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The Power of Self-Evaluation

I am good at teaching, but not always so good at living what I teach -- and that is exactly why I teach. Teaching holds me accountable to what I say and do. I was late-in-life learning a lot of things – like Goal Setting and Planning – but self-evaluating was ingrained in me as a child.

During my West Virginia wonder years we gathered on Sundays at our little circuit-rider United Methodist Church.  Each Communion Sunday the pastor emphasized the sacredness of the sacrament and the value of self-evaluation.  You know, to make sure we were living right; that we weren't harboring any lies, didn’t need to apologize for,  or “lest something worse come upon you.” 

Thankfully, my Aunt Erma explained that self-evaluation is not dumping guilt on yourself, but is taking responsibility for our missteps. If we don’t own up to our part of the problem, then it leads us to stack attack misbehavior that hurts us and others.

The purpose of self-evaluation is to see our self as we really are, so we can either keep on a good path or take corrective steps. It’s all Total Behavior. What we think, what we do, how we feel about our thinking and doing, effects of physiology and our mental health and our sleep, our digestion, our energy level and our relationships and our success and…

In other words, everything within us touches everything about us and everything we do effects everything we do.  To stay whole and healthy, self-evaluation is a discipline I practice daily.

Self-evaluation is tied in with the Ten Axioms of Choice Theory Psychology.

·  #1 states that "The only person whose behavior we can control is our own".  I suppose the inference is that way too often we do not control our self and need to think about the outcome.
·  #2 says "All we can do is give or receive information."  Inference - don't place blame, don't criticize, be nice, use your inside voice, get honest with yourself. 
· #6 states "We can only satisfy our needs by satisfying the pictures in our Quality World" (i.e. pics in our head).  Inference: ongoing negative guilting thoughts suggest we're not too satisfied with our life so self-evaluate and make changes. 

A theory is something not yet proven.  When we consider the possibility of a smidgen of reality in Choice Theory, then the practice of the theory becomes real. And we prove to our self, for our self what is or is not effective.  Long term. 
The key word in Self-Evaluation is “Self”. Only it’s not really “self” because we are never alone. We have a great “cloud of witnesses”, whether in that DNA molecule syphoned from a long dead ancestor or the influencing thoughts gleaned from a stranger or the mystical concept of God.

So what are the benefits?
  • Challenge you to excellence
  • Lessens dependency on the approval of others
  • Promotes healthy competition
  • Encourages non-judgmental judgment (see Axiom #2) 
  • Ask and answer tough questions
  • Live in the present 
And all this accumulates into personal empowerment.  You have to experience it for yourself. Enjoy.  

“One breath began the journey of life;
Ambiguous with joys and strife.
What makes one, breaks another;
All of earth’s travels are for us to discover
The value of self, sister and brother.”

Choice Theory Basic Intensive Training, Waco, Texas, Mona Dunkin, CTRTC,LM


Conflict and Resolution

With so many different personality traits interacting, conflict may seem inevitable. Take heart, it does not have to be permanent. Conflicts can be resolved. Resolve comes from a Latin word meaning “to loosen”. Thus, conflict is solved when we loosen our grip on being right or having it ‘my way’.  Make relationship more important than being right.

I define conflict as “having opposing views without grace.” It does not matter with whom the opposing views are (you with you, you with your heritage, you and God, you and another) conflict ceases to be conflict when seasoned with grace.

Conflict happens through unchallenged beliefs. To blindly accept hand-me-down lore as the only viable way closes one’s mind to the wondrous variety of humanity. It is okay to identify with one’s culture, just not to the exclusion of others. Each ethnicity has valid worth.

 Everything has a trade off. In all relationships there is give and take for the good of the whole. I could have a fulfilled life without ever playing “Hi-Ho Cheerio” again. Because I love my grandchildren, I lay my preference aside for their benefit. While I may not be excited about the game, I am thoroughly involved in building relationship.

Choose your battles.  When you do engage, stick with the issue at hand. Do not ambush with a “stack attack”.  up past transgressions as evidence for present conflict does nothing to solve bring resolution.  State your position but have no point to prove.  Use “I” statements.  Communicate from your view. 

Choose your attitude. Never take the position “I am right and you are wrong.”  Be open to the fact that you could be wrong.  Even if right in facts, could be wrong in attitude.  Let your words be seasoned with grace. There is a difference in an answer and a comeback. A comeback engenders strife whereas an answer gives or asks for information.  

Take comments seriously, but not personally.  Take yourself out of the middle; be objective.  Focus on the problem, not the personality.  When do you want to know that the boat won’t float?   There may be genuine value in the information given.  Leave the emotions behind. Listen to the words rather than presumed hidden agenda. If the encounter turns ugly, back off, take the high road by choosing to not be offended.

Participate in the wonderful dance of life.  For the sake of relationship, agree to disagree while continuing to hold the person in high regard.  Know when to let go. Choose to flow.  As my jitterbugging arthritic friend proclaimed, “You can’t be uptight when you’re dancing.”


The Greatest of These Is Love

February’s history is of being a month of love. I trust you receive lots of Valentines and special attention to celebrate the special person you are. You are unique and special and very loveable. Please believe it. Love is complicated.

My sister - in her high school days - was given a homework assignment to define love. She interviewed couples. Their advice ranged from the melancholy - “being able to see through each other and still enjoy the view”, to the cynical -“something sent down from heaven to aggravate the hell out of you.”

Love is complicated.

Which brings us to this article. The greatest of what is love? The Apostle Paul was looking at qualities valued in leaders and parents and ordinary folk like you and me. After a long discourse on being charitable – i.e. loving - he concluded with “And now abides faith, hope, charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity.” (I Corinthians 13)

It’s all Greek to me. As if love was not complicated enough, we Americans use the word love to express our affection for everything from people to popcorn to places to puzzles to pets. The Greek language has different words for different loving emotions.

“Eros” (cupid) is the romantic love, “Philio” is friendship or brotherly love and “Stoic” is the kind of love for whatever is left over - things, places, activities, chocolate. There is also “Agape” love which is God’s kind. A love that is unconditional, eternal and healing.

Love, passive and active. The Hebrew language has two words for love and both are in the present active tense. “Ahab” is choosing to love from afar with the intent to pursue and to woo. Ahab love is hopeful. “Hessedh” is choosing to love and to keep-on-loving whether received or rejected. Hessedh love is steadfast and eternal.

Faith, hope, love. The Apostle Paul gave a benchmark for us mortals to use to measure our romantic and brotherly love. He said outrageous things such as; “Love is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not get puffed up or pouty. Love does not always have to have its own way. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.” (I Corinthians 13)
A flip of the coin. In meditating, I like to look at words from all sides. To observe the direct meaning as well as seeing what is inferred. One day in measuring myself by Paul’s love yardstick I noticed two phrases coupled together. “Love is long-suffering and is kind.”

It dawned on me that I had that long-suffering to a fine art. I could roll my eyes and sigh deeply and it was so obvious I was suffering in my patience. But Paul concluded with “and is kind.” Oh no! In my suffering, I was not so kind.

Give me a break. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I said out loud, “Surely You jest! Are You telling me You expect me to be kind to my mother-in-law?!” (Or mate, or child, or boss or neighbor; you fill in the blank. Especially when they….)

Another word for love is “charity”. “Charity” is used instead of “love” in that passage in the King James Bible translation. I like that. I find in some incidents that it is easier to be charitable than it is to be loving. I am learning to be kind to the lovely and the unlovely alike. To overlook bad attitudes and respond in kindness to irritants or rudeness or disrespect.

Charity begins at home. Garland and I married fifty-two ago February 24th. I am humbled by the fact that this guy loves me and keeps on loving me. Opposites attract. Over time, that refreshing opposite way of seeing life from the way you view life becomes stale. Irritating. Wrong. Often opposites attack. Let’s be charitable.

How to be charitable. The hormonal passive love of Eros and Ahab may draw a couple together, but it is the active, on-going, over-and-over choosing to love of Hessedh that keeps a family together. And it is the friendship of Phileo love and the fun-seeking-shared-interests of Stoic love that makes the relationship enjoyable. It grows into the love that “endures all things” – hardships, grief, difficulties – and “believes all things” – sees the good in the midst of the not-so-good. A love that is in it for the long haul. A commitment with no escape clause.

Fifty-two years and counting for me and Garland. It has been quite difficult at times. It has also been a wonderful, magical adventure and the road ahead looks promising. A love that lasts is one rooted in friendship and mutual respect.

It’s a lifetime and counting for genuine Agape love and me. Because I am the willing benefactor of God’s universal blessings and unconditional love, I am able to accept myself as I am and be charitable to others as they are.