Forgiveness is such a strong word!

Have you ever had a hard time forgiving someone? I don’t believe anyone on the planet can answer no to that. Forgiveness. It’s such a strong word. Mainly because it takes us back to a time of pain when we felt hurt or we saw the worst of ourselves show its face, or we were just so unforgiving.

So let me show you the back door to forgiveness. If you’ve read this blog before, you can guess where I am going. No need to focus on the past. Stay present, in the here and now. Even if the person is gone from your life, search your memories only for instances of the four practices of otheresteem:

Accept who that person is. Suspend judgement for a while and just be open to discovering the person before you. What do they believe? How do they see the world?

Valuing another, stems from a deep respect of who that person is now.  I call this acceptance.  When we accept somebody, we are not trying to change them, but rather, understand who they are.  We feel in awe of their differentness from us and we strive to get to know them, to distinguish them from ourselves and from others

– From Chapter 1, Otheresteem

Appreciate the positive. What do you enjoy about them? How are they fun, strong, unique? What would you be able to see about them if you weren’t angry, hurt or frustrated with them?

Expect the best! Write a new story together, in which you leave space for them to show the best version of themselves. Be patient and behave as you do when you expect the very best from someone. Start small. A kind gesture, a smile. Make sure you notice.

When my otheresteem is positive for someone, I see them for what they are as well as for what they might become.  I can see beyond present shortcomings, into their ability to rise above them.

– from Chapter 1, Otheresteem

Be grateful for the relationship you hold together. Reflect on what you learn about yourself when you are in their company.

So , what do you think? Once you truly and deeply value that person, forgiveness frequently becomes a non-issue. Or you may find the right moment to express your feelings in a loving way. You are free from the past and ready for the future.

Of course, if you have been practicing otheresteem before, it will still be a challenge to practice with someone you feel you need to forgive. So walk the otheresteem path right to where it intersects with forgiveness. You might even enjoy the scenery!

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Keeping it up: The Stream of Otheresteem

Since publishing the OTHERESTEEM book in 2009, I have been blessed to watch the concept take on a life of it’s own. I love it how ideas can do that! So now, some of my colleagues deliver otheresteem keynotes and people react to them by starting their very own practices of acceptance, appreciation, positive expectations and gratitude. It’s an ongoing adventure.

The Stream of Otheresteem is alive in more ways than one!

You, too, will discover valuing others systematically as a constructive practice that enriches your life each time you come back to it. You are invited to the party! It’s EASY  to participate. Take a day, any day, of the week (I’m kinda partial to that Otheresteem Wednesday) and remind yourself to PRACTICE valuing others more. You do not have to be perfect at it, but take it as honing your own skills to feel others and enjoy them. It will make a world of a difference!

For inspiration today, I’ll tell you a little story:

This month, one of my close friends and collaborators became a Mom for the first time. Her beautiful baby boy came to her through adoption and was much-awaited for years! As a welcome for Carlitos, we had a get-together at the new home of one of our mutual friends. Through the gathering so much LOVE poured out all over the place. You could FEEL it. The gathering included people who had never met, others who hadn’t seen each other for years. And every single one of them was open to the other. This tiny baby, born in unknown circumstance, who could have had any kind of a life, begins this one surrounded with otheresteem. Not only that, but creating a powerful environment for reunion, re-acquaintance, connection. A happy couple, filled with love. A tiny boy, receiving and amplifying that. A group of diverse, wonderful, true friends that find each other in the midst of this all-encompassing feeling. Otheresteem came easily that day. It inspired us all. It is contagious.

Happy Wednesday, readers. I celebrate you! Whoever you are, wherever you are. May otheresteem practices enrich your life. You know you want them to!

 

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Someone is driving you crazy? Look through.

Do you have an ongoing relationship in your life that just drives you up the wall?

It’s funny how we relate in a challenging and energy-sucking way with so many people. I know you have experienced this. After all, who hasn’t? I am talking about that person you feel you can’t cut out of your life, yet you suffer immensely in their presence. Every single time. It’s a test to your patience just to hang around this individual.  The worst you that you can be is just fighting to come out. You tell yourself she won’t get to you, but a few minutes into the conversation every cell in your body is vibrating, and not in a good way!

Well, let me just say: this is probably a GREAT opportunity for you to practice otheresteem. Nothing much to be lost and you can’t possibly feel much worse, so why not, I say.

So, I want to share with you a little game I play. It’s called looking through. Simple concept, actually. As I have a conversation with this person (and feel the exasperation coming on), I focus on looking through what he is saying, and into the good part of who that person is, what she is experiencing or aiming for, at the core. (Hint: it’s the POSITIVE part of them I am looking for and, yes, it’s hidden somewhere.)

Yesterday I was listening to an acquaintance go on and on bragging about how well he handled people being aggressive with him. He boasted that people tended to do that and went on to enlist his long list and ongoing collection of quarrels with people, known to me or not. Ugh! Not my favorite take on life. I found myself thinking: this is so stupid? Who in the world brags about fighting with others, antagonizing, being punched in the face and such? And then, I decided to play the look through.

As I continued to listen I looked intently. My head tilts a bit to the side when I do that. I realized he was saying how competent he was and how he usually came on top. He’s a survivor. He has turned this difficulty in relating into his way of life. It’s a hard life. And he feels strong for it. I breathed. I said, “You take pride in being strong. Surviving and winning.” He stopped the rambling description he was into. Sighed a bit and said “I’ve become quite good at that. The surviving mode.” and, finally, he laughed and went on to more amicable subject. What a rush! I understood him a bit more.

Wanna play? Try it out and tell me where it takes you.

….

P.S. Today is #Otheresteem Wednesday on Twitter, so if you are there, hop right in to the STREAM OF OTHERESTEEM!

 

 

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Allow yourself to be inspired by Others.

Me, Blessed

The intention was to have a word for it. I wanted people to be able to think about valuing others easily and readily. Especially the coaches I was training. We coined that word together to refer to the opposite side of a two way street: valuing others one way and self in return, or the other way around. Many of us have found it creeping into our everyday awareness. We use the word liberally and it helps us remember others on a daily basis.

But the concept also does something else for me. It allows me to be constantly inspired by others and the way they live, learn, work, connect. It lets me see beyond the outer shell and into the best they give out into the world. So, as a byproduct of the four practices I have found myself inspired beyond what I had experienced before. In awe of what people are capable of and thankful for what they open up in me. So today I write this post with great gratitude for what each and every person I encounter teaches me about who I am and who I can become.

So if it is inspiration you are looking for, look no more! It’s all around you if you choose to accept, appreciate, expect the best and feel grateful for your relationship to others. So, what do you say? WIll you allow yourself to be inspired by others? I highly recommend it! It is a simply wonderful feeling and highly productive experience.

 

Enhanced by ZemantaHey, are you on Twitter? Join us today and every Wednesday, by tweeting about how to value others more, with the hashtag #OtherEsteem!
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Letting Things Pass

Sometimes expressing otheresteem is just about letting a few things pass. I keep reminding myself, when a person is significant to me, that “this too shall pass”. With that in mind, I begin to work on how I want our relationship to be when we get past this hurdle. How can I build on that? What do I want to continue valuing in this person, beyond what has occurred between us? These questions help me keep expectations positive, possibilites open and the future constructive.

Have you experienced this? What are YOUR ideas to help get past a rough patch in a significant relationship?

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The distance between you and me

Distance is such a relative concept! I can feel close to people halfway around the world or distant to the person right next to me. So what is it that draws you closer to others and what drives you away? We each have our preferences, but as my mentor, Will Schutz would say,

“It is NOT the differences between us that get us in trouble, but the rigidity with which we adhere to those differences.”

So how can we purposefully bridge those imaginary distances? How can we choose to come closer?

One way it the 4 practices of otheresteem, of course. Yet, to keep it even simpler, we can ask ourselves that very question in every action we take. Does this bring me closer to that person or does it- in my own mind – widen the distance?

Let’s explore three ways:

Being OPEN and HONEST brings you closer. Contrary to what you might think, if you allow yourself to be true and vulnerable you will create the possibility for closeness. It is about accepting yourself and understanding that your truth might not be theirs, yet you am acting from what you see. Authenticity is a great ally of closeness.

Accptance goes a long way. Stop yourself from playing the critic! Do it NOW. If you want to come closer to someone, make sure you suspend judgement. It’s not that you agree with them in everything. It’s the fact that you shift from judging to understanding that creates a possibility for more proximity. Being accepted, paradoxically, leads to less defensiveness and more willingness to change.

Recognition is a straightforward way to lessen the gap. Substitute the criticism you left behind, for open recognition of what you appreciate in the other. When you recognize openly and truthfully you make them want to come to you.

What OTHER ways do you use of coming closer to the people you want to be tighter with?

 

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Self-Care as Otheresteem

I know it is kind of a gender thing. But it can happen to anyone. You are so set on helping others, taking care of business, making the world a better place – and all that jazz – that you have little time for yourself. I know I have been there. And many of my friends and associates have too! So how can you take self-care seriously when there is so much to do for everyone else?

One day, I was picking my kids up from school and I was cheerfully singing along with them. One of those precious moments. My youngest boy looked up at me, beaming and said “Mommy, why are you in such a great mood?” I smiled back. I told him I was happy, but not about anything in particular. “Aren’t I always like this?” He rolled his eyes and looked over at his brothers. “No.” It dawned on me that I was always running everywhere and probably not so aware of my reactions. I was tired and stressed being super-mom and super-exec and super-friend and all that. It probably didn’t help them very much.

That night, I was meditating about the episode. Could it be that my kids deserved better? A better me? A calm, relaxed, well-fed, well-excercised mom? Yeah, it’s a self-esteem issue. If you like yourself enough you are supposed to make time for yourself. But in the midst of being there for others, it doesn’t always sink in. I believe I like myself reasonably well. I also like being super-everything. So I am. When I can. And I can, because I am also super-there-for-me.

So if whoever “yourself” is has a soft, soft voice, listen to the voice of others. They deserve the best you there is. And that’s just not possible without consistent self-care.  So now, I can spend time on the treadmill and at the beauty parlor, and reading and meditating. Not a lot of time, mind you, but good quality time. And, lo and behold, I do think I like my self a little more now.

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Finding new things in old friends.

Love is a curious thing. It moves the world. It creates momentum for most everything we do. And, sometimes, it moves us away from truly valuing who a person is. Just because you love someone – even if you tell them every day like Bruno Mars does 😉 – doesn’t mean you are valuing who they are, what they are becoming, how they are evolving. So here’s an otheresteem tip to practice acceptance and appreciation really close to home. Remember we are building a practice so every opportunity helps.

Today, make it a point to LOOK CLOSER. Look into that person’s eyes and see what you routinely miss when you look at that particular person. Really listen. Notice what they say. What they do and how they do it. Allow your awareness to take you where you haven’t been before. To find new things in old friends. Smile as you do this. Make a mental or actual note of what it is you hadn’t noticed before and marvel in it. Deepen your acceptance practice and if you can, even allow yourself to discover what made you miss that before.

Next, move to the second practice: appreciation. Of everything you now noticed, what stands out as something you enjoyed discovering? Make sure you share that tidbit. Just being noticed enough is an exercise in appreciation. Let the sweetness shine through. Stretch. Acknowledge. Smile together.

And give yourself extra credit for practicing otheresteem where it really counts!

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Make room for those who’ve let you down.

Chances are, you have a collection of those! If you’ve lived long enough, some people will have let you down in one way or another. Not that they mean to, but unless you have absolutely NO expectations for the people around you (A rare thing in the people I’ve come across in my lifetime!), you know exactly what I am talking about here.

Take my client this morning. She was complaining that one of the individuals on her team – exactly her nominee for “most likely to succeed” – just acted in a dishonest way that made her question what was going on. She felt hurt and “took it to heart”, she said. Feeling let down, she was considering never trusting this particular colleague again. So much for her hopes for the future of this person’s carreer! It was a dumb move to make and an awkward subject for both of them to discuss.  In a way, it seemed she might be covering up for someone else. It reminded me of the incident in Scent of a Woman (see my post at LeadChange Group later this week for more on that) and how I was unsure if the kid’s sense of loyalty was well placed. Still, he was acting according to what he thought was right, and just. He was simply being the kind of person he wanted to be in the first place. You have to respect that.

Otheresteem is all about acceptance. About moving past incidents where things are not exactly as they should be. How can this be done? For all the heartache and anger and fear that people bring out in each of us when they let us down, we still have a choice. We can accept what is. Protect ourselves only of what we need to and not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Is there no place for appreciation of someone who has proved less than perfect? Someone who did not live up to what we had expected?

Make room for those who have let you down. Be generous, if you may. Be kind, if you need to distance yourself from them. But always learn a lesson. Understand why that particular thing was so important to you. And if you can move beyond the fear, talk about it.

I told my client this morning that if she wanted to move forward and continue to build her collaborator’s potential as she had originally intended, she needed to do a few things.

First, set the record straight. Tell your truth. Listen to hers. Get the facts in line and the feelings on the table. Explain why this is important to you and tell her how you feel.

Then, lay out the groundwork for a different future. It can be something like: “This is NOT the way I want us to relate.” or “I really want this to work.” or “I will do everything I can to get this relationship back on track, and I would like you to do the same.”. There are many creative ways to set great expectations. The fallout is a wonderful time to practice the third aspect of otheresteem.

And last but not least, remember: Trust is yours to give. It is always an act of generosity and a risk to take. There is payoff for giving it as there is for retaining it. Choose wisely, but don’t fool yourself into believing that it is up to them to earn your trust. In the end, it’s about losing your own fear that things will go terribly wrong.

 

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The Grateful Living

Gratitude is such an all-encompassing experience!

I know when I allow myself to fully acknowledge my own, it has a calming and focusing effect. Moreso when it is about the relationships I have with others. As one of the otheresteem practices, it is truly powerful. It can be done on your own and allowed to seep through your interaction with that person you are working on valuing more.

So, take a minute to center yourself. Breathe. Be. And now, direct your attention and energies to feeling grateful for having that person in your life. Like a meditation, if you find yourself focusing on the difficult aspects of your relationship, don’t fight it. Just move right back to gratitude. It helps for me to write a list on a piece of paper of all the things I am grateful for about this particular person and me interacting. You can do the same, or otherwise record the general feeling associated with this excercise. Draw, sculpt, sing. Art might be the only way to grasp the feeling. The point is, turn it into some token reminder. When I write the list, I make sure I carry it with me that day to revisit a few times more as the hours progress.

There is nothing you need to do at this point. Just be grateful for the relationship you hold together and see how this affects you and your view of the situation. Do you notice anything? Have you acted in consequence, by being kinder, perhaps or more understanding? Was the experience hard to hold on to, or pervasive as time went on?  The point is: be mindful of the effects.

Remember that, as the others, this form of gratitude is a practice. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t find it easy or effective at first. Keep at it and it will become effortless and natural in time.

If you are on Twitter, remember this and every Wednesday to tweet about valuing others more. You can join the Stream of Otheresteem by using the hashtag #OtherEsteem. Raise awareness. Create Momentum. Build your otheresteem “muscle”!

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