If you think "I deserve more respect" when you are constantly harboring disdain towards your colleague, or you think “I want more harmony in my relationship” and all the while you’re bickering and fighting, how can you attract appreciation and love in return? It’s simple, you can’t, so what's the answer?
As you seek to become more ‘in tune’ with the person you were born to be, the subject of my previous posts, how do you in turn allow others to be who they are?
With those we don’t live or work closely with, it's easier to be more objective about the traits they display, including the layers they’ve developed through their lifetime that might not be so pretty (a ‘layer’ being a belief we’ve developed about ourselves that began with someone else’s opinion, often we develop them in defense or out of fear of what others think of us).
However, with those who are closer we tend to be less forgiving. Typically as adults we are so surrounded by layers we are almost unrecognizable from our true selves, the set of traits talents and beliefs we were born with. For example, despite knowing our worthiness as humans when we are first born, most of us manage to develop layers that lead to a sense of insecurity under many circumstances.
So two people living or working closely together, with all their layers, certainly has its ups and downs. Understanding this helps, but not in the moments where you’re feeling powerless and lash out.
For those of you who never experience discord with your partner or spouse, close family members or friends, or even colleagues, I suspect you are in the minority. Just last week my partner and I had a blazing row, at 4 in the morning, about night time parenting. Put our ‘soup’ of stubborn, bossy, argumentative and determined traits together and we can argue with the best. Add the exhaustion of parenting two little ones to the mix and, voila, boom!
As I was ranting about my partner in my head after the argument, I hate to think what his internal dialogue sounded like. As much as I was berating him and wondering “doesn’t he understand and appreciate me?” and “where’s the support?”, questioning his love for me in essence, I realised he’d be doing the same. So what is the answer?
It’s a choice. Instead of getting into the inner dialogue every time something lights your fire, you can generalize the thought, make it less personal - put yourself in their shoes. Think about the reasons someone might be acting this way.
I know on the day we argued my partner had come home from work feeling sick. I know we’d had to be out of the house at dinnertime (we’re in the middle of selling and someone was viewing it) when all we really wanted to do was relax at home. I know my daughter had a melt down before bedtime that led to me being snippy with him as an outlet of frustration. I know he had a lot of pressure on him to return to work the next day, ill or not. So when our daughter awoke at 4am, I’m sure all of these factors played into his tone.
Instead of one-upmanship (“if he thinks he’s got it bad, what about poor me…” type scenario), how about cutting our colleagues and our nearest and dearest some slack? The trick is to catch that inner dialogue – fast! Too much momentum and your frontal lobe shuts down, you go into flight or fight mode and the only thing you’re motivated to do is ‘win’.
I heard someone say recently, “even if you only last an hour”, yes, even if we can manage biting our tongues, taking a deep breath and seeing things from another perspective only in short bursts at the outset, it will improve our relationships immeasurably.
I’m not talking here about staying in relationships ‘no matter what’, certainly you can move on from relationships, especially when they are harmful, but it’s about doing so in a way that isn’t going to cause you further harm.
Too many times our hurts live on in our inner dialogue, getting played, replayed, soon they take on a momentum and energy that shows up in the way we are feeling. Our own wellbeing suffers unnecessarily, and sometimes dramatically, well beyond the issue itself.
I once read a book called Crucial Conversations, it taught me the power of the stories we create in our head. We attribute motives to people's actions (usually with us as the victim) and take great offence, when most often people's motives have absolutely nothing to do with us personally; they are usually driven by their own insecurities, doubts and fears.
So how do you allow others to be who they are? First you need to forgive, yourself and others, let go of past hurts; generalise them and they will dwindle. Love yourself enough to not carry around all the negative feelings. Allow yourself to be who you truly are, unconditionally, only then you can be free to love others in the same way.
I’ll let you know how it goes…
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/9763931@N04/7715063834">Delaware State Fair - 2012</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>
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