18 Chapters
Medium 9781609948917

16 Writing in Another’s Book of Life

Hawkins, Terry Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Some of the greatest chances for falling into the Pit arise through our interactions with other people. We may truly intend to write positive things in their Book of Life and then fall short of that intention. The good news is, there are things we can do to help put Flipman into action.

As we now know, it is our interpretation of a situation that creates our response to it. In my younger, less informed years, I would often get myself all worked up by trying to convince someone of my opinion, especially if theirs didn’t match mine! I would have passionate disagreements, thinking that if I could give a good enough argument, I could get them to see my point of view. But of course, I usually ended up jumping into my Pit and feeling frustrated and angry! I now look back and realize that my empathy skills needed a lot of work, and it wasn’t so much the differing opinions that put me in the Pit as it was my insatiable desire to be right.

There is a wonderful saying, “What is more important, being right or having peace?” As I get older and continue to use my Flipman approach to life, I find that I’m becoming more mellow in my responses to certain situations. I now find myself letting things slide that I would have previously found incredibly irritating or upsetting. Wouldn’t it have been great to discover that pearl of wisdom a little earlier in life so that I would not have wasted important energy on minor irritations and incidental issues?

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10 Mind Mechanics

Hawkins, Terry Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

We have talked a lot about the way we perceive the world and how it influences our reality. In order for us to take control of our life and the results we produce, it might be important to first look at the mechanics of how this actually happens.

Let’s begin by having a look at the three parts of this process — the conscious mind, the unconscious (or subconscious) mind, and our physiology. I have often heard the conscious mind described as the captain of our brain. It gives directions and tells the unconscious mind what to do. The unconscious mind becomes the crew. The crew doesn’t think for itself — it just does what it’s told. Our physiology is thus profoundly shaped by our conscious and unconscious mind.

Captain: We make a perception or interpret an experience.

Crew: The unconscious mind accepts this interpretation.

Outcome: The body then aligns itself with this input.

Let’s go into a bit more detail.

The first stage is about how we perceive the world. We chat inside our head all the time. Chat, chat, and more chat. Most of us are completely oblivious to the conversations, interpretations, and perceptions that go on between our ears. If we are to take control of how we react and behave, we must listen to this internal voice.

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15 Our Book of Life

Hawkins, Terry Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

We started this book by talking about how living is a series of events, all joined together to form the great story of our life. From the time I was a young adult, I always likened the entirety of my life to a great big book, its pages filled with experiences, people, and adventures.

We each have our own Book of Life filled with our own stories and journeys. Some of our friends and family will be in our book for many chapters. Some may feature in only a few paragraphs; others will appear for only a few words. There’s a wonderful saying — “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime” — that beautifully describes our relationships through time. Every encounter, discussion, facial expression, and positive or nasty word to another human being goes into their Book of Life, and into ours as well.

I might feature in your Book of Life only for a couple of words, but let me tell you, if I am going to be in someone’s book, I want to be 32-point , not 8-point faded italic! I want to make sure that I give everything I’ve got, as often as I can, to as many people as possible. We all have an effect on each other. Every interaction with another human being helps that person write his or her book, as it helps us write our own. We’re in “metaphoric print” together forever.

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5 Genuine Emotion Is Not the Pit

Hawkins, Terry Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

As I said earlier — and I can’t stress this too much — Pit behaviors and reactions do not include healthy emotions, such as grief, sadness, shock, respectful anger, or frustration. As we all know, life can throw us many curveballs, and we humans are designed to deal with the stress of life through feeling and expressing our emotional responses to these events. Crying, for example, is such a healing act; it allows our body to release the sadness we are holding. I cringe when I hear parents tell their children (especially their young boys) to stop crying when they are sad. I admire anybody who can be brave and strong enough to be in their vulnerability and allow the emotions to rise and be expressed. Strength is not the ability to not cry; it’s the ability to cry, to laugh, to be scared, to be brave, to communicate respectful anger and frustration — to feel and express those feelings.

Too often, we push these important emotions down because we become fearful of really experiencing and feeling them. We can start to believe that the pain in our chest is too much to bear, so we stop — we wait. But we are meant to feel. Our hearts are meant to be broken, but they never break in two — they just break open to allow us to love more and feel even more. However, getting to this understanding can be a real test — sometimes it can seem much easier just to push it all down and instead become bitter and resentful. When we do this, our Pit emotions come to the surface and we end up spraying our Pit Pollution onto everyone, with our Pitman behaviors and comments.

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4 It’s Not Always about You!

Hawkins, Terry Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

I don’t think we spend enough time understanding the power of empathy and sympathy and the effect that these two states have on our perception. Sympathy can be very seductive and can easily keep us in the Pit if we’re not careful. Sometimes we even want to throw a blanket in and have a Pit Pity Day, which is fine, as long as we don’t get seduced into staying for too long. Remember, it’s easy to become stuck in the habit of Pit behavior.

Empathy is a simple word, and one of the most understated, underused, and undervalued words in our language. I once heard the difference between empathy and sympathy described this way: Sympathy is when you join people in their dark place (the Pit), and empathy is when you throw them a ladder. When we come from a place of empathy, we give people permission to be whatever they need to be, and we are better able to support them in an objective way. Expressing empathy is also a powerful way to release anguish from the past and to connect with others in the present.

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