Principles of Engagement

These are the principles that I use in my life and which I teach, model and encourage with my friends and clients in my practice:

  1. When someone wants to pull you into an argument, know that that kind of tug of war does not help at all. Act by trying to understand the other persons reasoning first, so they feel heard and seen, before you allow yourself to explain your side of the story. That opens up their compassion to also listen to you.
  2. Reasoningabout right and wrong is useless. Reasoning only makes everyone more determined to prove their own point to the other. Instead act with curiosity to listen and hear the other’s point of view to completely understand their emotional undercurrents and where that come from, and then give your perspective. Perspective comes from experience and not from absolutes in terms of right and wrong.
  3. It triggers more hurtful and revengeful emotions to be shamed by anyone. Instead of shaming, stop yourself from getting into self-righteous arrogance about your own views. Instead, try to grasp the others viewpoint from their experience; sometimes it’s a wounding past experience and you just aggravate that wound when you shame. Shame perpetuate wounds and not healing or insight. Only compassion brings a willingness to change for all involved.
  4. Reassuring someone in a positive way about the consequences of positive action is more productive than lecturing them about their negative behavior. Lecturing has the same effect as shaming. It is counter-productive in terms of healing emotions.
  5. Recall positive results from behavior in the past, instead of reminding someone to do something in certain ways. Instead of saying: “remember to brush your teeth”, say instead: “Your teeth seem so much healthier and brighter now that you clean them regularly, don’t you think?” or,” It seems that you sleep better when you brush your teeth at night”.
  6. “I told you so” statements are humiliating. Instead support by confirming the fact with humility: “I believe that the outcome of that particular action (describe the action) was meant to give that result, so how do you think we should act then to get different results?”
  7. Ask with respect, rather than demand. Demanding imply insult. Forcing someone, even children, breeds resistance and anger.
  8. Encourage behavior rather than demean. It is so important to inspire confidence, effort and courage instead of giving defeatist commentary like: “you will never be able to do so and so”
  9. Encourage and demonstrate compassion and understanding with firm boundaries. Boundaries need to be upheld with firmness and not anger or aggression or violence. Understanding is not about accepting negative behavior but understanding the motive underneath and the wounding emotion that lead to it. That kind of compassion can then help guide better future actions.

Love and Blessings.


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