Valuing Others: It’s an everyday thing!

I remember more than a year and a half ago when Lolly Daskal suggested #OtherEsteem Wednesdays on Twitter! (Thanks, Lolly!) She is a persuasive, vibrant, enthusiastic woman and she knew her Twitter much better than I. So, off I went and I created this blog, the Stream of Otheresteem tweets and the possibility for people to appreciate others more on that specific day each week. Yet, the most important thing it did was to keep me on the right track for otheresteem. To have me thinking every day of it. To sustain the effort for each of the 4 practices.

So let me share with you how I bring otheresteem into my daily routine and remain able to come back to it every Wednesday. I focus each day of the week on just ONE of the practices and cycle through them. So, on Mondays I make sure I accept people as they are. I observe how it plays out in my day. I write about it in my diary. I talk about it, explore, share. On Tuesdays I go into deep appreciation mode. For me, that means making some calls, writing some notes, finding some people that might not know I appreciate them. But also, making sure I appreciate even the people I find difficult to relate to. On Wednesdays I either write this post or wish I had. So I take Wednesdays to remember why I wrote that book in the first place! The sheer power of valuing others is reinforced by remembering to share it once a week. On Thurdays, I expect the best from the people around me and act accordingly. I start my day by setting intentions. This client will take my call. That associate will listen better. That friend will understand. And I go about my day making sure I act consistently with those beliefs I am creating about others. And on Friday, I am grateful for the relationships in my life. All of them. I meditate about gratitude. I go through an exercise my good friend Randall Krause taught me, imagining my inner circle and blessing them, then expanding bit by bit until I am grateful for my relationship to all mankind. It clears the slate. It gives me hope. It makes my interactions different that day.

So on the weekend, I get the opportunity to just be in the presence of those I love most. I rest from the awareness. Secure in the understanding that what I have practiced during the week is slowly but surely improving my already deep commitment to value those around me.

In my life, it has sometimes been hard to stick to some of my purposes. To sustain my efforts in time. I realize now that Lolly’s Wednesday suggestion, whether I have done it impeccably or not has become a great anchor for a lifelong learning adventure. And for that, I am ever grateful!

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Graceful Goodbyes.

Image from Montessori Services

Image from

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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Great Expectations Need to be Shared

Having great, positive expectations of others and being patient enough to keep them at heart in spite of shortcomings is a big part of otheresteem. This is probably one of the most controversial parts of the book and certainly the one I get more questions for. Please keep asking them as I do love exploring the issue further.

So you have read my book and been able to move your expectations for how that particular person treats you into a more positive light. Now what? What happens if they “aren’t getting it”. To ensure that you act accordingly and keep believing in them, you need to communicate your vision of them being the best they can be and share your high hopes for them.

Make sure this is not a moralistic or unrealistic standpoint and that you are coming at it as an exercise in otheresteem and not in control! Are your expectations in their best interest as well as yours?  Do they reflect your work on the other practices discussed in the book, such as acceptance and appreciation? Do they come from feeling grateful for the relationship you hold together? Ask yourself these questions to really fine tune your expectations first. Then, don’t keep them to yourself!

At every opportunity express your expectation in words and back it up with your actions. That is, say what you expect and react as if it will come to pass and any straying from it is only temporary, a slip-up and not an indication of the possibilities for the future. As you find yourself doing this more and more, your otheresteem will grow and you will present people with an enticing, inviting, alluring, realistic option to go for.

Consider how much you are being the person you intend to be. It might help you grow your empathy for others on the path of becoming. As we explore on Chapter 7:

“Do you act as if you were as wonderful as you would like to be? If you aim to be generous, do you give of yourself freely? I fou like to be a respected member of your community, do your actions command respect? If you cherish ethics and truthfulness, do you communicate openly in all your dealings? There is a BIG difference between wishfully waiting for things to happen the way you would like them to and acting like you expect them to happen.”

As we have said before, otheresteem is a two way street. As you learn to expect the best from others, you will also expect it from yourself and vice versa. So, explore…learn…practice! Great expectations need to be shared.

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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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It’s Not Denial

Uh-huh! That’s what deniers will always say, right? It is meant as a pun of course, but seriously, when we talk about otheresteem building and the practices, some people interpret that you can never have any bad feelings about someone or decide you would rather not be in a relationship with another person. Nothing further from the truth!

Otheresteem as a practice is meant to build YOU up, to bring perspective to relationships that are important to you but currently difficult.

The practice of otheresteem will allow you to explore possibilities that are otherwise not apparent, it will open up space for people to change and react differently to you and more importantly, it will help you experience deeper feelings than the hurt and anger that have been holding you back. Otheresteem practice does of course require that you suspend judgement for a time, that you leave resentment behind and that you learn to seek out the positive in relation to others. The idea is to build the foundation first and create strong enough relationships with yourself and others so that they can later withstand any test. Consider how you deal with hurt, anger or disagreement when you do it well. Its not about denial. It’s about reclaiming your responsibility and power. It’s about choosing your reactions, building relationships and getting to a point where you can be totally open and honest with eachother about the good, the bad and the ugly. How do you feel about that?

P.S. Becky Robinson of LeaderTalk has featured me and Otheresteem on her amazing blog today! Thanks, Becky! I had a great time getting to know her more in the interview and am very honored by her interest in this work.

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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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Your daily Challenge

Otheresteem building does not have to be difficult! You don’t need to start with that person who you have such an awful time with.  You can work your way there by creating opportunities where you experience otheresteem building and the power you hold to feel differently about the people in your life.  It does help, though, to look for a small, daily challenge every day.  Create otheresteem where it has been lacking.  Follow at least one of the practices (accept, appreciate, be grateful, expect the best) with a person or group of people you do not naturally treat that way.  See where it takes you.  Challenge yourself to awareness about your reactions.

Two weeks ago, in the post about blaming we talked about other roadblocks to otheresteem.  One of them is just plain fear of getting hurt.  To practice, be mindful of your initial fears and what you anticipate will happen if you accept that person, or if you express appreciation or gratitude, or if you expect the best and look like a fool.  We all fear rejection, humiliation, being ignored.  Remember you are out to learn the practices and see where they take you.  Focus on creating a different way of valuing others.  This work is within you and not in them.  Yes, you might get hurt and yes, you have control over how you feel.  Allow yourself to experience it first and THEN deal with your reactions.  Recognize your fear and realize that you can still move forward in building otheresteem in spite of it!

What’s your otheresteem challenge for today?

How will you stretch your abilities?

What fear will you overcome?

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