Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘judging others’

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!

Communicating for Deeper Understanding

Kaitlin Toner and Mark Leary found in a new study that the more extreme a person’s views the more they experience what is called ‘belief superiority.’ Sounds about right doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the study goes on to say that people with this belief system experience disdain for anyone who doesn’t share their views. Now that seems to be a potential issue that could serve to isolate the person and begin slowly, but surely, to cause their lives to close in on them. Their circle of friends and acquaintances getting smaller and smaller. Is this really the best way to live our lives?

The challenge seems to be to realize we have a right to our own opinions and beliefs but not to judge others if they do not share them. Maybe, just maybe, if we opened ourselves up to truly listening to others and trying to understand their point of view we may broaden our own horizons, consider nuances in perception and generally have a life that expands with age rather than closes in on us. When we communicate with others we take their words and associate different meanings to the words depending on our own life experiences. When you take the time to ask someone what they meant by a particular comment and they more fully explain, it is usually not at all what you had initially interpreted it to be. Could it be that saying to others, ‘Help me understand what you mean by that point’ or asking them to give you an example so you could more fully understand what was meant could be the winning combo to better understanding and a deeper respect for their point of view?

Do you have any beliefs or opinions that seem to separate you from other people? Is it possible to modify them slightly and find more in common with them? We all walk in our unique shoes, with life challenges to overcome and life lessons to learn. Knowing this it just seems logical to withhold judgment and accept the fact that we are all doing as much as we can at the moment to get through life in one piece.

Difference in others can be a growth opportunity for us if we choose to see it that way. I have never met a person who is 100% right or 100% wrong. Maybe a part of life is about learning to accept the shades of grey in others. The ability to compromise or at least more fully understand their point of view is a big thing. We can become better at it every day once we realize that life is exactly as it is supposed to be …warts and all … and we can choose to live it to the fullest or not. It is all up to us … that is the beauty of free will.

A quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn seems to speak to this whole topic.”To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking.”

Have a great few days!

No Problem, No Worry, No Drama

The Australian people are an interesting culture. On a recent visit I was taken aback by what I thought, at first, was lack of customer service. Observing them in greater depth, however, I discovered a valuable perspective on life. They seem to have developed an attitude of acceptance of things rarely seen in the United States. For instance, if something is just not quite right or you need something in a store or on the public transit system, their typical response is ‘no problem, no worry, no drama.’ They actually verbalize these words! They seem to get things done without exhibiting any nervousness or tension. It is really quite amazing and must surely be better for overall health.

When we analyze why certain cultures or people seem to have more worry, problems and drama in their life could it be that the person is really saying that life isn’t fair and demanding through their behavior that someone or something be different? Could it be that they actually believe that only they have all the right answers? That thought is kind of scary isn’t it? Actually, the drama is a form of manipulation for control or attention. It is the ‘poor me’ syndrome at heart. Unfortunately, if the person continues to exhibit this behavior and it becomes a habit, over time, they spiral downward. Their glass is then perpetually half empty rather than hall full. The drama of ‘poor me’ has become their lifestyle and worldview. No matter how great something is they can quickly find the ‘yes, but….’ in it. Ultimately, they become too exhausting to be around because our energy is sapped by simply trying to keep a more positive attitude in life.

Our methods of coping in life are formed when we are very young and the filters we create from our early experiences simply become a part of who we are at the core. It takes courage to point out to someone you care about when they are exhibiting the ‘poor me drama’ but if they are receptive and it is done with love you may be able to help them see that their behavior not only turns others off it takes the enthusiasm out of their own life as well. Once the habit is recognized and owned by the individual they can choose to replace it with a healthier response pattern- the challenge is, of course, that they have to see and accept that what they are doing is no longer working.

Once we accept that we alone are responsible for our feelings and behavior for everything that happens to us in life the element of drama is neutralized. There is no one to blame for our emotional state. We have chosen our life – the challenges and the opportunities – for the lessons. The length of time it takes to learn the lessons is completely up to us.

Adapting some of the Australian attitude of no worry, no problem, no drama may just be the best thing we could do for ourselves.

Have a great few days!