Friday, February 29, 2008

If I Were A Guest In My Own House

I had another epiphany yesterday: I would never treat a guest in my house the way I sometimes treat myself.

Think about it. For most of us, if we have a guest in our house—even if we don’t like them very much or know them very well—how do we treat that person? What would we automatically do for them? What ways would we try to make their lives pleasant while they were our guest?

(Note: You could substitute the word friend for guest. For me, the word guest works better.)

What if I treated myself the way I’d treat a guest?

So this week is an experiment. I’m going to try—every time I remember to do so—to treat myself as if I were a guest in my own house.

How about you? How would you treat yourself differently if you were a guest in YOUR house?

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),

Monday, February 25, 2008

Changing How I See Myself

Sorry to be MIA for so long! It’s been a hectic. Good, for the most part but hectic.

And I’ve been looking at what changes I might want to make in my life. (Yes, I can’t help tinkering. As good as things are, I know they could be even better.)

One of the things I’ve been noticing is that I have tremendous empathy for others. Maybe it’s being a writer, but even when I’m in conflict with someone, I grasp their side of things and the ways in which they are hurting and I want to help. On the whole, I’m glad this is who I am.

The challenge, however, is that I rarely stop to ask myself what I want or to have empathy for my own fear or hurt.

Example: I can’t imagine being as impatient or verbally abusive with someone else who was learning to do something new or trying to do something that was difficult for them as I am with myself in those kinds of situations.

In any situation, I tend to focus on what I think I should have, do or be and rarely ask myself what I WANT.

Part of it, of course, is that I grew up in a family that said what I wanted didn’t matter. And part of it is that I grew up in a family with distorted ideas of what was right and wrong and I’ve spent most of my life wanting to make sure I became a far better person than that. And part of it, I suspect, is this cultural notion that we have to earn the right to be happy.

And yet....and yet I know that we become the best person we can be, discover the most creative solutions to problems, and are at our most resilient when we embrace joy in our lives.

I do that on a conscious level all the time. The challenge is to look at the unconscious times I treat myself as if the opposite were true. The challenge is to realize what I haven’t even noticed I’ve been doing to myself.

Which isn’t easy. It takes something external (usually) to get us to notice what we don’t notice. And of course our conditioning and natural impulse is to get angry that this external thing happened—missing the possible ways it’s a blessing in disguise.

My life is good. It’s getting better. I’m seeing new ways to do things, new ways to see myself. Sometimes that takes a lot of time and energy—as it has since my last post.

Here’s wishing for all of you ways to love yourselves more and bring more joy into your lives. Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs)))))))),

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Growing Pains

It’s not easy growing—no matter what age we may be.

The past couple of weeks have given me essentially nonstop opportunities to grow. I say that with a wry smile.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m grateful for those opportunities! It’s just...growing isn’t always easy, hence the title of this blog post—growing pains.

I found myself coming up against fears I had about myself and how I interact with others, fears about matters that are important to me, and questions about what direction I want to take in certain areas of my life. And it was a profound gift because as I so often say: It’s the assumptions (and fears) we don’t even know we have that trip us up the most.

One of the easier opportunities to grow came with an exercise in a workshop I was taking. We were asked by Gary Simmons to think of an experience that left us unhappy. (He suggested a “light” memory.) He asked us to think about what happened and how we felt about it. Then he had us ask ourselves a very profound question: What inner resource, if we had had it, would have made the experience something we would not feel bad about?

That’s an exercise that’s still resonating with me today. It’s deceptively simple and profoundly powerful.

(Mind you, me being me, I couldn’t resist commenting that at the same time we recognize what it would have meant if we had had that inner resource, it’s equally important to be able to say to ourselves that it is understandable that we did not have—or perhaps even could not possibly have had—that inner resource available at the time.)

I repeat: It’s deceptively simple and profoundly powerful. It’s going to take me time to fully internalize, grasp (grok if you will) this concept. But already I begin to feel the change in me EVEN THOUGH in some ways it’s not that different from things I’ve said to people in the past about life experiences.

The interesting thing about the past few weeks is that through all of it, the actual experiences were positive. Every difficulty arose out of my own fears, my own self-doubts, my own mistaken beliefs and assumptions.

That’s also a very powerful lesson to learn. Because now I can combine those two powerful lessons. In any challenging situation, I now stop and ask myself: How would I handle this if I wasn’t afraid and if I had complete faith in my own self-worth?

The answers are illuminating and I find myself handling things in ways that are different—and far more effective!—than I would have if I hadn’t asked myself that question.

Every experience gives us the opportunity to learn. Every experience gives us the opportunity to move forward in some way and make our lives better and happier than they were before.

Here’s hoping you are each having your own epiphanies and discovering the questions that are most powerful for YOU to ask yourselves.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


“I love you,
Not only for what you are
But for what I am
When I am with you.”

That’s how a poem by Roy Croft begins. And I love that poem because to me it has always represented the best of what love and good relationships can do for us.

When we are with the right person or group, we become better, healthier, kinder, and wiser than we would be alone. We see the best potential in each other—and help it to manifest. We encourage each other to do things that help us grow and are good—for us and for the world. We are a haven of safety for each other.

If we like who we are when we are with someone, that’s a good sign. If we come away ashamed or wishing we hadn’t said or done the things we did, that’s not such a good sign. Then it’s time to look at both the relationship AND the emotions and beliefs it generates in us.

If we didn’t like what happened because the other person encouraged us to do that which is in conflict with our deepest values then it’s time to a) run the other way and b) look at ourselves to see what within us would let us accept a relationship with someone like that.

If the other person acts in ways consistent with our highest values but we don’t like how we acted/reacted then it’s time to look within to see what fears were being triggered and what it tells us about our own sense of self-worth. This may or may not be a good person to continue to have in our lives.

The ideal is a person who acts in ways consistent with our highest values, who encourages us to do so as well, and who treats us with kindness and respect. These are the people to truly cherish for however long they choose to be part of our lives! Even if at some point they leave, they will have enriched our lives in ways we can never repay—except to hope that we were able to do the same for them for as long as we knew them.

Relationships don’t always last forever. Sometimes they end with love on both sides and sometimes they end badly. However they end, we can choose to remember what was good and be grateful for it. The challenge is to go forward trusting that others as wonderful as this person—or perhaps even better—will come into our lives again, though perhaps in a very different form.

I believe in love. I believe that even those of us hurt the most deeply have the capacity to love AND TO LEARN TO LOVE OURSELVES.

That’s the hard one, isn’t it—to love ourselves? Our culture seems to encourage us to believe that our self-worth comes from how others see us. The truth is that no one can love us enough if we don’t love ourselves first. No relationship will be enough if we don’t value who we are.

What if we all loved ourselves and KNEW we were worth loving? What if we all could easily tell anyone who asked what our strengths were and what we liked about ourselves? What if we could see that anything anyone said that was hurtful was a reflection only of the hurt or need within themselves—that even if we made mistakes we are not a mistake? What if we could know that we could be the very best we want to be—IF we find a way to love ourselves?

Each of us is worth loving. Each of us has the ability to choose how we will live our lives. Each of us deserves to surround ourselves with people we love not only for who they are but for who we are when we are with them.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs)))))),

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Quirky Meme

I’ve been tagged by both Jumping in Puddles and Rising Rainbow with a virus. It’s a meme that says I’m supposed to post 6 little known or secret or quirky things about myself and to link to the person who infected me (see above).

1) To get to sleep I sometimes have to keep telling myself: all is well, all is unfolding as it should

2) When I’m deep in writing a book, I NEED chocolate (dark) and coffee.

3) My arms are so long that even tall sizes don’t always fit—which is one reason I took up knitting and sewing.

4) When I’m nervous I talk very fast.

5) At times in my adult life I’ve: slept with stuffed animals and carried polished stones in my purse and I still often wear butterfly jewelry that to me signifies strength and hope and successful change.

6) Playing spider solitaire on the computer or do Suduko on paper often helps when I’m upset or stuck on how to handle a problem.

I know I’m supposed to tag 6 people but that’s outside my comfort zone so I’ll just invite everyone who wants to play—or just ask and I’ll “officially” tag you!

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Fear and Self-Sabotage

It’s been another busy week. Nothing quite as exciting as last week but a time when I’ve own reaction as I’ve dealt with things.

One of the things I found myself thinking about this week was fear—and what it costs us.

When I look back over my life, every act of self-sabotage happened because of fear. Even now, every time I’m afraid, I’m in danger of acting in ways that will create the circumstances of which I’m most afraid. (Example: If I’m afraid of going to the dentist, I may put it off until problems become serious and because I’m afraid, there will be more adrenaline in my system which will push out the Novocain faster so I am more likely to find the work painful.)(Example: If I’m afraid of being abandoned by someone, I’m likely to keep pressing for reassurance whereas if I can let go then I can just enjoy the relationship I have with that person and it’s more likely to work out in positive ways.)

The paradox is that the optimal strategy is to say to myself: Okay, I’m scared BUT AS AN EXPERIMENT I’m going to let go and trust that everything will all work out.

This isn’t how most of us were raised. This isn’t the strategy most of us developed to cope with abuse as a child. If I try to think too hard about it, I start wondering if I’m out of my freaking mind to think this could work. And yet....

And yet, by observation I know that it does work for me. I do have more time and energy for things I want to do. Things do tend to work out and I am far less likely to sabotage myself in any way. And even when the worst case scenario plays out, because I’m more relaxed I’m much more likely to think of things I wouldn’t if I was still scared.

It works, too, in dealing with friends and family members who tend to get caught up in their own personal dramas. (I used to get sucked in ALL the time!) Now, I step back, remind myself that the optimal strategy is to assume it will all work out and then I can be of most help because MY emotions aren’t caught up in the emotions. This means my brain is working more efficiently and I may be able to see clearly: a) options and (more importantly!) b) where my responsibility begins and ends. I can see that I don’t have to solve everyone’s problems and I can step back and let them solve their own—perhaps offering some suggestions but without any “investment” in whether the person uses my suggestions or not.

The good thing about this strategy is that I don’t have to put lots of time and energy into figuring out the “whys.” I don’t have to know why I’m afraid. I don’t have to know where that fear began. I don’t have to repress that fear. I can acknowledge it, honor it, and then let it go. I can keep moving forward with whatever I need to do.

Sometimes it’s good to just stop and observe how we act and react and consciously choose which strategies we want to keep and which we want to change. There’s power and comfort in knowing we have choices.

Wishing for all of you lots of empowering choices this week!

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),