Monthly Archives: November 2017

I Wonder

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I wonder how much better we could be if we changed some of our ideas and labels when we speak. What if when we used the word “race,” we replaced it with “humanity”? What if when we address someone instead of referring to their status or class, we replaced it with “our fellow citizen”? What if instead of referring to one’s specific religion, we replaced it with their spiritual practice? I think we can honor one another in the way we speak and address others respectfully even when they may come from different places and opinions than our own.

The way we start a conversation can set the tone for how we respond to and work with one another. When we use slang and labels, we may put others on the defense, preventing further constructive communication. Whether we are looking at someone face to face or communicating via technology, we can step back and be more aware of the words we use with one another.

Although habits can be tricky to break, if we can pay attention to the energy we bring to one another, we can further a healthier humanity. You may not agree or understand where someone else is coming from, but you can civilly put some differences aside to listen to one another. We can misunderstand from our own egos. Our ego can certainly limit us from love, friendship, and opportunities when we are too stubborn with it. We all have an ego; we just don’t always take the time to notice what loops it may be running in.

Many times our differences and prejudices are learned behaviors. We don’t always question if that is the best way to interact with others. Nor do we always look at ourselves more closely to see if we are contributing to negative or harmful energy. It isn’t always easy to take a deeper look at ourselves and our habits. Just like the patience and love we can give to others, we also need to give ourselves the time and patience to work through our own biases and misunderstandings. Often our prejudices simply come from lack of experience.

Maya Angelou once said, “When you know better, you do better.” We may not always initially know better, but we are all capable of learning. Learning from one another. Learning from others’ experiences and points of view. I feel like we live in a culture that is quicker to judge than understand. Though actions may initially look cut and dry or perhaps black and white, often I find it’s only one small piece of the story. Sometimes people perform certain actions based on the best knowledge they happen to have at the time. Under their circumstances and experiences, they are moving from their life knowledge.

Currently I have a daughter who is 18. She is the at the ripe age of having some interesting observations based on her 18 years of life. She thinks anyone over 30 is old. I could easily try to argue this point with her, but like many times I’ve encountered individuals this age, I can’t give them my perspective. They may embrace it or think it’s foolish, but until they arrive at 30 will they find out if that is really old or still yet young. I love my daughter and at times have to remind myself of some of the perspectives I had at her age so that I can be more loving and forgiving toward her. What if we could also do this for one another? Outside of our families, outside of our circle of friends, outside of our communities, and outside of our comfort zones?

It isn’t always easy, and I’m sure many times I fail. But what I do know is I have the daily choice to try to choose better words and ways to communicate with her and others. This may seem like a small silly example, but we can actually apply this metaphor to the larger issues we face that are dividing us as a civilization, country, and world.

We can take some time and space to question where our labels, definitions, and judgements stem from. Were they taught? Are they based on personal experience? Are they really true? One example that comes to mind that I experience from time to time is that I get a new client who received a gift certificate to my services. At times they arrive with ideas that are scary and with a mindset that they aren’t going to like it. It can make it a little more challenging to navigate. Since I have experienced this many times, I’ve learned to take some extra time to explore why they feel this way and how we can address their feelings and needs.

Often it is because either their imagination ran into a strange place, or they simply had a bad experience with another practitioner which left them with the feeling or opinion that all practitioners in my field were the same way. I’ve been fortunate; by taking the time to work with them on their anxieties by carefully explaining more about myself and my services and giving them space to express their fears and worries, I’ve found that we come out on the other side with a positive experience. And I’ve gained a loyal client. I could address these instances in many ways including my own biases, but it certainly doesn’t appear to help me or take me far in business. I wonder how many times we do this ourselves?

In many fields and situations, whether it be personally or professionally, we come across prejudices, narrow-mindedness, and viewpoints based on others’ experiences. We have a choice whether we rise above them to create a new or better experience, or whether we meet it with our own discrimination.

Although there are times to have healthy boundaries and not accept abuse or inappropriate behavior, I find these instances very few and far between when I am more cautious with how I use my words with others and handle the situation.

I would just like to introduce an idea into your mind. What if we paid more attention to how we address others, use our words, and communicate from a positive and loving intention? I can’t promise you will always get the same results, but based on my experiences working with the public, I can say you can leverage your experience with how you choose your labels and words. In this new day and age, we certainly can take this concept into our virtual worlds of communication.

Encourage and inspire

Encourage And Inspire

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We often have opportunities to use our energy to encourage and inspire others. I find many of us stepping out on limbs to follow dreams and passions cultivated by inspiration. Whether it be from ourselves or from close friends and family, it isn’t always easy to stay the course of the journey. You encounter many twists, turns, and detours along the way. Having some cheering and encouragement may be one of the biggest things that helps us to continue to move forward.

When I left the medical field to start my first business, I was often met by doubt, fear, and worry from others. I was certainly aware of the risks and didn’t have all the answers. I felt I had to dig deep into my passion to drown out many naysayers. I can also say that you have enough of your own doubts and worries when you take leaps of faith. I find that most of us have bigger battles within ourselves. We certainly don’t need extra layers of doubt and negativity applied by others.

It took me time and experience to look back and realize when people offer fears, worries, and negative feedback, it really is driven by their own insecurities. It can help to keep your circle small. Consult and confide in people that are helpful and encouraging. There really is a line between helpful advice and discouragement. Form your own support group of go-to people to bounce your ideas off of when you need to.

I find often that people aren’t always aware that they are not offering helpful advice. We can get into fearful habits of thinking which spill over into the advice we offer others. For example, there have been times I’ve shared ideas or plans with someone and all they offered in return was a list of problems they could find or ways it could go wrong. Without any encouraging advice to add to that, they may be a negative sounding board you don’t need at that time. I know often these folks mean well, but they are also expressing from their own fears.

When we are stepping into unknown territory, we may need to choose the people we bring into our counsel more carefully. It helps to find others who have been successful in that area. Often they know what it feels like to step out and need courage. They can be great mentors and counsellors. A friend or colleague who is strong in his or her own confidence can be a great cheerleader to help us through.

I’m not saying there will not be times when you need constructive feedback and help to steer down bumpy roads, but we can also choose supportive and more suitable counsel.
And not only that; when a friend or colleague shares their ideas and dreams with us, we can take the opportunity to encourage them along the way. When someone shares their ideas, hunches, and dreams, it often comes from a vulnerable place. Having the courage to speak your dreams isn’t always easy.

Rather than being quick to judge or find fault in their idea, we can step back and encourage their inspiration. You may not understand it to begin with because it’s not your dream. We often get in the habit of giving what we may think is practical and reasonable advice. However, what may be practical and reasonable for you may not be helpful to them. We can first give them the space to express their ideas and listen attentively with an open mind. You may not think their plan is a good idea, but as a friend you may be more helpful to keep that to yourself.

Years ago I spent about 5 years counseling people in my community in how to manage their small businesses. What I learned more often than not is that no matter what kind of help or advice they were needing on any subject, they first and foremost needed support and encouragement through the steps. As long as I could offer some support and reassurance, they could better handle the challenges they were facing.

We all need encouragement. Our inspirations need safe spaces to germinate and a positive environment to come to fruition. In these endeavors that feel scary or big, it can be very helpful to be selective in who you invite to your table. When the time comes to make announcements and share with the world, you can come from a more prepared and confident place. Not only do we need this support, we certainly can be better encouragers to others.