Posts Tagged ‘others’

The Discipline of Self Awareness

June 29, 2016

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. — Matthew 7:3-5 New International Version (NIV)

Our conversation must have wandered not having a lot of news to share. I had made my daily call home as is my practice when I’m on the road. Since I’m in Las Vegas, she’s probably insisting on a call just to check up.

Anyway, we got to talking about how hard it is to see your own sins and difficulties. It’s so easy to see what’s wrong with others. Although many people (most? all?) have sins hidden from public  view, many seem to live out their sins in public. Makes for good conversation, I guess. Or interesting Facebook posts. (I have cut way back on the amount of time I scan Facebook posts, by the way.)

It is easy for everyone to fall into this habit. But Jesus reserved his anger (it sure sounds like anger, doesn’t it?) for a specific group of people. These were the Pharisees.

These people made a detailed study of the Law. They memorized it. They interpreted it. To their credit, they tried to live it.

Unfortunately, living the letter of the Law usually means a bad attitude. It breeds contempt. It breeds the attitude that “I’m better than you–here, I can prove it.” Yet, their sins are hidden  somewhere in the depths (we’ll let Freud have a field day on uncovering those). And they act (put on a mask to assume a different persona–therefore a “hypocrite”) as if they are perfect. And they love to point fingers at others who are not so conscientious about following the Law.

Paul picked up this theme in the beginning of Romans. “For all have sinned and fallen short.”

Even if we have trouble identifying where we each fall short, we must remember this instruction before pointing at others.

Listening: Leadership Trait and Narcissism Cure

August 28, 2015

Is there a narcissist in your life?

If you live in the West, especialy in America, the odds favor a yes answer. One hopes that the person is not your boss. I further hope the person is not you! (But if it is, you’re not aware of it.)

There are a few in my life. I asked a therapist (my daughter) about what the DSM says. She said there is no known cure. Either live with it or avoid them.

Jenny Dyer writing on Donald Miller’s Storyline Blog came up with some interesting thoughts. Not valid cures at this point, but interesting thoughts.

I have written several times about listening and how it’s a great leadership trait to develop. It may go deeper than that.

Dyer writes, “In the recent HBO hit series, “In Treatment,” Gabriel Byrnes discusses his role as a psychotherapist.”

He notes, “Listening, I think, is one of the most profound compliments that you can pay to another person. To truly listen and to feel that you’re heard is deeply fulfilling in a deep human way.” This awareness of listening is an act of empathy.

Hearing the story of another human, and deeply listening to that story, is an act of compassion, altruism, and love. It involves losing yourself and experiencing a “vicarious introspection” into the life of another human being.

To truly hear a story is an act of empathy. 

Neurological studies show that altruism is actually a biological response, hard-wired into the brain.

In fact, acts of generosity, empathy, or altruism light up a primitive part of the brain that is usually associated with pleasurable actions like eating good food or sex.

They might actually cure narcissism.

So if you’re starting to fear you’re a little too self-absorbed, stop to listen, think about others instead, and give generously with what you have.

Ironically, in combating narcissism through empathy, the individual who has long suffered from narcissism actually secures the greatest win—a pleasurable biological response—when focused on others.

Reflecting on that idea, it came to me that he may be on to something. I think I have witnessed that in a couple of lives. Maybe more. Something broke through their consciousness. They started to actually think about other people. Give money, time, gifts.

In none of the cases was it a total cure. But it was an improvement.

So if you are feeling a bit too self-absorbed. Or maybe someone you know is. Try breaking through the fog and just try listening to someone with no thought about what you might say. If a thought comes to mind about your experience to share with the other, say to yourself, “It’s really not that important. Let’s listen to the other person.”

You can learn a lot just by listening to someone else.

You Can Choose Your Attitude

July 31, 2014

Are there people who annoy you, but it is impossible to disassociate yourself from them?

Did life just hand you a setback?

Do you feel that other people get all the luck?

Humans have know for thousands of years that what you have power over is the power to choose your attitude in these and all other incidents.

Often people reflect back to you the attitude you show. If your attitude is always negative, you’ll attract negative people. You can all sit around and complain to each other. That’s because people with a positive attitude are out creating their “luck” and avoiding you.

I’ve discovered that you cannot force other people to change. You can only change your attitude toward them. If someone you must see regularly is self-centered for example, then you won’t be able to get them to change to becoming more others centered. At least not quickly. But you can change your attitude toward them so as not to reflect back their negative attitude. You can reflect back to them the humble (other-centered) life attitude that Jesus taught than revolutionized the world.

Your attitude will see you through tough times and you’ll be an inspiration to others. Your attitude will keep you studying and praying through whatever happens.

Your attitude will bring you success–maybe not riches, but success in life which is more important.

Maybe you need a reminder taped to your bathroom wall, or the wall paper on your computer, or a “reminder” notification that pops up on your iPhone at various times to check your attitude and make sure it is the right one.