When we want to build muscles we go to the gym and work those muscles in an effort to build them up. You can wish you had muscles and you can dream of having muscles but they will never show up until you work out those muscles. The same is true for building up ourselves. If you ask the universe to give you more patience you’ll need to work your patience muscle. The only way to do that is to practice! One thing that is for sure is that the universe will almost immediately respond to your request and give you a situation in which patience is required. In Lisa Nichols book “No Matter What” she talks about Bounce Back Muscles.
Lisa encourages us to develop 9 very important muscles:
- Your understanding muscle.
- Your faith-in-myself muscle.
- Your take-action muscle.
- Your I-know-like-I-know muscle.
- Your honesty muscle.
- Your say-yes muscle.
- Your determination muscle.
- Your forgiveness muscle.
- Your highest choice muscle.
I’m still working through the book so I’ll probably do another post later but in an effort to stay committed I wanted to go ahead and share with you some of the greatness I’ve taken in so far. In this post, I’ll talk about the understanding muscles. But first wanted to give you a “where I am currently” moment.
As I’ve gotten older I have definitely learned how to have more compassion for people. Growing up I use to get so frustrated with people in general. I felt like everyone should “think like me”. Mainly because I’m always right and always make the best choices. And its all truly common sense. Right? Yeah right. My mom would tell me alllll the time. “Not everyone will think like you. You have to give people room to have their own thoughts”. It took me about 15 years to really let that sink in, unfortunately. For so many years I found myself in conflict with people because I didn’t realize that I was pushing my expectations on them. Relationships are where I did this the most. It took me a long time to realize that people can only love you based on their present compacity. I heard Iyanla Vanzant say on her YouTube channel once “You don’t get to show people how to love you, you get to experience their love and then decide if you want to be apart.” Completely eye-opening for me. For so many years I was saying it the other way around. Truth is people are entitled to their own choices. It is not my responsibility to grow other people. My only responsibility is to love people right where they are. In Lisa’s book, this is called the “Understanding Muscle”.
The understanding muscle is basically the development of your compassion skill. When we’re feeling frustrated with others, when we notice ourselves judging others, we can use this as a signpost that it’s time to work out our understanding muscle instead.
We judge people all the time:
- They are acting like incompetent idiots, so we’re frustrated with them (my fave)
- They eat differently than us, so we think they’re wrong
- They love differently so we think they are incapable of loving us
- They’re overweight, poor, have a different religion, speak poorly, dress badly, are on their phones all the time, taking too many selfies, have too much sex, are too prudish, etc. etc. (the list can go on and on)
Sometimes it can be hard to step outside of yourself and truly see this as judgment but that’s exactly what it is. When we find ourselves frustrated with people and their choices we can be mindful of these things. (grab a pen, write these down)
- Seek to understand. Instead of having an instant opinion about someone, dare yourself to be curious instead. See if you can try to understand the person rather than thinking they’re wrong. If we are judging someone, we’re not understanding them. We have a lack of knowledge of them, their current/past situations that are causing us to be judgmental.
- Ask how you can see the good-hearted explanation. Ask how you can explain the other person’s behavior in a good-hearted way. Yes, we can all provide an explanation that makes the other person seem inconsiderate, ignorant, and/or wrong. But there is also one that assumes the other person has good-hearted intentions. This isn’t always easy, but if someone is doing something irritating, our first thought may be to take it personally. When someone lashes out at you, they might be experiencing fear. We can assume this fear means they want to protect their tender hearts. There’s always a good-hearted way to explain an action, even one we might think of as evil. We don’t have to condone that action, but we can see the tender heart that lies beneath it.
- Remember what it’s like to go through that difficulty. We have all experienced fear, frustration, anxiety, uncertainty, wanting to get away from uncomfortable situations. If we see the good-hearted intention behind the action, we can see the difficulty they’re having that goes with that intention. And we can remember what it’s like to have a similar difficulty — remembering the pain, fear, frustration, anger, grief that goes with that difficulty.
Once we start to understand the person and their actions, see the good heart behind the actions, empathize with their difficulty, we can start offering compassion. The only way to work an understanding muscle is to start being more understanding. Look for situations or people that you can offer more understanding to. The only way we are going to get better is to do something different today that we didn’t do yesterday.
If you’re in the mood for a good self-help book. Pick up Lisa Nichols book No Matter What!
In the comments add some tips and tricks that you use for building your understanding muscles. I’ll do a part two once I get further along in the book but I wanted to share this with you all. As we are all on a journey to be better individuals I hope this helps you along your way. Have a great rest of the week. And until we chat again..be kind to yourself. 🙂