I chose to do my second iExamen experience on Saturday, October 20th when I was at home for fall break. Being home presented a wonderful opportunity for me to challenge myself with regard to the exercise pertaining to self-observation. I was very blessed to be with my family on this day to celebrate my dad’s birthday. Having been away from home since August 30th, I knew that I would be engaged in conversation with family and friends, allowing me to test myself by voicing thoughts and words that were kind, useful and true. Going into this project, I assumed that it would be very difficult for me to only say what is kind, useful, and true to anyone that I interacted with because, it is not always easy for me to keep my emotions in check. However, I would endeavor to be as warm and cordial as possible taking steps to stifle my sometimes sarcastic and insulting self. The joy of seeing people that I love and missed while away from home will lighten my load but I do have a tendency to stray from sweet to sour in a moment.
Much to my surprise, I was easily able to communicate with family, friends, and others by meeting all three conditions. My loved ones and I missed each other terribly, so it was not difficult to approach them in a cheerful manner with positive conversations. Without a doubt, my mother was the one person that was completely shocked with my new form of communication since we do have our arguments from time to time. Mom let me sleep late Saturday and I awoke to the smell of bacon cooking on the stove, one of my favorite breakfast treats. She told me how happy she was that I was home and I knew that she wanted to please me. I kissed her good morning then spent the next few minutes raving about the breakfast she had prepared and how much I missed her cooking while away at Loyola. The words were pleasing to her ears, absolutely truthful and useful in reassuring Mom just how much I loved and missed her. It was the perfect way to begin my iExamen Saturday and I felt good about myself while at the same time enjoying the smile on Mom’s face. I soon recognized that I take a lot for granted, Mom’s love, her great cooking, a wonderful family life and a great educational opportunity at Loyola. It is a certainty that I should spend more time saying thank you than I have in the past.
Dad was also a primary target of my effort to be sweet and cordial and I knew that he was experiencing separation anxiety about my being in Baltimore. He is a retired police chief, sometimes stern but always loving and it was easy to put a smile on his face. Most of his concerns were about my personal safety at Loyola, how I was handling being away from home and my academic performance. He was elated when I told him how comfortable I was at Loyola, how many new friends I had made and that my grades were something in which I took pride. Those words, truthful and delivered in a kind and loving matter, brought a smile to his face, a sparkle to his eyes and a loving embrace. My father told me how proud of me he was and that he was always bragging to his friends of my accomplishments. I could easily see that my conversation with Dad made him happy, and his separation anxiety was relieved a bit and that made me happy as well.
Another conversation between a nephew and I brought a warm feeling to my heart and a sense of having said and done something kind. He has been troubled with a weight problem for most of his life and a few years ago had weight-loss surgery to correct the condition. After a brief loss of weight, he returned to the previous condition, suffering all the verbal abuse and teasing to which overweight people are exposed. Recently he began a new program aimed at losing weight and I was surprised at how much he had changed since my departure in August. I immediately complimented him on how great he looked, showering him with words of praise and encouragement. The smile on his face and his eagerness to discuss the new program told me just how much he appreciated my comments. I know that my words had a positive effect on how he felt about himself and that makes me feel better about myself.
Communicating along these lines does help me to see clearly the perspectives of other people. I should always reflect how imperative it is that I constantly treat people with kindness and respect. However, this form of communication could hinder me as well because sometimes in order to be honest with myself, things that I say might not always be kind, useful, and true. If I constantly say things strictly to appeal to the feelings of others, but do not express how I truly feel then I am not being my own person. Nevertheless, I will attempt to seek out the good in others and comment on those positives in a kind way avoiding confrontation, embarrassment and ridicule. From self-awareness, I have realized that it is important to show how I really feel, but saying kind, useful, and true things can be beneficial to my relationships with people. I have learned not to let negativity affect how I communicate with other people.
The feeling of elation I experienced resulting from my choice of words being cordial, kind, true and useful is one I will cherish for some time. It was not an easy task since I am prone to teasing and joking but with some effort, I was able to make those around me smile and seemingly feel better about themselves. A particular joy resulted from knowing how much my behavior pleased my parents who missed me as much as I missed them. I consider myself a better person having gone through this exercise than I was before taking it on and I hope to continue to improve on that. Constantly being caring and sensitive in my choice of words will not come without a strong commitment on my part but I am willing to make the effort.