Reflection: What is Your Intent?

Do you know the reason you acted or spoke the way you did?  Take a moment of Reflection.  Think strongly about what may have caused you do react that way.  What was your intent when you did this?

When harshly confronted, when listening to another’s malice or spite about others (think heated opinions about traffic or politics or…), or when someone unexpectedly fesses up about some transgression, human’s typically counter 1 of 3 ways: Flight, Fight or Freeze.  My personal modus operandi?  I freeze.  I am stunned when someone lashes out at me, is spiteful about something or someone (who isn’t there to defend themselves) or is even mildly surly.

To combat this, I internalize 1 question, “What is/was your intent?”  At worst, they huff and puff and storm off. At best, someone may reflect on their reaction and rephrase their statement.  My children, while growing up, heard me ask this question all the time.  It was and still is powerful.

IntentLOOK IN THE MIRROR:  Think of the last time you overreacted.  What was your intent? To vent, to hurt, to dominate? None of these add value and causes ill-will with your partner (spouse, co-worker, parent, child, boss, or friend).

7 Questions to Determine if His Apology is Real

 

Is His Apology Real? 

Apology RealYour husband just apologized, but you’re unsettled by your mental gymnastics that doubt his sincerity.  Perhaps these sound familiar, “He sounds sorry.  Can I trust his apology? But, I’ve heard this before. I wish he had just said, (fill in the blanks). What if he does it, again?” and on and on your monkey mind travels.  The answer may seem complex and difficult due to personal expectations, and personal and relationship history.  To avoid more mind-twisting ruminations and to finally get some peace, ask yourself these 7 reflective questions:

  1. Is he empathetic to your emotional pain? Will he listen to your pain until you get closure?  If so, it’s worth considering accepting the apology and moving on, together. But, if he just wants to move on, stop talking about it, or tells you to, “…get over it. I said I was sorry.” Then, yes, you may need to get over it and fast.  “It” being the relationship and him.
  2. Is he remorseful? I’m not talking about he’s sorry he got “caught.”  I’m talking about real regret for making a decision that wounded another human being.
  3. Is he accepting full responsibility for his actions? Or is there blame involved such as, “If you hadn’t/had, I wouldn’t have (fill in the blank)?” If blame is part of the apology, his apology isn’t sincere.
  4. Will he do what it takes to repair it? I’m not talking giving you flowers or calling/texting you incessantly to ask how you’re doing. I’m talking about voluntarily giving you the information you need to feel safe with him, again.
  5. Was restitution given freely? If physical compensation or restoration is needed to make it right, was it freely offered and completed on a timely basis without your involvement?
  6. Is there true repentance? Now, before you turn from this thinking it’s a religious term, give me a moment. Repent literally means to turn from.  So in this case, it means the “event” never happens, again.  It’s actually a great way to live: do something wrong/hurtful, acknowledge it, apologize and never do it, again.
  7. The over-riding factor you must consider regardless of the sincerity of the apology is this: was the transgression a 1-time event or was this a repeat offense? if the latter, then you’re dealing with a character issue and you need to seriously consider moving on. This also applies if the offenses are different.  Poor choices in multiple areas signify a serious character flaw.  This is not an opportunity to “love him through it.”  It’s time for you to have enough self-respect to be only with people that cherish, honor and support you.  This includes family, friends, and co-workers.  But, more importantly, you need to be with someone who has enough self-respect that he wouldn’t put himself in situations that could hurt himself or wound others.

If your husband meets all the above criteria for a sincere apology, then it is time to put it to rest and rebuild together.  And refrain from revisiting it.  It’s tiresome to keep hearing about something that happened years ago.  This is especially true if it never happened again.  We ALL make mistakes.  His mistake isn’t worse than your transgressions.  They are all the same when it comes to a hurting heart.

Apology RealA look in the mirror:

Have you hurt someone?  Reflect on the questions.  Be brutally honest.  If you need to sincerely and honor someone’s pain due to a bad decision/action on your part,  ask for forgiveness. Then be completely accountable.  Please read my other related blog post, “How to Help Those You Hurt

Disclaimer: the above is a compilation of blog posts, transcripts, columns, etc… often titled the “The 4 R’s of an Apology.”  Because I’ve been on both the ends of apologies and wrong-doing, please read my other related blog posts, “How to Help Those You Hurt” and “7 Ways to Mess Up an Apology.”

Is it abuse? A definition, 5 types, and 2 two questions.

abuse

Abuse is often over-used or used incorrectly. And yet, when it is needed to be said, the word isn’t uttered due to shame. It’s time to set the record straight. The word “abuse” is defined by Merriam-Webster as

  • a corrupt practice or custom

  • improper or excessive use or treatment

  • a deceitful act , deception

  • language that condemns or vilifies usually unjustly, intemperately, and angrily

  • physical maltreatment

Abuse comes in many forms.  Following are 5 major types:

  • Physical (when physical touch hurts.  Period. Yes, hair pulling, pushing and grabbing is abuse.  It’s that simple.  Throws a punch to the wall next to you also counts.  That is intimidating and not safe.)

  • Emotional (bullying, threatening and intimidating behaviors; you don’t feel safe; you feel crushed, minimized, by  the person that’s supposed to love you, limits your/denies you time spent with friends/family.  Unpredictable responses.  Embarrasses you in public. Framing things as you being over sensitive. Blaming you for their bad behavior.)

  • Financial (withholds information about and/or access to money; stealing/embezzling from accounts for their expenses and not telling you about it)

  • Verbal (when words said by others hurt and/or leaves you feeling confused.  Yelling/screaming/calling you names.)

  • Sexual (forces you to do something you don’t want to do)

    Regardless of the type, they are all difficult to experience.    The first step is to define it for what it is.   For example, you must first accept you are being verbally abused when someone swears at you and calls you names.  You have to say to yourself, “I am being verbally abused” and accept your reality, before you can confront the perpetrator.  But, what if you aren’t sure?  What if you were asleep in the back of the car and he started throwing popcorn at you and laughing.  Is that emotional abuse (embarrassing you in public)? No.  Juvenile? Yes.

    I will add to be framed “abuse” it needs to be a trend or chronic situation, in all abuse categories, with the exception of the physical.  One-and-done is all it takes and the police are called.   Please have some common sense about this.  Don’t count opening the kitchen cabinet door in your face, accidentally, four years ago as abuse.  Especially if nothing remotely similar has happened. That was an accident; and a funny memory you two can share.

Still wondering if is abuse or not?  The best way is to get educated about the topic.  If the dictionary definition didn’t help, here are some excellent resources to get you started (emphasis on emotional and verbal abuse because it isn’t as obvious or defining as physical abuse):

  • The Emotionally Destructive Marriage (Christian perspective on the verbally/emotionally abusive marriage) Book and website.  She exposes the subtleties and subliminal attitudes and behaviors of the abuser that so often confuse and conflict the victim.
  • Love is Respect.org website dedicated to helping young people prevent and end abuse, but everyone can benefit.    Fabulous breakdown of the different types of abuse.  Helpful quizzes and resources.   On-line, 24-hour chat.  You have to take a quiz to activate it.
  • 7 Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship YouTube video created by Adam LaDolce, of SexyConfidence.  Excellent and entertaining.

Finally, I leave you with what may be the two most important questions to ask yourself to determine if what you’re experiencing is abuse:

  •  Does the person behave appropriately to the circumstances?
  •  How do you feel after an encounter with them?

Please remember to leave your kind words or comments below.

Blessings and Joy,

How to Help Those You Hurt (when you made a BIG mistake)

We all make mistakes.  Even my totally cute, perfect friend, Jan.  I don’t know when she did, but she’s a human being so I’m sure she forgot to put the butter away some time and her dog got into it.  Love ya, Jan! <3  But, the other 99.999% of us have made many mistakes and some of them are big, hairy, icky, makes-you-want-to-shake-the-memory-out-of-your-head mistake. How do you get that out of your head? How do you shake that guilt, embarrassment, and yes, shame? How do you know you won’t do it, again?

trust is like paper once its crumpled its not perfect

As a woman of faith, I am thankful Christianity gives me the gift of grace.  It’s God’s “do-over” plan. But, here’s where the rubber meets the road.  Just because I was forgiven by my creator doesn’t mean I can take a pass and commit the offense over and over.  I need to be remorseful and turn from committing the same crimes/sins/mistakes.  Christian or not, that’s a great way to live a life.  Only when we are released from that guilt and shame can we be and do our best.  

If you made a BIG mistake, which sadly means usually hurting those we love, there is a formula to move on:

  • Quickly ask for forgiveness from those you hurt.
  • Never, never say, “because you did “y,” I did x.”  That is deflecting.  Also known as blaming.  That’s what children do.  Take responsibility for your actions, own up to your faults. This is not giving in, it’s growing up.
  • Repeat your mistake, and how you hurt them, in your words. You may not have the exact words, but it shows you’re trying to understand their pain.
  • Let them speak their pain regardless of how uncomfortable it makes you feel.  Sit with it. Your discomfort is fairly low on the “we care” scale, at the moment.  It’s part of the process.
  • Empathize with them.  You must feel their pain for you to grow.  If you don’t feel their pain, seek counseling.
  • Give those that you hurt time to heal on their time-frame, not yours.  If that means getting fired, put on administrative leave, losing someone or something, or any kind of separation, accept it.
  • Let those you hurt re-hash the “event” for awhile.  It’s part of their recovery.  But, after some time, they and you need to move on if healing is going to occur.
  • Make restitution when necessary. Even if it takes the rest of your life.
  • Recognize some mistakes and hurts can’t be overcome.  Be prepared to lose the one(s) you hurt.  This may be the lesson you need to grow and learn.
  • Get help if you need it.  Don’t wait for a court-mandated order or your loved one insisting on it.  Take the initiative and seek professional help. This is taking action.  Action is always esteemed over words.
  • If the relationship continues, recognize it will be different.
  • Don’t do it, again.  Actions speak louder than words and memories fade more quickly if not repeated.

Blessings and Joy,

Annette

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! How to say, “I love you.” Even when you don’t feel like it.

I love youHow many of you have stood in front of the greeting card section at your local grocery store, just days away from Valentine’s Day, snorting or hrmphing at the prose expressed on romantic cards?  I have.  In fact, one time I snorted and mumbled “Yeah, right!” loud enough so that the woman next to me broke up in raucous laughter.  I apologized and walked away lamenting (quietly) about the state of my marriage mind.

There are times in any relationship when the shine has worn off, the dents and dings show, or worse, rust and corrosion has undermined the very foundation of who you two used to be.  Here is a short list to still honor the man you married, regardless of the state of your relationship:

  1.  Do something completely different, together.  If you’ve never golfed, go to the driving range.  If you haven’t been to a library, lately, sit quietly flipping through magazines and watch who uses it and talk about the future of libraries.  Try cooking a brand new dish, together.  Walk quietly through a cemetery, in the daylight. Go to a jazz festival, because you’ve never been to one.
  2. Watch and listen to him and find out what he’s been reading, listening to, watching and suggest he read a chapter to you, listen to a track or two with him, or watch an episode.  Just sit and be there.
  3. Get out of your city/town for the afternoon (evening puts too much romantic pressure on a stifled relationship).  Schedule a babysitter, if needed.
  4. Tell him to describe 1 hour, 1 meeting/job/project, 1 drive/bus ride/walk to work.  You’ll be surprised what you learn.

Did you make some suggestions and he poo-pooed them? Did he insinuate you’re nuts?  Then go and enjoy yourself, and come back and tell him how much fun you had.  Feel good that you tried.  Or did you two reconnect in even the smallest way?  Like a smile or you held hands or it was just simply quiet between the two of you?

What are your ideas? What worked?  What didn’t? Please add them in the comments section.  Remember the rules:, no bashing, swearing or griping.  Only helpful solutions and tips, please! Hurting people may be reading this.

Don’t forget, you are loved and lovable!

 

Is your business your lover?

Is Your Business your lover?Valentine’s Day is in 4 days.  Remember the first few months of being in love?  All you could do is think of HIM. Talk about HIM.  Dream about HIM. Give HIM your best. Be your best for HIM.  Think about out-of-the-box creative plans for HIM.  Spend a lot of time with HIM even to the point of forgetting you had a life outside of HIM. And boy, did HE respond.   It was thrilling, exhilarating, even seductive.  You’re smiling, aren’t you?

Now, let’s replace HIM with YB, aka Your Business. All you can do is think of YB.   Talk about YB.  Dream about YB. Give YB your best effort, attitude, and hours.  Be your best for YB.  Think about out-of-the-box creative plans for YB.  Spend a lot of time with YB even to the point of forgetting you had a life outside of YB.  And boy, did YB respond.   It was thrilling, exhilarating, even seductive. Are you smiling? Or squirming?  Listen to that.

If you’re like me, you love to go to work, you love to work in your work and you love to work on your work.   It’s the place where the amount of effort you put in is often rewarded by a factor of X.   For me, work is my happy place. I invest in my employees, my customers, my systems, and my product/services.  And by invest, I don’t mean just money.  I mean I invest all my resources, including my most valuable of resources, my time and energy.  But the real seduction?  I can create the environment and a culture. Talk about an ego boost! I’ve been described as a workaholic. The term has even been hurled at me, repeatedly.   It’s something I wear as a badge.  A big badge. And I’m proud of it.

But, that’s the problem.   When pride enters the picture, love leaves.  The devotion I have to my business may be a source of provision, a creative outlet, and in my case, a safe and happy place (read: an escape from the hurt at home). But, denying those that love me, and sacrificing my most important relationships can have devastating consequences.  Give to your business.  But, save the best for those that love you and those you love.

I look forward to reading your helpful comments and observations, below.

Your Happy Warrior (a person undiscouraged even in the face of difficulties; a plucky crusader),

Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi

 

Communicating is not the answer

CommunicatingHow many times have you said (or thought) after an altercation, of any degree, with anyone, “This would be so much easier if we/he/she could just communicate!”  Communication is when two or more people are trying to get their point across.

What’s missing is the lack of trying to understand the other’s point of view, perspective, or opinion. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, but instead, they listen with the intent to reply.

A genuine effort to try to understand is accomplished by asking relevant, thoughtful questions.  For example, asking leading questions, such as, “Why do you think that?” or “What aspect are you referring to?” or “How certain are you of this?” or “Why did you say that?” will go a long way in forging communication a connection.

It’s only with connection that you can touch the heart.  Think about how you feel when someone asks you thoughtful questions.  You feel cherished, valued, important.  Do the same for those you love or are close to.  Heck, try it with the grocery clerk.  You’ll be amazed at the heart print you’ll leave behind.


CHALLENGE:  For the next 3 days, I challenge you to put down your need to reply/defend/say something pithy, witty or funny and just listen to everyone you have a conversation with. Don’t listen with the intent to reply, but listen to ask more questions.  Really try to connect. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Let us know what happened, below, in the comments section.

 

What Is Your Happy Place?

Happy PlaceMorning!

Notice the title didn’t ask, “Where is Your Happy Place?”

There is a subtle distinction.  But, this subtly packs a wallop.  I want you to think about the elements that would be in, part and present at your happy place.

Would laughter, respect, solving a customer problem, horseback riding, your children, to be understood, selling your products, running, picnics, worship, painting, balancing the checkbook, etc…be on your list?

A simple exercise to identify elements that make you happy is to take seven minutes and write down everything that makes you happy.

DO NOT overthink this. This is not about practicality or even responsibility.

Once you have that list, read it over 7 different times over the next 3 days. After allowing your happy elements to percolate in your brain, take your list and identify the top 7.  Then rank them in order of importance.  Now, add a “p” to the elements you have present and an “a” to the ones that are absent.

Where do your happy elements fit in your life now?

Where do you find them?

How can you add the ones that are absent?

 

 

Wishful Thinking Has A Lot of Power. Don’t Allow It.

I’m a very optimistic person.  I cultivate and protect my optimism because it has carried me very far through difficult times.  It is the reason I persevere during challenging times.  It has given me hope where there was none. It gives me energy and motivation.  But, like all things in life, there is a shadow that often masquerades as optimism.  What is it?  Introducing wishful thinking.

Wishful thinking is Polly-Anna positive which means you are ignoring your reality. You have to think about the negative effects and/or consequences of wishful thinking to discern what is good and true and right for you.  This usually means accepting that “it” is going in the wrong direction, “it” isn’t going to change, and more importantly, you can’t fix “it.”  Commonly we get stuck in the powerful lure of wishful thinking such as, “I know when (fill in the blank) happens “it” will be ok!”  Or another example, “But, if I just (fill in the blank), I know ‘it’ will turn around.” But, what typically happens is we ceaselessly try to fix “it” all in the hopes of a-180-degree turnaround. We do this proactively, with good intentions, by establishing consequences, attending counseling or a myriad of other “trying” options.  

Wishful ThinkingYou’re probably asking, “So how do I know if I’m in the snare of wishful thinking?” Ask yourself this one question, “How do you feel the majority of the time about/when “(fill in the blank)?”  If the majority of the time you feel overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, worn out, anxious, etc. your gut, your intuition, your reality, your God, is telling you it is time to recognize “it” doesn’t serve you and it’s time to move on.

Caveat:  if “it” is an integral part of your life (job/a primary relationship/…) move on only and only if you sincerely and respectfully gave notice (the old college try) to the situation/behavior and “it” didn’t respond. Don’t wait till you’re beyond wit’s end, angry, or exasperated.  It’s not their fault you didn’t communicate your needs and/or concerns. And, no, they are not supposed to read your mind.  Not your boss, your spouse, your children, your employee, your neighbor, your pastor, your mother, etc…

So what’s the solution?  Execute, execute, execute.  Nothing gets done without activity.  Pick up the phone and make sales calls. Write that content.  Create new campaigns. Innovate new products.  Do what it takes to get “it” done.

Hope is not a strategy.  Hope does not reduce your debt.  Hope does not stop someone from treating you poorly.  Hope doesn’t bring in the sales, give you a good grade, clean your house, create an employee manual, or shed the pounds. Hope does not improve your job.  Hope cannot change a person’s heart. You can’t wish away your problems.   Hope may not be a strategy, but it is a promise that your life gets (much) better with optimism AND execution.  

Wishful thinking has a lot of power and it can derail even the best intentions.  Stop surviving, take back that power, execute, and start thriving.