BUILDING BRIDGES INSTEAD OF WALLS

IMG_2088.jpgThe greatest communication skill is paying value to others. ~ Denis Waitley

If I wanted to help someone go from point A to point B, but there was a great divide separating A & B what would I do? Build a wall or build a bridge? The obvious answer is to build a bridge. The person may decide to stand his or her ground on point A, but, this person also has the option to cross over to B. 

Now, say I wanted to help someone go from point A to point B and I build a wall, what happens? I’ve created a barrier. 

I’ve seen a lot of wall builders lately. And if these people honestly wanted to help others to see the other side, they would build a bridge of reason, not a wall of anger and hyped-up fear. I also see wall-building in relationships. Friends who have everything going for them except for one thing—politics. And yet they sacrifice that friendship on the wall. People are actually devaluing their friends for a temporary situation. 

Listen folks, Trump isn’t the only wall builder in this country!

WHAT DID YOU SAY????

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The message sent is not always the message received.
Virginia Satir

Years ago I visited a friend in Honduras for a couple of weeks. Their Internet service was sparse at best, so I could only contact my husband, Neal, every other day or so, via email. The night before I was to fly home I received a message from him that said something like, I’ve looked over our budget. We need to make some changes. Vacuumed the entire house. Changes need to be made there too. See you soon.

Well, I don’t mind telling you I was pretty darned miffed. All night I fumed. So, he thinks I spend too much money does he? Well, one look in my closet where only six dresses hang and three pair of shoes sit on the floor, will prove I don’t. So, I don’t clean house good enough for him? Well, if he wants to take over the cleaning, more power to him.

At the airport in Tulsa, I had plenty of time to marinate in my anger. When I saw him, I could have frozen him with my stare. Clearly confused, he followed me as I sped to the luggage pick-up, all the while asking me what was wrong. Believe you me, I let him have it.

Neal was so shocked by my inference of his email, he had to sit down. “Linda, I meant that our budget had to be changed to provide you with more money. I saw your closet when I vacuumed it and realized you clearly needed more clothes. And after using that vacuum, I realized we need a new one. I would have bought one already, but I wanted you to get what you wanted.

By the time he finished I was looking for something to crawl under. Since that day, when one of us says something that nettles the other, we answer, “This is what I hear you saying,” which gives the other the opportunity to clarify.

Emails, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets are fertile seedbeds for misrepresentation, anger, negativity, and misunderstanding. Let us be careful. Yes, we are entitled to our opinion on our own page. Personally, I try to avoid controversial opinions even there. On another’s page, however, unless invited to do so, it is best to keep our opinions to ourselves.

That said, I violated this advice myself just a couple of days ago. A dear friend posted something that I had strong feelings about and I wrote a comment. Then I deleted it and wrote it again, edited and then posted. This violated my core value of peace and the nagging followed me like a whiney child. So I deleted it—again. What bothered me the most was the possible message she might have received from my comment. I would never want her to think that I thought of her as anything less than wonderful.

In my opinion it is best to send undeniable messages of peace, understanding, and love. AND yes, I was a teenager in the 70’s.

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WHAT MY OLDER SELF WOULD TELL MY YOUNGER SELF ABOUT LIFE

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Do a self-evaluation often. Things will happen in your life, giving rise to harmful emotions, which will have the potential of destroying relationships, causing you to make bad decisions, and could be harmful to your health. Evaluate the things causing you stress, making you angry, or offending you and ask yourself, will this really matter to me this time next year or will I be kicking up dust about something else?

It is not important that everyone agrees with you! If you feel the need to argue, then you, yourself, are not convinced. Peace and confidence comes from a made-up mind. You know where you stand and the opinion of others does not shake you.

Focus your mind and energy on things that really matter. To do this you must know you. What is your core value? What is it that you would miss the most if you lost it? Imagine yourself at the end of your life, looking back, what might you have done that would make you feel most fulfilled? What memories would bring you joy?

Make a list of these things and then do the things on your list. Don’t waste your time debating about things, which, in the end, make no positive impact on your life. Be very careful about politics. Be water. Reflect on all opinions. Give grace to those who have points of view different from yours. Go with your core value.

Regret can be good if it is a turning point in your life. Regret is unbearable if at the end of your life it is your constant companion whispering “If only.” “I wish I had . . .”  Life is fragile as fine crystal, but we treat it as if it were tempered steel, careless and without thought when we drop it. When you are young you think you have all the time in the world, but age doesn’t matter in the game of life. Death takes all at every stage. What would you regret if someone you know was suddenly taken from you? What are you putting off that you know you should do?

Fix it now! Do it now!

In the end, I pray you will be rich. Not necessarily with things, but with what you have done to help others. Be like a dandelion seed head. When someone blows on you, spread seeds of inspiration.

As the saying goes, we cannot take things with us, but the things we have done for others will take root and flower. And that is what really matters.