Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lessons Learned

There's an ancient psalm in which an Israelite king named David gives praise to God for being "fearfully and wonderfully made." How true! Humans are complex and amazing on all kinds of levels.

One thing I thank God for is that we can continually learn, develop, and improve as human beings! Proverbs 16:31 says: " Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.

We don't come into the world fully equipped with wisdom and all the "Fruits of the Spirit" installed at the start. Fruit by its very nature takes time to grow and sometimes longer than it needs to, due to our own lack of cooperation. This isn't edible fruit I'm writing of, but the qualities that result from spending time with God, soaking in scripture so that it speaks to us and letting his presence transform us so that we reflect his character. The fruit of the Spirit is: Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

Insights from other sources also helped me overcome personal blind spots and self defeating habits. It wasn't exactly the same as developing the fruit of the spirit, but it helped to learn ways of being with others that are more functional. I have learned:

1) To speak with confidence and clarity when stating an opinion or making a request.
Bad habit demolished: Diminishing the power and impact of my words by subconsciously seeding my sentences with mitigation, modifiers, and minimizing my needs, resulting in a lack of straightforwardness and unclear messaging. For example, in my "asks" of others, I often used to embed a "no" option even while making the request! :) 

This is an unhelpful trait, which I suspect women are more prone to; in part a defense mechanism--a way of avoiding the anticipated discomfort of rejection by doing the rejection myself in advance. It was efficient but counter productive.

I realize now that I won't melt or crumble if someone says "no," or doesn't agree with me. I am content to focus on stating my viewpoint with clarity, confidence and kindness. I give credit to author Katie Funk Wiebe for this epiphany, as I wrote in more detail in a blog post called Weasel Words

2) Learning about something called the Fundamental Attribution Error, and understanding how it was at play in my thinking. In the article I linked to above, a commenter said it could also be called the fundamental "assumption" error. Either way, once I was aware, I could stop it. 

Bad habit (almost) demolished: Trying to figure out the intent of someone else's actions.

Result: A lighter load! I try not to go there anymore and I understand that I cannot know the "why" of someone's actions unless I ask, and listen with open ears and heart. I have enough trouble understanding my own intentions let alone nailing anyone else's accurately. I learned that we tend to judge our own actions by our circumstances, thereby giving ourselves grace, whereas we judge the actions of others by what we perceive to be their intent or character, rather than the circumstances they may be in.

3) Learning about "Projection" and how, through my own conflicted emotions or anxiety, I can unwittingly project onto others those very feelings and emotions. Kind of like a paint can tipping over and spilling onto poor innocent people in my vicinity.

Bad habit demolished (well, "greatly lessened" is more honest:) Judgement and criticism. 

Result: I can work through my own anxiety through self awareness and breathing. I feel more at peace with myself and others.

So grateful for these life lessons. Recording them here was good for me, and I  hope may help someone else coming across them.


Susan said...

Wow, this unleashed a big (if quiet) emotional response in me... Can't wait until the next time we have tea. I might even be able to find the words by then! (Here's hoping.) I think I like #2 the best. :)

Belinda Burston said...

I can't wait until the next time for tea either--call and I'll be there. Thank you for reading--that always feels like an honour.

Anonymous said...

Wow - lots to think about in this post. Thanks.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Oh, I want to join in that tea too!

Belinda Burston said...

Thanks Anon. I have a fertile ongoing conversation with myself. I'm glad I looped you in lol! :)

Belinda Burston said...

Dave, we are running out of time in January you know. See, I didn't forget! But I am advertising myself as "available" as enthusiastically as a lady of ill repute, while understanding the time pressure that my "younger" friends are still living with. Lol!

arils and castles said...

Belinda ~ thank you so much for these words of wisdom - so insightful and transparent. So true that letting go of judgement and presumption frees us to listen openly to others and it also frees the others person to speak honestly instead of from a defensive stance. I love the reminder that once we realize and know better we can simply adjust and make a different choice. You have been such an example of leading full of grace and truth! Thank You!

Belinda Burston said...

Thank you Nicole. I am loving reading you, too, on Arils and Castles!