Be Satisfied*

Photo by Fischer Twins on Unsplash

A few years ago I read this post on David’s blog with a long prayer attributed to St. Anthony of Padua called Be Satisfied With Me. On its surface I don’t disagree with the concept. He writes:

Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,
To have a deep soul relationship with another,
To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.

But to a Christian, God says, “No, not until you are satisfied,
Fulfilled and content with being loved by Me alone,
With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me.”

It is true that we should all be satisfied with God alone before we need other people.

I was reminded of this poem/prayer by a coworker when I was having a particularly rough day being okay with my singleness. The women in our chat were a mix of married people, dating people, and single people. One remarked that this prayer was always a comfort to her. I said that I had seen it before, but it’d been a while since I read through it again.

Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found,
Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship,
That I have planned for you.
You will never be united to another
Until you are united with Me.
Exclusive of anyone or anything else.
Exclusive of any other desires or longings.
I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow Me to give you
The most thrilling plan existing . . . one you cannot imagine.
I want you to have the best. Please allow Me to bring it to you.

As I read through it though, I found myself only becoming upset rather an comforted. I was reminded of my inadequacies, my unworthiness, and how I’m not enough yet. I know that wasn’t St. Anthony’s intention. I believe the intention of the poem/prayer is for us to be reminded that the Lord comes first in our lives. Additional human love is gravy. If we aren’t satisfied with the Lord’s love, then we won’t be satisfied with another person’s love. Only God can fill the “God shaped hole in our hearts.”

That is something that I believe.

However, this poem/prayer lays out a condition on the Lord’s goodness. It doesn’t say, “wait on me, I’ve got great things for you.” Instead it says, “You’re waiting for these great things because you haven’t trusted in me enough yet, you aren’t holy enough yet, you aren’t fully satisfied.”

And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love
Far more wonderful than you could dream of.

You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready,
I am working even at this moment
To have both of you ready at the same time.
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me
And the life I prepared for you,
You won’t be able to experience the love that exemplified your relationship with Me.
And this is perfect love.

It reminds me that there’s something wrong with me today, that’s why I’m not married. I’m alone because there’s something missing from the love I have to give to another person, not because it’s just dumb luck. I don’t think that’s the intention of the poem/prayer, but words have meaning, they create worlds.

This poem/prayer is saying that daily Mass, the regular reading of Scripture, earnest novenas, a devotion to the Rosary, honest praise and heartfelt prayer time each morning and evening just isn’t enough. Believing that I am satisfied with His love just isn’t enough. I’m still missing something, some magic pill that no one’s told me about and no one who has found it (ie: married people who have found their love) will share about. It implies that something is lacking in me and that is why I’m unmarried while all of my friends are married. It implies that once you have found that special love that the Lord has in store for you, you won’t doubt Him again, struggle with prayer time, or have any struggles in your life. Because you’re fully satisfied with Him, how could you ever struggle? And every married person I know will assure me that’s not true … even if they don’t say it, I can see it plain as day.

The poem/prayer isn’t helpful for me. I dare say that it’s harmful and is someone’s odd attempt at explaining why there are so many great Catholic single women. [I know there have got to be some great Catholic single men out there longing for a spouse, but I don’t know them … if I did I might not be in this current waiting state. Okay, there probably are some out there, just not in my general vicinity. If you’re out there, give a shout … I know a lot of amazing single women you might be interested in knowing.]

When the truth is the reason for all of this waiting is that we live in a broken world, not that we are individually the only ones broken. Our world is broken.

And the long and short of why I’m still single, or you are still single, is that “we haven’t met the right person at the right time” not that “we aren’t satisfied with the Lord.” No one on earth is fully satisfied with the Lord, that’s a condition of our humanity, our brokenness. We are all longing for more because this world will never satisfy. Terrible things will happen, suffering will be presented, and we will wonder where is God in all of this. We might turn to him directly, but we will still be longing for something more. Longing for a world that isn’t this one. Longing for the time in Heaven when all will be revealed and nothing will be in the way of fully experiencing the love the Lord has in store for us.

*or the post in which I say that a Saint got it wrong. This might not help my canonization for sainthood. Maybe the internet will erase all markings of me after I die so this can’t be entered into evidence.

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An Extrovert Who Lives Alone

Photo by Levi Guzman on Unsplash

I haven’t always known the difference between introverts and extroverts. I thought that introverts were quiet and shy, and extroverts were loud and boisterous. Then a few years ago our pastor brought his dad in to help our staff communicate better. One of the activities was to take the Myers Briggs and discuss our results. I tested 33% more extrovert than introvert and got a better understanding of what that means in reality.

I love being around people, and someone people are looking to talk to. I like speaking to big groups. I think out loud. I get energy from being around others. I enjoy talking with others and have been known to never shut up. I like being in community. I enjoy groups of people. I love hosting parties. I like making small talk with people I don’t know.

I thought I had my extroversion all figured out. Then I bought a house and started living alone. I got used to the quiet. A lot of quiet, to be honest.

Then a few weeks ago I flew to Ohio for a work meeting. It involved me getting up quite early, going to the airport, flying there, hopping on a conference call, meeting my contact for a prep-meeting, us going to get lunch, eating lunch with a larger group, spending an hour leading a brainstorming activity, spending an hour debriefing that, spending another hour and half meeting with a different group, going over things with father for a half hour … all before I could just leave and be by myself. After all that I picked up dinner, ate dinner, did some hotel room yoga, read my book club book, and was ready to go to bed when the phone rang and my mother wanted to talk to me for 45 minutes about the fabric I wanted for the quilt I asked she have my aunt make me for Christmas next year.

I was done. I had also lost my voice because too much talking and not enough water.

The next morning my contact and I were talking over some things and he asked “if I was just ready to go home after everything yesterday.” I said “YES! After everything with you my mother called me right before I was going to go to bed.” He asked if I was an introvert.

I said, “No, I’m an extrovert who lives alone and loves the quiet.”

Ten years ago I would never have guessed that I’d love living alone or that I would crave quiet time. Most of the time I don’t even have music on. I listen to a lot of podcasts, but just when I’m doing other things like getting ready or strength training or mopping the floor or cooking. I don’t sit and just listen to them or even listen while I’m just doing stuff online.

So I’ve learned to be an extrovert who loves the quiet. I’ve also learned that I’m a little shy when it comes to being in groups of my peers who I don’t know, especially when I really want them to like me. I’m afraid to make a bad impression, so until I get comfortable I just don’t say anything.

That happened at a Christmas party I attended back in December. It was a group of people that I know from Church, mostly married couples, who are all great and who know me (most of them … one of the husbands who I have known for years thought my name was Karen). But I was nervous and quiet when I got there. What if I didn’t fit in? They were talking about being an introvert or extrovert and asked me my tendency. I said “Extrovert, but a shy one. It takes me a minute to get to know someone and then I’m good.” It ended up being a great party. I think I grew my relationship with these new friends, and then I went home to the quiet and just sat for a minute in the comfy chair in my bedroom.

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

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Right before Memorial Day weekend I started having some pain in my neck. I thought it was from doing planks wrong, as I’ve had pain like this before and I attributed it to the same issue. [Side Note: I have this goal to try to be able to do a 5 minute plank by my next birthday. Why? Well, just to say I can – and hopefully be super strong. I’m not sure I’m going to make it though because now I need to start over – taking a week-long break.] But anyway, back to the pain in my neck.

A nurse friend helped to massage it out, I used my “back buddy“, and applied some heat. I thought it might even be a pinched nerve because I was getting some throbbing in my jaw. The same friend was sending me texts of muscle names, nervous system diagrams, and more to help me try to get through it better. I was alternating between Advil and Tylenol, taking as much as I medically could. Nothing was touching it.

I woke up Monday morning after a fitful night of sleep nauseous from the pain with tears in my eyes. The throbbing in my jaw wouldn’t cease, and I felt like I couldn’t move my neck or walk without being in pain. I called another nurse friend who lives close by. She dropped everything and came over with a gel ice pack (these things are amazing, I need one of my own), Deep Blue, Biofreeze, and an offer to stay as long as I needed. Some of that helped, the company most especially. It’s hard to be alone when you’re in serious pain. And I was in serious pain. She asked if I wanted to go to Urgent Care, and I felt like the only way to get some relief was with meds stronger than the OTC stuff.

We trucked off to Urgent Care, got some stronger pain meds and a muscle relaxor with a confirmation diagnosis of what I had originally thought. Strained Muscle in my neck accompanied by a potential pinched nerve. The swelling needed to go down and then the nerve would be released and I’d be good to go. The rest of the day was filled with ice, meds, rest, and crying because the pain was so bad.

The next day I got an appointment at the chiropractor who I thought would be able to release the nerve and provide almost instant relief. Found another friend to take me there and received about ten seconds of relief when he fixed a small misalignment in my upper neck. Went home to do all the same things (meds, rest, ice, crying), all while trying to work!

After having no relief for a few hours, I wrote my doctor a super long email and asked “when should I come see you?” and “how many pain meds can I take at one time without overdosing?” (well it was a little less dramatic than that, but you get the point).

Less than three hours later, found another friend who could take me into the doctor the next day and made an appointment (before the doctor could even read my email). As I went to bed, sleeping fitfully – better than the previous evenings, but not well at all – so mad at myself for “planking too hard” that I messed up my neck, maybe for good. I even swore off planks forever! I prayed that whatever was wrong would be very clear to the doctor in the morning. I needed a diagnosis from a doctor who could prescribe the best meds for the job. I needed the throbbing in my jaw to stop and my neck to heal.

When I got to the doctor she took a few looks around, said “you’re in a lot of pain, aren’t you?” I replied, “Yes, the worst pain of my entire life, to be honest.” (and I wasn’t exaggerating!) I told her my plank theory and she said, “you may have a sore neck muscle, but I think this is a tooth infection.” [Two issues simultaneously, but probably a bad tooth infection that is causing the sore neck since they are so close together.]

A Tooth Infection?! WHAT?

Oh I didn’t mention that when I woke up Wednesday morning the entire left side of my lower jaw was swollen – like an inch or two larger than normal. Definitely an obvious sign of an infection.

She gave me some meds, an antibiotic, stronger pain meds, and steroid to reduce the swelling – and told me to follow up with my dentist. As I walked out waiting for my friend to come pick me up, I called the dentist (just 5 minutes from my doctor’s office) and said, “can someone see me right now, my doctor thinks I have a tooth infection and I’d like someone to look at it and get a baseline and a next step.” [I had called them in a panic the night before and they recommended “moist heat” – which probably drew the infection up, make the swelling increase, and led to this diagnosis faster.]

They got me in right then, called me back within minutes of me arriving, and the dentist walks in and says with a smile “well, we’ve got ourselves a tooth infection here.” [SMILING!! Why are all dentists so happy when they see things like this?] They took some x-rays to confirm the tooth (which I could tell them which one based on the throbbing) and said “Come back in 10 days.”

I said, “and then what will we do?”

Dentist (with a SMILE, of course), “Oh, a Root Canal.”

Oh, great … he said it’s the only way to fix it. “See all of that infection (pointing to the x-ray), the drugs will clear it up, but it will come back, so we need to take care of it. We’ll get you scheduled for 10 days from now and it’ll be fine. The procedure shouldn’t be too bad, some people even sleep through it!” SLEEP through a root canal? Seems unlikely, but he’s a good dentist, so we shall see.

My friend reminded me that I’ve had issues with this tooth before – and after she said it, I remembered things for the past two years that have been issues. Soreness, sensitivity, my last ‘plank issue,’ and even more. It all makes sense now, but just a week ago, it was a mystery.

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem, that’s for sure. So many times we take the surface knowledge of a situation and think “we know everything about what’s happening here.” We make judgments and inferences about behaviors or situations and make them gospel truth. This is what the gospels are talking about when they say “don’t judge.” We should know ALL of the facts, the entire situation, root of the event (ie: intentions) before making a judgement on the situation.

We can definitely judge our own behaviors and actions, but again – let’s figure out the root of the issue. If I’m always irritable with others, why? What’s going on at the heart of the matter? A priest spiritual director once told me that when people confess “road rage” he always says it’s more. There’s nothing really that people do on the road that would bother us if something else, something deeper, wasn’t going on in our lives. The anger we feel there doesn’t start there, it starts somewhere else. The irritability has begun with some other restlessness in our hearts.

The root of the problem is different – and if we can fix that, all of the other issues will follow in succession. Let’s remember to look deeper next time something is annoying us. Remember that things aren’t always what they seem. Sometimes a neck issue is a tooth ache. Sometimes road rage is a deeper hardness of heart.

So I’m off to fix the literal root of this neck issue. As soon as these meds take away the infection (which is happening slowly, but it’s happening), I’m scheduled for a root canal. And I never thought I’d say this, but I cannot wait – I want the relief. It’s on the 11th, so prayers would be appreciated. I’m offering up the suffering for all those in need, especially those in the world who do not have access to good dental care. My dentist is amazing, and I’m grateful he’s taken me on as a patient. [If you’re in Charlotte and want a referral, just let me know.]

What You Want To See

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There’s this debate going on in the land of the Internet about a ‘yanny’ or a ‘laurel’. Maybe you’ve seen it. It feels ridiculous, but also as ridiculous as the gold and white or blue and white dress of past internet scandals. I saw this video from The Ellen Show the other day and it got me thinking about something. This debate might be about more than foolish things on the internet, or maybe not – but let’s watch.

“I personally see” and “I personally hear” are the two statements that really struck me. There’s also this weird thing she does around minute 2:29. The pump has been primed, it comes down to pitch and the power of suggestion.

Is this really the entire problem in our culture? We disagree about something, something fundamental that people have agreed on for centuries, thousands of years actually, and we conclude the conversation with “well, I personally believe this, but I can’t make you believe it to.” In the last few weeks, I’ve even said “you do you” more than a few times. Most of these aren’t fundamental issues and neither is the laurel thing, it’s more about brain science and neurochemistry, but it reminds me of this bigger thing.

We are so afraid of the truth, of facts, and being wrong. Our brains cannot think one thing is right and then do another, it’s impossible. If we’re doing something ‘wrong’ then we believe it to be the right thing. If I’m eating crappy food but know I want to be healthy, then I’m thinking “these cookies won’t make a difference in my quest to be healthy” or “I made them with bananas instead of oil so they are healthy cookies.” I’m making an excuse in my brain to let myself think that what I’m doing is okay.

I commit sins because I tell myself that it’s not a big deal, I was justified for some reason or another, or no one can tell me how to live my life. I convince myself it’s okay.

Matthew Kelley once wrote something that I’ve remembered for many years since. He said (loosely quoting): “Humans have a powerful ability to delude ourselves.” We can make excuses all the livelong day about how we’re right, justified, and even entitled. These reasons make sense to us, just like it makes sense to you what you hear when she plays that robo-voice clip. I hear Laurel, and I cannot even figure out how someone would hear something else. But I believe you do hear something else, I just don’t get it.

I think we have to remember this when we get into an argument or have a disagreement about something. This quote has always been powerful for me:

“ I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” ~ Alan Greenspan

I may not have communicated well, but you were primed to hear something completely different when I opened my mouth. For example, you disagree with the pro-life position, so everything I have to say is anti-women’s rights, no matter what I say. Or you know I’m Catholic so therefore you know I’m a bigot who voted republican after I said, “I just don’t like Secretary Clinton” when that’s not true. Or I once told you that I didn’t get “global warming” so therefore I will never have an educated opinion about science in any conversation.

We go into all of our conversations with clouded judgement, like we know people and their intentions. I know we’re doing this with our politicians. I’m not a fan at all of our president and his politics, but there’s no way that every single thing he’s done has been malicious. I think he does have the best of intentions, they are just misaligned most of the time. Does that mean that every single thing needs to be a fight? Isn’t that exhausting?

I use him as an example because it’s such an extreme, and we all see people acting that way regarding him. But we all have someone like that in our lives. People we refuse to give the ‘benefit of the doubt’ to because they’ve hurt us in the past. It’s happened in my own family. A falling out between my mom and my aunt. My aunt did something and of course it was malicious because “she’s always been out to get me.” Really? Is that actually true?

It happens with my siblings and me. I’m misinterpreted because I’m faithful – so that means I’m like all of the other hypocritical Catholics they’ve heard about in the news. You’re still Catholic after what those priests did, that means you support and encourage them. Now nothing I say is ever taken seriously because it’s clouded by something that has no bearing on the situation.

I probably do this as well. There are some people I always have my guard up with because I’ve been hurt in the past. I’m ready for a fight, ready for their next question to be about something I’ll need to defend myself against. That’s not the reality, it’s not truth. No one is out to get me, and if they are, nothing I say is going to change their mind. The way I act might, being true to myself, authentic in my faith, and honest in the kindness I have toward them. I need to remember these words as my entire family prepares to go on vacation together later this summer. It’s a first for us, and it’s going to be interesting.

That Time I Talked to a MatchMaking Company*

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Recently, I reached out to a national company about matchmaking services. It’s not that I’m in the market for purchasing a husband, but finding one via other traditional methods or online hasn’t been successful. I thought, “let’s find someone else to do the work for you.” So I submitted a contact form over the weekend and expected a call early in the week. I received an email that he had tried to reach me but couldn’t. Fair enough, I believe my phone number was typed incorrectly OR that could be what he does all of the time to not make so many outbound calls.

We set a time later in the day to talk. He was more than 20 minutes late, at which point he sent in an email saying he would be even longer. We spoke on the phone for almost an hour sharing a few nuggets of information.

  • This organization has been around for over 25 years and set up more than 3 million first dates. [sharing history & reputation]
  • They don’t take everyone they speak to because they are a quality service and value quality over quantity. He accepts maybe 3 or 4 of every 10 people he speaks to as a client. [creating scarcity & exclusivity]
  • After asking a question or when I would say something he would reply, “Beautiful, I know a lot of the guys I’ve signed up recently will really like that about you.” [playing into my need for feeling important]

After about 40 minutes of me telling him about myself, sharing a picture, and then telling him what I’m looking for in a “special someone” (his words) we get to the product. They don’t work for free and he reminded me that “you get what you pay for” a few times.

They have two different levels – a 10 month program with two coaching sessions or, his preferred method because he knows how easy it’s going to be to set me up on dates, a 6 months program with one coaching sessions. Both guarantee at least one quality date a month (there’s that quality word again). The prices are about $2k different. Yes, that’s thousands of dollars.

Going in I had absolutely NO idea what to expect regarding price. I figured it was more than a couple hundred dollars, but spending more than I would on a European Vacation wasn’t what I was thinking. Right when I had my head wrapped around the second package price, under $3k, still expensive, but I was seriously considering – he then remembers that there’s a whole different package for people in the Carolinas due to our legal code, etc. SO scratch everything I had been told about price.

In the Carolina’s it’s a minimum of a 7 month program, 2 coaching sessions, and at least one “quality” date per month. Oh, and you only have to put down 30% (when doing the math is a little more than that) today and then pay the rest of it monthly. This is a great time to get in because it’s their busiest season, people trying to settle down before the holidays. So we can just put this on your credit card and get started.

I said, “Um, no … that’s a little more than I was expecting, around $3k today and $300 a month. Also, I don’t put things like that on my credit card and pay them off over the course of a year. I don’t pay interest on big ticket items I don’t absolutely need that I cannot afford.”

I said I’d need some time to think it over. To really figure out if I had $5k to give this in the next seven months. I mean that’s more than 10% of my take home pay and the only thing I’ve ever spent more than $300 a month on is my mortgage, rent or student loan payments.

He did that one great trick though to try to get me to say yes right away, right now. He said, “Well, I find that when we get off the phone the excitement dies down for people and they aren’t as serious when making the next step.”

By that, I think he meant, “When we get off the phone, $5k seems like an even bigger amount and it scares people. They realize they don’t have that, it would be a poor financial decision for them, and they aren’t as committed as they thought they were to finding that ‘special someone.’ So with all that in mind, why don’t we just put this on your credit card.”

I told him he could call me back later this week and that I would have a decision by then. Then I talked to two friends who gave similar opinions. They both said, “That’s a trip to Europe.”

It is, and with miles from AA, it could be two trips to Europe. Or maybe 10 weekends away in the next year to see family, friends, or just new places or a lot of other things I’d really like!

So now I have to figure out how to tell Chris no … probably just like this: “Thank you for taking the time to get to know me on Monday and share more about what you do at MatchMaking Company (MMC). I’ve spoken with trusted friends (those who support me on my dating journey) and looked at my finances to see if I can make this work. However, it would not be financially responsible for me to enter into a contract with MMC at this time. I know that you are a great company, have beautiful success stories, but I will not sacrifice my future by draining my savings or incurring credit card debt. So I’m going to pass on the opportunity at this time. If something should change for me in the future, I will reach out to see if MMC is still willing to take me on as a client.”

I actually did send him that exactly in an email on the day I said would make a decision by. I got you response. He didn’t even respond with a “thank you for letting me know, best of luck” which is what I send to my prospects who say no to me. If he has time to speak with every potential client on an hour long qualifying call, then he has time to send me a quick reply. It could even be a saved signature in his email. By Friday he probably forgot about me entirely.

Honestly, that was probably even too generous of a “no” since he’d already emailed me as a follow up and says “It was great to speak to you briefly and I am happy to hear this is something fitting for your lifestyle right now. I’m very excited for you to get out there dating and having fun!” Did I tell you it was “fitting into my lifestyle right now”?

Well Chris, I’m glad you’re excited. I’m excited too … starting to look at tickets to Europe or one of the other six great things I could do with $4,495!

*name of MatchMaking Company withheld

** now I’ve got the song stuck in my head and I’ve never even seen the entire play…

Flex Your Style

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At work we subscribe to a particular sales philosophy and have been using the same trainers for two years in row. He’s also coming back this January. The first year was good, but he didn’t know us yet. He hadn’t met any of our sales reps and didn’t really get what we sold or that it was to Churches who are a little different than other for-profit businesses. This guy has a bunch of books and I’ve interacted with a few people on his team now outside of him speaking with us at our January Sales Kick Off.

I’m almost always impressed by what he says, and really appreciate his writing because so much of it applies to things outside of work and selling. The reason? Because selling and buying is human. I’m a human, and surprise all of the other people I interact with are also humans. The techniques he’s teaching us are good for relationships.

Now this year I’ve read a lot of books about relating, vulnerability, the spiritual life, and overall general self-improvement. A few have been more life-changing than others, but the woman who gets me the most is Brené Brown and her work about vulnerability. I could link a video here but that wouldn’t even begin to help you understand why I love her work. Suffice it to say, go read it. Not now though, because she’s got a lot and it’ll take a while before you come back.

Back to our sales trainer and his books. He writes about why people buy from you, why they follow you, how to prospect like a fanatic, and his newest book is about EQ. That’s Emotional Intelligence, if you aren’t on the up and up for all the different “Q’s” a person can have. They are IQ, AQ, TQ, and EQ (Intelligence, Actual, Technical, & Emotional). Together they make for a very powerful human being. Someone who has the smarts, knows how they relate to everyday life, gets technology and how to use it to help them, and has emotional intelligence to effectively build relationships … they are amazing. I have some of all of those things, but not quite at the amazing level.

The book we’re ready for this January came out a few months ago, but last year at the kick off he was still writing it and gave us a pretty good preview of what was coming. He made sure to say that the things he’s teaching us relating to EQ can be applied to all relationships but to remember that a salesperson / customer relationship is not the same as with family, friends, or our spouse. The work relationship is superficial. We want it to be as authentic as possible, but there’s a goal in mind and it’s not to make the other person the best-version-of-themselves. It’s to get the sale. That’s why we’re there, and everyone knows it.

But this customer craves a relationship always answering these questions: Do I like You? Do you listen to me?, Do you make me feel important?, Do you get me and my problems?, and Do I trust and believe you? If they can say “yes” to all five of those questions, they are more likely to buy from you.

The best way to walk through these stages of questions with your customers is to manage your own emotions to really speak to them in the style they prefer. Our own style preference is neither here nor there. We just need to know it, so we can keep it in the background. If I’m a big talker (and I am), then I need to flex my style to be a better listener. Nothing is better than when your customer is telling you a great story. It says a lot about them, what’s important to them, and where your company might fit into theirs.

We all have dominate styles. It’s natural. We can’t be everything to everyone all of the time. We will have a default style, but if you want to communicate with someone the best way to do it is in the way that they will understand best. If I don’t speak spanish, and you call me up with a pitch in spanish, I’m going to hang up.

That seems obvious, but if you say this instead: “If I communicate best in stories, and you ask me to give you three bullet points, and then proceed to talk at me for 45 minutes, I’m going to hang up.”

We have to see these two statement as equals. We cannot communicate well with someone if we aren’t speaking their language. This includes the translation, body language, tone, and style.

To illustrate this in our training, he inevitably brings this back to other relationships we all experience regularly. Since most of the room is married (actually all but maybe 3 of us), he relays some experiences with his wife. He says that we all falter. He is actually writing the book on this and still slips with his wife. It’s natural. Whenever we’re tired, hungry, irritated, or in some other not great state we can slip into our default and not even realize it until it’s too late.

This happens to me. My default is to be impatient and not-compassionate when someone asks me the same question for the fifth or tenth or one-hundredth time. If I’m tired, upset, feeling shame, hungry, irritated, etc. then I default to short answers. I’m constantly interrupted at work with all kinds of things that aren’t my job any more and that makes me irritated which makes me short with replies and responses. It’s not my finest moment, but it’s my problem, not my co-worker’s. I need to flex my style. I need to adjust my attitude and mindset before I react to them.

In our sales meeting though one of our consultants says “Can you call my wife and tell her why I’m the way I am so she’ll stop bugging me?”

Seriously!

I wanted to say, “now that you know the rational reasons behind why you’re having this disagreement (and not constant fighting), why don’t you choose to flex your style to best serve her?”

If we can flex styles for our customers, we can surely flex styles for our spouses, family, and friends. This is absolutely the hardest thing to do, but makes all the difference in the relationship. I need to flex my style more often, readjust based on what’s needed for the relationship.

This means my tone, my body language, my speaking style, and the way I bring up particular topics and if I do at all. I think if we all did this we would transform our relationships!

If the type of EQ you’re looking for is sales, check out his book.

Perfectly Yourself

A few months ago I received this book in the mail as a member of Dynamic Catholic’s Ambassadors Club.

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It’s where the title of this blog and what I’m calling The Year of Becoming Perfectly Myself came from. I’ve been reading it slowly and was very much struck by the 7th principal of Simplicity today. The lessons are:

  1. Celebrate your progress
  2. Just do the next right thing
  3. Put character first
  4. Find what you love and do it
  5. Live what you believe
  6. Be disciplined
  7. Simplify
  8. Focus on what you are here to give
  9. Patiently seek the good in everyone and everything

I’ve been trying to put these previously known truths into practice as I contemplate them anew through this book. Matthew’s writing is slowly changing my life along with some principals that I’m putting into place.

He opens this chapter on the seventh principal with a quote from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, which I’m sure I’ve read, but have no living memory of so I might be getting it from the library soon.

There’s no limit to how complicated things can get on account of one thing always leading to another.

Just the other evening an old friend and I were talking about a girl we know who’s made some rough decisions in her life including addiction and recovery. Right now she’s encountering some serious, life-changing events that will chart the course of the future from here on out for her and her family. We were talking about how it’s not just this one thing though, it’s a series of decisions and events that happened to her that have brought her to this place, some her own choosing, some not. She’s been dealt a hard hand, and making the right choices now is even more difficult.

But things get complicated because no decision is isolated, each things leads to the next. This is how we become burdened with our lives.

Another friend was talking to me about a situation with her family that is fraught with more than 30 years of baggage. Each sibling and parent making choices either without regard to how they will affect another member of the family, without knowledge of the repercussions, or just no thought to the future. The situation is more complicated now than it was a week ago because many decisions, conversations, and hurt have been muddled into the middle of it all. Each thing leading to another – creating a complicated web that only the Lord Almighty can unravel and make whole again.

But back to the book, Matthew writes that “We have chosen and created the clutter and congestion. As hard as it may be to get our minds around at first, by creating the clutter and confusion we have created the confusion in our hearts, minds, and lives. It is a difficult truth, but a liberating one.” He says once we realize we created it, we can choose to be free of it. We aren’t victims of it, we’ve chosen it.

He goes on to say that

“We complicated our lives for our main reasons:

  1. We don’t know what we really want,
  2. We don’t have a clear sense of the purpose of our lives,
  3. We are scared of missing out on something, and
  4. We want to be distracted from the real challenges of the inner life.

Each of these resonated with me for a variety of reasons. He speaks a lot about relationships, which as I’m sure you’ve already reasoned is something always on this single girl’s mind. Have I complicated the dating thing too much? Do I know what I really want? Am I clear of the purpose of marriage in my life? Am I just scared of missing out on the right guy or even scared of missing out on marriage? Have I dealt with the inner struggle to be perfectly myself before I add another imperfect human being?

I think I know the answers to these questions, but the evidence of my life seems to suggest something else. Matthew writes that when people are asking what they want in a significant other, they usually answer in the negative, what they don’t want. I’m up for the challenge. What do I want in a husband?

I want someone who is faithful in all senses of the word: to God, to family, to friends. I want someone who is generous, loving, and can make me laugh. Also someone who sees beyond the situation in front of him to look at the bigger picture, to see me for who I am. I want someone who wants to know me and be known by me.

This is a tall order. I know that.

I believe this person is out there though because I’m trying to be this for him, and for me too. I’m either going to be single for the remainder of my days or be married to a man and live with him. Either way I’m going to have to live with me, and I’m calling myself up to a higher standard.

At the end of the chapter, Matthew recommends taking a month off of watching television. I’m taking this even further for myself, an entire year. It’s been about seven or eight weeks at this point and I’ve read a lot of books! My Goodreads says I’m at 101 books for the year. I’d venture to say at least a third, maybe even a few more, have been in the last two months. I cannot read enough, and I love the quiet.

The quiet is actually the best part. It’s not always completely quiet over here though, I’ve got some great podcasts I love (which I’m going to write about soon so you can love them too) and I still take in a few videos a week from my main laughter machine, Jimmy Fallon. I just love him!

But more often than not, it’s quiet here and I’m getting comfortable with that. I’m actually craving it when I’ve got too much going on. This week was good, but I was busy with friends 5 out of the last 7 nights, I needed more quiet. I think we all need a little more quiet.