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A Symbol of Hope ~ The Butterfly

A SYMBOL OF HOPE

A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam
And for a brief moment its glory and beauty
belong to our world
But then it flies again
And though we wish it could have stayed…
We feel lucky to have seen it.

— Author Unknown

Butterflies have always been thought of by me as a symbol of great hope. This photo, which was recently posted by a new Facebook friend of mine, reminded me of that fact. With butterflies now fresh in my mind, and eager to share the butterfly as a symbol for my readers, I am including this image because I feel it best reflects the unlimited potential that is available to all of us.

This image can serve for us all as a reminder of our unlimited potential through the love and support we can give to one another each day – to the best of our ability. Reconnecting with the butterfly is one step toward reclaiming happiness. I am setting out to free myself from depression and negative thinking. I will do all that is necessary. I will do what is healthy so that like the butterfly I can gracefully maneuver my way through the rest of my days.


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I Feel As Though I’ve Lost My Way In This World

 

“If you are alone, I’ll be your shadow. If you want to cry, I’ll be your shoulder. If you need to be happy, I’ll be your smile. But anytime you need a friend, I’ll just be me.”  — Source unknown.

 

My life seems so incredibly fucked up now.  Even I have grown tired of the constant, seemingly endless drama that I consistently seem to manifest about me.

I have shared openly and with honest and authentic admission that I have not always lived life as a man of integrity.  Lies, deceptions, illusions, delusions once filled my life.  No one really knew who I was back then.  The pain that I carry, the result of the shame, guilt and true remorse are difficult to still bear.  I make my own best attempts to forgive myself and live by the commitments I have made to a life of rigorous honesty.  I revel in my new, authentic life and the easy cadence it brings.

However there are some who I have hurt in the past that refuse to see me as the man I am today and not the fool I was before.  Rather than try to see my progress, I am forced to swallow the bile of their resentments and my born again guilt.  I reach out to them at times like this for their love and support.  How many times can I hit “rock bottom” and how much worse can it get?  The problems I face in my life now contribute to anxiety and that feeling of being “lost.”  I have people; friends or “family of choice” with one best friend Trish who is so calm, patient and willing to learn, that I truly know what unconditional love feels like. She very well could be that angel I’ve asked for!

When does it ever stop?  What do these “detractors” get from holding their resentments so dear?  When can I be seen as the man I am today, rather than the monster of my past?  How can family turn-off their love and sit idly by while I grow more and more lost, alone and afraid?  I have begged for their help.  Their refusal is like a nightmare; if they needed my help I wouldn’t think twice.  I would do what I could.  I still love them, even now, as they turn away.

I have worked so hard and tried to follow a path toward personal growth.  I’ve learned so much along the way, but now I feel so lost in my fears and find myself dwelling in these feelings of abandonment and betrayal.  These behaviors I know are preventing me from initiating my solution to my challenges.  I want to learn whatever it is I am supposed to from this lesson and move on.  I want a life filled with the love and joy of family and friends.

Please, send me an angel…

 


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Courage is a Lot Like Love

The Cowardly Lion with Dorothy

From the Wizard of Oz: The Cowardly Lion with Dorothy

“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.

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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


You Are Wonderful and I Love You

 

 

“Words can sting. Words can hurt.” – Mark Schmitz

“Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglect” — William Shakespeare

I’ll never make a feeling of true safety by seeing my self-image in terms of my character defects. To give my shortcomings such power is to make sure that I will never have enough faith or strength to continue forward; I am either condemned to live in the past, trying to change it, or to the future, trying to control it.

The only safety is in the present, affirming the positive qualities I have. Even if I’m in deep sorrow this moment, I can feel safe by appreciating that I can to grieve, which takes courage and passion for life. Appreciating my many good points is a way for me to counteract the fear that eats away at my security.

There are some ways I can affirm my self-worth. I can choose affirmations from my affirmation jar, ask others for positive support, list my good qualities and include my progress in my journal or blogs. I deserve to have the freedom that comes from feeling safe within me, not replaying the tapes that hold the hurtful words said in the past. Rather than saying to myself now – “You’re too skinny” or “You’re not attractive,” I can say “You’re wonderful and I love you.”


How to Get to Forgiveness

One is, as One is.


“One is as one is, and the love that can’t encompass both is a poor sort of love.”  — Marya Mannes

I have struggled to find the way to forgive myself and others.  Forgiving isn’t easy.  Writing this blog isn’t easy.  I am carrying so much resentment and hurt around with me.  In fact, when I’ve been deeply hurt or victimized by someone else, I may feel I can’t forgive. Yet, for my peace of mind and to let go, I may finally try.  It’s been suggested by a close friend that forgiveness is easier under certain conditions: a positive connection with the person we want to forgive, a deep relationship with the Universe, and lots of time.

Forgiveness is often preceded by grieving fully; we must first heal from the harm that was done to us. Through the honesty, power and wisdom gained through personal growth we are gently led through the process of forgiving ourselves and others. Many of us have also experienced the Universe’s unconditional forgiveness which gives us a model.  I acknowledge my responsibility for my actions, I let go of resentment, I grieve, and, finally, I forgive.

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Positivity Through the Happiness Habit

How About Making Today the First Day, of the Best Year of Your Life?

Positive Thinking

I have committed to blogging about my attempt to bring more “positivity” to my life.  I’m going to share my discoveries, realizations, new awareness, experimentation, success and failure as I attempt to bring a greater sense of positive thinking into my life. I’ve heard if from more than a handful of people now, that I tend to focus on the negative. My awareness has been raised and that’s not what I want in my life at all! So here’s my summary of what I learned today:

I found a quote by William Shakespeare, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. And I paired with this quote “The Happiness Habit”. The Happiness Habit is developed by simply practicing happy thinking. Make a mental list of happy thoughts and pass them through your mind several times every day.

If “un-happiness” thought should ever enter your mind, immediately stop, consciously eject it, and substitute a happiness thought. Every morning, before arising from bed, just stay in bed, lying in a relaxed state, and drop happy thoughts into your conscious mind. Let a series of pictures pass across your mind of each happy experience you expect to have during the day. Savor their joy. Such thoughts, I am told and I am now a believer will help cause events to turn out that way!

– Contributions from works by Norman Vincent Peale


The Terrible Beast and Me

 

 

“The terrible beast that no one may understand, came to my side, and put down his head in love.”     – Louise Rogan

 

There are times when it seems easier to give in to despair than to fight my way out of it.  I’m learning that the trick is to catch myself before I become so depressed that I’m incapable of acting.  For starters, I can ask, “What am I feeling? Am I angry, sad, resentful or feeling sorry for myself?”  There usually is real pain beneath my despair – pain that must be expressed so that I can let go of it.

I can also take good care of myself.  I can eat right, get some exercise, get out of the house more and seek kind and understanding people.  Talking through what’s bothering me and asking for what I need are good antidotes to despair.  Most of all, I can reach out for the consolation and strength of the Universe.

I may feel unworthy or hopeless and too tired to even care.  I may believe that nothing matters.  But things do matter.  I matter.  Life matters.  I don’t have to keep struggling with despair and depression alone.  I am grateful for this spark of hope within me that can never die.  Things will get better.

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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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Opinions, Feedback, Comments and Judgments

 

“Treat a work of art like a prince; let it speak to you first.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

There have been many times when I felt that I always had to have and offer an opinion about everything right away. After a movie or a concert, such as, I often wanted to step right in with my comments and judgments. I would just “shoot from the hip”, without thinking or being attentive to my feelings, or the feelings of others.

This can be a way of warding off the experience, enclosing it within certain words. I’m quite certain that all of us have feared that we might be caught off guard and compelled to change or expand our own ideas. We feared being too vulnerable!

Images, sounds, poems, and plays can cause us to open ourselves to the unfamiliar and the new, and if we are quiet and attentive, we can come to fresh insights and understandings. And so it is too, with people. If we are patient and willing to listen, we will always be learning and growing through contact with others.

The beauty and joy of life dwell within differences. I am learning to be open and attentive to what has not been part of my existence up to now, so that it may come to color and enhance my life.

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