Without exception every one of you is gifted, talented, uniquely curious. You are to be treasured. Believe your parents or care-givers or teachers when they express something similar. It’s not just “adult talk.” It is not said just to get you motivated. Talent, power, and bravery are divinely endowed. They are yours. They are in […]
“Iron sharpens iron,” says the Proverb. Or, real friends help make us into better people than we are. They challenge us. They are unafraid to engage in necessary conflict with us because they know it is born in the desire of finding deeper connection, greater love. They are unimpressed with our pretensions. They see beyond […]
Eight ways to make your wonderful job even more wonderful: 1. Never let an opportunity pass to compliment a parent about his or her child. 2. Speak highly of your students, even the child whose performance may leave much to be desired. 3. Find the gold, the raw talent, the innate potential, in every student, […]
An offering of loving truth… Relationships are sweetened an enhanced when there is a mutual commitment to love and truth. They (love and truth) are foundational to trust, a cornerstone of family and community. Love and truth are pivotal to building meaningful history. They (love and truth) are both stepping stones and the pillars for […]
Your parents are the most important people you will ever know. Get things right with them, and you’ll be poised for success. By “right” I mean embark on the ongoing journey to develop your skills by loving, honoring, enjoying, and negotiating with them. If you don’t, if you settle for on-going conflict, you will probably […]
Counsel with your priest, rabbi, pastor, counselor….. Will almost always leave you feeling freer, more empowered, and with a greater appreciation for your skills and vast possibilities. I say “almost” because there will be times when, in response counsel, you will see the need for helpful introspection or the need for some radical personal changes. […]
A few ways to “grow” your sons and daughters – crucial conversations Talk about everything under the sun. Nothing about sex, money, death, grief, joy, pain, and fulfillment ought to take your children by surprise. Rid yourself of the oft-touted notion that men should talk to sons and mothers to daughters about sexual and intimate […]
Traps and misconceptions accompany a decade-plus of writing a daily newspaper column (read by hundreds of thousands of people in ‘hard copy’ and accessed online in 200 countries). Once revealed they are wise to avoid: 1. Some readers believe that if you write and speak about parenting your children must be perfect. This, of course, […]
We teach people how to treat us. What we accommodate, refuse to see, or excuse, will become the baseline of how we are treated. Once we accept less than perfect manners, or anything less than common decency and respect, it is very hard to regain. This is as true in intimate relationships as it is true with your boss, your employees, and in the most platonic of relationships. When poor manners, disrespect, and a lack of common decency are exercised between people, even those who are really close or married, authentic intimacy will dissipate. Intimacy by definition requires utmost mutual respect and it ceases when respect ceases. We treat people – not as others are, but as we are. A healthy person treats all people well, no matter what their position in life, no matter what their status or lack of it. An emotionally healthy person regards all others with the highest good of the other in mind – simply because that is how he or she treats himself or herself. The emotionally healthy person doesn’t go out of his or her way to treat people with great respect – it is simply an expression of his or her internal world.
Listen more than you speak. Really listen. This means you are not waiting to speak, or formulating your rebuttal, or accessing your “better story” while others are talking. The ONLY evidence of love is that you listen. Take note of the many times people “one-up” each other with stories, shift the focus onto themselves, or maneuver a conversation into their control. Don’t do any of this – at least not this week. Tell the truth with love and compassion. Sometime this means keeping very quiet. Sometimes it means boldly speaking out. Let your words heal and encourage – at least this week. Examine how you spend your money. Are you getting yourself deeper in debt, or closer to financial freedom, as a result of the use of how you use this money at this time? How you use every cent has the power to take you in one direction or another. Examine your spending – at least for this week. Embrace downward mobility – seek to serve rather than be served, seek to honour others rather than to be honored. Get over yourself so that you become a useful member of your community rather than trying to make it all about you – at least for this week.
“I dated a guy, call him Bruce, and he was extremely abusive in the relationship. He demanded I never wear a bathing suit. Even if I was alone at my mother’s pool, which has complete privacy. I couldn’t wear any shirts with any type of color unless it was up to my neck. He forbade yoga pants. That was within five months of dating him. It slowly progressed worse and worse into abuse, in every way. I finally realized who he was and left for good.” Even more ridiculous than his infantile demands is that you gave him even a smidgeon of obedience. An emotionally mature person will always protect and encourage your freedom to choose, your freedom to be, your freedom to express who you are in any manner you choose. Love NEVER clips wings, erects fences, locks gates, or builds walls – choose whatever metaphor speaks to your culture. Love encourages freedom and demands nothing. Love doesn’t try to shape you into something other than what you already are, it celebrates and accentuates who you are and wants you to be MORE of who you are. “Bruce” apparently doesn’t do well with people and while he equates love with control – he could use therapy, not romance.
[caption id="attachment_5598" align="alignleft" width="300"] Listening - the ONLY evidence of love[/caption] Love cannot be pretended. Nor can the art and skill of listening. Feeling loved is feeling heard. To listen is to profoundly love. If I say I love you then I am saying I am willing to hear you. I am willing to hear even the things I would rather you would not say. If I am truly loved I will be able to say, appropriately, the things that you would rather not hear. Anyone willing can be a better listener, and therefore, a better lover. When someone you love wants to talk, if you have no intention of listening, rather say so as kindly as possible. This, in itself, is an act of love. You will have overcome a hurdle of good listening: honesty. There will be times when you will not be available. In the same way, you too will not expect that others will always be available to hear you. Listening, like love, has no tricks. It is genuine interest, expressed. It is entering the world of another, modifying nothing. It’s embracing the experience of another simply because of their intrinsic value apart from anything they might (or might not) be able to do for us. When you listen, the angle at which you sit does not matter very much. If you are not listening, the other person will know. The depth of your stare into another’s eyes or the sincerity of your facial expression will not do it. People thousands of miles apart, connected by telephone or by mail can really hear each other. Others, seated on the same sofa, who are staring into each other’s eyes, can miss everything the other is trying to say. Listen to your life. What is it saying? The words you use and the things you do, tell about the spiritual condition of your life, reflecting your heart. If you want to know about someone’s spirituality, listen to what the person says and the things he or she finds amusing. All behavior has meaning: the flat spin you are in and the endless hours you might spend at work, keeping you from family, mean something. Listen to your life’s rhythms. Notice that some days you feel very healthy and things seem in balance: you can be sincerely nice to people. Other days are different! Listening to your life will alert you to when extra care in dealing with others would be helpful. If you cannot hear yourself you can hear no one. When you feel intense emotions, listen intensely. Feelings are messages about the state of your life. They often bring helpful warnings. Try to understand what your emotions are communicating. A person can only deal with feelings when they are felt. Trying to deal with feelings when they are not felt is like trying to learn to ride a bicycle by looking at one. When you have understood your feelings, express them appropriately to someone you love. This is an act of love. The effective listener listens to family members. If a person cannot listen to their partner, it is unlikely they will hear their children, or anyone else for that matter. Try to listen without waiting to speak. Leave your agenda for this time. Give your attention as a gift. Try not to argue, persuade or interrupt. If possible, listen by looking into eyes. Listen to body language. Take the focus off yourself. Is there anything a loved one is trying to say that you are not hearing? If what you are hearing is not pleasing to you, remind yourself that this is not your opportunity to speak. It is not your world being presented. Listening does not mean that you have to be silent but anything you do say is an effort to clarify meaning. What you do say is not an attempt to steer the speaker in a certain direction or to have the speaker tell you what you want to hear. Listening is not interpreting what you hear but hearing what you hear. The goal of listening is to hear, not redirect, not elicit agreement, not moralize, and not teach. It has no other motive except to better understand the world and the experience of another. Rod Smith, Copyright, 1998
I’d suggest our adult friends, spouse, other adults are in our primary circle of relationships, while our children are secondary. I know, I know. I am going to get a lot of flack for suggesting our children take a secondary role in a parent’s life. Allow me to explain exactly what I mean. My sons would be in trouble were I to view them as my primary relationships. They don’t have what it takes to be in a primary relationship with me. It is my adult friends, men and women who share life with me - my mutual and similarly aged men and women, who occupy the place of being in a circle of primary relationships. I can be fully who I am with these men and women as they can also be with me. My sons, simply because they are young adolescents, cannot be expected to have the internal gumption to be in a primary relationship with me. To expect it of them is to indulge, even harm them. Their primary relationships are with their peers - young boys and girls of similar age who have similar needs and wants as young men and women. Regretfully I see parents who elevate children into the place of a primary relationship - moms and dads who turn children into confidants, friends, equals, with apparently little or no perception of how tough, how trapping, this can be for any child. You may be close to your son, your daughter, your teenager, but if he or she is in a primary role for you, the adult, I’d suggest you do what you can to make a shift, and relive your child of the pressures of being in an adult-adult relationship before he or she has what such a relationship takes.