Dove with Branch
March 02, 2009 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk
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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, My mother-in-law pays more attention to my sister-in-law's children than she pays to ours. She is always talking about how wonderful they are but never talks about our children that way even though our children are very popular and they do well in school. She even scolds our children for not going out for sports. I am embarrassed for my children. How can I get her to stop doing this? - Verna in MI

Dear Verna, First of all do not be embarrassed for your children. Life is not some contest where we judge the successes of our children against others. Our children should grow up to be who they want to be. Life is not an inter-family popularity contest. Your mother-in-law is entitled to like, or not like anyone she chooses. You may point out her biases to her but It is difficult to change her behavior and much easier to change the way you feel about it. Help your children understand that their self-esteem doesn't depend on her approval. - the Dean

Dear Dean, I frequently shop at a convenience store in our neighborhood. There are several families who also shop there with their children who are very noisy. This disturbs me, and makes my shopping very unpleasant. I have asked the owner to speak to the parents, but he refuses. What can I do to make my shopping more pleasurable? Should I speak directly to the parents? - Hanna in NE

Dear Hanna, You can speak to the parents. You need to remember however, that the children have as much right to be noisy as you have to be quiet. If the owner accepts that atmosphere as appropriate, then you must decide for yourself whether you wish to continue shopping there. The thing that you have complete control over is where you shop, and whether or not you allow yourself to become upset by noisy children. You can tell the parents that you are upset by the noise, and ask them if they would help to make it more pleasant for you and others. Remember you have no right to quiet and are only asking for a courtesy. Explore the idea of enjoying their energy before you choose to shop elsewhere. Children add a lot of fun to the world for many people. - the Dean

I welcome questions and/or comments from our readers. Send your Ask the Dean questions or comments to: P.O. Box 535, Elmira, OR 97437, or visit www.DeanOfPeace.com. to submit by e-mail.

Law, Politics & Society ... As I see them
  Globe Magnify Glass

We often have a very definite opinion about what is right and what is wrong and exactly how others should act. When others don't do it the way we think is right, we get angry and think they should be punished.

Take the law shielding confidential information for reporters, for example. We can make a very good argument why their information should be protected; and we can also make a very good argument for why it should not. Society needs to consider those arguments carefully, and develop a rule that will best serve in this situation - one that considers both points of view and is in line with our underlying social principles.

Instead of just deciding what we think is right and then fighting to make that the law, we would be better served spending our energy looking for solutions that will be best for our society as a whole. When we have differences of opinion and want to live in peace with each other, we need to respect the other's point of view and search for common ground. When I read letters to the editor and blogs about the political news I am amazed at how disrespect is displayed for people with opposing points of view. My way or the highway is not the best answer if we want to live at peace with each other.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Most often the anger directed toward us is due to the other person having different expectations than our own. They are operating under the assumption that we will act toward them in a certain way; and when we don't, their anger is triggered. They may have very different beliefs and be totally unaware of our point of view or motivation; or they simply may be very different from us in many ways.

In dealing with another person's emotions, it is important to be aware of the fact that the other person wants something to come out of their relationship with you. The key is to understand their expectations, and to help them understand yours.

Such mutual understanding is brought about by meaningful communication. Rather than expecting the other person to feel the same way as you do about the situation that has made them upset, make a real effort to find out how they are thinking about something. In order to get a good understanding of what's driving their upset, so that you can ultimately diffuse it, you need to hone your listening and communication skills. Train yourself to be a good listener by learning how to "listen deeply." To do this, you must put your own thoughts and beliefs on hold, and really focus on what the other person is saying.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: When someone is upset with you ask yourself why you think they are angry.

Tuesday: When someone is upset ask yourself what they are expecting from you.

Wednesday: When someone is angry with you ask yourself what different belief they have that is causing the upset.

Thursday: When someone is asking something from you find out exactly what they are expecting and why they do.

Friday: When you are asking something of someone make sure they understand exactly what you are expecting and why you expect it.

Saturday: When someone asks something from you try to understand their request from their point of view.

Sunday: Resolve to always be a good listener, and understand fully the meaning and feeling of what others are relating to you.

Dean Van Leuven is a psychologist, conducts workshops and is the author of A Peaceful New World and many other books dealing with quality of life issues. Contact him on the web at: www.DeanOfPeace.com

Additional Notes
 

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