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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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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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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You May Be Right.

When you are angry and arguing with someone it is easy to see them as the bad party, the one that is wrong (versus my right) and the one being stubborn. Surely, you can find grounds to justify any or all of these points of view! Being right is so important to us because it means we are competent and also that we are not being unfair or stubborn ourselves. But think again: does it really matter? So many times we get into difficulties with others over who’s right.  Many of times, like the trial scene in the movie Crimson Tide, both are wrong and both are right. Of course we can see how we are right, because we come to that conclusion from the information we have and the perceptions that information has created for us!

But if we are to value the other person and work through our differences, there is another thing to consider: How they may be right as well.

Our mind, driven by our emotions and need to self-justify, will focus on ways in which they are wrong. It takes willpower to move a little beyond that (I usually laugh at myself a bit, by remembering the line from Billy Joel‘s You May Be Right: “You may be right, I may be crazy” or “you may be wrong, for all I know, but you may be right.”). It helps me to refocus on the other. At least from where she is standing, there are ways in which she is right! If I can listen to those, seriously try to figure them out, I can value the other as an individual  that thinks and behaves differently from me. I can see a different viewpoint and set of information that paints a whole different story.

This doesn’t mean I will agree with everyone, or allow them to hurt me, belittle me or damage me in any way. Only that I can appreciate them for who they are and what their current train of thought is. That I can see where they come from and how they reach conclusions so different from mine. I can move away from needing to be right to understanding how we both have different worldviews.  I can value them when we do not see eye to eye. We can agree to disagree and even to take different roads, without the need to discredit eachother.

Refreshing, don’t you think?

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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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