Two ears… and one mouth…

Letter from 2012-11-17

Lately, I’ve really been on the subject of interpersonal relationships. I really think that it’s important because one of the biggest problems in the world today is that fact that we have to deal with each other. Why call it a problem? Primarily, because, it isn’t something that we can avoid. If we could avoid dealing with each other, then we’d have an entirely different set of issues. Millions of people forced to deal with each other, each with their own way of thinking and behaving, each with a different goal (or lack thereof), each with their own desires, each with their own problems and way of handling them… Wow, what a mess!

Someone once told me that there is soo much more to me than what I allow people to experience and that my not sharing the whole me was a disservice to people and myself. I kind of shrugged it off and gave my traditional answer of… “Why should I share more? People don’t appreciate the part that they get.” This answer came from years of hurt and disappointment and a lifetime of painful experiences with people. The part that I missed was the disservice to myself. Let’s face it. We ALL live behind a veil and only a select few, special people ever get to see what’s on the other side. Here’s an example…

Generally, when greeting people, I say, “Hello. How are you?”. The response is… “Hi, I’m fine. How are you?”. Now, my response has been… “It is today”. My question to you is… what does “It is today” have to do with how I’m feeling? 99.99% of people never ask that most important question. The truth is people don’t listen. We have been trained and programmed like a computer with automated responses.

I met a young lady recently and went thru the traditional greeting. But, I will never forget her response. She asked me… “Do you really want to know how I’m doing or is this just small talk?” Well, how dare she go against the programming!!! I told her that I really wanted to know. She began to tell me, this stranger who she just met 3 minutes ago, about how she just broke up with her same sex partner, about how her friends have been telling her that she should have done it long ago, about how she misses talking, texting and emailing her ‘boo’, and about how this other woman didn’t really bring anything to the table… WOW!!!! I’m blown away. She doesn’t know me yet she just broke down in front of me. The key here is that I didn’t interject my own views of same sex relationships. I didn’t agree, or disagree, with her friends. I didn’t handhold her about missing the communication. I let her talk. I listened. And the end result was… She ended with the other woman “brings nothing to the table”. She came to her own conclusion/resolution. Sometimes we just need to work it out, out loud.

Here’s a different example…

PersonOne asks about why have you been feeling sad lately? PersonTwo says that money is funny, isolation issues, lost loved ones, etc. However, PersonOne responds with this… “well judging by your actions everything seems to be okay because people who are depressed don’t act that way. By the way, I’m sad too.” This then leads into why PersonOne is sad then into… “I noticed that you didn’t mention God or your spouse”. There are a multitude of issues with this conversation. One, being the comparison of PersonTwo’s actions with other people who are depressed. Secondly, does PersonOne need counseling? If you’re trying to help, then why are you adding yourself to the comparisons? And finally, the original question was why are you sad. My spouse and God aren’t making me sad… actually YOU are making me sad!!!

So often we feel that we can, and need, to fix someone else’s problems. Our intentions are honorable. But many times our methods suck. If you have already formed a judgment as to what the problem is; you’ve already played out the conversation in your mind; and you’ve already provided the solution BEFORE ever talking to the person then you are NOT helping. You’re baiting the person with loaded questions and you’re leading the person with suggestions that will fit the direction that YOU want to go. You’re not listening. You’re just waiting for your turn to speak. IT’S NOT GENUINE!!! IT’S NOT REAL!!!!

I admire those that work in the mental health field because they fulfill what the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 “…study to be quiet…”

So, in closing, let’s allow more people behind the veil. You’d be amazed at what will happen when you share the real you. And remember, people need you to listen to them twice as much as they need to hear from you. That’s why God gave you two ears… and one mouth…

I’m sorry that this note went long.

I love you ALL
Stay Blessed,

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side…

Letter from 2012-11-16

I’ve heard this saying time and time again. The thing that’s interesting is that this phrase always seems to come out as a way to discourage pursuit. My dad was preaching once and said, “the isn’t greener on the other side… it’s turf!”. The part that we tend to miss with this statement is the heart, or intention, of the one being spoken to. As the speaker, we offer caution, reservation and skepticism. But, what about the listener? What about the thoughts, plans and desires of that person?

The answer is simple. I wasn’t looking for grass. I wasn’t looking for green, greener or greenest grass. What if I was looking for turf? Or ground cover? Or swamp-land? Or sand? Sand, you say? Yes, sand. Whether I chose Arizona or Florida, there’s still sand. Both desirable in their own ways… But to be brutally honest, I wasn’t looking for any of these things. I was looking for YOU, that special someone. I was looking for YOU, that new job. I was looking for YOU, that new process. I was looking for YOU.

Everything that we look for, desire or are passionate about does not have to be an upgrade, update or even a step up. What happened to lateral moves? What happened to starting over?

As friends, we need to support one another, not only when it’s convenient for us but at all times. The real test of friendship is when we don’t agree, or when adversity comes. A true friend is worth their weight in gold and worth fighting for. The real answer comes when we realize this… Are they in the fight with me or not?

I have a friend that was recently diagnosed with situational depression. I don’t really know what that is.. so I decided to look it up to see how I can help. The short version of this disease is that when people have life changes such as loss of loved one / relationship, loss / change of job, serious illness, marriage, child birth, etc., they develop emotional and/or behavioral symptoms as a reaction to these changes. These symptoms include everything from Feelings of hopelessness, Sadness, Frequent crying, Anxiety (nervousness), Headaches or stomachaches, Palpitations (an unpleasant sensation of irregular or forceful beating of the heart), Withdrawal or isolation from people and social activities, Dangerous or destructive behavior, such as fighting, reckless driving, and vandalism, Changes in appetite, either loss of appetite, or overeating and the list goes on…

What is comforting is that this disease is treatable. What is necessary is support. What is special is that they reached out to me.

A part of my friend’s issues has been the suppression of personal desires because “the grass isn’t greener on the other side”.

I just want you to know that it’s okay to have desires that don’t conform to everyone else’s thoughts, beliefs or tendencies. And it’s okay to pursue them!!! The truth is we all have desires that we haven’t pursued. It takes a something special to go after what you want…

Finally, here’s my word of caution… If your desires include other people, make sure that their desires are headed in the same direction. How can two walk lest they agree?

I love you ALL!!!!
Stay blessed,