Are Your VALUES Blocking Your Success?
With a change in my circumstances and recent problems in my life, I have been trying to define success and what it really means to each of us and I think I have worked out its foundations. I believe that the essence of our lives is our values - what matter to us the most and how they shape our world. Whether liberating or limiting, values affect everything we do.
Someone can live with a value that says: Disco dancing is not something any self-respecting person does! That's fine, but that preference ignores two important and beneficial facts about the pastime. First, that the more we exercise our bodies, the more we are relaxed by music and the healthier we are. Second, the more we take time out to simply enjoy ourselves and connect with other humans, the better we both look and feel.
Values come from our parents, to begin with, then from our peer groups and then through our workplace, from the people we routinely try to impress and, finally, from ourselves through increased awareness and knowledge. What a lot of people subconsciously deny is that they can actually change their values and thus change their lives, dramatically - almost in an instant; that values DO change as we become more aware and evolve in our lives, to match our aspirations and identity.
Every behaviour we express is done for either one of two reasons: to avoid pain or to get pleasure, according to our value system. So, if we are reluctant to change our values it is likely that we associate pain with them (the pain of disapproval, of isolation from a significant person/group, of punishment, of guilt, of disappointment or of confused identity, to name a few examples).
Values and Personal Perception
Values powerfully affect personal PERCEPTION which in turn decides our identity, beliefs, attitudes, behaviour, aspirations, purpose and the reaction from others. That's why fearful people with weak, inconsistent or superficial values tend to have no real purpose to their lives or any genuine success. It is difficult to achieve when we don't know what we want, are afraid to dream and prefer to blame others for our problems.
Perception is actually governed by two elements: CONFIDENCE and FEAR, the amount of each depending on personality and experience. For example, someone who is confident would be more assured in approach and more willing to experiment and move into the unknown; to give greater acknowledgement and value to others because they are likely to feel less threatened. Their perception would be a positive one. However, someone whose perception is dominated by fear will be more anxious, perhaps developing a siege mentality, and likely to withdraw from most things in their lives. They would see everything as threatening, costly, painful or even alien to their values. They would seldom see gains, only losses. Most of their values would tend to be limiting, avoiding rather than approaching, which ultimately curtails their personal success.
Values also dictate five very important aspects of our perception:
a. Who am I?
b. What do I stand for?
c. Where am I going?
d. How much do I like myself?
e. How do I treat/relate to others?
During my long marriage I was unsure of all of these elements of my life. If I had to rate each out of 5 at that time, the score would be as follows: 3,3,2,3,2 (total 13 out of 25). Today I would rate them: 5,5,5,5,4 (24)! You can see the leap in awareness, congruence and self-belief. That's how I know that the sky is now definitely my limit as I begin to use my knowledge and resources to fulfil the aim of those questions. Try that little exercise on yourself to see where you are now! The answer could be most enlightening.
The Effect of Congruence on Success
True SUCCESS comes when we have CONGRUENCE (or alignment) in our values and know the answers to the 5 elements above by heart. I could not be as successful as I hoped before now because I had too much incongruence and inconsistency in my life. For example, I wanted to be a successful entrepreneur through my talents, but way back as a teenager I made vows to give up material things and eschew money, which has remained in my subconscious ever since. The result is that I paid little attention to the finance while focusing on the product! But the two needed to go together.
I also wanted to be creative to fulfil Items b and c, but I suppressed my creativity with my partner because he did not give my dreams or aspirations much relevance or encouragement. In fact, in my bid for approval, I accepted behaviour both in myself and others which went against my values and principles, as I tried vainly to live a 'decent' and caring life. But decency is not possible in an absence of respect. Nothing good can ever come out of incongruence and imbalance, especially when our values are constantly challenged. When we have to pretend regarding our basic needs, or to deny what we want to make us happy in order to please someone else or gain approval, we are going nowhere.
I feel as though I had to shed the old false skin of incongruity, to go to rock bottom on all fronts, especially in my marriage and business which had lots of inconsistencies, to realise who I was and where I was going. The effect, this past few years, in particular, has been incredible. It's like being finally contented, at peace, knowledgeable and invincible.
Purpose and Meaning
Values give us both purpose and meaning. Success is thus elusive when we don't know exactly where we are heading in our life and what our purpose is. That is why many people achieve short term aims, like money or status, but still remain largely unhappy and unfulfilled. In fact, they might have great disappointment wondering if that was what it was all about. They mistakenly believe those things would provide happiness. But such transitory gains usually don't, unless they are part of the context of fulfilling an overall individual purpose at some point. Happiness comes from inside us, when we know who we are, what we stand for and where we are going; when we love ourself unconditionally and treat others with compassion, value and respect, if not love. When we actually make time for others and ourselves, the Universe delivers.
Basically, wherever we are frustrated in our achievement, there is usually a value blocking the way, because it is incompatible with what we actually seek or desire, or because we have too readily compromised it! We are not being true to ourselves which generates unnecessary mental conflict and anguish. For example, we might value one thing – like honesty – but secretly have affairs, or slag off our friends and colleagues, then wonder why there is no trust at home or we have few friends! If we are also stuck in an unfulfilling job which goes against our values and which puts a salary at the heart of everything, we will continue to be unhappy, low in self-esteem and to underachieve.
Personal Values And Their Importance:
Two Interesting Conundrums for You
Read both questions first before seeing the answers which are at the end.
If you knew a woman who had 8 kids already, three who were deaf, two who were blind and one mentally retarded, she also has syphilis and was now pregnant, would you recommend that she had an abortion?
It is time to elect a new world leader, and only YOUR vote counts. Here are the brief facts about the three candidates.
He associates with crooked politicians, and consults with an astrologist. He's had two mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day. Very full of his own vision and ideas. An action man who can be cynical of others.
He is a decorated war hero. He's a vegetarian, doesn't smoke, drinks an occasional beer, is passionate about his beliefs, and never cheated on his wife. Cares deeply for his country but tends to be dictatorial. Likes running the show and can be ruthless.
He was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of whiskey every evening. He is regarded as arrogant, irritable and uncharitable. Peers used to regard him as more bravado than brawn.
Which of these candidates would be your choice?
Decide first....NO peeking.
Your two selections would have been based on your particular VALUES. But where do those values come from?
We all like to think that our values are individual and independent of anyone else; carefully thought-out as adults, and carefully chosen, to reflect our origins, present life and aspirations; culturally referenced, yes, but distinctly us. That we judge impartially according to those values. But nothing could be further from the truth. Values are beliefs and beliefs are second-hand emotions.
In fact, everything in our life is second-hand or even fourth-hand, passed down from our parents and their parents, our friends and relatives, our neighbourhood, our environment and our world, hugely influencing every decision. They gradually cloak us in comfortable ways which we keep and expand, within specific boundaries, hanging on to them for dear life as part of our identity. Making sure that they do not change until we begin to examine our true selves to find out what we really believe about our unique personalities and our world.
I am going through one of those questioning sea-changing moments in my life just now and boy, do I see the world differently from even 4 years ago. First of all, in 2002, I blamed my husband for breaking up our marriage, for a variety of reasons. He did not want the break but I felt his actions precipitated it. Three years later, self-education and a revision of long held values and beliefs meant I realised no one was to be blamed for anyone's actions except one's self. This has taught me that we were both to be blamed for everything because we all have patterns from our childhood which draw certain types to us, to put those second-hand beliefs in motion and to repeat those second-hand actions which then elicit the same kinds of reaction!!
The truth is, though I didn't know it, I had to leave the home for my own self-development and contentment. My Universe decreed it in its own subtle way and my husband was chosen as the catalyst to get me on my way. Painful, yes, but necessary in the scheme of life. Since then I have read 68 books, and still going, the kind I would not have even looked at a few years ago; the kind I repeatedly heard of but prevented myself exploring through fear and my limited values. I preferred ignorance, fear and comfort to self-enlightenment. Now I know my purpose in life and what a liberation and learning it has been. I am voracious in both my appetite for such books and in my compassion and understanding of others.
I also realise that, had I been at home, I would not have been the softer, gentler, more caring and loving person I have rapidly become. My self-love now goes off the scale. I would still be stuck back there in unproductive negativity, in what Dr Wayne Dyer calls the 'suffering victim' mode, blaming everyone else for my life instead of looking at myself impartially and seeing that MY thoughts, MY choices and MY actions have brought me to this stage. No matter what anyone else is supposed to be guilty of, as an adult, MY actions and reactions alone decided my fate. So, it is useless blaming others for anything in our lives, especially if we are not underage, overpowered or coerced. Blame merely prevents us from seeing the bigger picture of our lives and the dire necessity for change within it.
Who are you blaming now? And for what reason? Are you missing out on a better quality of life and service because of it? What are those personal values really telling you?
Candidate A is.... Franklin D. Roosevelt
Candidate B is.... Adolph Hitler
Candidate C is.... Winston Churchill
Regarding your answer to the abortion question: If you said YES, you would have just killed Ludwig Van Beethoven!
Personally, I would have left the decision about the abortion to the woman in question. Whatever suited her best, I would have gone along with it, despite how I felt (being a former Catholic). However, I selected clean-cut Candidate B (Adolph) as my ideal!!
Just shows that pretty boxes always appeal to us much more than the gifts inside!!!
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The Power of Perception:
Why other people cannot value us better than we value ourselves
Each human being's reality is formed by their perception which, in turn, is dictated by their culture, race, religion and gender. Whatever we perceive is exactly what we 'see' which is likely to be different from the next person. Imagine three people standing beside each other, each staring at the same scene: one a Christian, one an Atheist and one islamic, to see how perception would decide how each interprets what they are seeing: whether acceptable or offensive. In effect, each person will see what they wish to see (perception). Hence why perception is such a powerful force in our lives.
As a rule, our perception operates on three levels:
a) How we perceive ourselves.
b) How we perceive our world, and
c) How we are perceived by others.
All three levels are dictated by our confidence and self-esteem, especially in the perception of ourselves, which actually affects everything else in our day. Good self-perception is influenced by the following:
* The way we feel inside our own skin;
* The extent to which we like what we see in the mirror;
* The value we place upon ourselves as special human beings;
* Where we are coming from: our culture and life quality;
* The achievements we have had;
* What potential we acknowledge;
* The power and authority we have over others.
How We Perceive Ourselves and Our World
If we feel low and perceive ourselves to be worthless, we also view our world in a worthless way. Everything we do afterward becomes a hassle. We appear more victims than victors; we tend to dread all new experiences and negative things always seem to happen to us. Our world does not seem half as pleasant or enjoyable as that of others. We tend to get stuck in the past, which always looks better, and we are truly hard work for other people who have to bear the brunt of this negativity and try to keep us happy. Often they give up with frustration and leave us to it by avoiding us at every opportunity.
In this kind of personal reality our reason drives our perception and awareness - reason being the framework upon which to peg the daily reality of living. It consists of our personal notions of what is right and wrong. That is why anything which "flies in the face of reason" is generally defined as insane or promptly ignored. As someone puts it cogently: "Reason is the bullying guard at the gates of perception." It keeps our perspective in check and in balance, but it is a perspective which is flawed by our individual ethics.
As our world view grows, the nature of what we are perceiving becomes, or seems to become, clearer because our reason will step in and not only clarify the viewpoint, but validate it too. What we see, and how we interpret it, may be logical to us but, being influenced by personal bias, but it will not necessarily be correct.
How Others See Us
Perception is so powerful, it immediately affects the way others see us. For example, if you told someone that you are a fighter, depending on how you look, and coupled with their own prejudice, they would perceive you to be either the brawling street type or a professional boxer. Looking very successful would help to maintain the latter perception. Worst of all, because the way others perceive us affects the quality of the life we lead, and the opportunities to enhance ourselves, poor self-perception leads to an equally negative perception by others, which keeps us in the same rut throughout our lives.
Other people cannot view us in a better light than we view ourselves. That might happen on initial impact without too much information to go on. However, once we start to behave in a certain way, it gives the green light to others to form judgments about us and the initial high expectation will rapidly fall to coincide with our own low esteem, or vice versa. Hence the old maxim of having to "prove" ourselves in any new situation. All we are really doing in such instances is matching the perception of others to the reality we perceive for ourselves in our bid to impress. This is most obvious in the perception of partners toward each other once they are in a relationship or the perception of workers trying to please co-workers or their boss.
What Are Your Values Worth to You?
Arlene was 19 and did not drink. She hated it but she also wanted to be part of a group who enjoyed their drinks and were frequently out pub-crawling. Often she would decline to go out because she preferred to talk or dance, instead of 'worshipping the bottle', as she saw it. But as she was often left on her own, she felt uneasy about it. Then came Danny, a heavy drinker and a popular new member of the group. She hated when he was drunk but he made her feel great when he wasn't. Wanting to be with him, she accepted an invitation to join them drinking but felt awful afterwards.
By the next week she had recovered enough to do it again, after much guilt feelings about going against her principles. She also blamed Danny for plying her with too much drink the second time and for being 'silly'. Danny thought she was being rather immature and this made her feel even more sheepish and guilty. It did nothing for her appeal either, neither did it boost her confidence. Having abandoned her own strong principles regarding drinking, this limited her actions and forced her to go along with the crowd, even though she hardly enjoyed it and felt it was wrong. Yet it didn't make her any more acceptable to the group or bring her any closer to the man she cared about, because Danny went off with someone else 'who didn't have such hang-ups' about drinking.
Having weak and inconsistent values or principles can be deadly because they relates to our basic psyche regarding what we actually believe and use to guide our actions. If we believe in doing something a certain way and have convinced ourself that it is the right way to act, then to change it purely to please someone else is asking for trouble. We would have changed on the outside, but as we still have that original value lurking around inside us, there will be immediate conflict between accommodating the new behaviour and justifying it against what we feel is right.
The urgent need to belong
Arlene did not have to drink alcohol but it meant a great deal to her to be one of the pack, which explains why we often go against our principles: mainly for approval. That sense of belonging again! We want to belong so much, whether to a church group, drama group, society, a select clique like Phi Beta Kappa, or to share another's friendship, we would do anything sometimes. It is at these times that personal beliefs come under scrutiny and make us feel uncomfortable; especially if they do not conform to the beliefs and actions of the significant ones around us and those whom we are trying to impress.
When we go along with the crowd for the sake of it, our behaviour becomes superficial and we cease to take responsibility for our actions. We then break the promises we make to ourselves and comply with something inherently wrong for the sake of it. But we only set up a cycle of self-guilt, remorse, unhappiness, loss of confidence, loss of esteem and more guilt. We cannot convince ourselves we've done the right thing because, subconsciously, by our standards, we know we haven't. Like people of minority cultures who immediately abandon what they have practised and believed in for the 'better' looking majority culture. They tend to live in a kind of no man's land for ages before coming to terms with their identity because they had been too quick to abandon their own traditions without putting anything of substance in its place.
We really have to decide what is right for us and stick with it, regardless. There is no harm in compromising, but not for short term gain. Change should come only when we have learn its value to us. It should also mean sharing for mutual benefit, not just seeking the approval of others so that we have nothing left for us. Reluctantly going against our own values to please other people merely damages our confidence without giving us anything valuable in return. When we deny our roots, culture, principles and beliefs for expediency, anything that has helped to mould our character or way of life, without having anything equally worthwhile or convincing with which to replace it, we damage our credibility and esteem and leave ourselves open to rejection and ridicule. In effect, we become just a caricature of what we hope to be, while finding it difficult to convince others of our sincerity.
Why it is often futile to expect others to see things as we do
Do you spend ages trying to convince someone of your opinion? Trying to make them see what you can clearly see from your perspective? Trying to change them from one position to another without accepting their difference? That is a near impossible task, unless the person shares everything 100% with you, including your brain!! This is because the way we see the world, our perception, governs everything else that we do.
Individual perception dictates not only our reality, but also the reality we assume for others. So, when it comes to social interaction and personal emotions, there is no such thing as a common reality which everyone shares. If we perceive in a negative way, that is how the other person, and our environment, will appear, and vice versa. That is why the willingness to examine how our perception affects our actions can go a long way towards improving communication in a relationship and easing social conflict. If you're the leader of an organisation, be aware that what you say will often be perceived as gospel by others who seek your approval or your ruin, even when it is no more than friendly chit-chat.
The behaviour of parents, in particular, is twice as powerful as a spoken message when trying to teach a child of any age because the child will perceive it as important to their own behaviour. We have all heard the statement, 'Do as I say, not as I do.' In reality, the child or spouse is far more likely to do as you do, regardless of the verbal message, because seeing actions carries more powerful consequences than hearing words. Such ambiguous behaviour lacks consistency, and failure to be consistent in how we communicate, because of the way we perceive, will send mixed and confusing messages to others.
Once I joined a new community group and expressed my fears of being the only Black female in it, with regards to both the procedures in existence and my needs being different from my White peers. One sympathetic Irish woman proceeded to reassure me of the absence of any bias, citing the fact that, being Irish, she felt like that when she first joined and found it to be groundless, so my anxiety was misplaced. But she was denying me my perception of my feelings and my own reality, expecting them to match her own because I was female too. However, her perception of, and treatment by, the others around her would differ from mine.
Being White, she would be automatically regarded as a member of the majority group until she opened her mouth and revealed her accent. Being Black, I would be initially judged on my colour, positively or negatively, until people felt comfortable with me. So our individual perception of our world would not really coincide, despite our shared gender. Initially, at least, we would be perceived differently because of our physicality. This is the most difficult point about self-perception to get across to well-meaning people who expect you to share their experience automatically because you might share certain attributes.
Our thought processes dictate our perception which then control our actions. These, in turn, influence the reactions of others. It means that unless we address what goes on inside our heads, not just our behaviour, and realise that it is our perception that makes those thoughts real, we will have expectations which are unreal too. And impossible expectations cannot be fulfilled. Instead, they merely make us seemingly dogmatic and destroy the best relationships.
Next time you get into a heated emotional argument about any kind of belief, state your case firmly, acknowledge theirs too, and politely agree to differ because no one will ever win. Personal perceptions, which are formed by culture, beliefs, gender, colour, background, affiliations, experience and aspirations, will make sure there is little change on either side!! Trying to change someone else's opinion without them freely wanting to do so will always be futile. Their behaviour may superficially change but their beliefs will remain firmly intact!!
Why the young behave the way they do: They can't help it!!
The young often behave in a seemingly carefree, laid back invincible way, rather selfish in their reactions, because that is part of their evolution. That is how their emotional make-up prepares them for coping with their world until they have more experience. If they acted really fearful or didn't build their own defences they would give up soon enough with the sheer overwhelming nature of life!
The early adult teenage years are a period of self-discovery. They are marked particularly for men by a set dream (like being a millionaire, or travelling the world), one which will dominate the rest of their life and be used as the measure by which to assess their self-worth and talent. They will set a personal direction and clear objectives to frame that dream; one that often carries a specific time limit ("by the time I'm 35", for example). A clear and confident vision, this dream will probably dictate their life for the next twenty years.
For most women, it is the time to set goals too, but they are more short-term, more to do with being noticed, leaving home, setting up on their own and seeking a partner or getting into a specific long-term career. Friendships with other women may be complicated because, while women bond easily and closely at this stage, the search for a love relationship means that fellow women may be perceived as a threat to the prospects of having children. However, more females are gradually moving into career paths at this stage than ever before, so this time is also more complex for them.
This Stage 1 of personal evolution is the time of the 'apprentice', the learner; one who is defined by his/her need for approval and a fear of risk. A time when women, in particular, are likely to accept any wage to be employed while men will push their luck. The ambitious apprentice strives for perfection and longs to be judged worthy by his superiors. He is likely to move from job to job as his efforts are often foiled by his false, simplistic and ignorant assumptions about the workplace. Guided by his belief that good work is its own advertisement, the apprentice expects others to readily recognise the quality of his efforts. But her ignorance of office politics and obvious vulnerability is likely to lead to her being short-changed and overlooked in the process.
If the apprentice fails to get the recognition she craves, she could end up living out her career trapped as an experienced apprentice and well short of her dream. Afraid of overt conflict, she either turns into a 'canteen cynic' or finds ways to rationalise her unhappiness ('It's only a job. It's too late for me to change careers' etc.). Or, the apprentice can use his chronic frustration as the goal to move into the role of 'the warrior', always on the campaigning trail and never at peace with his life or environment. In fact, wherever people are fanatical about a given cause in later life there is always a frustrated career behind it!
Narrow Thinking and Invincibility
This period is closely allied to the future, with the acknowledgement that a lot of life is yet to be lived. The reflection on death by a person at Stage 6 (someone in their late 50s) would have little relevance or meaning to a person at this first stage. Young people tend not to think about death because the mere thought of it is scary enough, let alone to dwell upon it. Moreover, to them, death seems to affect mainly older people around them, which makes the loss of one of their peers entirely devastating and beyond comprehension. Thinking in this early stage of adulthood is quite narrow, almost black and white. Everything has easy, precise answers. Life is very busy, but it hasn't become terribly complex as yet. That's for Stage 3 (mid 30s).
Thus the early adult years of growing up are marked by hope, a futuristic outlook, a fairly clear-cut dream and a great deal of energy in realising this dream; one that will dictate both the perspective and direction the person adopts. The main limitations at this time are a lack of life experience and the tendency to see life through simple, narrow lenses. But people are usually able to put up with the limitations in Stage 1 because they feel untouchable, sometimes invincible, and expect the future to be entirely in their favour. The hard knocks of life are a comfortable distance away from the rosy and protected garden of life most young people seem to inhabit in this first important stage of their life.
The Problem With Making Assumptions Too Easily
There is no such thing as one person being right in how they believe because belief is based on sheer perception, and perception is dictated by culture, gender, experience and personal aspirations. Thus the 'truth' will be many faceted. One person's truth is likely to be someone else's lie, depending on our alignments. No one person has a monopoly on the 'truth' because it really just boils down to our knowledge of the real facts, our desire to cooperate or to blame, and our own personal agenda to be significant, to be valued and to be included in what matters to us.
To cope with their routine lives, and the aspects which overwhelm them, people tend to develop belief systems which offer them security, comfort and a degree of control and power over others and their environment, of which, for example, the idea of a heaven that rewards them, and a hell, that punishes others, are core elements. It's the most natural thing to do for inner contentment and sense of power. Such belief systems expand our knowledge of the world around us.
However, there is a difference between sharing that knowledge and imparting it with mutual respect than imposing that knowledge, whether that person wants to adhere to it or not. If we believe we are each responsible for our lives, then advising someone of the risks to themselves is permissible, and then leaving them to deal with those risks in their own way. However, coercing them into action, or damning them because they resist, is certainly not 'sharing' in the true sense of the word. Every person has to be allowed to experience life in their own way, not in ours.
Thus anyone who prefers to start with assumptions about someone in their bid to prove anything merely appears self-righteous and all-knowing while losing credibility before they have even begun. For example, credit controllers etc., tend to make assumptions about people and money. But I do not believe there is any correlation between financial management and other life factors, except that people who manage their money well tend to be either financially savvy, adept at dealing with figures, more careful in that regard than others or are just good controllers. We can't all be good at everything and so we individually have our strong points. Handling money has never been mine, no matter how good I have been with words, so I have quietly accepted it and done my best!
Does that make me less of a person than the next one? That would be up to you to decide, depending on your own beliefs and ready assumptions.
It is always easy to judge in stereotypes because it is quicker to assess someone negatively than to get to know them personally and acknowledge their individuality in a positive manner.
Why is it so difficult sometimes to say 'Thank You'?
Saying 'thank you' and giving gratitude does not come easily for many people. It is often difficult to say 'thank you' for a variety of reasons, especially the following main ones:
1. General lack of interactional skills in dealing with praise.
If someone is not used to being thanked, or praised, him/herself, it is very likely that they will find it awkward to give such praise when it is required. Often people are just lacking in the knowledge and practice of how to deal with others kindly. Many people also take their life for granted, especially the blessings they have. They do not know how to show gratitude for anything because they accept everything they acquire as given. When they have to give thanks in any way, they are likely to find it embarrassing or alien to their experience. That is why many people do not really know how to act in the face of kindness. They are often unsure what is required of them and say nothing instead.
2. A 'thank you' requires reciprocity in appreciation and is open to misinterpretation.
Any kind of reinforcement requires some kind of reciprocity, at least in acknowledgement. What exactly does one say in return apart from 'you're welcome' or 'think nothing of it'? Somehow everything that follows the thank you seems weak and inappropriate which then sets up a kind of dissonance in both the giver and the recipient of it. Someone might simply wish to say 'thank you' to show their appreciation while someone else might believe that could be leading to something else - a kind of prelude to other favours.
3. Feeling of embarrassment and obligation.
However, the most important reason behind the difficulty in saying 'thank you' is that it can generate a feeling of obligation to someone else. The minute one is thanked, there is a new channel open between the giver and the recipient that leaves people feeling vulnerable to future actions and expectations as they are not quite sure what to expect after that. There is a feeling that something else should happen after saying that 'thank you', but one is never quite sure. So people avoid saying it altogether to prevent any undue focus on themselves, any new expectations arising because of it and the avoidance of feeling that one always has to do something similar to reciprocate it.
Saying 'thank you' should be a natural, positive, feel-good form of interaction to show our gratitude for any action we might be pleased with or any service we are accorded. But it does depend on how we feel in saying it, what we expect after it is said and how it is perceived by the its intended recipient as it could be the innocent opener to a whole lot more.
Do you find it hard to say 'I'm Sorry'?
Many friendships and relationships have broken up primarily because pride gets in the way. People find it hard to apologise for anything, even though they know they did something wrong or inappropriate. They feel that it makes them look worse or belittles them in some way. Yet they are likely to expect the other person to always apologise so that they can feel 'right' or vindicated.
But saying 'I'm sorry' is not about being eight or wrong. It is open contrition for any hurt you might have caused your friend or partner. It shows that you are empathising with them and you also affirm him/her by showing how much they are valued. It is also about putting the relationship first instead of the individuals; to seek a more enjoyable interaction based on equality, trust and appreciation rather than just who is in the right.
To be able to say 'sorry' easily and confidently, and mean it, does three main things for us:
1. It acknowledges our fallibility to make mistakes, to commit an error and to not always get it right.
2. It affirms that our life is a journey of self development and every step of the way will be a learning tool so that we know how to deal with similar actions in the future. Above all, it reinforces the fact that we are forever growing and are not stagnant in our development. We really don't have all the answers in life.
3. It's a sign of forgiveness for both parties, no matter who is at fault. It brings the problem to a conclusion and moves the couple/friends on in a more positive vein.
When we ignore problematic interactions by not acknowledging their lessons, or refusing to accept that we were not quite right in our reaction, we deprive ourselves of learning the message and are likely to keep repeating that pattern of behaviour, ad nauseam, while we blame others for being in the 'wrong'.
The confident person will be quick to say 'sorry', not because they are weak or fearful of the other person, but because they recognise that the mark of a true leader is to set the pace or example, not follow it, and no one is infallible.
Do you find it difficult to say 'Sorry'? If so why?
I always say 'I'm Sorry', especially when I know that I was at fault. If there is any doubt, I apologise anyway, with the hope that the other person will also do the same. In that way we can put the matter behind us instead of having a constant obstacle to communication and good vibes.
However, if I sense that someone is repeatedly taking advantage and expecting me to apologise every time, I simply don't, unless they do something to show that they are acknowledging their part in it.
The main thing to remember is that your relationship is far more important than being right or wrong. If the relationship is breaking, other things will assume priority.
The Tell-Tale Signs of Perfectionists
Perfectionism is a strange state in humans because nothing in Nature is perfect. because we are forever evolving and changing, being perfect is an impossible state because perfection suggests a state of inflexible stagnation. Yes, one might reach a peak of 'perfection', but where does one go from there? Is that the end? Yet that constant search for perfectionism can ruin lives.
To start with, perfectionism in a relationship keeps partners stuck in the same spot because of low confidence and a lack of mutual respect. They are likely to bicker over every item under discussion, each one trying to achieve his/her own perfect ideal. Inevitably this will limit the perception of their individual capabilities, limit their opinion of each other and limit their achievement as a team.
Being perfect keeps us in a narrow groove, giving us a tunnel vision which excludes everything to the left and right of us while we concentrate intensely on what is directly ahead. Being such a limited vision, we cannot see around us, so we miss available opportunities and options passing by. Not being so cursed, and more flexible, others who simply aim for excellence, take the very chances perfectionists fail to see.
Perfectionists are likely to be whingers who constantly live in the land of regret complaining about everyone else's perceived inadequacy. They are always sorry they did not do this or that. Focused on the things they cannot affect, and overwhelmed by the big picture, they forget that the longest journey begins with that very first step, and seldom take it. Often they do not take up glaring opportunities dancing in front of them, precisely because of their lack of confidence and self-belief. Instead, they prefer to believe they can do something better than the next person, always wishing they had acted differently. Of course, it is much better to justify their failures with hindsight instead of avoiding the perceived failure in the first place. Yet, if they thought hard enough about their past, they would realise that they blocked personal fulfilment all the way with much fear and very little action. Yet action is the only force to propel us to our destination.
Difficult Work Meetings
Most perfectionists have low confidence and self esteem and are always seeking approval. Because they do not believe in their own talents and abilities, they fear mistakes and let that fear dominate their lives. Like writers who always have the desire to write that book, but can never get it off the ground! Perfectionists with low self-esteem like to plan and wait; to put things off continually until a perfect moment comes. Or they plan elaborately so that the scheme is too grandiose to ever get off the ground.
They get lost in minutiae, semantics, form or the glossy appearance and structure while they ignore the essential substance required for success. It massages their ego to make them think they are doing something fantastic, so they thrill themselves with an ideal result, one which will not emerge until somewhere far enough in the distant future to prevent them ever reaching it. They hope that, by such time, it will have sorted itself out to their best advantage. But it only gets worse in the end, with very little reinforcement of their talents.
In short, perfectionists want to achieve the success, the ideal state or the ultimate prize, but often without the hard graft and sacrifice needed to get it. Or they immerse themselves in their work in an obsessive way to make it 'perfect', while ignoring other important things around them. That is why meetings at work can be so difficult and frustrating, with so many different personality types vying for recognition and competing for attention.
Perfectionists will ensure that everyone is stuck in the same place sorting out semantics, as they point out why something won't work and hark back to past mistakes, while the confident doers will be kept well away from the decision to act. The low-confidence non-believers caught in the middle will just continue to do what they do best: believe that it will all end in tears, while they wait for others to act, with much jockeying and wrangling for good measure!
Making a Difference
For example, in the first few years in my business, one of our printers used to tell me regularly what poor front cover design our magazine had. He could make it much better for more money, he kept saying, and showed off the template of two new glossy magazines he was launching. I was vaguely envious, of course, but our magazine reflected our budget and expertise. I did not let our weak graphics deflect us from our purpose. We concentrated on the content instead. Nine years after his comments, our magazine was still there, increasing in readership and making a difference to personal knowledge and perception. His glossy magazines remained a 'great idea', never having seen the light of day because it lacked the content and the hard work required to make his dream a reality. It was obviously easier for him to be critical of mine than it was to carry his own idea forward.
Excellent examples of perfectionists include home builders and handymen who start do-it-yourself projects and never finish them, regardless of the inconvenience to their family or clients. They have this great end product in their mind which won't reach fruition if they rush it. So, months, and even years, pass by and the house or room is still in the same dreadful state, that long-suffering family or clients have to bear. However, any offer from the partner, or someone else, to finish the job in another way is likely to be met with the greatest rebuttal and offended egos. Another example is the person who puts off every aspiration or ambition until the 'right' moment, but as they seldom do any preparation, that time never arrives to allow them to start, let alone to realise, their particular dream.
5 Main Factors That Drive Perfectionists
One of the biggest confidence killers is our desire to be perfect beings. But the real question is: When we have reached perfection, what happens next? Where else do we go? Do we stop dead and say: That's enough? Do we cease to grow and develop, fossilising where we are?
There is nothing beyond perfection but a vast chasm of inactivity and stagnation because you cannot ever improve on perfection. Reaching a state of perfection presents no opportunity to continue developing personal skills, no opportunity to LEARN, knowing everything already, and no new innovation in the offing. Result: corrosive stagnation, physically, emotionally and mentally. Perfection also allows us to put off decisions we should make immediately so that we don't have to do anything at all in the end. Behind the interminable wait for the 'right' time is an unconscious desire to do nothing. The hope is some good fortune (or someone) will come along to put it right and everything will be exactly as we imagined without us having to lift a finger!
However, every time we put off a decision till the time is 'right', or until conditions are 'perfect', we mentally store it away and do nothing because we are being ruled by fear. We may pretend we are doing all we can to bring about a result, but the very act of procrastination, of needless delay, is an admission of our reluctance to see it through; a powerful pointer to our inner fears of both failure and its consequences, of our discomfort with the thought and our unpreparedness for it. On these occasions, 'good' reasons are mere excuses and they are never in short supply.
There are five main factors that drive perfectionists, which all have fear at their core:
1. Fear of disapproval from peers or colleagues. Perfectionists have a lurking feeling that they are inadequate, potential failures. They believe they have to do everything as perfect as can be to avoid perceived criticism and to impress others enough to get that approval. However, in a vicious circle, their desire to be perfect stops them from ever accepting they are already good enough to get that approval and their efforts become counter-productive, likely to switch others off than to draw them in.
2. Lack of confidence and self belief and fear of not being on par with others: Perfect people don't believe in themselves and so everything they do has to be polished and re-polished to be acceptable. However, as nothing is ever quite right, despite their hardest efforts, and they also take so long to get things right, they miss out on the sense of achievement that comes from completing a task, seeing the end result and moving on briskly to another.
3. Fear of making mistakes and doing things 'wrong': But mistakes are part and parcel of personal development. Mistakes help to assess direction, to enhance training and to increase confidence in what is possible. Take mistakes away and there is just a void of nothingness with no opportunity to learn and develop. Without mistakes we would not be sure we were doing the right thing, but many people get hung up on personal mistakes and extend this intolerance to colleagues and subordinates, becoming harshly critical when they make mistakes too.
4. Fear of the consequences: But any consequence is just a RESULT, and results can always be changed by changing the approach to the activity or the mindset around it. Perfectionism prevents people from coping with setbacks from any unexpected results. They find it difficult to deal with negative results because they expect to get it right first time, and every time.
5. The quality of their thoughts, which are usually negative. Perfectionists tend to fear the worst and feel they have to be prepared for any eventuality. This makes them very controlling, narrow in focus and intolerant of the input of others. In their eyes, no one else ever gets it quite right and so they are not easy team members to work with.
If we are not perfect, we will accept that there will be detours (setbacks) in our lives, that everything we do can bettered by someone else and we do not need the approval of others to be worthy. We just need the confidence and belief in ourselves as fallible human beings. To stop being a perfectionist just means allowing those mistakes, accepting the consequences and, most important, fully accepting yourself and your abilities as a unique and treasured human being. We will then accept fully that the perceived 'weaknesses' we have go with our strengths to form our well rounded personalities. Take them away and we would be entirely different people!
Do We Have The Right to Judge Others?
As fallible humans, it is the greatest temptation to judge others. Often, when we desire to control our surroundings, we put others in line by judging them. It puts us above them, making us feel significant, it keeps us in control, getting things done our way, and tolerating no difference.
Judging others serves little purpose than to fulfil a desire to feel superior, which is borne out of insecurity and a lack of self-love. And when we have no self-love, we have no love to give others either, because we cannot give away what we haven't got. So we judge them instead which keeps us feeling self righteous.
We have no right to judge others, as tempted as we might be, because do not know the history of that person, where they are coming from, their hurt or their pain. How can we use our one-dimensional yardsticks to judge them when we don't know how they think, feel or have suffered? The smile someone bravely carries on their face might be masking the greatest turmoil inside. We are purely judging them by our personal standards and expectations with little reference to their own, from our limited perception of their actions which could be markedly different from theirs, and from our singular vantage point which takes no account of their right to be individual.
Often someone might look mean and dangerous, or is even bent on doing harm. Yet a kind word of encouragement, reinforcement, acknowledgement, respect and love can change that person's perspectives and direction even in an instant. People respond to warmth, empathy, reinforcement, value and appreciation, not to judgement of their actions.
As Mother Teresa said: "If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
Yet, only love makes the greatest difference to someone, and has the power to affect real change.
The last word goes to Dr Wayne Dyer: "When you judge another, you do not define them. You define yourself."
We really do say far more about ourselves when we judge others: how we feel inside of us, our level of confidence, self esteem and above all, our capacity to love.
Are we basically good or basically evil?
According to Wikipedia: Evil, in many cultures, is a broad term used to describe intentional negative moral acts or thoughts that are cruel, unjust, or selfish. Evil is usually contrasted with good, which describes acts that are kind, just, or unselfish. In some religions, evil is an active force, often personified as an entity such as Satan or Ahriman.
I believe we are neither. I am not a Christian, so I will give a different take on evil. For me, evil is a learnt process. It isn't natural in us when we are born because everything we do is learnt to socially conform. When we rebel against such conformity, we are seen as deviant be others. I am not one who subscribes to the belief that evil is in all of us. We arrive in this world a clean slate for society to write on, and from that moment on we are the mercy of our experiences: especially the way we are first treated by parents, friends, workmates and then lovers.
From birth we are totally at the mercy of our parents and the environment around us. What we turn out to be will be primarily a product of those twin factors. Where we feel warm, secure and valued, we will have less cause to be resentful, bitter and vengeful. We are likely to feel much better inside of us than when we have had a childhood of being treated brutally, being told how worthless/useless we are, or just being neglected. It's an awful emotional place to be which will always seek some vengeance. Evil can start from the simplest way of just seeing the negative in everything and wanting to drag others down to morally reprehensible acts one might wish to commit to satisfy one's own emotional needs.
In a mild form one sees that evil in operation around us. The people who lack attention, significance and respect from others become gradually mean in their interaction with others as they try to disrupt things just to get that attention and value. They play the bully by spoiling the enjoyment for others with mean and unsavoury acts, which become a natural part of their daily routine.
The Power of Love and Kindness
A person who is always treated with love, kindness, respect and value in the four primary groups in our lives will be a far different person than one who is excluded, ignored, neglected and demonised. A person without worth begins the self-loathing process very early, then externalises the hate they feel by looking outside for scapegoats to blame for his/her emotional pain and then takes it out on society in one form or another! If we wish to stem evil, we need to focus on the child from birth to 10 years old because that is when it takes root simply by how he/she is treated by those who matter.
As a classic example, one of my younger sisters is one of the sweetest most gorgeous woman I have the privilege to know. We did not grow up together because of my coming to Britain and only got very close since 10 years ago. She was the victim of tremendous physical abuse by our mother. We all were, but she suffered the most because, sadly, she lost an eye in one of the beatings. She said that she internalised the pain of losing her eye for years, numb with shock and self pity, because of the inadequacy she felt around her other sisters. She was no longer whole like them. She carried this bitterness and self-hate deep within her for years until she had her own children and then she started to beat them equally viciously. All that hidden pain and anger suddenly finding an outlet in the children on whom she automatically took her frustrations.
Then a few years down the line when she saw what she was doing to her children, how she was gradually alienating them with her cruel behaviour, she stood stock still and just cried for days, she said. How was she different from our mother, she asked herself? She had learnt our mother's lesson well, one of intense love for us coupled with intense pain. My sister said that she stopped there and then and decided to try a new loving approach with them. It wasn't easy at first but she felt much better within herself as a person. Today she is one of the kindest, most gentlest persons you could ever meet, forging ahead steadily in her life despite her handicap. I feel so proud of her.
In a nutshell, my sister had evil in her life, was treated pretty badly from the time she was born and carried on that evil even more with her children. I could have been affected in the same way but my strong willpower and sense of self probably saved me from a similar fate. It seems we all have the propensity for evil but, like Pandora's box, it is only opened by the experiences we have from birth.
Is Hell a real place or a metaphor to deter evil-doers?
For some people who wish to have a sense of self righteousness, and vengeance towards others, hell is a real place to fear and to avoid. They like to use it to damn their enemies and people who don’t share their beliefs. Hell thus becomes a simple metaphor to deter evil doers.
But the idea of hell primarily satisfies the desire for retribution all humans crave. If someone does not get their just deserts while they are alive, there will always be hell to be reckoned with when they die! But no one has ever been to hell and reported back on it, so it is likely to remain a metaphor for time immemorial. The fact that we would like to mete out the worst punishment for evil doers also accounts for the horrendous brimstone and hell fire that is chosen, not to mention the devil with his pointed stick ready to poke them mercilessly forever. Justice would then be seen to be done.
It is inevitable that if Christians believe there is a God, then, in order to balance that belief of goodness, there would be an arch rival of evil, always leading us into temptation and away from God. The idea of hell also acts as an intolerant deterrent for those non-believers who could expect to have a taste of hell fire if they did not toe the line. In this coercive way, the priests and leaders of the Church could ensure as many followers and believers as possible.
Even now, the Catholic Church is still doing it, like threatening politicians who are pro-abortion with 'excommunication' if they do not change their view. Translate that to mean not a hope in hell of getting holy orders and going to heaven, if they don't go against the issue, and only hell fire of the worst kind awaits them. But who can say whether we have any after-life or not, let alone going to a place called hell?
Evil and goodness are both sides of the same coin. We all have evil and goodness within us. They emanate from our thoughts, they plague us in our thoughts and turn into actions, and then we conjure up all kinds of punishment to suit those wicked thoughts and deeds. That's where hell resides: right inside our heads haunting us each day, especially when we live in unforgiving, vengeful ways. If we contemplate wicked, uncharitable thoughts, or evil to others, we go through a living hell. It won't be one that comes after our death, but one waiting for us right here in the way we live our life after every evil act.
The Sihera Emotional Health Guide© 2012-2017