Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘interdependence’

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!

Values on Your Compass

We each have our own moral compass consisting of our personal standards, values, and beliefs that have been formed from childhood and enlarged upon as we experience life. The values on our compass are the touchstones that are sacred to us as individuals. For example, concepts such as honesty, compassion and integrity are just a few areas that may constitute our moral compass. What five words would you choose to list on your moral compass? Which one concept is your true north, the most important of all the other values? The one you simply cannot compromise and remain true to yourself?

Although we all have our own moral compass we are interdependent on each other for survival. If we think about the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the energy we use to heat our homes or drive our cars, other human beings were involved in delivering to us what we needed to survive. It takes all of us to contribute our own unique skill set, working within our own moral compass, for the world to work.

We are inherently good, well-intentioned folks. We give and take from the banquet before us and try to make the world a little better place during our extended stay here. The challenge seems to be when values on our own moral compass conflict with values on the moral compass of others. What do we do when we disagree with the values that others seem to hold as their true north?

As individuals, it seems natural to have different priorities, different sacred cows. This can work well as long as we stay committed to improvement to society as a whole. However, if we allow ourselves to fall into indifference and not hold ourselves or others accountable for hypocrisy or benefit to personal vested interest rather than society as a whole than our system, our moral compass, begins to be negatively effected and we all lose.

It takes time to help a friend or loved one who is seeking input and yet, the time spent seems to be in direct proportion to the value we place on our human experience. How much time are you willing to give to help another? It also takes time to have your voice heard on political, economic or other areas. Time is the ultimate compliment you can offer to another person or cause. Who knows, you might just have a positive effect on the world. It’s worth a try.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ” It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

Have a great few days!