Archives for June 2015

Giving

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The Parable of the Net

Matthew 13:47-50

47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

When you are able and willing to connect to your feelings and needs and realize that everything you do is a strategy to meet needs, it’s like a fisherman who cast his net and catches the largest catch of fish ever. Ah, but when you are not connected and you are so lost, it feels as if the end of the world has come and you were cast out and are all alone in a terrible place. You feel frustrated and hopeless because your needs are not being met. You tell yourself how rotten you are, how terrible you are, if only you would have done the “right” thing.   Know this, that terrible place does not really exist, it is simply a story you are telling yourself. Give yourself empathy, you are doing the best anyone could do if they were you. Keep fishing – you will make the catch.

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Eggs on the Floor

I recently saw in my Facebook feed a picture of a 2 1/2 -year-old child laying on a bathroom floor and a mother’s explanation of what was going on. This child had been playing with some toy eggs and wouldn’t put them back into the toy carton. Mom had decided to draw a line in the sand with this. She was tired of always stepping on these eggs and was determined that this time the child was going to put the eggs back in the carton. She and the child had been in the bathroom for an hour now (this was where the child was originally playing with the eggs), and she had decided the child wasn’t leaving until the eggs were back in the carton. The child had so far brushed her teeth, played with the water in the bathtub, played in the toilet, and several other things, but had not put the eggs back in the carton. With this posting I think she was looking for support and she had several comments telling her to stick with it!

I see families with toddlers on a daily basis and this is a common theme, children doing what you don’t want them to do, or not doing what you want them to do. My advice up until now had been just to choose your battles wisely and use “time out”, probably not the most helpful of advice. This Facebook post triggered in me a desire to do some deeper thought and see if I could come up with some ideas that would actually be helpful.

It helps to have a better understanding of a toddler’s developmental abilities and needs. Toddlers have strong needs for choice, freedom, spontaneity, discovery, competence and play. When they make choices, it really doesn’t have anything to do with a conscious choice on their part to reject your values, it’s about getting those needs met. They will however, just as every person, have a response of pushing back when told they have to do something. Because of our strong need to make choices it’s natural to want to rebel when we believe someone is taking that ability away. So as much as that mom wants her child to pick up the eggs, the more she tells her to do it, the less likely it will happen. And to be honest, you can’t make someone do something they don’t want to, at least without cost.

The cost in this situation will be the development of an adversarial relationship. You can threaten, punish or bribe your children to do something, and they may eventually do it, but they will learn to see you as their adversary. Is that what you really want in the relationships with your children? And to make matters worse, the more you do this, the more your child will see even those things that are a request and not a demand, as a demand. If they don’t rebel, but agree to your demands out of wanting to please you, you are still not supporting their development in becoming independent thinkers. I’m hopeful that we as parents want to support out children in developing into people who are able to identify their own feelings, be clear on what they need and have the ability to get those needs met in a way that is also supportive of others.

So what can the mom in the above situation do? First she needs to have some self-awareness of what is going on for her. I’m guessing she is feeling frustration and anger, telling herself that a “good parent” makes sure their children pick up their toys. She might also be telling herself that if her child respected her, they would do as she asks. She wants to think she’s competent as a parent and wants respect. She might also be telling herself that if her child doesn’t learn now how to get along with her mother, she won’t have the ability to get along with others when she grows up. These are lots of stories that may not even be true. She might also be longing for the peace she gets when the toys are picked up and the house is in order, or she may just want to trust she won’t be stepping on eggs again anytime soon. All of these are her needs, and she may be expecting too much from a toddler regarding the stories she is telling herself. However, if she is just wants the peace she gets from an ordered house she can work out something with her child. First, she needs to be authentic about what she needs and why. “I like it when the toys are picked up, and the house is in order. I feel more relaxed”. Then she can make a request, “I wonder if you would like to help mommy with this and pick up your toys?” The trick is, it really has to be a request. In other words, you have to be willing to pick those toys up on your own, and not begrudge your child for not doing this.

So if they aren’t willing to help you pick up toys, make it easy for you. How many toys are you willing to pick up? Make this clear with the child and why. “I can handle about 5 toys out and about at a time, so would you please choose your 5 favorite toys. When you are ready to help some with toy pickup lets talk about this again and figure out a new number”. Now ask what your child heard you say. You want to be sure they understand this isn’t punishment but your best effort to get both of your needs met, their need to play and have choice and your need for order and peace. In this way you are helping your child to learn empathy and how to work with others in a way that gets everyone’s needs met.

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Philippians 4:6, 7

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

If you are anxious in any situation it means your needs are not being met. Connect to the Divine Flow within and realize your needs. By doing this your requests to have your needs met are being made to the Divine and you will find peace. It is this connection that will deliver peace and understanding and will give understanding when needs are not met. This is accomplished by connecting to the Divine – what a gift.

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The Lost Sheep

Luke 15:3-7

3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Behind the Message

At times there seems to be a lot of fear from the authors of the New Testament. In this parable that seems to be the case. The fear behind the writing seems to come the story that the author is telling himself that there must be repentance from wrong doing in order to connect with the Divine, with God. To communicate this story the author describes the rejoicing that occurs when a lost sheep is found (apparently by God). To the author it seems that his strategy to find comfort in his search for God is to believe he has be found and he is valuable because he has been looked for and found even though he was a “sinner” who was pretty worthless before being found.

Empathic Translation

So again, Jesus spoke to them in a parable. The greatest need we have is to contribute to one another. As we contribute to others we meet our need to contribute but also give opportunity to the other person to receive. When this occurs we are in connection with and present with the Divine. Since this is true, who would not want to “find” someone who was “missing” or contribute to someone who was lost, disconnected? When we give from the heart we are sharing the Divine with one another – this is Presence, this is Divine. You see, when this happens it does not happen out of fear of retribution, there is no need for repentance, there is connection to the Divine, which is within all of us.   When this happens there is rejoicing, there is celebration, there is life at its fullest. Heaven rejoices! What is amazing about this connection is that all can do it, all can give it away – when we are connected we are in “heaven.”

 

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The Stories We Tell

I remember it vividly, a story. We were living in Michigan and I had gone to the doctor. I was having stomach trouble, which for those who know me is nothing new. However, he had a concern. He wanted to run a test to make sure it wasn’t something serious. It was a Friday night, Friday nights are always good for stories to run wild, after all its Friday – nothing can be confirmed until Monday. So, it was a Friday night and the family went out to get something to eat. When we got home there was a message on the machine. It was from the doctor’s office. It went something like this, “This message is for Mark and this is the doctor’s office. Your test results are back and the doctor wants to talk to you about them.” Click – end of message. So, guess what story began in my mind? That’s right, I am knocking on death’s door, after all if I weren’t then they would have said so in the message (another story by the way). I was scared spit less – I am going to die!! Heather stepped in and was able to contact the Dr. who apologized in the manner the message was delivered and assured me I was not going to die – the test was negative!

 

How often do we, do you, get caught in stories? When was the last time you listened to the voices in your head that said things weren’t going to go well? Several years ago I was taking a certification class to be a peer support specialist and the instructor said, “Everyone has voices in their head, it’s just that some people listen to them more than others.” That’s where the stories begin, by listening to the voices.

 

A real gift of NVC is the ability to connect with what we are feeling and needing. NVC offers the opportunity to cut the stories out or at least to cut them short. Let’s go back to my doctor story. I heard the doctor’s message say, “Mark you are going to die.” I was in a panic, scared to death. I began to think and think and think about the message and what was really being said. There is a saying, “Paralyses by analysis.” I heard the story so loud and was so disconnected that I had no clue what I needed, I knew I was fearful but was stuck. That’s when Heather was able to see I needed clarity and understanding. That’s when she was able to contribute to me by getting a hold of the doctor. My strategy kept me stuck. NVC freed me from the panic and through Heather’s contribution there was clarity.

 

Another wonderful benefit of NVC is the opportunity to give myself (or yourself) self-empathy. Sometimes it seems very easy to tear ourselves down. As in the story above I was very adept at telling myself what an idiot I was for carrying on as I did. I was also telling myself that a person of faith should simply rely on God and let go of the problem. To me I was faithless, scared, and acted poorly. I was really letting myself have it. NVC informs us we are doing the best we can in that situation. It also allows us the ability to check in and see how we are feeling. As I think about the above situation I am able to tell myself that I did the best I could and no one would do any differently if they were me. This gave me the opportunity to receive self-empathy and connect. I was able to go “easy” on myself and receive empathy. NVC is all about empathy, for us and for others.

 

So, when was the last time you told yourself a story? Maybe right now. Check in. What are you feeling – maybe fear, stress, frustration, etc. Now, what are you needing – maybe clarity, respect, community, etc. Check in and identify feelings and needs and find healthy strategies to meet your needs. In stories we can be very lost – when we are connected to the Divine within, there is understanding and compassion. When we are connected to the Divine within, the stories stop.

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Defensive

defensive statements

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The Magic Show

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The Lord’s Prayer in Empathic Language

windward_headerThe Lord’s Prayer

 

Matthew 6:9-13

(King James Version)

9 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

 11 Give us this day our daily bread.

 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

 

 

The Lord’s Prayer in Empathic Language

Eternal Flow

who abides in all creation

Holy is your name.

May we awaken to your kingdom.

May we rest in your Presence

no matter where we are.

For in you all of our needs our met.

Let us connect to ourselves so we might connect to others and gain understanding of their strategies, just as we connect to ourselves and gain understanding of our own strategies.

For when we are connected we are clear on our needs.

When we are connected we rest in the compassion of the heart and the peace of the Flow.

For in You Eternal Flow,

there is peace, love, compassion and life.

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