The First Duty of Love Is To Listen

True love is when two people are each other’s best listener.

Tuned in, responsive.

Eager to practice the awesome power of listening to show that they deeply care.

Marriage counselors will tell you that when they conduct counseling sessions with two warring partners one or both parties scream out to be heard.  The two often speaking past each other without even noticing.

A basic human need and one not often recognized for its importance before it is too late is the need to be heard.

Anyone can do it, but it takes some practice.

Focus on the person.

Receive the message.

Respond (don’t react).

No relationship has ever been strong without the ability to listen to each other.

The simple act of listening is true love.

“The first duty of love is to listen” – Anonymous quote

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Reprogramming Your Button That Says “Push”

Some people just like to get under your skin.

It’s a dysfunctional way to interact with others and it can leave the recipient on an emotional roller coaster.

We reprogram our phones, digital devices and computers.  Now we can reprogram that hot button that others push to make us angry.

I know a psychologist who advised a separated couple not to talk to each other very often because of an acrimonious divorce.  So when one ex called the other it would end in a shouting match.  His prescription:  put the phone down, don’t slam it down and walk away.  Send a message that you are not reacting, but responding and the response is “we’re not going to have destructive and upsetting conversations”.  No anger – just a phone with nobody there.

See yourself in a tee-shirt that has a big “PUSH” button on the front (big and red like the Staples “Easy” button).

Whenever anyone makes you feel threatened by the conversation – either directly or more subtly – picture that “PUSH” button and don’t let them push it.

This can be very empowering because sometimes people don’t observe healthy boundaries and you no longer have to let them impose their drama on you.

“No is a complete sentence” – Ann Lamott

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Rebounding From Disappointment

When people let us down, it is disappointing.

And there are no shortages of disappointments to go around. 

A cancelled appointment, a missed dinner date, a worker who fails to live up to a promise, a friend who blows you off and thinks nothing of it. 

That’s why to overcome disappointment caused by others that can sometimes be hurtful, there is a 3-step approach that is worth pursing. 

  1. Ask yourself, if the person who is disappointing you is as upset by it as you are.  If not, start getting over it immediately.
  2. If a pattern of disappointment becomes evident, invest more of your emotional time in people who do not disappoint.
  3. Protect boundaries that prevent others from upsetting your world whether it is intentional or circumstantial.

If you are the person disappointing yourself, identify this as destructive behavior and start treating yourself as the fine person you are.

There is power in being able to do and be more than others expect from you.  It feels great and makes those around you feel great. 

At the same time, ratchet down impossible expectations from those around you.

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed”  — Alexander Pope

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The Advantages of Suffering

Three teenage girls who sat next to me at a recent Flyers hockey game arrived late.

One asked me if had they missed the “tribute”. 

They were speaking of a classmate of theirs who developed bone cancer and had to give up athletics, a normal life and his hair battling the disease.

The Flyers did a between period tribute to this young man who was shown on arena vision beaming from ear to ear and appeared to be the healthiest person in the arena.  The girls were thrilled.  We were all inspired.

To them, their peer represented inspiration.  Hope.  The ability to overcome adversity and prevail in the end.

Suffering is a necessary part of life.  It almost always changes the individual and those around them.  Many of life’s suffering are not fatal but we often think they are. 

Suffering can be transformational as this young boy with cancer proves.  I’m sure you can name an inspirational hero who has overcome the odds.

But everyday suffering from jobs we’re not happy with, relationships that seem bogged down or financial problems that feel insurmountable can be handled the same way.

Courage.

A “treatment plan”.

Determination to overcome the adversity that causes the suffering. 

No need to wait for illness to inspire us when there are so many other challenges that can be met with the same prescription.

Never, never give up hope.

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  • Very touching story Jerry

Battling Rudeness

I have a theory why the world seems to be getting ruder.

We’ve been digitally connected now for well over a decade and it’s a lot easier to fire off a text or an email response without seeing or hearing the other person’s reaction. 

And without thinking.

In essence, we’ve become immune to observing the reactions of others.

And we’re all on digital overload.

We all have some degree of attention deficit and before you say not you, do you own a TiVo or a DVR?  Increasingly we want what we want when we want it on demand.

I’m convinced that people – even rude ones – have a great need to be heard.

And this we can do.

Listen – respond. 

And don’t battle rudeness with rudeness.

Here are my rules:

  1. Fight rude people with attention – listen, observe the message along with the rudeness.
  2. Show them how to do it right – respond with courtesy and respect and deliver the message you have in mind.  They should never get you off message.
  3. Draw a boundary between this type of rudeness and the kind that makes you feel badly about yourself at which point – cut them loose.

You might be saying, I don’t care about rude people, but they get in our space and adversely affect our daily lives at work, at home and in our peer groups.

Best yet, even when you use the three rules to no avail, somehow you feel better, more in control.

“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength” – Edmund Burke

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  • Nicely done, Jerry.