Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Givers and The Takers; Am I not both?

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When the sunshine is obscured by the clouds and there is an overcast across all things; life can feel dull. We may be disappointed in our mate, our family, our work, or simply life in general.  People, places, and things are not living up to our expectations.  We are used up!  We have freely given and people have freely taken. We show up for someone we don’t particularly like.  We do things to be thoughtful.  We bite our tongue to be kind.  We are neither the martyr nor the aggressor.  We simply give from an unconditional place.

I think of my 84 year old grandmother, who scorns the children when she loses her keys, because she is sure they have taken them.  The children ignore the barb and help her find them; which inevitably they always do.  Rather than be thankful for the children’s help, she is sure they found the keys only because they were the ones who lost them!  The children look at me with pleading eyes.  I just remind them that great-grandmothers are special and how lucky they are to have someone so full of stories.  They do understand and embody the selfless acts we all can unconditionally choose.

Why not just be selfish and say no?  Why not just do whatever we want and be the taker?  How do we create balance between being a taker and being a martyr.  If we say yes, but really want to say no, then we are likely to be bitter.  If we say no, when it would be thoughtful to say yes, then we are being self absorbed.  In both cases we are lacking the inner self reflection to consciously choose a higher path.

Some people show up as ‘takers’ and some ‘givers’.  Those of us who are givers often struggle to say no.  Those of us who are takers often struggle to say yes.  I lean more towards the ‘giver’, until I’ve had enough.  Then I withdraw from everyone and they get nothing!  They can do their own work, figure out their own problems or find someone else to carry the lions share of work.  As with most humans though, I can and have been in both roles, if I’m being completely honest with myself.

Takers often have temper tantrums when givers withdraw, because we know it means more work for us. We are often rather skilled at getting those around us to do the work.  It’s truly an art to watch a taker in motion direct everyone around them.  We are often gregarious, charming or flattering, as long as others are bending to our will.  Watch out when the actors fail to perform to our expectations!  We can be vicious, withdrawn, pouty, or play the martyr!  We often have an arsenal of ‘characters’ at our disposal to get our own way!  This can be annoying if our motives are altruistic and it can be abusive and toxic if our motives are nefarious.

Contrast this with great leadership!  There are some great leaders who are skilled at bringing out the best in others.  They bring out the best of others’ work ethic.  They are the first to jump in whenever the team needs extra support.  This type of leader is often more likely to have a loyal team around them. Their team wants to please because they believe in leadership.  They feel valued, they are given credit for their work, appreciated for their contribution, and as a result they push themselves to be their very best!

Takers often have a team of malcontents around them who are often negative and immature.  Takers are not usually able to attract and keep quality individuals and if they do have long-term followers they follow with bitterness and resentment.  Takers often attract wounded birds that take a tremendous amount of energy to manage. Givers as leaders are usually taken advantage of.  The team often takes liberties and lacks respect.  They leave leadership hanging without thought or care.

We see these same patterns play out in our families with our spouses.  We see this play out with our children and the children of others.  Those children who roll their eyes and run all over the parents who are unwilling or unable to give clear direction.  We see thwarted and withdrawn children who are raised by takers, narcissists, and control freaks.  They are either deeply bitter or overly dependent, unable to make their own decisions and develop true autonomy.

Tuning in to my internal barometer and reflecting on my energy level helps me strive for balance.  Do I need to pull my energy in and focus on my own well-being?  Am I being the little tyrant and do I need to open up and share, even though I’m not in a ‘sharing mood’?  The positive impact this has on my children, my family and in the workplace is immediately evident.  It helps keep the various units in a harmonious rhythm.  When there is an overcast across all things, it’s a time to rest.  It’s a time to motor down and just allow those doldrum emotions to hang in the air.  We can just sit there with those uncomfortable feelings and trust they will pass.  Maybe we can say ‘yes’ to be thoughtful when we feel petulant or maybe we can say ‘no’ when out of obligation or guilt we want to say ‘yes’.  Maybe we rest when we want to push too hard and push harder when we have drifted into laziness.

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Emotional Availability – this one may hurt!

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I debated if I wanted to make this blog funny or serious; deep or shallow; personal or professional.  To challenge myself, I’ve decided tackle full circle, but in less than 500 words 831 words 870 words!  841 words…

Let’s start with mom ~

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Emotionally available mothers score higher for sensitiveness, acceptance, cooperation and emotional availability.  Even if mom loves us, if she was insecure, insensitive, judgmental or detached, that means we are less of the inverse and will struggle ourselves.

As a result children with emotionally available mothers develop autonomy, emotional sharing, cognitive plasticity and problem solving.

We need only look at the workplace to see this case study in action! 

Those of us with unresolved ‘mommy issues’ are more needy, overly sensitive, have disproportionate egos, make it all about ‘me’ and although we can be extremely talented in our ‘area’ we often ‘don’t play well with others’!  (147 words)

What does an emotionally available person look like?  Kenneth Blanchard sums it up concisely!

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment.  When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient.  When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results.”

Now we all know those people who are committed to work, making money, to working out, or having fun.  How many people do we know who are committed to being emotionally available?  And are we? (231 words)

Psych Central has key things to look for; as if anyone needs that list!  If you’ve ever been in a relationship (at work or romantically) you know what it looks like.  We are evasive, make excuses, or just inept when it comes to clear and compassionate communication.  We may use anger, criticism or activities to create distance. We make ourselves “busy” to avoid.  The ‘available’ party ends up feeling alone, depressed, unimportant or rejected in romance.  In work, we may feel put out, inconvenienced, avoided, or disempowered to get our own good work done.  We may feel like we are married to or work with a ‘man-baby’ or ‘Cruella de Vil’.. (396 words)

Signs we are unavailable?

  • Overly charismatic, flirty, charming or seductive (because we have a short attention span so we’ve learned to pile it on because we can’t sustain it!) Once you are ‘hooked’ we can go back to being ‘too busy’.
  • Control; won’t be inconvenienced to modify our routine.  What we have going on is more important.  You had to finish a report, but our golf game went long.
  • Listen; to us… It’s demanded and anything short of absolute obedience is insubordination.  Good luck finding an ear when you need it!  And if you must we will make it clear what an inconvenient intrusion this has been on our ‘busy’ schedule.
  • String of ended relationships before they get too close or we make ourselves ‘too busy’ for a relationship.
  • Arrogant; how else can we hide all those insecurities.
  • Perfection seekers; because in our fantasy; we are flawless and you will never live up.
  • Chronic Lateness; because we are ‘too busy’ and you are less important. (528 words)

What does being available look like?

“I was here.  I just want them to know that I gave my all.  Did my best.  Brought someone some happiness.  Left this world a little better; just because.  I was here.” Beyonce

Most of us suffer from ‘unavailability’ at times.  Life is demanding.  We are bombarded.  People expect too much. We have daunting missions.

Yes!  However, if that is ALWAYS our EXCUSE then we’ve gone from circumstantial unavailability to chronic emotional numbness.  

For those of us not damaged by our childhood or who have healed from it, we may not even realize when or how we crossed over.  The demands of life may have beaten us down into manic numbness in order to ‘get it all done’.

The correction is universal.

Face our fears.  Fear keeps us from being available.  If we sit still, we may be afraid of the boredom, or all the demands that will pile up unattended and drown us.

If we put down our phones we may be afraid of the anxious feelings we have.

If we risk being vulnerable, we may be afraid of being rejected.

If we invite someone in, then we may be afraid they will have more power.

We may think if we keep up our walls in business the ‘pack of wolves won’t tear us apart’.

We may think we have to be strong or else the family will fall apart.

Fear at every turn, builds up a wall, but what is trapped behind all those walls?  Joy.

To Begin…

Do anything that feels uncomfortable to do!  Yep, whatever that thought was; go do it! Put the phone down.  Go hold your spouses hands and look into their eyes (yes they will be weary and wonder what you ‘really want’ and is that not ever so telling?  Go listen to that absurd and stupid idea they had at the office and pretend you care by asking questions.  Allow yourself to be inconvenienced; make it harder on you than on the other person.

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Categories: anxiety, change, changing our thoughts, conflict, conflict resolution, death, debt, depression, empowerment, enilghtenment, fear, first world problems, gluttony, goal setting, gratitude, happiness, health, hope, insanity, inspiring, inspre, Joy, loose weight, Lose Weight, lust, mental chatter, parenting, Peace, remember, Serenity, spirituality, trust | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Remember her….

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She was an amazing women.  In the 70’s she started her own business “We Wash It Laundry”.  A progressive women ahead of her time.  She would only hired black women to work with her and they were like family.  Hot summer days were spent there gingerly accepting hugs from the large women who always had home baked goods to share.  I remember the heat from old machines that press sheets. Sometimes we had to stay late.  We would wrap sheets fresh off the press and bind them with plastic wrap.  We could climb into them after a long day and their crisp warmth, would immediately envelop me, into a deep sleep.

She had cancer.  I slept with her even though I was already 12.  I wanted to be with her all the time. She never complained, even when not feeling well.  She smiled at her customers and they clearly loved her.  She stood on her feet all day.  She worked without a/c in that hot little laundromat. There was a little shed out back with the toilet.  It sat on the corner of a busy intersection with just a gravel lot barely large enough for three cars.  Somehow her smile, those big black women and those home baked treats made this place magical.  I miss it.  I miss her.

She taught me a love I had craved but never experienced.  She showed me the power of service. She loved completely and unconditionally.  Others said she had flaws but I never noticed them.  We could just sit and look across the lawn of her back yard without a word spoken.  Her deep blue eyes revealed all her life held and I knew she understood the pain we had both endured.

She died too young; my grandmother.  One of the most powerful influences in my life.  For some reason, I missed her very much this year.  Maybe I thought of my father losing his mother.  Maybe I wished my children could have met her.  She is forever young in my mind, because she died so young.  I was 12 or 13 when she died on Christmas and it broke me.  I shut down and could not imagine a life without her smile; void of her love.

The only time I ever felt this sad was the day Cameron contracted West Nile virus and the doctors said she had a 50/50 chance of waking up from a coma or dying.  She was only 4.

It is these memories that shape us.  That have the power to inspire or destroy.  That move the trajectory of our life.  My work ethic, my compassion, my love of all people and things spring forth in me, from her influence.

Today I have the love of my 83 year old maternal grandmother, my mother-in-law, my mother, my children and all the amazing women in my life.  My life is full.  My grandmother lives on through me. My love for cooking, for having house parties, for inviting anyone in for a meal and a chat.  She was the gathering home in my life as a child.  Now I’m the gathering home in my children’s life.  And I am so very thankful.

With love to all those remembered and celebrated on Mother’s Day~

Categories: accountability, anxiety, change, changing our thoughts, conflict, conflict resolution, death, debt, depression, empowerment, enilghtenment, fear, first world problems, gluttony, goal setting, gratitude, happiness, health, hope, insanity, inspiring, inspre, Joy, loose weight, Lose Weight, lust, mental chatter, parenting, Peace, remember, Serenity, spiritual development, spirituality, trust | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Power of Understanding

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Many of us listen from our own point of view.  We may assume, erroneously, that our point of view, or frame of reference, is where someone else is coming from.

We may ask questions designed to steer others to our point of view.

We may make assessments based on projections of our own past experiences.

“These behaviors are controlling and invasive.” Stephen Covey

How can we learn to really hear?

1.  Open our minds and really learn about other people.  Observe them.  Study them.  Pay attention to how they react. Drop our assumptions about what we believe they are thinking or feeling.  Instead, study their actions.  Their actions will reveal who they are.

For example if someone does not respond to our need immediately, we may assume it’s because they don’t care.  That assumption may cause a reaction within us that no one cares as much as we do.  So we do the work ourself.  This keeps our ‘story’ going that people can’t be relied upon because they don’t care.

What if someone does not respond to our need immediately and it has absolutely nothing to do with us!  What if we remind ourselves we are not the center of the universe.  What if we consider the possibility that maybe they are just consumed with their own order of priorities.  What if instead of assumptions we sought to understand their needs?

It could be as simple as asking them if they need support or if there is anything we could help them with. They may share things we didn’t know because our demands and expectations didn’t create space for this level of understanding.

You will never be able to truly step inside another person and see the world as they see it until you develop the pure desire, the strength of personal character, and the positive emotional bank account as well as the empathic listening skills to do so.” Stephen Covey.

2.  We can learn to be more aware of our own internal reactions.  How do we know if we are having a reaction?  Simple, anytime we are not at peace!  If someone is irritating us, if we feel impatient, if we are anxious, if we are intolerant then all these ‘reactions’ let us know we are not at peace.  It means that we are allowing someone or something outside ourselves to have an impact on our emotions.

Seeking to understand, allows us to be influenceable, which is the key to influencing others. As we appreciate people more, they will appreciate you more.  It is often those who feel the least appreciated that give very little of their emotional or vulnerable self!

When we learn to deeply understand each other, we open the door to creative solutions and third alternatives. Our differences are no longer stumbling blocks to communication and progress. Instead they become the stepping stones to synergy.

These are just a few benefits to any organization where leadership is committed to understanding.  Those who are committed to understanding are able to bridge gaps, act as a liaison between systems, see the needs of two camps and bring them both together for the highest effectiveness of the company.

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