Archive for the ‘General Discussion’ Category

Relationships: Making Time, Focusing Attention

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 01:04 PM
Author: admin

Relationships: Making Time, Focusing AttentionHuman beings are genetically programmed to desire belonging and companionship, yet life is at its core a solitary journey. In response, each of us walks through life attracting and establishing relationships and deciding who and what is important. As adoptive families, one of our most important relationships—the one between parent and child didn’t happen by accident. We had to expend great energy, intention, and commitment to form our families.

As hard as we work to create relationships, often we fall short in dedicating the necessary energy to sustain them. One of life’s biggest challenges is disciplining ourselves to take the steps, make the time and focus the effort to sustain relationships. It’s not enough to build them; we must also nurture them.

During our recent retreat in Sedona, my GIFT partners and I acted on our intention to be partners, colleagues, and friends. This required us to adjust busy schedules, arrange coverage to fulfill any ongoing responsibilities during our absence, and create understandings with our families. Certainly, this took effort, but the goal—and the result were well worth it.

As Intentional parents, how are you carving the time, focusing attention and engaging in activities—or moments—that feed your spirits and strengthen your family ties?

Relationships: Making Time, Focusing Attention, sheepThink of specific choices that you made; which ones advanced your goal? Which ones fell flat? What patterns, assumptions, and complicating factors blocked your success? What habits kept you tethered to “old” outcomes? What “system” can you design that will best support you?

It might help to imagine this was a career or job goal; the same kind of strategies that serve us professionally can often be tweaked to serve us in relationships. (Remember to operate from the perspective of relationship not transaction!)

One simple practice which we used during our retreat was to set a daily intention. We each identified a single word to embody that intention, for example, forgiveness, serenity, joy, kindness, attunement, tranquility. Determine whatever word captures your intention and then walk through the day with that word as the framework through which you engage for the day. We chose to share our daily intention with one another. (Decide if you want to share yours with others.)

One of the most common impediments to goal achievement is lack of time and the stress that results.

Relationships: Making Time, Focusing AttentionPromise yourself that you will also identify what you would be declining. Take the time to weigh out the choices. Gain clarity, then choose. Feel the difference this makes in your decision process. How much extra time did it take? What benefits do you notice?

How might this practice–and the small pause it inserts–help avoid making decisions which are later regretted? How might it reduce stress? How might it improve relationships with others and yourself? How does it help you choose your priorities from a place of strength?

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Healthy Relationships Grow from Intention and Commitment

Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 07:04 PM
Author: admin

Healthy Relationship Grow from Intention and CommitmentI am meeting my fellow GIFT coaches this week in Sedona. Because we reside all across the US,  we believe it is important to gather in person at least once a year. Our periodic retreats are our way of practicing what we preach in terms of maintaining healthy relationships as business partners and colleagues. We recognize the importance of being together, of listening deeply to one another, and of sharing conversations with each other that reinforce the importance of our mutual relationships.

In our most recent blogs, we’ve emphasized how vital it is for family members to make the time to have conversations that expressly say what we feel about each other. Through our GIFT partnership, we have created a “family” of sorts–one that each of us values, depends upon, and works to sustain. We know we can depend on one another as friends and as business partners. That knowledge and trust is the fruit of intentional effort and committed actions.

This has served us in good times, challenging times, and in sad moments as well. Over the years, most of us have experienced a family bereavement. While we understood that we couldn’t take away another’s grief, we did offer shoulders to lean on, ears that listened without minimizing or silencing her anguished words. We did not offer saccharine reassurances or rush to plaster a happy face over sadness. Our response was to walk hand-in-hand and serve as witnesses to a friend’s pain. We expressed confidence that she could cope with the trauma.

Now our thoughts turn to happier moments. For three days in the Arizona sunshine, we will have fun together. Those good times will reinforce our connection and renew our sense that our relationship is healthy, safe, and trustworthy.

What actions will you take this week to build connection with your family? What conversations will you hold because it is too important to put off until…whenever?

Perception, Reality and Updating Family Systems

Wednesday, April 4, 2018 @ 06:04 PM
Author: admin

Perception, Reality and Updating Family Systems, expectations influence perceptionsOur last few blogs have concentrated on ways to establish and nurture deep connection within our families. Now let’s take the time to review our efforts and identify the changes that have resulted. (Notice I did not say “if” any change occurred; I presupposed that change happened which means I will be zealous in my effort to spot it.) Our presuppositions strongly influence what we allow our brains to see.

It takes determination and persistence to upend the status quo. When change does not come rapidly, it is easy for discouragement to overtake our intention. Too often surrender quickly follows. Our goal to build healthy, enduring, and dynamic bonds within our families is far too important to allow failure. How can we prevent that?

Since we know the slow pace of change often contributes to the abandonment of the effort to improve, let’s address that. One important strategy is to ensure that every shift in behavior is noticed—even the tiniest advancement. Any change is worthy of notice. The first element of our working strategy is to amplify our noticing.

This goes for adults as well as for children. (Many marriages, friendships, and jobs fail when we feel underappreciated, unnoticed and taken for granted.)

When we set the intention to be on the lookout for evidence of change, this “noticing” lens influences what we see, just like when we adjust a camera it frames the picture with an intended point of view. If we focus on the mountains, the flower-filled meadow in the foreground becomes blurred.

While it is important to keep our eyes on our big goal, remember to notice the incremental changes accomplished on the way. This helps us avoid discouragement, spurs appreciation for effort, and recognizes that change is a process that includes progress as well as occasional backsliding.

As always, we want to bring an attitude of neutral curiosity to the scrutiny of our progress. Once we notice, we want to find out why and how we succeeded. Let’s find the aspects that encouraged progress towards our ultimate goal as well as those factors that distracted us or challenged us or actually were counterproductive. All the data is valuable.

At the risk of stating the obvious, we want to continue to do the things that advanced our goal and we want to eliminate any obstacles that got into our way.

Next, let’s commit to another priority: acknowledge progress. This crediting process must include acknowledging ourselves as well as each family member. Sure, people may often brush off the compliments which we expressed.

The important thing is, they have been heard. Once heard they cannot be unheard. This might be judged a silly observation. But consider how often you replay dialogue between friends, family, and coworkers. Whether it’s an argument, and intimate moment, or a laugh human beings love to replay our audio tapes. Let’s commit to saying something that will warm their spirits when they replay it.

Updating our observations is important for another reason. It keeps us within the realm of reality. It also reminds us we don’t want to operate from an all or nothing mindset which tricks us into believing unless everything changes, we’ve failed. Any change regardless of size has value. As long as we have breath, we have the opportunity to keep plugging away.

In addition to noticing with our eye, we must also see with our inner awareness. It will need updating as well. We must regularly update our inner templates of how we think of our children within our memory, our hearts and, our minds.

Otherwise, our familiar “box” that defines how our child or spouse behaves will blind us to the new person whom they have become.  When we continue to live as if nothing has changed, the newly-born change will wither and die.  Instead of thinking  Johnny never or Johnny always… pause to remember in recent weeks when he broke the pattern—once, maybe twice, or more. What we expect to see influences what we allow ourselves to see. We must not allow habituated thinking patterns to override emerging change. It is essential that we live in the realm of reality not in the realm of assumption, especially when those assumptions keep us boxed into old behaviors and identities. We must not imprison people in “boxes” from which we never release them.

Since noticing and updating serve such pivotal roles, how can we improve these skills?

When thinking about a family member, pause to ask ourselves: Is this thought based on who they were or who they are? Then consider how they also might benefit from updating their template of Who and How you are. Discuss this idea as a family and begin making it part of a regular practice of acknowledging one another.

Walking in Our Children’s Shoes

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 @ 01:03 PM
Author: admin
Walking in Our Children’s Shoes.hunger to knowDuring the previous two weeks, we focused on building relationships by intentionally scheduling conversations with the sole purpose of speaking the deep feelings in our hearts. Instead of relying on the assumption that our families “know” how we feel about them, we committed to speaking those feelings aloud.
This week let’s take a different angle on relationship building. We challenge you to stroll down Adoption Lane with one twist: Answer 7 “trigger” questions from “curious” (rude) people as if YOU were an adoptee. Consider only one question per day. Sit with the question; Do not give an autoresponse reply. Really think about it throughout the day. Determine how fully you can answer each one. What is known/unknown? What is knowable/unknowable?
Answer “trigger” questions as if YOU were an adoptee. Consider only one question per day. Sit with the question; Do not give an autoresponse reply. Really think about it throughout the day. Determine how fully you can answer each one. What is known/unknown? What is knowable/unknowable?
What kind of parental support would you want? What might you be tempted to conceal from your folks? Determine what else would you need to now. What else would you want to know? What else would you fear to know? What would you want your parents to know about your attempt to reply to the “trigger” questions?
What kind of parental support would you want? What might you be tempted to conceal from your folks? What would you want your parents to know about your attempt to reply to the “trigger” questions? What would tempt you to hide your struggle?
What will you do with the insight you gain through this exercise? What actions will you take? What conversations will you initiate? How did this exercise deepen your understanding of your child’s need for information and empathy?
Daily Question
Day One: A friend tells you her mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her grandmother died of breast cancer at age fifty. You’re sixteen and were adopted after being abandoned as a newborn. What is your response to her? Within yourself? How does it make you feel about yourself?
Day Two: A new teammate asked if you have any brothers and sisters. In your adoptive family, you are an only child.
Day Three A “friend” comments that you look enough like your boyfriend that you could be brother and sister. How do you reply? How does it make you feel?
Day Four: You were adopted internationally. During a discussion about immigration policy in your Civics, someone asks, “What are you?”
Day Five: An acquaintance asks how you would know if you might be dating a relative.
Day Six:  Your Health class teacher assigned your class their turn with the “Robot Baby.” (A mechanical doll that simulates the behavior of an infant. Students are graded on the quality of parental care they deliver over an entire weekend.)  A classmate asks what you know about your birth parents and why they didn’t want you.
Day Seven:  Your adoptive parents and your brothers (their biological children) are all exceptionally tall. You barely reach five feet. You are their only daughter. You overhear someone “joke” to your parents about how they had to “resort” to adoption to get a girl. How do you feel? What do you say?

Changing Intentions, Changing Behavior: An Uphill Climb

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 @ 05:02 PM
Author: admin

Changing Intentions, Changing Behavior: An Uphill ClimbLast week we challenged you to set time aside to have deeply connected and vulnerable conversations with the people you love. We titled it “Before It Is Too Late.”  Our intent was to encourage some positive change regarding the mood of negativity, anger and, violence in America. We believe we must focus on connection as a prime priority.

Creating genuine feelings of belonging and connectedness are the solution to anger and isolation, not the after-effect.

A loving relationship is the soil from which our family bonds grow. We plant the seeds of trust, caring, forgiveness and, acceptance. The growth process takes time and attentive nurturing.

Change of this magnitude requires a combination of intention, commitment and, execution. It is definitely an uphill climb that demands persistence, powering through failure, forgiveness, encouragement and, acknowledgment of every tiny increment of success.

So … back to last week’s challenge. Did you actually make time to have the conversation in which you told them you love them? How many times did you do? if not, what distractions, habits and behavioral patterns got in your way? Pause for a moment to listen to your inner dialogue as you considered the previous questions. How “accountable” were you? What rationale (excuses?) did you invoke to justify not taking the time for the challenge?

Step back. Now ask yourself, if a spouse, friend, coworker or, child used similar reasons for not following through on a Big Intention would you call “baloney” on them? Would you think it but not share the thought?

Now imagine yourself as the “listener” hearing your reasons for not acting on your intention. Do the words ring true? Great. How can you overcome those obstacles to create a different outcome this week? What are you willing to do to make sure you make the time to connect? What reminders might serve your goal?

If you judged your “reasons” as insufficient, are you ready to move beyond these distractions, obstacles or, excuses? What will you have to think, do and say differently?

Intimacy requires us to be vulnerable with one another which means it leaves us open to being hurt. Risk it. Start the conversation. Lead by example and speak from your heart. Reciprocity may not come but the words will have been heard. Even if the message didn’t take root immediately, repeat the process until it does. When family members do respond, listen, totally, with heart and mind. That is a daring act of love which transforms, hearts, lives and, worlds. This is how we attune and it is through this attunement that we interact in ways that benefit the entire family.

The time for these conversations is now. #LoveRadically