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Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Dinner on Tuesday

I was trained in a big way to present as if and always if I had my shit together, that I was on top of things; if I'd gone through a hard patch, it was way in the past, and certainly wasn't now. I was just telling a friend tonight how I've relearned over the past couple of years how important it is to come from a human place and share just as much what's not working, the ways I mess up, fall down or forget. I ran into one of these such humbling moments two evenings ago.

I was having dinner with a friend and he was talking about a new relationship he is in and some of the issues with it — mostly to talk about it, but partly to get my thoughts on it all. He said it was hard to hear when she, a single mom of 3, expressed to him at times she gets so overwhelmed, her kids feel to her like an obligation and she isn't even sure if she loves them. It was something he just couldn't understand. I listened and asked a bunch of questions and then started talking a bit about what I thought would make a difference. I started to explain that understanding something doesn't always have to mean agreeing with it. I explained that she could be feeling badly herself and concerned about being judged, but that if she felt she was being perceived as OK and good anyways, it would open up some space and have her feel less defensive and closed about it all. And then I went on to explaining what "finding something right" means – when a little warning light went off in me.

Here I was explaining about finding some thing or someone right, and I had been finding him wrong all night.

I took a breath, paused for a second, and took a moment to really look at him and take him in. I eased up so the voices of criticism could fade and there was more space to see and hear him. I took note of all that I found right and good about him, right here in the now. And then I continued talking.

I felt better immediately and started having a much better time. And from that point, the quality of our conversation shifted, opened up and lightened up. As we were paying the bill, he said, "You know, I've been telling you all the problems I have with her, but there are so many things that are great." And went on to list them.

Finding someone right can be a nice concept, but what does it mean, or how do we actually DO it? On my walk up the hill this Thanksgiving day, I tried to break it down into a few steps to make it a bit easier to practice:

1. Notice you are finding the person or thing "wrong."
2. Interrupt or press pause on the thoughts about the "wrongness."
3. Let them fade into the background, so there is more space, more quiet.
4. Notice what is "right" or "good" already about this person.

Note: Don't pretend that the things you found "wrong" are suddenly "right." That's just bullshitting yourself. Authentically and genuinely, notice what is "good" and "right" about this person or thing, right here, right now.

Another note: Something quite profound can happen in this space, which is a space with an ABSENCE of judgment: you can see even the thing/quality/person you found "wrong" a moment ago, now simply just to be SO. When you see the "wrongness" without the judgment of "wrong" it can simply just BE AS IT IS. And suddenly isn't so wrong after all. And then there is space for all that is right to emerge.

That's it. This is the beautiful simplicity of finding something or someone right. And from this starting point, hearts open, connections are made, humanity is shared, conversations blossom, and both people have a better time.

Try it and let me know how it goes.

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Posted by LiYana at 8:47 pm

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