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    Thursday, October 18, 2007, 9:45 AM [General]

    If I am angry, it means I have waited too long to express and act for my needs.  Anger always sits on top of other feelings - fear, sadness, pain. Whenever someone expresses anger, they are really expressing one of the underlying feelings the best way they know how.  So to "hear" what they are truly expressing means getting beneath the superficial angry expressions and connect with the difficult feelings that are truly being felt.  Being in anger is usually being "unconscious" - meaning that one's true feelings in the present moment are being masked and hidden, so one is unconscious to what the present moment truly is.

    When hearing anger from another person, you can help them become conscious by validating their feelings, starting with the anger - because unconscious or not, the anger is a legitimate feeling, and is neither right nor wrong.  As the person starts to feel validated, they become conscious and are able to release enough of the anger to connect with the underlying feelings.  You can do this to yourself as well!
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    Wednesday, October 17, 2007, 10:51 AM [General]

    I believe that whenever we judge another person, we are simply projecting our own self-judgment onto them.  If I believe somebody is yanking my chain, that is a clue about a wounded place inside myself.  So the way forward is not to put energy on how "awful" the other person is, but rather to put it into discerning the hurting places withing myself that have been triggered by that person.
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    Tuesday, October 16, 2007, 10:29 AM [General]

    Today I am noticing how the changes at Beliefnet have brought up a surprising number of feelings in me - and I don't seem to be alone!  Change always presents a challenge to my being present, because there is both sadness over what has been lost and fear over what is yet to come.  Although this is always true to some extent, a massive change (like the new Beliefnet) brings it roaring into consciousness.

    There are "positive" feelings as well - the curiosity of how things actually will work, the excitement of learning new things.  It is both frustrating and exhilarating to be a "beginner" again and have to learn tasks anew in the new ways.

    One thing that makes this more intense is feeling much more open and exposed.  So while I am learning my way around and stumbling with newfangled things, I feel I am being scrutinized more closely than before.  Previously it felt like I could "lurk" more while climbing the learning curve, and now my fumbling is out there for all to see.

    So today I resolve to be more in the present, to let go of the moments that have passed, and to face the future without fear.
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    Love Begins at Home

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007, 12:21 AM [General]

    I have been realizing more and more that the extent to which we love and nurture ourselves is the main determinant of how much we can love and nurture others.  You can't give what you don't have.  And the source of love is of course the Source itself - so loving ourselves really means accepting the reality of our God-given worthiness.  It means peeling away the ego-laden layers that we have built up over our true Selves.  We see the world not as it is but as we are.

    Of course, this love of Self is not the same as the narcissistic pride of self.  True Self-love cannot exist apart from relationships - with others, and with our Higher Power.  Although we cannot love others perfectly, because we cannot love ourselves perfectly, we can learn to do both through relationships and through our navigating the difficult waters of relationships - both platonic and intimate.  They are all works in progress.  Through relationships, we learn to divest our egos and get to the essence of who we truly are.

    So today I will, if only for a moment, pause in prayer of thanksgiving for all the graces I have received, for all that I am, and for all that you are.
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    Monday, October 15, 2007, 10:51 AM [General]

    Listening attentively to another person may be one of the greatest gifts we can give them.  This is more challenging than it appears.  To be truly attentive means receiving what is said without judging the person or their feelings.  It means focusing one's attention on what is being said and ensuring that the speaker also knows that they are being heard and understood, as well as not judged.  The only way to know if what is said is being heard or understood is through feedback from the listener.  It is a dialogue, not a monologue.

    It is easy to listen to someone with whom we agree.  The biggest challenge is to be able to listen to one with whom we disagree.  In those circumstances it is more important than ever that the listener become "invisible."  The more the speaker is aware of the listener, and especially of resistance or disagreement in a problem area, the more likely an argument will ensue.

    One way to stay invisible is to always use the pronoun "you" when reflecting what has been heard.  Saying "I" makes the listener more visible than desirable and moves the speaker into their head.  The boilerplate  "I hear you say..." is not effective in real conversations because (apart from its artificiality and stiltedness) it calls attention to the listener - the speaker is now focused on what the listener did or did not hear.

    Fortunately, there are ways of listening "actively" while staying "invisible," speaking conversationally and not artificially, and still having the speaker feel understood.
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    Wednesday, October 10, 2007, 1:45 AM [General]

    It is a cliche, but a truism, that God gave us two ears and only one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we speak.  Listening is a skill that we are often not taught or practice.  Listening effectively requires more than hearing just the words being said, but involves the feelings and motivations behind what was being said.

    Listening is perhaps the single most important element in successful relationships.  Listening effectively means being open to hearing what is said without judgment or blame.
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