Monthly Archives: March 2012

Do you hand out chocolates or cod liver oil?

I think we often go through life too caught up in our self-bubbles to recognize our own impact. Yet, we are very much aware of the impact other people have on us. Have you ever spent a piece of time lost in thought about what someone said to you – either for good or ill? We always notice how others make us feel – but it’s more difficult to notice how we impact others.

I remember when I had the “aha” moment of first recognizing my impact. I once had a friend who was a Unity minister. I allowed him to read through my journal, which was mostly about my struggles and inspirations in my own spiritual growth. There was something I had written that impacted him deeply.

He facilitated a weekly study group. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at group one evening to find my own words written upon the black board. The really shocking thing in that moment was to see the impact of that quote upon the others in our group; to realize it became an inspiration for them as well. Until that moment, I never knew that who I am touches other people.

In my daily transactions, even with the grocery check out person or my bank teller, I  choose to communicate that I value and appreciate them. I am not always successful and have to pull myself up short when I realize my own angst and frustrations are being dumped on others. What can I say, it happens!

And it can also be argued that if you are strong in yourself, you won’t feel the impact of another’s words or actions. But does that thought come from your heart or is it a defense mechanism? If you feel tension in your body as you ponder that concept, it is more likely to be a defense mechanism worth investigating. To me, creating deeper connections starts by inviting others to feel valued and appreciated in my presence as long as it is authentic vs manipulative.

How do I measure authenticity vs. manipulation? If I am attempting to influence how they feel about me with my words, it is manipulation. If I am genuinely interested in giving to them just for its own sake, it’s authentic.

It is hard to pause enough in the “bus-i-ness” of our lives to recognize that our words and actions always have impact on those we come in contact with every single moment. Yikes – that can be overwhelming! It is also a huge responsibility to recognize that you can touch another so completely with your words and actions. And the choice is always yours to decide what kind of impact you wish to have.

It can be an interesting tool in greater self-awareness to recognize your impact. Start by taking a moment at the end of each day to review your interactions with others. This is a great exercise if you are stuck in rush hour traffic. View your conversations from the perspective of the  person you had them with. Is there someone at work or home you are struggling with? Try to imagine how your words make them feel rather than focusing on your own feelings. If you realize there are words you wish you could take back or change, don’t waste time on self-punishment or regret. Just find a way in your next transaction to communicate what you value about that person. When you get really good at this, you can even recognize you are probably exhibiting the same behavior you chastise them for. That recognition is a moment of true power and freedom.

And be aware that there are those with personality disorders who simply cannot recognize the damage they do to you with their words. They have no ability to empathize. As always, it is important to set your own boundaries and move on to greener pastures when necessary.

However, in usual circumstances, when you begin to communicate from a place of appreciation rather than resentment, deeper connections happen. You may be amazed at how much joy you feel when you see how much joy you give to others with a simple smile and honest validation of who they are to you in your life.

It’s like chocolate – even though another’s path in life is not your responsibility, you still have the power to sweeten their moments. Even helping them recognize a harsh truth can be done gently and lovingly. What would you rather be giving – chocolate or cod liver oil? What would you rather receive? Just be assured of one thing – we are not islands to ourselves and our words definitely have impact.

Wishing you many moments of chocolate transactions!

 

 

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