125: Love is self-less

Welcome back! Here is the second post on the phrase “Love is not rude, self-seeking, or easily angered.” The previous post distinguished “easily angered” from all anger. The emotion of anger is an indication that something should change in the situation, the relationship, or possibly you have to look inward and shift the way you think about the situation and relationship. Anger is an indication of change, either outside or inside of you. Give a moment to think about what is motivating your anger AND how you can express yourself in loving ways. The next time you feel anger, even frustration, which is a form of anger, don’t be so quick. Don’t be easily angered.

A loving interaction is not rude or self-seeking. Actions and words spoken in love are respectful and selfless. Selfless doesn’t mean you are less of a person, as one mother once said to me, it means you focus on your thoughts and feelings less. That is, your thoughts and feelings are not considered more important than another’s. A self-seeking interaction is where a person cares more about their own emotions and thoughts than the one with whom they are speaking. To interact in love, they should be self-less.

Haven’t we all been on the receiving end of someone giving a self-seeking message? You know, where the mood of the conversation is “Only I define the rules for when, where, and how we interact. This relationship works as long as you obey my rules. If you break my rules, the relationship suffers.” What’s confusing to us receiving this message is more times than not the self-seeking message is spoken calmly and politely because that is one of the rules!

I’ll be honest with you. I used to get angry when I was on the receiving end of these messages, inappropriately angry (Post #124). Even though I could say unfairness motivated my anger, the words and actions I gave back were either “How dare you” or a whiney, “Why won’t you listen to me?” The truth is, in some sense, I also became self-seeking.

I wanted my thoughts to be spoken and heard. At times I would go on and on justifying how I thought and felt. I felt I was right and they were wrong! Most of the time they didn’t listen. In some cases I was begging for my thoughts and feelings to be considered! I felt I was right and they were wrong! Most of the time they didn’t listen. (If you could see me now, I’m shaking my head as I recall a few of these conversations. That was then; thankfully now I tell better thoughts.)

The point is, when someone is interacting outside loving boundaries, that is when you perceive others as being self-seeking, angry, rude, envious, boastful, or proud, the tendency is for you to join them and also interact outside loving boundaries. Yet, it isn’t until at least one of you return to interacting from a loving place that the relationship and situation get better.

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Because you can only be responsible for your words and actions, why not be the person who returns to love? Why not be the person who is more understanding, considerate, compassionate, well-mannered, respectful, selfless, and/or pacifying? Make a choice not to be rude, self-seeking, or easily angered.

It doesn’t mean your message will be received with love, but you can still give a message in love. By you giving a loving message, possibly others will join you in that loving space, but you cannot guarantee it. You cannot force another person to interact the way you want them to. Let your love speak for yourself; let others speak for themselves. That is the loving thing to do.

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124: Love is not rude, self-seeking, or easily angered

If you’re new to the Show & TELL blog, or you haven’t been keeping up, this summer I have been sharing a deeper perspective for telling yourself and others. The series started with Post #102, so feel free to go back and catch up! Send me your feedback by leaving a comment at the end of the post.

Since Post #120, I have been focusing on love. Love is everything. When in love, you see, support, and expect the best in someone. When in love, you’re better able to understand a person. Actually, it isn’t until you love that you can understand the person. Don’t we all want to be loved?

To interact and send the message “I love you,” specifically interact with a message of “I care about you; I support you; I expect the best for you; AND you matter to me.” Already discussed in previous posts is how you are patient (Post #120) and kind (Post #121 and Post #122). When interacting in love, you don’t dominate the conversation by focusing on yourself. That is, you are not envious, boastful, or proud (Post #123).

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The Biblical scripture from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13 is being used to help define the loving interaction. The scripture says:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

This Show & TELL post, let’s discuss the point that love is not rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. To begin with, let’s talk about “easily angered.” The phrase doesn’t say all anger is not love. “Easily angered” is not interacting in love.

Anger is often viewed as a completely negative emotion. Though aren’t there times a person can be angry for appropriate reasons? For example, when attitudes and actions are inappropriate, or when injustices are happening around you? Is it not appropriate to feel anger when there is an expression of hypocrisy (do as I say, not as I do) or when you witness injustices of poverty or oppression? Is it not appropriate to feel anger when a standard you live by is not being met by those around you?

Anger is the appropriate emotion when unfairness is before us or when there is a disconnect in what you expect and what you see happening. Anger can be the appropriate feeling, and the degree of anger can vary depending on the severity. Actually, I believe not to feel angry in situations of unfairness is limiting many stories to tell. Too many accept, or ignore, limiting behavior and negativity.

In a previous post, I talked about being nice (Post 122). Similar ideas apply when addressing unfairness. Here is the statement from the “not nice” post revised for this conversation:

To make a limiting situation better, to make it right, let’s learn to interact with love. When anger toward unfairness or lower standards of being are present, we must learn to interact using words and actions consistent with love, the inner circle being developed throughout these posts. In other words, by having a loving interaction where you Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love new thoughts, better thoughts, you change your story and others’ stories. By not discussing the unfairness or lower standard of being, the negativity remains in the relationship and/or in the situation.

Expressing anger for wrongdoing is critical, and interacting from a loving place is equally critical. It is telling when you use words and actions to help become aware and become better. You are giving the message”I care about you; I support you; I expect the best for you; you matter to me.” If you don’t tell this message, who will?

On the other hand, anger because you do not get your way in a situation does not count as appropriate anger. This counts as being easily angered. Your anger is grounded in selfishness. True, you may justify it because you disagree with the behavior in the situation, but your words and actions are more focused on your feelings than on inspiring the situation to become better.

To interact in love, your feelings of anger aren’t a quick reaction and a spew of words that express your negative anger. Those moments when you react in the moment and express your anger are moments where you are easily angered. Your message is “you will hear what I have to say whether you want to or not because I am angry.”

mother scolding

To interact in love, you realize the anger informs you something must change, something must be different. You pause to figure out your motivation. You pause to think about how you will respond for the situation and relationship to be better, not to be less. Don’t be so quick. Figure out whether the anger is because you believe the situation or relationship must be different, AND how you can respond in a loving manner. When you are not easily angered, you realize there is a better way to think and respond.

In this post, I didn’t focus much on the rude and self-seeking because I’ve found these attributes often come in angry moments, though not always. When we are easily angered, we’re often rude and self-seeking. We tend to be disrespectful and bad-mannered, as well as self-absorbed. In the next posts, I’ll share deeper thoughts on rudeness and self-seeking motives.

For now, for this post, let’s agree that we all get angry sometimes. Our anger is appropriate, or it is not. It is appropriate when the motivation is for improvement AND you express this in loving ways. Otherwise, the anger interaction is inappropriate.

Learning to tell a better story means questioning what motivates your anger, and how you respond in those moments. Do you just react, anger quickly? Or do you create a better message to tell?

Focus: LoveTags: #, #, #, #, #, #

123: Love is not envious, boastful, or proud

Learning to tell is not a formula, nor is it merely a word that directly relates to interacting. The tell message promoted here is about being aware that every message you speak and hear to some degree embeds Teaching, Encouraging, Listening, and Loving. Thinking about telling better, or telling wholeheartedly, can transform how you give and receive information. Telling interactions can potentially create better life stories. But only if you are willing to tell better. If you are willing to tell yourself better, then you are better able to tell others better.

How can you tell? Since post #102, I have been responding to this question. At first, the posts focused on why your interactions tell the story you communicate to others. In every interaction, you use words and actions to Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love. You tell others your perception of relationships and current circumstances. You tell your story. Starting with Post #110, I have been sharing the basic principles for teach, encourage, and listen.

Since Post #120, I have been talking about love. Love is fundamental. You teach better, encourage better, and listen better when you interact within the boundaries of love.

The Bible scripture in 1 Corinthians describes perfectly a loving interaction.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

“Love is patient” was addressed in Post #120, and “love is kind” was addressed in Posts #121 and #122. Now we come to the next sentence, “It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” Envy, boast, and proud interactions can be summed up as expressing varying degrees of arrogance, which is one person having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities. The message being communicated is: “I am more, others are less.”

Envy can also be described as jealousy, greed, bitterness, resentment, or ill will. Boasting is bragging or singing your own praises. Proud, I understand, is a form of bragging, any words and actions that are overbearing and overconfident. In other words, it’s not, “I am proud of you”; it’s communicating, “I am proud of me.” These messages do not come from a loving place.

When you tell better, specifically, when you give love while interacting, your motives are unassertive and unassuming.

The tell message promoted here is about being aware that every message you speak and hear to some degree embeds Teaching, Encouraging, Listening, and Loving.

Each person is believed to have abilities and strengths. Your message is humble and modest. No one person is more important than the other when you speak in love.

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy or boast. Love is not proud. I am adding the words humble and modest to be within loving boundaries, and the words arrogance and resentment to the unloving space. The clearer you are about interacting in love, or not, the better you tell. 

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Every day you deal with loving and unloving interactions. In the past you may not have identified the interactions as being loving or unloving.  The struggle begins when you recognize there is a distinction and there is a choice.

How willing are you to start recognizing interactions as loving or unloving? How motivated are you to choose words and actions that are within the boundaries of love? The story you tell yourself in these moments becomes part of your current story.

Today, do not envy, do not boast, do not be too proud to tell a better story.

Focus: LoveTags: #, #, #, #, #, #

122: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all?

Growing up, didn’t we all hear a phrase similar to “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all”?

For many years, I thought this meant to keep any negativity to myself. Don’t bring up anything that is not nice. There are times this rule certainly is a good one to follow. Haven’t we all observed and experienced interactions that would have gone much better if one or all of the individuals would have kept the “not nice” words to themselves?

After investigating, reflecting, observing, and experiencing telling interactions for nearly a decade, I’ve realized the phrase “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all limits the stories we tell. Too many thoughts go unspoken, kept inside only for personal knowledge and feelings. The question is not whether the negativity should be spoken, it is more about how negativity is spoken.

Referencing the diagram that is being developed through this conversation on interacting within the boundaries of love, many negative – or ‘not nice’ situations – should be talked about. The question is whether these interactions are spoken outside the boundaries of love, or within the boundaries of love. Does the interaction give the message embedded annoyance, intolerance, or spiteful words and actions? Or is the interaction more consistent with a message embedded in compassion, tolerance, and understanding?Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 8.04.34 AM

I am reminded of the story that appeared in one of the first Show & TELL blogs (Post 003). A son had lied to his parents about where he was spending the night. The father’s first thoughts were more consistent with the descriptive words in the outside circle, “There has to be a consequence; we have to punish him; we can’t have him lying to us; I think we should ground him; how long do you think? What other punishments should we have?” However, the father changed his mind. He chose to have a conversation that was more consistent with understanding, tolerance, and compassion. The conversation ended up being a positive experience for both of them. Instead of the father giving the son a piece of his mind, they both had peace of mind when all was said and done.

Another phrase many of us heard growing up was, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” This certainly is the case when “not nice” words are spoken! However, too often it also remains wrong if nothing is spoken. Something in the situation is “wrong” and nothing done about it is “wrong.” To make the situation better, to make it right, an interaction addressing the “not nice” must learn to be spoken using words and actions consistent with the inner circle. That is, by having a loving interaction. Teach, Encourage, Listen to, and Love a new thought, a better thought. By not discussing the “not nice,” the negativity remains in the relationship and/or in the situation.

It is true when you interact with loving-kindness, you are often considered nice; however, the opposite is not necessarily true. That is, when you are nice, you are interacting in loving-kindness. It is not loving to ignore a “not nice” situation just because you only want to be nice. Learning to interact and communicate “no,” “I disagree,” or give a message about a living according to higher standard, etc., is key to creating a better story to tell. Can you recall a moment when something said may not have felt nice, but the words spoken needed to be heard in order for you to grow?

Instead of telling our children “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all,” maybe we should rephrase this and say, “If you can’t say something nice, stop and figure out how you can say that nicely.” And, how about telling that to ourselves today.

Focus: LoveTags: #, #, #, #, #, #

121: Love is kind

Hello readers! I am returning from nearly a week with educators who aim to tell students at their schools! These educators strive to Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love all students! It can happen; it is not impossible. It is possible because these educators are willing to try new ideas. They think about the fundamental principles that improve interactions between themselves and students. Actually, these educators tell not only students but all the parents and all staff in the building. Amazing…. Very telling! I’m excited to share stories from the week in future posts!

For now, we are discussing ‘Love ’ – the last l in tell. We are having a deep conversation about mindfully telling yourself, telling others, so you can create a better story to tell! In every interaction there is an element of Teaching, Encouraging, Listening, and Loving. The question is: to what degree are you telling for better or worse? Also, are you willing to learn new ways to communicate? If you are new to the blog, the series – telling a better story – started with Post #102.

Love is fundamental to telling. When we interact, our speech and behavior either come from a place of love, or not. There is no in between. There is no a “kinda, sorta” loving way. You are either communicating inside the boundaries of love or you are not.

The biblical passage from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13 is being used to describe what it means to interact inside the boundaries of love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Post #120 was about ‘Love is patient’. The post discussed how our speech and behavior demonstrate patience or impatience. Or, more explicitly, restraint or revenge.

Now, let’s continue and think about “love is kind.”

When sharing the tell message with parents and teachers, the idea of interacting with kindness is a complicated concept to discern. We are quick to bring up stories when others have been kind or unkind toward us. I am sure you can recall instances where others were kind or unkind. Kind interactions are much more pleasant, right? Well, what does it mean to have a ‘kind’ interaction? Better stated, a loving-kindness interaction?

One example that always gets brought up when I converse with parent or teacher groups is the experience when someone is acting kind in our presence, but then later we realize this same person is bashing us in the presence of someone else. Many have called this being two-faced. That is, when the two of you were interacting, it was pleasant and kind, but later it was a different story. The relationship you have and previous interactions no longer feel pleasant. Previous interactions appear no longer kind, nor trusted. The relationship and previous interactions feel painful and vindictive.

Loving-kindness is not a just a ‘kind’ interaction; it is being consistently kind. Interacting in loving-kindness is when words and actions are consistent in the short run and long run, no matter who is present for the interaction. It is not kind to drastically change a story depending on who is listening. Loving-kindness is about using words and actions that are compassionate and considerate of the other person whether they are in the room, or not. It is about saying and doing things not for personal gain, personal attention, but for the other’s behalf. Loving-kindness unites people, it doesn’t separate them. Don’t you feel safer and more able to share ideas when you interact with individuals who are consistently kind? In other words, interactions that are consistently compassionate and considerate in the short run AND in the long run?

Kindness is a complicated concept. In the next post, I will share stories about being kind versus being nice. For now, I will update the diagram that shows the boundaries of unloving and loving interactions.

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‘Love is kind’. Is the message you give and receive ‘kind’ in the long run and short run? How consistent is the kindness? Honest kindness is not a self-serving moment. It is a thoughtful and compassionate moment of kindness. You can interact with loving-kindness to everyone.

When you tell for better, you love by being kind and patient. Only you can decide if you are kind or unkind? Only you can decide if you are consistently compassionate and thoughtful. Only you can choose to interact within the boundaries of love or not.

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120: LOVE is patient and kind

The previous 19 posts have been about creating a better story to tell. That is, a story that Teaches, Encourages, Listens, and Loves you and others better. Each post is intended to mentor and inspire you to think about the messages you tell yourself and others because these interactions become your story. Have you thought about the story you tell? Have you had second thoughts about the interactions you have with yourself and others?

I certainly don’t mean to make telling a better story sound easy. It isn’t easy. But neither do I mean to make it sound impossible, for it is possible. When you simply interact and apply thoughts that Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love the best you know how, then you are on your way to creating better stories to tell.

I have shared key thoughts for teaching (Posts #110 and #111) , encouraging (Posts #112, #113, #114, and #115), and listening (Posts #116, #117, and #118). Now, let’s talk about Love!

How would it be if EVERY interaction was approached from a place of love? The Bible describes what this looks like in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Today, let’s think about “love is patient.”

I read once how a patient person is the one who has the power to exercise revenge, but instead chooses to exercise restraint. I like this description for patience because it distinguishes clearly interactions that are consistent with revenge versus interactions consistent with restraint. The extremes of restraint and revenge are clearer than the words patience and impatience.

Love is fundamental to telling, and patience is fundamental to love. Your speech and behavior either come from a place of love or not. Your speech and behavior demonstrate patience or impatience. Or, more explicitly, restraint or revenge.

Interacting from a loving place sounds simple; however, as said about telling in the beginning of this post, interacting from a loving place is not always easy. Below is the start of a visual for interacting from a loving place.

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Inside the circle are words that describe patience, or restraint. Outside the circle are words that describe impatience, or revenge. In the next post, ‘Love is kind’, words will be added inside and outside circle. I will continue adding words to clarifying the boundaries of interacting in love. For now, are you interacting with yourself and others in love or interacting out of love? Are you being patient or impatient? Is your speech and behavior more consistent with resisting or revenging? Every interaction, you are either communicating inside the boundaries of love or not.

 

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