I have learned a lot from my friends in the past few weeks. I have learned just how important it can be to have people around you who can help you to work through problems, figure out behavior patterns you've made into habits or part of your personality that you'd like to change, and how to talk about solutions. These are some big things about which to be thinking. I'd venture to guess that many of us never stop to think about why we are the way we are, if we even like those qualities in ourselves, or if we'd rather work on them to help ourselves to grow and change as time moves on. I've found myself examining parts of my personality closely over the last several years, and I want to share with you some of the key learnings I've had.
Passing judgement is one of the trickiest topics/habits to broach, and I'm sure no one is perfect or can say that they never do it even if they don't do it often. That said, making a conscious effort to recognize that we can love and respect people around us for who they are and allow them to make decisions for themselves about their own lives is, in my opinion, one of the most liberating things we can do.
Think about this: once you relinquish any real attachment to whether or not another person says, does or chooses something in particular for themselves is SO liberating. It's not YOUR life, so why should you get a say – to their face or otherwise – in how they move along within it? That's not to say that you can't or won't offer advice when asked, but that's just the thing, if you're not asked, don't concern yourself with their choice. I've worked very hard on removing pre-formed or even present judgement of people in my life. That doesn't mean I have to agree with every decision they make, but I make a conscious effort to engage in activity with them with a warm heart and from a place of love, rather than of one where I'm constantly disapproving of how they live their lives.
Proselytising a Lifestyle
Clearly as a nutritionist who is paid to work with clients 1:1 on how to make diet and lifestyle changes to improve a person's health, my conversations with clients or workshop attendees can be vastly different from the way that I conduct conversations amongst my friends. Of course, many of my friends share the views and education that I do around these topics, and with those friends, the conversation can often be about the shared passion that we have for living a healthy lifestyle, but it's certainly not all we talk about. When it comes to friends (many of whom have been in my life for 5, 10, 15, 20 or even 25 years – yes, I have some friends from that long ago!), the conversations do not constantly revolve around the way I eat nor around how I think they should eat. That is, if they don't ask.
Seriously, there are TONS of other things to talk about that can be fun, interesting, entertaining or important. Just because I am passionate about and interested in health and nutrition doesn't mean it's the only thing I can or want to talk about all day long. And the last thing I want to do is sit around and preach to my friends every day about how they should be living their lives. Plus, many of them already read my blog or follow me on Facebook (nice of them, isn't it?), so they're aware of the things I do, teach and preach. If they are interested, and sometimes they are, they ask questions. Sometimes they ask general questions, or sometimes it's a complaint about a specific personal problem and I'll happily respond or engage in conversation around the topic, but otherwise, it's not my place to tell them what to choose.
Often understanding the intentions of others means putting some of our own sensitivities aside for a moment and doing a bit of reflection on where a person's heart is when they speak to you. Do you know that they love and care about you deeply? Did they say something that was possibly hurtful but it was not their intention? The point of understanding intentions is not to let someone off-the-hook for saying something that is mean-spirited, but rather the opposite: to recognize when someone is speaking to you from a place of love even if the message isn't one that you would have thought was loving or supportive. This is where surrounding yourself with the right people becomes pretty important. Clearly if you aren't sure of someone's intentions, then this becomes difficult. But if you are surrounded by loving, caring, supportive people (and this doesn't have to mean they're mushy-gushy and sweet all of the time), then you know that their intentions will be in the right place when you interact. I've had this happen to me and I'm certain that it's happened as a result of things I've said as well. The best way I've figured out how to navigate in a situation where feelings (mine or otherwise) may be hurt, I come back to considering intentions and can typically find the love in the situation.
|I think Brian Tracy's
work is really helpful
for personal development.
Wow, this is a sort of touchy-feely post, isn't it?
I know it's not about food, some kind of tasty recipe or funny rant. Balancing how much value we put on things like food and exercise with how much we value personal development and how we related to those around us is pretty important to me. I hope you enjoyed reading this and can reflect on some of the things that you do on a regular basis that you may not mean to do. And, please note, I'm not, by any means, claiming to have figured all of this stuff out. Don't misunderstand this post in that way. I'm merely trying to share some things I've learned in recent years that I think might help some other people to reflect on some things in their own lives.