Sunday, November 20, 2016

Blaming and Complaining

Blaming and complaining - the story of my life for the first part of my adulthood.  If I was talking that's what I was doing.  If I was thinking, that's what I was doing.  When I was driving alone in the car, I told myself my sad stories.  If I wrote a poem, it was a whine.  I spent a lot of time on the phone with certain friends who either liked to blame and complain or who were willing to listen to me.

Blaming and complaining gave me a kind of high.  Adrenaline surged through me as I tried to make my life better by doing what I thought would work.  After awhile though, I would start to feel depressed and tired.  So I'd sleep, wake up, and do it all over again the next day.

I had plenty to complain about too.  I've never run across anybody that I've told my sad stories to who didn't agree that I had had bad treatment by life and the people in my life.  So sad.  So true.

On the other hand, my blaming and complaining never changed anything. 

When I'd had enough pain and finally asked for help from somebody who was immune from being sucked into my whining, I experienced a continuous series of revelations.  I'm still having revelations.  The first few were pretty tough to take, but the woman I had asked for help was someone I trusted to know what she was talking about.  I could look into her eyes and see it.  She was pointing out all the options I had that I didn't know about, and that was all she was doing.  At first, though, I felt as if she was saying everything was my fault.

I resisted taking the actions she was suggesting because it felt like admitting everything was my fault.  But just like everything else, I finally had suffered enough to try something she suggested.  (She used to say sadly, "I guess you haven't hurt enough yet to be willing to change.")  When I tried it, it was a simple action but it was me taking responsibility for myself.  And it worked!  I had some kind of spiritual awakening.  Until that moment I had firmly believed that the only solution to someone else's bad behavior was for them to change--preferably along with a groveling apology.

I wish I could say that from that day forward, I stopped blaming and complaining.  But that's not what happened.  I had to learn over and over again to wrestle with my mental habit of looking outside myself for solutions to the problems that I thought were coming from outside myself.  Turns out that both problems and their solutions were all inside me.  My perspective; my point of view were the source of them both.

Over time I've had other teachers.  One of them said that my blaming and complaining were just symptoms of my effort to not feel the grief of my losses.  I've come to believe this is true.  Little kids fight when they don't get their way.  Sometimes they show it on the outside.  Sometimes they hold it in.  But we all fight against not getting what we want.  For example, for sure what I wanted was for the people I loved to stay on the earth.  But some of them have left me here without them.  But the blaming and complaining about their loss, is certainly futile and never made me feel one bit better.

A better way, a more grown up way, is to be mindful of my losses.  To honor them in my heart by acknowledging the gifts they brought and feel the loss fully.  If I do that even for a little while, my grief eventually turns to gratitude and so do my urges to blame and complain.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Why I Want to be Mindful about my Intentions


 
Unconscious intentions are running through our heads all the time – for most of us we are predicting disasters, trying to read other people’s minds (and assuming they have bad intentions), worrying about the past and wondering how it’s going to negatively affect us today, etc., etc. etc.  Since these thoughts/intentions usually cause us to have negative emotions, we act negatively on the negative emotions, and create negative outcomes.

 If I get up in the morning assuming I’m not a good person and that bad things are going to happen to me today, bad things will probably happen – or at least I will believe bad things are happening – interpreting neutral events as bad.  On the other hand if I “set an intention” - make the effort to consciously decide who I want to be and how I want to act - there’s a very good chance I will have positive outcomes.

Setting healthy, positive intentions:

1.       Get clear about something you want and write it down.

2.       Share it with someone who will encourage you to take the action to make it happen.

3.       Do something today to demonstrate your commitment to taking the action.

Examples:

1.        When you get out of bed, say, “Dear God, I intend to remember all day that I am in your loving care and to remember to be kind and loving to the people in the day.  Please help me remember.”

2.       When you get in the car, say, “Dear God, I intend to drive safely and remember that I am in your loving care.”

3.       Before you get with a friend or family member, say, “Dear God, I intend to spend quality time with ____________and I ask you to help me act in such a way as to make that happen.”

4.       Before you go to work, say, “Dear God, I intend to do my part today, to be kind and helpful to the people in my day, and I need your help to carry out my intention.”

5.       Before a business meeting, say, “Dear God, I intend to be calm and professional in this meeting and to care about other people’s concerns as well as my own.  I intend to be helpful to everyone involved as well as myself.   I need your help to carry out these intentions.”

 

Monitor your thoughts and words:  One of the major keys to changing your thoughts is to become aware of them!  Most of our thinking is unconscious but by checking in with ourselves, we can notice these thoughts and change them.  Noticing when we speak negatively (complaining, blaming, judging, predicting disaster, etc.), will let us know that we are speaking our thoughts.  Then we can change what we say.  I spend a good bit of time saying, “Oops!  I take that back.  What I really meant was….”  Watch out for words like “hate,” “terrible,” “never,”  “always,”  “but.”  Instead of complaining, get in touch with what you want and set your intention for that!  For example, instead of saying, “I hate the food at that place, “you could say, “I love the food at this place.  I’d like to go there.  Would that be okay with you?”

 

Take action:  Everyone has heard the saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  That’s a good example of why it’s necessary to take action as soon as we are totally clear about what intention we want to set.  One of the first actions after writing the intention down is to contact someone to share it with whom you can check in to share what happened.  By sharing your intention, you solidify your commitment.  I also like to wear a particular piece of jewelry to remind myself throughout my day of the actions I intend to take.  Every intention needs reminders to help me stay focused on it.  Otherwise my mind wanders off in its usual directions that are either negative or have nothing to do with what I intended.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

How to Prepare to Vote Spiritually

Every year I try to decide how to vote without being consumed by the news of the latest attacks on one candidate or another.

Every year I wonder how our country has survived such scandal and cruelty in our election process.

Every year I want to be a tiny bit of sanity and kindness in the process.

Last year I was sick when the election came around, so for the first time in my life I didn't vote even though there were candidates I supported.  I know about early voting so this year I have choices about when to vote so surely I'll feel well enough to vote one of those days.  It's only a little over a week away so I'm preparing by studying the State Questions, praying and researching articles about spiritual preparation.  I found an article by Rev. Frederick Schmidt that helped me.  Here's my summary:

       * Don't vote from fear and/or anger.  Explore the causes of those feelings.  Think about solutions.              Find candidates that support those ideas or solutions.

       * Remember that character assassination doesn't help assess character.

       * Remember that after the election we all have to live together.  That's democracy.  Look for                     candidates that seem to be capable of that.

      *Voting requires us to be realistic about what our leaders can actually accomplish.  Look for                    candidates that are realistic.

      *Voting requires that we look beyond our own needs and the needs of the people we agree with                and vote for candidates that seem likely to serve ALL the people.

     *Look for candidates that look into the well-being of future citizens.

    *Pray for humility, wisdom, and perspective.  Sit in quiet humility and self examine so that our                 love of God and others drives our decisions.

This article was extremely helpful to me.  Maybe it will be to you too.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Benefits of Mentoring Others.

I've been missing my blogs for awhile now.  I read other people's and love them and miss writing mine.  So...here it is again.

I've had the honor for several years now of being asked to mentor a few people in recovery.  I, of course, hope they benefit, but for sure I benefit more.  Every time I suggest that someone practice a new behavior or thought pattern I realize that I could benefit from doing the same thing.

I don't suggest things that I haven't done and benefitted from myself,  but most things I've tried were good for a lifetime and not just a one time deal to solve one problem.  So...sure enough going back to a spiritual practice I've forgotten about is almost a thrill.

In the past week or so, I've suggested writing out decisions made with the help of a Higher Power and a wise person, and then reading what we've written every day for as long as it takes to integrate the new idea into my soul. 

This practice reminds me of my meditation practice.  I really only stay in the peaceful silence for about four breaths before my mind wanders.  After awhile I remember what I'm doing and return to the silence.  It lasts about four breaths...The same thing happens with decisions.  My mind wanders.  The events of the day take my attention.  The next thing I know I'm back practicing old ideas and habits. 

Thanks to my own mentors, I have a whole lot more patience with myself than I used to.  The mantra needs to be "never, never, never, ever give up."

Sunday, May 10, 2015

I See Myself in Other People

I see myself in other people and sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it's not.

A long time ago I really thought that people were all like me so if they did stuff I didn't like I thought they were doing it on purpose to annoy or hurt me.  That's very immature and borderline crazy I later learned.

Now that part of recovery is to share with other people my experience with using the principles of the 12 steps in my life, I still identify with the people I share with.  I remember very well why and how I began to change how I thought and how I lived - I was hopelessly miserable and willing to do anything to get out of the emotional pain I was in.  I forget that I'm somewhat wimpy and can't really take a lot of pain.  I have a very low tolerance for it. 

So I think, "Why is this person so resistant to changing their point of view and doing things differently?"  I forget that although I imagine I would be living in hell in their circumstances, they might be doing okay and their complaining might just be their way of making conversation. 

I actually consider myself lucky to be able to identify with other people - that's the good part of seeing myself in others.  Maybe I'm also lucky that I have such a low tolerance for pain because I've been motivated to make a whole lot of changes that have led me to the beautiful life I have now. 

Nevertheless, I sometimes have outbursts of amazement and say stuff like, "Oh my God!  You must really be suffering!!  Here let me tell you all about the ways I got out of suffering like that."  Sometimes that's well received but a lot of times it's not.  People think I'm criticizing them, the poor babies. 

So, I just write posts like this and feel like I've done my duty to pass on what I've learned.

Here are a couple of things I've tried to give away recently that came back to bite me:  If someone is taking advantage of me, I have choices.  If I'm just complaining about it, I'm just as much at fault as the other person.  I'm really creating my own misery.  I have learned to do what I want, to give what I want, and if I stop wanting to give, I stop giving. 

Also, if the people in my life act ugly to me or even just in my presence, I can go somewhere else.  I have 100% of the control of how I'm treated by other people (which might partly explain why I've been married three times).

Of course, I have to pay attention to my own behavior too so that I don't take advantage of others and don't act ugly to them or in their presence.  I've also learned if I do that, I attract what I put out there.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Election Season - How to Promote Civility and Reason

I'm in the process of trying to decide how I want to handle the election season.  Last time I chose to just watch one television program that covered politics and then didn't vote for the first time in my life.  Where I live I'm so outnumbered that it doesn't really matter if I vote or not.  I was feeling physically not so good and just didn't bother.

This time I found myself dreading all the mud-slinging and hate and shaming on Facebook, email, and television.  Since I'm feeling a lot better physically I decided that to the best of my ability I will try to put my principles into election season.

For starters I'm going to change parties for the purpose of voting so that my vote does have impact in the primaries.  I'm going to look for candidates with the most civility and reason and truthfulness.  Maybe there won't be any with those characteristics but I'll find the ones that comes closest. 

I'm going to write letters to candidates asking them for clear positions on the things that matter to me and those that respond will get my vote even if I don't agree with them.

On social media I'm going to do my best to check out the truth of anything posted from either side of the fence and share what I find out. 

I'm going to promote solutions rather than point out problems.  I hope I can find candidates with solutions.  If not, I'm going to propose some to the candidates that seem to have their heads screwed on the straightest.

All this is going to take up some of my precious time.  However, I can't think of much that's more important at this stage of my life than being the best citizen I can be.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

My New Mantra

I've decided that it's no longer necessary for me to be shocked and amazed when I hear about somebody doing something clearly nuts.  So my new mantra is, "People:  We be crazy!"

How is it possible that I either read about or hear about many, many utterly dysfunctional things that we do every day?  I would think that the majority of us are behaving in a fairly sane way most of the time.  Maybe we are, and that doesn't make the news. 

On the other hand, what I think is crazy is not necessarily the same as what everyone thinks is crazy. 

I think it's crazy for example, that when we try desperately to do everything to get everyone's approval (and some of us do this our whole lives), it never, ever works.  You'd think we'd notice this, but apparently we don't.

You'd think that by now we would have noticed that getting more and more stuff absolutely never, ever makes us happy.  After we've shown off our new stuff for a little while, we're back to square one wanting some more stuff.  Even considering the constant brainwashing of advertising, it looks like we would start seeing through it and turn our attention some place else - some place that would actually make us happy.

There's a huge amount of very reliable information about what will create a healthy body.  But either we don't believe it or we don't want to believe it.  Fresh fruit and vegetables.  Good protein.  Exercise and decreased stress.  Instead we take a lot of pills and gripe.  We're living longer but we're sicker. 

There's also an enormous amount of reliable information about how to parent, but it seems to me that most people just assume they already know how to do it.  Then we just do what our parents did without even thinking about it.  Hmmmm.  If we really wanted to create a better world, we'd be trying to find out how to parent so that our kids could grow up to be somewhat less dysfunctional.  I'm going to guess that if you chose ten people at random and had them explain what they thought a parent should do, all of them would have a different idea and be adamant that everyone but them was wrong.

Basic personal finance seems to be a mystery to a lot of us.  Things like paying for necessities before other things, saving for emergencies, how to earn more and spend less...Not a lot of us following these basics.

Then there's personal relations...Many of us seem to think that being critical, complaining incessantly, making demands on others, and trying to get others to be like we think they should be are the ways to have enjoyable relationships.  And, of course, those ways of being with people are destructive and cause nothing but trouble.

Health, relationships with others, basic finance and knowledge of how to be peaceful seem to be critical to our well-being.  But we seem to be ignoring them.
What's up with that?  People:  we be crazy.


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