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Posts Tagged ‘communication’

How to Forgive

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

In my business it’s pretty common to hear “I forgave her but I’m never going to forget,” or, “I’m a [insert religion of choice] and so I HAVE to forgive him/her.” My favorite, “Forgive your brother right now!” is one I heard a lot growing up.

When an offense occurs in a relationship the ‘Receiver’ (the one who was offended or impacted by the thing) will probably expect an apology from the ‘Actor’ (the one who did the thing). If the ‘Actor’ has read my blog on what makes a good apology, then he will know how to be more than just an apologizer. He will be a Rebuilder/Amends-Maker. A Rebuilder not only apologizes, he makes a conscious, visible effort to change. If he has not read my blog, then he may resort to justifying his actions, blaming situations outside of himself, blaming the Receiver, or minimizing the impact of his actions by saying things like, “I’ve been getting a lot better at quitting this behavior,” or, “I only hit you once this time!” or “If we had sex more often I wouldn’t cheat!”

This blog is about forgiveness. Forgiving the apologizer who tries to be a Rebuilder or Amends-Maker. Forgiving an Actor who justifies, minimizes, blames the receiver, or never apologizes in the first place. Yes, this blog is about how to forgive anyone easily. Because here’s the thing: Forgiveness isn’t a process or an event.

It is an AWAKENING.

When you get stung by a bee, you get angry and hurt and you may even kill the bee. In retrospect, you may say to yourself something like, “I hope I never get stung again,” and “well that’s what bees do.” From that day forward you may run away from bees, swat bees, or spray bees with insecticide (please don’t do that, bees are endangered), but you will never say “I wonder if I should keep that bee as a pet,” or “I think I’ll start a beehive in the middle of my kitchen.” Why? Because you learned that a bee sting hurts and distance from a bee keeps you both safe, comfortable, and alive.

This is acceptance. This is forgiveness.

Forgiveness/AWAKENING begins by recognizing the nature of the person who offended you, then choosing to draw near or create distance, and validating the feelings that follow.

Recognize

Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Too many of us don’t believe our friends, family, and lovers when they show us who they are the first time. When they cheat on the relationship, assault us physically and emotionally, betray us again and again, we choose to believe our own rose-colored glasses that tell us who we wish they would be. We feel anger rise up in us and we attack or retreat in the battle with the offender, but we refuse to let ourselves see them for who they are trying so desperately to show us they are.

So we go back. And we fight. And we run away. And we come back.

Recognizing the humanity in the offender is one of the deepest forms of love and respect we can offer. Recognizing that the offender will only change when he/she is ready and ending the battle to change him or her is life-changing. Letting go of ‘what could be’ and ‘what I want’ and surrendering to the free-fall of what is, can be terrifying. But it is in that moment of surrender, that we can choose.

Draw near or create distance

We can choose to draw near the offender. We can ask them to come to counseling. We can offer resources like rehab or residential treatment. We can let them know we are in this with them as long as there is positive movement toward relationship goals.

Or we can choose to distance from the offender. We can realize that we have been stung too many times. We can decide our health and comfort and safety are important too and seek to save ourselves. And finally, we can decide to let our offender remain who they choose to be without interference from us.

Validate the feelings that follow

If our offender chooses to unite with us and work on the relationship with a third party and become a rebuilder then we will validate our feelings of joy because we may yet get to experience intimacy. We will validate feelings of anger because after all, why didn’t they change before now? We will validate feelings of fear because what if they go back to their old ways? And finally, we will validate feelings of anxiousness as we watch our offender become someone who is open and healed, someone we’ve never met before.

If our offender chooses to sting again, then we will validate our grief. Shock, anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance, will all need their turn in our consciousness. If we try to run back and put the beehive back in our kitchen, then our reliable offender will be sure to sting again and again. They will do this to remind us they are not a chunk of clay to be molded into the next comfort object; that they are who they are and they will change on their terms. So eventually, as our AWAKENING progresses, we will move through the stages of grief and understand that our offender has been trying to show us who they are for a long, long time.

Forgiveness is the moment when we AWAKEN to who our offender is and not who we wish they would be. When we save ourselves and allow the grief free reign over our consciousness and our decisions.

The bee, after all, is not bad. She is only a bee.

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Overcoming Defiant Behavior: Keys to Parenting Defiant Teens

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

Blog post by Achievebalance.org therapist Jason Davis MA, LPC (read post on Jason’s website here)

After a long day at work or running errands, you finally are able to come home. Is your teen an expert at pressing your buttons? Do you feel like each day is a battle? It doesn’t have to be that way. Believe it or not, it is possible for you and your adolescent child to coexist peacefully.

Developmentally, your adolescent’s brain development is not complete. They are very egocentric. Don’t worry, this is normal. Their thoughts are still in the phase of concrete thinking; they see the world in black and white, a strong and idealistic sense of what is right and what is wrong. “How does the world apply to me?” or “How do I fit in this world?” These are the questions that your adolescent has which guides their behavior each and every day.

As a part of this development, their friends and peers will become a significant part of your teenager’s life for the next few years. Do not take this personally. This is part of the process of their development, socially. Unfortunately, defiance can become part of this process of development. So what can a parent do?

  1. Create a Parenting Manifesto. What is your family about? What does your family stand for? Let this family philosophy guide your expectations for your children, and especially your teenager. When defiance comes, this Parenting Manifesto helps reduce conflict and arguing.
  2. Have effective Communication with your Teenager. Do not argue with your adolescent. This includes, yelling, making threats, and blame. Remember, they are learning from your examples. Arguing with your teen will only creates more conflict and resistance. When resistance comes, give them a choice for the outcome. Offer choice A or Choice B and let them make the choice. The more a parent argues with a teenager, the more frustrating it becomes, and the greater the chance that your teen will get their way.
  3. Set boundaries and stick with them. Children and Teens like structure. It gives them a foundation to grow and act upon. Setting boundaries helps them understand that their decisions have consequences.
  4. Spend time quality time with them. Have fun. Have casual conversations with them. Ask their opinions about topics that interest them. Have lunch with them or a cup of coffee. Your chats can be about school, life, social media, spirituality, games etc. The better relationship you have with your teenager, the less resistance you will experience.

Hold It Together Stay Together

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Disney claims to be “the happiest place on earth.” I think that’s funny because when my family visits the magic kingdom during the summer holiday, we laugh because of all the non-ride-related screaming. We hear screams of anguish from devastated kids being dragged away from princesses, and screams from tired kids on the last leg of their Bataan – like marches across four theme parks. I’m not gonna lie; we’ve had a few ‘just short of screaming’ moments at the happiest place on earth. Fortunately, my kids held it together in time to get to the food and the hotel swimming pool.

I wonder how many times parents just ‘hold it together’ in the summer time? One UK study found that of the 2,008 U.K. adults polled, nearly a fifth considered divorce or separation after their children returned to school after the summer holiday (see these and other unusual divorce statistics from the 2013 Huffington post article here). In The Woodlands, Texas where I practice, summer is more than just the time for a holiday road-trip. It is the time of migration. We see ex-pats moving in from other countries, families visiting their countries of origin for visa purposes, and mass move-ins and move-outs due to corporate restructuring.

So it’s probably true; many couples are just ‘holding it together’ hoping the summer will hold the magic to keep their relationship alive. Here are some ideas so summer isn’t the only hope:

  1. Fight fair and no below the belt name-calling or sarcasm. Any intimidating behavior (close yelling, throwing objects, slamming doors, etc.) is off limits.
  2. Don’t discuss serious or inflammatory things after drinking. Ever.
  3. Schedule a discussion so the kids aren’t around and you have plenty of time to talk. Write out your points and never let any single statement go longer than 20 seconds. Use a timer for this.

For more helpful hints, sign up for the newsletter and get “5 Rules for Couples to Fight Fair.”

Have a great summer!

How to Improve Communication and Listening Skills

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Sometimes I think listening is a lost art. I had the following experience: Hurricane Sandy was just a few hours away from landfall, and my 21-year-old son lives in Manhattan. Naturally I was a bit worried. In light of the impending storm, many people asked, “Do you have anyone in the storm’s path?” I answered affirmatively, hoping to talk a bit about my son and my worry. However, the other person immediately began to tell me about all of the people she knew who were also somewhere in the storm’s path.

Her heart was in the right place and she probably thought she was being supportive by indicating that she was in the same boat. However, what it felt like was that she really didn’t care about me, or my son, and it was all about her.

Listening is not thinking about what you are going to say once the other person has finished speaking. Listening is not waiting for the other person to stop speaking so that you can say something about yourself. If you want to improve listening skills, it is important to know the listening definition: listening is doing the sometimes difficult work of really understanding what the speaker is saying and then verbalizing what you have understood.

When we listen, there are several things we can do to show the speaker we are really listening. First, let the speaker know you heard him by responding with a statement like, “It must be really scary having family in a storm when you can’t help.” Next, ask a question such as, “Does he have enough supplies to get through the storm?” This indicates to the speaker that you are trying to understand and hear him.

This process is called Reflective Listening, and it really does work as a way of how to improve communication! The process ensures that the person who is speaking feels heard and understood. To be listened to and understood feels like being loved. Love the people in your life today. Listen.

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