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Respect Whatever Life Brings Us

What we don’t know supports what we do know.”   — Bill Moyers

One way we show respect for ourselves and others is by respecting whatever life brings us.  What prevented that in the past was our preoccupation with everything that prevented us from having our own way.  Now, we live lives on a different rhythm: one of letting go.  It is that rhythm to which we must pay attention.

At times letting go feels like doing nothing, and doing nothing feels like standing still.  But letting go is not the same as standing still.  It is active, not passive.  Letting go focuses our attention on life in the present, living it fully, moment by moment, and not in a fantasy future that seems to promise the outcome we crave. 

It has been said that the light of God’s love is so bright that it seems as darkness to us.  When we feel we’re living in darkness, we may be living in the all-encompassing light of God’s love.and compassion for our struggle.  We can trust the daily evidence of that love and know we are safe. 

 

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Weakness and Fear

“When people are least sure, they are often most dogmatic.”  — J.K. Galbraith

Weakness and fear make me defensive and dogmatic (adhering strictly to something).  I often find myself becoming strident and aggressive without any apparent reason.  I insult my acquaintances, hurt my friends, and even frighten the neighbor’s children.   In that moment, I may feel I am being strong and assertive, and yet the effects are just the opposite of what I had intended.  I am hurting, and so I lash out and wound others.

What am I hiding?  Why am I feeling threatened, vulnerable and weak?  I usually strike out when hiding my needs and fears.  I think that, if I attack, maybe I won’t need to let anyone in.  I start to make-up in my mind that if I let people in, they won’t love me; I feel unworthy and shameful.

I have come to find out however, that it is the strong that are tolerant and charitable and forgiving.  As I continue to grow in confidence and strength, I will find that I too am able to be flexible, patient and open with others.  I am striving to be strong, open, tolerant and loving.

To Learn to Love Ourselves

“There is luxury in self-reproach.  When we blame ourselves, we feel no one else has a right to blame us.”  — Oscar Wilde

Just as we don’t have the right to judge someone else, we don’t have the right to judge ourselves.  Our unhealthy script in the past was that when we did something we felt ashamed of, we judged ourselves guilty.  All too often, we then punished ourselves. Was that behavior an expression of our shame and sadness because of our defects? Punishing ourselves won’t stop our unhealthy behaviors; loving ourselves will.

We are grateful that our growth in our emotional health has taught us the difference between guilt and shame.  Guilt lets us feel remorse and sadness when our actions violate our values.  Guilt helps us know when we’ve acted badly; shame tells us we are bad.  Guilt gives us a way back to ourselves through making amends; shame leaves us hopeless.  To give in to shame and self-hatred only harms us and intensifies the power of our unhealthy behaviors.  There is a better way, and that’s to learn to love us.

Facing Our Own Dishonesty

 

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”  — Prov. 25:11

Facing our own dishonesty can be daunting, but maintaining absolute honesty is a basic premise of our recovery program.  12 Step programs of recovery describe it as “rigorous” honesty.  Belief that we can be honest without a solid commitment simply won’t work.

The more we grow, the more we develop our ability to make one choice at a time, to experience one feeling at a time, to tell the truth one situation at a time.  We admit to ourselves when we feel guilty, angry, fearful, and resentful – the negative feelings that are difficult to face.  Being honest is how we finally come to know what used to baffle us about our addiction.  When we create a unity between honest feeling, honest thinking, and honest action, we find that we have become honest people.  Personal honesty is a gift for which I thank the Universe every day.


Fed Up With Perfectionism?

upside-down-proverb

 

“If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.”  — G.K. Chesterton

Ever turn a proverb upside down?  In “Way of All Flesh” by Samuel Butler, Ernest was annoyed and surprised at his parents for wanting him to be more religious all his life, and when he did, they were still not satisfied. He said to himself that a prophet was not without honors save in his own country, but he had gotten into an odious habit of turning proverbs upside down, and it occurred to him that a country is sometimes not without honor save for its own prophet.

It helps sometimes, to see what happens.    Many of us are brought up to believe that we have to do, excel, finish first, get on the team, do a good job, see it through, get it done on time, say it right, get ahead, and on and on, better and better as we go.  Why?  Maybe that’s the way Dad did it; and Grandma did it and that’s just the way it’s supposed to be.

And then, inevitably, we’d fail or fall. So we’d turn back on ourselves in shame, beat ourselves up, maybe turn to alcohol or drugs or some other addiction.  If we were failures in public, then many of us would make up our own private world where failure doesn’t exist.  In this little world fantasy ruled, and in fantasy there are only successes; everybody scores

But I have come to know that it doesn’t have to be so.  We can break the spell and stop beating ourselves, and get away from Father’s angry voice or that disappointed look on Mother’s face.  We can do things at our own speed, in our own unique way, on our own timeline, just for the joy of doing them.


You Are In Integrity

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

 

Embracing the New ~ Imbolc

 

“An old error is always more popular than a new truth.” — German Proverb

The Wiccan celebration and ritual for Imbolc is fast approaching February 2nd. Imbolc brings the end of winter and of course a time of great change toward spring. Spring, even here in the desert southwest means new, rebirth, regeneration. I find that I often feel uncomfortable with the new because it causes me to reach out and expand my vision.  This may be painful and I don’t like the pain that comes with change.

My life at times is cozy and gives me a curious kind of comfort and reassurance.  When lonely or anxious or hopeless, I have at times turned toward unhealthy behaviors.  I am used to it and don’t need to do much to keep on going in the same old way.

Suddenly, I have seen the error of my ways.  Discovery, disgrace, legal issues, isolation, despair, the loss of a partner, the contempt of friends – all possible consequences of that cozy, complacent turn to my old behavior.  Yes, I may have awakened one day to find that my old behavior ruined my life!  This awareness has caused me to begin reaching out for the hard process of change.

Making difficult change is painful, but that pain is preferable to the agony caused by the inevitable outcome of unhealthy behaviors.


Integrate Healthy Sexuality Into Life

Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation.  The other eight are unimportant.”  — Henry Miller

Henry Valentine Miller (December 26, 1891 –– June 7, 1980) was an American novelist and painter. He was known for breaking with existing literary forms, developing a new sort of novel made up of autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, surrealist free association and mysticism, one that is distinct always about and expressive of the real-life Henry Miller, and yet is also fictional. His works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn and Black Spring. Henry Miller also was known to write travel memoirs and essays of literary criticism and analysis.

It is good and healthy to laugh about sex – as long as the laughter is on the side of life.  Sex, after all, is part of the life force, and if it is surrounded by caring and honesty, it leads to a joyous intensification of our relationship with others and with the world.  Then sex, like laughter, integrates.

Too often, laughing about sex betrays uneasiness, shame, disgust, and the want to hurt.  We talk about “dirty jokes” and consign sex to the bathroom.  We split off sex from other feelings and surround it with taboos and rituals and mockery.  Viewed in this way, sex isolates us.

We need to learn to talk about our sexuality in a proud and affirmative way. Talking and laughing in a group, or with a friend, or with a loved one, is one of the steps we take to bring sex into the open to take its place as part of the diversity of life.  Own your sexuality.  Talk about it without shame and claim it a vital part of life.

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See Yourself as Changing

 

“The absurd man is he who never changes.” — Auguste Barthelemy

Lately, I find myself feeling sick and tired being me, because it seems I am always the same, never-changing.  My emotional life often seems like a treadmill, never varying in its fantasies or rituals.  I haven’t acted to alter things, I’ve only acted out.  And in acting out I am driven by a compulsion to repeat actions that gave me little pleasure and no joy.

I am beginning to realize that the same feelings come up all the time and throughout the course of each day.  I find myself thinking or saying, “Everything’s just the same.” Or, “I’m just not getting anywhere.”  My day-to-day life seems about the same; nothing dramatic has happened, nothing special is going to happen.  Inertia.  Despair.

If I look around at others; in my community, in groups and check things out, I may be able to see more clearly the changes that have taken place.   Yes, I begin to become aware that “Alan” is different, and less negative, and “Justin” is energetic and outgoing.  Change may take place slowly, but it does happen.  For sure.


The Innocence of Children

 

“Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.”  — Edna St. Vincent Millay

Children feel themselves all-powerful in an infinite world.  Nothing disappears, nothing passes away.  In our earliest days, our pleasures were limitless and timeless.  Reality was only an obstacle to gratification.

In our drama, we often remain fixed in a similar pleasure-oriented world.  We don’t like it when someone says “no” to us.  We sometimes try to manipulate reality to suit our own purposes. We may look upon others as objects of gratification.  In our fantasies, we often recreate the omnipotent, timeless world of childhood, where we are in total control.  Our pleasures know no boundaries.

We need to stay childlike and full of wonder, but at the same time, we must put away those childish fantasies.  We can be creative, without believing ourselves immortal or invincible.  We can return to the kingdom of our earliest days without playing the little tyrannical ruler.

Remember the uniqueness of our own childhood and leave behind its self-centeredness.  Love of others and love of life is the antidote to the narrow circle of our dysfunction.