“Live Without Pretending”
Many of us are living pretend lives. We put on a show displaying the person and the lifestyle we want people to buy into. Social media enables this behavior. We need to be authentic, genuine, honest, honorable, respectful, and transparent. Stop pretending to be someone you’re not. Stop pretending to have things you don’t. Stop pretending and start living. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming and dreaming big. There is something wrong with distorting the truth, misleading others, and blatantly telling lies. Stop pretending. Once you do, you will notice that a huge weight will be removed from your back and shoulders.
“Love Without Depending”
Many of us love with a dependence on others loving us back. It’s an expectation that for us to give love we must receive it in return. It’s selfish and the very reason we’re not full and fulfilled.
We also shouldn’t love and depend on that love to change a circumstance or a person. Once again, that’s selfish. You’re supposed to love with no strings attached. You’re supposed to love without conditions. Manipulation is not love. If something is meant to be, it will be. If it’s not, embrace the moment, and then move onward down your path–because you still have an interesting journey ahead.
Love is free in all forms, shapes, fashions, contexts, ideals, lenses, and points in time. Stop distorting it.
“Listen Without Defending”
This is one of the hardest lessons I’ve been trying to learn in life. I can easily get on the defensive, feeling as though I’m being attacked and I need to defend myself. Even if I’m being attacked, listening to defend rather than listening to understand and possibly empathize, is always a strategy for disaster. I process information pretty quickly, the problem is that I draw conclusions even quicker, which means I can jump into the deep end of the pool when I should still be on the steps.
Maybe you can relate in some way…
Do you find yourself waiting to respond, or worse, interrupting the other person so that you can respond and get your point across?
You’re not listening and relating. You’re hearing and plotting.
I have to keep telling myself this. Hindsight is 20/20 and boy howdy do I get hit with it between my eyes after a situation has gotten intense and exploded. It’s one reason why I don’t like ironing out disagreements in writing.
As a whole, the human race has gotten sloppy, lazy, and inconsiderate with our writing skills. We try to cut straight to the point, use figures of speech and slang, and we’re too rushed and too busy to do someone the honor of fully explaining ourselves until our message is clearly received, as we intend.
Text messages, instant messages, emails, mobile apps—can all be a disaster vehicle waiting to crash and burn with us in it. There’s nothing like sitting down and speaking voice to voice with someone. You can actually communicate faster, more effectively and efficiently, through voice to voice communication. Now let me add, that this also includes sign language for those who communicate primarily and entirely through signing. It’s the same—immediate feedback and clarification.
Our next issue is our listening skills.
Listen with openness. Listen with the goal of receiving. Listen with the goal of sharing, uplifting, and being loving and respectful–always.
Listen, taking into consideration the other person’s feelings, positions, fears, frustrations, and desires. Even if they are attacking you, how would you want them to respond and treat you if the roles were reversed? Try to respond and treat them accordingly.
Take the time to truly comprehend what is being said, not how the message is being delivered. Take a moment before responding. Try not to interrupt. If you need to, take notes, so you can gain clarification later. But don’t turn your note taking into a battle plan. Your notes are to be placeholders to help you remain in tune with the sender of the message, so that you don’t interrupt them and cause disruption, and so that you don’t make assumptions about what they are saying. You’re supposed to listen to gain understanding.
So don’t listen defensively or offensively. Just listen.
“Speak Without Offending”
I pretty much covered this concept in the section above. But let’s go deeper.
When we stop listening defensively, we will stop speaking offensively. We will place more care in the words that we use, taking into consideration how we want words used towards us.
This is another area I’m working on, because my words can slice and dice you on a bad day–especially when I’m feeling or actually being attacked. Since I process information quickly, my retort is lightening fast. When I’m being humorous, it’s called “great comedic timing“. When I’m being mean and spiteful, it’s just called what it is, venemous and hurtful.
I can speak with a sarcasm that cuts deep and spreads wide. When it’s laced with profanity, then it can be suffocating. The primary purpose is to keep the conversation short and to silence the one I’m speaking to.
How selfish is that? Very selfish, I admit!
At that point in a conversation, I’m listening both defensively and offensively, just waiting for my chance to pounce and strike. I’m not then treating the other person how I want to be treated. I’m instead projecting onto them my own insecurities.
Jeesh, how Christianly is that? Not a bit. That’s definitely more devil than Christ.
I’m a work in progress. I admit I’m not a great communicator. I’m better than I used to be, but still too far from where I need to be. So now you can see why this quote on living, loving, listening, and speaking hit me so hard. It’s my reminder, “Hey Natasha. This message is for you sweetie!”
Living, Loving, Listening, and Speaking in a healthy manner require high levels of self-control, self-reflection, self-respect, self-worth, and self-esteem. When these are low or non-existent then all you have in your life is chaos and disruption, negativity and destruction.
You have to have humbleness to have a sense of humility. Humility is the byproduct of a humble person. How can you live fully, authentically and on purpose if you are not humble? How can you love without dependence? How can you listen openly and speak respectfully if you are not humble?
It’s time to free ourselves from these shackles that have us bound to negative things, people, and experiences. It’s time to free ourselves from our insecurities and fears. Stop worrying about other people trying to control and change you. Focus more on controlling and changing yourself. Throughout our journey we should seek and embrace change, so that we can see and track our growth. Wisdom only comes through change. True wealth only comes through our change.
Live without pretending. Love without depending. Listen without defending. Speak without offending.
~Natasha Foreman Bryant
Copyright 2016. Natasha Foreman Bryant.