Does getting in the middle work?

Whether it’s in diplomacy or working things out in a family, being in the middle will rarely achieve more than a band-aid’s worth of value. Sometimes, our issues are no more than band-aids, but usually when we allow ourselves to be in the middle or look to others to get in the middle, there are significant expanses to traverse and inefficiencies to address that can be endemic. Creating a quick fix does not address the true impact of the gap. And that can mean that you are dealing with the same kind of issue again just weeks, days or hours later.

Sometimes we get in the middle because it is uncomfortable for us to deal with the friction of the conflict in our space. It’s truly more about us than it is about both parties moving on in the best possible way. If it stops, we are relieved. But like most fixes, it won’t stay that way for long, so even in a selfish way we are not doing much for ourselves, let alone the main parties involved. If we bring others into the middle regularly, then we probably have a great opportunity to expand ourselves and deal with conversations that we normally pull away from.

Encouraging people to do the hard things, to tell the truth, to work on their issues themselves without a go-between, to look deeply at their own responsibility for how things have gone instead of just helping them get over the hump of the problem, will always lead to a greater potential for growth. They may not choose to do that, but then they are left one step closer to addressing things head on, because one method of avoiding the consequences of working things out is now off the table.

If you are going to involve a third party and don’t want to wind up in the same place again, then be sure to be open to feedback, to look as carefully at what you are bringing to the issue that makes it go the way it is as you are looking at the other person and making it about them.

This isn’t easy, but facing the same thing over and over again without it changing fundamentally is a lot more difficult, we just are limited to only hindsight being 20/20. There’s no reliable way to tell the future and see that the issue you’re dealing with now is one you’ll be confronted by over and over again. If we knew, we’d see that the time to address things head on is right now.

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Serve The Separation (between us)

Our heads and stomachs hurt from so much talking at.
Not with, barely even to.
We’re doing the talking and we’re on the other end, feeling dunned, bludgeoned.
So are “they”.

In the end, there is always a separation, whether it is your parent, friend, child, peer, boss, “opponent” or with the divine. We can’t be inside each other’s experience. We can’t fully empathize without some self-protection being present. At least most of us, most of the time. Being truly connected really is the promise, the great opportunity of being alive, whether that’s with a mountain range, a blue sky, a song or with each other.

And if someone doesn’t serve that separation, if someone doesn’t own it as their territory and address it with either their words, their listening, their surrender of protection or defense, in a way that really connects us to each other, the separation remains or grows. This may be one definition of love. We really need to receive someone fully, as they are, to cross that divide between us. It breaks the spell. We stop fearing each other, overtly and in that way that’s always there, at least for a moment and that magic is present.

The greater concern than who wins is this gulf growing between us, whether that’s your wife or husband, or your fellow citizens. If we really touch it, we sense that the distance is heartbreaking.

I hope we turn towards healing, listening and serving that separation. It’s there in all our relationships, at least some separation exists. Be the one who owns it as your loving responsibility. We may truly hear each other and care for one another if we can do it. We may come back together, closer than ever.

I remember the extraordinary family members of the people lost at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, who forgave Dylann Roof and shook us all. They know how to serve that separation. They listened as deeply as they could to who Dylann Roof might be and how he might have wound up there and wished him all of god’s grace, the most precious thing they value, which flowed through those they lost. They gave him that love for any pain he may face. They gave him their wish for his pain to subside in the light of Christ. And just to say it, no religion or faith is required, but it can certainly be employed.

Our fellow Americans face pain, we sense great separation, don’t we? If that gulf is not crossed, how do you think this will go?

I promise you that serving separation, before making our point, before needing anything to change, is a worthy practice. It plants seeds. It can bring any two (or more) people together. It can open up everything.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/06/19/i-forgive-you-relatives-of-charleston-church-victims-address-dylann-roof/

Podcast Interview

gregg-902x1024It’s really nice for a guy who deals with social anxiety to get as much positive feedback as my friends and the listeners of this podcast have given to this conversation I had with Bob Schwenkler.

Case in point, I’ve written and rewritten a sentence here about five times. The gist of it was…I hope you listen to it HERE.

And like my friend said, “It’s a very touching and educational interview, especially for parents. But anyone who works with or interacts with other people will benefit. Listen in the car, at the gym, while folding clothes. Just listen it will change the way you think about your relationships.”

Thanks!

via http://reclaimingmalerolemodels.com:

This episode should be required listening for anyone who has (or wants to have) children.

I have never heard another person speak so articulately and with so much heart about what it takes to be an extraordinary parent who raises loving, emotionally intelligent children.

Gregg DeMammos reveals some powerful wisdom in this interview. Even as a non-parent it was a powerful and fascinating interview for me to listen to.

In this episode we talk about:

• How Gregg respects his childrens’ temper tantrums and anger, and transforms them into life lessons and deep love.
• Gregg’s journey of learning to use his emotions in ways that worked FOR him.
• How, despite growing up with no father as a role model during some of the most formative years of his life, Gregg later chose to be an extraordinary father who raised extraordinary children.

http://reclaimingmalerolemodels.com/rmrm020-how-to-be-an-extraordinary-parent-who-raises-extraordinary-children-gregg-demammos/

Being People Together

One of the most valuable things we can do is to disengage with the roles we play in our lives – child, boss, parent, spouse, co-worker, etc. – and practice seeing ourselves and others as just people.

Get out of the haze of the morning rush, of what has to get done, of the reactions to what’s not getting done and see these human beings in our lives as complex, vulnerable, sensitive, less than sure people who are trying to figure this all out, too. Just like us.

I’ve never gotten more hugs and kisses in my house since I started practicing this. Being seen as a person is a relief (no matter how little or how big we are).

This Thanksgiving, Love it and Leave it

tgivingI was inspired listening to Marc Maron’s podcast this morning. Usually around Thanksgiving time he starts complaining and describing the anxieties of the holiday and being with family.

Today he told us he’s really going to try to drop those old, old triggers, resentments, sensitivities and justifications and try to love his family and love being with them.

That was some major growth. It’s one of the fun parts for me of listening over the last few years, really hearing someone work on themselves and witnessing the changes.

So, here’s my take, for you.

Practice loving and leaving it this Thanksgiving.

This is who your family is.

When you get ticked off by your uncle’s comment on politics, or your mom’s, love it and leave it. The conversations from the past might have helped you refine who you are. You may want them to be different, but changing their mind is only marginally useful in the long haul. Just love them, leave it and let them be. Most likely the damage they are going to do to the world personally with their attitude is minimal.

If someone comments on your weight, marital status, health, career for the twelve thousandth time, love it and leave it. They’re undoubtedly hella flawed themselves. They can’t help themselves and deep down they probably want wonderful things for you, but they’re not good at expressing it or seeing your life from your eyes. See if you can say “thanks” and let it be. Thanks doesn’t mean you agree with their words or approach, but they meant to give you something. Love them and leave it at that.

In fact, when I notice how much of the uncomfortable experience from things my family might say is my own making (my reactions are mine, no matter how justified I feel in having them), I often actually get the good information that was in the nudge and even get the love that was embedded in the concern or complaint. It took some work. I needed to be able to love them and leave it first.

And if you want to fight, I get it. Fighting isn’t the end of the world, but if you haven’t mastered loving it and leaving it first, you may take it all personally. Then you’re not going to be very thankful for much, unless people make all gone with that pie you brought and tell you how much they liked it. Then at least you get that feeling when you don’t know if you still really want to be upset with these people. I love making D and Marcus feel like that 😉