“We can make a time for you on Monday, is that okay?”
“No,” I answered, “but I don’t think I have a choice.”
Yeah, I was THAT blunt (but, I said it nicely.)
“No,” she agreed.
This was at the eye glass store after I had waited days for an appointment.
I had called on Tuesday.
They were closed, so I left a message.
Friday came, I had not heard back from them.
I called again and told them my daughter and I wanted to come and look at eyeglass frames.
They gave us an appointment for the next day, Saturday.
Or, so, I thought.
When we got there, they said that they could only see ONE of us.
After a week of calls and waiting, I was kinda frustrated.
(And if you know me, you know I don’t get prickly very easily.)
I was pretty sure I had mentioned on the phone that there were two of us.
While I can take responsibility for my bluntness, I also want to talk about their mistake.
This is something that can cost businesses customers.
They took no responsibility for the miscommunication.
More importantly, they showed no empathy for my situation and gave me no way to empathize with theirs.
When I explained my attempts to be in touch and the responses I had received, they just said they still couldn’t see me.
I felt dismissed and redirected.
As long as they just said, “Sorry, we can’t do that, you can come on Monday.” It felt like I was talking to something inanimate that didn’t see, hear or care about me.
I let it go, relaxed and they seemed okay for me to try some frames anyway.
By the end of our time there, my daughter and had a nice rapport with a different sales person.
So, I asked her if she could help me understand why my original voice message hadn’t been heard and no one had responded.
Were they particularly busy?
Once she was real with me and shared that they are short staffed and working two sites, I could empathize.
All it takes is being real and giving someone a way to empathize with you.
As soon as I could empathize, the feeling of being deflected and dismissed fizzled away.
So why didn’t they do it? Why do we all miss that step so often?
Because we have an idea that saying “Sorry” shows weakness.
And because we don’t want to be “at fault.” That would make us blameworthy.
Being blamed makes us feel weak or ashamed.
But, there is a way to empathize, and to take responsibility that shows strength, not weakness.
You know it, because you respect the people who do it.
You go back to the businesses who after a mistake, take responsibility and make an accommodation as a gesture towards relationship.
When you respond from “being right” and not from relationship, the other person feels ignored, unheard and unseen.
When you accept responsibility and empathize, you open communication and step into a relationship where the other person can feel valued.
Notice the next time a restaurant, store, or business steps into the vulnerability with you and notice how it eases the tension when they are ready to accept responsibility and honor the relationship.
If you are brave, try it in a conversation and see what happens. Instead of getting defensive, allow the feeling of vulnerability and while still standing strong with it, accept responsibility.
In almost every case, it will ease and diffuse tension.
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In the mouth of a child it can mean so many different things.
Most of the time as adults, we interpret the phrase to mean “I don’t have anything to do.” Or, “what I’m doing doesn’t interest me.”
What else could it mean?
For example, if you’re my 7th grade daughter who loves being social, it means, “I want to hang out with my friends and do stuff together and anything else right now is boring.”
Or, sometimes it means she is completely under-stimulated and going out of her mind, (which as a sensorily sensitive introvert is how I feel after an hour of being in Costco!)
When she describes a class at school it means that she had to just sit and listen passively while the teacher talked.
On a Sunday morning before Hebrew school, it means “I’d rather be in my pajamas and stay home,” or “None of my friends are going to be there.”
I realize that to me as a child it meant, “I want someone to talk to me or a friend to keep me company.”
What do you think it meant to you as a child?
Ah, the irony
Even though we’ve had this experience of being bored, we don’t usually respond from empathy. We give answers and solutions.
We forget that as adults, we have more autonomy to navigate ourselves towards what we need, want, towards distractions or things of interest.
(And, those distractions are not always such good things for us. Yes, I’m talking about chocolate.)
What’s great about our kids being bored?
One of the things we have an opportunity to do during this unique period of epic boredom for children who would prefer to play and be more active, is to help them identify their specific needs and discomfort, (to play, to see friends, to talk.. etc.) name and move through their feelings instead of avoiding them or pushing them down.
How do we do that?
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
Here are my suggested alternative answers for children who complain about boredom!
On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being so bored you are like a piece of cardboard and 10 being not bored at all, how bored are you?
If you choose any friend to be with right now, who would it be? Why?
If you could do any activity you wanted right now what would it be? Why?
The word “boring” will never sound boring to you again!
Do you have that time when you said to yourself “Just go do IT already?”
You probably said it to yourself because at some point someone said to you, “Just go do IT already.” Or they said “If you want to do IT, do IT! Stop talking about it” (Anybody else hear their mother’s voice when they read those sentences?)
Well, it’s easy for the other person to tell you what you should do. When someone says “Stop talking about IT. Just go do IT already!” it’s because it will make them feel better and solve whatever discomfort or responsibility they feel to help fix your situation.
But, here’s the thing: If you could just go do it, you would have already.
So, if you aren’t doing IT there are real things in your way.
If you aren’t doing whatever IT is for you, it’s not because there is something wrong with you.
Most likely at least one of these obstacles is in your way.
So, stop beating yourself up for not doing IT already!
What can you do?
Does this intellectually make sense, but not something you see yourself implementing?
I get that. It isn’t an easy mind shift to make. I’d love to give you the support you need to make the change.
Contact me to set up a time to talk, and together we can create a conversation that functions as a safe container where you to can have the insights and find the clarity you need to move through these obstacles and finally do IT!
We are taught to see our value and self-worth through the eyes of others. As we receive messages praising, approving or criticizing, we form a sense of who we are from the response of those around us.
Consequentially, we come to rely on people outside ourselves for messages that we are worthy, that we belong, that we deserve caring. We develop a pattern of looking for affirmation, praise, compliments from outside ourselves.
When we don’t receive what we seek, we feel sad, anxious, and alone.
When we seek worth and value from outside ourselves, we set ourselves up to never fully have what we want. It’s never enough.
When we do receive the praise, affirmation, compliments and positive energy that others bring to us we are still anxious because we don’t know when it might disappear.
When it disappears, we don’t know how to create it for ourselves from within ourselves.
And so we stay anxious.
Yet, we have a choice. We can learn to cultivate a sense of self-worth that doesn’t rely on anyone and personal power that no one can take away.
When we have an internal sense of our own values and know that we are living in our integrity, then we are free.
We are free from the anxiety of a hurt ego. Others can still hurt us, but they can’t shame us or diminish our self-worth.
What’s your choice?
Will you stay anxious or will you cultivate a sense of self-worth and a personal power that come from within you?
Contact me for a complimentary coaching session to strategize an individual plan for you to build your personal power and let go of anxiety.
Nobody can take away your power without your permission.
They can demote you, judge you, shame you, shun you, fire you, or call you names, but you always, ALWAYS have a choice as to how you react and feel.
When you feel disempowered it’s because someone has done something to put you down. You feel ashamed, embarrassed, or demeaned. While you are entitled to feel the pain of the person’s aggressive move towards you, and you are justified in your reaction, you can only be diminished in your power if you allow it.
How do you overcome a huge dose of negative energy that has been dumped on you? How do you retain your dignity, your self worth and your composure in the face of bullying intentional or not, family, friends or work?
Viktor Frankl says, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
There is always a choice to use that space Frankl mentions to access your power within instead of reacting to the energy coming from outside sources. You can believe and know that you are worthy, that you are valuable even when someone does whatever she can to make you feel otherwise.
I found my way of handling this when in the midst of crisis a mentor said to me, “You can only influence what is inside your circle of control.” Instead of behaving defensively to what felt like an unjust betrayal and attack, instead of arguing and fighting to change the circumstances, I took responsibility for how I showed up, how I spoke to people and how I made them feel.
Despite the feeling of being kicked in the stomach, I cultivated a sense of love and forgiveness in my heart so that everything I said could come from within my values. The anxiety still lived in me for months, but slowly things started to change, and as I relaxed in the way that I presented myself and responded to things, the people around me relaxed also.
Instead of their anxiety-driven behavior resonating and generating the same behavior from me, I led them towards a more relaxed, positive and open energy.
That is when I learned that no one can really take away your power if you do not give it to them. You ALWAYS have the power to receive their negativity and repurpose their energy into what you want to send into the world.
If you are struggling to take back your power and live in the area, PLEASE reach out and have a conversation with me. I so much want you to see what you truly have within you and what you can do. If you are in Southern California, PLEASE consider coming to one of my workshops where we focus on this directly.