We have heard that we can count on one hand, and have fingers left over, the people in our lives that we know who we can really depend on to accept us unconditionally. That statement is probably true but look for the positive in it. You have someone that really cares enough to be there for you! Think about that for a moment. That’s big …really big!
Who is the person that truly listens to you and makes you feel good about yourself? When you think about this person often a smile spreads across your face and you feel confirmed as you remember a recent conversation with them that somehow just left you feeling better – more right with the world. You know that you can be open and frank with them not only because they expect that from you but more importantly because you know they accept you for who you are without judgment. When you find someone like this that encourages you to drop the mask that you wear to the outside world and simply be yourself, you exhale deeply with a feeling of gratitude that this human being is in your life.
This type of relationship does not develop quickly but is nurtured slowly over time – maybe even lifetimes – and is based on trust. Like a flower that starts with a seed and with proper nurturing and attention grows to be beautiful beyond belief so it is with trust. We all experience times when we are not at our best but with these folks in our lives we needn’t worry. They can hear both literally and intuitively our fear, concern or anguish and are always willing to lend an ear or hand as we talk with them about a recent experience that may have left us doubting our real potential. They help us see what is possible not merely problematic and help us remember that all facts – even an ugly truth- are safe to share with them.
The only time they call us on something is if we are attempting to deny what we truly feel. They care too much to allow us to bury our feelings deep within the nooks and crannies of our minds. Anytime we try to bury our feelings they just fester, deep inside, and will eventually erupt taking a toll on anyone in the path. These people who care so deeply about us do not allow us to short change ourselves through denial, anger or regret. They stick with us through the thick and thin of life for a reason and the reason is called unconditional love.
They come into our lives for a reason, a season and if we’re really lucky a lifetime. This Easter weekend may be the perfect time to take two minutes out of your busy schedule to reconnect and let them know how important they are to you. Everyone needs to hear from time to time that they are having an impact on someone. It feeds the fire of purpose in their souls.
Have a great few days!
Following up on the blog from last Wednesday in which I discussed the difference between an introvert or extrovert, the next area of differences in people’s thinking is how they choose to receive information. Knowing this difference and being able to identify it in yourself and others can result in truly being heard or quickly being dismissed. When we assume (you remember what that word can stand for) that everyone would naturally want to receive information the same way we do, it often results in frustration and feelings of not being heard or valued. That is why it is important to consider the next level of differences when trying to get your point across to others.
Some of us determine the value of information and listen more deeply when it is presented in a cause-and-effect approach, a more pragmatic, analytic approach. This has been labeled as a Sensing preference. Specific facts, are like magnets to people who prefer hearing new information discussed or presented in a clear, concise, practical manner and it gets their attention. They process the information in their brains and consider it carefully weighing the pros and cons. You can identify these folks by observing the questions they ask…do they consistently ask specific questions dealing with practical importance? For instance, how long do you want the paper to be, what specifics do I need to do to get an ‘A’ or how long do you expect this appliance to last? They are searching for the facts of the situation. When they are asked to demonstrate their creativity, they do so by ADAPTING strategies that are familiar to them to figure out the new or unknown circumstance.
The other mental preference is called Intuitive. These are people who seek knowledge and complexity of information. They are imaginative, intellectual and just seem to have a mental focus on the future. Do they want facts along the way? Of course, however they do not need to see them clearly laid out ahead of time to decide that ‘this is the way to go for now.’ Their choose to discover new ideas and make ‘intuitive leaps of understanding’ because it just feels right at the moment. This preference is so strong that it drives them to explore the ‘what if’ rather than stay in a more comfortable state of ‘what is.’ Being more abstract, they are drawn to goals, models and ideas that can frame a project but prefer to have others do the ‘plug and chug’ for completion of the process.
As you can see there are major differences between the Sensing and Intuitive preferences which can cause major challenges in communication. When you apply these differences in preferences to people who you rub shoulders with everyday it helps others to ‘hear’ what you are saying and take notice.
To recap from the blog on Wednesday, you are first and foremost either an introvert (getting energy from observing, learning and thinking about your inner world of thoughts and ideas) or an extrovert who receives energy from people and involvement in external events. Now it’s time to decide over the next few days whether you are a Sensing or Intuitive type of thinker to add to your tool chest of understanding self and others.
Just remember, we can and do go back and forth occasionally between these differences but as individuals we have strong preferences in communication just as we have a preference of being right or left handed.
Next Wednesday’s blog will take us further down the rabbit hole to determine if we prefer the Thinking or Feeling approach for communication. Stay tuned!
Have a great few days!
Recently I read an inspiring book entitled, ‘The Priority List’ by David Menasche. Suffering from a slow growing brain tumor which over the course of six years took his mobility, memory and most of his vision he was forced to quit teaching. Rather than retreat into a world of self pity he decided to use the time he had left and truly see if he had made a difference in the lives of the thousands of students he felt fortunate to have taught. Ultimately, the lesson of gratitude weaves through his own life over and over from the letters written to him by his students.
At first blush you might think this book would be depressing but it is far from it. It is a true story that forces us to get out of our own heads for a bit and just think about how our own actions in life can have such an incredible effect on others. It also helps us see the importance of appreciating what we have rather than grieve for what we do not.
Being grateful, seeing our cup as half full rather than half empty has been linked to increased levels of happiness and overall life satisfaction. It has to be an incredible challenge to be grateful when you are facing a fatal illness. And yet, there are those special individuals who just find a way to exhibit gratitude for the little things and people they encounter in the moments left in their lives. Their attitudes can serve as a wake up call for us and serve as a model for a life well lived.
When you know someone that just has the capacity to appreciate with awe and appreciation the basics in life, doesn’t it just make you feel lighter, and more energized? What if… just what if… we decided to take just one day, one hour or even a moment to recognize all the things we have to be grateful for and remember with gratitude the people who have been there for us. As Rabbi Harold Kushner said, ‘if you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.’
If we don’t learn to practice gratefulness it doesn’t matter how much we have because it will never be enough – we will constantly want to have something more or something new or just basically something else.
This poem on being thankful really says it all.
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times,
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
And they can become your blessings.
Have a great few days!
Sometimes we are so concerned about other people’s opinion of us that we carefully measure what we say, when we say it and even if we say something that is on our mind. Being aware of how we come across to others is a good thing. Like anything else in life it is a matter of timing and balance. When we are tired, not feeling well or overly stressed words sometimes tumble out and we wish we had a shovel to scoop them up quickly and pretend that they never happened. My British grandmother used to say, ‘The less said the sooner mended.’ She was a wise woman.
The truth is that good communication even among friends and family takes awareness and effort. It’s sort of like watering desert plants. Too much and the plants suffer or too little and they die. They are dependent on the natural order the give and take in their environment.
Similarly, there is a natural order to communication. Everyone takes a turn, we listen intently without interrupting and we ask clarifying questions to to be sure we understand their point. After all each of us from our past experiences have slightly different meanings for words spoken. Sometimes we may need to exhibit a bit more effort to remain mentally engaged but do so because we value not only the exchange but more importantly the person. We learn that a pause in the conversation is a good thing and doesn’t need to be quickly filled with a response. Pauses may just mean that the person is truly thinking about what was just said. As a result, our communication becomes deeper, richer and fuller.
How valued we feel when someone gives us undivided attention because they truly want to hear what we have to say. It is the ultimate compliment. Yet even with this compliment we are wise to remember that they also have a story to tell and may just be waiting for encouragement to do so. Another wise person once said, ‘You can learn amazing things when you truly listen.’ It’s true listening is at the heart of good communication. There is a reason why we have two ears and only one mouth.
It is, as if, everyone needs their place in the orchestra of life. Their instrument is their voice. Sometimes they need to be invited ‘up on stage’ by asking their opinion but that simple act shows them that they are valued. We all want to be noticed or applauded from time to time and authentic communication is a perfect way to do so.
When we take the time to listen and be heard we encourage, empathize and perform the ritual of living life to the fullest. We recognize that we are more alike than different and that the differences we do have are a good thing because they fit our individual life plan perfectly. Isn’t that just amazing?
Have a great few days!
Learning our individual soul lessons in this lifetime is not easy. Any one of them could be compared to the class you had in school that you had to really work at passing and then even at completion of the class didn’t feel confident in the content area. Upon receiving the final passing grade you may have even chosen to take the class again or learn more about the topic on your own until you could exhale and say to yourself, ‘Now, I finally get it.’ As we live out our life lessons a similar thing occurs. At first we wonder why things seem to keep popping up as roadblocks, detours or simply additional challenges. Eventually we realize that those very issues that continue to surface in our lives are the exact things we need to push against, work around or get over to allow us to fully learn a particular lesson.
When we recognize the lesson as presented to us we have the choice to internalize it and move on with deeper understanding allowing us to be of greater service to ourselves and others or not. When we accept that the issue of blame or feeling that we were wronged was simply a way for us to challenge ourselves to be stronger, more confident and to accept the realization that there are no mistakes in our choices but simply different avenues to learn our lessons we are making progress. The ultimate lesson, of course, being, ‘All Is As It Should Be.’
We have been given the gift of free will in life. There are no right or wrong choices just different pathways to the same destination that we chose long ago. Once we learn a lesson we move forward with greater confidence and joy.
Is it possible that one lesson for us could be to be strong enough to allow others to learn their own lessons? Sometimes we are so busy trying to help others that we miss the point that maybe, just maybe, by continuously picking up the pieces for them we may be impeding their own growth. When do we know that it is the right time to back off and let others handle their own unique lessons? Actually, it’s easier than we think. We all recognize the feeling in our hearts through our intuitive sense when we are going overboard with others. A tell tale sign is when the same thing happens over and over and we begin to resent our involvement. This feeling can serve as a wake up call to us to let go and let them face their own lessons and learn from them. Are we strong enough to risk the possible momentary ill feelings when we finally get up enough courage to say, ‘I can’t do this for you.’
Our life lessons involve learning to love more fully – ourselves as well as others. Do we love ourselves enough to say ‘enough’ – do we love others enough to say ‘I can’t learn this lesson for you.’ Growth in life lessons is a beautiful thing. Let’s do what we can to learn our own and let others learn their own as well.
Have a great few days!
It’s 3 days before Christmas and the malls and streets are packed. Yet, for the most part, people are actually being quite civil. Makes a person feel that the world is improving one person at a time. Call me an eternal optimist but I think this year civility will last longer than December 25th.
Civility – politeness and courtesy in behavior and speech and basically showing concern for others makes a positive difference in the world. It is not innate but a learned (taught) behavior. Even as adults we can work at demonstrating a little more politeness in our exchanges. But when I see it in action in teenagers especially, I think to myself ‘Some mom or dad applied their parenting skills to the ultimate. They took the time necessary as their children were growing up to be sure they learned the importance of manners and respecting the rights of others. Basically, they taught their children to make the world a little better place.
I have had the chance to watch two 17 year olds over the last few months – up close and personal – and I just sit up a little straighter and smile a bit more broadly when ‘older folks’ comment to me about what great teenagers they are…l respond with a polite thank you and add, ‘Yes, their Mom did a great job.’
It is so easy to make assumptions about teenagers in general. Yes, they have interests different than our own. They listen to music we may not relate to at a decibel level that may cause us to wonder if they will end up with permanent hearing damage but…beyond all that… they are just trying to grow and become loving human beings. They are like the stages of a butterfly, they grow from a caterpillar, shedding their skin, through the chrysalis stage in which they are pushing at the confines of their environment to the ultimate beautiful butterfly stage where they begin to think of migrating and starting their new adult life. Each stage offers challenges and opportunities for lessons of love along their life journey. These life stages are so challenging for them. Yet, patience, love and understanding go a long way to help them on their path.
The next time you get a chance to observe our younger generation watch them and remember they are struggling to make sense of their ever changing world. Many hold the door for others…step aside for a family and somehow remember to say thank you even when they are viewed with questions. Like everything in life, what we look for and the assumptions we bring to the table we usually find!
I have seen civility in action with this younger generation and I am so grateful for them.
Have a wonderful Christmas!
Most everyone has seen a Saguaro cactus either up close and personal or in pictures of the deserts of western North America. I see them daily and marvel at their uniqueness. Each one offers a distinct silhouette against the backdrop of an otherwise barren landscape. These amazing plants can tolerate temperatures over 100 degrees in summer yet can perish from long periods of below freezing weather. Their root systems are shallow so they can be toppled from what one would think would be a good thing in the desert – rain. It seems that too much of a good thing – heavy monsoons that happen occasionally in late summer – can topple even some of these huge plants that weigh over eight tons. Their growth is slow but steady taking 75 years to grow their first arm.
The thing that strikes me is how these cactus serve as a metaphor for human existence. Each of such is unique – we are truly one of a kind with our own strengths and differences. We all have our prickly side that can, at times, keep others away. Maybe it is self protection or maybe it’s simply fear but we can be quite good at it. Each of us has a distinct look, behavior and growing experience. We too can tolerate extremes but for us it is in behavior. At times we are able to withstand the slings and arrows of life and continue on growing and developing. Yet, just like the freezing temperature renders the cactus lifeless, we too, at times, can be rendered helpless or hopeless from life experiences. We have learned that it is true…there is such a thing as having too much of a good thing.
The major difference, in seems, is that when a cactus has fallen it is simply and completely done. There is no opportunity to raise it to its once majestic form. For humans, on the other hand, we can find a person, place or situation that can help to renew our broken spirit. We may be down for the count but we are not out. We can once again not only survive but thrive from the care and concern from another. When others offer their hand to us in our time of greatest need everyone benefits. The safety net of another’s heart allows us to stand upright and move on with grace.
Nature offers so many examples of the commonalities and differences that exist in our world. We are dependently independent on the uniqueness of each other. When we accept that each of us plays a definite and unique role in making the world a little better place we reflect the lessons of nature. We survive not in spite of but because of each other. How fortunate we are to be alive and living on planet earth and aware that, All Is As It Should Be.
Have a great few days!