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Friday, January 05, 2018

2018-Mea Culpa...Not!

Written by  Janan Broadbent, Ph.D.

So here comes another year, 2018, once we got through the reviews, the best and the worst of 2017 on media of all forms, social, visual and print. In the spirit of embarking on a new calendar and perhaps in spite of it, I plead guilty that I will not follow some of the traditional approaches to this event.

Number one: I will not make any new year resolutions, not about dieting, or more exercise, or time-management, or anything else. Now we know that gyms and health clubs get a surge in January but by March, that rush disappears as one’s best intentions start to peter out. If there are changes one wants to make, why wait another day? Do it now!

Number two: I will not think of all the good old days, lamenting the present and yearning to bring back time. What is gone is indeed gone, and hopefully, I have learned the lessons from mistakes made, and savored the successes that were had.

Number three: Engaging in blame, and major guilt trips for self and others. A little guilt goes a long way when you understand what you did violated a rule, but extended indulgence is not productive. If you are imposing it on another, it is not welcome and creates resentment, both detrimental to relationships. If you offended someone, apologize with sincerity. If you broke a rule, make amends or restitution, and then move on, having learned not to repeat the act.

Moving on to a proactive mental set, what I believe all relationships can benefit from is to improve, if not develop, better “listening” skills, something that can be taught and makes a huge difference in communicating fairly. When you listen, it means your focus is on what I say and not what you want to say next. It does help to check out what you heard, giving the other person a chance to modify and elaborate. That way you reduce the possibility of misinterpretation. Further, implicit is the message: Your thoughts are important to me, and thereby, you are important to me. There are many self-help books on this subject, as most of us did not grow up in families where we saw it modeled. I usually hear about households either where there were no discussions or arguments, or where there was much yelling, and both ways with no resolution. It is crucial to deal with conflicts rationally, or to take some time off if emotions are too intense, but then go back to discussion so one does not accumulate baggage.

Being kind and gentle with one another underlies much of human connections.

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