When Your Past Is Present

True or false? “You can’t change the past!”

This statement is made by many who have experienced painful things in their past. The pain may have been experienced in childhood, in a previous or current marriage, or in some other kind of relationship altogether. Analogous to the “Get-out-of-jail-free” card in Monopoly, this partly-true saying serves as a “Get-out-of-difficult-emotional-work” card for many walking wounded.

The statement is true in part, but not fully. That we cannot change the facts of the past is obvious. What happened – whatever happened – happened. We cannot undo what was done, no matter how desperately we might want to. The funds embezzled by the business partner and squandered on drugs are unrecoverable. The lover who left has not even looked back. The deceased loved one is gone. The fact that you were sexually violated is as irreversible as it is horrible. Indeed, we cannot change what happened.

We don’t live with the facts of damaging life-events alone. We carry away from those events some things that are not immutable. What do we carry away besides the facts? We walk away with our understanding or interpretation of the facts. We carry our conclusions about ourselves and others based on our – sometimes faulty – interpretation of our experiences. We also carry our decisions about how to live in light of our understanding of those facts. Recognizing this difference between the facts and our understanding of them and choices based on our misunderstanding of them is invaluable. The facts are immutable; but many things associated with the facts can be changed, and should be changed.

When we are unable to recognize the difference between the changeable and the unchangeable things, we are set up for one of two serious problems: unnecessary misery or unnecessary exhaustion. The famous Serenity Prayer addresses our situation eloquently: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Consider three essential issues in this prayer. First, we must find peace (serenity) regarding certain unchangeable things – things about which we desperately desire change. Indeed, we need God’s help (grace) to find that serene place of acceptance of what feels absolutely unacceptable. Second, we need courage (perhaps more accurately stated, God’s power released in us) to change even the changeable. Sometimes the “doable” is only done with the help of God and others. That which falls into the category of “changeable” is sometimes terribly difficult and/or frightening; thus, we need courage to do what must be done to effect the change desired. Finally, the prayer affirms our need for God’s wisdom to know the difference between these two – the changeable and the unchangeable. It is not obvious. Our minds can trick us; we can be deceived. We may imagine that we can change the “unchangeable” if only we try harder, manipulate more craftily, or beg more intensely. Of course, this results in our unnecessary exhaustion – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. On the other hand, when we file things in the “unchangeable” category which are in fact changeable, we can live many years in misery unnecessarily, and even with unnecessary levels of misery. If only we had realized that courage and effort would have paid off in time… This prayer for “wisdom to know the difference,” prayed until it is fully answered, can keep us from unnecessary misery or unnecessary exhaustion.

We can agree that the facts of the past cannot be changed. What then can be changed? Sandra Wilson, in her excellent book Hurt People Hurt People, identifies four things that can and must be changed, if I am to be changed. They are:

1. My perceptions of my experiences.
2. My conclusions about my experiences.
3. My choices in response to my experiences.
4. The life patterns I have formed as a result of my experiences.

All of these are indeed changeable, but not necessarily obviously changeable, nor easily changed, and rarely changed over-night.

Much of the family dysfunction in our culture is rooted in these very issues. Wounded people, instead of finding healing, pretend to be well. It may not be too difficult to keep up the pretense in public, but at home we are found out. We are not as well as we want people to think.

If you’ve had painful experiences in the past, and you’ve concluded, “nothing can be done about it,” please consider this “second opinion.” If an honest assessment of your life indicates that your past is showing up in the present, seek the help needed. If disproportionate anger, distrust, suspicion, or defensiveness is evident in present relationships, this may be a sign that your past is pathologically present.

You can “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). This is true Christianity. Jesus accepts us just as we are, but He never intended that we stay just as we are. He wants to transform us. And the “Good News” of His Gospel is that no one is so badly broken as to be beyond the power of His change; and conversely, no one is so good as to be beyond need of it. Not only will you benefit in this transformation Jesus will bring to you, but those closest to you will be blessed, too. You will probably need help in this transformation – help from books, lectures, and specific relationships. Seek until you find all the resources God has for you.

If you would consider a professional counseling relationship, you might provide a potential helper with a copy of this article. Request that he or she read it and tell you if they think they could help you sort out these issues and effect change in your life. Finally, don’t resist investing money in this process. Most of us readily invest money in education to make a better living; too few invest in counseling to make a better life. Proverbs 4:7 says, “Though it cost all you have, get wisdom, get understanding.” Even in this point – especially in this point, I would encourage prayerful wisdom in making such investments. Invite God to lead you to put the past in the past.

Proper Positioning Will Lead to Successful Negotiation Outcomes

Before you negotiate, do you consider how your positioning will influence the outcome of the negotiation?

When I speak to groups around the US and other countries, about improving their negotiation skills, I talk about the inherent value that positioning holds. I get a lot of inquisitive responses when I state, the way you position yourself sets the stage for the direction in which the negotiation will proceed. There are several reasons why positioning plays such an important role before, during, and after a negotiation. They are …

1. Positioning before the negotiation:

Before sitting down to negotiate, people have a perceived perspective of who you are. To the degree you match their perception, you set the stage as a congenial, tough, or moderate negotiator. Depending upon the style the other negotiator uses, you can find yourself entering into a collaborative or combative negotiation sitting.

a. Positioning really allows you to ‘set the stage’ before you begin to negotiate. Observe the following example.

i. A friend of mine recently sold a property she owned to a close associate of hers. Before they agreed upon a price, her associate told her, he had already started packing his belongings to move to the new location. He went on to tell her how he was going to furnish each room and the fact that he had told all of his friends about the new house he was moving to. After all of that, they sat down to negotiate his purchase of the property. Needless to say, they were far apart on the perceived dollar value of the property. In essence, my friend’s associate had really mis-positioned himself to the degree that he had given my friend insight into how anxious he was about moving to the new location and the fact that he had mentally ‘put’ himself into the house.

In the end, the two of them worked out an arrangement that both could live with, but had the two not been close associates, the price difference could have made the ability to reach an agreement insurmountable.

2. Positioning during the negotiation:

Positioning during the negotiation takes on the mantel of how you use your body language to convey subtleties of agreement and disagreement to offers and counteroffers made during the negotiation. It should also take into consideration the ‘role’ you create for yourself and the degree of flexibility you display to being open to new ideas that are introduced into the negotiation. If you’ve positioned yourself properly, based on the plan you’ve set forth for the negotiation, this phase of the negotiation should lead effortlessly to the final phase of the negotiation.

Note: When negotiating, you should never give out the kind of information my friend’s associate gave to the person with whom you’re negotiating. By positioning himself in the manner in which he did, he weakened his negotiation position substantially. Had he been negotiating with someone other than a friend, he could have found himself without a new house and embarrassed in front of his friends.

3. Positioning for the close and what comes after the Negotiation:

As you seek a favorable conclusion to a negotiation, your positioning of what will occur next and how the covenants of the negotiation will be addressed will have a great impact on the probability the deal will stay together. At the conclusion of the negotiation, if you’ve positioned yourself in a manner that sets the expectation that the deal was hard fought and fair, you have begun to subliminally set the expectation that all parties involved are happy and satisfied with the outcome; it goes without saying, you need to get the other party’s ‘buy in’ to that perception. By positioning the outcome in such a manner, you’ll be setting the stage whereby the way the outcome has been cast will stay intact.

In the same manner people make judgments about a book, a building, and many aspects of life, they do so by the façade they see and perceive. In order to enhance your negotiation outcomes, understand the importance of positioning and the overall impact it has on the outcome of the negotiation. Position yourself according to the ‘role’ you will play before, during and after the negotiation and your negotiations will be a lot smoother than what might otherwise be the case … and everything will be right with the world.

The Negotiation Lessons are …

· When contemplating any negotiation you might participant in, consider what image you wish to display. In so doing, you’ll gain insight into how you should position yourself to portray the persona you wish to project. The positioning of that persona will determine how the negotiation will progress.

· As you create the image you’ll project in a negotiation, consider how that demeanor will be received and the overall effect it will cast throughout the negotiation. Be sure to choose the right image for the right situation.

· Always have multiple images that you can project depended upon the situation you find yourself in during the negotiation. Take into consideration how one image will morph into another and how different images will be perceived. Tie your images to the overall positioning you’ve created for the negotiation.

Presentation and Customer Attraction Are Essential for the Small Retailer

It’s challenging to make a great thing out of something small and not so attractive, such as a small shop, but it can be done. Management, presentation of wares, and a welcoming environment are a start. During my time in business there were two situations in which such was faced. The first was a baby shop in an out-of-the-way location while the second was a flower and plant shop next to a railway station.

In the first case the shop was housed in an old building, the toilet was around the back requiring the door to be closed for attendance, and it was a fair way from the shopping drag. With practically no finance to start and doing it mostly on credit and with the help of my father the shop opened after some 3 weeks of signing the lease.

There was no money for advertising and the trade was expected to come from the movie theatre opposite and the milk bar next door. Those attending the first would often cross the road to buy things at the second. On the way they had to pass my premises. The bus route also passed the door.

My chance of attracting the attention of passers-by was through the display in the two windows. It meant leaving them illuminated overnight and putting the best of my stock into it. Setting one up as a nursery with a cradle and other furniture was a good start. The other was dressed with babies clothing.

After two years and with a second shop in the main shopping centre of the town both were sold for a profit. It wasn’t a huge gain but the main thing is that they never made a loss.

In my next venture which began when landscape designing gave me an income it was a different story. The premises were in a prime location and my efforts in attracting customers through the landscaping business paid dividends. The shop had a set of stairs up from the street and lining them with flowers made a fabulous display.

The staff numbers of 20 carried out garden maintenance tasks as well as completing the designs from plans and run the shop. The crux of it was presentation. Unlike the first shop’s location this one had everything. The smell of the flowers welcomed people. It was also the passageway to the very popular Chinese Restaurant above. Some famous people who easily opened their wallets were regular buyers.

The bottom line for any business is location while presentation and customer attraction will always see it do better.

Norma Holt has knowledge that enables her to understand many issues. Political, social and behavioural problems are usually on her list for discussion as well as anything to do with the Spirit of the Universe and reincarnation, which she experienced. She is happy to hear from any of her readers.