Respect means acting with integrity.
I can remember feeling stress around visiting family when I had little kids. I was a nursing mom in an era when that wasn’t cool – frowned upon, even, and had a child that literally couldn’t digest baby food til nearly age 3. Every time I would attempt a new food, baby would be miserable, and the poops looked like beer foam. We would be up around the clock for a good three days until the system settled once again. I finally just gave up and let this child communicate when they wanted to try something, and that totally worked. We nursed for a long time.
Three years… though this wee one was eating some solids around age two, they couldn’t wean fully til around age three.
Relatives gave me grief. Friends did too.
As a young mom, not 100% sure of what I was doing, and in the face of a doctor that insisted solids were better for her, at first, it was HARD to feel good about the decisions I was making. I received nearly zero support for what I was doing.
Initially, I spent a chunk of time feeling sorry for myself in this space. I pulled out the victim seat, set up pillows and cocoa, roasted marshmallows, and invited others to my pity party. (figuratively speaking lol) (note: hang in til the end to consider a free opportunity 🙂 )
It was true that no one understood.
It was true that I received tons of criticism.
It was true that the days and nights after once again trying solids were horrible for everyone as no one slept.
And that WAS hard.
So I took responsibility for an unpopular choice, and acted with integrity.
I even convinced the doctor to back off.
My baby was then happier. Healthier.
In less pain.
We all slept.
I stopped creating expectations for people who didn’t get it and dealt with the outcomes and side effects of my choice. Eventually the years passed and we moved onto other things. Things got better for me internally when I accepted the reality of my circumstances, made a decision to accept the criticism as normal, and took responsibility for my choice to put my child’s health above the opinions of others. I respected myself, AND my baby. I was kind in how I responded to the well-meaning uninformed communication of others.
The tension lifted within me, and it was easier.
I won’t say it was fun, but it was easier, mainly because I stopped causing myself pain by wishing my reality was different.
I found the good.
I decided I could be grateful for the situation and enjoyed nursing this child and the connection that was built as a result. I felt good about putting what was best for this baby above my own need for acceptance. Eventually I stopped struggling with it altogether.
And I felt good about myself and what I was doing.
As I’m writing this today, I’m dealing with another situation that rips a mother’s heart in half. The timing of this cracks me up – and I’m so grateful to have the experience, and so glad to be reminded of these truths as I struggle through my Now, applying what I know works. Thank You, Jesus.
Taking responsibility for what we do or don’t do, then acting in integrity moves us forward in the identity work we’re doing.
We’re no longer afraid we will betray ourselves at the whim of another person’s judgment.
We recognize someone else’s critical remark is usually a reflection of their character, not ours, that they are probably projecting onto us some fear, judgment, or jealousy. We stop giving so much weight to those around us and instead navigate what we know is best for us (and others even) because we know who we are.
It’s key to our identity, knowing what we will and what we won’t do, then respecting ourselves and others enough to stick to that.
The problems come when we threaten, are wishy-washy, or are inconsiderate as we navigate these boundaries.
It sounds counter-intuitive to consider taking responsibility as a powerful way of changing our circumstances. I mean, it just seems so much easier to focus on what the other person did, blame them, and be sad in that, right?
That’s actually true. It IS easier. And we’ve done it so often, it may even be a habit for us.
And other people are to blame, sometimes, right?
Let’s acknowledge that often the thing you are dealing with IS actually unfair, unhealthy, not awesome, and maybe others could be doing better than they are. Maybe they ARE taking advantage of you. Maybe they DO complain, then blame you for being discontented. Maybe their behavior IS selfish!
Other times, and if we have negative patterns of thinking, it can be there are other factors, our own involvement, or even a filter that clouds what we are seeing so much we perceive something the other person didn’t even do or say.
The Problem with Blame
There are a few BIG problems with blaming others or thinking the worst of them.
We are choosing the position of “victim.”
When we take responsibility, we are suddenly in a position of power! Not power over someone else, mind you, but the power of making our own choices about what’s best for US and/or the relationship. We may also discover from our “gentle truth” experience with God that we have contributed to the negative situation, but we are also now in a position to do something about it AND how we deal with similar situations in the future.
We can’t rely on the other person to behave differently. We CAN, however, do something about our own behavior.
Second, when we take responsibility, we need to own ONLY what’s ours to own. Being able to see this clearly takes some practice. The victim seat comes from blaming others OR blaming ourselves – taking TOO MUCH responsibility. Again, we can’t impact someone else’s behavior and to assume that we are responsible for the WHOLE situation or for their actions is lunacy at worst, and unproductive at best.
There is a ton of research on blame and why we do it– and just as much on why we should take responsibility instead. I hope you can see the correlation to the other links above that deal with self-compassion!
After we have taken responsibility and owned our piece of the problem, we need to take action on it with integrity. Making a commitment to do something different the next time we encounter similar circumstances is an act of agency, of power, and of growth.
We choose to act with integrity.
Research on students has proven taking ownership changes outcomes. It can for you too – if you choose to take responsibility, make a commitment, and then take action on it.
Choosing to do nothing, actually, is also a choice.
Do you see that? Choosing to do nothing is a choice to grow the problem, because small problems, left unaddressed, become big issues over time.
Remember “The Connection Steps”?
1. Be in our Now by Naming our own feelings
3. Receive comfort
4. Listen for a gentle truth
5. Take responsibility
6. Act with Integrity
So today, let’s go back through our journal. Take 35 minutes to review what you have written so far, and choose a few things to take responsibility for your part in them.
Then make a commitment to do something different the next time you are in a similar situation. Lastly, show up differently, act with integrity.
Maybe God reminded you that everything should be done in an orderly way (1 Cor 14:40) and you realize that your lack of organization and failing to use a calendar is the reason you missed your best friend’s birthday and hurt her feelings. If you can take responsibility for that and commit to using a calendar, take action on that and order a calendar you like – that’s an example. Go through your journal and pull out some opportunities where you can take responsibility, and make some commitments, then act with integrity.
You also know (with integrity) that if she continues leaving them you can establish a boundary, “You’re right, it isn’t a huge deal, but part of being mature and a good roommate is picking up after yourself. So if you want to use the kitchen, you will need to start doing that, otherwise, the kitchen will be off limits to you,” or whatever boundary you establish that fits within who you really are. Maybe she would need to pay for a housekeeper to pick up after her, or hire her younger brother, or you decide you’ll do it, but take a fee for the chore out of her allowance, etc. When we stop blaming and focusing on the problem, and instead, create with the Creator within us, we suddenly have access to tons of creative ideas!
Oh! One more thing… expect to fail.
One thing no one tells us and we seldom see on social media is the many, many failures that finally result in a big success. Those who are most successful are really good at failing. They fail more than others who do not succeed. Their success is often based on continuing to try. So give yourself some grace, and have a reality check. Perseverance trumps failure any day. If you want to read more about successful people who have failed a ton, read this.
Continue to journal about your feelings – and now you are ready go through all the Connection Steps. And I encourage you to branch out from this and try it “on the fly” in live conversations!
When I first started practicing this, I literally had to take a break from a conversation to work through The Connection Steps, then return to the conversation. The first time I did this, it took a whole week! Eventually, I got to the place I am now, where I can help others go through The Connection Steps – and this is one way we turn conflict into connection. I’m not perfect at it, by the way. It is a journey! I believe in the Jesus in you, by the way!! You CAN learn this and experience God at a higher level, being transformed and live the abundant life He gave us. Create! Do The Connection Steps! Your mind and everything around you will be transformed.
Feeling led to learn more? We want to invite you to our community of women growing in all these things, discovering respect for themselves, walking in integrity, and deepening their connections with God, themselves, and others. Consider yourself invited – part of it is free! (sign up at the bottom of https://greaterimpactwives.org) :
- Our FREE Strength & Dignity community and foundation course (now in it’s 5th week – and you can start anytime! – it’s The Connection STEPS and The BASICS – foundational elements to being able to then add the communication elements in the actual course if you decide to join
- Strength & Dignity LIVE on FACEBOOK – now it is LIVE again on Facebook, starting with a Steps and Basics review – already a few weeks in AND… all the science-backed life-changing processes that God’s blessed us with… and have been in the Bible for centuries hello. I’m leading the live class starting NOW – sign up and don’t miss a thing! You’ll get everything in the FREE Foundations PLUS all the great communication skill development details PLUS weekly live Q&A’s
- If you hate Facebook, that’s okay because the course is still also on Circle for those who hate social media so much they don’t want to even be there! You can sign up and get access to all the proven materials in Circle.