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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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All Aboard the Gossip Express!

“I came across this poem today on my computer. It was written by my most recent ex-partner. It was written in the insanity of both a crystal meth high, and untreated mental health issues.  To me, it serves as a touchstone for what is real, and what is not.”

The Gossip Express

This ride is an informational subject.

It may even strike that last nerve and single you out.

The only one nerve you apparently have,

Or so I’ve heard,

Through the vast endeavors

Of the “he said – she said” crowd.

Oh my god, you’re the talk of the town!

Like a novel one can’t put down.

On the best sellers list, it cuts like a knife.

I had no idea you’ve been infested with lice!

The kind that is resistant to that smelly shampoo.

So how did they get all the damn bugs off you?

Oh, it doesn’t matter.

It’s none of my business.

But before you go out that door,

I overheard that you’ve been arrested before!

Oh, I hope it wasn’t for murder,

Or kidnapping a kid from its mother.

But I would like to hear how you went to town,

Sucking and jerking;

Did they hold your head down?

I can see it all in my head;

I’m getting all hot and sweaty!

Oh how stupid of me to bring up jails!

I’m sure it’s depressing, I would bite off all my fake nails!

But a friend of mine, he and I were discussing:

How you need to change;

And we think you should start today.

Maybe go incognito or you know, something like that.

Along those lines  – not the kind you snort through a straw

That kind pretends to help you along.

You also need to change your hood,

Cuz they’re tired of you chopping wood.

This is what that bitch said about you –

You know that one chick,

The one I think has a prick.

She is usually all over you like flies,

Attracted to a pile of…

YOO-HOO!

Hey! Come over here,

And say hello!

I hope you weren’t getting ready to go!

Oh god it’s been so long almost as long

As that dude’s shlong!

I am so sure, you wanna bet?

Hey hasn’t he hooked up with you yet?

Like last week, or wait!

It wasn’t you!

He was talking about a way hotter dude.

Oh rumor has it you got clap.

Tell me something, does it turn on a lamp?

OK, I need to shut my mouth!

It’s not funny to you now.

But everybody done told anybody,

Who talked to somebody in this town.

And let me ask you one more thing,

You can say butt out or get away from me.

If I could , just ask a personal thing.

I was told by a friend of a friend,

Who was once removed physically

From the house next door,

Who had hooked up with some

Really loose whore.

I’m not quite sure where the thing began.

But this dude I think his name is Stan,

Or Dan,

Or could be like Bran…

Don’t you just hate that when you mind starts slowing down?

Then names for me are inevitably or uninviting

No

God you know what I am trying to say.

Hey wait why are you walking away?

Oh my god he is so rude!

I asked him question,

To see if he would tell the truth.

Nasty bitch anyway so I’ve heard

Don’t you know he fucks birds?

OK change the subject.

Poof! It’s done!

OK girl I am sorry, but I got to run!

See you later!

Call me sometime!

I got a story about your man’s behind.

Oh, you gotta know!

About that abnormal growth.

Just tell me, that he doesn’t say:

“Come pop my zits on my ass today!”

I bet you do it, since he’s your baby!

Wash your hands in bleach I say.

Enough about that delay.

OK, I don’t want to be rude.

For realzz tho’ I gotta jet!

Catch you next time

On the Gossip Express……

 

Copyright Christopher D  Eshenbaugh 2007
All Rights Reserved

For Every Person and Unhealed Relationship

 

 

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“For every person in your past with whom you feel unhealed but unable to go back and resolve, there is someone standing before you offering you the opportunity to practice the healing you believe you missed.” — Alan Cohen


Your Authentic Self

 

“To thine own self be true…”

 

Most of us associate this quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78-82:

Polonius:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

Laertes:
Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

“To thine own self be true” is Polonius’s last piece of advice to his son Laertes; Polonius has in mind something much more Elizabethan than the New Age self-knowledge that the phrase now suggests. To me, what I get from this quote is that unless we can be true to ourselves first, we cannot be true to others.

My path of personal growth has led me recently to wonder, what exactly is one’s “authentic self”? How do we get there? From this exploration, I have summarized what I have learned and am eager to share it with you.

Definitions:

Authentic: Genuine; literally self-authored or endorsed.

Self: Your physical and mental being with all its human and unique characteristics.

Authentic Self: The true you; aligned and congruent self-image, stature, values, beliefs, goals, behavior, word, and public image.

Your Authentic Self and Truth

How many of us have a hard time being true to ourselves?  Those of us that gave up so much of our Self just so that we could be in the life of another did so at the cost of losing who we are in the process. By allowing someone else to define who we are caused us to lose our ability to discover and grow inwardly.  We no longer are able to discern a truth from a lie.  For many of us, we have accepted lies for so long, that finding out what is truth takes time.

Truth is a word that brings out negative reactions to many of us. Accepting truth about ourselves is difficult, especially to those of us who have been abused.  But truth does set one free if we will allow it to; it is a crucial part of healing.  It gives us the freedom to be who we are.  We are able to come to terms with our weakness (without judgment or condemnation) and appreciate our strength.  Truth gives strength; it naturally builds healthy boundaries.

Truth is open; it is honest even at the risk of being vulnerable again.  Truth fears no reaction. Truth is light and brings forth life.  When we walk in truth, we walk in light and when we walk in light we live a healthy life.

Truth is also love.  The greatest act of love towards another is living a life that is truthful.  For those of us who find it difficult to love ourselves, we will find it will come more easily when we are truthful about who we are.  If we walk in truth, we walk in perfect love, and if we walk in perfect love, then we do not walk in fear because perfect love cast out fear.  Because we have been honest with ourselves, we are able to love ourselves with all of our imperfections, knowing that we are a work in “progress” and therefore need not have others approval.

“And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”

The second part of this verse is a natural occurrence if we hold true to the first part of the verse.  So, when in doubt about our motives of not being truthful with someone….look inside, are we being less than truthful to ourselves?

Just what makes up an “authentic person”?  It is someone who:

Has great listening skills: everyone, regardless of who they are, wants to be acknowledged, appreciated and loved. When you are engaged in a conversation with someone, are you truly focusing 100% of your attention on what that person is saying? Or is your brain formulating something to say at the next available opportunity?  Are your eyes constantly roaming the room, wondering who else just walked in? An authentic person’s attention is razor-sharp, making the other person feel like the most important person in the world.

Treats others fairly: When carrying out your role, whether it be a mother, business executive, pilot, waitress, teacher or coach, to name a few, you are always dealing with other people. The biggest secret is how you treat them. Do you treat others with respect or are you condescending, especially if they screwed up?

Has integrity: Everyone wants something. But authentic people are conscious of the operative watchword: integrity. They will do the ethical thing even if it means a loss of personal benefits for themselves.

Has the ability to communicate: Business leaders who conscientiously communicate in the open, especially when there is a lot of uncertainty hovering over the future of their employees, end up earning tremendous amount of trust. Rather than hiding behind the cloak of their boardrooms, they step up to the plate and keep people informed as much as possible. Authentic people make themselves valuable because they care enough to keep others in the loop by communicating.

Has the willingness to show transparency: I’ve done a lot of public speaking in my life. Public speakers who aren’t afraid to stand up on stage and speak from the heart, showing their childlike enthusiasm and not presenting themselves as flawless packages, often win the hearts of their audiences.

Why? Because it makes them real. Authentic speakers go into a speaking engagement with the attitude of “I am grateful all these people are spending time with me and I will give them a reason to laugh, cry and otherwise enjoy themselves without worrying how I look.”

Inauthentic speakers will say, “Well, there’s a bunch of jerks out there, I’ll just get in there, get it over and fool them senselessly with my appearance of great success.” People who are willing to be transparent win the love and respect of others.

Food for thought: Authentic people make more friends in two weeks by becoming interested in other people than in 2 months by trying to get other people interested in them!

Some experts on authenticity assert that if an individual is not living authentically in their lives, then they lose meaning and can fall into chronic anxiety, boredom and despair. People might pursue “quick fixes” to avoid the responsibility of living authentically with quick fixes such as anesthetizing themselves with alcohol or drugs or living in fantasies.

Becoming your Authentic Self

To become your authentic self, begin by knowing yourself. Understand human nature, what you can change and what you cannot, your own personality traits, learned behaviors, your values, beliefs, needs, goals, and motives. Consider the choices, events and people who may have “molded” you. Begin to know what guides you throughout life. Know your true strengths. Apply your true strengths to authentic goals. Gain the confidence to be humble. Begin to integrate and align your values, beliefs and actions.

We must face the fears that block our inner truths from coming out, especially the fear of rejection. Even when we feel strong enough to communicate the truth, we don’t always have clarity about what is true for us.  But being authentic doesn’t mean being perfect.  It just means doing our best to be real.  Sometimes that means exposing our warts and imperfections, but there lays the beauty of authenticity.

Coming into your Authentic Self

Don Miguel Ruiz shares centuries of Toltec wisdom in his book The Four Agreements. To apply this wisdom, choose to create these profound agreements with yourself:

Be impeccable with your word. Carefully look at what you tell yourself, what you tell others, and when you decide to speak. Use your word consistently to express and strengthen your values. Don’t use or overlook factual errors, fallacies or distortions during communications. Express yourself authentically. Earn trust.

Do what you say.

Don’t take anything personally. It’s not all about you. Reject the fallacy of personalization.

Rely confidently on your own well-founded self-concept; it is the only evaluation of your worth that matters.

Challenge and balance your first-person point-of-view.

Don’t make assumptions. Suspend judgment. Readily acknowledge what you don’t know and have the courage to ask questions. Carefully look at the evidence. Don’t attribute intent to others. Retain a healthy skepticism as you avoid cynicism. Develop, refine, and constantly apply your own well-founded theory of knowledge.

Always do your best. Do all you can while you recognize you can’t do it all. All you can do is all you can do. You are good enough. Apply your time and effort toward your well-chosen and enduring goals.

These agreements are essential elements of authentic expression and earning trust.

References

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, by Martin Seligman

Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation, by Edward L. Deci, Richard Flaste

I Am a Strange Loop, by Douglas Hofstadter

Authentic Happiness Website, by Martin Seligman, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center.http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx

Self Matters, by Phillip C. McGraw

Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, by Nathaniel Branden

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

Peaceful Warrior — Dan Millman learns to enjoy the journey in this docudrama.

Everybody Needs a Rock, by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall

Knowing Yourself, an Amazon.com Listmania List

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The Gifts of Peace, Simplicity and Reality this Holiday Season

“Celebration is a forgetting in order to remember. A forgetting of ego, of problems, of difficulties. A letting go.”        – Matthew Fox

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I find holidays to be a real test of my personal growth. I had always been glad I didn’t have to face the holidays alone. Christmas was always spent with my best friend Keith, my sister and her partner. Until this year I was never as acutely aware of how hard as it has to be especially hard for those that have no one.  This is a good time to take care of myself and it is best to be honest, rather than jolly.  For those of us that struggle during this time of year, we can refuse to lose ourselves in old behaviors. We can focus on finding other healthy people to be around.

This holiday season has already offered me the chance to reflect on the impact my mental health issues have had on my relationships and how much sharing these special times with others really means to me.  I am also able to appreciate what I already have, and to better recognize my blessings because I have known the pain and deprivation of my illness.

Peace, simplicity, and reality all are ours this holiday season.  By letting go of expectations, and by choosing an attitude of hope and gratitude, we will soon come to know that there is much more to celebrate than we anticipated.

I Am a Vessel Containing Life

vessel-of-life

“What is the deepest loss you have suffered?  If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine… And if the earthly no longer knows your name, whisper to the silent earth: I’m flowing.  To the flashing water say: I am.”  — Rilke

It’s not that I want the Universe to change everything about me or remake me to perfection. (OK, maybe I do). It’s not that I wish I was other than who I am, some days I even like who I am.  It’s more that I want to have faith in myself, a deep-down, constant faith that steadies me.  I want to have roots deep in the earth, not fragile roots of glass.

Strong and deep roots are made of self-esteem, hope, love, willingness, humility and faith.  My longing to be grounded in life may take the form of wishing I was not afflicted by defects of character, but that’s a cover-up for the deeper things I truly want.

Working on one’s self by undertaking an effort toward personal growth reorganizes one’s personalities, indeed one’s very soul, around new, spiritual principles.  We stay, to some degree, dysfunctional or defective and always will be, yet that doesn’t prevent us from possessing faith in ourselves and the courage to keep growing.

We are all vessels containing life.  We are vessels that have been shattered and mended, and will endure.

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.

 

The Heavy Burden of a Life Full of Lies

One deceit needs many others, and so the whole house is built in the air and must soon come crashing down.  – Baltasar Graclan

I have recently made a new acquaintance and as I’ve begun what should be an enjoyable process of getting to know one another, I have discovered this person lies – a lot.  It’s like the entire fabric of his personality is woven with lies; lies about simple things that don’t even matter; lies that I can see could get an innocent believer into a tremendous amount of trouble if believed and acted on.  Experiencing this kind of dishonesty in my life now has caused me to reflect on my history with dishonest behavior and what the plan I have to keep myself in check each and every day.

Through my long history of lying, I know firsthand of the way lying drives us into secrecy. At first, came the “little lies” – to my partner at the time, about missing an appointment or coming home late; my time away difficult to cover up or explain.  Then came more lies to cover the lie, and then the lies to try to escape from the ugly web of lies that entangled me within my deceit. Soon, I couldn’t even look my loved one in the eye, I couldn’t risk the truth – that I had been out fucking around on him, and so I lied again and again. Sadly, the pathetic day came when I grew comfortable in my sick, isolated world of fantasy and deception. All along, those I was bullshitting knew I was lying.

My life became a house of cards; a pack of lies.  I couldn’t make an honest, open move for fear of bringing the shambles tumbling down around my ears.  Most often, I wasn’t the only one getting hurt by my behavior; my partners, family, friends and even business colleagues suffered horribly too.

I am well into my process of changing all that, but it takes time. Each and every day I need to take inventory and be fearless and honest with myself.  I have learned that each time I am honest, the lies lose their power, and finally the truth comes through. My life actually feels so much less heavy; I grew so tired of the lies I had spun around everyone in my life.  What I have gained through my openness is breakthrough into honesty and truth.


Our First Priority Must Be Our Individual Recovery

agony1_edited

“Our first priority must be our individual recovery; only when we have succeeded in improving our self-esteem will we be able to be in a relationship truly by choice and not our of dependency.”  – Jennifer and Burt Schneider

Sex is not glue. It doesn’t keep people with us. We’ve often misunderstood sexuality and intimacy when we were active in our addictive process, because our addiction distorted our experiences.

Finding the way to real intimacy with ourselves, friends, a significant other, or our family is difficult. But we know that real intimacy is a connection that is natural.

It takes self-esteem to know that someone loves us for ourselves and wants to be with us just because we are who we are. There’s no way we can control our relationships, especially a relationship intimate enough to be sexual. We just have to let go, and trust. That’s true freedom.

 I am always a sexual being, whether I choose to express my sexuality or not. The energy and goodness of my sexuality are my unique gifts from God.

Who is it? Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?

 

“No legacy is so rich as honesty.” — Shakespeare

Only recently, have I begun the long, slow process of reconnecting with family and friends whom I abandoned when I chose a life of addiction and lies.  Are they running toward me with outstretched arms, embracing this new and improved me?  No.  I didn’t expect them to either.

You see, I spent much of my life living a lie.  I was split into two people, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and one of the two could never speak out, tell the truth or own up. Mr. Hyde gradually took over until everything was fraud, deception and betrayal.  And finally, I came to see my life in ruins.

So began my path toward sobriety, clean living and personal growth.  This meant Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – the two sides of me, had to find a way to work together.  I knew I had to win the trust and confidence of both fellows before one tore the other to pieces.

There is one way in: honesty.  I came to know that Mr. Hyde works in the darkness of deceit and opens up to the light that steams in when I speak openly and honestly.  And this light endures: honesty doesn’t only give momentary insight; it leaves a legacy that lasts a lifetime.