Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Fritz Perls’

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!

The Power of Humilty

Have you ever met someone who despite what they have accomplished just acts like a ‘regular joe?’ They seem to put you at ease from the moment you meet them. They listen when you talk and engage in the conversation. We feel comfortable around them. They just seem to know that the greatest desire of all human beings is to be recognized and appreciated. Later someone might tell us about all that individual has achieved in their life and we may think to ourselves, ‘they seem so down to earth.’ Therein lies their power.

What makes them special? I believe that they have learned the power of HUMILITY. These are the people who others want to be around. They may be hard task masters but do so for a purpose greater than themselves. They value the contributions of everyone from the street sweeper as Dr. Martin Luther King talked about to the greatest minds in their field. They realize it takes all of us working together to become greater than the sum of our individual parts. They radiate a calm belief in themselves and others.

Humility is the secret ingredient of their successful life. It frees them to act from purpose and not mere emotions. These individual realizes that they don’t need to be better than someone else – since life is so much more than a mere competition. They simply need to bring their entire self to the purpose at hand. They free themselves from petty grievances by realizing a greater goal for their life.

Humility does not mean being a doormat, avoiding conflict, or suppressing our own views. What it does mean is handling a situation from the higher intent of purpose (think about being emotionally neutral – looking at the pure facts of a situation) rather than the emotional competition of the people behind it). It is not about being right – that’s somewhat easy – it’s about being inclusive, respectful and focused on the tangible rather than the intangibles. It’s about accomplishment without the drama.

Humility takes the steam of being right out of any argument and replaces it with the higher goal of mutual benefit for a purpose greater than self. Whenever we feel ourselves getting stressed out about a circumstance it is about the people behind it not the pure circumstance. That type of emotional reaction dissipates our effectiveness.

The powerful gestalt therapist, Fritz Perls once said, “I am I and you are you; I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine.” He knew the power of humility and accomplished a great deal during his life in the study of human happiness.

Humility is about a strong sense of self-esteem not self-restraint. When you bring your entire self to whatever you are trying to accomplish in life, your journey is too important to be sidelined by the limiting emotions of mere competition.

We are drawn to people who demonstrate humility because they are strong enough to encourage, appreciate and validate us. We want to do more, be more because they truly see us – with all of our warts and imperfections and respect us anyway.

Have a great few days!