The other day my daughter, Kelly, was involved in a power struggle with her two-year old, Grace. Kelly was trying to tie Grace’s shoes, so she could go outside and play. Grace was uninterested in having her shoes tied. Grace’s focus was on what she wanted to do. Kelly related to her, “You can’t go out and play until your shoes are tied.” This comment only seemed to enhance the struggle, as Grace seemed to hear only the first portion of the statement. Following her original statement with, “You can go out as soon as your shoes are tied.” settled the controversy. Again, it was, as if she only heard the first part of what Kelly said.
Many of us have heard that thinking negative is destructive and try as we might we find it difficult to change. We say things that we really do not mean, and we phrase things in ways that can cause us further emotional damage. Words are what form our lives and our minds, shaping our outlook. We often say one thing while meaning something else! Statements like “I hate it when people are late for appointments” for example. We know that we mean that we become discouraged when someone else fails to meet our expectations. We feel frustrated while waiting for people who cannot seem to keep their word. We may even worry that something has happened, causing us to fear the unknown. Even so, by phrasing our thoughts one-way while meaning something else it is unproductive and even destructive.
We all have issues in our lives where we feel controlled by various people who can leave us feeling helpless. Employers and other authority figures provide us with policies and rules to help things runs smoothly. Fairness and efficiency are of course the goal when it comes to these, as well as, safety. With all the rules and regulations in our lives, we can become a little resentful and even rebellious at times. Other people’s expectations, combined with a desire to see us all succeed can enable us to do just that. On the other hand, it can leave us feeling as if we have no choice but to conform and people please. Exposed to outer control and manipulation throughout our lives, beginning with childhood can leave us with low self-worth. Parents and those who love us, concerned with our well-being and growth often forget that we are free thinkers!
Our mind is like a word processor and a calculator combined. We use words, numbers and pictures to conclude various things and arrive at discernment. Words are what we mainly use while forming pictures (visualizing). Numbers are what we use to estimate distance, etc. clearly. What happens when we try to determine how another person will react to something we say or do? We begin to try to utilize words to calculate an outcome, and it causes conflict. The conflict begins because we are striving to use our word processor to calculate. Anytime you are imagining what another person will do, say or even will not do or say, you are calculating with the use of words. This is when inner dialogue has you in its grip!
Friends and relatives have asked me what I did to change my life and how I managed to become so happy. This question is hard to answer, as there is no one thing I have done. Today I found what I think may have made the most significant difference. I stopped inner dialoguing. Inner dialogue affects us more than we may realize. It triggers fear and anxiety as we attempt to control outcomes beforehand. The subject is complex and to explain it all to you would take an entire book. I mean why we do it, and how we develop the habit of this processing varies. In some ways, it is something we do to avoid confrontations, and develop lies or excuses that we can tell others. On the other hand, we may just be asking questions while trying to find answers. The problem is that when we ask ourselves questions, many times we perceive or even pretend (act) as if someone else is doing the asking.
Accepting what happens in our life, is both challenging and rewarding. In my last post, I wrote that everything that is important to you matters. I cannot speak for you. When I tell myself “it doesn’t matter” it is because I am feeling something, I dislike. I may have been discouraged, disappointed, disrespected, and I am feeling insecure. This feeling can be slight or intense, and somehow we think that saying it doesn’t matter makes it okay. We may even think it is a way of letting go of the feelings, and perhaps it is an effective method. You know a kind of like don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff. I think that we can do ourselves more harm than good. By saying it doesn’t matter we can affect our self-worth. In addition, we can distort our outlook of other people involved in “IT.” I asked myself an additional question along with when it will matter. What is it?
What is the child inside you telling you? As children, we must have authorization and allow another to decide many things for us. There is no getting around this and the drawbacks can affect us later in life. As adults if we carry on with life, as if we are children, we become confused. People tell us that it is helpful to be more childlike and this can confuse us or reinforce the existing confusion. Childlike behavior is that of wonder, living in the now and experiencing life to the fullest. Childish behavior is approval seeking, feeling that you need permission, and wanting other people to make your decisions. When we are childish, we lack the confidence to pursue our wonders and inner dialogue reminds us of what we want to avoid when it comes to other people. This inner dialogue develops in our early years and controls us, if we let it.
The other day I sent my mother the first article in this series, and after she read it, she called me. It has been quite a while since Mom has read anything I have written and my skills have improved. She said, “I read the article that you sent. Your writing is really improved!” She validated and then added without thought, “I thought you sent me to someone else’s blog. It sounded so professional.” It is easy to validate another person and just as easily, take it back. The words because, but and if are dis-qualifiers when it comes to validation. Mom left out the word because and still managed to tell me her reason (her because). We both laughed as we discussed how easy it is to have good intentions and thoughtlessly speak. Communication works in such a way that we affect one another, that is all there is to it.
Permitting another Person to Feel
Validation is not about making someone feel good, better or changing them. It is about insight, respect, and accepting. It is something that we do to let another person know we identify with his or her feelings or needs. To show we consider them and what they are going through and to let them know we care. It is about permitting another to live on their terms, and loving them. We cannot make anyone feel anything or make anything all better for anyone. Each person must find their own direction in this world; we can help by supporting instead of denying them.
Helping other people solve their problems consists of a great deal. It is more than a simple matter of offering ideas, solutions and advice. Everyone regardless of their age or level of awareness, need to know that they are valued. Many people have limited coping skills and helping them learn to manage is a challenge. This daily challenge can cause you to become frustrated, annoyed and downright impatient. Communication and boundaries are necessary if you want to establish a relationship and empower people. As a child, you may not have received the validation you needed from your parents, teachers, and other authority figures. At times when they meant well and did validate your feelings, they may have undone the good by using the word “but” (more on this later). When our feelings and thoughts seem unacknowledged as children, we learn to juggle with our world and the people in it.