“Life delights in life.” — William Blake
How do we connect with other people? Do we rely on conflict, suffering, manipulation, gossip or one-up-man ship? Do we create relationships that can be controlled safely and then call that “reality?”
Real connection requires two people, both wanting to be in the relationship, to approach each other as equals. A good relationship brings us happiness, growth and a satisfying feeling of closeness. We can be ourselves, without adjusting our beliefs or behavior to please the other person or to keep up the relationship. The moment we abandon our equality, we have a power struggle, not a relationship.
Previously, the only connections we made were between us and a hunger and an appetite that was never filled. Once we began our process of personal growth we began to enjoy the real connections with people; the true joy that comes with giving and receiving.
“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!
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“Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment.” -Napoleon
In the story, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, on her way down the yellow brick road helps the Scarecrow from being impaled on the pole he has been on, helps the Tin Woodman move again with a simple oil can and encourages them and the Cowardly Lion to journey with her and Toto to the Emerald City. The Scarecrow wants to get a brain, the Tin Woodman a heart, and the Cowardly Lion, courage. All are convinced by Dorothy that the Wizard can help them too. Together, they overcome obstacles on the way including narrow pieces of the yellow brick road, Kalidahs, a river, and the Deadly Poppies.
When each traveler meets with the Wizard of Emerald City, he appears each time as someone or something different. To Dorothy, the Wizard is a giant head; the Scarecrow sees a beautiful woman; the Tin Woodman sees a ravenous beast; the Cowardly Lion sees a ball of fire. The Wizard agrees to help each of them, but one of them must kill the Wicked Witch of the West. The Wizard provides the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion with a head full of bran, pins, and needles (“a lot of bran-new brains”), a silk heart stuffed with sawdust, and a potion of “courage.” Because of their faith in the Wizard’s power, these otherwise useless items offer a focus for their desires.
Courage never operates in a vacuüm; we can always try hard and see ourselves as courageous about something. We also need to believe that there will be some consequence to our acts of bravery. It seems we are all looking at the long-term for a deliverance for ourselves and others.
Love, too, needs a sense of future, time to develop and flower. It is only passion that lives for an instant and passion, like the red rose, doesn’t last out the full year.
So I believe, love and courage are similar and work together for our own good and the good of others. By working on ourselves through a form of personal growth and development we treasure love and courage as we find ourselves with greater wisdom and more abundance of peace with ourselves and others. I believe that this is one of the ways we have faith in the long-term and in things that endure. No one is suggesting we can change overnight, but with love and courage and the hope on which they depend, we can all work wonders! I believe in my courage to change day-by-day.
“We live each day with special gifts that are a part of our very being, and life is a process of discovering and developing these God-given gifts within each one of us.” – Jeanne Dixon
As I continue along my path of personal growth, I discover ways to share myself with other people. I feel the want to act on things I’ve learned and to apply them in my relationships. This way, I can pass on to others the awareness and knowledge I have been given.
This wonderful urge to take action should be followed, not resisted. A spiritual awakening is just that – an awakening of the spirit, which then seeks to be part of all life itself.
When we discover our talents, whatever they are, we will be true to them and look for opportunities to use them. The challenge of doing this lets such qualities as integrity, courage, self-discipline and compassion to rise to the surface, where they become part of our daily practice. The alignment of who we are on the outside with who we are on the inside is a priceless gift that is received as the result of hard work toward personal growth.
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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.
“Celebration is a forgetting in order to remember. A forgetting of ego, of problems, of difficulties. A letting go.” — Matthew Fox
Holidays can be a real test to one’s personal growth. That’s the case particularly for me. I struggle anyway on a day-to-day basis to stay emotionally and physically healthy. I can’t imagine those that must go it alone.
But I find this to be a good time to focus on taking good care of myself. I can reach out and invite my healthy friends, acquaintances and members of my “family of choice” to my home, keep up with phone calls, and try to be honest, rather than jolly. I can refuse to lose myself in my former unhealthy behaviors. I can find other healthy people to be with.
Perhaps holidays offer all of us the chance to reflect on the impact our former unhealthy ways have affected our relationships and how much sharing these special times with others means. We are also able to appreciate what we already have, to better recognize our blessings because we have known the pain and deprivation of our former, negative ways.
The path toward personal growth is my holiday season, offering to me peace, simplicity and most of all, reality. I can choose an attitude of hope and gratitude. In letting go of expectations, I find much more to celebrate than I could have anticipated. My affirmation for today is, “I have enough, I do enough, I am enough.”
“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.