The Darker It Is, The Brighter Light Shines

It’s 5am and the sun won’t be rising for another couple of hours. I always like this time of day. It’s really quiet and I can see the city lights twinkle like stars across the lake. It’s that moment before everyone starts worrying about their days, honking at each other on their way to work and doing things they would rather not be doing. It’s that blank moment of possibility, like anything could happen today.

People dreaming in their beds of quitting their jobs and sleeping in, drinking cocoa all day and watching movies, maybe even following their dreams. It’s that moment before obligation sets in, before people put the millstone back on and walk another mile.

For several years that’s what I did, selling every scrap of my time and energy to get by. And I still remember that feeling of waking up at 4:45 am to work out, heading out for work before the sun rose, hands freezing wrapped around a coffee. Trying not to think about the fact that my next free day will not come for another three and a half weeks. And that bittersweet moment when the sun would rise just above the horizon. This beautiful golden, brilliant glow would catch my eye as I pulled into the parking lot at work. That sweet fleeting moment before the daily storm set in.

Sit down in front of piles of work, still exhausted from the day before. Take a deep breath and turn on some music. The soft notes floating through the air, a sip of coffee, the sun beginning to sparkle through a tree outside. Never has music sounded so sweet.

Have you ever had a really hard day and the moment someone showed you the remotest gesture of kindness wanted to burst into tears. Small gestures of kindness and love can be so potent when the world seems dark.

It’s easy to become blind to the beauty and opportunity that each day brings. The sun shining through the leaves, the gentle pat, pat of ducks feet against the pavement in the park. The way they kind of pull their head down into their bodies to keep warm when there is frost on the grass. That customer who is being kind of rude today, that maybe just lost someone they really cared about. That person or animal that you come across that, if shown even the slightest bit of kindness, might lend them the strength to keep going, to believe that there is something good in the world worth living for.

There is opportunity every day to make a significant difference in the world. It may be just choosing to act with the smallest gestures of kindness towards somebody sometime, whether it’s somebody else or whether it’s you. It could be taking a moment to watch the sun rise, remembering what inspires you, appreciating the strength that has carried you through when things got tough.

Flowers grow up through tiny cracks in the concrete. Life finding a way to see the sky even amidst the most challenging of circumstances.

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To Sabotage Or To Not Sabotage Your Goals?

Anybody feel like sabotaging their New Year’s Resolutions? I’ll give you some compelling reasons (my brains cooks up excuses really easily).

1. It’s too hard.
2. Why do I put so much pressure on myself?
3. Live a little.
4. But it’s a special occasion.
5. I’m bored, wouldn’t it be fun to…?
6. I’m really not THAT bad.
7. The dryer’s too hot, that’s why all my pants are shrinking…
8. I can’t do this, I’m just not disciplined enough.
9. I’ll start again when the timing is better.
10. I’m so deprived.
11. Just give up.
12. Just a little bit.
13. I like being comfortable.
14. This totally sucks, I would be so much happier if I was (doing what I set out to stop doing, or not doing what I set out to do).

Do any of these sound familiar? Well I was really struggling with my own New Year’s resolution this year and these were the thoughts going through my head. You know those moments when you want to quit with every fiber of your being? Well here is a list I compiled of why NOT to quit when it’s something you really want or why to pick back up where you started and keep going.

1. Here I quote myself prior to the onset of my efforts “That’s it. I’m really going to do it this time”.
2. “This time I’m really going to finish”.
3. Life’s too short not to go after what I really want. Be the best person I can be.
4. That which is difficult makes me stronger.
5. I don’t need it, I want it.
6. If I only live once, how do I want the story of my life to go?
7. This builds discipline.
8. I’ve never regretted saying no to what was bad for me.
9. Grow up and make decisions for the right reasons (I know this sounds harsh, but it helped me to quit feeling sorry for myself).
10. Big discipline, big results.
11. One day at a time.
12. I believe in myself.
13. I trust myself.
14. I love myself.

Ultimately what determines the outcome of a person’s life? Small decisions, one at a time, each and every day. I can’t decide for my tomorrow self what I will do, but I can decide what the me of today will decide. I can’t decide for my yesterday self, because my yesterday self no longer exists. But today I choose to be strong.

One thing that reading those lists can really display is how powerful words are. The things we tell ourselves (whether or not they are true) determine our actions throughout everyday life. For those of you who are interested in using hypnosis to stick with their goals, I have two specific recommendations 1. Stop Sabotaging Yourself, and 2. Total Motivation And Willpower.

Happy 2013!!!

Anna

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Distorted Thinking

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite teaching topics, which is called “Distorted Thinking” though I must give credit to Aaron Beck (who developed the theory behind cognitive distortions) and David Burns who further defined these common distortions.

Cognitive therapy basically says that thoughts are the origin of our feelings, action impulses and ultimately our behavior. In other words, it is not what happens to us that determines our experience, it is our interpretation of what happened that causes our feelings and ultimately our response.

Your thoughts and beliefs determine just about everything about your life and your experience living-from how you dress, to where you live, how you communicate, what kinds of relationships you attract, and how happy you are. When Yoda said “Be mindful of your thoughts” to the Jedi Masters in Star Wars, he was not mincing his words.

When you master your thoughts and beliefs, you will see extraordinary changes in yourself and ultimately your life. I think that the first step going about taking charge of your thinking is recognizing what those subtle thought distortions are and how they are toying with your sense of reality.

Here are some very common tricky thought distortions;

1. Black and White Thinking: It’s basically the fallacy that it is all this or all that (no in between). I am either all good or all bad. They are either the good guys or the bad guys. I must be totally perfect or I am a total failure. It’s all or nothing.

Here’s an example;
A person was raised by parents who were critical or had high ideals. They never really felt like they measured up. They may have said to themselves “If I’m not perfect, I’m no good”. So for many years they try and try to do everything right and so they can finally reach the ever elusive ideal. But as time goes by, many perfectionists realize that the summit of perfection is always a little bit higher, a little bit better, a little bit more. And because they feel that they need to be perfect or else they are no good, they fall into despair (often depression).

Someone who has this belief that they are either all good or all bad, may turn to scapegoating. One might see scapegoating as a coping mechanism against a deep-seeded fear of being rejected or being bad. On a societal level, one could argue that black and white thinking is at the root of war, racism, and the urge to be judgmental.

A more balanced way of thinking is to recognize that life comes in all shades. We all come from a variety of experiences and backgrounds, part personality, part chance. And because we are highly complex, we can’t help but all be in the middle somewhere trying to make our way up the mountain.

2. Catastrophizing: Lying in bed at 1 am thinking about all of the awful things that could (however remotely) happen and how AWFUL that would be.
“What if…(insert catastrophe here).”
“And then if (said catastrophe) happened, then (another catastrophe) would happen, and then (an even worse catastrophe) would probably happen and that would be the end of me”.

This is a good way to lose sleep and give yourself anxiety attacks. As I said before, thoughts create emotions. Fear-provoking thoughts create fearful feelings. Often this type of thinking comes from early experiences that made the catastrophic thinker feel unsafe. It can be seen as a coping mechanism-a way to feel in control or prepared.

One way that I have found that works well to get rid of fear-provoking thoughts (and their resulting feelings) is to shift my attention to loving thoughts. Wishing good things for people I love, wishing good things for people who have slighted me and the world in general. Focus on happy memories and cheerful moments.

3. Overgeneralization: “He cheated on me, therefore, all men are bastards”. Basically this distorted thinking style takes one incident and makes a broad sweeping conclusion. The survival aspect of your brain (or as eastern philosophies would call your ego) is constantly concerned with avoiding harm, whether it’s harm to your body, your things, your reputation, or your self-image. Often, overgeneralization is the mind/ego’s way of trying to protect you by eliminating anything remotely related to what may have harmed you in the past.

So if you find yourself thinking in terms of “always”, “never”, or “all” after having a negative experience, try to see if you can narrow down your conclusion to something that won’t narrow your opportunities for happiness in the future. Instead of joining a nunnery and swearing off men, perhaps you can just be a little bit pickier next time.

4. Mind Reading: Just by the way she is looking at you, you know she doesn’t like you. He says you look nice, but you know he is thinking you have put on a few pounds. If he really loved you, he would already know what you wanted him to do. Mind reading is just that. It is assuming that you know what someone else’s motivations or thoughts are before bothering to ask.

Does he (or she) know what you want without you telling him? Don’t count on it!!
Can you read other people’s minds? I doubt it!!

5. Personalization: It’s all about you!!!
Whatever happens, whatever someone says, it’s all because of something YOU said or did. If things went wrong, no matter how remote your part, it’s all YOUR fault.

This form of thought distortion is believing that whatever happens around you is a direct reflection or result of something that you did or said or didn’t do or say. What an awful responsibility that would be wouldn’t it? One could say that this is also a self-protective coping mechanism, giving the thinker the illusion that they have more control than they do over events that occur around them.

“If I would have just (done such and such a thing)…then (the event to be avoided) would have never happened. It’s all my fault”.
“She divorced her husband? Oh no, probably because I wasn’t there when she called that one Saturday to talk her through their problems.”

Imagine a world filled with people, each person the center of their own little universe. To an extent, we all think we are at the center of everything, at least we are to ourselves right? But the truth is, there are many reasons why other people do the things that they do, or why things happen the way that they happen…things that have nothing to do with us. Humbling perhaps, but freeing all the same.

6. Fallacy of Fairness:
This is the belief that everything in life should be fair, at least what we see as fair. A person who practices this form of distorted thinking may go about judging all sorts of situations to determine whether it is fair or unfair, perhaps becoming very upset when something is deemed unjust.

True, the list of things that seem unfair about the world has no end, but taking the time to reflect upon all the things that shouldn’t be that are, or the things that should be that aren’t tends to accomplish little more than generate angry and resentful feelings. To be blunt, regardless of how the world “should” be, it is what it is and the sooner you can accept that, the happier you’ll be.

7. Emotional Reasoning: “I feel rejected, therefore I am being rejected”.
Emotional reasoning is turning feelings into facts. Perhaps you feel anxious while flying, so decide that you must be in immediate danger. Perhaps you feel insecure about the one you love, so you decide they must not love you anymore.

Feelings are feelings. They can come from intuition, sure, though intuition is more of a still, quiet knowing than a feeling. They can also come from thoughts, lack of sleep, poor eating, mood altering substances (or withdrawal from). They can come from past experiences, automatic thoughts, misunderstandings, and allergies. They can come from the phase of the moon, hormones, and illness.

8. Needing To Always Be Right
I think of Brainy Smurf when I think of this one, going to great lengths to prove that he is competent, smart, and right in everything that he says. Sometimes people believe that it is so important to be right, they will sooner burn bridges than admit defeat, fighting to the bitter end for their side, no matter what the cost.

Perhaps Brainy Smurf was a middle child, neglected unless he was helping Papa Smurf look up a spell or fix a problem and he came to believe that his only worth was in having all the right answers.

9. Filtering: Filtering out all of the positive and enhancing the negative.
What actually happened: “It was a sunny day, I had a nice cup of coffee and sat down to work. I got a nice email from my sister and began to write back when I spilled my coffee down my lap. I managed to clean it up, had a nice lunch with Brenda and had salad, saw a really funny video on Youtube during my break and got three compliments on my shoes. Unfortunately on the way home I was speeding 10 miles over and got a ticket.”

Filtered Version: “It was the worst day ever. I went to work (on a sunny day no less, and you know how few of those we get around here) and spilled coffee all over myself. I was like, totally covered. It took me 45 minutes just to get slightly out and I swear everyone was laughing at me behind my back. Then to make matters worse some &^*%()* cop pulls me over and gives me a massive ticket just for going a few over. I swear they live just to make me suffer.”

10. Shoulds, Musts, and Oughts:
A little like the fair/unfair fallacy, this fallacy relates to our preoccupation with what should, shouldn’t, must, must not and ought or ought not be.
“I should go to the gym” (guilt).
“He should have taken out the trash” (resentment).
“She shouldn’t have done that” (anger).
“I really ought to visit so-and-so even though they constantly criticize me” (guilt and resentment).

In my experience, the more focused on the shoulds and oughts a person is the more angry and guilty they tend to feel (and ironically less productive). The more the person can embrace and work with what is, the happier and more productive they will become. It doesn’t matter what they should or shouldn’t do, they will do what they will do. It doesn’t matter what you should or shouldn’t do, what matters is what you will or will not do.

11. The Blame Game: “It’s all your fault!!!…or is it all my fault?!”
You can go to either extreme here, either blaming everyone else for your actions (ie “Why did you make me angry so I had to break the chair?” or “Well if I never would have talked back to him, I wouldn’t have made him angry. It’s all my fault he broke the chair”).

It can feel a little self-satisfying to blame other people for what are partially your mistakes (believe me, I know). It’s not as fun to take the full blame for what is only partially your fault.

At any rate, most arguments and situations have multiple errors involved on multiple sides. The sooner they can all accept a partial amount of responsibility for the problem, the sooner everyone can start agreeing about something.

12. Fallacy of Change: Should they change to suit you? Does your happiness depend upon them becoming who you would like them to be or doing what you would like them to do?

The fallacy of change is the illusion that others should change to suit you, or that your happiness depends upon them taking a certain course of action.

Spouses tend to do this to each other quite regularly. So do parents to children.

I think the most important thing to remember here is that no one is responsible for your happiness but you. If you aren’t satisfied in any aspect of your life, it is your job to fix it (or fix the way you view it so that you can find peace). Stay and accept it, or go and find something that suits you better.

13. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: Sacrifice, self-denial, you gave it all away and then what were you left with? A bum deal, that’s what!!

Now I believe in good karma, but the universe works in mysterious ways-who knows how long it may take? I don’t think this one is saying you shouldn’t do nice things for other people. I do think it is saying.
a.) Don’t keep score when you give,
b.) Take good care of yourself in the meantime.

Thanks for reading.

Anna

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Nothing Doing

I am sitting on my couch nursing the flu looking out at the rain with a hot cup of tea. It’s quiet with the exception of the occasional sneeze from yours truly. I have quarantined myself from the world and here I sit trying to come up with something significant to say with nothing but sawdust and silly putty for brains. Pale face, pajamas at 2 pm, red under my nose.

The rain falls gently on the roof and everything looks sleepy outside. Nowhere to go, nothing to do. I wriggle my toes inside my slippers, have a sip of tea. Look out the window again, look up as if to inquire whether a deep thought has arrived yet…no, unfortunately not.

There is a certain happy peacefulness that I feel on days like today. Maybe it’s because I am actually supposed to be a lazy, good-for-nothing couch potato. Maybe it’s because I can’t think properly, if at all, like enforced meditation. Sneezing Zen. It’s days like today where;

1. I don’t care what I look like,
2. I don’t care about accomplishing anything,
3. I don’t care to think deeply or understand anything remotely complex,
4. All I care about is how soft my pillow and blanket is, and whether it’s worth the effort to put the kettle on again.

So here is the moral of the story: Sometimes if you are trying too hard and nothing seems to be working, the best thing to do is just throw up your hands and forget about it for a while. Enjoy the little things. The rest will sort itself out in it’s time.

In honor of this conclusion, I am off to watch the most cheesy low budget movie I can possibly find.

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Buying Self-Help Books For Other People: 8 Ways To Avoid Helping Unhelpfully

Growing up in my family, self-help books were passed around freely and it was all fine and good until those books would land unprovoked in my lap. All of a sudden self-doubt would creep in. I would think to myself “Do they think I don’t know this already?” or “Maybe they wish I was different”. Anyhow, I am not above all of this as I am sure I have handed out my fair share of unwarranted advice -much to the annoyance of others I might add-but my question today is where does a person draw the line before helpful becomes intrusive?

We are social creatures by nature, we thrive off of working together, helping each other and loving each other. But when does compassion and the natural desire to help cross over and become violating to others?

When does a friendly tip become unwarranted advice?

When does assistance become patronizing or disempowering?

Should others want what you want for them?

Should others value what you value?

What if they do not want help?

What if their goal IS to sabotage themselves?

The answer is not a simple one, as to respond in a healthy way is to walk a fine line between compassion and non-attachment. This means that before you go to the assistance of others, you must first look into why you are so keen to help them.

Does your self-esteem depend on rescuing others?

Are you assuming your way is the best way?

What would it mean ABOUT YOU if you failed to help them?

This question moves into the massive grey area of codependence, undefined boundaries, and the altered sense of self that results from dysfunctional family roles such as the victim, persecutor and rescuer (see the Karpman Triangle). If a person is raised in a codependent or dysfunctional family, often they have a difficult time distinguishing between true compassion and playing out the role of the rescuer.

In any case, here are some general guidelines to avoid helping unhelpfully.
1. If they are not asking for help, and you try to help anyway, they may think you see them as weak or incapable.
2. Other people are entitled to value what they value and want what they want, even if you wholeheartedly disagree.
3. The most helpful help is often just listening and accepting others -exactly- as they are.
4. Enabling may help get people out of trouble, but allowing them the opportunity to help themselves will empower them.
5. If others want your opinion or your help, wait till they ask.
6. Listen deeply to what they are saying and try to understand from their perspective, not yours.
7. Then there are those moments when people ask and it feels a bit wrong to give them what they want. There are some moments when giving others what they ask for will be disempowering to you or them or everyone involved. There is a lot to be said for waiting until your mind is clear and listening to that still small voice and trust that your intuition knows best. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
8. The most important person you are responsible to help is you. By being the healthiest, happiest person you can be, others naturally want to follow your example.

I am in no way saying that it is wrong to show compassion and lend a hand. The happiest people I know are always looking for ways to brighten the days of others. I think that the key is unconditionally accepting others without trying to change them. Loving them with an open hand.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any other tips, feel free to comment.

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Anywhere But Here

I am sitting, looking out at a beautiful turquoise ocean. It’s warm outside and the air is sifting through beautiful large palm trees. I have everything I could need and want…time, food, beautiful surroundings…and yet all I can think about is the chilly fall leaves back home already fallen to the ground. I miss the rain, the grey clouds, the ordinary little things.

My whole life I have wanted to see far off places, but it seems that the farther I go, the more I long for home. I think about people at work looking out at rainy skies dreaming of far off lands, thinking “How great would it be if only I were someplace else…anywhere but here?”

When I look outside I see all kinds of fun fun. Surfers, kite surfers, sunbathers and people drinking cocktails. Shows, parties, entertainment-but it all looks hollow somehow, like a movie with spectacular visual effects and an unfortunately dismal plot.

People all over the world are watching television right now, spending precious hours of their lives escaping into another place. Entertainment takes us anywhere but here. People all over the world right now are daydreaming about being somewhere else…somewhere more exciting, more spectacular, more appealing. And yet many people who make it big-perhaps they have won the lottery or became rich and famous-fall into despair when they get everything they wanted. Why is this I wonder?

Are we living our lives, I mean really living? Or are we simply addicted to dreaming? Addicted to abandoning the present moment for something bigger and better?

It makes me think of the saying “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”. I am one of those people who has spent a great deal of time chasing the grass on the other side of the fence in one way or another. And here I am living my dreams, realizing like Dorothy in the “Wizard Of Oz” that there is no place like home. The people that know me, the ordinary aspects of everyday life. And it would take an awful lot more than three clicks of my heels to get me there, but that’s missing the point entirely isn’t it?

In longing for home, I am sacrificing this moment, this experience.

Perhaps life is not about wishing and wanting for someplace or somebody-to be longing for anywhere but here. Perhaps if we are wishing and wanting to fill that empty place, it is because the emptiness is the space -here and now- in our lives that we have abandoned while daydreaming, trading the plot line of our lives for hollow entertainment.

But what would happen if people, including myself, began to wake from the illusion that splendor equals happiness and entertainment equals fulfillment? If we took our precious time and focused all that energy on building communities, creating, innovating, connecting with each other? I wonder if we could all begin to see a much more magnificent plot unfolding in the world. Instead of thinking “I wish I was anywhere but here”, we’d be saying “There’s no place like home”.

In shifting our focus not on what the world can offer us over to what we can offer the world, perhaps we can finally find the happiness, the fulfillment we have always been looking for.

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All Creatures Great And Small

I once had a blue fish named Sam. He was a cheery, happy little fellow and I took him everywhere with me. I’d go away for a week with his little “travel” tank under my arm. He was the last one I said goodnight to and the first one I said hello to in the morning.

He was a smart little fellow. Once I dropped his tank while cleaning it and it shattered to pieces. As I helplessly watched him flop around in broken glass I said “Stop moving Sam!” and he did. He laid quietly on a piece of broken glass until I picked him up and put him in another tank.

I think he liked to travel with me. He’d always get a little more spunky with a change of scenery now and then. He would get mad when I was gone too much and turn away from me when I went to feed him.

And years went by for Sam and I. Years of “Hello Sam!” Years watching him flip around and play.

And then he got sick, did little Sam. It was hard to watch him sit for days at the bottom of the tank or hiding away. I think I knew it was his time so I turned on some music and held his tank in my arms for the afternoon. For the first time in weeks, he danced around in his tank like he did when he was young. I thought maybe he would get better. But now I know he was saying goodbye.

I took him to the fish doctor the next day. Even sent him in to get surgery hoping to save the little guy. I’ll never forget when I got the call from the vet that he was too sick to keep going. I didn’t take it well. Shortly thereafter, I received a card in the mail “So sorry for your loss” signed by the entire vet’s office. I’m sitting here writing this with tears streaming down my face just thinking about it and it’s been over a year.

I know he was just a little fellow and I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking me a bit strange.

But he was a very important little fellow, at least to me.

And I think of all of the living beings in the world, all different shapes and sizes. Some very big and others very small. And I think of what a miracle life is in all of it’s forms, if we would only take a little time to notice. The ant working hard to help build for it’s fellow ants. The warmth of a baby calf. The wind blowing through feathers of a chicken. The squirrels that chase each other outside my window. The blue jay that likes to plant seeds in my potted plants. And all the people I see around me are somebody’s baby, maybe young, maybe all grown up.

Sam reminded me how precious life is, regardless of size, shape or degree of so-called importance. We are all precious, all of us, all creatures great and small.

P.S. Except for snakes. I don’t care for them at all 😉

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Me First

I come from a place where politeness runs abundantly and at times at a level of excess. Drivers will stop to anticipate whether or not you may or may not like to cross the road as you approach the sidewalk. People nod at the four way stops, trying to out”nice” the other drivers…”You go first”, “Oh, no, by all means, you go first”. And so the two cars inch forward, timidly, only to stop thinking maybe they are stepping on the other fellows toes. And it doesn’t stop there. There is always the lady who will hold up half a mile’s traffic to let everyone turn in in front of her (and everyone else who is waiting).

False smiles, idle and trite conversations that no one really wants to carry on, pleasantries and obligatory gifts.

Customer service and sales personnel who want to be your best friend the moment you enter the store. Feeling obligated to return that facade of glassy niceness. And it can all get sort of tiring, you know, dancing like a puppet on a string. “Sooooooo nice to meeeeet you. What a looooovely dress you are wearing today”, “Oh Thaaaaank you soooo much. You are sooooo sweet”.

So you can imagine my shock when I did a bit of traveling and found that there are a lot of places that are not like that. Having a walk sign at the crosswalk didn’t necessarily mean that the cars would stop. People waiting on me weren’t necessarily smiling or even polite. Apple cores and cigarettes flew onto the ground with no regrets. People yelled and honked at each other without restrain and I found myself heatedly arguing with a man dressed up as a Roman soldier. He had enthusiastically invited himself into a photo with me, and when I asked the price, he asked how much I had. He wanted not just the four Euros I had given him. He wanted ALL my money, every bill he craned his neck to see in my wallet. It made me think of that Yoko Ono song “…The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees, I want money, that’s what I want…in fact I want so much money…just give me money…” I felt like I had landed on a hostile alien planet.

Then I realized how much I can learn from this different way of life.

Who is better adjusted, the person who tries desperately to please and accommodate everyone or the person who directly and unapologetically declares what they want?

Who is better adjusted, the person who smiles and makes conversation while quietly thinking “Get me out of here” or the person who just keeps walking past the person they don’t really feel like talking to.

All I can say is I see a lot of people who are really nice, trying to be someone that they are not, beginning to resent people while burying that repressed anger of not getting their needs met with coffee, pastries and hours of reruns on television. I have to say, the people I saw in some of those countries may have appeared a bit more abrupt and direct, but they also seemed to have a genuine sense of connection with each other. (Of course I speak in generalizations)

I think that there is a balance and it looks something like this.

1. It is okay to have a “me first” attitude-to a certain extent of course. You are the only one responsible to look after yourself. And yes, you are also the one responsible for the consequences of your actions.
2. When you allow yourself to meet your own needs, you can begin to respect that others have a right to try to meet their own needs too.
3. The better you are at saying no to what you don’t want, the better you get at saying yes to what you do.
4. The more honest you are with other people, the easier it is to genuinely like them. Likewise, the more honest you are about yourself, the more they are likely to genuinely like you. And if they don’t, they can get lost for the right reasons.
5. You begin to do things for others because it feels good to you, not to elicit a response or to maintain a facade.

Cheers.

Anna

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Get The Ball

I know this dog named Boxin. Every time I go and see him, he gets really excited and soon he brings me this terribly ragged, filthy ball. As I go to throw it, I can see his rippling anticipation just barely contained. I can throw that same silly ball for two hours and he will tirelessly jump three feet in the air as he perfects his athletic ball-catching abilities.

But you see, I often have much more important things to do, like erasing the spam messages on my phone, speculating about my goals, analyzing politics, or justifying my point of view to someone for no particular reason. Wondering if these shoes go with these pants, or if my hair looks too fluffy today.

And there he is, patiently and yet enthusiastically waiting for me to throw the ball, the highlight of his day. At that point, there is this part of me that wonders “Am I really the smart one here?” Boxin naturally know how to enjoy himself, to get along without major disturbances. He knows how to love and be loyal. He knows how to be happy with very little.

He won’t be waiting until he gets this promotion or that car or have loads of money in the bank in order to be pleased and content with his life. He doesn’t stand in front of the mirror and analyze whether his fur ought to be a different color or whether he ought to suck in at his midsection. He isn’t trying to rescue the world. He would just like it very much if I would throw him the ball, and that is that.

I think if he had one thing to say, it would probably be along these lines “Let’s enjoy a little time together. Let’s enjoy being alive”.

Someday when I look back on my life, my greatest treasures will be the time I had with those I love, and how wonderful it was to experience being alive.

I like to tell myself that this is the message Boxin is trying to bring me, in the form of a ragged, filthy, torn ball.

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Posted in Personal Growth, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Bring Out Your Inner Heretic

There was a time when Galileo was accused of being a heretic for suggesting that the earth moved around the sun, when Joan of Arc was accused of being a witch, Martin Luthor King lost his life speaking the truth, and people like Jesus were crucified for going against the grain.
And the cult norms of society blinded society then, and they blind society today.
When unrelenting greed is deemed acceptable and being an unwed mother is not.
When violence is deemed acceptable and having a certain sexual orientation is not.
When self righteousness is acceptable and right and wrong is determined by how expensive your lawyer is.
When it is an insult to call someone a girl,
and a compliment to call someone a man.
When you are encouraged to sue the socks off someone just because you can…
And rewarded for selling people what they do not need and cannot afford…
There is hypocrisy in the world today, as there has been since the beginning of recorded history.

The collective consciousness of society moves and evolves through time, perhaps blinded with this idea that now we have it all figured out. And then there are the people who see things a little differently. The people who can see what other people do not see.
And these are the heretics, the brave souls who drive the collective consciousness forward.

Have you carried a stigma that society has placed upon you? Are you a heretic?

Imagine handing that stigma back to society. It belongs to modern society, not to you. Imagine drawing a line around yourself…this is where society ends and you begin. Ask yourself “What can I learn from society?”

Now ask yourself “What can society learn from me?”

The world needs free thinkers to help it to evolve, no matter how hard it pushes back.

In speaking your truth, you will likely meet resistance. There will be people who will feel threatened by what you have to say. Keep on saying it. In being true to who you are, there will be people who will be threatened by your courage…be who you are anyway.

Have faith in who you are. Have faith in what you have to say. You are the salt of the earth, the breath of fresh air, and the balancing force of the world.

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