Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘humility’

Are We Listening or Telling?

In my last blog I talked about three things- judge not, fear not, resist not. Let’s go a bit further into the topic of judging. When we judge others it actually means that we feel we have THE answers not only for ourselves but for them as well. Judging actually demeans the other person and short circuits their capacity to work through their existing life challenges. When we demonstrate this behavior the real message – what we are truly saying to the other person is that we – and we only – have the knowledge, skill and attitude to be all knowing.

In the spirit of humility that is beyond possible. If we had all the answers we would be perfect. Have you met anyone that qualifies as such? Of course not! We are all growing, developing and becoming all that we can be at this time in our lives. If we look at it another way, we have only walked in our own shoes and chosen our unique journey. What would possibly allow us to think that we could tell another person what they should say, think or feel – regarding their situation? That type of thinking is way out of my comfort zone!

It is true that people come into our lives for a reason, season or lifetime. Often it’s because they simply need a listening ear. We only have the capacity to direct our own journey by learning from our own missteps along the way. We have our hands quite full learning our own lessons which take a lifetime to master.

Everyone wants to feel valued. When we choose to tell rather than ask is says way more about our inability is listen and give them the gift they are seeking – a caring ear. Allowing ourselves to tell others what they should say, think or do is way above our experience or pay grade on this earth.

The most loving thing we can do for another person is to ASK them how they feel about a situation and then truly listen as they process through their present dilemma. The time we give them by asking – and not jumping in with our take on the situation – is the greatest gift we can give them. We are, in essence, offering unconditional love and acceptance. We give them that boost of confidence by showing them they are capable of working out their own life challenges. Just think – this all happens when we stop telling and start listening! Basically this is why a therapist asks questions rather then short changes their clients by simply giving them answers.

When we catch ourselves thinking … ‘If they do this or that their life would be better, easier, more productive’ let’s just stop and exhale slowly and realize that this type of thinking actually causes more harm than good. If life were that easy we would all have it under control. Just as we cannot simply explain to a young child how to walk and expect them to do it we need to allow them to try, fall, get up and keep trying as we encourage them with a loving heart. Listening rather than telling is a form of cheering others on from the side as they fall, get up and brush themselves off.

The actual motivation behind the topic of judgment is one of control. I have yet to meet a person who wants to be controlled. Why? Simply put, the message behind control is that ‘you can’t do this on your own – you NEED me to tell you how to handle it. Not so much!

Stepping back and asking the Universe to help us be strong enough to listen, without judgment, and to give others the benefit of our confidence in them is a gift that keeps on giving. When we love ourselves enough to accept that we can not change others and accepting that they are on their own unique learning path we go along way to bringing more light into their world.

Have a great few days!

What is Your Song?

If you could choose a favorite song – one that speaks to you and transports you elsewhere what would it be? What are the lyrics that resonate in your heart? What melody causes you to stop and listen to the sound causing your toes to tap or your mind to escape for a moment? When you think about it music has the power to change our mood instantly. It has the ability to lighten our mood and put a smile on our face. It has been said that music is a language that is there when normal language is of little use. It’s no wonder that every culture known to man has created their own music.

I remember years ago going to a funeral of a wonderful, gentle spirit who was moving on. She requested that her favorite song be played. The lyrics were written by Lee Ann Womack, the song entitled, ‘I Hope You Dance.’ This song can still stop me in my tracks and momentarily take my breath away as I remember this special person. A few of the lyrics …”Never lose your sense of wonder…never take one single breath for granted…never settle for the path of least resistance…and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance…I hope you dance.” This person fought a valiant 10 year struggle with cancer and was totally bed ridden for a least a year before she passed on. Yet through the lyrics of this song she left us with powerful thoughts of hope, humility, bravery and even joy. The song is about the magnificence of life, the importance of love and choosing to face any fear in our life head on, not allowing ourselves to be cowered by it.

I marvel at both the song writers and musicians who through their talent can emotionally transport us to a different space and time. These individuals have a gift that they have honed through hard work and effort. As Malcolm Gladwell has told us to be an expert at something we must put in about 10,000 hours of effort. When a song can take our breath away we know the lyricist and performer has paid their price in personal time and effort. Maybe their purpose for this lifetime was to try and help us along our way.

No one has the power to take away the music in our soul. As Dr. Wayne Dyer reminds us, “Don’t die with your music still in you.” Each of our lives is like a song, partially written and played, still in the creation stage of possibilities. We are all part of the orchestra of life. We can work together in harmony and feel the happiness in our hearts or like the songwriter or performer continue to rehearse, change, adapt our views through trials and life challenges until we finally get it. When things begin to fall into place in our life – our song – just begins to finally feel right. We feel something deep inside …excitement, assurance and at peace that we are following our chosen path and it moves us to our core. At that point we know we are truly living our life purpose and it is grand.

Have a great few days!

Caring is the Key!

Every once in awhile we read a word or sentence that takes our breath away. That’s exactly what happened when Vice President Joe Biden commented at the funeral of his 46 year old son Joseph ‘Beau’ Biden that “a parent knows success when his child turns out better than he did.” Humility and recognition of something greater than self were so eloquently spoken by a grieving father and leader in our country. These words in context cause us to exhale slowly as we think about the powerful image that comes to mind.

The Biden family experience with loss started early. The tragic death of Beau’s mother and one year old sister in a car accident that seriously injured both Beau and his brother ‘Hunter’ was the beginning. He served two terms (2006-2015) as Delaware’s Attorney General. Beau’s life ended after a two year battle with brain cancer. Yet, through it all his father said he witnessed “the same integrity, courage and strength that he demonstrated every day of his life.”

We know that through all of the life challenges and losses we experience and all the ‘whys’ left unanswered we are ultimately left with a simple truth, ‘life is as it’s supposed to be.’ It doesn’t ease the pain or soothe the open wound of loss yet we know deep down that this simple truth somehow rings true. Some complete their journey sooner than we would have chosen.

Vice President Biden helped us all to remember our jobs, our calling and purpose in life. As parents we know our greatest success is felt in our hearts when we see the type of children we have been fortunate enough to raise. Our other achievements pale by comparison to the feelings we experience when we see them succeed.

Our legacy, what we have ultimately done to make this world a better place, comes in many forms. For Beau Biden it was dedicating his life to the service of others. For others it may be discovering a cutting edge idea, teaching a child or lending a hand to a fellow traveller. Caring is the key as Biden exemplified.

When we demonstrate love and caring to our children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews we give them immeasurable strength to face the challenges that will naturally surface in their own lives. It’s as if we give them an invisible shot of confidence. Everyone needs to feel valued and to know that their life is important to someone other than themselves. When we believe in someone we give them the emotional support that is needed as they try out their life wings. We stand by eager to encourage them to fly higher than we have ever experienced. We listen to them with our head AND heart as they talk about their hopes and dreams. We are in a privileged position, at just the right angle, to see into their souls as we cheer them on. The Universe then smiles and says back to us, ‘Well done.’

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!

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!

Living our DASH

How do you live your DASH? You have probably heard of the person that was speaking at the funeral of a friend and after giving the person’s date of birth and death added that what mattered most was what was done in between and referred to it as the DASH in life. Would family or friends be able to fill in the dash with …she was…he was…and bring a knowing smile of understanding to those in attendance? Maybe even a few loving smiles of appreciation or better yet a laugh followed by, ‘that sounds just like …’ Being remembered by the laughter and fun you have given others is such a tribute to a life well lived.

Something to think about as we are still living out our own DASH moments. Is it the possessions – the cars, houses, or cash in the bank that are most important or …how we are living our lives? Are we doing what makes our heart sing?

The wonderful thing to remember is that we still have time to fill in out DASH. After all, none of us knows when our lucky number will come up and we will be able to exit this classroom called life.

Can we stop and think about what is real, how others might feel and withhold our anger and judgment over something that happened that was out of our comfort zone? Can we just accept that we are all struggling, growing and learning in this journey called life? We don’t have a GPS for our journey. We need to think, feel, experience and make mid course corrections as we go. That’s why life is a challenge not for the faint of heart.

My blogs in February and the first part of March were purposefully about learning/living styles. They were my attempt to show, as a title of a book states, ‘I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just Not You’ that differences are NOT wrong they are simply differences! Accepting them in others is both a skill and an art. Quite frankly, it doesn’t come naturally, it is something that takes work to get good at – accepting behavior that is so different than your own. But it’s so worth it in the long run. (If you missed those blogs just go to archives on the website)

It is not by accident that certain learned skills cause us to be happier and more successful in life. Specifically, humility, a willingness to work together for a greater cause, flexibility and learning to accept change are all life enhancing lessons that make a tremendous difference. Being able to demonstrate the ‘softer skills’ of acceptance of human differences serve to ‘fill in our dash’ and results in a life well lived – one that made an impact on others.

Tomorrow is a new day. Maybe …just maybe…you might decide there is something to think more about, or work on to fill in your DASH.

Have a great few days!

Are You Too Independent?

Did you know there is something called dysfunctional independence? It almost sounds like a conflict in terms doesn’t it? Yet anything taken to an extreme can become a dysfunction. Many of us go through life with our shoulders bent with the burdens of others. We perseverate on all the details of making everything work out for them. After all, no one will do it as well as we and furthermore we don’t want to appear weak – as if we can’t do it right? So we go through life doing more, working harder and harder and even losing sleep wondering how we are going to keep all the balls in the air. We may even find ourselves missing the joy in life because, after all – we think to ourselves – there is no one else to rely on so we must continue to worry about all the tomorrows in our life as well as the lives of others. If we have lived life with frequent disappoint or people not carrying their weight of the load it is easy to fall into the trap of dysfunctional independence. If we find ourself in this mindset from time to time we need to stop and realize that pure ego is at work here. We may have become so used to doing everything ourselves that to ask for help may be the most difficult thing in the world to do – beyond humbling – maybe even a tad embarrassing. After all, we think, ‘I should be able to fix this situation myself.’ Therein lies the lesson doesn’t it?

This is where the Universe steps in and says, ‘well you have not learned the lesson of grace or humility so it is time for an even tougher circumstance to be presented to you so you can finally learn it.’ Presto … the next circumstance seems to literally take our breath away and if we are lucky we might finally call ‘uncle’ and ask for help. This is what is meant by the saying that first God whispers, then speaks and may even have to shout to finally get our attention. The challenges and problems come in so fast and in so many different forms – but at the root have the same thing in common .. the lesson WE need to learn. Once we humble ourself enough to ask for help in dealing with the situation it seems to all get sorter out. We learn a higher level of trust and partnership by becoming interdependent. Who knows, we may be able to return the favor at some time in the future.

We come to the major ‘Aha’ in our lives. It is NOT up to us to do it all. There are others who are willing to lend a hand if treated with appreciation and respect. Only one thing changed in this new scenario – our attitude and belief that we are not ‘Captain of the World’ and we admitted needing help like everyone else. A huge weight seems to be lifted off our shoulders and we take a deeper breath finally exhaling a little of the stress that we have been carrying. We begin to think about the hundreds of other times when we needed help but were, sad to say, to proud to ask for it. Pride like many things can be positive or negative it depends on the the way and extent it is used.

If dysfunctional independence is limiting us, holding us back from all that we could be the question we need to wrestle with is – are we strong enough to admit that we need help? Do we really believe we can be too independent? I think it is not only possible but maybe even probable. The good news is that once we understand that it is a DYSfunction we can choose to do something about it.

Have a great few days!