Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘family dynamics’

Resiliency – the Winning Factor!

You are stronger than you think… take a moment and take stock. Over the past month or week have you had to confront an issue or challenge that you simply did not think would be possible to overcome? Yet, somehow you dug deep to find the strength to carry on and develop a plan to address the circumstance. You persisted until you could and see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel and form a plan. Where did your strength come from… was it there all along just waiting to be tapped?

The answer to the question is yes…simply yes – but the reason behind the yes is even more enlightening because it was due to something called resiliency. Some people develop it early in life yet for others it may take much longer. Resiliency is more closely correlated to awareness than age. All of us can experience greater resiliency by learning what it takes to develop it.

Resiliency begins to form when we know that we are loved unconditionally – that someone (family or friends) are there for us when we need them. Further, when we have people in our lives that believe in us and frequently remind us that we have what it takes to be successful it helps us believe in ourselves and our own potential. In addition, when we are truly accepted regardless of our unique – maybe even challenging – personality traits and know that our ideas and opinions are valued and considered we develop greater personal strength. We begin to develop the real deal – authentic confidence. When we stop to think about it both the verbal and nonverbal messages we received from our family imprinted on our brains – early and often – as we were growing up. Were they messages of inclusion or differences? Another extremely important factor in developing resiliency is the need to live by clear and consistent boundaries in life. While some may think that boundaries are restrictive, unnecessary, or stifle a sense of independence actually the opposite is true. Boundaries give us a feeling of security which helps us develop into confident human beings. When we are growing up we may chafe at them but deep down they bring a calm, purposeful intent to our daily existence. Living with boundaries help us formulate the true North for our lives.

As the above conditions become integral in our life we begin to find our voice, develop positive listening skills and healthy conflict resolutions skills because we have a framework upon which to build.

Think about it this way, resiliency is like a chair with four legs – unconditional love from others, frequent positive messages about our own potential, clear and consistent boundaries, and positive communication and conflict resolutions skills. To be fully functioning human beings and support ourselves we need all four legs of the chair.

The importance of developing greater resiliency in life cannot be overstated. Without it we often see people who feel both helpless and hopeless – defeated before they even started. The good news is that we can become stronger, happier and more secure individuals when we work on developing greater resiliency in our lives and the lives of those we love. There is never a time limit on growth!

Have a great few days!

Practicing Forgiveness is Good for Your Heart!

In childhood it’s all about self but as we mature into adulthood we begin to understand the importance of being kinder, more forgiving and accepting of others. We start to see the world in shades of grey rather than simply black and white. This week the Pope’s message was to practice ‘peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.’ It seems that integral to doing this is to practice the art of forgiveness.

There is a reason that forgiveness is at the heart of healing. At a recent gathering in Manhattan 400 people were asked if they had difficulty and were not on speaking terms with members of their families. Over two-thirds of the participants raised their hands! Think about how many people are holding on to grudges and surrounding themselves with negative energy – it must be exhausting. Recognizing the importance of the topic, forgiveness is being further studied through the Stanford Forgiveness Project.

There are two common themes within all of this – forgiveness and its challenging cousin – judgment. When we think about an upset between family members or friends it seems to boil down to two things: assuming we hold the trump card on truth (believing that we know how others should feel or behave) and refusing to accept responsibility for any hurt we may have caused them through our practice of judging. Judgment can be felt without any words spoken.

When judgmental attitudes surface those half-hearted apologies of ‘I’m sorry that you’re upset,’ are not examples of respect or love. A true apology is recognizing what we have done that has hurt someone and then being courageous enough to verbalize it to them. In other words it’s about us – our actions – and not their reactions that are at play here.

The good news is that as we practice accepting responsibility for own own behavior we become stronger, more positive and happier people. We begin to realize that we don’t walk in another’s shoes and really have no idea about how difficult it is for them to learn their own life lessons. Maybe – just maybe – they are doing the best they know how at this moment.

Dr. Fritz Perls, the noted German psychoanalyst who emphasized Gestalt Therapy speaks to tolerance and acceptance of others in The Gestalt Prayer:

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
And if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful…

When I read this prayer I think of a world in which true acceptance of differences is foremost in our thinking and behavior. Peace, tolerance and respect for self and others flows from this mindset. We become more rather than less as human beings.

We are all in a fluid state between independence and interdependence in life. Doesn’t it just make sense to look for the strengths in family and friends rather than focusing on what we perceive as their weaknesses? When we acknowledge their effort we show them that we have faith in their ability to handle difficult situations. We allow them to grow. As we learn to judge less and forgive more the value and significance of touching base or celebrating holidays begins to take on a greater significance. We learn to bring our best selves to the table and treat our family and friends as we would like to be treated.

Over the next few days let’s try to see how we can practice greater forgiveness and allow the Pope’s message of peace, tolerance and respect to take seed in our lives.

Have a great few days!

It’s All About Perspective

Today before you say an unkind word to someone – do you know what they are dealing with – have you walked in their shoes?

Before you complain about the taste of your food – think of the 1 out of 7 people worldwide (1 million children in the U.S. alone) who go to bed hungry every night.

Before you complain about your partner, best friend or family member – think of having no one in your life to even get under your skin.

Today before you complain about life – think of someone who left this earth too soon.

Before you complain about your children – think of someone who desires children but has none.

Before whining about the distance you drive to work or traffic problems you encounter – think about the people who can’t even afford a vehicle to drive.

When you are tired and complain about your job – think of the unemployed who are struggling day to day just to exist (6% in the U.S., 27% in Greece, 44% in Bosnia/Herzegovina).

Before you make a negative comment consider if it will make a difference 5 years from now in the big scheme of things.

When you go to bed complaining that you are totally exhausted – be thankful that you had the opportunity to live another day.

When you have a brief illness that disrupts your life – think of those who will never get over their illness and would trade places with you in a minute.

When you complain about an achy joint – think of those who are paralyzed.

When you think about the foolishness of someone – remember a time when you were also foolish.

If you think you are all powerful to gain a better perspective – look around at nature and be prepared to be humbled.

When life seems overwhelming and you just want it to stop – think about what that really means.

When you complain that life is not making you happy – look at what you are thinking, saying and doing to make it better.

We all have moments when life seems difficult even overwhelming yet somehow, some way the sun comes up tomorrow and gradually we feel a little better, more able to cope with our latest trials and tribulations. If we didn’t have the challenges would we truly appreciate the majority of times when life is good? Maybe our job on this earth is to face our issues without losing hope for tomorrow and search for the lesson in every situation. Ask yourself…what is life trying to tell me?

Have a great few days!