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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tomorrow 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.
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.
Yesterday I wrote a post that was thought provoking. I knew it wouldn’t be some people’s cup of tea. That, in fact, was the case. Sometimes when we write we don’t think about how others interpret our words. The thing that I love about word press is that the resulting comments were so kind and clearly looked for my meaning. That is so appreciated.
This forum has brought nothing but kindly worded comments even if there were differences about what was posted. This is a great blessing. I know that putting my thoughts to paper do not always speak clearly what I mean. This does happen. It is so nice to know that we can communicate with kindness AND honesty. There are so many places that sharing thoughts does not get that kind of response.
I want to say how happy I am to communicate in a place that allows us to share, agree, disagree, and still keep the conversation going. This also gives us the chance to maybe give a clearer meaning to our words.
This is a re-blog of something I wrote a while ago. It came up recently and so I thought it needed to be said again.
People can say stupid things. It is amazing to me that they don’t really think about what they are saying. When I ran a grief support group I heard some goodies.
You can have another baby (to someone who just had a miscarriage)
God needed another angel in heaven ( to someone who lost a child)
Your husband wouldn’t want you to be sad (to a new widow)
I’m sure things are better now (to someone whose wife died a few months ago)
God never gives us more than we can handle (to someone who lost two teenagers in an accident)
Everything will be alright (to someone diagnosed with a fatal illness)
Sometimes when we don’t know what to say we can fall into the trap of saying something stupid or offensive. We may not mean it that way but that is how it comes out. When people are going through tough times they don’t need to hear these kind of answers. They need to hear
Can I bring dinner by tomorrow?
I’m going to a movie tomorrow can I pick you up?
I am so sorry
I will call you soon (only if you really will)
Give a hug
Cry with them
Solid concrete help is what is needed. Only say what you mean. If you can help try to do something specific. Don’t just say “how can I help?” Instead ask if you can pick up children, run an errand, offer a day out. Each individual needs different things. You have to gauge what will help.
Most importantly offer compassion and love. Nothing is more needed. If you have suffered a similar loss you may understand better what they are going through but don’t assume it will be exactly the same. Just being there is critical. Don’t just say something…..do something!
Last night while we were out to dinner I noticed a number of teens at another table. Every one of them had on something that touted a designer. Labels. Every shirt had a label on the outside. It was important for people to know that they could afford designer clothes.
Discreet is no longer a word. (In so many ways.) Now everyone wants you to know that they have something special. It is not just teens. Think about all the expensive purses that some women long for. Even some shoes have initials on the outside letting the public know that you can afford them. People sell knock-offs and they are bought by those longing to be able to afford them. It is lusting after prestige.
We didn’t end up that way of our own accord. When I was young you would never be caught wearing something with the label on the outside. It was considered gauche. Gradually more logos appeared on things, crocodiles and polo players. From there it was an easy jump to selling things that announced how expensive they were. Advertising helped to lure us into the idea.
Now almost everything has a label you can see. We want everyone to know the value. We do the same thing to people. We give them labels. Some are simple and based on appearance…thin, fat, old, young. These labels know nothing about the person. If asked to describe someone we would use them.
Other labels are not so easy…stupid, crazy, not right. These have to come from some further knowledge of a person. And yet, the person is not really known. It is a label used to put someone in their place. It is a label to make “us” feel better about ourselves. It is a label to create “us and them.” It is a wrong and biased label.
Labels can be used for many reasons. Some carry little weight and others can be devastating. We really don’t know what is on the inside. That shirt with the designer label can be poorly made when you look at the inside. The plain shirt may be perfectly put together if you choose to look at more than the outside.
Be careful of labels. They do not show the whole story. Be willing to look past the label to what is inside.
Ordinary has gotten a bad rap. There is nothing wrong in being ordinary. It’s just that the word sounds so bland. If we consider ourselves ordinary we think we fade into the background. No one notices us. We can feel that we don’t count.
Am I ordinary? In many ways I am. I lead what can be considered an ordinary life. I am middle class, bright enough, average looks…nothing unusual. At least that is one way to look at it.
For some of us ordinary could be a goal. If we struggle with being different, or at least see ourselves that way, ordinary could sound really good. Ordinary would look like everyone else…. the ability to fit in. And we struggle with not being able to. But we do fit in…just into our own place.
The truth is we are all ordinary in the good sense. Each of us has a place in the world. Each of us has something to give to the world. Each of us is important. Each life doesn’t have to shout “see me! see me!” to have meaning. Just being who we are is extra-ordinary enough.
The person each of us is has a role. Each of us is a part of life. Each of us is really extra-ordinary. There will never be another you or another me. That is enough.