World Kindness Day: November 13th

World kindness day is November 13th each year.

It has been delegated in order to help nations and individuals create a kinder world. It’s also a wonderful representation of how individuals making decisions are investing are investing in our global unity.

For kindness to exist among countries – it must first be an individual experience. It must be practised as a human condition – as an instinctive reaction among each one of us – and as what we teach and model for our children and future generations.

Kindness can be a deliberate and yet natural outpouring of who and ‘what’ we are.

Kindness is a life value. It is our inherent nature and yet it is also an intentional practice that we choose to uphold. Kindness can (with consciousness and deliberate will) become our ‘go to’ response based on choosing to think of others (and ourselves) with positiveness rather than mistrust, fear, and judgement. Kindness begets kindness. Being kind helps us to cultivate understanding; to see others as equals, and to remember the end goal of our discussions, deliberations, and even disagreements – which is always to remain – kind.

Kindness ultimately resolves potential conflict, allowing people to be as they are, realizing the fact that we all have our own unique preferences and beliefs– while challenging ourselves to look for how we are all alike.

If the other person remains unwilling to be kind, then your kindness will always serve you best in dealing with others in a fair and civil manner. When we are deliberately kind, it is far easier to hold compassion, care, and trust. (If someone has proved to be untrustworthy, we can still trust that our kindness will show them that we are capable of empathy and compassion – even if we choose to uphold our relationship boundaries with them).

Kindness is what builds and sustains positive, healthy relationships. When we think of being kind first even in the face of unkindness, we are able to dismantle much of the negativity and fear based behaviours of others. With kindness, we are able to realign ourselves with a common goal; and if we continue to hold differences, then we may do so respectfully, with the acceptance that others may have a different belief system or set of ideas. When people (and ultimately nations) come together in kindness, they are ultimately able to agree on the fundamental life values of peacefulness, respect of all living beings, and the ability to live in harmony rather than war.

Photo credit: gsdakotahorizons.org
Photo credit: gsdakotahorizons.org

An international movement to practice kindness (aka Kindness Day) reminds us of the need to choose how we will be in any given moment (and especially when it may seem easier to react in frustration, anger, displeasure, or even aggression).

Practising kindness outwardly teaches us much about responsibility. First, to ourselves as we make the conscious choice to be kind even in the face of what may seem like our ‘right’ to respond in defence of others not being kind. Practising kindness teaches us how to see beyond the action of another and to remember that any unkindness directed towards us is rarely about who we are, but rather the other person and their personal struggles to be heard, accepted, valued, important, and secure.

Whether as a personal challenge in light of world kindness day or as an opportunity to become kinder more consistently…consider what deliberate and thoughtful acts of kindness you can do today. Pay attention to how your conscious attention towards being kind, changes how you feel in that instant; softening how you think and feel about yourself, others, and the situation. You might also want to notice how act of kindness (much like a boomerang) come back to you quite effortlessly.

 

Some important questions to ponder to examine your own commitment to being kind:

Are you teaching your children about the importance of kindness first as a way of being in the world, and as a part of their personality and behaviour ? – For example in sport (where you can still be highly competitive – yet kind)?

Do you model kindness for your children, peers, and co-workers? Do you choose to think kindly of someone rather than assume they have ulterior motives or are dubious and untrustworthy? (You can still be kind to someone that you have chosen to uphold boundaries within if they are not trustworthy or kind).

Do you practice kindness (here’s a tougher one perhaps) in the face of unkindness? Can you personally be kind to someone who is showing you envy, rage, anger, discontent?

If you choose to embrace the power of living kindly as who you are, what do you need to change of your existing behaviours?

Namaste everyone!

ABOUT THE WORLD KINDNESS MOVEMENT

WKM is an international movement with no political or religious affiliations. The idea for the formation of the organization came out of a conference in Tokyo in 1997 when Japan brought together like-minded kindness organizations from around the world. It is now recognised as the peak global body for Kindness, . The mission of the WKM is to inspire individuals towards greater kindness and to connect nations to create a kinder world. Members of the movement include over 25 nations with representatives from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Romania, Scotland, South Korea,Switzerland,Thailand, United Arab Emerites, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the USA.
For more please visit: http://www.theworldkindnessmovement.org/about-us/

Title Photo credit: www.pitchero.com

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Is the word MERCY in your vocabulary? Does being merciful enter your mind on a conscious basis?

 

What does the word: MERCY mean to you?

Consider writing what words and images come to mind as you ask yourself this question. Then ask the equally important question of: How can I be merciful towards myself as a conscious outpouring of what I AM?

The truth is that you were born inherently perfect. We all have what researchers deem as an innate capacity for being merciful. In fact it is something we do as a natural outpouring of who we are. If you watch very young children, before they are taught rules around politeness and ‘socially appropriate’ kindness, these young children only know how to give compassion, mercy, and love.

A growing body of evidence suggests that, at our core, both animals and human beings have what Dacher Keltner at the University of California, Berkeley, coins a “compassionate instinct.” In other words, compassion is a natural and automatic response that has ensured our survival. Michael Tomasello and other scientists at the Max Planck Institute, in Germany, have found that infants and chimpanzees spontaneously engage in helpful behaviour and will even overcome obstacles to do so. They apparently do so from intrinsic motivation without expectation of reward. A recent study they ran indicated that infants’ pupil diameters (a measure of attention) decrease both when they help and when they see someone else helping, suggesting that they are not simply helping because helping feels rewarding. It appears to be the alleviation of suffering that brings reward — whether or not they engage in the helping behaviour themselves.

Recent research by David Rand at Harvard University shows that adults’ and children’s first impulse is to help others.

Research by Dale Miller at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business suggests this is also the case of adults, however, worrying that others will think they are acting out of self-interest can stop them from this impulse to help.

 

We intrinsically want to help – we have the hard wiring to instinctively be merciful. As adults, showing mercy becomes a decision of our thinking brain and our deliberate choice – our free will – and at times, for various reasons, we may opt out of what is such an important human ability.

How we are and how we act with others is symbolic of how we are able to be kind and loving – and merciful to ourselves. It is much easier to show others kindness, compassion, love, and mercy when we are able to readily do this for ourselves.

Mercy may be defined as: co-existing in love, forgiveness, compassion, loving-kindness, understanding, humanity, generosity, and faith.

Wikipedia defines mercy as: “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm”.

It’s within our power to punish or harm someone at any time in theory, and yet perhaps its in those very instances where someone has wronged us or hurt us that we need to be MOST mindful of practising an outpouring of mercy.

 

I hear my client tell me about all of the comments that she receives anytime she goes home to visit her Greek orthodox family living in Montreal. How their words impact her decisions and her everyday behaviours and yet she is a 34-yr old nurse working and thriving in Toronto. (She is told by friends that she looks better with a tan after travelling to the Caribbean on holiday so she admits to me that she is now going to a tanning salon regularly to keep up her glowing appearance; she is told by her grandmother that she is heavier than last visit and so she has now returned full force to the gym; her mother has always told her that to be beautiful she must wear makeup and high heels and so on the day of our session she isn’t feeling well and apologizes for her appearance – because she is not wearing makeup, nor heels. Her entire image of herself is tied up in what others say; she has not found herself and her true beauty that exists – enhanced perhaps by the makeup – but originates as who she already is. My client is one of many who look to others to establish their feelings of self-acceptance and positive affect in the words and remarks of others – and in doing so, can never be truly merciful towards herself. She continues to take the harsh comments and criticism of her friends and family – and does the same internally in her self talk – because it is all that she knows to do – and it has been the way in which she has defined herself. How many of us do this – or parts of this?

It doesn’t just happen with my client’s family, it happens with all of us regardless of our heritage, religious background and family of origin. What are the messages of your earlier life experiences that have set you up to judge yourself harshly, to be unmerciful, to be self-loathing, to deny, to avoid, to disavow – who you truly are?

Perhaps this is one reason why as teens we often rebel against our family – society – social mores – and instead look to our peer group for support and as a source of validation (as they too are experiencing the same kind of need to explore, to rediscover, and to take a stand in what they believe in). We don’t always acknowledge that we are all hardwired to be …who we truly are – what I call our AUTHENTIC self. If we have been stifled, denied, or told we must fit a certain stereotypical ideal, we learn from a young age to dishonour our TRUE self.

As a teenager and young adult, if we are fortunate enough to seek out answers and to decide what we believe in, what we feel passionate about, and what we want to do with our life, – and if we allow ourselves to dream and to follow what truly excites us, then we are making choices based on knowing our self best. And yet, we still hold many of the cultural and societal beliefs that have been so deeply ingrained, that say we should follow a certain practical plan for living our life, we should earn a certain income, we should wear a certain designer label, and that all of this is important – critical in fact – to being successful and happy. Some or all of this may very well be important – but as long as it is what we have chosen based on what is truly important to who we are – certainly none of this is wrong – as long as it is true to what is right for who we are – rather than what we tell ourselves we should do.

So its not surprising that much of the work that I do each day has its roots in helping people find themselves – and helping them uncover the truth about who they are so that they can live the rest of their life from a place of authenticity and self-honesty. When you can be honest and real with yourself and others, you free yourself to live with mercy. Maybe as you look over your definition for what mercy is, you most likely included such words as: honesty, deliberate kindness in action, compassion for self and others, loving and of course…truth.

When you can live with mercy directed towards yourself, it will be even easier to live it outwardly. This is because if you are overly critical, harsh, judgemental, uncertain, and insecure, this cannot help but come through as you look outwards at others. One might say that this is one of the reasons why we have constant conflict and war in the world. If we are not able to be merciful, to be kind and loving to ourselves and others, then we cultivate all of what is opposite: unkindness, impatience, judgement, intolerance, envy and hate.

Being merciful is how we embody true kindness and understanding. It is how we show others our compassionate nature.

The following visualization is best experienced if you can close your eyes for a few moments and take 3-5 deep breaths. Take even more breaths if you feel that it will help you quiet your mind as you go within to answer the following questions.

(And, if you would like a little more practice and a deeper experience in calming your mind and feeling a total body relaxation, please follow this link: to one of my guided meditations – perfect for taking you a little deeper within yourself.)

When you are ready to proceed let the following be a guide for what you then envision in your mind, allowing whatever answers that surface be what you reveal as your truth:

Think of a time either in the recent past or maybe a memory from childhood in which someone showed you mercy. Maybe there could have been a reason for you to have been punished because of what you did – whether it was something done innocently or intentionally – when the other person could have been intolerant, angry or blaming, but instead you were given compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and love – in effect – you were shown mercy.

Next, recall a time when you acted with compassion and mercy when perhaps it would have been socially acceptable to chastise, correct, scold, or punish. And yet you showed only mercy – kindness, forgiveness, and compassion. Recall what your experience was as you did this? How did YOU feel as you saw the face of the person, perhaps the child, the friend, the spouse, the work colleague – that you were being merciful to? Imagine for a moment how your actions of mercy felt for them?

When we are shown mercy – when we receive compassion – or as we demonstrate compassion and mercy, we experience something much more – much like a gift. What did you receive in the exchange with another? What did you receive when you were shown mercy or in being merciful?

In so many ways we have the ability to be who we truly are. When we elicit compassion and grace towards another living being we are being merciful. When we are compassionate and merciful, something remarkable happens inside of us. Something bearing truth is awakened from within.

 

The path of mercy is our path back to finding ourselves

 

Finding ourselves begins with the mercy that we can show ourselves. From here we see how easily it is to expand upon this – to allow others the gentle freedom to make mistakes, to be human, to not always do what we would do.

All world religions share in the importance of what it means to “be love”. They also share similar definitions of “mercy”, “forgiveness”, “compassion”, and “truth”. I share this because it reminds us that across all religions and spiritual beliefs, we are reminded and taught of the importance of being merciful, loving and kind.

Regardless of our religious upbringing most of us have heard the words: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12 / Luke 6:31).

Being merciful is your namesake. It is what we can offer to ourselves and one another that speaks to the truth of what are are. We are all seeking the same goodness; the same acceptance; the same attachment to one another in kindness. Showing mercy is our way to be loving – to accept others as they are – to allow for those moments when others may not always be at their best.

How you can be more deliberate in your practice of being merciful? Where in your daily life can this become a greater practice and privilege for you? The reason we consider in advance how and where we will do something is to ensure that it finds a place in our lives and a means by which we can be this – daily.

Think about the typical situations that you encounter – with your partner and spouse, your children, your parents and extended family, with siblings and friends, and with those you work with? How can you be merciful and any of the other words and descriptors of mercy as how you defined it? BOTH WITH YOURSELF AND OTHERS?

If you are already actively mindful of showing mercy in your daily life, ask yourself, ‘What are some different ways that I can expand upon this?” Can you practice deliberate acts of mercy even when you are annoyed, offended, hurt, and when you believe strongly that you are right and someone else is wrong?

Where in your daily life can you practice mercy unto yourself – and to others? When you do so, what would it look like? What would your inner dialogue or self talk be that would help you to remember to be merciful?

Challenge yourself to find new ways of showing mercy in these tougher moments (both to others and to yourself)and when it may seem easier to do what you’ve always done. Write these and place them where you can see your list each day. This becomes a plan that will help you to make this happen.

Close your eyes once more with the intention to give yourself a few more minutes of calm, relaxed breathing. When you open your eyes again, you are ready (with a clear mind) to answer a few more questions as you journey within to experience what it means to be merciful. (At any time, you can close your eyes even momentarily, as it will likely help you call up some of your past memories and experiences).

 

Imagine who you were as a child. Maybe it’s a memory where you can go back in time and yet you can feel right now as though you are this incredible child again. Maybe its a photo or image of your younger self that you see in your mind. However you come to imagine and envision yourself as a most incredible child, begin to paint the picture in detail of who you were based on the following questions I’m going to ask. (Please remember: If you don’t have all of the answers to these questions, that’s perfectly okay, your subconscious mind may give you more answers as you continue to think about this).

As you ask yourself: “Who was I?” take a brief pause as the answers spontaneously reveal themselves. Pause after each of the following questions to give your subconscious mind the time to reveal the answers:

What did I look like?”

See yourself in action. Ask: “What activities or games did I enjoy most?” “What used to make me laugh?” “What did I enjoy doing?” “What was I naturally good at?” “What would I think or daydream about?”

What were some of my proudest moments?” “What did others compliment me for?” “What did I dream about?” “When was I happiest?”

Next, describe your personality? “What core features, characteristics, and mannerisms made you special, unique, original?” Allow the memories to flow into your conscious mind without judging whatever you remember.

Sometimes our mind will show us the difficult or negative moments of our past. Please know that this is perfectly natural. Allow all of the memories that reveal themselves be part of your experience. The difficult moments of our life teach us much about who we are. While we may not be aware of this at the time, whatever you learned from your earliest life experiences has contributed to who you are today in ways that have made you resilient and courageous even if you may not think of yourself as so. For now, if you begin to recall any difficult or painful memories, remember that they don’t make you any less incredible.

Remember all of who you were as an incredible child.

Write all of your answers to: ‘Who was I as a child?’ including the details of how you felt as you saw yourself being your authentic – carefree, happy, curious, and courageous – self.

Now here’s a BIG SECRET that I hope you will remember. When you think about any of the behaviours or mannerisms that you have that cause you discomfort or that you do not like about yourself – these are not (nor were they ever) who you innately are.

In most cases, you learned by observing others or perhaps you were taught certain ways of being. If you think about it, any of the behaviours that you might label as ‘bad’ or wrong – stem from learnings that occurred beginning in childhood. As you reflect on all of the innate goodness of who you were as a child in your answers to the earlier visualization, see if you can remember who you were before or without any of the teachings in which you were taught to dislike, to judge, to be hurtful or mean, to be boastful and show no mercy, and anything else that causes you or others – to suffer. Who you truly are is not these things. Perhaps take one more review of your “Who was I as a child?” list right now to see if you have written anything that you were taught to believe, to act, to fear, that truly wasn’t yours to begin with. Write anything else now about who your original self really is. Allow your inner child to shine through. Let yourself feel connected once again to what you once were.

When we remember who we are, we can begin to reclaim our authentic self. Your inner child is your inner navigation point. It is your truth. Before each of us were told what “not to do”, or how we “should” behave or feel because it is somehow more acceptable, we were intuitively and perfectly being – our true nature.

Finding your way back to who you are begins with acknowledging all that you once were.

Remember all of the goodness of your inner child. Close your eyes one final time as you hold the image of your incredible self – the younger version of who you were – – hold the image of the incredible child that you see in your mind. See yourself clearly, feeling proud, confident, free, strong, and happy. Sit for a few more moments with this impression – allowing it to sink in … deeper. Feel, see and imagine all of the ways that you are incredible – both as your younger self and then….. as you are now.

Consider the moments when you allowed your adult self to be: funny, playful, thoughtful, generous, kind, honest, loyal, curious, excited, happy. When you are being any of these …are you not being your true self?

When we allow our inner child to shine through – we can be childlike in ways that are both beautiful and authentic. We can speak the words of our truth rather than hold ourselves back for fear of “saying the wrong thing” or “being too emotional”. When we allow our inner child’s vulnerabilities to show through we reveal to others our true nature – and this makes us ‘approachable’, ‘honest’ and ‘real’.

And finally, I have one more question about your life as a child?

What would have been your mantra as a child? A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself either quietly or aloud to elicit the feeling state of what you are telling yourself.

Maybe your mantra as a child was: “I can do this!” or “I’m special” or “I’m smart” Think of a mantra based on the words that your inner child would have spoken.

Allow yourself to repeat this mantra silently to yourself. Envision your inner child as you do so. Feel what you feel throughout your body. Now open your eyes again. Take a final few moments to write the words of your mantra. (Hint: Make it an “I AM” statement).

Notice how you are feeling right now.

The journey back to finding ourselves begins in our childhood with the innocent and completely honest depiction of our true self. Your homework from here is to remember all of the childlike qualities that best represent the truth of who you are. As you reconnect with your adult self again, remember these qualities and allow them to come through in everyday life. Let yourself be who you once were in more ways than you have ever been. As you reveal and relax into more of your true self, you will come to feel far more connected with your inner child again and most importantly – to feel connected with the truth of who you are.

 

 

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10 Ways that Meditation Heals YOU

The secrets of meditation were originally shrouded in secrecy out of respect for, and even in fear of, their innate power. The ancient yoga masters guarded these secrets as they believed that this spiritual power has the capacity to corrupt and that it would be disastrous for the wrong person to learn these secrets. Therefore, these advanced meditations were only made available to disciples proven to have pure hearts. Even today there are different schools of thought for teaching meditation. It remains important for you to find a teacher that you feel a comfortable confidence in, and that teaches meditation as a spiritual practice in a way that resonates with your beliefs and values.

While I teach Mindfulness Meditation, Transcendental Meditation, and Medical Meditation (which uses specific breathing patterns, postures and movements, particular mantras, and a unique mental focus). I have also developed a type of meditation that teaches you how to open your seventh chakra and to be aware of the universal divine intelligence flowing through you in all moments. This form of meditation I have named, “Divya Prajna”: the Sanskrit words for: DIVINE WISDOM. This type of Meditation teaches you how to harness the universal consciousness to access Divine Wisdom and Truth.

Whenever I teach meditation, I use some or all of these different types of Mediation mentioned above, in order to accomplish the effects of healing and awakening, opening you to a deeper experience of yourself as a being of energy. You may check out some of my guided meditations by visiting: https://soundcloud.com/dorothyratusny or

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3ierJvf7b8y5xOHzqgwC6g

Breathing is an integral element of Meditation. Breath awareness with intention is both the primary ‘action’ and ‘benefit’ of meditation.

1. Deep, controlled, rhythmic breathing helps heal as it shifts the body out of the ‘fight-flight-flee’ response that occurs quite automatically when we experience “stress”.

Why is this important? When stress is not balanced by relaxation techniques such as meditation, it operates far too often in the sympathetic mode (the ‘fight-flight’- or flee’ mode) pulling energy away from your immune system and away from the various recovery mechanisms that promote healing. Over time, this destroys the body. Prevailing illnesses strike, viruses spread, bacteria proliferate, and the glands and organs of the ‘fight-flight-and flee’ response become exhausted. The heart may begin to beat erratically. The endocrine glands that provide youth and zest degenerate. Muscles begin to ache. Symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue may appear. Aging sets in. Illness occurs. Deep, controlled, rhythmic breathing done with conscious attention can reprogram your autonomic nervous system (the system responsible for these involuntary actions). Simple breathing exercises which include frequent attention to ‘proper’ diaphragmatic breathing – can be done in minutes throughout the day, both as a way of building-in the benefits of the healing, rest-and-repair parasympathethic mode of the autonomic nervous system but also to shift out of the ‘fight-flight-flee’ mode that you were previously in.

2. The calming hormones melatonin and serotonin are increased by meditation, and the stress hormone cortisol is decreased.

3. People who meditate consistently for the ‘long-term’ experience 80 percent less heart disease and 50 percent less cancer than “non” meditators.

4. 75 percent of insomniacs were able to sleep normally when they meditated.

5. Mindfulness Meditation has been proven in studies to decrease panic attacks, decrease general anxiety, reduce levels of chronic pain, reduce incidence of headaches, improve response rates to drug and alcohol addiction treatment, and reduce obesity.

6. Transcendental Meditation (based on approximately 600 ongoing studies, many in peer-reviewed journals since the mid-70s) has been proven to achieve the following:
* Reduction of anxiety
* Reduction of chronic pain
* Lowered levels of cortisol (a stress hormone)
* Increase in cognitive function
* Reduction of substance abuse
* Lowered blood pressure
* Improvement in post-traumatic stress syndrome
* Reduction in use of medical care and hospitalization

7. Another fascinating study of Transcendental Meditation was one that measured biological age – how old a person is physiologically rather than chronologically. Determinants included blood pressure, vision and hearing. Participants who had been doing Transcendental Meditation for five or more years were physiologically twelve years younger than their non-meditating counterparts. Even the short-term participants were physiologically five years younger than the controls.

8. People who meditate regularly secrete more of youth-related hormone DHEA as they age than those who do not meditate. DHEA (a natural hormone believed to be an effective marker of a person’s biological age; is claimed to enhance immunity, memory, neural functioning, combat osteoporosis and atherosclerosis, and cancer. Meditating 45 yr-old males have an average of 23 percent more DHEA than non-meditators, and meditating females have an average of 47 percent more DHEA. This helps slow aging, increase longevity and strengthen the immune system, decreases stress, improve memory, preserve sexual function, and contol weight.

9. Meditation creates a unique hypometabolic state, in which the metabolism is in an even deeper state of rest than during sleep. During sleep, oxygen consumption drops by 8 percent, but during Meditation, oxygen consumption drops by 10 to 20 percent.

10. Meditation is the ONLY ACTIVITY that reduces blood lactate, a marker of stress and anxiety.

And some further interesting antidotes on the amazing benefits of Meditation and Breath:
* In Asian cultures, it is believed that the rhythm of breath is mankind’s own signature vibration, which unites man with the vibratory force of the universe. Modern Asian yogis have stated that the vibration of human breath interlocks the finite magnetic field of humankind with the infinite magnetic field of the universe. The ebb and flow of breath is seen as a link to the motions and tides of the entire cosmos, outside our bodies, and within our bodies.

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The debilitating truth about blame…

Blame is a powerful deflection from self-examination and self-responsibility.

 

Blame is a wonderful excuse for not needing to change – and for continuing to convince yourself that you are “right” and others are “wrong”.

 

Blame keeps you from experiencing the truth, an opportunity for growth, and the realization that no one can “make you feel” a certain way (since we often blame others for ‘how’ we feel). How you feel is always determined by what you tell yourself (aka: your thoughts).

 

Blame keeps you a prisoner of your self-induced anger, fear, and anxiety. It keeps you far removed from the closeness and connection that you could have with loved ones and others.

 

Whenever you feel the urge to blame someone or something for what has happened “to you”, look instead at yourself – with honesty and truth. What have you ‘done’ or ‘not done’ that has contributed to where you are right now? What would have been some better choices? What will you do now to make a change for the better?

 

Sometimes clients rage in my presence. They are frustrated, fed up, angry, aggressive and at times they have explosive outbursts that are difficult to contain. At the core of their outbursts is often some form of blame. They blame others or some external event for their misfortune in life; convinced that they have little or no control in whatever has “happened to them”, what situation they currently find themselves in, or what will become of their future.

You will remain in a state of angst (inner turmoil, hopelessness, and sadness) for as long as you continue to look outside of yourself for the reasons that you feel the way you do. For as long as you continue to blame, you will perpetuate negative thoughts and feelings (e.g. helplessness, anxiety, anger, resentment etc.,) rather than see a situation as an opportunity for learning and growth, and becoming more (in whatever way more translates into something better). You will continue to feel immobilized by your current situation as long as you convince yourself that others are the cause of this, and that there is little or nothing that you can do but endure, rather than take control of your life by being in charge of what you need to do to make things better.

 

One path is destructive and limiting: causing suffering, grief and despair. The other path is one of learned resilience, confidence building, and self-actualization through reliance and faith in one’s ‘self’.

When we blame others, we are not looking at our own actions; nor taking responsibility for how we feel. Blaming external events or others deflects any attempt to examine why we feel the way we do and in turn, to examine our biased perceptions of a situation. The two most important questions that you could ask yourself when you are caught in a position of helplessness because of whatever has happened is: “How do I want to feel?” Next you need to ask, “What do I need to do in order to feel this way?”

The quickest way to eradicate blame is to be proactive – to be in control of what you will do to fix, change, or improve the situation – and to begin a path towards this. Still, how do we get caught in a cycle of helplessness about our life – and who we are? What is it that causes us to give away all of our power by making ‘someone’ or ‘something’ the total cause of our experience? ….and hence our ability to thrive?

Ask yourself: “What earlier life experiences taught me that I have little or no control over my life path, how I feel, or who I become?”

Decide to change your earlier belief system. Know that for whatever you feel and what happens is either a direct cause of your thought process or your actions (your actions perpetuate a chain of events that brings you to where you are now, as does your repetitive thoughts). Yes, events occur all of the time that are unexpected and at times, incredibly traumatic. Yet, everything in life has meaning. How you react to what happens (to you) is within your control.

The fact is that every experience is (pre)determined by how we think – and how we perceive / witness / examine / and interpret what has happened.

 

Learn to question all of what you were taught to believe. Instead, examine each situation as unique and different.  Examine your part in whatever “happens to you” including your thoughts and actions towards creating the outcome that you are living right now.

With blame, nobody wins. You end up making someone else “wrong” or “not good enough” – and judging them unfairly which affects your treatment of them. When you blame yourself, you can easily become caught up in a cycle of self-loathing rather than constructively look within to see your part in what has caused this situation – feeling – or behavior – and at what you need to do instead. There is learning in self-awareness. Blame – even towards one’s self – keeps you from focusing on proactive change.

 

If your well ingrained habit is to blame external factors or people for how you feel and what happens to you, that’s your cue to turn the finger directed outward – onto yourself. (Not in self blame but in awareness and understanding). See what it is that you have done to create your existing reality. Even when something happens that you have absolutely no control over and you did not want – you still have the power to choose how you feel, think, and live …in spite of what ‘has happened’.

I use the phrase, “This too is for good” to help bring to light the idea that everything that happens has a greater purpose and if you can believe it is always for good…then perhaps it is only a matter of time before you see with your eyes that whatever has ‘happened’ has led to something inevitably – better. For nothing is truly bad unless we make it so.

So please consider what damage you create through blame. Start seeing everything that happens in your life as a ‘teaching’, a ‘life lesson’ meant to aid and help you along your path, or an opportunity for personal growth and greater awareness.

In therapy (as in life itself), clients can become emotionally charged in a matter of milliseconds – reacting to what has just been said or asked of them long before they realize ‘why’ they reacted as they did. Clients may look to the therapist as the point of blame; as the one who said something to offend them or hurt their feelings; or perhaps is “judging them” – especially if a client is being asked to look at a particular problematic situation or behavior which evokes feelings of uneasiness, vulnerability, or shame.

In therapy, I will ask you to examine yourself in ways that you have not done before. The socratic questions asked of you are meant for you to explore your current situation and yourself specifically in a different way. Sometimes you will be asked or challenged to look at what causes you to feel uneasy, vulnerable, or shameful. The point is not to “make you” feel badly, but to examine what needs attention and change in order for you to feel better, to correct a situation or ongoing pattern of behavior, to strengthen self-esteem, and/or to heal a reoccurring conflict that is affecting your relationships with others.

Take control back. If you are blaming others or external events for your current state of unhappiness, you are giving up your control to fix a situation or improve yourself.

If you feel hopeless or defeated, or if you believe that you are resigned to the current circumstances of your life, then you need to take a closer look at where you are directing your ‘locus of control’. Do you believe that your happiness is dependant on what happens to you, or are you aware of your ability to choose your reaction to what happens (thereby being in control of how you feel at all times)?

Similarly, if you continue to rage, venting your displeasure at what you are unhappy with yet unwilling to look at your part in why you continue to feel this way, you will continue to suffer.

This inhibits emotional growth. It actually keeps you stuck in ‘reactive’ mode; quick to get fired up when people ‘anger you’ or if life throws you a curve ball (a flat tire, a bill you weren’t expecting, or when someone says or does something that hurts you).  If you are quick to react, lash out, become enraged, or go quiet in the silence of suffering, the never ending cycle of unhappiness continues. “A prisoner of our own self-induced pain” is what I call it.

Many would say that a person needs to be ready in order to make changes to their life and to who they are. Indeed this is true. Yet readiness must also exist in the desire to move out of one’s own “suffering”; to see that change and happiness is really driven by our desire and through action. We cannot blame others for the way we feel nor how we act and react in different situations. We cannot blame others for what happens ‘to us’ but rather we can examine our thoughts and assumptions – and our prevailing attitude – and be willing to seek out different ways of looking at everything.

Which brings us full circle to the practical method of therapy and its socratic questioning as a way of helping clients examine their lives and who they are – in different and more honest ways then how they have previously.

Blame keeps you in a state of suffering. Willingness to look within for what you can do to change your personal situation or aspects of yourself will always be met with answers, growth, and the freedom that comes with discovering just how much control you do have over your life and in who you decide to become.

 

 

A final note: While I cannot and do not speak for other therapists and how they approach the delivery of therapy as a modality of healing, I can say that my approach and the careful purpose of my questions is intuitively driven. When you are wholly present to the person(s) in front of you in order to seek to understand, acknowledge, and empathize their experience as best as you can by remaining engaged, and intentional in your delivery of help, you allow for a highly instinctive and organic process to unfold. While I am trained in several models of psychotherapy, my job is to ask clients questions that will help them think differently about their particular problem or issue. The idea here is that you as a client are the best source of knowledge for how to fix your situation or problematic behavior. What I simply do is help you become clear and self-honest, so that your inner wisdom may easily be accessed; and what you hear yourself say (which at times will surprise you) will be exactly what you intuitively know you need to do.

Blame me or someone else for how you are feeling and where you are in life….or look deeper within yourself. See how you got here, why you feel the way you do – and take back your personal power. Reclaim your ‘self’ by taking the steps to make your life (and yourself) far better.

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Random Acts of Loving-Kindness: Reclaiming Valentine’s Day as a way to remind us to be spontaneously LOVING in our actions.

 

Consider Valentine’s Day …a day that is already ‘hyped’ with a focus on LOVE …to be a day in which you make no distinctions between who you are being loving with.

 

It’s about sharing the LOVE… the kindness…and the appreciation of others in your life (and possibly a random stranger or two that will likely always remember your gesture of kindness and love).

Can we all share a little love just because it feels good to do so?

 

My seventeen year old client had the most incredible experience with what she thought would be a surprise gifting of roses (pre-Valentine’s Day) to someone she loves.

But he wasn’t in class the day she showed up with roses and a hand written love poem …as well as permission from the class teacher to reveal a grand gesture of her love.

Instead of worrying about how she would get the flowers to him, Sarah (a pseudonym and not her real name) kept the flowers in her locker until the end of the day and then flagged down random strangers – some in cars near her school, and two on a city bus – giving out a single rose to each ‘random’ person with a smile and a wish “to have a happy day”. The impromptu social experiment became a gesture in giving back in a way she never expected.

At one car, she noticed a father with his kids in tow. Sarah asked the father if she could give a rose to his young daughter in the back seat – the only girl in a family of three boys. He graciously obliged. The look of instant glee on the little girl’s face as her eyes lit up magically was almost enough to send my client into bliss….

Actually, it did.

…And Sarah shared the other roses in the same way – magically, deliberately, and with loving-kindness.

 


In a way that marks a new routine in your life, perhaps you too will reclaim Valentine’s day (week, etc) and make it what would be truly an incredible practice – a day of random acts of loving-kindness.

Begin with smiling at a stranger instead of avoiding eye contact. Step it up with paying for the person’s coffee in line in front of you, hand out a gift card to the person that collects and disposes of your recycling and compost each week, shovel your neighbour’s steps, bake cookies to give to those people that you see each week at the grocery store or bank who always serve you with kindness because that is who they are… or anything else that inspires you and says, “You are special” to someone.

This is what love looks like … the giving of kindness from the heart – whether by actual gift or as a gesture of appreciation and acknowledgement.

 

For Sarah, her innocent and spontaneous gestures stirred in her a promise to always pass out roses on Valentine’s Day. It would be a way that she could make someone’s else day a little more special, a little more meaningful, a lot more magical.

Take back the commercialism and ‘big business’ of a day that is often filled with unmet (and also unspoken) expectations and consider what it means to….just be the love – period.

Without realizing it, you will have made your day a lot more special as well.

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What Parenting IS…

Parenting is the most important “role” you might ever have next to living as your Authentic s e l f.  It can also be the most rewarding experience of your life if you have the means to parent in a healthy way based on your conscious intention to raise a child in a way that nourishes them and allows them to know their inherent greatness so that they can soar in life.

 

So when a client is seeking strategies and guidance to help improve and nurture their parent-child relationship, I feel blessed: I am able to help BOTH the parent AND their child (who will inevitably benefit from what new ways of thinking and being that their parent is now putting into action).

 

PARENTING IS MODELLING HOW TO BE AN INCREDIBLE HUMAN BEING

When a child acts out inappropriately, one of the most curious things I sometimes hear parents say is: “I have no idea where they learned that from?” I would just like to remind parents everywhere that ….. A CHILD IS A MIRROR OF THEIR PARENTS.

 

To ensure that your child is well behaved and well-adjusted, look to how YOU think and behave in the world.

 

If you want to improve your child’s behaviour, begin with your own. Children do (say, and believe) exactly what they see you do and say. They believe (even if it is with reservation) what you show and teach them, until some later time when they are learning and discovering ‘other’ ways of thinking and being that they may change their beliefs according what to what greater knowledge they possess.  In the meantime, your children learn by example. It’s that simple. They watch you as the parent and model what words, mannerisms, behaviours and ethics (morals and values) they observe of you. Period.

The other thing that I remind parents of: “It’s never too late to change how you are if you want your child to behave differently.”

 

Parenting has virtually no ‘formal’ training, no mandatory education, no need for writing any ‘exams’ attaining licensing, accreditation, or ongoing training. We need permits, permission, and licenses to fish, drive a motorized vehicle, or to build an addition onto our existing home – yet there are no definitive requirements needed to become a parent.  Do we perhaps prepare ourselves in the right ways for all that parenting demands of us?

 

How you parent is primarily how you were parented. Often unconsciously, you use the same methods and teaching styles as your parents did without realizing the cycle is repeating itself. At times, you may observe yourself saying and doing what your parents did, and perhaps what you vowed you would never do. Parenting is inevitably reactionary at times, and so without conscious awareness and deliberate contemplation, you say and do what you know is not reflective of what you want your children to learn.

 

Without conscious awareness of how you want to be as the major source of influence on your child’s future, you as a parent will likely struggle to learn from your mistakes (provided you are aware of them) rather than from deciding in advance of having children how you will think and behave in various and different situations and more importantly, who YOU are as a person.

 

If you want to be a great parent, and/or to have a better existing relationship with your child (regardless of their age), begin by making changes to how you are.  To focus on changing your child’s behaviour while you continue to do all of the things that have contributed to or caused emotional and psychological hurts, a betrayal of trust, and feelings of low self-worth – will only alienate your child further.

 

I help parents heal the painful experiences of their own childhood (of which they themselves were mistreated, neglected, verbally, emotionally or physically abused, repeatedly showered with a barrage of hurtful words, and in some instances unprotected from sexual predators (who co-existed undetected until it was too late). “Healing” means whatever is needed to help a client (parent) repair their own psychological and emotional hurts and traumas that have continued to haunt them long after the initial injustice. “Healing” means a facilitated journey that allows for a better understanding of what happened without necessarily blaming their parents or caregivers but finding comfort and safety in validating their experiences, while finding resolution through fixing, eliminating, correcting, forgiving the past in lieu of making forward strives of self-empowerment, healthy self-esteem, and reclaiming one’s childhood.*

 

*(And despite how all of this may sound difficult or daunting it really isn’t once you the parent seeks to heal your past, knowing that it will continue to affect how you parent your children if you don’t).

 

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The most significant thing any parent could do (ideally before they become a parent) is to heal their own past. To do the work that YOU need in order to heal your past begins with a close look at who you currently are.

 

Parents don’t set out to make mistakes, repeat old patterns, or continually avoid looking at themselves FIRST as an important reason for why there are problems in their parent-child relationships. Placed in an automatic position of authority, power, and having all of the right answers, parents tend to believe that “the teachings” go only one way. The truth in fact is that parents learn so much from their children about how to be a better person and a better parent, than they likely ever give their children credit for.

 

Some questions for parents to ponder:

What mannerisms and behaviours are you showing your children that you would you never want the world to see?

What situations from your childhood caused you grief, that you would never want your children to experience?

 

 

We do so much more than create life when we birth or adopt a child (“Creating life” is equally important for parents who adopt child – who is now given ‘a new’ life by being ‘gifted’ to you, AND a child that is biological to you). We instill in our children all of the fears, insecurities, self-doubts, mental and emotional instability and in some cases – genetic disposition to illness, that we suffer with.

The good news is that we can also instill in our children all of the grace, love, high moral conduct, self-esteem, self-worth, kindness, consideration, honesty, and perseverance that we are – as long as we are this.

 

And finally, consider that all children are born “perfect”. All that we need to do as parents is allow them to thrive in the world with love and positive role modelling. We don’t need to make great strides towards changing them to be more alike us, or simply different than they are if they are different from how we want them to be.

Your child is a product of you. You need to take much responsibility in making yourself a product of love.

 

It’s okay to seek help to become better  – as a parent AND as a human being…. because to do so will only give your child a greater possibility to thrive in the world than what you have taught them so far.

 

The only way we retrain ourselves to be different from how we were raised and what we learned through observing our caregivers is to be consciously aware – to realize how we are and to see that this is not an ideal way in which to be. Through conscious awareness we become what we choose to be, and we will always choose the highest ideal that we believe is possible.

To believe in more you need to heal your past and the damaging beliefs and stories that you have been told, and that you continue to believe.

As a parent, be the best role model for your child – first.  The rest is built on how you lead by example as you exhibit unconditional love and support of their healthy development.  Encourage their need to be who they are while you focus on being the best version of yourself that you can imagine possible.  Parenting is a powerful reason to want to improve who you are.

 

– Dorothy

 

I’d love to hear from you!  

What has been the two most valuable teachings that you have ‘learned’ from being a parent?

 

What’s the one piece of advice that your parent taught you that has helped you immensely in parenting your children?

 

Leave your comments for me below or email me directly at: dorothy@dorothyratusny.com

Thankyou!!!

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