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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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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Graceful Goodbyes.

Image from Montessori Services

Image from www.montessoriservices.com

I am inspired this week by the flawless application of otheresteem practices by one of my close friends in a difficult situation. No, she did not read my book. Yet she embodies everything I aim to express there. The grace, the care, the power! My friend is at a crossroads in her life. This very week she is ending a marriage of more than 30 years. It was a happy marriage. Except, of course, for the pain, the suffering, the squabbling, the loneliness and dispair of the last few years. Those were hard. Trying times and confusing situations that have brought about her share of anger, tears, frustration.

My friend has been a lifelong learner. Her interests have taken her to therapy, to study the enneagram, to healing with a Brennan technique practitioner, lifecoaching and many other explorations. After some prodding on my part, she also participated in The Human Element basic course with us and went on to become a certified trainer two years ago. That last experience seemed to click with her. It made her explorations of self take on new meaning and her previous experiences seemed to integrate so well that she went on a professional roll! As she worked through relationships in her life and made major changes in every aspect with the help of her coach, she has been blossoming and creating great possibilites for herself and others. But on the home front, things that were already unraveling were doing so at an accelerated pace.

After one particularly hideous fight with him, she wrote a letter to the person she calls her “best friend in life”, her husband of more than 30 years. In that letter, she accepted the end with grace, recognizing that he had changed and now wanted things to be different in a way that she did not. She described how she saw things without judgement, only clarity. She appreciated so many wonderful years together. The longest, most important friendship of her life. The children. The growing up together. The laughs and the support. She set highest expectations for the future: that they could work through this in peace and love. That they could part well and in time, recover the friendship that had started it all. That they would resolve material issues and secure the boys’ future. And she stated all that she was grateful for in the relationship they held together, the one they still have now and the one they will create in the future.

As she was telling me all this, I had the image of Montessori’s long, black strip. Their relationship being long and fruitful. She had laid it out and recognized that the horror of late was only a small part. A tiny white bit of a long, long experience. As a friend, I am so very proud of her. As a woman, I stand in awe and admiration. And as a human being, I am humbled by the beauty of otheresteem expressed. Today, in writing this, I feel blessed to know her and be a part of her life. Graceful goodbyes don’t get any better than this.

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Sharing the Good Times

CUMPLE
Image by MoneDays via Flickr

Otheresteem is all about learning how to value others and interact with them in a way that this becomes evident! So why not concentrate on sharing the good times? You know, those times when you are laughing, and enjoying yourself. It may be at work, when things are going smoothly or something suddenly works out. Don’t keep it to yourself! Share the celebration with those people around you that contributed to the outcome or have been suffering the time when you were not enjoying yourself. And how about with your loved ones? Sometimes it gets to the point where they only see the down side of you! Do you go to your friends only when you are in trouble?

You can make it a point to share the good times. To reach out to people when you are in the best of moods. Share a smile. Take a happy stroll with them. Let the happy times make up future memories. Notice when you are having the good times and focus on the sharing part. And make sure you are not attaching specific expectations to your sharing experience. Practice sharing the good just for the heck of it! It shows you enjoy their company enough to want them near you when you are happy. And that’s a powerful way to say: I value you!

I usually don’t attach pictures to these posts, but today as I was writing this, Zemanta showed this one in the Media Gallery as an option to illustrate the post. It’s me on my 40th birthday! I recall having many troubles at the time, yet THAT DAY was a day of sharing joy, eating cake, enjoying the company of people I love! And THAT’s what I am talking about! Good job, Zemanta! Good memories, life!


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Boundary Check

The issue of boundaries is a huge one for many of us. Do we set them too close and feel uncomfortable with others? Do we set them too far and keep everyone at a distance? Finding ways in which to protect yourself enough, without shutting others out is truly an ongoing challenge that we all need to step up to!

So how about a boundary check today?

While valuing others is your choice and we have talked here much about the four practices, it is important that you strike a balance between yourself and others. I am all for getting a bit uncomfortable to build new capabilities, but just how uncomfortable is healthy? If you find yourself constantly feeling uneasy about what might happen to you or if the efforts you have put into your relationships are not yielding the right results, there could be a problem with your boundaries.

Ask yourself:

In what sense am I protecting myself too much and setting my boundaries too tightly? Might I be stronger than I thought?

Where do I need to be open to others and tell them I will no longer allow them to hurt me, ignore me, or put me down in this way? Might I do this with grace and in a loving, yet effective way?

Building my esteem for others is also knowing that they are strong enough to accept my requirements, that they can care about me enough to respect me, that they will find a way to interact with me that respects my boundaries and asserts theirs. Can I expect that of others? Can I bring it about by staying true to myself and open to them?

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Just Listen!

One of my favorite authors on health and healing is Bernie Siegel. If you haven’t yet read “Love, Medicine and Miracles“, I highly recommmend it. Last night, while reading a few lines from “How to Live Between Office Visits“, I stumbled upon this reflection about the power of listening and how it heals:

When our children were growing up, if they came to me with their troubles I usually suggested solutions for them – join a group, see a therapist, take vitamins. They said, “You’re no help.” But when I sat and listened, they thanked me for what I did and told me how much I had helped them.

Listening is a wonderful way of showing otheresteem! It basically says: you matter, I take you into account, I am interested in you. And just as Bernie Siegel says, it is a lot do do for a fellow human being. In terms of the otheresteem practices from my book, it is a cornerstone of ACCEPTANCE. As I cannot fully accept that which I do not understand, deep listening is a great way of discovering who the person in front of me really is. If you can get past trying to be right or seek agreement with that person into striving to understand their point of view and getting to know them more, you will be well on the way to building acceptance.

I welcome your comments below. What is your experience of listening as an otheresteem builder? Can you value people more easily when you allow yourself to listen and suspend judgement?

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‘Tis the Season

December brings up so many things for all of us. Regardless of you beliefs, religious background or traditions, you can feel the year coming to an end and new beginnings in the making. Many people find a time to review what the year has meant to them, to figure out where they want to go, to express gratitude towards those who made their path easier. You might also find that forgiveness-that uglier cousin to gratitude-will help you in turning a new page, leaving 2009 in the past.

You may be finding it easier, or more difficult to practice otheresteem during the holidays. So much is stirred up, so many energies collide, and to-do lists grow longer than ever. Consider this: you can take otheresteem to the next step and really make a difference. You can build on what you have learned about yourself and connect the dots.  It can start small or with a huge vision, but it will change you and the way you contribute to the world. You may recall we explored the issue here in the November post IT’S ABOUT US ALL. Expansive otheresteem feels like, well, nothing else!

What I want to stress here is that you seize the opportunity NOW, whatever your case may be for this season, to explore how you have built or not built otheresteem this year and how you want to move forward with that.  Make your own list of who you want to value more, how you might go about it and what practices you want to embrace from now to years’ end.  Change your view of the people that have been in your way in 2009.  Open up the possibility for them to fit into a new category in 2010: people you learned from.  I hope that earlier posts in this blog can inspire you as well as the practices I have included in the book.  But if you would like to explore the issue further, leave your comments here and I will be more than happy to continue the conversation.  Or follow me on Twitter (@monedays) and we can engage from there!

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Don’t Be an Ingrate

If you read my book, or even if you have been visiting this blog for a while, you might know that I consider appreciation separate from gratitude.  Both practices are of course related, but as far as building otheresteem goes, you will do well to distinguish them and act on both! You see, appreciation is about the other.  It is about what you can see and value when you allow yourself to take a closer look, to move beyond what bothers you in others into what you can appreciate about who they are, what they do, how they relate, what they bring out in you and others. As expressed in Chapter 1, we can find meaning to appreciation by practicing it with anyone.

It means I can see things I value in you.  I can look into who you are and like what I see, even though I may not share that view or that way of living with you.  I move past my generalization of you into the realm of what is your highest self.  Even if you are my enemy, there are always things in you that I recognize, even admire.

But gratitude is a more all-encompassing practice.  It is about how you feel in the presence of others.  If you can step into gratitude, you can feel yourself being in a different state.  To build otheresteem from inside yourself, it helps to feel grateful for the relationship you hold with other people.  It doesn’t really matter if those relationships are wonderful at the time, or if they are challenging, not turning out the way you would like.  It is still your choice to experience gratitude in their presence.  Because, of course, it can change what you bring into the relationship. But also because of gratitude’s depth and power to transform what is. I invite you to find ways to be grateful for the people around you.  The ones near and far.  The ones you enjoy and the ones you have done battle with.


Gratitude begets gratitude.  Time and time again.  It brings it all full circle.  If I am thankful for being in your presence, for learning from you, for walking our shared path, it is no small feat to tell you so.  Gratitude expressed becomes a bond that holds me accountable to that person.

So, don’t be an ingrate! Learn to feel gratitude, to experience it and to share it with the people around you.  It will enhance your ability for otheresteem and bring you closer to touching who you can truly become.

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