Category Archives: Challenge

You Are In Integrity

“You are in integrity when the life you live is an authentic expression of who you are.” — Alan Cohen

 

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That’s Who I Used to Be

“Every forward step we take we leave some phantom of ourselves behind.”  –John Spalding

There are some people who knew all too well the person I was – before I started to focus on becoming a more emotionally healthy person through personal growth.  I know that a person can’t do the kind of work I have on myself and remain unchanged.  However, for whatever reason, these people cling to the toxic images in their minds of my former self.  I know that each day brings more depth to my spirituality, and with that comes change.

A friend of mine once shared with me that he begins each day by saying out loud, “O.K. God, surprise me!”  Although each day brings new challenge, the one thing it won’t bring is perfection.  I know that each day I can expect a mixed bag of experiences and all kinds of emotions to match.

If I begin to feel discouraged because of someone’s inability or refusal to see how different I have become, or even negative about life in general, I cultivate an attitude of gratitude by looking back at how far I have come.  I remind myself, its progress I’m looking for in myself, not perfection.  There’s always something to be grateful for, including the ability to be grateful!

Ask for Help

 

“Asking for help does not mean we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.” — Anne Wilson Schaef

I’ve received a lot of help lately. Most from my dearest friend and some from people I never imagined I would receive so much of their time or efforts.  I don’t like to ask.  I’ll spend more energy talking about how hard it is for me to ask, than the energy I’d expend simply asking for what I need.

Many of us may have grown up in isolation and with shame being constantly reinforced the way I did.  Help began to feel like a luxury reserved for other people.  I thought I didn’t deserve it.   I thought I should be able to handle everything.  I failed to realize just when I needed help, because I’m so accustomed to living life in a “crisis mode.”  I tell myself that my concerns and problems aren’t important enough to bother somebody with.  Then, when life becomes really complicated, I blame myself for feeling overwhelmed and almost unable to act.

But we all deserve help.  We deserve all the help that we may want and need, whether it’s a ride to an appointment or for someone’s shoulder to cry on when we’re sad or upset.  We are worth the time, effort and concern of others – not because any of us is different, but because we are the same.

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How to Get to Forgiveness

One is, as One is.


“One is as one is, and the love that can’t encompass both is a poor sort of love.”  — Marya Mannes

I have struggled to find the way to forgive myself and others.  Forgiving isn’t easy.  Writing this blog isn’t easy.  I am carrying so much resentment and hurt around with me.  In fact, when I’ve been deeply hurt or victimized by someone else, I may feel I can’t forgive. Yet, for my peace of mind and to let go, I may finally try.  It’s been suggested by a close friend that forgiveness is easier under certain conditions: a positive connection with the person we want to forgive, a deep relationship with the Universe, and lots of time.

Forgiveness is often preceded by grieving fully; we must first heal from the harm that was done to us. Through the honesty, power and wisdom gained through personal growth we are gently led through the process of forgiving ourselves and others. Many of us have also experienced the Universe’s unconditional forgiveness which gives us a model.  I acknowledge my responsibility for my actions, I let go of resentment, I grieve, and, finally, I forgive.

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See That Storm Just Ahead? Confronting Issues

 

“Maybe you can’t see the storm that lies just ahead. But I can. Believe me, it’s there.”

Confronting issues openly and honestly can be difficult. Many, like me are afraid of the reaction they’ll get from the person they are confronting. With that fear firmly embedded in one’s psyche, looking the other way and acting like the problem isn’t there becomes the easy way out. Or so it seems. Looking the other way really doesn’t make matters easier at all. In fact, it makes them worse. Problems often just don’t go away without some action.

I haven’t faced some very big issues and challenges that have been in my life for too long now. But I see clearly that I can’t let these problems linger. In my situation the problems have grown and the result is more and more hurt to me. I feel fear of the reaction I expect to receive. My fears I know after giving it long thought are grounded in reality and not based on my imagination. To get myself beyond this fear, I will have to have the necessary support around me to protect me. With my support in place I will face my problems. I must remember that storms don’t last forever. Eventually the sun does shine again, and life was nourished by the rains. I will come out of this a better person.

 

Feeling is the Inner Life

Expression is the Outer Life

I’ve realized that there’s a difference between my ability to feel, my ability to express my feelings, and my ability to let go.  I know there are many painful emotions I learned to suppress when I was young, particularly anger or sadness.  Other emotions might be difficult to feel because they are connected to past pain.

Yet there’s no letting go, no moving on, until I stop trying to avoid feelings such as sorrow, anger, rage or despair.  I have found the way to begin working through difficult feelings is to reach out to people with a phone call, email, or blog comment.  Other ways I have found to help are writing (blogging or journaling); having a good cry, or plan a healing ritual which can be as simple as taking a couple of days alone, just to think.  For some of us, turning to our Higher Power, as we know it provides the spiritual help and nourishment we need.

The release that will come as a result of expressing our feelings will help to ease the pain.  It’s not realistic to release all the pain from our past all at once, but we can begin by letting go of a little piece today.

Dispute Leads to Anger and Vindictiveness

 

“Only that action is just which does not harm either party to a dispute.” — Gandhi

Most of the disputes I have occur when I realize I have been lied to. I hate being lied to. I’m not stupid. I want to know that I’m dealing with people in “reality” rather than a fictitious world made up through lies. I find myself occasionally embroiled in a bitter dispute and feel determined at all costs to back a person into a corner to get them to admit to their lie, or to impose my solution to the dispute, even though I know it may cause the other person harm. I have come to know that I don’t really want a solution at all; I want revenge.

The wish to harm others may be derived from feeling that I have been hurt, perhaps as a child. I may be recalling feelings of being neglected, misunderstood, or even abused and assaulted. So to me, in my mind, the world owes me something and I intend to collect. I may even bear grudges and resentments against successful people, not because they have done me wrong, but merely because they are – successful.

I need to let my shame and sorrow out into the clear light of day. By opening myself up to others, I will surely find that together we can defuse my anger and want to hurt others. I can stand on equal footing with others and have no more need for resentment and rage.

I know that I am gradually getting rid of my secret shame that causes me to act out of anger and vindictiveness.

 

Survival – In These Times?

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“Mere survival is an affliction.  What is of interest is life, and the direction of that life.”  — Guy Fregault

I know people who, when you ask them how they are, will say automatically, “I’m surviving.”  They say it with a bright, brave smile, as though they’ve battled tremendous odds and come through, bloody but unbowed.  They seem to imply that life is a grim, unfair business.  But in reality, their lives seem easy and secure.

There are others I know with real problems – illness in the family, financial worries, job insecurity and more.  These people might greet you with a smile and bring to the simplest exchange an energy and liveliness that sends you away refreshed.  Such people have the gift of life and share it abundantly.  Like the ninety-seven-year-old woman with thirty-nine grandchildren who greets each one of them by name and has a story and a joke for every one of them.  She lives in their memory as a force of love and vitality.  Her immortality is there, in the love her family bears her.

Each day can bring as many joys as sorrows.  When we are patient and find the courage to invest the best of ourselves, we can truly live and not just survive.

It Is, What It Is

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“There is no greater enemy to those who would please than expectation.”       — Montaigne

A friend and I were recently rehashing some difficulties – ridiculous drama,  that we recently experienced, courtesy of a mutual friend.  This friend I was talking with suffered from the drama much more than I, to the tune of about $3,500. In my friend’s most recent session with her therapist, she was encouraged to accept; “It is, what it is.”  I began to realize that we both had certain expectations of our mutual friend.

Later that day, I found myself thinking, as I watched one of my neighbors attempting to give some order to her cluttered apartment, ” Why is she doing it like this?  This isn’t the way I would do it.”  She was making more chaos than when she began.  And how about this: on my roommate’s behavior today I was thinking, “I don’t understand why she’s acting like this.  What’s wrong with her?”  I wondered, “Am I setting myself up for disappointment by my expectations or am I realistic about what I am expecting from myself and other people and life?”

When we start to say things such as what I have said, we can stop and look inside ourselves.  Chances are, we’ll find expectations.  When we want people to act and live according to our wishes, we have set ourselves up as arbiters of their behavior.  Somewhere within ourselves, we cling to the idea that we know the best way.

Underneath our expectations may lurk such feelings as abandonment, fear, insecurity, grandiosity or anger.  We worry that we can’t control what’s happening – and we’re right, we can’t.  But the more we respect other people’s right to make their own choices and mistakes, to express their uniqueness, and to grow in their own time, the more freedom we have to do the same.  We can use our power for our own good, and not give it away to hidden or not-so-hidden expectations.  It is, what it is.