Bitterness

I once learned in a bible study or sermon years ago that bitterness is pretty nasty and can have a lasting impact on our individual lives. We all have encountered or experienced resentment or bitterness toward other people and situations and it shows up on our faces, body language, in our thoughts, motivations, actions, etc… How does this happen, that we are so bitter that our whole lives are impacted? Why does bitterness linger in some of us and others it’s not an issue?

I wonder if control has something to do with it. When I say control I am talking about the idea that we have total control over of somethings in our lives, our thoughts, reactions to others and circumstances, then we have partial or no control over the rest of what makes up in our lives. My thought is that we often get tripped by this control dilemma, it’s here that most of us have trouble particularly when others are involved.

Okay, how many times has the desire to control others caused us frustration, anger, disappointment, etc…then that condition over time morphed into bitterness? What if realizing we cannot control others actions and reactions were our starting points, would there ever be seeds of bitterness planted in the first place? I know this sounds simple, maybe to simple, but what harm could it do? And think about, if we changed our reactions to others how much would it cost us? Not a great deal of money, if any at all, or require a new “app” it does cost us though. The price is our self-interest, to have less bitterness and resentment we have to give up some of our of self-interest and accept others and circumstances and choose to react to others realizing we cannot control them or their actions plain and simple.

Shades of Mentoring

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It’s common wisdom that mentoring can make a difference in our lives whether we are mentor or mentee. And mentors can take many forms in my opinion. But I wonder how important is that our mentors look like us? Or share similar life experiences?

I recently had a very brief conversation about whether or not our mentors need to look like us and if they don’t look like us can they fully understand our experiences in the world or mentor us adequately. I have been thinking about the conversation for a bit and  in some ways this approach feels narrow when we think about mentors needing to be like us to help us. It makes me think about my training as a counselor and the idea that I think new addiction counselors often experience. The experience of feeling inadequate to help those struggling with addiction because they themselves are not struggling with addiction. I am sure there are other examples but essentially, we don’t need to suffer in the same ways to help each other.

Although, mentoring typically is not about helping each other through struggles, per se, but mentoring in any capacity will include some help with struggles because struggles are apart of all our lives in some form. Mentors who have experienced the world in ways that are different from our own can expose us to a rich tapestry of experiences which we can in turn share with others. So, instead of having mentors like us we should intentionally seek out mentors and seek to mentor others that don’t look like us.

Image above retrieved from: https://goo.gl/images/NKShd6

 

Autonomy or Safety

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Autonomy or safety, do we have to choose one or the other? I am not really sure there is always a correlation between autonomy and safety but sometimes I think they rest on opposite ends of a spectrum.

Autonomy as I think about it involves self-governing and there are risks that come with self-governing, particularly, failure. Autonomy, in its extreme form, does not include a backup and when failure happens, as it always does, we have to self govern that part also, it’s on us. Of course I think there is an alternative version, smart autonomy, which I think is best left for a later discussion.

So on one end is autonomy and safety rest on the other end. Thinking about it my first thoughts about autonomy often come from my childhood. I believe we were raised as some of the first “free range” kids. We were given a lot freedom/autonomy, as I remember it, and of course this involved self-governing, risk taking, falling down (literally and figuratively) and in the process we were not as safe as we could have been if we were not permitted that “free range” kid level of autonomy. I am grateful and I believe that free ranging made me into the person I am today, dents and all.

I suppose what I am saying is that autonomy is not safe, its scary, its risky, its exciting, and when you exercise it you are going to fail, and that is a part of the whole process of learning and developing that happens to us as people when have autonomy. Its only now that I am really starting to understand the value of autonomy in my own life and when faced with a choice of autonomy or safety I choose autonomy.

 Image above retrieved from https://goo.gl/images/upXLL3

 

Perspective

Often we think about who we are trying to be through the lenses of our strengths, skills, and abilities, etc…in short, what we can do or think we can do. What would happen if we instead thought about how we can best to use our time on the earth, the best ways to make positive impacts on the lives of others.

The realization that perspective matters is something  we all encounter at some point, mostly as we age, what if we started today gaining perspective and sorting out what is really important to us? It’s often the case that by the time we gain perspective we have lived over half of our lives and made a mess of a few things, if we are lucky, and much worse if we are unlucky.

Perspective matters more than I realize, I am sure, but understanding that perspective matters and doing something about it is like most things in life, I suspect, if we start small and gain some confidence we will increase your likelihood of understanding that perspective matters and along the way perhaps allowing it to change your lives in the process.

Listening

Listening sounds simple and because we think its simple we deceive ourselves into thinking everyone can do it. But we know this is not the case. How often do we just move around at home, school, work, etc…not really listening but instead we are trying making our points, trying to prove we are right, trying to impress or persuade others and fake/half listening because it’s the polite thing to do and minimizes conflict in most cases.

What would happen if everyone decided to really listen to another? What impact would it have on our lives.

Okay, how do we know if we are really listening to others? There is a simple test, if you can repeat what the other person just said to and give accurate account of their thoughts, feelings and ideas they are trying to convey all of this without interjecting your own thoughts, feelings, ideas, judgments, etc… into the explanation than you are really listening.  Sounds simple, not really, enough until you actually try it. But really listening is one of those things that make meaningful relationships possible so I think we should all be working on improving our listening abilities if for no other reason then that.

To stop at face value or not

Why do we often stop at face value when encountering others? Or why do we stop at the phenotypes that identify us? Why don’t we go beyond the surface when getting to know others?

Are we just lazy and stop short of getting to know others and how we identify ourselves beyond physical features. Or is it deeper than that?

These are a stream of questions running through my head right now. When we stop at a cursory level when encountering others my sense is that it’s not necessarily laziness but it might be levels of discomfort that stops us. Getting to know others and interacting beyond what we see can be uncomfortable. Our differences can challenge our beliefs, our sense of right and wrong, etc…but there are benefits to gain from this discomfort. How can we know and see the value of other’s experiences unless we go beyond face value? Thinking about it now I suppose if we don’t see the value in others then we might not see the point of interacting beyond face value. And then again I suppose we all get to choose how we interact with others. But we know isolating ourselves over time is not healthy (emotionally, psychologically, physically, etc…) nor is interacting with others with violence or malice healthy for individuals or the common good, nevertheless, we still get to choose to stop at face value or not.

 

When does learning occur?

“access is not synonymous with learning. What turns access into learning is time and strategic patience.” ~Jennifer Roberts

The quote above is from an article “The Power of Patience” my sense after reading the article is that patience is an art, practice and skill that we are quickly losing or have lost and we need to find it again. Who does not need more patience? Who among us would not benefit from slowing down a bit?

In our modern times we have access to everything, it seems, instantly. We have begun to associate access to everything with learning, this is often not the case.  Instead, somethings, a lot things it turns out, take time to learn and understand. Time and patience are the hallmarks of cultivating the “good stuff” in my experiences.

Problem solving, creativity, really seeing and understanding people, places and situations takes time. To truly learn and develop means we have to look past our instant access and spend time with that which is important to us for learning to occur.