Hello My Friend!
I have to share some lessons from a recent personal experience. It was shocking, dramatic and quite painful. So as not to embarrass anyone or make matters any worse, I will do my best to keep the details vague but the lessons clear.
In general, a very effective way to go past the melodrama and hurtful aspects of any exchange is to seek and draw the lessons out. If you can get something positive out of a painful experience, you’re well on your way to healing and growing…turning the challenge into an opportunity and perhaps even a blessing.
So in trying to remove myself from the pain of this challenging situation, I started to seek out the lessons. These below jumped out at me.
I (re)learned these 4 things:
1) Know what you know – as Maya Angelou says “when a person tells you who they are, listen” That quote always disturbed me a bit because it sounded like a person wouldn’t be permitted to grow and become something different in your eyes. But here’s the thing. IF a person has NOT changed, knowing what you know can be a life saver: Or at least a relationship saver.
For example, if you know a person is sensitive or is easily angered, adjust your responses accordingly so you don’t inadvertently trigger a shocking response.
Sometimes we forgive …which is of course a very good thing, but if we also forget completely about the person’s idiosyncrasies – something we all have, we may unfortunately run into the same issues with communication, perception and sensitivity. It’s a wonderful thing to forgive and provide a blank and clean slate for the relationship to continue. But being a-historical is really not a good idea. Know what you know and recall it when needed!
That “head in the sand” thing that forgiving can cause is a real problem. Know what you know, forgive what has to be forgiven and move forward in love AND knowledge.
If I remembered what I once knew I would’ve been more careful and sensitive. I also would’ve made sure to make peace in the moment and not assume “all is well” after one conversation.
So, I learned to KNOW WHAT I KNOW.
2) Stay present and OTHER-centered. When there is an emotional exchange, stay focused on and in touch with the other person’s emotional state. This will serve two purposes. First, you will be in a better position to help the person to understand if there was a misunderstanding and to help them to feel better if they are upset. Focusing on them will also help you to move from your own emotional state, if necessary.
In this case, there was definitely frustration on my side, however understandable it was and even if it was unrelated to the person and dialogue in question, it still got in the way. That frustration became the focus and a kind of scapegoat whereas if I remained other-centered, I would’ve been in a better position to truly help everybody.
3) Don’t let frustration spill over where it does not belong! This is related to # 3 but it’s so important it needs its own number. When there is any kind of confusion or drama brewing, it is ESSENTIAL to keep unrelated frustration OUT OF THE CONVERSATION! Not just in words, but keep it out of your emotional state as well. If not, everything gets clouded with it and your ability to be helpful is drastically reduced. Also, the frustration itself will probably grow if you don’t intentionally put it to the side and only deal with what is in front of you.
4) A time to stop – When two eyes and hearts can’t be on one accord after several attempts, it’s time to stop. In this case I reached out to this person a multitude of times – through all forms of communication and still there was a determination to not understand or move on. Determination won’t work, at least not for peace: If someone is determined to misunderstand who you are and what you are about and they have no intention of moving forward, nothing you say will have impact.
Something else has to happen for that person to “come around.” Of course this does not mean you give up hope of change and ‘miracles’ – which is for me, a change of heart, but doing so without direct contact is necessary after a certain point.
Number 4 is always hard for me because my sense of “anything can change…” or more accurately “God can do all things…” emboldens me in such a way that I forget it’s not about me. I’m pretty sure it’s not all faith in motion either – to some extent I become challenged to make things better, no matter how hard I have to work at it. That might sound good, but it becomes an issue when I lose sight of effectiveness and/or my ego gets all caught up in the challenge.
I hope these life lessons are useful to you and help you handle challenging situations more effectively. We can’t avoid them completely but we can be more prepared.
In every pain there is some gain.
Wishing you an abundance of peace, love and light,