Memories and emotions

Where families are involved life can treacherous. Sometimes the most innocent remark can be twisted into a major conflict. I suspect this is because there is history and much emotion involved. Often the negative reaction has nothing to do with what is going on at the moment. It is rooted somewhere in the past where the emotions are stuck.

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I have never forgotten that our emotions are tied to so many things. A piece of music from our past can have us experiencing the emotions we felt at the time. These past connections can emerge at the worst moments and skew our perception of the current experience.

Many of us have been taken straight back to our past feelings by a song, a scent, a person, or a scene. We don’t realize what is happening and our responses are not appropriate to the moment. This is doubly true for those we spent a lot of time with growing up. We are creations of our environment as well as our genes.

family breakup

It takes real strength to look inside and connect with the past so that we can disconnect ourselves from it. Most of us don’t want to relive the negative things that formed out emotional responses. It make take talking with a counselor to root out those emotions and at least understand them. Hopefully doing so will allow us to reconnect with those we have turned away from. Maybe not. Some we may not want to but there can be some that can heal connections that will change our hearts.

Looking at acceptance

Acceptance. A mighty word. Merriman Webster says:

1: the quality or state of being accepted or acceptableHis theories have gained widespread acceptance.
2: the act of accepting something or someone : the fact of being accepted : APPROVAL

The two perspectives listed here show two sides of this word. One is the act of us being accepted by someone else. The other is from our perspective. Our acceptance of someone else or something else. Both of these are important.

How many times have we wanted to be accepted by other people. How many times have we wanted to belong to a group, join a club, or some other organization? We worry about ourselves. Will we meet the standards they want? Are we good enough? We may experience a feeling of angst while waiting for an answer. Sometimes we are too concerned with what others think. We don’t think well enough of ourselves. It can cause us to be afraid to try things. We may not think that we are good enough. We can have the sense of being an outcast or that we don’t belong.

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The other thing is having the courage and wisdom to accept the things that happen to us in life. Acceptance can bring us to a place of peace and calm. Knowing that there are some things we cannot change is an important fact of life.

The other side of the coin is our acceptance of others. How many of us have been in a group that rejected other people. My youngest child while in high school was asked to join a prestigious club. She discovered that her best friend was not also asked to join. I was so proud of her when she turned down that invitation. Her concern was for her friend and the judgment of others meant nothing.

admirableIt is so easy for us to reject others without any knowledge about them. We too often take outward appearances and don’t look deep enough. We may find that someone who we deemed unacceptable is actually one of the best people we know. It is so easy to pass by the homeless person on the street. We make assumptions about their life, their intelligence and their perspective. When I worked for the church there was a man who was homeless. After having several conversations with him I discovered that he was quite brilliant and homelessness was not the norm for him. It helped to show me that judgment is not always based on reality.

When we think about the word acceptance we have to look at both sides. We have to remember the times that we were not accepted and also the times that we rejected someone else. Be careful with the choices that you make about other people and understand the mistakes others can make about you.

Burned books

Recently a college near us ran into some controversy. A novelist came to read a selection from her recent book and students protested and burned copies of the book.

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The book is:

The novel, Make Your Home Among Strangers, is by Jennine Capó Crucet, ​an English professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who came to the Statesboro, Ga., campus last Wednesday to read “Imagine Me Here, or How I Became a Professor,” an essay included in the novel, according to a statement from Crucet.

Make Your Home Among Strangers was selected among a list of recommended readings for freshmen as part of Georgia Southern’s first-year experience program. It is the story of a first-generation American born to Cuban immigrant parents who is accepted into an elite university and is rejected by her family as well as the white students at the college.

Students were offended  by some of her statements about white privilege and staged the protest. The school responded with statements.

Vice President for Strategic Communications and Marketing John Lester wrote in an email. Book burning does not align with Georgia Southern’s values, Lester told USA Today. But the university does uphold students’ rights to assert their freedom of expression, he said.

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I cannot disagree with the students right to protest. However, I was a young child about 5 years old at the end of WWII. I am sure I didn’t remember much then but as I grew older and understood Hitler’s policies I was appalled by the burning of books. The episode at the school triggered memories of burning books and banning books. This, for me, is a reminder of where things are headed when we are told what we can and cannot read.

These students were not around when books were burned to remove freedoms. They don’t have experience of thoughts being limited and controlled. I know that was not their intention but I am always anxious when I hear about books being burned.

 

Awareness

Mental health day is here and I hope that those who do not suffer from these problems will look with kindness, compassion and most of all acceptance on those who suffer. We have to continue to aid awareness and understanding. We will not remain silent but will continue to seek hope for a new future.

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God bless all those who suffer from mental health issues!

Things can go wrong

Today I went to do a mediation. It was the shortest one I have ever done. My suspicion is that this family has been at each other for years. I don’t think that will stop anytime soon.

Isometric family disagreements and quarrels, conflict. Concept for web design

Families are so tricky. We usually know who our family members are and whether we like them or not. Some members we accept even though they may not be our cup of tea. Some of the trouble comes about because of money….. a consistent evil. Someone dies and the distribution of money and family things causes bad feeling. Members accuse each other of taking something that doesn’t belong to them or mishandling money to be distributed. No matter how close and loving a group seems they can fall apart over things left.

disagreement

I have decided that I will begin deciding who in my family will receive things that I expect could cause issues. I have begun asking my children what are the things that matter to them. Sometimes the answers can surprise you. Some people are more concerned about memories rather than intrinsic value. Having that information is helpful when making decisions.

The sad part is when things aren’t defined sufficiently families can end up with bad feelings and divisions forever. I don’t think my children are that way but you never know for sure.

There are things that have to be done before hand so that things don’t go downhill fast. I hope it is years before is slip off this mortal coil but just in case I am starting to make sure all goes as well as possible.

No labeling

I was reading an old journal of mine today and come across the statement “Labeling is easier than compassion.” I don’t know if this thought is mine or a quote so forgive me if I err.

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It is so easy to label people. It is also easy to make snap judgments about who they are. How many times have I met someone and “assumed” what strata of society they come from or their level of schooling or intelligence. How often I have been wrong.

My son, when a teen, worked at a golf course’s shop. A man came in browsing. He was dressed in somewhat crumpled clothing and sported a battered hat. Fortunately for him my son just took it in stride and sold the man the things he wanted. Later someone told him the mas was Sam Walton…the founder of Walmart. How easy it would have been to think the man didn’t have the money to buy anything.

Labels are “odious” (Madeleine L’Engle). We have not walked in the shoes of the person we are labeling. We don’t know what kind of life they have had. Someone who seems angry man have been abused as a child.

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Having compassion for those we meet is the way to start out. Even if we don’t know what is behind their behavior or mindset. We can’t go wrong in setting our own behavior to believe they deserve our compassion. Maybe we can change lives.

 

Neutral is hard

How can things go so awry? How can life get so out of hand? In mediations I see the mistakes that people make. Sometimes they have to do with relationships. Sometimes they are about money. Sometimes it is a mixture of both.

business conflict resolution conceptThe hardest part about being a mediator is wanting to fix it and that is not allowed. It is part of the legal court system and we must remain neutral and not give any kind of advice. Once there was a case where the only thing dividing the two people was $10.00. It would have been simpler to give the person the money rather than try to get them to meet in the middle.

As of yet I have not been trained to do Domestic cases which deal with divorce and child custody. I can see the real emotional issues attached to that. I am not sure if I want to do that.

If you have a family with multiple children I think you have spent a great deal of time mediating.  I learned early on to let one person pick two brownies and the other choose first from the two. Much time was spent finding exact pieces. I have always loved this cartoon from a long time ago.

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Apologize?

“It is a good rule to never apologize. The right kind of people never want apologies and the wrong kind take advantage of them.” From the TV show “The Orville”

On one level I agree with this quote. The wrong people can take advantage but the right people deserve an apology. Sometimes you don’t know which you are dealing with. When thinking about this I came to the conclusion that if in the wrong I would rather apologize. In some ways the apology is for me and the other person.

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Being able to ask forgiveness makes me feel better. It also shows respect to the other person.  It takes away some of the guilt I am feeling. However, I don’t like to apologize for something I did not do. This is where I draw the line. In my life I have been accused of wronging someone when it wasn’t me. In spite of the fact of my insistence that I was innocent I was never believed. That is hard to live with.

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I just couldn’t resist this one

The other interesting idea is the non-apology apology. Have you ever used this ploy? For example, I might say I am sorry you feel that way. It sounds like an apology but really I am just stating how I feel at the moment. It is however, the truth. This can work if you are in a sticky situation. Most of the time it is taken as an apology. It is one way to end any dispute and restore good feelings.

 

What are your feelings about apologies?

 

For a better world

In some of my recent reading I came across an interesting fact. As a Christian I have learned about original sin….the sin that came from the mistakes of Adam and Eve. However, the history of this idea was not originally connected to Jesus. It was not know in the very early church. It was not a doctrine accepted by either the Jewish faith or Islam. It is another doctrine that was hammered out when the early church was struggling to keep some cohesiveness of ideas.

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Several communities of Christians developed ideas that others saw as heading the wrong way and tried to wipe out what they considered heresy. The struggles led to the Council of Nicea where many church fathers sat down to come to some agreement. Many doctrines of Christianity came from this meeting.

The interesting thing to me is that things we have been taught as “truth” may have a different beginning than we realized. It shows how what we learn from those around us can be colored by their viewpoint.

Reaching back into time to find the history of concepts we have learned may bring a different perspective entirely.

Prejudices_quote_ZMSS

Not too long ago I saw a program that had people tell about their backgrounds and explore some of the prejudices they had about those from different cultures. countries, and races. They then had their DNA tested and it was interesting to discover that many of them had DNA in common with those they thought were different from them. It was, for them, a wake-up call to re-examine what they had been taught.

Never be afraid to explore the birth of customs and ideas. We may find that their beginnings are not what we thought. If, by doing so, we could discard some of our learned prejudices we may create a better world.

 

A useful skill

puzzleTomorrow I go to do a Mediation. I volunteer as a mediator for court mandated (and sometimes chosen by people) help with settling problems. Doing this brings an interesting perspective to my own life.

Working with the cases I see opens a world where pettiness and anger are often primary. Money, of course, is at issue but sometimes the silliness is overwhelming. Compromise is not a word that most of the clients have any knowledge of. You would think that the aggravation of filing a suit, having to go to mediation, not settling and then going to court would make someone think logically.

In most cases that I have mediated logic has gone out the window and the opponents are functioning from feelings alone. (Of course this is not the case when the case is about money owed to credit card companies or others similar.) I am talking about two people who cannot settle their differences because of some underlying emotion.

Compassion, understanding and listening are important things to learn and use. Many times just listening allows us to hear what is underneath and find out where the real pain is. Listening to both sides is critical to the mediation process and in our lives. Real listening is truly absorbing not only what is being said, but what is not said.

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I feel useful helping but I have also learned to value the opportunities that show up in my own life where kindness and understanding can defuse the problems. I can see the times where my own willingness to compromise has solved the issue. I am not patting myself on the back but being grateful for learning that, the majority of the time, there there are better ways to handle things than to file a law suit. Sometimes people just need to be heard. This requires someone actually listening.