Manners: A better way?

What has happened to manners and being polite?  A question so commonly asked today. We need to be polite!   It was driven into many of us as children.   Say ‘please’ ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’.   It all sounds rather good and nice.  The problem was we were trained to do this.  That is ‘do it’ even when we don’t ‘mean it’.  Worse still he had to accept others insincere politeness and act on it!

Being polite and respectful somehow drifted into social correctness and insincerity. Rather than the appropriate respectful use of the phrases, please, thank you and sorry, the deep meaning of them has been lost.   Consideration of others drifted into self-denial and disrespect or worse.  Little white lies, some call it.  In the name of being kind!

 I don’t see how disrespect and insincerity are ‘good’ or ‘nice’ or ‘kind’. Do you?

‘Please’ a respectful request, to me, has almost become a begging.   Worse I have noticed often there is an element of expectation attached to it. I said ‘please’ so you have to do it. Ouch! What happened to the right to say no.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am all for requesting.  Demanding is not a first choice, it too takes away a right of choice. Y et sometimes, when boundaries are broken, a demand actually becomes appropriate.  I just think I don’t need to beg or expect my fulfilment from one particular source.  If you say no, I can ask someone else.

‘Please’ really is about letting the ‘other’ know they have a choice.   So the phrases:    Could you? Would you? Often seems more fitting to me.

‘Thank you’, an automatic couple of words so often empty and lacking a sense of gratitude.   Come on you know what I mean.   They said ‘thank you’ but was it a genuine appreciation or just empty words?

Appreciation radiates a sense of connection and satisfaction that draws one in, so we can do it all again.  That is what is it about.  We want to make a difference.

 Genuine appreciation and gratitude guides us to use our energy where it makes a difference.

Did you like it?   Did it make a difference for you?  If so, say ‘thank you’ with ‘meaning’ and draw that experience in some more.  Acknowledge what you like.  Say thank you with appreciation, so the source knows it wasn’t wasting its time and energy.  Believe me, you will experience more pleasure this way.

‘Oh sorry’, now I can do it all again.  What!  No that’s not what ‘sorry’ is about!  Yet isn’t that a really common practice today?  ‘I said sorry, what more do you want?’

Well actually I don’t like it, so I don’t want it.   I want to experience something different.

A genuine ‘sorry’ is about recognising an inappropriate action and correcting it.

The words are empty if there is no experiential difference for the ‘other’.  Yet this doesn’t mean you have to change for others, to fit in with them all the time. T he trick is understanding what is important to you and being able to let go of what isn’t.  Being creative enough to find ways to meet everyone’s needs when appropriate.  Sometimes this means looking at our priorities and remembering to let go of ‘others’ so they can grow.

It is unfortunate that being polite, intended as respectfully considerate of others, has become a form of social correctness.   This social correctness is what concerns me.   That is when good manners are token empty gestures or requires us to go along with the social norms and commonplace behaviors that reinforce disconnection and lack of authenticity.

The genuine use of requests, appreciation and appropriate behavior adjustment, along with candid caring communication lead to more fulfilment and life satisfaction.  Yet candid communication maybe portrayed as disrespectful, in reality, I think this claim is a means to prevent growth and maintain questionable social practices.

Learn to speak candidly with respectful kindness, and how to develop relationships where you know the other has your best interests at heart and will support you being your self!  And that you will do the same for them.   Let others know what you appreciate and that you are aware they have a right to say No. 

The Importance of Self-Care

Monday 24th of July is International Self-Care Day.   In honor of the day lets acknowledge the importance of Self-Care and consider how we can enhance our Self-Care skills.  For Self-Care is our first and primary role and responsibility.   It is about honoring our health and wellbeing, as well those around us.

Effective Self-Care is the practice of constructively paying attention to, and fulfilling one’s own needs, so as to nourish and maintain one’s health and wellbeing.

Constructively refers to being effective and respectful, respectful of our self as well as of others.  To be effective and respectful we must be aware of our own needs, be able to distinguish our self from others and recognise that we have separate and often different needs and desires.   We need to believe in our ability to fulfil those needs, while considering others’.  Finally we need the skills to consider varies options, before selecting and actioning the most appropriate way to have the need(s) meet.

As a babe we did not hesitate to let others know our needs until others fulfilled them, or we learnt helplessness.   As we grew we developed skills to fulfill our needs and desires or remained in a space of learnt helplessness and decided we wouldn’t have what we wanted.   Some of us learnt effective Self-Care skills.  We were empowered.   The result being we had the skills for a fulfilling and satisfying life; we experience health, wellbeing, quality relationships, personal success and how to deal with the challenges of life. Unfortunately many of us did not.

Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable,  and you are worth the effort.  Deborah Day

If we have unfulfilled needs they tend to fester and break out.  They may break out as irritation, passive aggressive or outright aggressive behaviors.  These behaviors have damaging effects on our health, wellbeing, relationships, and consequently our life.   As an adult it is our responsibility to develop our Self-Care skills so we can be both self-determined and respectful.   To do this we need the skills of self-awareness, empathy, creativity, negotiation, decision-making, action taking, and accountability.   Learning these skills are Self-Care essentials.

Self-Care means being able to give the best of yourself,  rather than what is left of yourself.   Katie Reed

If you already have many of these skills, in honor of Self-Care Day I suggest you put aside time to consider an act of kindness for your self and your loved one’s and action it as soon as possible.   For kindness is another foundation of Self-Care.

If you are struggling with your personal Self-Care, I recommend giving yourself permission to not only determine but also meet your personal need and desires.   First steps include taking the time to consider what actions make you feel better and which do not.  AND committing to doing more of what helps you feel better.  Start with the simple things.   Perhaps taking time to read a good book, talk with a friend, sitting down to savor a nourishing bowl of fruit salad, or vegetable soup.   Importantly, know you deserve to enjoy your life and that the little things that nourish you are the backbone to doing so.

What action are you taking today to enhance your Self-Care?

How are you celebrating International Self-Care Day?

Other potential resources:

For specific ideas of Self-Care check out: 45 Simple Self-Care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul.

Self-Awareness exercises.

The Art of Empathy by Karla McLaren

Crucial Accountability by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, and Ron McMillan

Befriending Your Emotions II: A better way.

Emotional intelligence and health are key to your over all health, wellbeing and life satisfaction.   This is because emotional health is the foundation to effective relationships and as social beings we are dependent on others.  This dependence is embedded in our physiology.   It is deeply ingrained within our pain, pleasure, survival, and growth aspects.   Emotional health is part of our physiological, as well as, our psychological beingness.  Emotional intelligence has four key aspects: self-awareness, self-regulation, self-determination and other-awareness or relationship management.   Each aspect builds upon the previous.

We need to be self-aware, have self-regulation and determination to be able to effectively be other-aware, so we can have fulfilling relationships. Fulfilling relationships are key to our health and life satisfaction.  To move from a place of disconnection to self-awareness, from survival mode to personal growth and life satisfaction we need to Befriend our Emotions and connect with our self and live a self-determined life.   This in turn supports us to experience fulfilling relationships and life satisfaction.   This is not up for debate it is reality.

While we need to build up from self-awareness, developmentally, I will encourage you to begin with self-determination.   This is because as adults we are responsible for our own life.   It is essential to let go of any thought that it is up to someone else.   As an adult you can and are responsible for making decisions for yourself and take responsibility for the outcome.  This is the foundation for ownership of your life.   So if you are looking for life satisfaction and fulfilling relationships, begin by give yourself permission to claim your own life, to be yourself, to meet your own needs and desires and be responsible for yourself.

Next, identify your needs, preferences, desires and values.  What is important to you?   This is the process of being self-aware. To be self-aware is the opposite of the disconnection experienced when suppressing and denying emotions.   It requires you to slow down and pay attention; this is paying proper attention, to what your body and emotions are telling you.  To develop your inner connection, begin by distinguishing between what feels right or comfortable and what does not.  This is the first indication of your needs, preferences, desires and values.

Once you have identified your needs, preferences, desires and values you can begin to fulfill them.  You can start with one or two, if you like, just start somewhere.   If required give yourself permission to meet the chosen needs or desires.  Remember to do so respectfully.   As you work with your selection and become more comfortable with the process, other needs and desires will reveal themselves.   And so your journey continues.

From there you can begin to distinguish between different emotions and what they are trying to tell you.   Start with those emotions that are strongly pushing their way into your awareness.  Then move onto listening for your emotions before they become so intense.   All the emotions have subtle forms, just many of us don’t recognise them.

Self-regulation really becomes important as we tap into suppressed and denied emotions, we can become rather reactive, rather than respectfully responsive.  To be respectful of all it is important to respond to your needs, desires and values effectively.   If you don’t these physiological and psychological needs will seep out, cause reactions (unconscious actions) with your loosing the power of choice. Self-regulation is foundational to the Power of Choice.

At the same time be patient with yourself as you move from a place of ‘reactive’ action to one of responsive action by choice.   You are developing your ability to practice authenticity; your actions align with your intentions, things won’t always go smoothly.   Yet you are still moving forward if you keep cycling back to self-determination and focus on improvement.

You need the skills of self-awareness, self-regulation and self-determination before you can learn to manage relationships effectively.   These skills promote your ability to be authentic, fulfill your needs and desires plus distinguishing yourself from others.   Becoming other aware, recognising others as separate individuals, will enable you to manage your relationships, respectful cooperation relationships based in equality and mutuality, effectively.   All of this is embedded in your physiology such that by developing these skills you will become more comfortable, satisfied, healthier and happier.   You will enjoy a more satisfying and pleasurable life.

Saying No Appropriately is Powerfully Respectful.

Saying No appropriately is essential.

It is about being respectful and setting clear boundaries.

Many of us have been taught to ‘do the right thing’, ‘put others first’ and ‘to be nice’.  Often the implication and result is we come to believe saying ‘no’ is not ok.  In addition many people expect others to always say Yes!   Perhaps including your self.   Both of these views are not in your or anyone’s best interest!  Not only is it ok to say No, it is vitally important to appropriately say No.

Saying No ‘appropriately’ means knowing what you key priorities are.  It is about knowing, caring and attending to what is right for you, your values and your priorities.    As well as what is not.  By allowing yourself to focus your attention on what is most important, you are practicing self-respect.   That is you don’t have to fulfil others needs all the time.  You matter too.

Saying No doesn’t mean the other have to go without; it just means you won’t fulfil that particular request, perhaps only at that particular time.   You could suggest another way they can get what they are asking for.  By validating them and their request you are acknowledging both your right to say No and theirs to ask.  Being respectful of others is also important.

As is fulfilling your role in a relationship.  However, this does not mean saying ‘no’ is not ok.  Indeed to say yes, inappropriately, that is to fail to say no appropriately, is practicing disrespect for all.   Being respectful to your self is foundational to respecting others.

Saying No appropriately allows clear boundaries to be set.  It clarifies what is important acceptable and not acceptable for you and or the situation.  While allowing your self to be ‘distracted from what is most important’, ‘spread too thin to do justice to anything’ or ‘accepting inappropriate behaviour’ are forms of disrespect.

Identifying, creating time for and standing by what is important to you means you are being powerfully respectful of yourself and sets boundaries for what is appropriate and what is not appropriate in your life.  In essence saying No appropriately is setting boundaries to allow respectful behaviour for all.

Our conditioning to say yes (be nice) is one reason we find it challenging to say No.   Other reasons include concerns the other person will not receive our No well.  They will be upset, or hurt, which could create conflict or damage to the relationship.   The lack of understanding of the value and importance of saying No fuels these misguided ideas. Develop your understanding and apperception for the value of appropriately saying No!

To help you get comfortable with this remember you, indeed everyone, has a right to ask for what you want and who ever has been asked, has a right to say No.  All an appropriate No means is, there is a need to ask someone else and or get creative with the request.

You have a right to say No!

This means others can say No too!

The expectation of a Yes denies the right of choice.

Validation

Validation is key to powerful relationships.

It says:

It is safe to be our self.

Even when we don’t agree, each of us matters and is accepted.

To validate someone is to let them know they matter, that they are accepted for who they are.  It is essential for the building of relationships based in trust, cooperation, a sense of belonging and closeness.  Unfortunately validation is not that common a practice.  Our thoughts, feelings, experiences, and or reality are minimalized or dismissed on a regular bases.  The practice is so integrated into our communication style that we are often unaware, we may even have best intentions, when we practice it.  However the practice of being invalidated has the same impact whether it is done consciously or unconsciously.  

Invalidation leaves one feeling like they don’t matter,

are wrong and don’t belong.

The act of invalidation is so common it is

No wonder so many people struggle with a sense of being wrong and

of not belonging.

Think about it.  How often have you experienced or said, ‘Don’t get upset.’ ‘You don’t want that.’   ‘You are wrong.’  ‘Stop feeling that way.’  ‘Pull yourself togeather.’  ‘Your over reacting.’  ‘Don’t think about it, just do it.’  ‘It could be worse.’   ‘Cheer up.’  ‘Think positive.’  ‘Oh that’s nothing …’  ‘There’s no reason to be upset.’  ‘Your being irrational.’ No doubt you can now think of many more such comments and thus the list could go on.

Yet it is not overly challenging to travel the path to being a validator, rather than an invalidator, transitioning to someone who consciously values, respects and cares for themselves and others.   To do so make the choice to practice validation; to stop objectifying and discarding oneself and others with the use of invalidation.

By validating and respecting yourself you can become

the person you want to be.

Validating others supports the creation of a safe space.

Where trust, closeness and

a sense of belonging can develop.

This results in closer stronger relationships

based in honesty and respect.

How to validate:

The first step is to remember we are all real people, with our own perspectives, thoughts, and feelings.  As a consequence we will have different ideas, needs, preferences and desires; with each of us making our own choices.  This reality is a basic right of life.   This diversity is in fact the beauty of life.  Approaching others with this attitude makes an enormous difference.

Now: Be present, keep your attention in the now, on the individual of interest.  This shows they matter enough for you to be there for them.

In that presence, listen to what they say and acknowledge it.  You don’t have to agree with it.  Just let it be, acknowledge their view, ideas, feelings and choices as theirs.

Also pay attention to their non-verbal communication.  What that is saying about where they are at, then, instead of assuming you know, check in with them and ask for the clarification you need.

Remind them what they are experiencing is ok.   Ideally normalize it, let them know they are not alone, others may have the same experience.

To validate yourself and others is powerfully respectful.  It means you pay attention; act with caring, in best interests, to personal needs and desires.   You drop expectations.  As a result each person knows they matter, as an individual, and that they belong.   In turn we can share more of our self and build closeness in our relationships.

Finally lets remember to be real.  It is massively challenging for most people to stop one practice and instantly take on another.  It is the intention and implementation of validation practices that will make the difference.   Invalidation is likely to still occur. However, if we consider research from Positive Psychology we can take into account the four to one ratio.  That is for each negative incident four positives will counteract it.   So keep the focus on validating whenever you can, including acknowledging each one that occurs.

Building Closeness

Closeness is the foundation of healthy relationships.  It is the ability to connect with another, to gain access to their inner world, and it is a two way process.  As a consequence, while building and maintaining closeness is a skill we can learn, closeness can only occur between individuals that have the skills and wish to connect with each other.  Closeness is worth developing, for the experience of being socially connected, as well as the, better health, wellbeing, longer life and greater life satisfaction it provides.  Closeness is not just the glue for society it is the foundation for a truly fulfilling life.

To develop the skills for closeness it is essential to be aware it is a process, something to do and continue to do because life is about change.  The process of closeness involves two key steps 1) knowing and 2) caring.  These take time and being present.  Too often individuals’ feel they do not have the time and or are too preoccupied to be present with others.  Remember if you stop practicing closeness it will fade. The lack of closeness in one’s life ensures a sense of loneliness, separation and lack of belonging.  You can only gain from closeness by taking the time, learning to be present and practicing the process of building closeness with those around you continuously.

To get to know someone it is necessary to take the time to establishing a safe space, listen to what they are saying and practicing validation.  Key to the process is asking questions out of curiosity, a genuine interest in the other.  Alternatively to allow someone to get to know you it is necessary to be able, and willing, to share your own inner world.   And to do so in a way that is maintaining a sense of safety.  Getting to know someone and sharing with another are challenging processes.  There are important communication skills required: listening, questioning, validation, creating and maintaing a safe space.  The key mindsets of curiosity, openness and mutual respect are also valuable.

A sense of safety and trust builds with time, even when caring is expressed.  It is important that each individual knows they are cared for.  Caring for another involves investing in ‘their best interests’.  That is to empower them to meet their needs, desires, their right to have a life of personal fulfilment and satisfaction.  Being caring also has numerous skills the ability to be empathic, demonstrate caring, being able to handle disagreements and maintain a caring bond over time.  Plus the mindset of doing or being in service to the other(s), being kind, generous and having a sense of contentedness.

Building closeness is an important and complex process.  It is rather unfortunate that it is not commonly intentionally taught as it is the foundation of our life, particularly when we want a satisfying, connected life.