Three Ways to Help a Friend Help Himself (Herself, Too)… April 9, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Life is about moments.

We all have our moments.

There are occasions when we realize a weakness needs strengthening and a vice, elimination.

Sometimes we even speak it aloud. We ask other people to hold us to a promise.

Part of being a friend is knowing how to help without condemning. It’s becoming familiar with ways to communicate hope without seeming silly–a process of standing with someone while simultaneously asking him or her to take a second look at their committment.

It is certainly a work better suited for angels, but apparently, they are quite busy.

So I will offer you a three-step process for helping people once they have found out they want to help themselves. But I will tell you–if you are the suggestor of repentance, you are a judge, not a friend. But if your comrade has expressed a desire to change some aspect of his or her life, then these three ideas will be greatly advantageous.

1. Praise.

When there is progress on the promise, make a big deal about it. It doesn’t have to be a huge transformation–it is the little victories that eventually add up to winning the battle.

The best thing you can do for friends is to remember what they want, and let them know it’s important to you by praising the progress on the promise.

2. Ignore.

Every once in a while, people who make promises develop severe amnesia. Matter of fact, if you insist that they’ve backslidden from their original goal, they will point out in great detail how mistaken you are and how you’ve misunderstood their intent.

When a friend purposely goes against something they’ve decided to do, rather than criticizing them, use the power of ignoring them.

You don’t have to praise, but you don’t have to condemn. You can just pretend that you didn’t see it and it didn’t happen.

I have been around friends who were trying to quit smoking, and when they lit up in front of me, I just quietly excused myself from the room. Absence is a powerful statement, when presence is expected.

3. Remind.

Sometimes a door is opened by a friend, and he or she is actually curious about your feelings. There will always be a question mark at the end of their statement.

  • What do you think I should do?
  • I was wondering what your feelings were on this?

These are opportunities to remind a friend of his or her purpose.

But to insert an opinion without hearing a question is to proclaim yourself a superior instead of an equal. It is a difficult thing to remember, but essential to the well-being of both friendship and the promotion of self-improvement.

So use praise when you see progress.

Ignore when the friend has temporarily gone crazy.

And remind when the question is posed.

With these three tools, you can help anyone follow their dream to a glorious completion.

 

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Published in: on April 9, 2015 at 1:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Response Ability–October 28, 2011

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I think I have found the button. I’m talking about the “turn off switch” for my mouth.

It has taken me many years to finally comprehend the “manual of human life,” revealing the importance of locking the flap on my trap. Bluntly, sometimes we all just need to shut up. Unfortunately, as Americans we feel that a constant flow of opinion is our patriotic duty, so we weigh in on every issue, even though many of our ideas are light in experience and heavy on the side of stupidity.

 I wish I had found that off switch on my mouth earlier.  I have offended some people unnecessarily because I said things I shouldn’t have and then, when they proved to be wrong, I dug my heels in out of pride and defended what I no longer believed to be true so I wouldn’t appear to be the dreaded “flip-flopper.” Maybe I should be the first one in America to say that I am proud to be a “flip-flopper.” Without flipping, I just end up being a flop.

I think what made me first find the of switch on my mouth was the realization that only two types of communication are valuable to those of us who share mortality in the human form. And here they are: to edify or to exhort.

Preaching, criticizing, probing, intervening, judging or even some forms of teaching are nothing more than static on the radar screen of the human spirit. They often are  counter-productive, causing people to continue less-than-favorable behavior just to avoid complying to our demands.  What does it mean to edify? I’m going to give you my trite definition because it’s simple. You may wish to complicate it, and many of you may write me and say, “No, no.  Edification really means this…” 

I’m sure you’re right. But I am concerned about what is about to spew from my mouth. And in that millisecond I need a really quick understanding of what to do. So I ask myself one simple question: “Is it kind?” If it’s NOT kind, then somewhere in my brain I must have some sort of agenda or holier-than-thou attitude I am trying to maintain in order to please a God who is not presently standing in front of me, while hurting a member of His creation who is.

Yes.  Be kind.

I’m not talking about flattery here–that’s why you really need that off switch on your mouth.  But there ARE moments when kind things are impossible–so silence is preferred. For instance, I think it’s hilarious that people in America are all upset about Chaz Bono changing his sex from female to male, while we see absolutely nothing wrong with abusing people on The Biggest Loser to transform them from their fat bodies into slimmer ones, or women in Hollywood cutting up their forms to become more beautiful.  What a total big sack of stinky hypocrisy.

Be kind.

You will NOT edify people by being mean. And even though I have found the off switch on my mouth, there are times I don’t reach for it soon enough. So I end up being nasty and then find the need to justify it with some sort of spiritual mumbo-jumbo.  Hogwash. 

To edify is to be kind. And when you can’t be kind, you’re not edifying. And when you’re not edifying, you probably should find the off switch and go silent. 

Now, the second function of the human tongue is to exhort. Exhortation is a powerful thing because what it does is grant us the ability to remind people of what they wanted to achieve. For example, in my perpetual quest to lose weight, I can certainly use people to edify me by being kind, but I also desperately need people to remind me that sausage and biscuits are not low in calories. Why? Because if I was able to get into the mess of becoming obese, I might not be the best one qualified to get myself out of it. I need some exhortation. It is valuable for my friends to remind me of my original mission.

Reminding is not complaining. Reminding is not criticizing. Reminding is not treating me like a child that needs discipline. Here’s good reminding: “Boy, I bet those two sausage and biscuits right there have about four hundred calories in them.  That’s going to cut into your day’s intake of food.”  This little simple piece of exhortation is often all I need to remind me of my purpose.  Exhortation is powerful. 

Now you may say, “What if people haven’t made a commitment?” But you know they need to. So is seems that some sort of interference from you may be neccessary to save their lives. Very important point. You can’t save anyone. By the way, God can’t save anyone. Salvation is a miraculous enjoining of God and that individual working together.  What you can do is remind people of  their original quest–what they dreamed of when they were in a better frame of mind.

Can you imagine what would happen if our politicians and ministers would zip their lips long enough to find ways to edify–be kind–or exhort–remind us all of the better angels of our nature? Would it be enough? Whether we think it’s enough or not, it’s what is available.  Because without kindness and reminding, we have a tendency to try to sculpt people into stony images–and all we end up doing is turning them into a chunk of rock–forcing them to bury their faults deeper inside themselves, where they become meaner or nastier.

It is time for us all to get a new response ability. Gain the ability to respond with the only two verbal powerhouses that actually impact the human heart.

  • I will edify you by being kind.
  • And I will exhort you by reminding you of how much better you will feel if you follow what you set out to do.

Find the button. Learn when to turn off your mouth and give the true soul of your expression a chance to do “better speak.”

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Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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