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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A fortunate accident

Yesterday my husband’s cell phone dialed on its own. A bit annoyed, he picked it up to see who it was dialing. An old friend and doctor we know. He smiled and figured he would like to say hello, after all. So he let it ring and when he answered told him he just wanted to say hi, know how he was doing and wish him the best for the holiday season. The reaction was overwhelming. Accustomed to being called on only in the event of a medical emergency or consult (our last call was how to stop a persistent cough while at the beach)  he was touched by the fact that my husband would think to call him. The fact is, we do love and appreciate him very much. Apparently, much more than my husband had let on. After the call, both men were left, no doubt, smiling and content.

Which got me thinking:

How about going for these random calls of otheresteem?

Yeah! Let’s pick a random number off the list and call to share some otheresteem. It’s a great way to practice and  a wonderful way to go beyond your personal picks. If you are anything like me, you try to stay straightforward and appreciative to the people nearest to you. But what about the ones spread further out? Like our doctor friend? Like so many others that haven’t made it to my to-do lists? So I am starting a random calls of otheresteem to-do as of this week. At least once a week for each of the four practices. We’ll see how it goes.

So, this is how I see it working:  I will write it in my schedule to make four “random”, “accidental” calls:

An acceptance call: “Just calling to let you know that I understand your point of view. That I can see that you… ” Just anything that this person might not be aware that I see, recognize and accept in them. Especially where they are different from me.

An appreciation call: “Just calling to say hello and tell you how much I appreciate your…” You know, that’s the easy one for me. ;)

An expectation call: “I am hoping we can create a better relationship in the future. The kind where we can…”  Well, talk without getting into a fight, express ourselves openly, trust eachother to do this or that… whatever positive expectation we are opening up for that person and ourselves.

(More on that in the next post! I just had a great expectation experience with an old client :) )

A gratitude call: “I am lucky to have you in my life. And grateful for our relationship. It means a lot to me that…” Simple enough, right? Well, it depends on who that random call recipient might be.

Still working out how to choose the random call recipients. Let me know if you try this out and I will keep you posted here in the comments how it’s going.

Oh, and one more thing… I DO appreciate your reading this post and leaving your reflections below. 2010 has been a great year to spread the Otheresteem ideas and I am thankful for the readers of this blog everywhere. Happy holidays and a great 2011 to you!

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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

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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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Like you Know Them

Recently my brother in law, who used to be pretty good chick magnet way back when (before he became a loving father of five) was dispensing some flirting advice to my teenage son. My son was complaining that he didn’t know how to approach unknown girls at a party before being introduced and that, once he was past hello he didn’t know how to start a conversation. His uncle smiled and looked at him knowingly, then said

That’s easy! Just come up to them like you know them.

By this he meant just walk up and greet them like you would the oldest, closest of your friends. Shake the hand, kiss the cheek, greet with a smile like its a close friend you haven’t seen in a while.  Then, just tell them your name, and go on from there. Its fool-proof, he said. Well, I don’t know about that, but it did get me thinking about acceptance.

What is it about an old, long-lost friend that would make our greeting them so different from greeting a stranger? In the book, I talk about my father’s drunken childhood friend and how they really loved each other despite their many differences. Childhood friends are people we take as they are because we KNOW them. We know where they come from and how their choices steered their lives in different directions. We know who they are in their hearts and love what they have always been, not necessarily what they have become through the years.

So, how could we apply this same concept to the practices for valuing others more? Imagine what might happen if you try it out with someone you would like to value more than you currently do. What if, just for today, you act as if you knew them perfectly? Knew and accepted. Knew and valued.  If you can greet them as if you could see through their current state, into the good in their hearts, will it help bring out the best in them? If you keep at it for a while, will they catch on?  After all, there is nothing to lose and much to be won.  Who knows? It might even be sure-fire, like my brother in law said!

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A little bit closer.

Practicing otheresteeem is not only about people different from you or people you have not been able to relate to well.  There are closer, more significant relationships that you can work on.  For instance, reflect:

Who have you drifted apart from?

Who have you allowed to slip away?

As life develops, as time goes by and you go about your daily life, you tend to neglect some relationships that you enjoy and benefit from but that are not in your close circle of influence.  Perhaps an old friend, a relative that you haven’t seen, a colleague you enjoyed working with but no longer have that project going.  A number of things can keep us separate.  Guilt gets in the way sometimes.  If you forgot to call on her birthday, or didn’t find the time to congratulate him on the award, or attend her mother’s funeral, you might block yourself from further contact to avoid facing that you acted in ways you did not intend to in the past.

Otheresteem and the intention of practicing it can lead to  increased awareness about issues such as these.  Whatever the case, just realize the unintended distance between you and some people you have slipped further away from.  Notice if you would like to be closer.  Then, just as practice, take the plunge! Call them up.  Ask them out.  Just slip them a note, email or phone message.  It might make a world of a difference or not at all, but you will be practicing a different approach, based on otheresteem.  Whatever you do, do not make these approaches about the past, or intend to patch things up this time. Use the four practices in your encounter:

  • Accept what is and whatever response they give you.  In any case, take it as an opportunity to understand yourself and how you react to others.
  • Appreciate actively.  Tell the person what you appreciate in him or her.  Be clear and to the point.  What made you think of them?
  • Expect only the best from this encounter.  Beware of unreasonable expectations about the outcome.  Remember you are practicing otheresteem and the focus is on the giving here, not the taking.  Make sure you give freely and not expect a specific reaction from the other.  I often hear in my head the lyrics to that Santana song: “Oh, Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.” Get beyond the fear by expecting a learning experience in whatever form it comes and being open to the other person reacting positively.
  • Be grateful for the relationship you hold together now, for the relationship you held in the past and for the possibilities ahead of you.  Make that as clear as you can, especially to yourself.

Surely, this practice will bring you a little bit closer.  Maybe to the other person, maybe to yourself, maybe to understanding the power of otheresteem.  Lets see where it goes.  Let us know in the comments.  Share your story and we can all learn from eachother.  Hey, it might even bring US a little bit closer!

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No Time for Otheresteem?

As some of you will know, this is the title of one of the book chapters, but it struck me as imporant to address again because of a comment I got from one of my contacts this week. She said that she could not have friends at work because it was just too much work. I had been talking about how we spend so much time at the workplace that it is truly a tragedy if we do not have significant relationships there. She even went as far as to tell me that a person had approached her and stated that she was interested in building a friendship with her, beyond the work-related interaction they already have. All she was asking for was time together. Exactly, my contact said, what she did not have to give.

Otheresteem efforts should be a part of the flow of your day, not an extra assignment. If you are living in a way that does not allow you to build meaningful relationships in your everyday environment, I believe you need to question the way you are living. Does this satisfy you? How can you build otheresteem every day? Does it really take time away from other activities to express appreciation, to be thankful for what you do together, to stay mindful of your reactions to others?  Is it so time-consuming to accept others or expect the best from them? It seems to me that if you cannot find time for that, you are in a terrible hurry, with nowhere to go.  What do you think?

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