Today, in their high pitched, little boy voices – my sons peep “beep beep” as they back up their trucks in their increasingly self directed, imaginative play. My youngest, 2 1/2, looks up to say “yook mom, it (truck) cwashed” and “cmon, again,” to his brother as they make “laps” around the kitchen “racetrack” with their trucks. My oldest runs over to say “mom, i forgot to give you a hug….(hugs me) and a kiss” (aww – today’s blog is worth it already!). Blogging with my children has been impossible until today (I have young toddlers) – when I considered today’s topic – and thought it most appropriate – no, absolutely necessary – that they be with me.
With the sounds of trucks being pushed along the tile floor, of padding toddler feet across the room, and the squeals of delight as my sons interact with one another…I want to share with you how I keep my priorities ordered – in parenting, work, and life.
Does (your) Life Have the Perspective You Want?
When I went through an incredibly difficult and hard lesson in my life several years ago, I emerged from the ashes vowing one single thing. Focus on Relationship. Relationship with Self. Relationship with Others. If I focused on nothing else in my life except having successful relationships – I figured my life and heart would be full. That small vow has transformed my life. I live an abundant and blessed life because of that one vow.
It is not easy to keep, since our very nature is to be self-preserving (ahem, sometimes self-centered). However, we are not created to be independent creatures, isolated from others. Many studies show the detrimental, long standing damage that isolation inflicts on an individual – from infants to adults. We were created to be in relationship with others. Immense joy – comes from acceptance. We want to be love and be loved.
Choose Relationship over everything else in your life – and see what happens.
Here are 4…Relationship Tips I use every day (sometimes every hour or minute) to maintain my perspective of cultivating healthy relationships with others and my self.
- Grace in…Rock singer/songwriter Bono writes, “She travels outside of karma…she takes the blame…she covers the shame…Grace finds beauty, in everything.” Type A, perfectionists (which I tend to be) or for you yogis – pitta types – tend to forget about grace. We focus on getting it right and wasting no time doing it. However, we can alienate and hurt others in the process. On the other extreme, there are those who think status quo is just fine (thank you very much) – and see no need to change anything (kapha types). In the middle – we should seek to find the beauty that can exist in a state of Grace. Compassion in our relationships helps us understand and empathize with others. We, as individuals and as a country, should not have to wait until tragedy hits home in order to feel the similar pain of others. In your next interaction with someone, practice Bono’s lyric.
- Forgiveness in…
Folk singer/songwriter Patty Griffin writes, “it’s hard to give and it’s hard to get, but everybody needs a little forgiveness.” At time we may “swim with the snakes at the bottom of the well” but “we are not snakes and what’s more we never will be…if we stay swimming here forever we will never be free.” Give forgiveness, and you’ll get it from others.
- Transparency in…
Indie singer/songwriters Indigo Girls write, “oh, the fear I’ve known, that I might reap the praise of strangers and end up on my own…” One of my spiritual mentors said once that people are starved for authenticity. We seek out those who are genuine in the world – and we cannot rest until we find them. We actually, I believe whether we know it or not, spend our whole lives seeking authenticity. So, make it easier and start with (our)Self first. Be transparent – in order to attract the same type of person into your life.
- Synergy in…
Bob Dylan’s son, Jakob Dylan, writes, “it doesn’t always have a shape, almost never has a name, it may have a pitchfork, maybe has a tail, but evil is alive and well.” When in a disagreement with anyone – remember that your struggle is not against the man or woman. The struggle is with evil.
Just like a child who misbehaves, it is not the child you do not like – it is their behavior. The same situation is true with your spouse, your co-worker, the driver who refuses to let you merge or the parent without basic manners. Your struggle is not with them, but with the evil that can take hold of them – poor behavior or decisions made.
You can disarm conflict if you separate the person from their poor choice or behavior. Rather than make an accusation, work toward creating Synergy. During your next stressful situation or conflict, find common ground without accusing the other person. Seeking a solution with another person is a synergistic action. It works for the collective good of a relationship and for all. This kind of Synergistic Problem Solving (SPS) can bring us all more peace.
Like lifting weights or training in yoga or for a marathon – you cannot become stronger unless you meet resistance. Arguments are not and should not be detrimental to your relationships – use a disagreement to strengthen your relationship with others – and with your Self.
While writing this blog post today, I have applied all of these lessons in real time. So having my children by my side during this post today was a good choice – for all of us.
During this blog I have had to take multiple breaks to discipline (with Grace), manage conflict (with Forgiveness & Synergy), hug, kiss, read to (with Transparency), and put my children down for their naptime (okay that’s allowing both mother and children to build up new reserves of Grace, Forgiveness, Transparency, and SPS). Ahh – the beauty of lessons learned (and relationships strengthened).
Today is a perfect day to start ~ Cultivating and Nurturing Relationships.
*photo is of my oldest son and me last spring, during a family (relationship building) walk.