Do You Treat Yourself & Others With Dignity Or Disdain?…John Page Burton

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What does it mean to treat a person with dignity? What does it mean to treat ourselves with dignity? For many, dignity comes naturally. These folks have a strong sense of self worth and take great pride in their ability to honor themselves and those around them. For others it is quite the opposite. They have an uncomfortable relationship with themselves and routinely treat people in a disrespectful manner. All of us have known people who made fun of or were disrespectful toward disabled people, the homeless or people from different religious, economic and ethnic backgrounds. How we feel about ourselves tends to be a direct reflection of how we view the world. I have often said if you truly desire to experience a person’s true character, observe how they treat the poor, homeless, disabled or uneducated members of our society. Our character tends to shine the brightest when we believe nobody of importance is watching us.

Let’s take closer look at the word DIGNITY. Being a person of dignity means that we are emotionally grounded and are mindful of how our words and actions effect others. It is important to remember that NONE OF US CHOSE THE CIRCUMSTANCES WE WERE BORN INTO. 
DIVERSITY. Our world is made up of people from an array of backgrounds and cultures. Our ability to relate to people from different walks of life speaks to our level of our emotional intelligence. Are we open to learning and growing or are we closed and judgmental? Do we judge people at face value or do we take the time to get to know them? What messages are we conveying to our children? Dignity (or lack of) is learned.
IDEOLOGY. All of us hold long standing beliefs. Our current belief system is based on our life experiences. Treating people with dignity means that we are honoring their belief system. We may not agree with their point of view, however, we don’t make them wrong for their beliefs. For example, if a person grew up in a house were violence was a normal means of communication, they likely developed a different relationship (belief system) with the world around them than a person who grew up in a home where they were encouraged to engage in respectful, non violent communication. Seek to understand where the person is coming from. This is a much more dignified, enlightened approach than simply basing our opinion on assumptions.
GRATITUDE. But for the grace of God, I was not born disabled, poor, homeless or unable to obtain a higher education. Because someone was born under a different set of circumstances does not make them any less of a human being. Our ability to be grateful for all of our experiences allows us to be more compassionate toward others. Dignity is grounded in gratitude.
NOBILITY. The dictionary definition of nobility includes the words goodness, decency, honor, integrity, generosity and humility. Need I say more?
IMPERFECTION. No matter how successful we have become or how many material possessions we have collected, we all have imperfections. When we routinely judge others for their perceived “imperfections” we are playing a role in which there is only one CEO. (Chief Enlightenment Officer, who also goes by GOD) Our challenge is to show gratitude for our blessings and show grace to those who are having a more challenging time on the journey. Remember, “when we point a finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at us”.
TOLERANCE. In layman’s terms, tolerance is our ability and willingness to tolerate the opinions, behaviors and “perceived flaws” of others. We can do this even though we may not agree with them. The Ego is always up for a good challenge and for many, this proves to be the ultimate challenge.  Letting go of our need to control is an important first step in this process. Listening is the most important skill we can develop. When we really listen to others we can begin to understand their point of view. Again, even if we don’t agree with them we have treated them with dignity.
YOU. I can control my emotions and behaviors and so can YOU. It’s entirely up to YOU to choose whether YOU treat yourself and others with dignity or disdain. Our primary responsibility is to become growth oriented, compassionate people. We can’t do this until we have gained emotional mastery. In other words, we must take our eye off of the outside world and look inward. Those who hold a high regard for dignity know that to see the beauty in others they must first see the beauty that has always resided inside of them.
Here’s to DIGNITY!
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5 Childhood Messages That Keep Many Of Us Stuck…John Page Burton

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Within the personal growth industry there is a widely held belief that 65% of our belief system is formed by the time we are 8 years old and by age 18 over 90% of our belief system has been firmly established. Do we believe the world is a scary, unjust place or do we believe it’s a safe place with unlimited opportunity? Are we bold or fearful? Do we ask questions or do we simply accept things at face value? Do we live with passion or are we complacent? Are we willing to take risks or do we prefer to stay in our comfort zone? Are we tolerant or intolerant of people who hold different beliefs than we do? The answers to these questions tend to be a direct reflection of the messages we received during our formative years. Having interacted with thousands of people in my capacity as a life and business coach, I have been able to identify 5 childhood messages that have kept many of my clients from achieving the results they truly desired. On a personal note, I spent years “re-wiring” my own belief system, much of which was a direct result of the messages I received throughout childhood. Below are 5 childhood messages that are keeping many of us stuck.
THE MESSAGES…
*Shut Up, unless you have something important to say! Many of us have still not figured out what constitutes important? We remain silent even when we know that something doesn’t feel right. We “keep our mouths shut” in abusive relationships, unfair work environments and in our dealings with friends and family. Over time, “going along to get along” has become our way of being. Our challenge is to begin using our voice in a respectful manner whenever we have something to say or add to a conversation. Each time we verbalize what is on our mind we are building muscles of courage and most importantly we are honoring ourselves.  This is an important first step toward self empowerment.
*Quit being so selfish! In my book, Wisdom Through Failure, I refer to a character named Helpful Harry. Harry has spent most of his life doing everything for everyone and very little for himself. Harry is a people pleaser. Harry is also an ANGRY GIVER! Whenever Harry does something for himself he immediately feels guilty and begins rationalizing his behavior. Harry will buy a beautiful new tie and then return it to the store an hour later because he feels guilty for spending money that “should be going to something else”. Harry’s challenge is  to become self centered. When we are self centered we are choosing to nurture ourselves and we are focused on doing what is in our best interests. This does not mean that we have to quit being generous, it means that we prioritize our needs. We can start out by doing something nice for ourselves once a week and build from there. Being self centered is not selfish.
*Why can’t you be more like your sibling? The message most of us received was that we were not good enough. Many of us are still comparing our success to the perceived success of others. For example, when I self published my first book, Wisdom Through Failure, I found myself comparing my book to every other author in the personal development arena. Once published, I obsessively tore through my book looking for every error, criticized myself endlessly and drove my wife Diana crazy with my never ending revisions. I was blind to my own content because I was comparing my work to that of Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins and Jack Canfield. When I stopped comparing myself to these “heavy weights” and focused on creating the best version of my book an interesting thing happened…my book gained traction and has become very well received by a worldwide audience. Our challenge is to run our own, unique, race! Comparing ourselves to others is a flawed practice because we really don’t know what has taken or is taking place on the other person’s journey.
*Quit acting so stupid! The message many of us internalized was that we were not smart. Far too many have become chronic underachievers due mainly to a fear of doing or saying something that could be perceived as foolish. In my practice, I routinely work with clients who are able to breakthrough this limiting behavior by creating a new story and hence a new reality around the intelligent, innovative people they actually are. Our challenge is to replace a past lie with a new truth.  A good coach can help you achieve this breakthrough by effectively guiding you to your new truth.
*Quit being so emotional! As a coach, I interact with clients who are very comfortable showing their emotions and others who will fight tooth and nail to keep them in lock down. Many men, including myself, have been admonished since childhood that showing our emotions is a sign of weakness. “Real men don’t cry”, “don’t be such a wimp”, “toughen up” and “quit acting like a girl” were all phrases I heard  growing up. On the other hand, it is socially acceptable for women to show their emotions, in fact it is expected. Recently, I was involved in an intervention designed to remove a wife and three small children from an abusive home. The husband, a former college football star and successful business owner had been arrested for a significant act of domestic violence. Everyone who knew the couple seemed shocked and most characterized them as such a “happy couple”. What they didn’t know was that the husband had developed a significant drinking problem shortly after his brothers death, had become very distant, refused to talk with his wife about his mood changes and finally one night when she pressed him to talk to her he broke her jaw, 2 ribs and dislocated her shoulder. In a subsequent conversation she admitted that she had never seen him cry or discuss his feelings as it pertained to his brothers death or any other challenge in his life. This is a tragic example of what can happen when a person doesn’t release their emotions in real time. Being an emotionally healthy adult involves being able to release our emotions in healthy ways. Our challenge is to give ourselves permission to share our feelings rather than hold them in to a point of combustion. A good coach or therapist can help us design a healthy strategy for managing our emotions.
In reality, most of us also received some very empowering messages designed to encourage and inspire us to become the best version of ourselves. I welcome you to take a look at any areas in your life where you feel stuck. Are any of these childhood messages contributing factors to your frustration? If so, it may be time to take the proactive first step toward creating a brand new story to tell yourself.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback! #myindustry

Loving The HATERS…John Page Burton

Hate has always been present in my life. I wish this was not the case but unfortunately it’s true. All of us are exposed to a certain degree of hate and many of us have been victimized far more than others. The hater targets people who they classify as being different and who don’t fit into their view of how the world should look. Differences may include, sexual orientation, religious views, politics and ethnicity. Hate shows up in different forms and is often covertly displayed. For example, covert hate in the workplace may cause qualified people to be passed up for promotions, re-assigned or may lead to alienation by co-workers. YES this still goes on in 2014. As of late, hate seems to be inspiring certain religious organizations to boycott businesses owned by people who are not in alignment with their world view. In essence, certain religious leaders are saying…because you don’t agree with our point of view we will do everything in our power to destroy your business. This sounds pretty HATEFUL to me! This scenario is currently being played out as it pertains to Michael Sam, an openly gay, African American football player who was recently drafted by the St. Louis Rams. Visa is among the companies one particular religious organization is “demanding” that it’s “flock” boycott in order to “punish” Visa for sponsoring/supporting an openly gay athlete. In all fairness, there are numerous high profile gay celebrities requesting that their followers “punish” any business owner who opposes same sex marriage. Again this is sounding a bit HATEFUL all the way around. I am traveling to San Diego this weekend to celebrate the marriage of a same sex couple. Their marital choice is different from my marital choice yet I can still RESPECT, ENJOY and CELEBRATE them for being the amazing people they are. I have an African American friend who has published two books on the challenges of infertility. Everyday she speaks an uplifting message of hope for couples struggling with infertility. I RESPECT her for embracing Gods word and sharing her life experiences with those in need of understanding, grace and hope. If I had allowed sexual orientation or race to keep me from engaging with these amazing people I would have missed out on a truly enriching experience.

UNDERSTANDING…

Once we understand why someone CHOOSES to engage in a hateful behavior it becomes easier to understand how we can learn to LOVE and accept them for who and where they currently reside. The key word is currently… it is their CHOICE to remain there. LOVE may not be an easy assignment but one we must be willing to embrace if we truly desire to make a difference in the world. It is imperative that we teach our children to show grace and have compassion. Hate must never be an option!

HATERS…

Hurting. Haters live in pain. Their model of the world is based on a me against you mindset. Because you are different, you pose a direct threat to my way of life. I will get you before you get me. When a person is confined to this type of mindset they are never at peace. Angst, anger and fear are the dominant emotions that rule their life. Most haters have spent their lifetime living in pain.

OUR CHALLENGE is to view the hater with compassionate understanding. Recognizing that none of us were born to hate is the first step in this process. Hate is a learned behavior.

Attention. All of us crave attention and most of us will do whatever it takes to fit into a specific social group. This insatiable need to fit in will often lead the most gullible members of our society down a very dark road. We were ALL born into the light but shortly thereafter many of us were exposed to and remain in a very bleak emotional place. Haters seek out other haters because it is a way to bond and continue to feed their internal anger. Like Vampires, haters resist the light.

OUR CHALLENGE is to not play into the “haters trap”. When we practice “reverse hate” we are adding fuel to an ugly fire, one that if not extinguished has the potential to burn forever.

Taught. Hate is taught. The tenets of hate are passed down from generation to generation in much the same way as Great Grandmother’s fine China.

OUR CHALLENGE is to remember that we are offered two choices… LOVE or Hate. Our experience of the world will be shaped by which emotion we feed!

Ego. The chief function of the Ego is to create separation from others. This occurs most commonly in the form of jealousy, fear, envy and anger. On the other hand, LOVE encourages us to co-exist unconditionally.

OUR CHALLENGE is to ask the question…what would LOVE do? When we come from a place of LOVE we can show grace to even the most hateful people.

Resistance. Haters are resistant to anything new or different because it means they will have to give up control. Haters engage in this behavior because they view it (however dysfunctional it seems) as a way of exerting control in a world that for them has always been out of control.

OUR CHALLENGE is to release OUR desire that members of society behave a certain way. OUR personal power comes from knowing that we can control OUR response to another person’s behavior.

Stuck. Haters are emotionally stuck at a specific point in time (normally childhood). They have failed or are unwilling to move past this point. Haters will fight tooth and nail to keep from expanding or growing into a new point of view. Their hateful behavior will often accelerate in order to solidify their misguided beliefs.

OUR CHALLENGE is to bless the hater and realize that this is their chosen path. It may not make sense to us, however, it is where they currently reside. We can choose to step out of their energy.

We are free to choose our response to hate. We can return hate or we can bless the hater and be on our way. I tend to view a person spewing hate from the perspective of an extremely wounded child. This is their response to fear, change and uncertainty. Some of the most profound directives found in the Christian Bible encourage us to stay away from judgement, treat everyone with respect and dignity and we are reminded that we are NOT our brothers keeper. The Christian Bible is also very clear that any type of revenge or corrective action should be left in the capable hands of our creator, not man. Many religions and their revered spiritual teachers also encourage us to love our enemies. I admit that this can be very challenging to say the least. In the end the ball is left in our court…Love or Hate?

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.