flowing motion

Posts Tagged ‘relationships

Active listening

I thought I had a post somewhere on basic active listening.  It seems not.

Active listening is often required when we least expect it

Active listening isn’t hard.  Provided we remember to do it!  When we are needed to listen, simply listen, we are often in a rush ourselves and it is the hardest ever to slow down and pay attention.

Three situations require active listening

There are three classical situations when we must pay attention and listen

  • Requests: Please may I have .   .  .!
  • Help:  Everything is going wrong!
  • Anger:  Life is unfair!

We rarely miss anger!

The third, anger, is the one we don’t miss.  Angry people get in our face.  They are bristling with rage.  They want something to change now and they’ve decided that it is all our fault!  Can’t miss it 🙂

It can be hard to react with applomb

Sadly, because other people’s anger often takes us by surprise, we don’t react well.

If we have a moment to catch our breath, we are probably OK.  We give the person the attention they crave so desperately and reassure them of their importance in the world.  They calm down and feeling a little sheepish, become our new best friend.

But what of our anger. What we we are angry?

It strikes me that England is an angry country.  And people enjoy being angry.

Anger in Britain is a treasured state

Anger in England isn’t an unpleasant temporary state that people want to get away from. It is a treasured state to be sought.  People even seem to feel important when they are angry.  “There!”, they seem to be saying, “I am angry too!” It is almost as if their status is restored by being angry.

I get angry so that I can be important enough to be insulted?

It’s a perversion.  Usually we are angry when our status is diminished, and we want it restored.  When an angry person also has a triumphant gleam in their eye, I wonder whether they are also delighted to have found a situation where they are important enough to have been insulted?

Someone needs some deep respect

If I am right, and there is no reason that I should be, then a way to reduce anger is to help people feel valued.  Courtesy and politeness do this in part – but they avoid “dissing” the other person.  Courtesy and politeness isn’t respect.

If we want to help people find status without resorting to some bizarre form of tantrums, then we need to take the trouble to find out what about them is deeply valuable to us ~ and tell them.  I found a great quotation from E E Cummings yesterday ~ we have to mirror to people what is so wonderful and why we would be so much poorer without them!

Extreme experiments in life

Try that as you are next on a commuter train and your neighbour is annoying you.  Pay them some attention. Yes, I know you are English, but try.  It will be a fun experiment, won’t it?

What will happen when you pick on the one point that is so important to them and that you would really miss if they weren’t part of your life?

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This is what I did not know in my 20’s. That I would come to dislike the adrenaline-rush that made me feel so good.

In our twenties, we feel competent

We have smashing time. Suddenly we have a little money. We set ourselves up independently.  We take on responsibility at work.  We feel omnipotent.

We are in, a way. We have more energy than our jobs demand. And we throw ourselves into everything with gusto.

Until one day,

.   .  .  the story changes. We burn out.  We wake up in the morning so tired that the only thing to do is to sit quietly in the sun, if we can find it. We are too tired to read.   We are too wearied to put up with the banality on the TV.

From that day forward, we are wiser, if sadder

We resist the adrenaline-rush.  We put off being totally involved in anything because we know the withdrawal is not worth the excitement and the buzz.

We also become skeptical about what is accomplished while we are ‘high’.  We come to agree with poet, David Whyte. We are not nice people when when we are moving so fast that we trample over people who are moving slowly.

But we are also restless

When we are undecided, when we are still on the plains of ‘wish‘ and are still to cross the famed Rubicon river to the land of ‘intent‘, we feel restless and doubt we are achieving anything at all.

But does our restlessness have good cause?

I am not sure if anything gets done or nothing gets done when we resist the urge to become charged-up and driven. To my knowledge, no one has every compared our output in the two states.

Goal setting research has shown a more limited result. When our attention is focused solely on one goal, the goal is achieved.  Hardly surprising, is it?

We should be worried about more

The bigger question is what happens to other goals when we are focused on only one of the many things that are important to us.  What happens to everything else – including our health and the health of people around us?

In our thirties, we begin to get an inkling .   .  .

.  .  .  that we should pick our adrenaline-rush carefully.

How old do we have to be before we learn to balance our lives?

Do we ever learn the art of achieving balance?

Is it true that we achieve less when are lives are balanced?  Or is just that we feel cold in the shadow of a helter-skelter adrenaline-fueled chase of a goal?

Who is able to resist starting towards an overarching goal that destroys all else?  Who is able to go further and to dismiss such goals altogether and stop them casting a shadow over a life where all our different parts have equal call?

Game designers are better at psychology than psychologists

Jane McGonigal, games designer extraordinaire, has long pointed out that games are better designed than most jobs.   I agree with her, but oddly I still prefer work.

Nonetheless, agreeing that games designers make better use of work psychology than psychologists do, I’ve been deliberately playing games from beginning to end.

Orientation that gives control back to the audience

Getting into games, the autonomy dimension of Ryan & Deci’s ARC model is clear.  We need to be be able to see what to do at glance. We shouldn’t need elaborate instructions or encouragement.

Something for the audience to get their teeth into

I am stepping through the levels quite doggedly.  That should be the competence dimension of Ryan & Dec’s model.  In truth, games are quite fun while I am figuring out the rules – or when I think I can push myself to a new level.  But they also get boring quickly.  Dogged is the feeling I have!

A way for us to play together

I think I don’t use the social aspects of games sufficiently. Social or relationships, is the third component of Ryan & Deci’s ARC model.

I am probably not very sociable because my motives for playing games aren’t social.  But, equally, I probably get bored quickly because I am not being sociable.

Bringing our own rules to the game

What has interested me more has been the way my preconceptions affect my game play

In a game in which I played the role of explorer in Africa, it took me a long while to realize that I could deliberately kill people and even longer to do it.

In Mafia Wars running on Facebook, I am yet to start a fight. I am yet to invest in armor.  I only do jobs against an anonymous enemy.  When someone attacks me, I just clean up and take out some more insurance.

In Farmeville, I would like to share my tractor.

Does social mean more than sending gifts and energy bonuses? Are our ‘identities’ and ‘values’ also important to us?

Sometimes it is useful to have our values challenged.  Sometimes it is useful to see that we impose rules that other people don’t care about.

Then we have a choice.  Do we want to play by those rules?  Maybe we do.

Good stories sometimes arrive serendipitously

I have absolutely no idea how this came on my screen. I was googling SABC news and this popped up. Well it did, and if you are interested in positive psychology, setting goals, having a meaningful life, then this story is for you.

I am going to paste it in verbatim. It is from a site called OceanCityFools. I don’t know anything about them.  You might want to check them out yourself.   Here is the story.  Sorry about the formatting – no idea how to change font size in WordPress.  Story is still good.

Is Your Jar Full?

When things in your life seem almost to much to handle, when 24 hours in a
day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar……and the beer.

A Professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front
of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and
empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then
asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the Professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the
jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas
between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was
full. They agreed it was.

The Professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of
course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar
was full. The students responded with an unanimous “Yes.”

The Professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and
poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty
space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the Professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to
recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things – your family, your children, your
health, your friends, your favorite passions – things that if everything
else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house,
your car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first”, he continued, “there is no room
for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all
your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the
things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are
critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get
medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There
will always be time to clean the house, and fix the disposal. Take care of
the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities.
The rest is just sand.”

When he had finished, there was a profound silence. Then one of the
students raised her hand and with a puzzled expression, inquired what the
beer represented.

The Professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no
matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of
beers.”

Don’t sweat the small stuff . . . but enjoy it anyway!

Feeling stuck?  Not looking forward to 2010?

From guru to psychologist, all the people who know about this sort of thing say the same thing.  Start close in.  Begin with everything and everybody right here in life with you now.

“Arrgh,” you say, “That is exactly what I am trying to get away from!”

Uh-uh.  You are trying to get away from the feelings of frustration, irritation and stuck-ness.  You simply need some places to push off against.

Ask some questions

This is what I want you to do ~ ask some questions.

  • Who is around me?  What is around me?
  • What does my relationship with [these things/people] want more of?
  • What’s working, and what should I be celebrate?
  • What would help create a sense of fun and ease in this relationship?

and . . .

The checklist where I found these questions is at WidgetWonder.  I just worked through the whole list checklist for reviewing 2009 and thinking about 2010.  It asks much deeper questions than most goal setting and life purpose blogs.

How we hold the conversation

It is how we hold the conversation.

Consider the space

  • The list helped me put my finger about what I will be doing to contribute to my relationships with others and allow them to be more enjoyable

Store away what is no longer needed

  • The list helped me put my finger on what I feel is ‘done and dusted’ and what I still need to resolve, one way or another. It was amazing how quickly I could resolve things once I had put things like that.

Include more people!

  • The list reminded me that all my plans for 2010 depend upon other people.   What support do I need?  How is this a community project?  The list helped me identify where I was trying to take 100% responsibility when the project is not my responsibility alone.  The responsibility is mutual.  Taking a step back and asking what support do we need to make this happen together has been an invaluable for me.

Clearing our minds for 2010

I strongly recommend you print out the list at Widgetwonder and work through it.

It will help you clear your mind, relax, and enjoy 2010 no matter what it brings.

“To attract good fortune, spend a new coin on an old friend, share an old pleasure with a new friend, and lift up the heart of a true friend by writing his name on the wings of a dragon. “

Chinese proverb


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