When looking at how to connect it’s important to look at strengths and limitations.
Find the places where you can connect or the ways you feel similarly that’s the best way to get and stay connected. Those are the strengths.
Limitations are equally as important. When you understand where you diverge you can begin to look for ways that even in your divergence you have connections. Try to not jump to conclusions or assumptions or to the next proof of your argument.
When the focus of the relationship is connection then slowing down the process of communication – taking your time to get to the underlying beliefs and feelings – is the most important.
In chess the player is attempting to use information to guess and speculate about the other players next and subsequent moves. If one does that in relationship then little time is spent in the now. Most of the time is spent in the future – working on counter moves in order to capture the king only keeps you distanced from the other person.
In parenting you want to build the strengths of your child and diminish the negative effect of their limitations. Trying to get your child to think about what was the antecedent feeling, experience, or action that caused the negative action or their misbehavior helps to get them to start to think about their own strengths and limitations.
By encouraging them to see the antecedent feeling or behavior, it helps to put things within a context that they can manage – so rather than being overcome by a feeling or behavior they can actually see the relationship between feelings and behaviors and make choices in the now and learn to live mindfully.
Resilience and self-esteem are characteristics built from the inside out – from knowing yourself and standing in the center of yourself. Having unrealistic expectations about yourself, both positive and negative, will decrease resilience and lower self esteem. It has to be real, and dealing with real things is what builds a sense of positivity.
Another way to focus on creating strength and resilience, and deal in the real world, is work done by a School Counselor who has for many years now been lecturing across the country trying to teach counselors and school counselors to stop creating victims. His premise is that some of our biggest school tragedies have been the result of victims’ heartless actions. His name is Izzy Kalman and he teaches anger management classes called “Bullies to Buddies”.
He teaches that you can “turn Bullies to Buddies by treating them like your friend,” (by not getting mad at them, not reacting, and therefore reducing their power over you). His work focuses on not reacting to what others say – if it’s true then you don’t need to get mad and if it isn’t true then it shouldn’t matter and you don’t need to get mad. It’s another way to talk about being centered and mindful although he never uses those words.
His work uses basic psychological theory to prove that our current focus on victimhood has actually resulted in decreased self esteem, and decreased resilience. He reminds us that “Bullies” feel like victims too so that we need to change the paradigm or lens through which we look at the problem of bullying and victimhood. His work when actually introduced in schools has had some very positive effects.
So the next time someone says something critical and you feel yourself getting defensive see if the paradigm shift of responding as if they are your friend keeps you in the now in the interaction and allows for a de-escalation of the interaction.
And if they really are your friend or you are in a negotiating situation see if you can look at where you connect first and make those connections before you view where you diverge in belief or principle.
Knowing yourself – your strengths and your limitations – will help you to interact in a way that you do not lose your self or your priorities.
See you tomorrow.