“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” - Jesus
Or so he becomes. It behooves us to think about what we think (believe).
Psychiatrist Carl Jung is known as the “doctor of the soul”. Dr. Jung traveled worldwide living among and studying cultures, religions, arts, myths, legends, dreams and fairytales. His research led him to many psychological revelations such as the conscious and unconscious, the anima and animus and the human realities that connect us all - generations past, present and future.
Dr. Jung concluded that man is not complete without religion or myths. Mythology and religion support each other; it is our way of working out our understanding of God, the universe and people.
Dr. Jung’s sought to discard the “invisible pressure of being European.” What invisible pressure do we, individually and corporately, need to examine? How can we know truth? We believe what we believe until we believe something else.
How can we know truth? We believe what we believe until we believe something else. True seekers observe without preconceived ideas. As sincerely as possible, accept what is whether it makes sense or not. Respect different – even opposing – viewpoints. Search for hints of truth in what may appear contradictory. There is an element of truth in most lies and a component of falsehood in most truths.
Live in the question. How can something as passive as mediation effect change? Where do ideas come from? Mystics and writers of profound truths lived in isolation, what does that say about our modern busy lifestyles? Where does our dark side come from? How do we access the light? Prayer seems to work, but how? How does faith practices work for people who believe differently than me? Are dreams – nighttime as well as daydreams - really God speaking to me? Are my dreams trying to tell me things about myself that I am not yet ready to receive? How does a feminine divine fit in?
Live in the mystery. If the true King-of-kings and Lord-of-lords, the one before whom everyone bows and worships, has a secret name – as the book of Revelations states – how can anyone believe the name of his god is absolute?
Are we all connected? Can people be spiritual and not religious? Are the Tibetan prayer flags and the Christian prayer shawls cousins? What about a Buddhist Zen garden and a Christian prayer garden? How can we know truth? We believe what we believe until we believe something else.
Challenge your truth. Be willing to release whatever stifles growth or engenders prejudice and stereotyping. I examine my own unresolved bias for solid foundation. When measured, is my position plumb? Those times I come face-to-face with my prejudice – such as contempt toward an obese person even though my own double-digit dress size is not that much smaller – I hear my sweet then-seven-year-old-daughter saying to me, with absolutely no guile, “Yes, Mrs. Pot.”
Carl Jung says that people and life experiences are mirrors showing us to us. Give pause for open-minded contemplation whether you like or dislike what you see. Know what you know while being open to other glimmering facets of the multi-dimensional diamond of life.
Have you ever been guilty of agreeing when you did not really agree only to be caught up in a conundrum? Then, because the non-agreement was not a contract – it was just a front to avoid the unpleasantness - you went on your merry way doing whatever you chose? And it backfired on you? It damaged your credibility? It cast doubt on your ethics? It may have even done damage to the relationship? You were called to task for not acting on your pseudo-agreement? You find yourself stuck in excuses and rationalization and justification?
“Oh what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott
One may think that agreeing to appease makes things easier, but does it really? It may pacify for today, but what about tomorrow? Or next week? Or ten years down the road? Does mollifying place strain on the relationship? Is each non-truthful act another blow to the dividing wedge?
What will continue conciliating do for your health - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?
Stuck is when you keep moving and it’s time to be still. That rubbing movement causes friction that leads to provocation, the very thing your false agreement was trying to avoid.
In a moment of stillness, consider the hard truth that no one likes to be pacified. You do not like it. S/he does not like it. Although we absolutely cannot read another’s mind, yet there is something mystical about knowingly/unknowingly discerning what is truth or lie.
You perceive legitimacy/falsehood in others. They perceive legitimacy/falsehood in you.
The current moment is attached to all your future moments. Make them ring true.
Think with the mind and know with the heart. Be proactive by deciding in advance how you will response when the faithfulness of life and relationships presents this scenario again. Decide your truth beforehand. Not for a canned or condescending reply, but for comfort and flow.
Sometimes a person will “agree” with an aggressor as a way of stopping communication. Take a moment to dialogue with yourself to find your truth then verbalize it rather than deflect. If your agreement is not true, summons the courage to speak your truth in love. “I think I understand where you are coming and I do not agree.” “It is alright with me if you fill-in-the-blank and I choose not to be a part.” Note that a simple “and” instead of a “but” softens a descending comment.
See the value in the relationship. As you work to repair the damage, respect will bloom again.
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One meaning of control is “to have power over”. Regardless of our rank or position in life, the bottom line is: The only person over whom we have power of control is ourselves.
Regardless of our rank or position in life, no one can control you to make you do anything you do not wish to do. We can cajole, threaten, humiliate, reward, bribe, punish or instigate other creative measures to control another, but if the upper hand is gained, it is only because he chose to give in to our request/demand. If we are willing to accept the outcome, no one can make us do anything we do not wish to do.
As the defiant lad said, “I may be sitting down on the outside but I am standing up on the inside!” The action may have changed but not necessarily the attitude.
The lad was not controlled. The child chose to sit because to continue in his current action would bring pain. The child internally chose to externally control himself. The one issuing the mandate may mistakenly think he controlled the child.
And thus sets up the power struggle of the human condition.
When we push for control we make it about us. We overcome when we realize that the stressor is more about us than it is about him/her/them. That is not to discount that he is being a royal jerk! It is to become aware that the only person over whom we have control is me and, therefore, I do not have to respond in kind to his behavior, attitude or offense.
Responding in kind is to give back in equivalent to what has been received. Just because he has been rude, impatient and aggressive, does not mean that I get to be defensive, frustrated and antagonistic. The less we exercise personal control the more control we try to wield over others.
Conversely, the more internal personal control we exercise – the more we choose to have power over our thoughts, our actions and our emotions – the less controlling we will be of others.
Everything that happens to you is self-created. Whenever you're responding to any
situation, whether it's a sip of coffee, or a traffic jam, or a love note, or criticism
from a boss, or rainy weather, you're in fact responding to a signal that you
generated within yourself.” -- Deepak Chopra
Once you buy into being aware and put personal responses into practice, you become empowered internally that influences externally. Control of self – your thoughts, your actions and your emotions - is a high form of power/control. Trying to control another backfires into making them push back with equal or greater force (whether that force is aggressive or passive). When we give up controlling techniques we are in a greater position to influence the positive.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” Eleanor Roosevelt
At a potluck dinner a woman’s contribution was several gallons of unsweetened tea. A man in the line sarcastically asked, “What, did they not sell sweet tea?”
The woman took it personally and became offended. The comment was more about the man than it was about the woman. It showcased his selfishness of wanting things catered to his likes and his apparent laziness of adding sweetener. It was more about him until she intercepted it and made it about her.
Taking things personally is agreeing while disagreeing and becoming upset. It is a selfish response that assumes everything is about you. When you make it all about you, then you feel the need to defend yourself. Or go prove the other person wrong by trying to impose your way of seeing things onto them. This produces conflict. Even if it seems directed at you - “What did you do to your hair?” - maybe it is not about you. Maybe she is having a bad hair day and taking it out on you. Take yourself out of the middle with a neutral, “Sorry” or “Yea, I know.”
By choosing not to take the comment personally, you are in a position to honestly evaluate if it is truth or not. If the comment is untrue, choose to overlook it and pleasantly change the subject. If it is true you still have choices. On the positive, you see the offender as helping you grow; you acknowledge the wound and determine steps for self-improvement. On the negative note, you embrace the wound and add to your victim status. You view the offender as keeping you down.
A friend of mine has greatly improved his relationship with this family as well as his own well-being. How? He chooses to see their criticism as a misdirected way of showing love. After all, criticism is a disconnecting way of making a request.
Why be offended by truth? For example, suppose someone calls you fat. If you are not fat, you can more easily see how the offensive remark is more about the other person than about you. She is hurling attacks in a misdirected way of trying to make you look bad and her look good. If you are fat, why be offended by the truth? Did the statement really make you aware of something you did not already know?
Taking things personally is suffering for nothing. Evaluate: Did you take the comment personally because the statement hit a sore spot? Perhaps it highlighted a habit you are not disciplined enough yet to correct? Perhaps it was because of a bur in the relationship. If your best friend had comment about your hair, how would you have responded?
It really is all about you. In the unsweetened tea example, the man could have picked up a packet of sweetener and said nothing about only one option of tea. The woman could have nicely handed him a packet of sweetener and said nothing about the comment. Although we can choose not to take comments personally, a pleasant outcome to a negative situation is more about us than it is about them.
What do you want? Over the course of your life thus far, how many times have you been asked that question? What do you want for Christmas? What do you want for your birthday?
What do you want? What do you really want? What about those times you “want something” and go searching for food even though hunger is not the issue? Or find something to do when that doesn’t fit the yearning either?
Asking ourselves what we really want is probably the most important thing we can do for ourselves - whether it’s about those big life/visions/goals or in-the-moment stuff.
Have you ever wanted – and gotten – a new car thinking it would transport you to prestige, fun, dignity and self-worth? Only to be sorely disappointed once the glamour wore off? And the payments continued?
What we want is produced by our emotions. Emotions are the outcropping of the thoughts we think. Emotions and perception (the way you see things) feed on each other, either to rev you up, or to calm you down. It depends on what mind movie you are tuning in to. We assume our lives are shaped by events. Actually our lives are shaped by our perceptions and reaction to events, people and/or stuff.
In the midst of a heated discussion, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What do I want right now.”
More than likely the true answer is not, “I want to argue!” Odds are it’s more likely, “I want to be understood;” or, “I want to stop this harangue and I want to show up as the highest version of myself I’m committed to being!”
When you evaluate what you really want, then you are in a position to create it. It is no longer about proving a point, it becomes about being the person you truly are. It is all in the decision. When you become clear on what you want (or who you really want to be), the “how” to be that person begins to fall into place.
Change either what you want, or change what you are willing to do to get it. The human heart beats the same whether in the 21st Century or the 1st Century, before or beyond. We really do all face the same issues, just in different flavors.
The answer to what we want is usually not stuff or food or money or handouts or advice - although those things may have their place. The answer to what we want is usually about being. To find out who we really are, we must acknowledge who we have become. We must face the way we hide from ourselves.
Blind Bartimaeus cried out, “Jesus Christ, Son of David. Have mercy on me. I am a sinner.” Jesus responded to his plea for mercy by asking, “What do you want me to do?” (Mark 10:46-52)
God will not violate our free will. How often do we ask for help not knowing what we really want or really need? We do not recognize our spiritual poverty and thus do not receive mercy.
In evaluating what we want from Christ start with the ever true declaration of “I am a sinner”. After a soul-searching inventory be specific, “I am a sinner by being stressed that you will not provide for my needs.” “I am stressed because So-and-So does not follow my sage advice.” Become more specific. “I am a stressor. I am a stressor because I want to control people and situations.”
What we want is actually about peace, contentment, healthy relationships and effective behaviors. They are readily ours as we make time to follow the Biblical mandate to examine self before partaking in experiences that would render us ineffective (I Cor. 11:27-33).
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond
measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” -Marianne Williamson
We are complex individuals living in a complicated world. Things are not as they first appear to be. For example, invisible atoms collectively make up everything in this universe. One of the deep scientific truths is that there is no empty space. What seems to be vacant space is filled with atoms.
Another invisible yet power aspect is the aura surrounding each individual. Definite it as personality or characteristics, nonetheless there is a special air that precedes us. We draw to us - not what we want - but what we are. Like draws to like.
There is nothing to be gained by playing small. Humility has its place when not confused with a false modesty. The person who brags about what s/he does yet refuses to receive a compliment has confused meekness with arrogance. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; humility is thinking of yourself less. Humility is being true to you.
So what prevents us from allowing our light to shine? When you think of speaking up for a principle or cause, what stops you? When that promotion is imminent, what pushes you to put a ceiling on it? When that relationship is flowing, what causes you to self-sabotage?
How would shining in all your glory threaten your comfort zone? Who would be upset if you shine? How would becoming who you are created to be upset the established family structure? For whom would releasing your genius create insecurity?
How does it serve you to stay small? Are you afraid of your own brilliance?
Most are not afraid to shine unless they have been hurt or shamed for standing out and shining. How have your wings been clipped, either through reality or your own perception? Have you replaced another’s criticism with your own destructive self-talk?
Each individual is blessed with a wide spectrum of temperaments. The speedy hare may seem difficult a pokey turtle – yet each are being true to themselves. When a cat scurries up a tree is he showing off? Is a dog a wimp because he cannot climb?
For those of us who find it difficult to love ourselves, it becomes easier when we wake up to the truth about who we are. Light is released through living a truthful life. Understand you are a lovely and loveable individual, wart and all. Even imperfections, you are both fabulous and flawed. We are in “process” and – in reality - do not need to the approval of others to validate our worth. This is freedom indeed. Not the freedom to be obnoxious or stubborn, but the freedom to develop one’s shadow side. Speak the truth in love – to yourself (without condemnation) and to others (without accusation).
To walk in truth is to walk in perfect love, and if we walk in perfect love, then we do not walk in fear because perfect love cast out fear.
When our lives shine of natural gifting and pure intention others will notice and be drawn to your light. When in doubt, look inside; are you being less than truthful to you? You have enough light for the step you are on. Keep growing. Keep shining. The world needs your light.
Rather than doing what contributes to your success, how many times do you engage in busy self-sabotaging activities” Low priority things like checking your e-mails? Or paper shuffling?
Look behind the procrastination and ask yourself: “What if I actually do what will benefit me and it does not work? Have you really lost anything in pursuing this achievement? Will you be further down the road and more prepared for future endeavors? What may you learn in the process?”
Also ask yourself: “What if I actually do what will benefit me and it does work? What if that one dreaded phone call energizes me? What if those few minutes of planning really does shave-off on execution time? What if getting out of my door opens others doors for me?”
What if? And why not?
What are you afraid of? Failure to get honest with our fears produces self-sabotaging acts. Fear stunts our growth: small moments filled with fear keeps up from becoming large.
“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd US President
President Roosevelt beautifully articulated the paralysis that cowardly lurks behind our unidentified, shadowy trepidations. When we firmly believe that fear truly is false-evidence-appearing-real, we can get behind that apprehension and shed light on it.
Light dispels darkness. Make an enlightened a conscious choice: 1) bravely go forward and conquer – or at least advance - or 2) give you full permission to just not do it.
Either way, make an honest, on-purpose, conscious, deliberate decision.
What’s holding you back? Whose permission do you think you need to proceed? Are you conflicted over being both a business mogul and a parent? Are you stressed over getting an education and starting a blog? What if you could be both/and rather than either/or? What if you could focus your energy in a few select venues and still remain stable?
When you decide that you are enough, then you really can do it all. When you decide that you are enough you get to be a fantastic partner and a great parent and an astute business person and a community activist and a loving involved family member and …
A decision is the alternative to self-sabotaging stagnation. When you engage fully in love, creativity or work, the cowardly Milquetoast fear remains in the shadows.
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Lily Tomlin, portraying five year old Edith Ann, was a regular feature in Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In TV series (1967–1973). Edith Ann sat in a huge rocking chair and recounted outlandish adventures from her childish point of view. Each segment was ended with her looking directly into the camera and boldly proclaiming, “And that’s the truth!”
Life tickles our funny bones. The comedy in Lily’s skit came from the audience’s knowing that Edith Ann’s truth may not have been quite like she saw it. We find humor in situations with which we identify. And sometimes it’s good to laugh at ourselves. To see our foibles. To recognize our shadow side.
Only sometimes life breaks our hearts. The heart ache is not from seeing truth, but from refusing to be set free by the truth we see. Truth hurts only when it is supposed to.
Feelings don’t tell you the truth; they just tell you what you feel. Beliefs don’t tell you the truth; they just tell you what you believe. And what you believe is your best guess at what is real. Our best guess at reality is conditioned by the society in which you live.
Society doesn’t tell you the truth; society goes with fads, trends or the in-thing. Your thoughts don’t tell you the truth; they just try to tell how you measure up to society’s dictates. Or not. Circumstances don’t tell you the truth. No matter how real they seem to be they are really your thoughts trying to prove to you that your beliefs and your feelings and your viewpoints are truth.
So what does tell you the truth? Life.
Life demonstrates truth. Life is not prejudice. Life tells us the truth whether we can handle it or not. Rain or drought or hurricanes or tsunamis falls equally on the just and on the unjust.
Life reveals whether our actions are plume or not. It matters not if one is a skilled iron worker or a nuclear scientist or an adventurous roof-scaling child, the truthful law of gravity shows itself to always be accurate.
When feelings are bruised, look deep inside to see if you really are a fool or if maybe you just did a foolish thing. Big difference. When your thoughts bring increased frustration or anger or sadness or instability then maybe it is time to challenge what you believe. Does it hold water? How’s it working for you? When circumstances are less than ideal, look deep inside to see what lesson life is trying to teach you. Obey the rules of the road and the chances of speeding tickets, wrecks or traffic violations are greatly diminished.
Listen to your internal moral compass and obey its directions. BUT NOTE: it speaks quietly, softly, gently. It must be tuned into in order to be heard. It must be given space in order to grow. It must be proven in order to stand firm.
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