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To Change OurselvesI’m

“What we love we shall grow to resemble.”  — Bernard of Clairvaux

There comes a day when we realize that looking for external solutions to our problems just won’t work.  How vain has been the time and energy spent looking for the perfect mate or partner, the perfect job, the perfect life. So instead, we start to search for internal solutions; we begin to change ourselves.

To change ourselves is a different process from controlling ourselves, which cannot be done.  But when we start to give up the control, the rigidity, the perfectionism, the self-will, we begin to change.  This change seems like a miracle because it is!  It’s an incredible gift from the Universe, who loves us beyond our imagining.  The more we change our focus from the external to the internal, the more we’re able to accept ourselves.  We become humble with each small choice to accept ourselves as we are.  We become whole as we let that choice be enough for today.

Are you living within yourself or outside of yourself today?  To keep the focus within requires self-acceptance.


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Fed Up With Perfectionism?

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“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.


Procrastination

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“Without discipline, there’s no life at all.” –Katharine Hepburn

I have deadlines in my life that I must meet. Don’t we all? There are bills to pay, appointments to make, responsibilities at work or home, kids, pets, school and all the innumerable small markers that push life forward.

When I realize that I’m procrastinating I need to be committed to not shaming myself. Procrastination does not indicate failure. How realistic would it be if we looked forward to doing unpleasant things? It’s human to avoid what we’d rather not be doing.

I find that as I free myself from the burden of perfectionism, I’m free to better accept my responsibilities. Meeting deadlines as well as we can, one at a time, has a pay off in serenity and manageability of life. When we’re crisis ridden, we’re forced to live by other individual’s demands, rather than our own choices.

So, in the face of procrastination, forgive yourself, laugh at yourself, live fully in the present and keep going. After all, tomorrow can be better than yesterday.

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A Rose Smells Better than a Cabbage

Cabbage

I know that I like many, am justly proud of my ideals as I attempt to live by them in my daily life. Ideals give us hope and help us dream of better worlds. But ideals can easily turn into doctrines and become rigid. They can cause us to shun diversity so that we make false assumptions. The humble cabbage may not fill our idea of beauty, but it can be transformed into say, an excellent soup! 

Many of us along our paths of personal growth are perfectionists who have been brought up to believe in nothing other than the ideal. When we fall away from perfection, we plunge from the heights of idealism to the depths of misery and self-abuse.

We can do better by being less “perfectionistic”. When we can show and accept our real strengths and defects we get a whole new perspective on ourselves and a true sense of balance. We learn to be flexible and to appreciate the diversity of life (even the humble cabbage).

Even if I don’t especially like cabbage soup, I can recognize that all things may be good to those who love life and keep their eyes wide open.

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I Am a Vessel Containing Life

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“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.