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Seek First To Understand

Seek first to understand, is a phrase coined by Stephen R. Covey as one of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I started reading his library of books when I was a freshman at college.  I didn't just read his books, I studied his every word.

I have spent the majority of my life being misunderstood.  I can't remember a time when I wasn't misunderstood.  I don't think I have ever really gotten use to it but it is what it is.

When a strange turn of events landed me at a college in the United States I had no intention of attending, I tried to look at it as an opportunity to start fresh.  What better time to re invent yourself and slip out from under the stereotypes you were stuck in growing up than to move to another country.

The odd thing is, nothing changed at all.  I seemed to attract the same kind of energy of misguided assumptions, narcissistic people and  soul-less egos covering me with blanket statements of untruth.  It was hard and never ending.  Over the years, I have actually had several people I went to school with, who were contributors to some of the shaming thoughts that still replay in my head, find me and apologize for the way they treated me.  I felt very humbled by their courage to do that.

Yesterday, I took Sam out for lunch.  Just me and Sam.  Lately, he's been so defensive towards me, or so I felt.  My intention was to put a spark under him about making some hard decisions that need to be now!   Decisions like sending in mission papers, patriarchal blessings, college applications, jobs...

As we drove to the restaurant, I opened my Mom mouth but the spirit caught me and the words of Steven Covey- seek first to understand came to mind.  So, instead, I told Sam how much I loved him and how proud I was of the way he has chosen to live his life.  He has become an amazing young man.  He was one of my hardest kids when he was little.  He was defiant in every way and hard to manage, even physical at times.  I worried about the kind of teenager he would be.  As a tender mercy, he has been my easiest, most pleasant teenager.  He loves and serves his friends and people around him.  He is sensitive and kind.  I told him about all the ways I see he is reflecting the light of Christ.

While we ate lunch, I asked, "Who do you feel the most pressure from about serving a mission, me, your dad, your siblings or your friends?"

With only slight hesitation, he said, "You."

I was flabbergasted!  I don't feel like I pressure him at all.  Again, I opened my MOM mouth to defend myself but instead...I knew I needed to listen.  He explained that I'm the only one who seems to care about his future.  No one else even asks what's coming next.  He translated my interest in his life to be a 'hassle' about making a decision.  I was grateful I had the opportunity to reconfirm that I didn't care what his decision was, I just wanted to make sure he felt supported and loved as he made the decision.  It's so easy to be confused and uptight but when we take the time to first understand...communication is so much easier.

In my mid-life unraveling, (as Brene' Brown calls it) I'm learning important lessons about life, love, my kids...and what's really important.


  1. I so needed this. I will implement with my 2 oldest, immediately. Thank you.


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