Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘self esteem’

Take 5 to Show You Care!

Empathy and self-reflection are two important human characteristics that we seem to spend a lifetime trying to develop. But what if there was something undermining this development without us even realizing it? Actually there is – and it’s partially due to the digital age of communication.

Let’s look at just one of the possibilities – our techie patterns of communication. Many of us seem wedded to the texting, Facebook, Instant Messaging, Twitter etc. craze in which we either send ‘words’ (I use the term loosely) in 1 or 2 phrases to communicate. The message is received but little else. In fact, I know of a lonely mother of 2 adult children who receives 95% of all communication from them this way!

Our voice is energy. Real conversation is an exchange that involves two parties with both an intended message and feelings involved. When we actually talk to someone it causes our brains to process their humanness and helps us develop greater empathy. Interestingly, a recent psychological study of students from the smartphone generation has found a steep decline in empathy. Not just a decline – but a steep decline. That’s big. Is it time to reevaluate our incessant 3-5 truncated ‘word’ response to someone and take an additional 5 minutes to actually talk to them – hear their voice – and listen as we check up on how they are doing? Don’t have a lot of time? No problem. Just start the conversation with, ‘ I only have 5 minutes but wanted to talk with you.’ You set the stage for them to give you their undivided attention.

The smart phones are an incredible tool for both efficiency and effectiveness. I am not discounting the importance of being able to send off a quick response to a colleague or friend in need of a response regarding a time or date. That just makes sense. But rather it is the other type of communication I am talking about which cannot replace the positive effect of a heart to heart talk regardless of how many emoji symbols such as 😏 ☕️ 💁 you use. Something is just left flat and feels a bit missing in this later type of communication.

Steve Jobs, the man who said he wanted to make a dent in the Universe (and did so) by creating the smart phone realized this as well. Even given the incredible way he was able to reshape communication in our world he still forbade tablets and smartphones at the dinner table and encouraged real conversation to take place instead. He recognized the value of human connection.

When we see people unable to function without checking their phones repeatedly we are really witnessing lonely people in search of connection. It is as if they are saying ‘I’m here…include me too,’ as they scroll the latest social media site in search of a bit of news from family or friends. Sad. Unfortunately, this type of connection does not help to develop empathy or self-esteem. In fact, it may even erode them further since there is no personal depth or meaningful exchange between people.

Maybe we can’t find the time to send a Hallmark greeting card (yes … they still exist and are beautiful things to send and receive) but when we choose to stop merely ‘thumbing’ our way through communication and occasionally pick up the phone and call we are saying ‘ I care enough about you to stop and touch base.’ Greater empathy and self-esteem will result on everyone’s part in the long run. That’s a beautiful thing.

Have a great few days!

Developing Self Confidence

Is it hard for you to let go and let others figure out a solution to their latest crisis or drama? If you answered YES! to this question you are not alone. For instance, the number of adult children in their 20’s, 30’s even 40’s still living with their parents or being supported by them is both surprising and sad. We can’t simply blame it on the economic times but we can see it for what it is, a feeling of entitlement, low self esteem and the development of a new norm of expectation. Entitlement can run deep in many relationships. I have had the chance to talk with people recently about the entitlement mentality and I thought it important to share their collective thoughts. Although they remain hopeful that ‘tomorrow will be better’ deep down they feel both burdened and resentful that there always seems to be a new crisis that they are called upon to fix. One person offered an analogy that describes it quite well. “At first I saw them limping and offered what I thought was a temporary crutch but now they seem to be permanently on crutches and expecting me to fix their latest issue. They have a permanent limp!”

Look closely at the human dynamics of your situation. If you notice an entitlement behavioral pattern that has developed in someone you have a choice, to feed into it and fix their latest crisis once again or say, ‘I can’t rescue any longer.’ It takes all the courage you have to change your own enabling behavior but my question to you is, ‘Are THEY worth it?’ By continually rescuing others it lowers their own self worth and becomes emotionally crippling to them. They lose confidence over time and begin to slide into the ‘poor me’ mentality. Consequently, they don’t accept responsibility for the result of their own choices but are quick to say someone or something else caused the latest crisis in their lives. The truly sad part is that continuing this mentality causes them to experience even more challenges because they are not learning their own life lessons that are continually being presented to them. We know that at first the Universe whispers, then talks and eventually shouts – repeatedly – to them through ever increasing challenges in their lives until the day they decide, ‘If it’s going to be it’s up to me.’

The good news is that they can and will step up to the plate if and when you remove yourself as the perpetual ‘Rescuer in Charge’ of their latest crisis. Even if there is a generational pattern of dependency, positive change over time can happen for them when they are forced to deal with each challenge that they create. The first step is a big one but over time it gets easier.

The issue is about so much more than money. With the 24/7 news coverage we experience we often see the children and family members of the incredibly rich demonstrate this rescuer/dependency cycle. Just look at the research on the lottery winners. One year after winning large sums they are no happier than before. Why? Because their self confidence and self esteem wasn’t increased – only their bank account. They didn’t put in the effort and self discipline to learn their life lessons and achieve something, they simply won money, not self esteem, and it is an empty win.

Success is experienced when a person faces life head on, accepts responsibility for their latest challenge and figures out a way to handle it ….without you. Is it hard to stand by and watch them struggle – absolutely! Do you have enough faith and love for them to let them figure out their own solutions? Unless you want to see them at 60 years old still struggling to learn independence you must be strong, even fearless when the next crisis happens and allow them the human dignity to figure it out on their own.

In my next blog I will be talking more about this topic. It takes time to internalize our own lessons and change our enabling behavior. Just remember saying ‘No’ doesn’t mean you don’t love them but that you love them too much not to say it.

Have a great few days!