If you invest in relationships, you should understand the importance of building and nurturing each other’s self esteem. Take for example the following scenario. Weight problems are often but not always anchored in underlying emotional challenges that need to be addressed before the weight issue itself can become the focus. In recent weeks I’ve been working with a mother who has been having some serious problems with her grown-up daughter, one of them being her daughter’s weight.
In consulting with mom one night, she confided to me that one night she had her sister, the daughter’s aunt, come in and talk to her daughter about her weight, ending with strong suggestions as to how she should change her diet. Although I’m certain the intentions were good, I suggested that her approach in fact probably had created many additional problems.
First of all, by not dealing with the problem on a “Mother-Daughter” basis, she turned her daughter’s problem into a family matter, making family reunions or other functions like birthday or holiday celebrations very difficult to attend. And if mom had to turn this problem over to the sister, she was in fact telling her daughter that she did not “love” her daughter enough to deal with it herself. (“Oh, but I have told her many times,” stated mom in defense).
I’m sure she had, but the message through her sister made the situation far more embarrassing and not at all rehabilitating.
In a totally different scenario, a couple who has been seeing me regularly stated that one of the problems between them was lying, and that the husband was hiding things from her. In confronting him about this problem, he stated that he knew in his heart he didn’t have to lie, and he was actually lying about silly things, but he was worried about how she would react if he told her the truth. “How do you handle his lies?” I asked the wife.
She thought for a moment, and I could tell from her body language that the answer was not going to be a positive one. “I yell, I scream, I go into my room.” The husband added, “She pouts, she won’t talk to me for days.” Lying, pouting, throwing tantrums will neither control the activity nor strengthen the relationship.
In both these scenarios, the real solution is probably the same: We need to build up each other’s self-esteem, and strengthen our love for the relationship. But so often we attack the symptom instead of the problem.
What is the problem?
Not forgiving each other and chastising instead of loving. All of us know in our hearts that change only comes from within, and the only people we can really change is ourselves. But if we build up the self-esteem of someone we care about, they may find the strength to change their inappropriate or even unacceptable qualities.
As divergent as both of these problems seem, I found the answer to dealing with these two problems very similar, and very often, the answer to all problems in relationships very similar: People need to encourage each other to build up self-esteem. Literally, they need to believe in themselves, to understand they have a right to be on this earth, and they have a right to their personality, in line with the same rights granted to other people. In believing in themselves, they would find the ability to face their own inconsistencies and inadequacies, and hopefully change them on their own time.
Many of us have a problem when facing relationship problems. We do not believe that people can straighten themselves out, possibly because we actually have trouble believing in ourselves. Often the way we choose to deal with a crises in others is a reflection of how we deal with ourselves, the only difference being that we are usually bolder in dealing with someone else than we are in dealing with ourselves.
The President of a corporation called me last week and asked if I could step in and negotiate a problem between one of his favorite workers and a new secretary. Evidently this new secretary had taken an interest in this married co-worker, and now there was danger of an affair, and the President wasn’t certain how to deal with it. I met with the President and his Human Relations Manager and listened to their perception of the story. Their worker, whom they love and appreciate, had been with them for a long time. The new secretary had just been hired, and began flirting with this good-looking guy. Phone calls were monitored, and it was evident that more was happening than just a little flirting, and the corporate approach to the problem was to fire both of them, and I believe the President and Manager would have done just that, except that the man had been with them so long, which made firing him less of a solution. It was also evident that there was little allegiance to their new secretary.
I met with both the co-worker and the secretary separately. The co-worker had three children, a beautiful wife, and was financially taking care of some of the wife’s family. He had been married for years, had been with the company 15 years, and I ascertained that this was a fine, hard-working upstanding young man.
I then met with the secretary. Her husband was out of town a lot, and she too had a family of three children. She was a very pretty lady, and an upstanding member of her church. It didn’t take me long to see the handwriting on the wall. I again met with the Corporate President and the manager and stated, “Your problem can be solved very simply: You need to gently confront both of these people, gently but in the same room at the same time, tell them what you perceive, that you don’t want to lose them, but they need to straighten out this problem. If you make it a “win-win” situation, where they have their self-esteem intact and you have your ‘Corporate Image’ intact, I guarantee you the problem will be solved by them”.
There was silence. It was obvious that my approach did not sit well with corporate policy – Why is it that we are so afraid of hurting our business personality when we so often don’t care what we do to the personality of the actual people who run the business?-. Obviously sensing this, I decided to break the silence with another option: “Now let me tell you what is going to happen. You will choose to fire the secretary because she is new and you would rather eliminate the distraction instead of make it work for you; then you will chastise your worker and tell him to never let this happen again. He will then come to you and apologize, and then you will be back to business as usual.”
Both of them liked this solution better, but despite of what your opinion might be, it was not my solution. From their reaction, I could tell that they had already come up with this conclusion before I had ever mentioned it. So I took it upon myself to see the secretary one more time, and warned her not to get too comfortable in her new seat, because it was probably going to be taken away from her. Hopefully she got the message.
So here is my question. How often do we hurt people in the name of business. Could much of our problem be the fact that we are more in love with material things and status than each other? We have no faith in people because we have no faith in ourselves. Yet, good managers know that the higher we boost someone’s confidence and self-esteem, the more production we will get out of them. The more enjoyable and satisfying the work, the faster someone wants to report to their work station. Too many bosses think they accomplish so much by yelling and screaming (Give them a whip and they would swing it), refusing to accept the admonishment of Scripture that states, “A soft word turns away wrath.” Most people want to do the right thing, wouldn’t you think? Well, you’re mostly wrong.
Being Boss Comes with Awesome Responsibilities
If you accept the responsibility of being a boss, or a parent, or a friend, you should learn the importance of those God has placed under you, like lost sheep that need to be saved. Indeed, if you have hired them, any firing is most often a result of neglect from the management to choose and train properly, and that places the neglect not in the hands of the worker, but in management.
Here are three suggestions to build up self-esteem in others:
It is easy to be negative, to downgrade, to discourage, to blame somebody else. after all that way you don’t have to acknowledge any responsibility. I believe that any confrontation that does not allow for a “Win-Win” situation, was not designed properly in the first place. There is enough discouragement in the world, so there is no reason for me to bring any new discouragement for any reason. I am here to encourage, to help, to assist and build the big picture, or I am wasting my time. No one needs my help to create more crime or divorce or personal chaos. And when there is need for a confrontation for any reason, there is always already chaos present, and your intent should be to overcome that chaos with peace. Whatever the problem, your first intent should always be to bring peace to the hearts of everyone involved in the situation.
Are there instances where peace cannot be found as a solution to the problem? NO! Every situation must be worked out in peace. The closer a man is to doing right, the closer he will be to bringing peace, even if he is at fault. A person who reacts in anger or in violence or in revenge is a man without peace, and that peace must be brought to the situation, and often, a man must be trained in how to experience peace, because his life has often been brought up in chaos. And how does one bring about that peace in the most chaotic of situations? By being at peace with himself, and knowing that he is valuable, of high worth, and that the person being confronted is of the same. One of the biggest mistakes made by parents is that they often assume children know they are valuable commodities, but the fact is these are things that must be said to the child every time there exists a necessity to punish. The child must know they are of high worth. “For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth.” Mind you I don’t bring God into the equation for the sake of religion, but because God and everything we know of him embodies Love without any ulterior motive, restriction or limitation.
If a child is encouraged in his own existence, and knows that those around him appreciate who he is and what he does, that child will in time choose to do good over evil, and seek the approval of those he loves through his actions. As we want to please God through what we do, and not just because we have to, but because we have learned in His Love that we want to love him back, so it is that the child will seek to do right by his parents, the worker by his boss, the husband by his wife, as they are endeared to them and learn what is expected of them.
The Big Picture is far beyond anything we can imagine, and the more we realize we are just a minuscule part of the picture, the more we may humble ourselves to make the right contributions to the Big Picture. How many bosses have you met that, because they think the world revolves around them, are unlikable and even worse, just talked about behind their backs? A man is tallest when he falls to his knees and acknowledges his own humble presence in the midst of the millions of stars in the sky. I know people who go to bed each night saying, “What a wonderful thing I’ve done by contributing to this world.” But remember that it is also those kind of people that you and I avoid on a daily basis. Sure, we’ll tolerate them while they hand us our paycheck, but we never go to their office to talk about our lives or theirs, except when circumstances become urgencies or emergencies and finally force us to be addressed.
Praying helps us to keep our perspective, and teaches us that we do not have to hold in our hands the answer to every problem we face, many of which by the way we have produced ourselves. Praying tells us that there is a Greater Power responsible for our existence that acknowledges our worth, and takes time to listen, and yes even answer our questions. And guess what, we do not have to be verbally proficient. Telling the ‘Powers that Be’ that we need help, puts our hearts in the right place before we confront the problem head on. And what’s more, it surrounds us with outside help we might otherwise never have gotten. Billy Graham believes that God has appointed two Angels to all of us, who specifically tasked to watch and help us all our lives. John Hagee believes that there are 1000 angels assigned to monitor and assist us personally when we need it. Personally I don’t believe that either two nor a thousand are enough to take care of this clumsy life that I lead, but that’s merely a personal observation. The point being there is far more spiritual help to assist us than we give credit, and those Powers are available if we take time to call upon them.
Don’t know how to pray or what to say? Then try this: Take two chairs and face them opposite (Do this only when you are by yourself, so other people don’t think you’ve gone crazy!). Sit in one and face the other chair. Imagine Jesus is sitting in the chair across from you, and tell him what the most recent problem is. Imagine that you are talking to Him like you were in a personal counseling session, and leave no detail out. Explain the situation, and ask for help. Two things will happen: You will be praying as you talk, and in some areas He will answer you so quickly that you will have already received some answers during that session that will amaze you. Eventually you won’t need the chair: Praying will become as regular as getting up in the morning.
I cannot tell you how redeeming and encouraging it is to the broken spirit to build up someone else’s self-esteem by simply finding someone else to help, and most of the time, the person to help is right at your doorstep. Your mom who is in the same house, a brother, sister, husband or wife, all need your help, and they need it right now. If you have no one, then find someone to help. Trust me: You won’t have to look far. And by example, the people who need your help will listen to you, see what you are doing to help, and will build their own self-esteem through your actions. And even more important, they will then go out and help someone else. When you are helping someone else, you cannot sit and worry about your own problems. And the less you worry about your problems, the smaller they become.
The secretary and the co-worker about to be entangled in an extramarital affair, don’t have time nor inclination for that nonsense if they are out helping someone; the girl needing to go on a diet doesn’t have time to eat if she is busy in the homeless shelter serving soup; a man doesn’t have time to lie to his wife if the two of them are trying to figure out how to make the community center better for their community.
As we are building the self esteem of others with a problem, the majority of the problems you and I face will be resolved. My mother often talks to me about losing weight. Have I ever listened? No. Will the daughter listen to her mother’s sister about what she should eat? She may politely acknowledge her aunt, but in her heart resides a big fat NO. But if her mom continues to insist that her daughter is worthwhile, wonderful, important to keep around and listen to, and nurtures her love while she teaches her daughter to help other people who have needs through example, there is an inherent possibility that many of the daughter’s problems will be solved by the daughter’s choice.
By harping on his lies, will that husband stop lying? No!
But if the wife fortifies the relationship by accepting and carefully pointing out his problems, both of them will discover that the greatest need to help others is found in their own relationship, and creates a satisfying and accepting relationship that encourages truth between them to make them stronger. And whether Corporate America likes it or not, the margin of profit is not near the cost of a lost soul which could have been saved through nurturing, training, and especially love. Dealing with people is not just a case of “It’s all about business.” It comes with a huge responsibility.
By the way, the conclusion of the co-worker and the secretary saga? The company fired the secretary, eliminating the workplace distraction, at least that’s what they think. I promise you that a magnifying glass on the co-worker’s thought process leaves plenty of work hours with unfulfilled distraction.