Is It Better To Be Right or Kind?

Andrea Chilcote

With Valentine’s 2014 on the horizon this week, are you seeing yourself and your life experiences (and perhaps another’s) from a heart-centered perspective? Below, Andrea explores life’s challenges from a heart-lens perspective and asks you to consider how you choose to respond.

by Andrea Chilcote

This week, I’m reminded of the question, “Is it better to be right or kind?”

There are versions of this question. A client reminded me of one several years ago, as she was experiencing a conflict at work. She asked herself out loud: “Is better to be right or effective?”—and concluded that while the ego may beg to differ, “effective” was the only path in that situation.

Think about a time you were sure you were right about something large or small, but another person (or group), held an opposite view. I’m not talking about politics, religion or the stuff of conversational debates. I’m talking about taking a personal stand on a perceived injustice or criticism, someone else’s way of doing something, or any irritation that irks you in the moment but is insignificant with perspective.

I have one. Yesterday I felt compelled to express annoyance to my husband for changing virtually every setting in my car’s XM Radio. His response was that I had given him the wrong instructions for finding the channel he was seeking.

At first, I presented the logical argument. My instructions were “right,” and I had evidence in the text message explaining the step-by-step process. (Not to mention I was the one offering help for which he should have been grateful!) But something possessed me to stop, fortunately, and spend three minutes correcting the set-up.

Why is this so hard? At least part of the reason is that we have difficulty discerning between the things we can change by taking a stand, and the things that don’t matter. And, defending the things that don’t matter actually does matter in that we make mountains out of mole hills, as my Dad used to say.

It all matters to our ego. So we have to check in with our logical, objective-thinking self and ask: “Can I influence change here?” If the answer is no, stop. Influence rarely occurs as a result of telling (absent asking), and that’s especially true when telling involves making the other person wrong.

We also need to check in with our heart. Some motivation or unmet need on the part of the other person is driving whatever is making us crazy. Through a heart lens we see this, and the choice to be kind becomes viable.

As you choose your responses to life’s challenges over the next several days, consider these questions:

• Can I influence change (or will my response serve only to inflame)?
• What choice will bring peace to my heart (and perhaps another’s)?
• How can I be kind to myself (and thus spread the resonance of kindness)?

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

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This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger.

Complete As Is

Arthur and Andrea ChilcoteAre you still in search of an ideal intimate relationship? …I had just returned from yet another date that took more energy than it gave in return. I asked myself, “Why are you doing this? Why are you wasting precious time with men with whom you feel no connection?”  The following post was originally titled, Do I Really Need A Marriage?

By Andrea Chilcote

Dining with an old friend and her significant other, a story surfaced that I have told often, though never written. It’s the story of how I met (maybe “recognized” is a better word) my husband, and it’s not even about how I met him in the tactical sense. I have no advice to offer as to the pros and cons of online dating vs. more traditional methods. It’s about the state of mind (and heart) that I believe enabled me to find him.

My friend recounted the story of how she and he became a pair. Her beloved husband passed away several years ago, and after several attempts at “dating,” she decided she really didn’t need a mate, and would proceed to be happy as is. Then, when she was not looking (or counting on finding him), he appeared, a casual introduction from friends.

I will never forget my own experience 28 years ago. I had just returned from yet another date that took more energy than it gave in return. I asked myself, “Why are you doing this? Why are you wasting precious time with men with whom you feel no connection?” The answer shocked me. I was doing it because I thought I needed a mate. Didn’t every woman?

In that moment, I vowed that I did not. I decided that I would carefully discern my feelings and choices. Most of all, I decided that if I never, ever fell in love and married, I would have a happy life.

Arthur came along a month later. I don’t think I would have recognized him had I not made that declaration.

Arthur and I love one another without condition, though our human nature takes its toll on a regular basis. Our relationship has endured, in large part, because of the fact that we are both confident as individuals. The “secret” to our success is the antithesis of Jerry Maguire’s famous line, “You complete me.”   We were both complete before we met.

That is the truth I realized one evening 28 years ago, and it’s what my friend realized just

I don’t pretend to know the pain of loneliness or the distress that comes from trying to find a person to share your life. I’m certain that many others have the kind of confidence I describe, yet are still in search of ideal intimate relationships. But one thing I do know is this. Accepting yourself as whole, complete and loving is a prerequisite for finding a companion who will hold you in that same high regard.

And after all of this, the truth that holds me here
Is that this emptiness is something not to fear

                             – Mary Chapin Carpenter

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This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger.

Today I Am Thankful – Thanksgiving 2012

Join Andrea as she reflects back on Thanksgiving 2012. What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Andrea Chilcoteby Andrea Chilcote

I will officially begin celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday on Saturday when five friends arrive from Atlanta. As I prepare to enjoy time with them, I have begun to consider all of the things I am thankful for. And of all the wonderful blessings I have in my life, today I am most thankful for this one simple fact: I control my destiny.

I have been working, of late, to maintain a positive and hopeful state of mind. When small but annoying setbacks happen in my life and work, I have sought to not sweat the small stuff, and when faced with negativity seemingly all around, I have practiced management of my own energy. I’ve even succeeded in maintaining a degree of perspective in the backdrop of natural disasters and political strife.

While controlling one’s attitude is the ultimate source of control, it certainly helps to live in the land of the free.

Parrot's PerchLast weekend I met Karen Keilt, author of The Parrot’s Perch. Her book is based on her own true story, and I was stunned by the account Karen gave of her experience as a young adult in Brazil. A privileged woman living a fairy tale life, she was falsely arrested, imprisoned, raped and tortured by extortionists. Most astonishing is that the laws in that country still protect those torturers from prosecution, and the egregious offenses are ongoing.

Today I am thankful that I am a citizen of a country where success results from a marriage of effort and creativity, and flagrant violations of reasonable laws are enforced. Most of us can rest at night with a general feeling of safety and wake up each morning with an opportunity to make this day better than the one before. This foundation of freedom is, well, quite literally … freeing, in my opinion.

I am not Pollyannaish and I vow to never lose compassion for those who struggle. I am committed to remaining responsible for my thoughts, feelings and actions regardless of what’s occurring around me.

Just for a moment, step outside your present circumstances, whatever they may be, and answer this question. What are you most thankful for? What conditions or situations afford you the opportunity to choose the life you wish to live? What present factors serve as the foundation for your courageous actions as well as attitudes? Remind yourself of these in this upcoming week of Thanksgiving.


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!

From My Heart

Act from the Heart, Anahata, From the HeartAre you considering your own words and actions through this most important filter, your heart center? Andrea asks you to act from the heart as she shares her reflections from November 2012.

by Andrea Chilcote

Last week I attended a screening of the film Sacred Journey of the Heart. Its premise is that in this very difficult time on our planet, “heart-based living” holds the key to navigating our way through the collapse of the structures that no longer serve us. It offers a seemingly new approach that is in fact based on ancient traditions, a return to the wisdom of our past.

The film relies on the scientific research of the Institute of HeartMath. In general terms, HeartMath suggests that the very powerful electromagnetic field generated by the heart organ (the strongest in the body) is responsible for the healing effect of energy exchange between two or more people.

I have few words this week, in the ongoing aftermath of the disastrous storm Sandy as well the ongoing and escalating stress of the Presidential election. I can only offer you the opportunity to reflect on the heart-based actions you have seen on news programs or have experienced in your lives.

Consider your own words and actions through this most important filter, your heart center. Act from the heart. I strive to do the same with every breath I take.

Deep Truth by Gregg Braden

We must think of ourselves and our relations to one
another differently than we have ever before
.
– Gregg Braden, author of Deep Truth

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This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!

Still, I Learn

Arthur and Andrea ChilcoteWednesday was my dear husband Arthur’s birthday. While birthdays are always a treasure, each of his are especially so, ever since a life threatening health incident two years ago. During this week approaching Valentine’s Day, I’m re-blogging posts that describe the ongoing lessons I learn about meaningful intimate relationships. Enjoy this one, from May 2012.

by Andrea Chilcote

I am in the 24th year of a happy marriage. While that clearly does not make me a marriage expert, friends often study our relationship for clues to success secrets in a world where so many fail for so many different reasons. As they study, I learn.

Most people notice our independence, our personality differences and our apparent love for one another. While I would not suggest the former two are essentials for happy long term intimate relationships as a rule, they are indeed essentials in ours. We share certain core beliefs and values, yet our interests vary. We give one another the freedom and space to pursue diverse interests independent of the other. A good example is that throughout Arthur’s entire car racing career, I rarely accompanied him. The simple reason was this: I don’t care for the sound or the smell of race car engines. When people ask me, an avid hiker, why Arthur rarely joins me and the dogs on our adventures, I tell the truth: he doesn’t like to get his feet dirty.

The secret to our personality differences lies not in the ways in which we are alike or different, but in that we know and are comfortable with ourselves. That’s the basic price of admission for relating to another person, especially one you live and share life with.

I’ve always been curious about others’ observations about the third theme, our mutual love. While I get it, I’ve wondered what other people see. This year, this very difficult 24th year, has provided insight.

I’m going to share something here for the whole world to read. (Indulge me please, as it seems like a big revelation). Arthur is 29 years older than me. Always healthy, racing cars and caring for horses, he never showed his age until one day this past October, when he nearly died. Emergency heart surgery saved his life, he recovered and is literally in better shape than before. As is our marriage.

So back to the question, how do people “see” our love? They see our kindness to one another. They see that we tolerate and even appreciate each other’s quirks. When I travel, Arthur quietly fills my inevitably (and sometimes purposely) empty gas tank, and I prep and plate his salads so he’ll remember to eat them. Oh, we get irritated sometimes, and I’m clearly the one who is less tolerant — but since Arthur’s illness, he will rarely engage me in pettiness. I am learning.

Arthur has always had more patience than me, yet now his seems endless. I am learning. When you live with someone who goes about his day as if every minute of life is precious, you can’t help but cherish the simple moments in life. Shared comfort in the simple moments, care for one another’s well being, and joy in the other’s accomplishments, define real intimacy for us. And still each day I am learning, as is he.

Our relationship is happy, not perfect. It is kind, yet human. It is flexible, generous and most of all it is uniquely ours. If others can gain insight from observation, we are willing subjects as we continue to grow together.