Monday, 25 May 2015

Book reviews: summary notes

I've had a lot of books on the go recently: time to post some summaries for future reference. Especially as some of the books are borrowed or to-be-lent-on (rather than to-be-leant-on-and-kept).

First, Getting to Yes with Yourself by William Ury. All about negotiation and compromise and agreement and knowing who you are so you can know what you really want.

This question of asking what I REALLY want - and keep asking through the layers of self-deception until I get to a REAL answer - has been REALLY USEFUL.

He gives six steps to help us to understand what we really want so that we can find a way to satisfy our needs AND agree with others: a win-win situation.

1. Put myself in my shoes. Observe myself from 'the balcony', as if from a distance, in order to avoid simply reacting; go deeper and listen with empathy to my feelings; go even deeper and discern my underlying needs.  It's not just about WHAT I want, but WHY I want it.
2. Develop my inner BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement). The best course of action for satisfying my interests if I cannot reach agreement with the other side - looking for alternative solutions.
3. Reframe my picture. Change how I see my life, creating my own independent and sufficient source of contentment. To see life as being on my side even when it seems unfriendly.
4. Stay in the Zone.  Stay in the present moment, not get lost in resentment about the past or in anxieties about the future. This is the only place where I have the power to experience true satisfaction as well as to change the situation for the better.
5. Respect them 'even if'. Surprise others with respect and inclusion even if they are difficult, not meeting rejection with rejection, personal attack with personal attack, exclusion with exclusion.
6. Give and receive. Change the game to a win-win-win- approach by giving first instead of taking.

Some nuggets:
"Actions can be wrong, but not thoughts or feelings."
A good question is: "Isn't that curious?"
"If you talked to your friends the way you talk to yourself, you wouldn't have any." (on negative self-talk)
"the work of putting yourself in your shoes gives you the understanding to then take responsibility for your life and your actions."
"Taking responsibility means owning your failures and faults as well as your successes and strengths."
"Who is responsible for meeting my core psychological needs? Myself."
"...people who practise gratitude seem measurably happier and are more pleasant to be around."
"...say 'yes' to life, seeing life as our friend." (in spite of painful circumstances)
"Our  ability to relax and let life flow naturally depends on how solidly anchored we feel in a friendly world....reframe our picture of life and find satisfaction from within...accept life JUST AS IT IS." (emphasis mine)
"...forgiving those who have wronged us...means accepting what happened and freeing ourselves from its weight."
"If we don't let go of resentment and regret, we become prisoners of the past."
"...let go of EXPECTATIONS of how life should be..."  ACCEPT THE PRESENT
"Accepting life means saying yes to the past, letting go of resentments and grievances...(and) saying yes  to the future, letting go of needless worries and replacing fear with trust.
"It takes STRENGTH to forget the past, COURAGE to trust the future and disciplined FOCUS to stay present in the midst of life's constant problems and distractions."
" respect...more likely to receive respect...accept...include...turn enemies into friends."
"...each human being receives the call...only Abraham listened....Abraham was known for his hospitality, for TREATING STRANGERS WITH KINDNESS AND RESPECT."
"...each of us is called to embark on a journey into the unknown. Each of us is given a certain gift, a light within. It is simply up to us to clean the window that looks out and to let our light shine to others."
"...learn to give in fulfilment of our purpose..."
win-win-win: a win within; a win with others; a win for the whole - a larger and more generous perspective that benefits everyone around us.

And so, when I struggle with relationship issues, recognising that they often stem from a search for significance, I remember Victor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning  and remember that I can choose to respond by reaching out to and helping others.
And I can WALK alongside - not FACING, in conflict - with others. Walking in the steps of Abraham.

CHANGE THE GAME: CHANGE THE FRAME; from hostility to hospitality. From war to welcoming.

The secret to peace is the 'third side';
the third side is 'us' and
each of us can take a step towards peace.

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