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.

Are You Really Welcome Here?

armsfoldedREALLY wanting someone to understand something, especially when you think it’s for their own benefit, has nothing to do with them getting it. In the end, how much you want them to get it is what may impact them the most and usually puts our (work, family, friend, romantic) partners in defense, reaction and protection.

The willingness of your conversation partner is the most valuable currency there is in relating to each other. Cultivate it wisely and know when it hasn’t been offered to you.

Sometimes there is no in door. Knowing how to love and take care of ourselves when the door we want to be open is closed can be the most valuable currency for our own well-being and finally takes the pressure off the other person to take care of you by letting you in.

Coaching Group for Professional Women

I’m looking for two professional women who are interested in being part of a four person coaching group (two have already committed).

Here’s the concept: I want to create a group of women who are committed to creating big things in their lives (you get to say what’s big to you) and each other’s. Your goals could be entrepreneurial, about breaking through to a powerful professional result, they could be relationship-oriented. Everyone will be working on their well-being as a foundational element as well. It’s hard to create breakthroughs without it.

What I’m looking to do is create power in sisterhood and really leverage it, with each woman pulling for the results of the other three and growing from each other’s processes. In addition, there will be a relationship with a man providing support for your goals who is committed to you winning, a platonic but intimate relationship with you based in trust and not power other than the power of our coaching relationship, which is yours to create. I want this to be a laboratory for how we can be together professionally and personally, empowering each other beyond the normal wasteful versions of competitiveness and gender issues in the workplace and our lives.

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from my network about this concept, so I’m sharing it more widely. If you’re interested in hearing more about it or think it would be good for someone else in your life, email me directly here. Time and financial commitments will be discussed offline.  If you like the idea, please share it along with a note about why you’d recommend this for someone in your life.

Thanks for reading this!

Best,

Gregg DeMammos

 

Obedience Can Be Dangerous

reprimand

I was at a potluck dinner for the parents of kids in Marcus’ class this Friday night. I met the father of this very intelligent girl who is a bit of a chatterbox and doesn’t sit still well, but who is so lovely, so curious, so wonderful, so clearly well-equipped to succeed as well. Her father mainly wanted to talk about how disobedient she was, how her teachers in language school kept telling him how disobedient she was. He seemed shameful and wasn’t too interested in how great I thought she was. I was sure to give her a big smile Monday morning, happy to see her and now seeing the growing impact on her of being told she was wrong more clearly, the confusion building in her. She’s in kindergarten.

When the desire for obedience crosses with another person’e true expression of themselves, you’ve got trouble. This is where darkness occurs.

A facebook friend of mine and fellow coach, Mike Hrostoski recently shared a letter he wrote when he was a teenager that was truly saddening. A young man writing about suicide. The conflict between who he was and who his community wanted him to be was so clear. He then detailed his drug use, his confusion and his pain that lasted for years. He posted it here – http://hrostoski.com/2014/11/everybody-hates-you-and-you-want-to-die/ (his site is currently down, maybe find it on his FB page)

No one could want Mike to go through this, to even have a memory of this and what’s even more gut wrenching is how many people we know are right where he was when he wrote that letter, who have gone through that, who are still wrestling with it and unfortunately, who may never truly try to free themselves, who get eaten alive by the ways they try to cope – power games, passive aggressiveness, controlling behavior, numbing out, withdrawal, acting like everything is ok.

Living in a society, a family, a culture is hard. These entities condition you. They ultimately mean well, but that doesn’t mean they are well-suited for the human condition. We need to teach each other how to cross the street without getting hit by cars. We don’t need to teach each other how to forsake our own self-expression, our lives. The results are heartbreaking and they lead us to transformation or unfortunate ends or both. As a father, this really hits home for me.

Mike is transforming his life with a fervor. Sometimes I can resonate with where he’s at, what he’s wrestling with today, sometimes not, but what I can always relate to is how vital his freedom is to him, how painful it is to be at the moments where it feels like life is in total disagreement with you. How desperate we are to get out.

Go on, Mike. Get OUT.

Me, too. You, too. We all have some of this in us.

Love,
Gregg