Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Perception and patience

Just in case you haven't noticed, I'm a person with a definitive opinion on most everything.  I make gut decisions, and generally I stick to it vehemently.  I don't want to be a fence sitter and I want to be clear about what I think, say and do.  That means that there are MANY times in my life that I don my peppermint shoes, eat crow, and have to make a 180.  I think everyone out there can relate to some degree or another.  But here's the challenge in life... sometimes the 180 is just as wrong.

Our parents were too finey-winey and we become too loosey goosey to not repeat the mistake.  Guess what our kids will do, they'll be finey-winey to avoid the same mistakes we made.  So there you have it.  We are products of our training and sometimes that polar opposite is not any more healthy than the source from which we come.  Does that mean that our short-comings will be perpetuation generation to generation?  Not at all!

I have a dear friend who is better at compromising than anyone I know.  Does that mean she compromises her standards or is a fence sitter?  Not at all, she is one of the most balanced people that I know.  And therein lies her strength.  Do we work with each other or against?  Are we united or polarized?  Is there a generational gap or do we seek to understand and find a balanced compromise?

We focus on the differences, married/ single, male/ female, old/ young, republican/ democrat, white/ minority.  We have all felt misunderstood, discounted and undervalued.  In a desire to finally be heard we shout to the sky our beliefs determined to have our way...a.k.a. stubborn.  The louder we shout, the more no one wants to hear us.  Certifying our lack of contribution to the world by repelling others.  Our perspective of things having met the, all too common fate, of self-fulfilling prophecy.

So how can we find a common value and be unified in the decisions of life that must be made?  Have we reached a stale-mate?  Rather than decide on a solution, have we cast our fate to the wind?  Have we trampled on those that are non-confrontational or patient?  When met with a challenge that lights the fire in us do we spontaneously combust, destroying ourselves and those in the immediate vicinity?  Do we throw a temper tantrum?  In a world with an ever increasing pace are we hasty, impatient...?   Do we give into self preservation at all cost?  And what is that cost... our children, our spouses, our religion, our nation?

I suggest a simple, albeit, not easy solution.  First, listen.  Allow the owner of the feelings to share honestly and be justified in their opinion.  Find out their intention.  Did the child take the toy from the other because it was time to clean up?  Did you husband make a racket while cleaning the living room?  Was the school board looking out for those who neglected their children?  Did the government try to help with a need? 

Second, share gently.  Is there another perspective you can offer without becoming emotional?  (That doesn't mean you cannot be justified in what you felt, but that you can exhibit a bit of self-restraint and patience.)  Can you compromise by 50/50 (on the idea) or 100/ 100 (on two different ideas)? 

Third, sometimes it is not about differing ideas, but differing priorities.  What is of greater importance to you?  They may not be the same for each person.  Here's a silly illustration... my husband, Andy, gets anxious when he's hungry.  Likewise, my limit is reached when I'm tired.  So I cut slack near mealtime, and likewise he me when the day is reaching a close.

Remember, the reason you are with this person is not to oppose but to work together for the common good.  Honestly appreciate them for their perspective.  Increase your understanding.  Find common ground.  Set priorities separately and together.  Keep the end in mind when making those day-to-day and life decisions.  Admit when you've made a mistake.  It is often more important to be on the same page than to have made a perfect choice.  Ideally we'd all follow these rules or even any of them, but if we can remember when things go south that 'I care about this person and I want them to know it in a way that THEY can understand', then we will be of one heart and later of one mind.

My dad was finey-winey, my mother loosey-goosey.  Sometimes the compromise is found in simply being different.  Their yin-yang relationship allowed me the closest thing available to a balanced parent.  Their goal was the same and I wouldn't have changed either.  Being most like my dad we butted heads until I understood the first rule; his intention.  He loved me.  I didn't need to follow the rest of the steps to their final perfect conclusion to be okay with his unrelenting parenting, because what more could a girl want than that her father would love her. 

None of us have a perfect tool box to work with.  None of us are pros at using the tools we possess.  Accept that.  Expect that.  Enjoy the ride and express your love.  Love has a capacity to cover so many imperfections in ourselves and others, and allows us to want to and be able to work on that end goal together, intact, and whole.  We are a no less significant by being part of a greater whole.  For more about this read my favorite scripture Jacob 5.

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