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9/30/12

Saying "No" Without Guilt


“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.”
Albert Einstein


Does the thought of saying “No” fill you with anxiety? That to turn down a request sets you up for guilty feelings? Do you think a “Yes” equates inclusion, importance, security, - love?

I remember distinctly learning this lesson many years ago. It has served me well ever since.

A friend in financial straits asked me to buy her stereo. Wanting to help, I obligated myself to the purchase. I failed to realize I was hurting me by obligating myself to financial stress.

I checked and double checked income verses outflow. I rationalized that although it would be difficult to pay, the melodious music would make it all worthwhile.

Reality dawned that the pain of having a huge chunk taken out of my next several paydays outweighed the pleasure of surround sound. In comparison, the stress of turning down a friend request was minimal

The decision was the hardest part.

Once the decision was made the weight lifted instantly. I could continue to live within my income. I had a new found appreciation for my radio. I could still listen to sweet music without the added expense of buying records. I felt so relieved. So non-guilty.

I said my “mea culpa” and recanted my agreement to purchase. We remained friends.

Through self-evaluation, my level of thinking had elevated to solving the problem. And a wonderful new pattern of living was set into motion. Namely:

· Life is about making choices: “Yes”; “No”; and owning up to misspeaks
· The freedom of saying “No” overrides and releases guilt
· Be judicious in making commitments; think it through first
· It is always need vs. need
· Do not be influenced by assumed obligation

A simple “No” or “No, thank you” is the most effective way to begin. It is complete, all-inclusive and leaves no room for argument.

Stress is living outside your boundaries. Rather than be suckered in with “I should” thinking, replace it with, “I could”. This small shift gives you time to evaluate before making a decision. Give yourself a little wiggle room with, “Let me check my calendar and get back with you”.

Feel good about saying “No” to things that tax your time, finances, emotional stability, commitments, family responsibilities or your over-all well being.

9/23/12

Addressing Anger Issues


Encounters with others is always need vs. need that can result in anger producing situations. The primary need in addressing anger is to be responsive rather than reactive. Respond to the need rather than react to the imposition (demand, offensive behavior, rotten personality).

Be proactive by investing time each morning to set yourself up for a great day. Personally, if I do not invest meditation time in the morning I am much less capable of being the person I want to be for the rest of the day.

There is an endless supply of all that is necessary to become whole. Take five minutes and pray it forward. Five minutes in the morning spent in meditation is enough to guarantee that God will be in charge of your thoughts throughout the day, to convince or to commend but never to condemn. Serious meditation in the morning gives you a different nervous system for the entire day; a nervous system that exchanges and transforms alchemy.

Anger is not necessarily situational. The situation triggers a stuck emotion and goes directly to the ego where the false sense of self takes over. Anger emerges at inappropriate times when issues have not previously been addressed and settled. Wayne Dyer defines ego as “Edging God Out”. To the ego, pain is a peak experience. Emotions are powerful; powerfully destructive when ego driven.

What you are angry about is really something you want to cry over. Or something you want to be protected from (something that scares you). Anger manifests when ones nervous system does not have an area for lower emotions to be transformed into higher emotions. Just as the lungs inhale carbon dioxide and exhales carbon monoxide, so too the heart can be prepared to be an exchange system from acting out in anger to assertively setting appropriate boundaries.

Light dispels darkness. Truth weakens the shadow side. Recognize what takes you to anger, fear or cynicism. Look behind that. Look for: “What am I really scared of?” “What is behind my sadness? “What is the issue behind my self-doubting?”

Failure to take darkness to the light is a failure to survive. Taking the darkness to the light is a very spiritual journey. When light dispels the darkness you are in a compassionate position to “be angry and sin not”. Light strengthens the immune system. You can get angry enough not to take it anymore and to stand up for self (and others) in a meek yet powerfully loving way.

"Be angry and sin not. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath,
neither give place to the devil." Ephesians 4:26-17

“The devil is in the detail.” The proverb above seems to suggest that you have twenty-four hours to settle it. Otherwise the devil gets involved and the anger simmers and thickens and gets hotter and hotter. Settling is multi-faceted. We’ll look at that in future articles.

9/16/12

Developing Contentment


“He is the richest who is content with the least.” Socrates

Contentment is the art of being satisfied with what you have. Make a radical commitment of gratitude and thankfulness for what you already have. Anything that appreciates (or is appreciated) goes up in value.

Step up to the challenge of getting debt free and living within your means. Test and see that buying less and paying cash for incidentals of life will help get back the true meaning of living.

Challenge your spending habits. On a scale of 1-10, will you use it? How often will you use it? It is of value to you? Can you afford it? Budgeting focuses on lack and attracts spending. Focus on savings; see the challenge of getting a bargain. Let the savings feeling supersede the spending feeling.

Use wisdom in planning and in spending. Be frugal; shop for bargains and sales. Time is currency. Are you willing to trade time with your family – which you can never get back – for time spend to get money to buy stuff.

Anything worth anything takes discipline. Most Americans put spending ahead of savings yet saving is what builds security. Spending patterns account for your future. Living within your income = happiness. Living outside your income = misery.

Develop a healthy respect for “Just $1.00”. Depending on your income tax bracket, you have to earn more than $1.00 to replace the $1.00. Fifteen percent bracket repays $1.41; 28% = $1.73; $31% = $1.82; 36% = $2.01; $39% = $2.16. When you spend, you are spending more than $1.00. When you save, you are saving more than $1.00.

Stop creating new debt. Credit cards cost you money. Even if you pay them off every month you are tricked into buying more than if you paid cash or check and actually saw it come out of the account. There is no such thing as a free lunch, i.e. earn cash back, airline tickets, vehicle, etc. Credit card users spend 212% more with plastic than with cash; it gives a false sense of having more money than you do. Opportunity costs. Do not be suckered into the “monthly payment” trap.

Number one cause of financial failure: THE INABILITY TO DELAY GRATIFICATION
Number one means of failure to delay gratification: CREDIT CARDS

Use your natural creativity. Remember, necessity is the mother of invention. Get control of your spending (and greed) and see how elimination promotes fulfillment.

I'd love to hear your insights. 



9/12/12

The Meaning of Forgiveness




Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

We often struggle with the idea of forgiving someone because the meaning of forgiveness is misunderstood. Forgiveness does not involve condoning the offense. Forgiving is a critical element in moving past the hurt so the transgression does not hold power over one’s life.

Forgiveness does not mean that the offender’s slate is wiped clean with no need of justice. It does mean that the dispensing of justice is out of your hands; that you are not the prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. It is to give reckoning over to a higher power (administrative and spiritual).

To forgive does not mean forgetting. The hurt may be so deep it is emotionally and psychologically impossible to forget. An offense may be so egregious that even the thought of forgetting is equally offensive. No, not to forget, but to stop dwelling on, to quit rehashing the event and re-feeling the emotions; to stop nursing, rehearsing and cursing past wounds. It is to choose to put an end to the misuse of valuable time and fragile energy on unresolved issues; issues that are out of your hands.

To forgive is to choose to speak about the breach only to bring resolve or to receive wise counsel. It is to stop keeping the offense alive and growing alive by using it as a weapon. To do so keeps the wound open and engenders estrangement. Perhaps, in time, it is to look at the problem together for healing and growth; to build a bridge of understanding.

Forgiveness does not mean that trust is automatically restored. Trust is fragile and once broken takes work for restoration. Forgiveness lays the groundwork to give another change (within reason). After all, who has not made a promise and failed to follow through. Trusting takes a healthy dose of skeptical believing in self as well as in others. Rebuilding of trust involves talking about the infraction, giving and receiving forgiveness and making plans to prevent it from happening again. When someone repeatedly breaks trust you need to trust what that behavior is showing you.

Forgiveness is a calm, quiet decision to release you from self-destructive bitterness. It equips you to release a deceptive right to wrong someone for having hurt you; to rise above the unhealthy need for power of being right or getting even.

Forgiveness is an internal job spawned by a heavy heart that longs to be lighter. Forgiveness is a personal decision that can be given whether asked for or not. To forgive involves only one person - you; restoration requires two or more. Forgiveness means you recognize your own worth and value regardless of what another has done to you or said about you.

It takes courage to be an overcomer. Forgiveness is a profoundly deep spiritual experience. To forgive does not mean that what was done to you was okay, it does means you have been angry long enough. You are not letting the other person off the hook, you are setting self free.

Please let me hear from you. 

9/2/12

Refusal to Forgive



“Now you have to decide if you want a life of bitterness, or to be set free.”
Jeanne Marie Laskas

To forgive is an emotional decision. Contrary to some line of thought, forgiving does not mean forgetting. The offense may so deep it is emotionally and psychologically impossible to forget. An offense may be so egregious that even the thought of forgetting is equally offensive.

Yet, to hold on to the bitterness and resentment harms you physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and relationally. Refusal to forgive is to hold on to the grudge with a magically idea that you will thus be protected from future hurts.

Refusal to forgive is hidden behind hate and mistrust; wrapped in an ugly package of justification and rationalization. It sets you up for anger, hurt, resentment and bitterness that festers and eventually spews over into all relationships, not just the one(s) you refuse to forgive. Choosing to forgive is banishing an unwelcomed “renter” from your psyche and mind chatter.

Refusal to forgive effects major harm to your mental-health through preoccupation with disturbing thoughts that leads to depressing. It is a self-sentence to loneliness, distrust and misery. Physically the body produces stress hormones thus weakening the immune system and increasing susceptibility to viruses and disease.

One’s spiritual life is also harmed as a result of the refusal to forgive. C. S. Lewis said that the wrongs of life seems to prove that God is not good. Of course that is a lie.

Here are some thoughts in choosing to forgive:

1. Make a list of the hurts in your life. This is not to dwell on them, but to acknowledge so you can choose to release. Things you did or did not do as well as things that were done to you. Beliefs or teachings you acted on that you now regret. Include slights, injustices, labels, judgments and rejections. Write the experience in detail, saying what you wish you would have said or done at the time – good or bad.
2. Realize that people act out of their own hurts and pain. Regardless how you have been treated, know that you are a person of infinite worth and value with dignity and principles.
3. Revisit the pain through eyes of compassion for yourself and allow God to re-parent you and to comfort you.
4. Do the hard work of honestly looking at ways you may have been a part of the problem or exacerbated it. Value your feelings and insights. If appropriate, take steps to correct violated principles; to seek and/or to give forgiveness.
5. You may find it helpful to share your findings with a supportive person whom you trust implicitly, one who will be receptive and non-judgmental and not try to fix things for you or give advice.
6. Choose to give yourself the gift of forgiveness. Embrace peace. Smile. Laugh. Reach out again in love. Develop an attitude of ongoing forgiveness by choosing to not be offended.

Forgiveness does not eliminate past pain, it allows you to enjoy the present and build for the future. Choosing to forgive is not to tackle the impossibility of forgetting, but to forgo dwelling on past wounds. It is to be free.

Please leave your comments. Thanks.