Monthly Archives: January 2012

Mature Love

I can’t tell you how many people sit in my office and say, “I know I love ______, but I don’t know if I’m “in love” with him/her.”

I’ve never really known what “in love” meant. Most of us experience the passion and constant obsession of early infatuation. But for almost everyone I’ve known, that eventually wanes. Many interpret this as no longer loving that person, and for some, perhaps that’s the case. But some recognize that a more mature, tangible love can gradually take it’s place.

Dr. Henry Grayson says “falling in love” is a syndrome. The very words we use to describe it (falling head over heels, being swept away, I’m crazy about you) imply a feeling of powerlessness. It’s immature – and says “I love you because I need you.”

Mature love is not just emotion. It’s a consistent series of acts of kindness, compassion and respect; occasional passion; and most of all – loving thoughts. It’s our thoughts that lead to how we feel about something/someone and ultimately to how we behave.

Mature love is empowering and unconditional. It’s an active striving for the growth and happiness of the loved one. There are no conditions, expectations or bartering (which I call “keeping score”).

One recent very real example of mature love in my life was shown to me this week. I came down with that awful stomach flu in the middle of the night. It really took me down. I won’t go into the gory details, but suffice it to say, it wasn’t pretty!

My husband came to my rescue and stayed with me, helping me clean things up, wash clothes & towels, and sanitize everything as much as we could to prevent him and our granddaughter from coming into contact with it if at all possible. He probably lost more sleep that night than I did, even though I told him on several occasions to let me do it.

That’s mature love. I strive to learn from him how to give unconditionally.

It’s easy to love someone when they’re clean, attractive and smell good. But real love shows up at these other times.

Tips on How to Take Criticism

This is taken from a blog by Danielle LaPorte. I found her through a friend of mine. While much of this is concerned with criticism at the workplace, it also applies to our personal lives. Most of us tend to make other people’s opinions of us much more important than our own. While we need to be in charge of our own personal self concept, it’s always important to push the ego aside when information is coming in that could help us. (If you read my blog much, you’ll see a familiar phrase – Danielle obviously doesn’t know where it originated, but I’ll forgive her for that).

Here’s Danielle’s blog:
Criticism sucks. If you’re being rightly criticized, your ego needs to shake it off like a wet dog and keep wagging it’s tail. And if you’re being unjustly ‘dissed, you’ve still got to keep your ego limber so that you can objectively fight for your dignity. Either way, criticism is a call to be your classiest self.

11 TIPS FOR DEALING WITH CRITICISM:

1. Expand. Sometimes criticism stings because we know the criticizer has a valid point. After you’ve done the inner wince, take a deep breath and get back in the ring. And look, just because you may need to clean up your act a bit, it doesn’t mean that you’re a full scale loser. We’re all just bozos on the same bus, as my dear friend Donna would say. So literally, take a deep expansive breath, with your fists unclenched. You sustain less injury when you do NOT brace for impact. I guess that’s why they call it “rolling with the punches.”

2. Admit that it stings. “Ouch. That’s hard to hear. But I’m up for it.” Honesty when criticized is a great equalizer and a show of nobility and maturity.

3. Don’t react…yet. Sometimes it’s best to just listen and simply say, “I’ve heard you. Let me process what you’ve said and I’ll get back to you tomorrow.” So many of us are so adrift from our deep sensitivity that it takes some time to clearly know how we feel. So just take the time, it’s better than a half-cocked reaction that you’ll regret. And if you do say something you regret, or you don’t say what you think you should have…

4. Go back to it. Feel free to bring it up again, even if it was a closed subject. “I thought more about what you said and I just wanted to let you know that….” It’s better to clear the air after the fact than it is to bury your feelings.

5. Be compassionate to your criticizer. This can really soften the situation. Giving honest criticism is no fun for most people, and it’s often a case of, “This is going to hurt me as much as it might hurt you.”

6. Consider the source. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, to succeed is to “earn the appreciation of honest critics.” So firstly, you need to consider your source and their motivation. If you feel you’re being inaccurately criticized, then you need to say so in no uncertain terms. This is tricky because you may be perceived as being defensive. In this case, it’s good to refer to point #3. Collect your thoughts and give a rebuttal that shows your strengths {I’m a rock star because I…} and describes the challenges of the situation {I’ve been operating on a dime budget…}

7. Don’t take any shit. Sometimes you have to play hardball. I once got a super crappy performance review from a manger at a retail job. I got on the phone right away and called the big cheese. “There’s no way I’m signing this review and there’s no way I’m quitting. I think she’s losing her marbles.” My knees were shaking but I knew I had to do it. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only person complaining about Crazy Manageress. She left shortly thereafter. And guess who got promoted?

8. Know your rights. Sometimes there are legalities to consider. Your job may be on the line. If you lip off, and it leads to a dismissal, you want to know what your rights are … employers may need to formally warn you in writing, etc. You also have the right to be treated with respect no matter how severely you screw up. Criticism given without care is irresponsible.

9. Bring closure to it. If you’re being asked to improve in some way, then ask for specific measurables … you can’t run a race if you don’t know where the finish line is. Be extra diligent about checking in on mutual satisfaction.

10. Say thank you. Whether you’ve been rightly our wrongly critiqued, say thanks … either way, it’s a learning opportunity.

11. Lick your wounds. Bruises need icepacks and hotbaths. Be sweet to yourself because tomorrow is another day and you’re up for the ride. Life never dishes out something you can’t handle.

A note on how to know when criticism is on the mark or way off base:
There were times in the past when I received inaccurate criticism, and I would start to cry. Crying in front of your boss is very rarely a good thing, I don’t care how progressive your organization is. Because I had boundary issues {“sure, I’ll do four times the work and make sure you look like a superstar,”} I used to take on criticism without questioning it at all. I thought that if their feelings were hurt or they saw room for improvement, then surely they must be right and I must be wrong. My tears were an indication of confusion, and for me, confusion is an indication that something is very definitely untrue.

When I’m being rightfully called on my stuff, I actually have the opposite reaction … I feel a strange sense of relief and communion. It’s usually a, “Eeeshk, I know, I suck at that. I’m a total loogan when it comes to that. Sorry. Thanks. I’m so glad you get me.” Of course, I’m just as often defensive as I am classy — just another bozo on the bus.

Some Concepts about Staying in the Moment

This is a repost from last January. I needed to re-visit it, so I thought it might be helpful for you, as well!

I’m listening to Eckhart Tolle’s book, TRANSMUTING SUFFERING INTO PEACE. These are not direct quotes, but I want to give him credit for starting me on this line of thought:

Most of us live in the gap between “what I want” and “what is” — an unpleasant place to be – because we’re out of alignment with God/the Universe/Source – whatever you call it.

Only by being present can we see the conditioned patterns in our lives that become maladaptive – and then eventually learn how to avoid repeating them until they become a problem we need to resolve.

We’re always striving to achieve an imagined state of consciousness – something in the future . . . trying to find our SELVES there . . .trying to figure out “who I will be”.

Or we stay stuck in our past – in what we did or what was done to us. We don’t necessarily need to forget our personal history – remembering it can be healthy. It can help us remember the lessons we’ve learned so that we don’t repeat those maladaptive patterns.

But we must be careful to not allow ourselves to become identified by our past. Again, some of us use it as our sense of SELF. But that can only really come from the aliveness of this moment.

Acceptance

Acceptance can be defined as approval, a belief in something, receiving something willingly – or a willingness to tolerate a difficult or unpleasant situation. Since what we are concerned with in this blog is how we can learn to make acceptance an integral part of our lives, let’s look at that last definition.

Acceptance does not mean I’m giving up. It doesn’t mean saying, “Yes, I will accept this” with clenched fists and gritted teeth or being a door mat or martyr. It does mean accepting people, places, and things as freely as possible.

Acceptance means learning what we can’t change. For instance there is no way that we can change our height, the color of our eyes, our skin or other various physical characteristics. The realization that we can’t change other people or certain situations is more difficult to accept.

Sometimes we can accept intellectually, but we have difficulty accepting emotionally. It takes time first to grasp an idea, then accept it fully and finally to put it into action. But that’s OK. It’s a process, and a part of acceptance is accepting that we are taking the necessary steps in order to get to the point of accepting!

We are free when we can accept ourselves where we are; not wanting something we don’t have. Gratitude plays an important part in this aspect of acceptance. Freedom comes when we accept the fact that we are important human beings, each one individual and unique in our own right, but sharing common characteristics with others.

If you’re having a difficult time with accepting something, ask yourself the question, “Can I do anything about it RIGHT NOW?” If the answer is no, you’re on the way to accepting it. If the answer is yes, get busy and do what needs to be done and quit worrying about it.

In 2012, I Will Write My Own Labels

My friend, Darla Buckley is one of the authors of the Faith Walk column for the KC Star. Her column this week might sound familiar to those of you who’ve known me for a while, because it reiterates one of my strongest beliefs as a human and a therapist. As humans, we seem to need labels sometimes to understand something or someone, but we have to be careful not to become attached to any one label, especially when it’s used to define ourselves or another person. Labels keep us from seeing that person (or ourselves) as whole individuals.

Thank you Darla, for writing my blog for this week! 🙂

By DARLA BUCKLEY
Special to The Star

Like everyone else, I was catapulted into this world a slimy, screaming ball of energy. Almost as soon as the doctor slapped my bottom all sorts of labels were being attached to me. “What a pretty baby.” “Look at all of the brown hair.” “She has such a good temperament.”

As a child, there were more labels; some felt good and others stung. (Some hurt to this day.) “You really can’t sing very well.” “You’re a great artist.” “She’s a big-boned girl.”

As I enter my 51st year of life, the labels continue. I’ve learned some labels are light and fall off easily, like eggs off Teflon, yet others carry the weight of the world, covering deep wounds. Removing those feels like ripping a bandage off of tender skin.

Labels conjured by other people and by the world can be difficult, but it’s the labels I have placed on myself that have taken their toll; the labels that I have allowed to define me: “I’m really not a people person.” “It may not be possible to make a living following my passion.” “I don’t know who I am when I am not defined by child, mother, partner, friend or employee.”

It’s a new year, and every day is a new beginning. I have a choice to define myself, to slowly sift through the layers of labels, keeping those that are true and authentic. I get to disentangle and discard those that are limiting, hurtful and untrue.

A guy who sat next to me in high school band was defined by his effeminate ways. My great-uncle was labeled the crazy guy who walked around town, scrounging in the trash and collecting junk. A distant cousin scootered around Walmart, yelling across the store to greet me and show me pictures of her disabled child. Were they defined by their labels, or did I see them through the Creator’s eyes?

When I look at the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” which begins, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” I am humbled. Life is a beautiful struggle. It is my privilege to think the best of others and support them on their journey. I often struggle with this. Sometimes I am successful, and other times I fail miserably.

The Creator has given me the power, each and every moment that I breathe, to write a chapter in the story of me. Here are the themes for the 2012 volume of “The Story of Darla,” with the labels I choose.

• See each person as a loved child of the Creator.

• Live a life of honesty, appreciation and kindness.

• Expect nothing.

• Slow down and listen, really listen.

• Love others for who they are, not who they aren’t.

• Give the grace that I want to receive.

• And most importantly, when in doubt, love.

There are three things that will never disappear. They are faith, hope and love. The greatest is love.