Monthly Archives: March 2015

Who’s Life Are You Living?

My husband and I have been living with a situation for the past 6 months that has us feeling powerless. While I am not going to speak for him here, we do partner on this issue, which at least helps each of us to feel less alone.

As for myself, I have always been an independent, pro-active person.  When I begin to feel stuck in some way, I allow myself to feel the pressure, anxiety, sadness for a while (my rule of thumb is to keep it to 24 hours if possible) because it’s important to face our reality.  Then I get into “fix it mode”.  My mind turns to “what can I do to move forward?”

This is where the Serenity Prayer can really be helpful to remind me that I need to do what I can, accept what I can’t change, and learn to be at peace with where I am, knowing there’s a lesson for me there – whether I see it yet or not.

When I was studying psychology, I learned the term “locus of control”.  Those of us with an internal locus of control take personal responsibility for our attitudes, actions and outcomes.  We know that as adults, we have to be accountable for ourselves and our behavior.  Those with an external locus of control basically feel others and environmental factors control their lives.  They believe they have few, if any choices, and can fall into the “victim” trap.

Years ago, it became apparent to me that, even though there are a variety of issues clients present, much of the time it comes down to one.  People tend to live their lives for others. To please parents, bosses or spouses (which usually starts as pleasing parents & is just transferred to whoever is wielding power in their lives currently).  This stems from that external locus of control; the belief that something or someone outside of myself is in control, encouraging the victim mindset. The scary part is that it can continue to the point where a person takes little to no responsibility for anything that happens in their life, leading to the blame game.

We are all victimized at some points in our lives.  But whether we remain a victim, is up to each of us.

There are various ways to be a victim: operating from being stuck in the past, being stuck in family or institutional values without questioning whether they fit us; being intimidated or bullied by others or even by organizations.  It all stems from a mindset of weakness.

Weakness comes from doing and saying what others expect of us, or doing what makes others feel good.  Strength is operating from integrity and truth (our own truth).

Many of us are stuck in values that have been forced on us by family or other institutions (the work place, the medical system, the educational system, bureaucracies such as government organizations, religions, etc).  We can even be victims of our own thoughts.  We are the product of the choices we make in our lives.  When we’re stuck, we ask “Why me?” instead of “What’s the lesson for me here?”

Some don’t make the choice to avoid remaining the victim.  They allow themselves to be manipulated by others, family, bosses, friends . . . Being a victim can become a habit  – it develops from a belief that we have to fit in.  Some don’t even recognize there might be a different choice.  But we can choose to teach others how to interact with us by the behavior and attitudes we accept.

We came to this life on purpose.  Living an empowered, healthy emotional life is in important part of life on earth.  Allowing the victim role to take us over can undermine our strength and our ability to live out that purpose.

We each have to take responsibility for every situation in which we find ourselves. Even when others put us into these situations, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we often are responsible for being in a place (physically or emotionally) where we are at risk of being taken advantage of at that moment.  Therein lies one of the lessons.

Sometimes there aren’t a lot of choices.  There are times we are victimized that we could not have avoided. Please do not misinterpret this blog to mean that others who sometimes harm us are not responsible for their actions.  However, there is always at least one option, other than remaining the victim.  That is to eventually be able to look at it differently; to accept the situation for what it is, and (once we have done what we can) to allow things to play out as they will.  As humans, most of us can’t see into the future.  But if we approach what seems like an unbearable circumstance from a place of acceptance and love, things often fall into place in a much smoother, more positive way.

We didn’t come to this life to live it for anyone else.  We came to learn our own lessons, through our own choices and our own consequences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Make Ourselves Complete

The phrase “human being” often gets lost on us.  Most of us are “human doings” – so wrapped up in accomplishing tasks or our To Do List.   Or we are obsessed with what situation or people might be in our future that will finally bring us happiness.  In this case, we are “human becomings”.  We believe we need to strive to become or that something or someone outside of us will make us more worth-while and lovable.  We’re caught in our heads – always trying to figure out what will make “it” happen for us.   We are SO obsessed with what we are meant to be that we totally miss out on what we are – beautiful, vibrant spiritual beings.

Below, Eckhart Tolle explains his perception of what I just described:

It’s almost a joke, how humans live – how they look for something where it can never be found. How they look for themselves – the completion of their sense of self. . .in the future – in some next moment.  And how compulsively they are driven to seek the next moment . . . how compulsively they ignore and even actively resist this moment.  (This moment is) the door that is always open.  Not realizing that future has no reality except as a thought in our heads.

One of the most wonderful discoveries I’ve made in my spiritual studies is that we are complete – we are perfect just the way we are.  We aren’t worth any more if we accomplished something we deem as extremely important today than we would be if we sat around and did nothing all day!  We are loved and adored just the same regardless!  (For a listmaker like me, that took some digesting, but now that I get it, I revel in it!)

The lesson in this for me is that it’s more important to stop obsessing about my list of To Do’s and to spend this moment with those I care about.  I’ll never get these moments back, but I can get the other stuff done eventually – or maybe it doesn’t HAVE to get done at all!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going out to blow bubbles with my granddaughter!  :)

Never let a problem to be solved, become more important than a person to be loved.

What I Said Never Changed Anybody; What They Understood Did

This weekend I’ve been at a 2-day Workshop, learning new tools to help my clients.  So, since I don’t have the time or energy to write a blog, I’m sharing one of my favorite meditation readings:

How often have we given our all to change somebody else? How frantically have we tried to force a loved one to see the light? How hopelessly have we watched a destructive pattern – perhaps a pattern we know well from personal experience – bring terrible pain to someone who is dear to us?

All of us have.

We would do anything to save the people we love. In our desperation, we imagine that if we say just the right words in just the right way, our loved ones will understand.

If change happens, we think our efforts have succeeded.

If change doesn’t happen, we think our efforts have failed. But neither is true. Even our best efforts don’t have the power to change someone else. Nor do we have that responsibility. People are only persuaded by what they understand. And they, as we, can understand a deeper truth only when it is their time to grow toward deeper understanding. Not before.

Today, I will focus on changing myself and entrust those I love to a Higher Power who loves them even more than I do.

-Earnie Larsen and Carol Larsen Hegarty

I Am Never Upset for the Reason I Think

For years I’ve talked about our need to take personal responsibility for our lives, and to not blame others or our environment for how we feel or behave.  Reality is not always what we can see, smell or touch. We create our own environment by how we look at the world around us.

Below are some excerpts from a chapter in a little book published in the 70s, titled LOVE IS LETTING GO OF FEAR by Gerald G. Jampolsky, MD. I hear a lot about the fear people are feeling  these days – from clients, friends and others I just know from social media. Regardless of when they were written, the message of these excerpts are very appropriate now:

Most of us have a belief system based on experiences from the past and on perceptions from the physical senses. . . . Because our physical senses appear to relay information from the outside world to our brain, we may believe that our state of mind is controlled entirely by the feedback we receive. This belief contributes to a sense of ourselves as separate entities who are largely isolated and feel alone in an uncaring and fragmented world. This can leave us with the impression that the world we see causes us to feel upset, depressed, anxious and fearful. Such a belief system presumes that the outside world is the cause and we are the effect.

What would happen if we believed that what we see is determined by the thoughts in our mind? . . . that our thoughts are the cause and what we see is the effect. It would then make no sense to blame the world or those in it for the miseries and pain we experience. . .it would be possible then to consider perception as “a mirror and not a fact.”
It may be helpful to question our need to attempt to control the external world. We can, instead, consistently control our inner world by choosing what thoughts we want to have. . . Peace of mind begins with our own thoughts and extends outward.

We all have the power to direct our minds to replace the feelings of being upset, depressed and fearful with the feeling of inner peace. I am tempted to believe that I am upset because of what other people do or because of circumstances and events which seem beyond my control. . . When I recognize that I always have the choice between being fearful or experiencing Love by extending Love to others I need no longer be upset for any reason.

(The author goes on to give a personal example, where he explains that he had had chronic back pain for years, which greatly restricted his activities).

I thought I was upset because of the pain and the distress caused by it. Then one day there seemed to be a small voice inside which said that, even though I had an organic back syndrome, I was causing my own pain. It became clear to me that my back condition became worse when I was under emotional stress, particularly when I was fearful and holding a grievance against someone I was not upset for the reason I thought. As I learned to let go of my grievances through the practice of forgiveness, my pain disappeard. I now have no limitations on my activities. I thought I had been upset because of back pain. I found however, I was upset because of unhealed personal relationships. I had let myself believe that the body controls the mind, rather the realizing that the mind controls the body.

It is from our peace of mind (cause) that a peaceful perception of the world arises (effect).

I hope you are creating a peaceful Easter holiday.

I Don’t Have Much Time!

I’m one of those people who tends to enjoy having a lot on my plate. I’ve always been “high energy”, and have hundreds of potential projects swimming around in my head that I want to explore. I believe we’re only in this life for a short time, and I don’t want to waste a minute of it!

However, even those of us who welcome a little stress can get overloaded at times. This past couple of weeks was one of those times for me. On top of a busy practice, I had undertaken a big project to transfer EVERYTHING over to a new computer program, preparing taxes for the accountant, sending documents to a mortgage broker for a possible refinance of our home, and then we had some things thrown at us for a legal issue we’re involved in, which required lots of specific responses, each taking time and research. And of course there were deadlines for all of these.

I know people who hear the word “deadline”, and appear to process that word as a suggestion for when they might start working on it. Not me. When I’m given a deadline, I pressure myself to get it done BEFORE the deadline, just in case something happens to interfere with finishing the project. I’ve always had a sense of urgency, and I kid myself into thinking that if I get it done now, then I can sit and relax.  (Problem is, that when “then” comes, something else has to be done “urgently.”

Most days, I have a routine that helps me keep balance in my life – workout, meditation, making fresh juice and smoothies and then I’m ready for my work day. But during these crunch times, I’m like a race horse heading for the finish line. I have blinders on, and nothing else is important until I get where I’m going! If I’m not careful, I can tell myself I don’t have time for those things that remind me what’s really important, and all balance flies out the window.

About half way through this one though, my body began to remind me that I have to slow down. I’m not as young as I used to be, and I have an auto immune issue that tends to not like it when I don’t rest occasionally. So, as I begrudgingly sat down to take a break one evening, I looked around the room and saw some of my granddaughter’s toys sitting in the corner. It reminded me that when she was living with us, I was much more conscious of taking time out to enjoy life.

A couple of years ago (when she was living with us), I posted a blog about how children are like paparazzi because they “take your picture mentally when you don’t look good, and then show it to you in their behavior.” That particular post was about how I overheard my granddaughter playing with her dolls and repeating things I knew I had said.

She was really good at making me look at myself! I remember one time when my husband and I had both been sick and were sitting on the couch at the end of a long work day – and at the end of our energy!  But Jess was having none of that. She was in the middle of the living room and she wanted me to play with her doll house. Then she tried to get me to help her take care of her baby dolls, and finally she wanted me to be “the Beast” (of Beauty and the Beast) and to dance with her.  Each time I put her off, telling her I just needed to rest for a while.  She also tried to engage Papa with each of these activities, also to no avail.

Suddenly she yelled, “Guys, I don’t have much time!” (Another classic statement I used on those mornings [most mornings] when she would get sidetracked at the top of the stairs as we were on our way out the door, hoping to get to school or out to the bus in time for Grandma to get to the office).

That night, my husband and I looked at each other, laughed and both got up to dance with her. Now that we don’t have her here with us, I would give anything to have to make that choice: Continue to work? Or stop and dance with Belle?  No Question!

Enjoy each moment of life as it presents itself.  We never know when that same opportunity will disappear, and then that To Do list will mean nothing!

ACCEPT THE FACE THAT YOU’LL NEVER GET IT ALL DONE, AND BEGIN TO LIVE MORE FULLY IN THE ONLY MOMENT YOU HAVE – NOW!