Category Archives: Struggle

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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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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We Are All In This World Together

“Many brave men lived before Agamemnon, but all unwept and unknown, they sleep in endless night, for they had no poets to sound their praises.”    — Horace

A friend of mine told this story recently:  “I was living in San Francisco which has a large population of homeless and poor.  Each day it was painful to notice the contrast between the beautifully dressed, seemingly self-confident people, and the poor who shared the streets with them.”

“One day I realized I could empathize with how those homeless people felt.  I’d lived my whole life feeling I didn’t belong, with no family I could turn to, and not knowing if I would survive another day in my misery. The compassion I felt was a reminder to me not to form my opinions about people by how they look.  It doesn’t matter what people think they see in me, or anyone else. Each one of us is wounded.  It’s just that some wounds are on the inside instead of the outside.”

We are all in this world together and for a purpose, no matter what the circumstances of our life.


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.

 

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.

Don’t Judge Me by the Way I Look

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“Many brave men lived before Agamemnon, but all unwept and unknown, they sleep in endless night, for they had no poets to sound their praises.” – Horace

A person in one of my group therapy sessions once told this story.  “I was living in a city with a large population of homeless and poor.  Each day it was painful to notice the contrast between the beautifully dressed, seemingly self-confident people, and the poor who shared the streets with them.”

“One day I realized I could empathize with how those homeless people felt.  I’d lived my whole life feeling I didn’t belong, with no family I could turn to, and not knowing if I would survive another day in my misery.  The compassion I felt was a reminder to me not to form my opinions about people by how they look.  It doesn’t matter what people think they see in me, or anyone else.  Each one of us is wounded.  It’s just that some wounds are on the inside instead of the outside.”  Remember that we are all in this world together and for a purpose, no matter what the circumstances of our lives.

Left by Someone We Love

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“She looks for me.  God.  Let her look for me and tell me why she left me.”  — Stephen Sondheim.  George in Sunday in the Park with George. 

To be left by someone we love is to experience a break in the heart’s flow.  To be left is to endure unanswered questions, to feel fear, anger, rejection, grief.  It is life in the passive tense: we did not leave – we were left.  Spiritual separation, when the bond of two spirits has been severed by someone  else’s choice, hurts badly.  Where is the hope?  How do we go on?  At its most painful, being left even brings the question, “Do I want to go on?”  Once we answer yes to this, we can start to heal. 

We can choose to accept what is.  We can find our way with the help of the Universe’s grace and the support of people who love us and want us in their lives.  To yield to someone’s wish to end a relationship is an act of respect.  To want the best for someone, even when it means enduring our own loss, is an act of love.  Honestly grieving the loss of someone is a sign that healing is already beginning to take place.