Need vs. Need

We all seek completeness, thus the age-old adage of “opposites attract.” Introvert and extravert are attracted to each other because they see fulfillment in their spouse. Only what attracts initially, can - over time - become the thing that irritates the most.

This frustration arises when one tries to bring the other around to his/her way of seeing, living and enjoying life. The dissatisfaction becomes: “Why can’t you be more like me?” “How can you be so insensitive?” “Why can’t you understand me?” “We can’t communicate.” “He/she doesn’t care!”

Unknowingly it becomes a control issue of trying to get the other person to change. Psychiatrist William Glasser suggests that it is difficult, if not impossible, to have a caring relationship with someone who wants to change or to control you or whom you want to change or to control. It’s a two-way street.

It is always need vs. need. Your need verses his/her need. Your need verses their need, with their being everyone else in the world with whom you interact, individually or collectively.

To prove our completeness, we need to fit in and get along with people important to us. We need to make our own decisions and feel good about the outcome. We need to feel important and to be appreciated for who we are and what we accomplish.
Here’s the rub: So does he/she and so do they, individually and collectively. These are deeply ingrained psychological needs. To disavow them leads to mental issues. And to relationship problems in the home and work force.

Your needs are best dealt with individually and being okay with who you are. This allows more wiggle room to adjust, negotiate and compromise with all those difficult people in your life. He is a people-person, you are a loner. She is gung-ho, you are laid back. They are party animals, you prefer conservative gatherings. He/she is energized by something that drains you. You need close companionship; she/he needs freedom for personal pursuits.

Each of those is okay. Determine where you may need to limit your interaction with those of opposite temperaments while giving them the freedom to be who they are. It is easier to be tolerant in small doses.

Determine where you may need to expand your interaction with those of like-mindedness and being okay with that. No one person can fulfill all your needs; that is why we need others. Make plans accordingly and always keep those dual needs in mind without trying to force, cajole or manipulate them around to your way.


Mirror, Mirror

Life lends itself to interaction with the masses of fellow-strugglers (family members, co-workers). They have shortcoming that annoy us. Their accomplishments rear the green-eyed jealousy monster in us.

Others are mirrors reflecting us to us. Their irritating flaws reveal our own untended ways. Their glaring success nags at our own unheeded potential.

Dislike the image. When someone irritates us and we want to fix them, it is an echo of our own unfinished business. Their glaring foibles reflect our own deficiencies.

Like draws to like. Like a magnet we draw to us what we are, not what we want to be. Courage draws to courage. Success draws to success. Dysfunction draws to dysfunction. Whether moral or immoral, legal or illegal, when another’s action matches your action there is harmony, understanding, agreement. You have found a friend, a companion. Depending on the non-verbal contract you have found a cynic with which to commiserate and wallow in the mud – or you have found a comrade with which to overcome and scale summits.

Like the image. Become friends with the image you see in your mirror every day. Accept who you are, blemishes and all. You are more than your looks, more than your hair, more than your clothes, more than your shape, more than your job, more than your possessions, more than your education, more than your accomplishments – you are more. You are a human being; a human becoming.

As you choose to lower your defenses, something mysterious happens. The offensiveness in others also begins to dissolve. Their defensiveness is lessened. As you relax with you, the world relaxes around you. As you stop trying to fix others and work on your own locus of control, you become congruent with the real you. As you like you, others respond in kind.

Compassionate toward the image. As we grow and overcome our own shortcomings a shift occurs in our view of others. As you see triumphs in self, develop empathy toward the one still struggling. Use this as a springboard to see their undeveloped potential. Come along side as a mentor.

Life lends itself to interaction with the masses of fellow-strugglers. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of life, make time to reflect on who you are. The real you is enough.

God does not make junk. He made you a unique and special individual, with infinite worth and value and sporting a designer label.


Flawed and Fabulous

You are fabulous. Regardless of what Jane/John says (fill in appropriate name) you are great. You are a being of infinite worth and value. You are a unique and special one-of-a-kind individual, a work of art with a designer label.

You are flawed. Regardless of what ego trip you may take, you are imperfect. To determine your authentic fabulous self from a generic-follow-the-crowd-brand starts with asking and answering some difficult questions.

Nothing shapes relationships and success like the picture you have of you. The trouble is that we often assume our identity based on hearsay, and therefore, give too much weight to what others say. Or to what you think others think. Although you are a product of your environment you can choose to not be victimized by it. Disillusionment sets in when you feel you are not good enough.

When you think about you what do you say? What is your self-talk? Do you feel you are not capable? That you do not live up to another’s expectation of you? That you do not deserve the position or the accolades?

Do you feel anxious when you make a mistake? Do your actions testify that on some level you believe that your mistakes make you a bad person? Listen to your self-talk. Although you may disagree intellectually, doesn’t insignificance feel true on some gut level?

A mistake is a mis-take (miss take). “Back up the trolley” and give yourself a do-over.

Should vs. could. “I should have” is weighty. “Shoulds” brand you emotionally as an idiot. “I could have” is empowering, giving new insight to do the do-over with more wisdom, grace and accuracy. The “I should” take up wasted space for “I could” action.

Should is past tense, focusing on doing something yesterday that is virtually impossible. Or “I should” can be used to placate being lazy or refusing to take action. They add to your self-view of being flawed. It is also stress-producing.

Could is present tense; look at the reality of now and the ability of you to do or to learn to do. Determine what you could do and enhance your self-view of being fabulous. Decide what you could do, do it and disassociate with should. Enough said.

Speak up. Assertive is a freeing way to live. It is learning to be able to speak up for fabulous you without undue anxiety. It is learning to say "No" or "Yes" only when it is in your own best interest. Say "No" and feel good about it. Say "Yes" when you have the energy, time and resources to do so without depleting you. You cannot give out of an empty basket; assertive is taking care of you so you can joyfully give to others.

Assertive is easy to learn and effective in making life better and improving relationships. It is becoming your own person so the wonderful, fabulous person God has created you to be shines through those pesky flaws.

Share with us how you are fabulous inspite of flaws.


The Relationship Question

It’s all about relationship. Will they do what you want because they want to please you? Will they do the opposite of what you want because they want to spite you?

The Ultimate Question is: "Is what I am about to say or do going to draw us closer together or push us farther apart?"

Do you habitually fall into using the seven deadlies? They chip away at the relationship. Whereas, practicing the seven caring habits built, reinforce and repair. Pay attention to your interaction with mate, children, co-workers, boss, neighbors and strangers. Once you are aware you are in a position to decide which really work and which you want to incorporate.

Criticizing is a disconnecting way of making a request. Reframe the situation into an appeal.

Complaining is negative communication to a person about that person in an attempt to control him to stop something or to start something.

Blaming is disregarding your own involvement and turning the situation into the other person’s fault, thus placing you as the victim. “We are late because you did not clean up your mess.”

Nagging is repeating over and over and wrongly assuming it will help. “If you said it three times and they haven’t done it probably saying it three thousand more times will not get it done either.” Dr. Glasser

Threatening is pointing out negative outcome without allowing truth or consequences or without follow through.

Punishing is following through on your threat but done in a demeaning, demoralizing way. Punishment leads to rebellion more than to correction. Punishment temporarily appeases the ‘victim’ while solidifying spite in the offender.

Bribing is rewarding to get what you want and does not help the individual do what you want out of respect. For bribing to continue to work the reward needs to get bigger and better the next time. Once the bribes stop, negative behavior returns or worsens.

If this list has given you an “ouch”, don’t try to stop. Do start to pay attention. Increased awareness will help you stop without trying. The more you incorporate the seven caring habits, the easier and quicker the transition.

Supporting is being there. It is maintaining a foundation to fall on and to rebuild upon. It is not agreeing with but believing in.

Encouraging is to pour courage into. It is seeing undeveloped potential and believing in the person before he believes in himself. It is projecting a “you can do it” attitude until they acquire a fledgling “okay, maybe so” outlook. It is your verbal evidence that helps him believe in himself.

Listening is hearing where the person is coming from, not to agreement but to understanding. Once an individual feels understood, he is better equipped to evaluate whether to proceed or to adjust.

Trusting is having faith in something not as yet seen. When trust has been broken rebuilding can be difficult but not impossible. Who among us has not made a promise and failed to follow through. It takes a healthy dose of skeptical believing in self as well as in the other. It is talking about the infraction, giving and receiving forgiveness and making plans to prevent it from happening again. When someone repeatedly breaks trust you need to trust what that behavior is showing you.

Accepting is one flawed individual getting along with another flawed individual. It is understanding the innate worth and value of the person over and above his/her imperfections.

Respecting is treating the other person as though you were the other person. Respect looks different to each of us. You know what respect looks like to mom (child, mate, boss, friend). Give her what she wants not what you want in a similar situation.

Negotiating Differences is working together for an amiable solution. It takes communicating; speaking, listening, understanding, consulting and adjusting until the issue has been resolved in a way that is satisfactory to both/all.

The more you incorporate the seven caring habits, the easier and quicker the transition - and the more enjoyable the relationships with self and others.

Let's communicate. Leave a comment about your caring relationship habits.


Forgiving and Being Forgiven

As we enter spring and the Easter Season there seems to be two things that go hand in hand. The beauty of spring causes us to participate in planting and growing. The reality of Easter causes us to get personal with Jesus. Easter brings us face-to-face with how we feel about our family member Jesus.

On the cross Jesus cried, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Although transcribed only once in the Gospels, Bible scholars tell us the verb tense indicates the phrase was repeated over and over.

As the crowd jeered along the pathway, Jesus prayed, ““Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” As the spikes tore into his flesh, Jesus begged, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” As the soldiers gambled for his royal robe, Jesus urgently entreated, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

One might posture that the unbelievers knew what they were doing. Yes and No. It was a knowing-not-knowing. A knowing that your emotions are angry and filled with hate. A knowing that one wants to lash out and hurt another - maybe the one seen as causing the pain. A knowing of the lie behind “revenge is sweet”. A knowing of the immediate actions, but a not-knowing of the long range effects. A not-knowing of the hurt afflicted on others by default. A not-knowing of the burden of guilt of a selfish act.

Since Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us, even yet today he intercedes on behalf of you and me, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Forgive and forget. People are often reluctant to forgive, mistakenly thinking the offender is off the hook. Some feel guilty for not forgiving. Some have tried to forgive but think they have failed because they cannot forget. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. Forgiveness often makes things not worth remembering. There are thing that are completely forgiven that we would never want to forget.

Did God forget the cross? Jesus interceded for those crucifying him. Does that mean it was over and he forgot the whole incident? Certainly not! He transformed it from a thing of hurt into a thing of grace. God remembers the cross; not to strike back but to give salvation. He would never want to forget it because it was a hard-fought victory of mercy.

Are there some things you wish you could forget? Allow the pain to remind you that God’s work isn’t finished yet. That he is calling you to a place of offering forgiveness so you can find healing. Let it call you into the arms of Jesus, the one who truly understand pain, rejection and injustice. Allow beauty to spring forth from the scars. Allow God to transform your memories into a testimony of his grace.

It is easier to choose to forgive another when we receive the reality that we are forgiven.


Stories We Tell

You’ve seen the TV sitcom where four or five individuals give their rendition of events. Have you noticed how each one paints self in a favorable light?

As with most words, there is both a positive and a negative slant to storytelling. Stories engage us in a life we did not live. Through stories we identify with heroes, connect with others and find ourselves. Stories have a transforming effect through battles fought and victories won.

We relate to others and ourselves as though we are our feelings. In fact, we even invent whole stories of why we feel the way we feel in order to justify or explain this misperception of our identity.

In the sitcom example, stories are told in an effort to create a different reality. Problem comes when we use stories to avoid facing reality. This storytelling leads to disassociation and fantasy. The stories are repeated to self (and maybe to others) so many times we believe our own lies. And feel hopeless. FEEL = false evidence enveloping lies.

Judgment does not help and it does not change reality. It is interesting to note the emotional component of holding on and releasing, and the degree to which our bodies are impacted by our feelings.

Stories are also told to keep things from happening. Such as, “I will do so and so when the kids are grown.” But they are grown. “Oh, I meant the grandkids!”

“We almost always have choices, and the better the choice, the more we will be in control of our lives. Good or bad, everything we do is our best choice at that moment.’ Dr. William Glasser

We must become aware of the stories we tell. Without awareness, we relate to others as though we are our feelings. It is not that feelings don’t occasionally appear to be justified.

The truth is that feelings are just feelings. Feelings are not who we are; therefore, we can choose to let them go. Choosing to let go of feelings frees us to recognize what stories we may be telling. Choosing to let go of feelings prepares us to see what is real and to act accordingly - or to refrain from acting. Not being emotionally involved gives perspective.

Feelings have their place – in the rear – to follow rather than to lead. This translates into an ability to handle life better and to make choices with clarity. It allows us to act in ways that support achievement of goals as opposed to self-sabotaging.

Choosing to take decisive action based on conscious, rational thought, frees the individual without having to relive or explain their life stories. Even though seeds may have been planted in the past, the current emotion is exactly that, the current emotion.

The emotion is in the present and you are in the present so you can choose to act in the present to choose a different present. This releases the past and sets the stage for a positive future. One of storytelling of adventures taken and lessons learned; your true reality stories that inspire and encourage.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”