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/

People do things differently

Holy shit, this has caused me so much agita in my life. This tendency I have to control, to think I know best so often. People doing things differently is a real test for some of us. It defines the experience of some relationships. It can be incredibly pervasive. It can help us see how anxiety and being in the unknown goes in our lives.

It seems so simple, but this phrase makes me pause. It’s truth. It’s a mirror. People do things differently.

Our relationship to people doing things differently is something we can look at as leaders, managers, partners, employees, friends, family and of course, romantic partners. If we’re the controlling type and we get intentional about letting people do things differently, we really have to deal with ourselves. It’s a highly meditative act, to notice what we go through when we just let people “do them” and expand our comfort with it. It can be powerfully transformative to isolate this distinction and practice it on purpose.

If we’re working with someone on something and letting them be, then we need to just let clear expectations and standards do their work and let go of “the how” around how they get there. If we make the how more important than it has to be, then we’re going to transfer our pain from anxiety to them and create a fairly miserable situation. We will also likely miss out on any learning that others’ creativity can provide and have little patience for people’s own process and learning curve. People are not people anymore, they’re “do it right-ers” or they become a problem for us.

Sometimes, though, it’s time to train. Training creates effective uniformity and is necessary in some environments. Training really requires agreement, otherwise it’s force and struggle. Training always has some resistance to it, but ideal training is you and the trainer partnering together around expanding your own resistance. When we take responsibility for making training look this way in our lives, we can be grateful for being trained, grateful for the expansion that comes from it. When we take responsibility for this agreement as the trainer, we get to let go of one rival and love our trainee for their courage, commitment and integrity. Resistance is likely to show up, but we can go back to that relationship with the trainee and walk through it together.

Unfortunately, our first exposure to training included no such agreement. It couldn’t. We were babies. We couldn’t choose our trainer and we didn’t know about the idea of agreeing to this training relationship. It was just thrust upon us and it likely created our relationship to training and being trained. By looking to this agreement, choosing it, empowering it and continuing to be responsible for it as we grow up, we can cut that initial conditioning of how it went out of our lives. If we don’t, we’re just likely to repeat our initial relationship to training and being trained.

Getting clear on what is happening in a relationship – allowing each person to do things how they do them or choosing to be trained in certain areas of the relationship – can make a huge difference, cut out some unnecessary pain and create an intimacy beyond control where we can truly appreciate each other more as human beings.

Whew, that feels better.

What It Takes

Working with a couple right now and it’s a challenge. Supporting two people who have experienced a ton of hurt, who are not trusting out of fear of more hurt, who have a young child together, who, underneath the fear probably love each other but the old wounds and the fear makes it hard to say out loud.

Sometimes it can be hard to outright choose to support them in a possibility that at times I see more clearly than they do. I know the triggers, I know how to support people getting past them, but maybe they would just be fine being apart. Probably stuck in the same patterns in new relationships, but at least not having to face all of this fear right now and what it puts us through, the ravages of the thoughts and reactions, how exhausting it can be, what it really takes to grow out of them.

It really all hinges on how much you want something, what you’re willing to face to get there. I’ve seen courage and love grow as patterns subside, as people realize that they can handle their own feelings, but it doesn’t make it any less of a challenge to support until we get there.

Thanks for listening.

Maybe Marriage Takes a Village, Too

community
Maybe it takes a village to support a marriage, too.

The things couples go through, successes, failures, money issues, grief, aging, health, changing as human beings, being hit with reality all the time and realizing how much we don’t yet know.

The more years I’m married and the more years I support my loved ones, friends and clients in theirs, I realize our marriages themselves benefit so much from being loved collectively.

It’s great to have people that love us individually, but when we have people that love our marriage, in a nurturing way, beyond judgment, people that can relate to our challenges and us as human beings who are trying our best and learning, we can make so much out of it. We can create a culture around marriage as an incomparable learning opportunity that benefits from collective wisdom and support. We can take it easier on ourselves and lean on each other. No couple has it all covered on their own.

It takes a willingness, too. Admitting challenges in our marriages can be embarrassing, because we publicly declared our love for our spouse, because we don’t want to admit that we don’t know what to do, because we can bristle against receiving help because we want to hold up a pretty picture.

We need to let go of the fairy tale as a marketing tactic for selling marriage. A wedding, sure, but not a marriage. Perhaps a more apt definition of marriage is a lovingly entered joint commitment to  evolution. We use shared goals and the experiences along the way as we share our lives to help spark this evolution, to shape it.

I think the best part about my marriage 14 years in, is the growth, the learning and giving it to each other as a gift, finding ourselves in new places as new people because we needed to evolve and used the commitment to each other to hold the process. I’ve needed to learn so much about myself in trying to become a truly worthy partner and there’s much more to go.

I think of all of the forgiveness I ask for when I learn what I needed to learn. Humbling. Some of that learning is truly challenging, but I couldn’t be any more grateful for earning it, for who I realized I can be, for the commitment and for the woman in my life who gives me the reason and the person to share it with.

I thank those who were willing to speak to me, to be my teachers, to be my friend and to sometimes just listen for helping me get here and who I know I can count on for what’s yet to come.

Keeping Our Power Beyond People’s Reactions

I just wrapped up a coaching call with a client considering renewing our coaching relationship. We’ve done a great job so far of getting past a lot of bugaboos and creating a huge leap in self-awareness and confidence. She shared gratitude for her ability to do this, how much it meant to her and how it’s transformed her relationships and career path. She’s been courageous.

The questions she asked herself now, looking at what’s next for her was: Is it worth it to partner with a coach to have and keep my power beyond the reactions of others and my fears of them? What happens if I don’t?

When she looked at this, the fear was palpable and so was the possibility.

Some big questions for our lives. Where do we stop because of the reactions of others? What do we give up on? What version of ourselves doesn’t come out, assert itself and simply be because of this? What’s the cost and for how much longer are we going to keep things going this way?

If you want to, please share below both wins, where you stopped letting other people’s reactions define you or what commitments you want to make to get beyond this. I promise what you write will make a difference for someone else reading the post.