That Was Mean

Have you ever had someone be very hurtful to you when you didn’t feel you did anything to deserve it?

It can be a total stranger or close friend or even a loved one.  More than likely we have all experienced this at some point. Our natural response is to feel anger.  We don’t understand how someone can be mean when we didn’t do anything to deserve it. Often this feeling causes us to respond in a similar fashion:  with meanness

We all know this only makes the situation worse and has the potential to escalate in a negative way often times killing relationships.

John Maxwell in one of his books teaches a principle that helps us in these situations.  He says, “hurting people, hurt people.”  Often times when people are hurtful towards us, it is because they are hurting themselves.

This is an important principle for us to remember.  It doesn’t mean that we won’t feel hurt when people are hurtful towards us. But it can help us to slow down and have a little empathy.  Maybe the person is hurting and we have no idea about it.  Maybe that stranger has been dealing with some major stress in their life and filled with pain.  We don’t know, but it helps to remember the principle that hurting people hurt people.

Let’s not forget that this applies to us as well. Are we hurting others because we are hurting?

What is Balance?

Balance is interesting.  Most of us want to live a balanced life. Meaning we want to have it together in all the areas of life.

We have all seen the examples of the movie star with the great career, but the rest of their life is a total mess. It could be the athlete, the business person or the mom. The point is all of us have multiple areas of life that we want to excel in, but that isn’t always easy.

I think it helps to start with how we view balance.  When you think of balance, what do you think of?  For many, the idea of balance is perfectly in the middle.  The idea that all areas are equally thriving at the same time. This is perfection. This would be balance.

If that is our view of balance, we will continuously fall short of it and live in frustration.  I don’t believe that definition of balance is possible.

I prefer to view balance like riding a bike. While it may appear to be perfect especially as we pick up speed and momentum, the reality is we are constantly making adjustments from one side to the other. We are shifting back and forth to keep from falling off to one side. When we are moving slow these shifts are very obvious but they become more subtle the faster we go. There are endless examples, but this is a principle of balance.  It is back and forth making constant adjustments and corrections to maintain what we call balance.

There are times in life that a certain area may require more attention to shift the momentum in that direction.  A person gets a wake up call that it is time to make their health a bigger priority.  Another realizes he better start paying more attention to his marriage. Another wakes up to discover he is out of a job and finding another becomes most important.

This is how life works.  This is what balance really looks like. So what does being out of balance look like? It is when we are so focused on one area maybe because it is going so well that we don’t shift our focus back. This is very easy to see in others.  It is not always so easy to see in ourselves.  I think this why balance can be difficult.

How do you view balance? When was the last time you shifted your focus?




The Downside with Assessments

I am a huge fan of personal assessments that help us better understand ourselves and others.  There are personality assessments. There are natural strengths assessments.  There are even spiritual assessments to show us how we naturally worship best.

I’ve been labeled so many letters and words that I have to keep up with all natural strengths and personality traits on a spreadsheet!  It is fun to learn and I do believe in personal assessments because I believe the more we understand ourselves the better. I’m sure I’ll take more assessments in the future, but there is a downside.

This is never the intent of any assessment, but if we are not careful we can use them as excuses. People do this all the time.  It is easy for us to say things like, “that’s just not my strength area” or “that’s just my personality.”

Assessments have nothing to do with success in life.  In fact, no one who succeeds at anything will list their personality or natural strength as the reason for their successs, so we should be very cautious of using them as an excuse as well.

I’ve seen some of the greatest sales people who could have said they didn’t have the natural personality type for it. I’ve seen some of the greatest leaders who could have used their natural personality or strengths as a reason not to lead.  The bottom line is personal assessments have almost nothing to do with success, but they can help us better understand people which is extremely valuable.

The first step is understanding ourselves which helps us find our unique style.  The next step is learning to understand others around us. This can help us have empathy towards others.  When we have a better understanding of others natural traits, we can better understand how they may deal with situations differently than we do. It helps us walk in their shoes and maybe give them more grace.  This is what assessments should do.  They should help us better understand the people around us.

If we aren’t careful, they can have the opposite effect.  We can be so self focused that we say “this is who I am” and expect the world to understand us when they don’t.  We can use them as excuse not to succeed because that’s exactly what we need is another excuse to justify our failures.

So assessments are great, but use them wisely. Never use them as an excuse. Have more empathy for others because you better understand them.

Assessments may never help us “succeed” but they can make our journey better along the way.

Addicted to the Wrong Emotions

I don’t recall where I first heard this idea, but I remember it challenging me to think.  The idea is that we often gravitate towards unhealthy emotions.  These are emotions that we don’t want yet we often go back to them like an addiction. Deep down we have become comfortable with these unhealthy emotions and often times gravitate towards them even when we shouldn’t.

There is much more to this idea and why people may find meaning and comfort from unhealthy actions or emotions, but I’ll share how it impacted me.

Stress. This is really a feeling or an emotion. We all experience stress in life.  Sometimes it is even good.  Stress can make us focus with great intent to make a deadline or study for that big test.  Stress also weighs heavy on us. Some of the most healthy foods on earth are under so much stress from the environment parts of the year that they develop antioxidants which turns them in to the healthy plants.  So stress is not always bad, but even the super plants of the world can’t live under constant stress. They need a break.

This idea of returning to unhealthy emotions even when maybe life didn’t call for it impacted me as it relates to stress.  What I begin to realize about myself is I hadn’t gotten too comfortable with stress.  Maybe deep down I associated stress with productivity.  Stress meant that I was achieving or doing what I was supposed to do.  Maybe the stress emotion blocked out something else.  I’m not certain for all the reasons, but all I know when I reflected honestly I realized I returned to stress too often.

The crazy thing is I hate the feeling of being stressed. But I have the ability to bring it on even when life isn’t always demanding it of me. I’m not saying I’ve figured this all out or that I never get stressed, but I have learned when I’m feeling stressed that I need to take a step back.  Ask myself some simple questions like:

“What am I stressed about?”

“Is this real stress or am I returning to stress for no valid reason?”

“Why do I feel the need to be stressed right now?”

Simply asking the questions goes a long way towards lowering or even removing the stress.  It no longer has the power when we identify that the monster in the closest isn’t even real.

Stress along with many of his emotional cousins are very real and often times need to be let out. Often times there is a very real underlying problem that needs to be fixed before the stress will go away.  We all know this, but I’m talking about returning to it even when there isn’t an underlying problem. Knowing the difference requires us to reflect and be honest with ourselves.

What about you? If you are honest with yourself, have you gotten too comfortable with the wrong emotions?

How to Have More Will Power

Will Power!  Have you ever felt like you needed more of it!  Is there something in your life that you know you “need” to be doing, but you aren’t doing it?

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