Friday, March 22, 2013

Personal Resilience 101: Accepting Oneself and Others


There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity. People who do
not experience self-love have little or no capacity to live others."

~ Nathaniel Branden ~
 

 

“If we are to nurture a resilient mindset, we must learn to accept ourselves as well as others. Acceptance involves possessing realistic expectations and goals, recognizing and identifying our feelings, managing our feelings constructively, defining our strengths and vulnerabilities, and leading a balance life in which our behaviors are in concert with our values and goals,” says Robert Brooks PH.D and Sam Goldstein PH.D, authors of The Power of Resilience.
A Lesson I Learned
One of the most difficult, yet rewarding lessons I learned came during my early years as a manager with Marriott's Courtyard division. As a type A personality, I had become accustomed to exceeding expectations and goals established by my bosses and the company. As I took on more and more responsibility, it was very difficult for me to delegate tasks that I had become accustomed to doing. I grew up hearing, “If you want something to be done right, you have to do it yourself.” This thought permeated my thinking and created a resistance to relinquishing what I perceived to be control over the daily management of day to day operations of the various departments that I was managing at the time.
It wasn’t that I didn’t trust the staff, I did. Yet, it was difficult for me to wrap my thoughts around this fact, most people want to perform their job well. They want opportunities to grow, just like me, even if that growth doesn't necessarily mean a path towards management. The increase in responsibilities made it clear that I couldn’t manage multiple departments in the same manner in which I managed one. I wanted to continue my success track with the company, so the situation required that I shift my leadership and management style. I had to enlarge my perception of the hotel employees.
I begin to understand how important it was for me as a leader to identify their strengths and provide them with opportunities to express them. By doing so, many of the staff members stepped up the quality and quantity of their contributions and we continued to deliver “best of the best” customer service experiences to our guests. Learning to effectively delegate and provide opportunities for others to develop leadership skills in this situation prepared me for a similar situation when I became a General Manager with Marriott’s Fairfield Inn division.
As a result of accepting members of the staff as partners of the business, I was able to enjoy my job and my life. I had other interests outside of the hotel and having employees who were capable of taking on additional duties and doing them exceptionally well provided me the time to engage these activities and live a balanced life.
Recognizing that my expectations of myself was unrealistic as I took on additional management duties challenged me to expand my mindset and leadership skills. This experience helped me to see that my role as a manager/leader had more to do with developing those within my sphere of influence versus making vain attempts to control adults. It helped me to tune into my strengths as a coach and be mindful of my vulnerabilities of succumbing to stress when I felt stressed to the max. Delegating tasks to my partners enabled me to better manage the stress that came with increasing demands and responsibility.
And, it provided several of them the opportunity to develop leadership skills that they would later use to advance in the company or take advantage of other employment opportunities. I look back today and continue to be grateful for having worked with such a fine group of people who were so dedicated to putting forth their best, day after day.
The Take Away
In the book, The Power of Resilience, Brooks and Goldstein urges readers to increase their self-awareness. They say, “Self-awareness is a vital part of self-acceptance and a resilient mindset. It is a cornerstone of attaining a resilient lifestyle. In the absence of self-acceptance, it is difficult to accept others.” According to them there are two realities that is possible in regards to practicing the principle of accepting ourselves and others. They are
1. The achievement of self-acceptance involves an ongoing honest evaluation of our strengths and vulnerabilities; of our goals and expectations, of whether we are involved in activities that bring us satisfaction, contentment and joy; and of whether we are living our life in accord with basic values.
2. The process of nurturing self-acceptance is filled with many challenges requiring time and energy. However, to avoid these challenges is to invite a life filled with dissatisfaction and follow a life lacking in honesty, integrity, and self-respect; a life that limits realistic dreams and accomplishments.
 
Realistically, we aren’t always going to accept ourselves 100% of the time, much less others. Yet, we can on purpose set our intention to practice self-acceptance which will increase our capacity to accept one another and build supportive and rewarding relationships.
Practicing Self-Awareness
Now that you understand the two realities that are possible as a result of self-awareness, the following questions provide you the opportunity to increase your self-awareness. They are taken from the book, The Power of Resilience.
.   Are their certain feelings you experience more often than others?
·  In what situations do these feelings typically occur?
·  Make a list of different feelings you experience, such as happiness, sadness, anger or anxiety.
·  Next to each feeling, describe one or two specific situations that prompted you to feel that way.
·  When you experience the feelings in question, how did you show or deal with it?
·  Describe a couple of times when you felt you did not handle your feelings very effectively? What happened? Why do you think it happened? Did it lead to change in how you handled these feelings the next time they occurred?
·  Describe a couple of times when you felt you handled your feeling effectively, especially feelings such as anger and frustration. What helped you to handle these feelings effectively.
Our feelings are influenced by the state of our thoughts at any given moment. The acknowledgement of your feelings as a result of any experience provides you with clues as to the thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions effecting them. This awareness enables you to decipher the state of mind and the narrative of the story that you tell yourself regarding accepting yourself and others, flaws and all. Knowing the state of mind that impels your dominant assumptions towards accepting yourself and others play a crucial role in equipping you with the capacity to determine smart strategies that can support your growth in this area.
Everyone has an innate desire to be accepted by others. Individuals who have stood by us and showed us acceptance are the people that we hold  in high regard. We recognize the difference it makes in life having someone who accept us. We have the power to pay it forward. 
The good news is that we are accepted by God. Spirit desires that all of us see the nature of the divine within so that we do not allow our past, our rough edges and flaws prevent us from accepting His love. Our acceptance of ourselves increases our ability to believe in the love that God has for each of us, while supporting the need of those within our sphere of influence to be accepted. As we practice this principle we will develop a resilient lifestyle.