Tag Archives: Respect

AWAKENING TO NEW THOUGHTS

“Change your thoughts and change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale

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How do your thoughts affect how you feel? Do you feel threatened when you are exposed to new ideas? How do you deal with that?

One of the most startling moments of my life was when I attended a Unity church many years ago. Amid other points a workshop speaker was making, he emphasized the point that our thoughts create our emotions, not the other way around.

Our Thoughts Create Emotions

Having always been a rather emotional person, I thought, “Wait a minute. That can’t be right.” But over the next few days as I contemplated this idea, I realized that behind every fear or angry feeling I had there was a thought related to it. What I had heard at the workshop began to make sense.

After choosing to practice this idea that changing my thinking could change my emotions, I discovered that I could let go of many fears. Instead of focusing on all the things that could go wrong in a situation, I could focus on what I wanted to happen. I learned to expect the best. As a result, my life seemed to go better.

That doesn’t mean that what we envision will always happen, it just means it’s more likely to manifest. Expecting the worst in life doesn’t help or move us ahead. If we expect things to go badly, we probably won’t make as much effort to create what we really want.

Expressing Negativity Puts Negative Energy Into the World

The U.S. election his year is a perfect example of how powerful our thoughts can be. The negative thoughts flying through the air from candidate to candidate are increasingly creating fear and more anger. That kind of negativity damages those who speak it and those who receive it. Can you imagine how much damage will be done if those with the most violent and disrespectful attitudes win?

Respect Creates Positive Energy

How can we use our thoughts to benefit and change our world for the better? Shall we start with simple respect? There are so many opportunities to practice respect every day even when we come into contact with ideas and people we don’t like. Being respectful doesn’t mean we have to agree or accept situations we don’t like; it simply means we treat each other like worthwhile human beings.

Our actions, as well as our thoughts, create energy in our lives. We can choose the quality of that by taking control of what we think, by not acting only out of emotion, but by examining the situation and deciding what we think first. What are the pros and cons of making a certain decision? Is there fear involved? Why?

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Fearing Those Who Are Different Doesn’t Help Us

A member of my family once told me that he feared Muslims; however, he had never known one. In contrast, another family member had the opportunity to get to know a young Muslim woman, became friends with her, and learned a great deal about her that she respected. So often, it is what we don’t know that frightens us, and the only way to change that is to educate ourselves and be willing to open our minds to visit with people who are different.

When I began teaching high school in the New Orleans Public Schools in the 1990’s, my greatest fear was that I would say or do something that would offend someone. Most of the teachers and all but one of my students were African-American.

That fear came from an experience I had had in college. Eating dinner one night with an African-American friend, I had made a “stupid” comment as I tried to empathize with her. I was not a prejudiced person, but I had rarely had an opportunity to know an African-American person, and I focused on our similarities, not our differences.

As a result of my misstep, when I went to teach in NOPS, I was afraid that I might say something insensitive without really knowing it. Fortunately, I seemed to get along with everyone and I was never accused of being insensitive. The longer I worked in that situation and got to know individuals, the more I learned about the culture, and the less fear I felt.

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Changing Our Thoughts May Create Peace

Learning to change our thoughts and choose what we think is a powerful lesson. Experience with what we fear may help us, but ultimately we need to find ways to let go of the psychological fears that keep us living in narrow spaces. Diversity is a reality in the modern world and it’s not going to change. If we are to live happily and at peace, we have to learn to respect our differences.

The current election is just one opportunity we have to change our thoughts and our world. We need to educate ourselves about the candidates, observe their behavior, and know that if they do not treat each other respectfully, they certainly are not going to treat us with respect. In a democracy, our right to vote is a powerful tool we all need to use.

Change Our Thoughts To Help Others

But our respect also includes being aware of those in need in our society and caring what happens to them. Most people in need are not in that situation because they have been irresponsible, but because they haven’t had the opportunity to do better. In fact, many may have been taught that they can’t succeed, and they believe what they have been told. How we treat others can help change their thinking too.

How we think is our choice. Let us begin to choose compassion, love, and respect for one another, sending positive energy out into the world. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

What thoughts do you need to change to make your life better?

© 2016 Georganne Spruce                                                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Posts:  Awakening to the World, Part 2, Diversity, Awakening to Live without Fear, Transforming the Fear of Change

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AWAKENING TO COMPASSIONATE COMMUNICATION

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”  Arthur Schopenhauer

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What do you do when you are offended by what someone says to you?  How often do you stop and think about your response before speaking?  How can you create peace in a conflicted situation?

We can only see what we can see.  When I was four, my world consisted of the house where my parents and I lived, my great aunt’s and great grandmother’s house next door, my grandparents’ garage apartment and my grandfather’s carpentry shop below, and the yard in between.  It was a rich, loving world filled with cats, birds, a boxer dog, and a bureau full of books.

Life Experience Can Broaden Our Vision

Many years later, my world is quite different.  I have lived in urban environments in all four parts of the United States and spent several weeks studying in West Africa.  All those loving people who surrounded me at four have passed.  I am now surrounded by the mountains I love, but the world I know stretches far beyond this hollow.

The more I have been exposed to people who are different from me, the more I have grown in my understanding of human nature.  Part of this is related to my own curious mind.  I love learning about almost anything.  I have always been curious about views that are different from mine and I don’t feel threatened at all by being exposed to new ideas.  I read, explore, and if I feel the idea or practice may be useful, I work with it for a while to determine if it has value for me.

Communication Is The Key To Understanding

Because of my exposure to different cultures, I have become more aware that the way we communicate is the key to understanding each other.  There are many practices that relate to compassionate communication, but I want to look at one specific aspect of communication today.  What is our intention when we speak?

Having tended a number of discussion groups over the last few years, I have observed that there are some people who just want to let off steam.  Others want to prove they are right and turn any discussion into a debate.  Many people want to connect with others in a way that builds community and deep connections.  These are all very different ways of communicating.

Personally, I want to connect in a way that allows me to understand others and that they understand me, for understanding helps me respect the views with which I disagree.  I don’t have to agree with what another believes, but I need to respect it and be compassionate because this can create peace where otherwise there may be conflict.  I want peace in the world and this is one way I can help create it.

Check Within Before We Speak

We can’t control how another person acts, but we can choose to take responsibility for ourselves.  Self-monitoring helps us become more conscious.  For example, a discussion becomes heated and we feel ourselves becoming offended by what is being said.  Before we speak, it is wise to check within.  Are we feeling defensive or angry?  Are we feeling disrespected?  Can we offer our perspective in a way that may calm tempers and shift the tone of the discussion?  When we speak, what is our intention?

Our Choices Reflect Our Intention

 Our intention is reflected in our choice of words.  It is amazing how powerful this choice is.  For example, consider the difference between chatter and rant used as words to describe a comment you’ve made.  Chatter is defined as trivial or idle talk.  Rant is defined as pompous or overblown speech.  Neither word is a compliment.  So, it is important to be mindful enough to choose words that will not insult the other person if what we want is a meaningful dialogue.

The Outer Reflects the Inner

Our choice of words is a reflection of our intention.  The outer expresses the inner and that is why we need to be willing to examine our intention and we need to be willing to listen carefully to the other person and observe their body language and tone of voice.  What they are expressing reflects their inner selves as well.  If we are compassionate, we will try to put aside our ego needs and listen with love.

If what the other person is expressing is negative, we need to remember that behind all negative attitudes, there is fear.  Where there is fear, there is pain.  Perhaps they cling to certain beliefs because their whole world would fall apart if they even considered an alternative. We all experience this, so the question is:  When we are listening to someone who is expressing a view we find irritating or offensive, can we remember that we are hearing their pain and can we also consider that our negative response may be coming from our pain.

Be Open To Learning

Schopenhauer portrait1

Schopenhauer portrait1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Schopenhauer said, “Truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second it is violently opposed; Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”  There was a time when mankind laughed at anyone who suggested the earth was round.  We all evolve and our understanding of life hopefully evolves too. When we find ourselves quickly dismissing another’s ideas, it may be a good idea to explore the possibility that a truth lies hidden beneath what we consider the chatter or the rant.

Setting the intention to listen and speak compassionately primes us to be more mindful and respectful.  Who knows—maybe the next outrageous idea we hear, in six month’s time, will be the answer to a major dilemma in our lives.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Compassion Is Not Optional, Make Love Your Habit (Wayne Dyer), Compassion Is the Key (audio – Wayne Dyer), Living Peacefully

AWAKENING TO OUR WORLD COMMUNITY

“If you want to make peace, don’t talk to your friends.  You talk to your enemies.”  Desmond Tutu

English: Sunday morning sermon delivered by Gr...

English: Sunday morning sermon delivered by Greg Barrett, author of The Gospel of Father Joe: Revolutions & Revelations in the Slums of Bangkok. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What have you done this week to create peace in your heart, your family, or your community?

Spiritually Inspiring Talk

Last night I was mesmerized by Greg Barrett, a Pulitzer-nominated author who spoke about his latest book, The Gospel of Rutba: War, Peace, and the Good Samaritan Story in Iraq.  This is the story of how Rutba, a rural desert town in western Iraq, rescued three American peacemakers during the Shock and Awe bombings of 2003.  Not far from the Jordanian border, the peacemakers’ taxi careened off the road and crashed.  One of the occupants was very seriously injured.  A truckload of Iraqis found them and took them to a small clinic in Rutba where the hospital had recently been destroyed by American Bombs.  Despite the destruction and lack of supplies, the Iraqi doctors saved the men’s lives and refused their money.  The Iraqi’s only request was, “Tell the world.”

Seven years later, despite warnings from the American military and the Iraqis that they would probably be killed, the peacemakers returned to help the town heal.  Greg Barrett accompanied them.  They refused to carry weapons and when the Iraqis discovered their intention for returning, they welcomed them as brothers and sisters.

English: US Marines cook kabobs for Iraqi patr...

English: US Marines cook kabobs for Iraqi patrons on the streets of Al Qaim (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Love Heals All

This story is just another example of how, when we choose to act out of love and peace, we can heal the divide between us.  Seeing the love of humanity that Greg Barrett exudes reminds me how important it is for us to have the courage to reach out in whatever way we can to those who are different.  We must learn to see “the enemy” as humanity.

Respect Cultural Differences

In the discussion after the talk, my favorite story was the one Greg told about the dinner the peacemakers and Iraqis had together on the return trip. Knowing that the Iraqis ate their food with their hands, scooping it up with pita bread, the Americans followed that custom out of respect for their hosts.  There was no interpreter and they did not speak each other’s language.  After they began eating, the Americans looked across the table at the Iraqis to make contact.  What they saw were the Iraqis eating their meal with utensils.  Both sides smiled at each other and burst into laughter.

What more can I say?  Well, I can only say I hope you will visit the book website and Greg’s blog—he’s a wonderful writer and a thinking, caring human being.  He’s on a book tour, sharing this story to open minds and connect us all, and he’s trying to raise money to do a documentary on the story.  Maybe you can help.

Hearing Greg’s story has inspired me and I hope it will inspire you too.  Namaste.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Gospel of Rutba (on Amazon.com), Muslim Peacemaker Teams, After Nine Years in Iraq: Reflections on Peace, Nonviolence, and Reconciliation

AWAKENING TO LISTEN

“When we talk about understanding, surely it takes place only when the mind listens completely—the mind being your heart, your nerves, your ears—when you give your whole attention to it.”   Jiddu Krishnamurti

In conversations, do you wait with irritation when a person talks too long or are you able to sit, quiet within, and really listen?  Which do you value more, listening or speaking?

Speaker or Listener?

I’ve always been a big talker.  I love discussions.  But recently, something has shifted in a deep way.  In fact, it shifted gradually over the years, but I’m just now really understanding the value of this change.  There was a time when, during a conversation, my attention was mainly on getting my chance to speak as if speaking my thoughts out loud gave validity to them that just thinking did not have.  I suspect I even fidgeted a lot waiting for my turn.  I can even remember composing what I was going to say rather than listening and reflecting on the words of the person speaking.

Perhaps part of this was my need as a teenager and young adult to overcome my childhood shyness and conditioning that a woman was supposed to defer to others.  It made me nervous to speak during a discussion, and when I finally became comfortable with it, my ego probably enjoyed being the speaker too much.  With time, though, and experience as a teacher who had to listen to her students, I came to value listening more. As I progressed on my spiritual journey, attending workshops and reading, I began to listen more to my interior self instead of my ego.

Telling Our Stories Creates Loving Bonds

In the South, where I live and grew up, passing our stories on to the next generation is a way of life.  Perhaps that’s why we have had so many incredible southern writers.  As I child, I often sat at my parents’ or grandparents’ feet listening for hours to their stories.  I captured a sense of these times in my poem “Mysteries.”  Those stories were how I learned about my own heritage and how people lived before me.  The telling and listening created a loving bond between the generations.  I was taught that listening to others was a form of respect.

Ego Cares Only About Itself

When we are unwilling to listen to others, it is often because our ego has another agenda.  We judge the speaker as someone whose words won’t be helpful to us. One time I was facilitating a very large group discussion, and one man, fidgeting with impatience, decided I was allowing a woman to talk too long.  He suddenly announced to the group that there were too many people not getting to talk, took over my role, and called on someone he wanted to hear. Despite his perception, we still had plenty of time left for everyone to speak.  I was shocked by his behavior, but before long I slipped back into my role as facilitator without confronting him.

Listening Enhances Our Spiritual Journey

I’ve recently joined a spiritual discussion group where most of the members are excellent listeners and also are deep thinkers.  We use a process where we each speak a couple of minutes in response to a question, and we do this for two rounds.  Then we may ask each other questions and respond to what another has said.  This orderly process works well because it allows each person an opportunity to speak and be heard and allows for spontaneity.  Each person feels respected.  Because we are only allowed to speak once during the two rounds, it forces us to be listeners for most of time.  It gives us time to really process what we are hearing and reflect on what may be helpful to us.  As a result, I’ve found others ideas illuminating and stimulating new ideas that enhance my spiritual journey.

Listening Expands Us

Dr. Karl Menninger said, “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force.  The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward.  When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”  When I read this, I realized how true this is in my life.  The people who are my friends really listen and, in turn, offer their perspectives to whatever I share with them.  Because they are really listening, I feel valued by them, and I value their friendship by listening closely to them when they speak.  We learn and grow and expand together.

As a result of meditation and other spiritual practices, I have now reached a point where I listen more carefully and patiently to others.  When someone goes on too long from my point of view, I try to recenter to continue listening to them.  If I am really not interested in what they are saying, I remind myself that they deserve to be treated respectfully regardless of what they are saying.  My ego may protest this choice, but my heart and spirit know this is the one I need to choose. I go within and try to listen from my heart.

Listening Increases Understanding

By listening, I am often able to understand others who seem quite different from me.  I may not agree with their philosophy of life and how they handle situations, but understanding why they are different helps me to accept them.  Refusing to listen to those who have different views only creates a polarization—the kind that is now destroying our world.  When we allow our egos to control what we hear, we shut out any idea with which we don’t agree, but when we listen from our hearts, we are able to hear humanity speaking and remember that we are all One.

© 2012 Georganne Spruce                        ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Spiritual Inflation,  Sifting Sand, Facing A World in Crisis: What Life Teaches Us in Challenging Times by Krishnamurti