“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.” ~ Steve Maraboli
A husband and wife were driving through an unfamiliar section of the city. She read the map and told him to turn left or right at the intersections. He faithfully followed her every direction, until finally she wailed, “Now YOU”VE gotten me lost!” True story? Yes. (It wasn’t my honey and me, it was an acquaintance of mine.) It just illustrates that we, as humans, are quick to blame others for the results of our own actions. We take offense instead of taking personal responsibility.
People have become very confused about how to respond to life, because of conflicting messages they’ve received since childhood. For example:
- It’s common to praise children for everything, which can inflate the ego and instill a mentality of, “I’m entitled. The world owes me”.
- Parents make excuses for their children and blame the teachers, when the child gets in trouble or under performs.
- Rather than learning that actions have consequences, many young adults get bailed out of their problems, so they never learn resilience or what their own strengths are.
- We’re told “you’re entitled to your feelings and to let it all out”, without learning how to responsibly manage those emotions productively.
- We’re taught to stand up for ourselves and not be doormats. However, by not giving an inch we hear feedback as criticism from which we must defend ourselves.
We’ve lost our sense of humor and take ourselves too seriously. Becoming offended over real and imagined slights has grown into a problem of epidemic proportions. We see evidence of this in the irritation, sarcasm, hostility, resentment, pouting, grudges, rants, rioting, assaults, road rage, “going postal”, school shootings, and even terrorist attacks.
Here are some things people say in order to avoid taking personal responsibility:
“It’s not my fault!” While excusing ourselves, we hold others to an impossibly high standard.
“It’s not fair!” Because we fail to develop gratitude, we compare our life to others and become embittered and perceive the good others experience as a personal grievance.
“It’s his fault!” Shifting blame, when things go wrong, is easy.
“He started it!” When someone slights you, you respond by giving him the cold shoulder. Your own hurtful behavior is okay, because he did it first.
“He’s out to get me!” It’s all about us. We don’t make allowances for others’ good intentions. Instead we cynically search for their “sinister” reason.
If you want inner peace, cultivating the habit of personal responsibility is vital. I love how Iyanla Vanzant puts it:
“One of the greatest challenges in creating a joyful, peaceful and abundant life is taking responsibility for what you do and how you do it. As long as you can blame someone else, be angry with someone else, point a finger at someone else, you are not taking responsibility for your life.”
Taking personal responsibility for the good and the bad in your life is one of the most empowering things you will ever do. Only then can you shape your future. Consider this: the word responsibility is made up of two words…response and ability. That means you have the ability to mindfully choose your response to whatever happens. As Viktor E. Frankl said,
“Between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Taking personal responsibility is a habit you can cultivate over time. It’s like a muscle memory. You do it often enough, it will become automatic. So it’s up to you to decide. What kind of person do you want to be? If taking responsibility is important to you, start with these suggestions…
- Before responding, honestly ask yourself, “What part did I play in this situation? How did I make it worse? How could I have made it better?”
- Recognize your own limitations. You’re not perfect, so give yourself some slack and avoid becoming defensive and prickly, when others point out your “faults”. Accept it with grace and humor. And give others some slack too.
- Sincerely apologize for your actions or your lack of actions.
- Welcome feedback and learn from it. Even if you think it’s undeserved, you can find something positive in it, if you look hard enough.
- Look for the good in others and don’t impute wrong motives. If you’re suspicious, respectfully ask them why they said or did something, rather than jumping to negative conclusions.
- Accept your life, without judgment and resignation, rather than wishing things were different. View today as a starting point from which you can create something better.
- Let go of the past. You have the choice and the power to change your future.
Sometimes, we don’t even realize that we’re not taking personal responsibility for our actions. If you’d like to enhance your emotional intelligence and communication skills, so you can turn even the most trying situations into positive outcomes, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). You can do this!
“No” is a complete sentence.” ~ Annie Lamott
Do people often irritate and annoy you because they keep calling when you don’t want them to? When you see someone coming, do you want to run and hide? Do they interrupt your work-time with requests without regard for how it disrupts your concentration? Do you feel like family is using you or taking advantage of you all the time? Does it drive you crazy that your partner helps himself to your things, without asking? All of these situations indicate that you have clear boundaries in your head, but you’re missing some vital steps to setting boundaries in relationships in your life.
Avoiding conflict, the primary reason most people put off these conversations, is never a good basis for any relationship. I know it can feel risky to speak your truth and let whatever happens happen. Letting go and not controlling the outcome can be terrifying. Our minds automatically go to how much we can lose. In fact, our minds can amplify the negatives by thinking in terms of absolutes or all or nothing declarations – “If I tell him that, he’s going to think I’m too picky and won’t love me any more” or “If we disagree, it will lead to a fight and I’ll lose my friend/job.”
An unwillingness to “put skin in the game” cripples a relationship before it can begin. If a relationship is worth having, it’s worth giving your whole self to it.
It won’t work if you passive aggressively ignore a situation and hope it will fix itself. And you can’t rely on people “taking a hint”. People are not mind readers. If something is bothering you, and you just “grin and bear it” they’re going to assume everything’s okay. And that may lead to resentment, which can eat away at you until you explode. The other person stands there stunned, wondering “where did that come from?”! I like what F. Scott Fitzgerald said about this,
“If you spend your life sparing people’s feelings and feeding their vanity, you get so you can’t distinguish what should be respected in them.”
It is necessary to do more than setting personal boundaries in your head; it requires you clearly and respectfully communicate them to others, whether that’s a coworker, a friend, or a casual acquaintance.
However, in between setting boundaries and communicating them to others are a number of important internal steps to take before you have the emotional clarity, mental strength, and centeredness that is required to remove the agitation so you come from a place of inner peace.
Understand why it’s important for you to set a certain boundary. Being wishy washy or sending mixed signals will only frustrate you and the people around you. This means creating harmony between all of your Parts first. For example, Part of you may want to be respected, but another Part of you doesn’t think you deserve it. My Tea-Time Exercise is a great way to resolve these internal conflicts.
Remember, it’s not always about you. Successful communication takes time to really think about the person you want to clarify boundaries with: their personality, their background, your type of relationship, etc. This will guide in you in your approach.
When you’re setting boundaries, keep the mindset of improving your relationship, moving past the hard times and coming out stronger.
You may meet some resistance. Change is seldom easy for anyone. Patiently and kindly maintain your boundary and avoid taking the attitude that’s “it’s my way or the highway.” Remind them of why you need things to be different. When someone cares about you, they want to know how they’re hurting you, so they can make you feel good. Maintaining a boundary means not only sticking to what you say you’ll do, but also holding the other person accountable.
Learning Neuro Linguistic Programming is an excellent way to improve all the skills needed for setting boundaries in relationships. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Let’s explore your options!
Entire business departments have been thrown into a panicked frenzy because of them. Bosses have come close to firing loyal employees because of them. Friendships have been ruined because of them. Reputations have been damaged because of them. What has so much power to cause so much misery? People are unintentionally sending messages that are perceived as rude emails because they come across as demanding, disrespectful or insubordinate.
In business, especially via email, we often sacrifice kindness and respect in an attempt to be concise and to the point. Just “wanting to be quick” can lead to communication that is impoverished and more likely to be misunderstood.
We understand words in conjunction with vocal pitch and tone, speed and cadence, pauses, gestures, poses, and facial expressions. For example, we know that a twinkle in the eye and a smile softens corrective feedback. But with email, it’s very easy to convey frustration and judgment, because an email misses those auditory and kinesthetic elements of in-person conversation.
As human beings, no matter the situation, we want to feel seen, acknowledged and respected. However, in today’s world of emails and text messaging, clear and concise communication becomes complicated. Email strips a conversation bare, leaving it open to the receiver’s interpretation, which is largely based on their own cultural background, knowledge, biases, or current emotional state.
Since it’s often not what you say, but how you say it, that is perceived by your audience, how can you ensure your emails aren’t perceived as “rude emails” but are well received and elicit the responses you desire?
I’ve created a Checklist to help you avoid some of the common pitfalls. Here are five ways to check yourself and ten ways to check your email, before hitting the Send button…
- Check your mood. If you’re rushed, frustrated or impatient, find your center and calm down before you write and send an email.
- Be deliberate. My favorite NLP presupposition says: “The meaning of my communication is the response that I get.” This means that in communication, I’m 100% responsible for what I communicate. If the other person misunderstands, I have to recheck how I communicated.
- Reflect on your tone. If you would hesitate to say something to someone’s face, don’t write it in an email.
- Be concise, but engage your heart. Always remember that on the other side of your email is a human being. Use all your interpersonal skills and make sure you convey care and respect.
- Continue to refine your communication skills. We’re always in the process of improving our skills that lead to deeper personal and professional relationships. And, since your success hinge highly on your connections, excellent communication is vital!
Check your email:
- CC, BCC, or Reply All carefully. Only loop in the people who need to see what you have to say.
- Limit negative feedback or correction via email. Negatives become especially negative in email form, so discern when in-person communication is more appropriate.
- Use exclamation points sparingly. Enough said.
- Remember the power in a name. Keep it personal by acknowledging the person by name; and sign off with either your name or at least your initial(s).
- Include niceties. At the beginning of the day, or if you haven’t had a contact for awhile, a few kind words keeps brief messages from sounding brusque.
- Give detailed, weighty messages the respect they deserve. “Got it” or “Fine!” will appear flippant and rude.
- Proofread. Improper grammar, spelling and punctuation convey the idea that you don’t care.
- Create a clear message in the subject line. If your message is time sensitive, include a date or time, instead of URGENT or ASAP.
- Write in an easy-to-read format. Use white space to visually separate thoughts. Bullet points or bold type can highlight important details. However, all capital letters or boldface is perceived as “shouting.”
- Read it out loud. Make sure all relevant information is included in a manner that is clearly understood.
Miscommunication occurs when people have different expectations about the messages they send and receive. Making assumptions about your audience’s expectations increases the risk that your message, or its tone, will be misinterpreted.
You’ll put your best foot forward, if you remember to ask yourself, “Who is my audience? How would I talk to them in person? What kind of impression do I want to make?”
Would you like to learn more about how NLP coaching can enhance your relationships through effective communication skills? Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
Across the media, you’ll see famous couples, the ones that stay together, saying they’re married to their “best friend.” I’ve even said it myself. But I think it would be beneficial to delve deeper into this present fad of labeling relationships and see how close, lasting relationships are made and maintained.
Perhaps the confusion stems from there being so many types of love or relationships that have a sexual element…marriage, living together, life partners, committed relationships, best friends with benefits, hooking up or one night stands. People are trying to describe their secure relationship as one that works. So they’ve hit upon the idea that being “best friends” is the highest form of praise. However, it wasn’t that many years ago when a dog was man’s “best friend.” Surely we can do better than that.
When you met your life partner, it was sexual attraction that brought down the barriers, so that you let this new person get close to you. However, relationships based solely on sexual attraction rarely stand the test of time. That expectation is unrealistic. There’s just nothing sexy about discussing bills or hanging out in the bathroom because you have the flu.
It’s only natural this highly charged sexual euphoria evolves. We should welcome this new phase in our lives. Because in its wake, (if you’ve been mindfully attending to yourself and your partner) you will discover a richer relationship based on trust that allows each of you to self-actualize.
One problem I see is that people become consumed by being what their partner wants them to be. Eventually you don’t know who you are any more. If you view your mate as your best friend, it may even make you think there’s no need to find friendships outside the marriage. Or you unrealistically expect your partner to fulfill ALL of your emotional and spiritual needs. Conversely, other people start to question what’s wrong because they have a happy marriage, but they consider someone else to be their best friend.
Another problem I see is that people think a best friend should accept you as you are unconditionally. In my mind, marriage is about bringing the best out of the person you marry. You push each other. You challenge each other. You encourage each other. You change each other.
Because not every spouse provides that kind of close relationship, you may not feel it’s enough to say “my husband” or “my wife”. You want the world to know that this person truly is the best, so you say, “He’s my best friend” in order to differentiate him from the deadbeats. I get it.
Rather than getting hung up on labeling your relationship as a “best friend marriage”, let’s focus on mindfully crafting a relationship that allows each to grow, explore, and become the best version of you possible.
A deep sense of security leads us to describe our life partners as our “best friend”. Yet this term “best friend” seems to be too limiting. There still needs to be a sexual component that maintains physical closeness and attachment. Yes, like friends you love doing things together; you love talking with each other intimately; you depend on each other. But there’s a closeness that transcends being friends. You have shared history, shared lives and shared dreams. You fill each other’s most intimate needs and desires.
Does that mean marriage, for you? I’ll leave that for you to decide. The key characteristics of any close relationship are mutual giving, mutual valuing, mutual respecting and mutual joy. Did you notice the word “mutual”? A close relationship has to be a two way-street. That’s how you get through life’s storms. You have each other’s back.
A lot of people don’t think they’re ready for the responsibilities of a long-term, loving relationship. The commitment of marriage scares them. This awareness means you’re open to achieving greater personal growth. I’d love to help you on this journey. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“A healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice your friends, your dreams, or your dignity.” ~ Dinkar Kalotra
Happy Anniversary to me and my sweetie! Today, August 22nd, is our 26th. It hasn’t always been easy. On the contrary, we’ve had our share of challenges, because neither of us knew how to be a good partner in a relationship. At times, we didn’t even know if we were going to make it. It has taken courage, vulnerability and a lot of mindful determination to cultivate a healthy, lasting relationship.
We both come from emotionally impoverished homes, so we started with unhealthy ways of getting our needs met. Today, we share a loving relationship mostly because we have worked persistently to understand and appreciate each other and fight fairly. It will continue to be a daily effort and a life-long journey.
One very significant thing I’ve learned is that I can only change me – I can’t change my sweetie. Nor do I want to. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that irritate me, but I’ve discovered how to be a good partner in a relationship. Rather than waiting for your partner to initiate change, start with yourself. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easily your partner follows. Let me share some other discoveries…
Practice acceptance not judgment. Your partner is who he or she is. When you truly value your partner’s unique qualities and gifts, you build your partner up. Being overly critical really hurts, so that’s something to be avoided.
Look for the positive. The more you focus on something, the larger it becomes in your mind. If you focus on positive things, you’ll have fewer irritations. If you do need to call attention to a negative aspect, do it in a positive way. Commend first, and then state the source of friction as a shared problem, looking for how both of you can contribute toward a solution.
Be more giver than taker. People who give are happier. And it encourages your partner to reciprocate in kind.
Show appreciation and gratitude. Gratitude is more than a feeling. It needs to be expressed in thankful words and actions. “I appreciate this about you” or “I’m so glad you…” are phrases that need to be spoken often.
Work as a team of “we.” “Me, you, I, yours, mine” are words that create division and an adversarial atmosphere. But when you speak and act as “we,” you’re a team, working toward a common goal. It’s important to have shared goals and routines. Regularly eating and talking together helps create a happy relationship. And look for ways to help each other every day.
Apologize often. If you’re always trying to be right, you’re going to lose your loving relationship. Apologizing is a way of acknowledging that you understand the way your partner feels. “I’m sorry I made you feel…” can solve a world of problems.
Be realistic about the ups and downs. You want your partner to be there for you, so look for ways you can always be there for your partner. Celebrate the good times and work together to get through the hard times.
Practice vulnerability. This one is hard, because we’re so afraid of rejection. To achieve real intimacy, you have to be willing to be vulnerable. Successful communication with your partner involves picking the right time and the right words. A quiet, relaxed time allows you to open up slowly to your partner. In that way you can test the waters. If your initial revelation is met with acceptance and love, then you’ll feel like you can open up further. Set the stage with comments like, “I really need to tell you how I’m feeling about something, and it’s not easy for me. So I don’t need you to “fix” anything, I just need you to let me get it all out. Okay?”
Keep the playfulness and novelty alive. You may think you know each other well, but let me assure you there’s plenty left to discover. And nothing brings that out like making time to play together. Try new and exciting activities together. Keep your sense of humor and don’t take life too seriously.
Show affection. Humans thrive on touch, and communication is improved when we incorporate the power of touch. Daily hugging, kissing, or hand holding are important. Look for ways to perform little acts of kindness.
Give your partner space. Find that sweet spot where you both feel close, without feeling smothered.
Fight fair. Set boundaries of when and how you’ll discuss disagreements. Yelling, hitting, name-calling or character assassination has no place in a loving relationship. Practice active listening and be willing to compromise.
To be a good partner in a relationship takes being a good communicator. Most of us have not been taught how to do that. If you’d like to learn how to express your feelings in ways that build strong relationships, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).