On the 3 Fundamental Needs We All Have

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There has been a lot of science lately – e.g. Rick Hanson, PhD – behind the development of the three brains that human beings have. That’s right: Not one brain but three!

The oldest and least evolved part of the brain is the reptilian brain. It is responsible for the fight/flight/freeze response and is about survival.

The second evolved brain is the mammalian brain, which is all about touch and relationship.

The last part of the brain to evolve is related to our sense of who we are in the grand scheme of things. It is about the unique contribution only we can make.

What these three brains tell us is that all people have three fundamental needs that have to be addressed:

  1. Security
  2. Connection
  3. Meaning

How are we fulfilling these needs in our own lives and the lives of those around us?

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On the Five Love Languages at Work

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I recently finished reading through The Five Love Languages for Men by Dr. Gary Chapman. Dr. Chapman is a marriage and family therapist, and after 30 years supporting his clients in their relationships, he offers the following assertions: Every person has a primary mode of expressing love – a “love language.” Challenges in relationships arise when we don’t realize that we literally are speaking a different language from our partner. The solution, then, is to find ways to communicate in our partner’s love language. (Dr. Chapman offers five primary love languages, each with their own dialects: Words of Affirmation; Quality Time; Receiving Gifts; Acts of Service; and Physical Touch.)

I am finding that this concept has been helpful in thinking about how to acknowledge my staff for their hard work. We all have a basic need to be recognized for our contributions. And yet, managers get frustrated because they are communicating in their own love language, giving acknowledgments to their employees that employees don’t fully receive because the acknowledgment isn’t in their primary love language.

If we listen more closely to our coworkers, we can begin to hear what their primary love language is. We can get a better sense of how they wished to be recognized for their work.

And when we can acknowledge our coworkers the way they wish to be acknowledged, we are enhancing their job satisfaction without having to expend too much (if any) resource.

On Opening to Life

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There is a heartbeat to every relationship, a rhythm that lets us know whether or not we are in tune with Life. When the heart beats close, we have become disconnected from the present moment. We are thinking about what could have been, or we’re thinking about what should happen. We’re not being with the other person.

And yet, like a beating heart, it eventually and inevitably opens back up. The heart of the relationship opens up naturally and effortless to what is right in front of us. That life for which we have been hoping and praying… It’s right in front of us. We just had to stop long enough to just be in it.

Where in my life have I closed my heart to Life? Where in my life can I open up to the Love that is already within me and all around me?

Surrender = An Act of Wisdom

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There are moments in life where one wakes up, looks around, and asks oneself, “Is this all there is?” … Is this the relationship I want to continue with? Is this the job I saw myself being in? Is this how I want to spend the days of my life? … These are the critical moments of tenderness and humility when we choose between settling and leaping into the unknown, between surrender and resignation.

I was once asked, “What is the difference between surrender and resignation?” Resignation and settling means that we have given up hope. It is the limited self no longer seeing any possibility beyond what we already know.

In contract, surrender is an act of wisdom. It is a profound acceptance of Life. It is saying “I don’t know” and putting all that we are into the hands of something greater than ourselves.

In this way, surrender is not an act of capitulation, but rather one of victory for our Highest Self.

On Making It Count

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Recently, I had a conversation with my boss/mentor/friend that made a huge difference for me. I was talking through with her around my attitude towards and participation in a primary relationship in my life … about the ways in which I continually have to balance being authentic and honoring my own experience with being responsible for how I feel impacts that relationship and other relationships in my life. … In my mind, yes, it’s true that I am allowed to have and express my feelings, AND I can’t be emotionally-vomiting on people.

She asked me a good question: How do I want to use my air time?

Do I want to use my precious time in the relationship unconscious and simply reacting to the circumstances of the relationship? Or do I want to use that valuable time to be fully present and awake to and in the relationship?

Making it count doesn’t only mean honoring our own feelings and experience as human beings, which ebbs and flows like the tide. It also means diving deeper to that place of consciousness that is unchanging in the face of Life so that we can choose to bring 100% of ourselves to every moment of the relationship.

On the Nature of Relationships as Change

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So my relationship with Jon came to an end just now. … And it was born anew. … And again it ended. … As I continue to contemplate the nature of impermanence and change, I realized that our experience of Love as human beings is very much shaped by the feeling of being in love. And then we begin to question the future of the relationship when that feeling disappears. Yet, because it is the nature of Life to change, our feelings rise and dissipate. The feeling eventually fades. It is like we are striking the piano key: a deep, rich note that hums for a bit but eventually fades.

The kind of Love of which the mystics wrote and sang transcends the nature of change. It is the eternal thread that strings together each bead of strongly-felt experience into the mala (meditation rosary) of Life. … It is a beautiful, haunting melody – each note the vibrancy of emotional experience, separated by the inevitable fading of that emotion.

What does it all mean, you ask? … We relate to our relationships like they don’t change, when in fact they are changing all the time. If we related to them as if all that there was was that moment, then we would develop a greater appreciation for that relationship, because in fact, it really is ending over and over and over again. When we can live in that place of respect for the changing nature of things, we begin to get a glimpse into the Love that is behind All-That-Is. …

On Staying Centered for the World

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When you can stay in your center, it not only benefits you; it benefits the entire world.”

Sage words from Travis Eliot, an amazing yoga teacher in L.A. The journey of personal growth and development can become so focused on the inner experience that we often screen out the world outside. We forget that when we change, the world us must also change, because we are no longer the same person. People will relate to us differently. We will experience the world differently.

Staying centered is a gift to us all. For when we can be at peace, the entire world can be at peace.