain open to possibilities, new information and to be allowed to ‘go with the flow.’ They hesitate to plan in advance because they are concerned that something better might come along which could change the final outcome. They may appear scattered in their thinking but to them designing a plan in advance is not only uncomfortable it is downright restrictive. They are comfortable with ambiguity and choose to make last minute changes or plans even on the fly. Consequently, they are more laid back and just feel that the process will eventually work out for the best.

When we recognize that from all these variables,16 different personality types exist the challenge to communicate is better understood. Each type has significantly different ways they hear, see, feel and communicate. It’s no wonder that at times we misunderstand and, at times, are misunderstood.

The challenge for each of us is to recognize and honor the differences in personality types and look for the little nuggets of gold each possess. What can they contribute to the game that will add more value to the final result? When we accept others for their strengths rather than judging or discounting them for their differences everyone wins!

The next time you feel drained by attending a social event, frustrated by someone’s lack of planning or upset that they have not prioritized things ‘properly’ just take a deep breath and let it go. Unless their approach causes you more stress or hassle it really doesn’t matter. Maybe ‘flying by the seat of their pants’ works for them as hard as that may be for us to understand. When we take the initiative to explain what we need to be more comfortable or productive maybe – just maybe – they will try their best to deliver. After all, each of us can adapt to different preferences, it just takes more energy to do so.

Acceptance and understanding is the key to enhanced communication skills. You now have more information as to why people act in certain ways and the challenge is to apply it. You can do it! Remember different Learning/Living styles produce different ways of managing in this world and it’s all okay. The Universe doesn’t make mistakes.

Have a great few days!

Why Do They Do That???

Have you ever thought to yourself when observing someone’s behavior or response to a situation, ‘What WERE they thinking?’ Well, truth be told, most all of us have had this thought from time to time. We further wonder to ourselves if it is just us that wonders about their mindset or do others share the concern. In reality, we process information in a way that is unique to ourselves and yet surprising similar when looked at it from a wider perspective. Since getting to the heart of understanding involves much more depth and time than one blog will allow, for the next few postings I will attempt to explain the layers of differences inherent in our mental processing and hopefully allow us to more fully engage in the critical aspect of communicating and understanding others who just seem…different…as compared to our own mindset.

To begin, each of us fall into a category of being either an extrovert or introvert. Simply put, an extrovert gets energy from people and involvement in external events while an introvert gets energy from learning, observing and thinking. The difference
is significant. For instance, when an extrovert attends a gathering they learn through communicating with others and love the experience of mingling with others. They become more energized and full of thoughts and ideas. They enjoy the interactions and actually collect information that excites and motivates them. They can leave a gathering with more information about individuals and their circumstances that one would ever imagine. In contrast, the introvert not only begrudges going to the gathering but is absolutely exhausted after it is over. Why the difference? Simply put, it is all about energy. The introvert receives energy from their inner world of thoughts and ideas. Basically, they prefer to observe and if they must be involved at all they prefer to listen rather than personally interact. They are the people who are usually picking up during the party or standing closer to the sidelines of a gathering rather than gregariously sharing stories within the group. They too, gather a great deal of information…just through a different orientation. Introverts prefer internal processing and observation rather than engaging in a full social interaction approach. One on one, or small group communication is more comfortable. The idea of ‘The more the merrier’ just doesn’t float their boat.

To understand this further, Jung, a notable expert in the field explains the difference by saying that although we are trained to use both our left and right hands, we do, inherently have a preference for being either right or left handed.

His description makes sense to me. When you are used to eating or writing with your right hand it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to use the left hand for the task but it is much harder, taking more concentration and energy to accomplish the task. Is one better than the other …No… but the difference is important to recognize. It helps us become a bit gentler on ourselves and others. When others do things that seem, at first blush, out of our comfort zone it is important to remember they to have their own lessons and communication preferences.

Once we have determined if we are an introvert or extrovert, the important thing to do is to APPLY this understanding to others. Take the time to observe others and practice seeing the differences in an extrovert and introvert. You will be able to decide, for yourself, whether their preferred style of communicating and understanding is alike or different than your own. Recognizing the difference is both amazing and significant and helps us better communicate with others.

Practice seeing the difference in an extrovert and introvert over the next few days and on my next blog we will drill down even further to discuss the next level of differences in thinking…how we prefer to receive and determine the validity of information obtained from others. We are going further down the rabbit hole…stay tuned!

Have a great few days!

Accepting Those People Who Are Bigger Than Life

In Truman Capote’s biography the author explained that when Truman walked into a room is was like “the chemist’s drop of (a) volatile substance that changed the composition of any gathering from amity to effervescence.”

We have all met someone like this and marvel that just by walking in a room, everything seems better, more interesting. Sometimes we wish we could be more like them. The room seems to sparkle with their energy, charm and magnetism. That is a gift few have but all admire. However, like everything in life gifts can also be burdens.

Do we ever allow them just to be themselves? Or do we see them through rose colored glasses and just assume that they are always this way, without major down days or emotional challenges that weight on them. The truth is that everyone has the ups and downs of human emotions. Some people are just much better at hiding it. Many times, their reputation precedes them. In the past they may have been told of their effect on others which causes them to strive hard to live up to that expectation. They strive to be proper, positive and entertaining and not let anyone see a crack in their armor. Regardless of what concerns they have at the moment they will ‘perform’ with excellence because they want to please and live up to their ‘perceived’ reputation.

It’s important that we realize, after all, they are human and allow them to just be themselves. When they are feeling stressed or down they need to be given the love and acceptance to work through their feelings. If not, they may bury them for a while but like water that forcefully pushes at the cracks in a dam until it is allowed to flow more freely, their emotions will surface often with an intensity that seems out of proportion to the circumstance. Feelings of being overwhelmed, confused, angry or fearful can be hidden momentarily but surface when least expected. Usually, if these type of folks do let it out it is with someone that they fully trust, someone they know will not reject them or think less of them. In other words, they intuitively know that they can let their guard down without judgment or reprisal.

Human emotions are a commonality we all share. No one escapes the negative feelings of fear, anger or resentment. We may choose to label the feelings differently but they are felt all the same. It is the manner by which we work through them and allow others to work through them that’s the significant difference. Not what or who, in essence, but how is the issue here.

The next time someone you love or care for deeply reacts in a disproportionate way to an event just remember that they feel you are a safe harbor that will allow their venting to relieve the pressure of the emotional stress they have inside from something in the past. It may not feel like it but, in essence, it is a vote of confidence that they have given you. Everyone needs to find a way to let go of pent up emotions and not carry that baggage into another day. It’s important to remember that even those we greatly admire are human and have their own life lessons they are working on. As with everyone we meet in life, acceptance of where they are at the moment is key.

Have a great few days!

Defining Normal

How many times have we thought when observing a person or situation, ‘that is not normal.’ Or better yet, how many times have we thought another person is not doing things right or correctly …according to what we judge to be so. The operative word here, of course, is JUDGE. If we are honest with ourselves, most or all of us would say, yes I do that frequently when what I see or hear doesn’t match MY definition of regular or normal. My question to you then is what do you define as normal? Do you think your definition is the only right one possible? Is there any flexibility in your interpretation of the word?

By definition, normal is stated to be ‘conforming to a standard, usual, regular or natural – a common behavior in society.’ However – and this is the biggie here – the definition of normality varies by person, time, place, situation and changes with societal standards and norms. In other words, ‘normal’ is intended to be a FLEXIBLE concept by definition. Yet we seem to define the word using a rigid standard according to what we are comfortable with at the moment. That sort of makes us judge and jury for everyone and everything in life doesn’t it? We place others unwittingly in an untenable situation because they are not meeting our own arbitrary standard of normal. Trust me on this one, they can feel your judgment and negative energy and will react accordingly. That is a rather dangerous or hurtful place to be don’t you think?

I believe defining normal is rather like defining beauty. It is in the eyes of the beholder as long as no one is hurt in the process. Each of us has a right to decide what works best for us without fear of reprisal or condemnation. It is sort of one of those inalienable rights given to us by a power much greater than ourselves.

If we allow ourselves to see the behaviors of others as ‘not normal’ that implies that something in their behavior needs to be corrected. But if we haven’t walked in their shoes and understand what they are coping with, how can we possibly believe that we are so smart, powerful or wise to determine what is normal or right for them? Could it be that what we are observing is simply a temporary or ‘normal’ state in reaction to that person’s circumstances at the moment. Could it be that they need understanding and acceptance and are just waiting to see if we are willing to get out of our own comfort zone and give it to them?

I believe that we would all be happier in our individual life journeys if we consciously worked at accepting others as we want to be accepted – without value judgments or conditions. The bottom line is that we are all seeking the same thing – unconditional love and understanding as we proceed on our paths. What we give we receive in return – no more no less.

Have a great few days!

The Gift of Today

Today really is a gift. This day, this moment will never come again. It cannot be returned, or traded in even with a receipt. When we choose to use it to make ourselves and others a bit happier we have had a good day. We can take pride in our accomplishments – in simply living another day. If we use it to judge, devalue or find fault we simply lose those 24 hours for the rest of our lives. Rather like throwing money out the window of a speeding car – only worse. You can’t stop and pick up the pieces because they are lost in the winds of time. There are no ‘do overs’ for this moment. When you think about it that really makes this day the most important day you have had so far. You have brought all of you – your life, love and lessons to this moment to use it to the fullest. Wow!

Living life to the fullest, regardless of our circumstance, is a choice. Everyone could say I wish I had more…. or less…. and the list goes on and on. For some it may take more effort to be grateful for today, this moment and this life opportunity but it is so worth it. Maybe you can help them see more positives in their lives. Sometimes we all need a little reminder to ‘put on a happy face.’ That’s okay. Those nudges of positive energy and inspiration come in a million different forms. All are designed to help us along our life path. As the clock ticks away over the next 24 hours we realize that this unique, one of a kind day is gone. Did we make it a good one?

The next time you get a chance to think about it try this fun experiment. Set a goal to start the day out with a smile – to yourself and everyone else you come across. It is amazing how infectious a smile can be. Smiles open the door to life and the window to our soul. Case in point, Isn’t it amazing that a smile has no language or culture barriers?

There is a tribe in Africa that when they greet each other with a smile rather than saying a simple ‘hello’ they say, ‘I see you.’ They look deep into the eyes of their fellow travelers with a sense of respect, honor and awe. Life is not looked at as something to get through but something to relish in for as long as they have the opportunity. That’s really something to wrap our minds around don’t you think?

We are all on our own unique life journey, learning our lessons one at a time. It helps when we come across someone who lightens our load with a kind word, smile or nod of acceptance and agreement.

Have a great few days!