This is part of a 7-week series exploring the seven core emotional attributes that drive human interaction, as presented by the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. These attributes are collectively called Sephirot. Each individually is a sephirah.
This week we are exploring the seven aspects of the sphere of Hod.
The first three elements are the spheres of Chesed, Gevurah, and Tiferet. It helps to look at them together.
While these traits show up in every situation, I find it most practical to explore them in context of how we interact with other people.
Chesed of Hod: Proactive Appreciation
open to receive
release what you think you know
be willing to learn
How often do you come to a conversation with an agenda for what you want to convey, or an expectation of what you think the other person will say?
If you come to any conversation or learning environment with a belief that you are already an expert you will close off your mind to taking in anything new.
Chesed of Hod invites us to consider an alternate approach.
The default translation for Chesed is love, but this quality is also about cultivating presence. Chesed is associated with the right hand — the hand we reach out to shake when meeting someone. It is about making contact with what’s in front of us.
At Chesed of Hod, we open to the gifts of a person or situation and what it has to offer us.
We do this not as a way to reframe a situation when things don’t go our way, but as a proactive measure. It’s embedded into our approach.
Chesed of Hod is a tool to use whenever we are engaging in a conversation — whether with a business partner, loved one, client, or complete stranger. It invites us to surrender our agenda and open to receive what wants to be shared.
By embracing out humility and surrendering our agenda, we create space for someone else to express themselves and shine.
Gevurah of Hod: Withholding Praise
where praise doesn’t serve
withhold undue flattery
until it can land
Gevurah is the counterpart to Chesed, just as Hod is the counterpart to Netzach.
Gevurah literally means strength. Although it is often translated as discipline, it more accurately refers to the strength of restraint. Gevurah implies holding back, or withholding something, to create space for what wants to emerge. It is the structure that contains the flow of Chesed.
In the context of Hod, it refers to withholding praise or appreciation.
Why would we want to do this?
I like to think of this as being less about why and more about when.
There are times when withholding praise might be a good thing. Praise offered too freely can cause the recipient to attain a false belief in their abilities or accomplishments, and shut them down to learning. It can stoke the ego and build arrogance. And, in some cases, it might not be received well, causing the recipient to reject it and self-sabotage to prove it wrong.
It’s also important to check our own motives for offering praise. Is your praise motivated by fear of another person? Or by a desire to get something from the other person?
Tiferet of Hod: Finding the Middle Way
embrace what you know
open to what you can learn
find the middle way
We want to come to conversations open to the wisdom of others. At the same time, if we build them up too much, we risk putting ourselves down, creating an unequal playing field.
Offering too much praise to another person might cause them to develop an inflated ego, or shut them off to learning new things. Yet withholding praise might be taken as being judgmental or overly harsh.
This is where the realm of Tiferet comes in.
Tiferet mediates and modulates Chesed and Gevurah. Tiferet of Hod invites us to find the middle way; the path where we are not completely withholding praise while also not being overly effusive.
Tiferet of Hod is a constant balancing act. It’s about finding the sweet spot between giving praise that will encourage and motivate without shutting the recipient to what they can learn. It invites us to embrace our own wisdom while still being open to what others can offer, and to help others shine without dimming our own light.
- How can you offer praise that encourages, celebrates, and motivates the recipient?
- How do you ensure you are honoring your own needs while offering praise and appreciation to others?