One of the exciting aspects of the trend toward Person Centered Planning is the possibility that many things in our lives may actually move us in the direction of really achieving the things in life that will bring satisfaction and happiness. It is very important through this process to constantly ask, ”Who am I listening to?” We all have a number of sources we go to for guidance, direction, information and advice. Not every one of these sources is equally valuable to us in helping achieve these goals.
It is fairly easy to find people in our lives who will tell us why we should or should not do almost anything we might be considering. The problem is unless the people we are listening to have actually experienced the thing you are considering, they might have no real understanding the outcome of doing or not doing something.
It is also fairly easy to find people in our lives who know why “they” should and should not do things that affect us. “They”can be anyone in our lives we want to blame for almost anything that affects us. We can give “they” an incredible amount of power to affect the outcomes in our lives. “They” don’t understand us. “They” keep us from many things that would benefit us.
In a truly person centered environment, we learn to ask certain questions every time we listen to someone. We ask what this person really can teach us about a particular decision we are considering. The best advice comes from someone with actual knowledge and experience in a particular situation. I have opinions on many subjects. I have actual knowledge on a much smaller range of subjects. Obviously, I would be a better person to listen to in those areas I have actual knowledge.
In dealing with the “they’s” in our lives, a first question to ask is ,”Why are these people doing or not doing something?” An action that seems to be directed at me and not in my best interest may make sense if I take the time to find out the reasoning behind it. I still might agree or disagree, but understanding makes things much easier to accept. I have actually learned a lot from gaining understanding of the actions of people with whom I disagree.
Adult children often make decisions that take them in directions that differ from those of their parents. That is as it should be. The goal of parenting is to equip children to be independent adults. When respect remains at the root of the relationship, everyone benefits. My values as an adult are very similar to the ones I was taught as a child. When I adopted my values and beliefs as an adult, I accepted both the things I had listened to and adopted as my own and the things I decided to modify. To me, that is the ongoing process of living in relationship with other people.
Who do you choose to listen to? Who are you compelled by circumstances to listen to? Who are the “they’s” in your life? How hard have you worked to understand these people and their point of view? What have you learned from this? I believe the answers to these questions goes a long way toward moving us forward. Not doing it can leave us angry, confused and stuck. Working through these questions helps us achieve our desired outcomes in person centered living.
–David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.
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