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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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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Mindfulness is the path to Clarity, Truth, and living as your Authentic Self

In mindfulness you experience clarity and wisdom; by honouring what “is”, rather than deceptively telling yourself how you “want it to be”.

Being “mindful” is being consciously aware of yourself; your thoughts and feelings, how you engage and interact with others, and how others receive’ your words and actions. It becomes a far more revealing way to live life as compared to listening solely to the voice inside your mind.

Leah sat across from me with tears welling up in her eyes. As clients progress in therapy, quite often their accomplishments, and the changes they make to who they are can at times, evoke powerful emotions of joy and gratitude.

Leah began to describe how she used to make every effort to avoid being with herself, and how she would be unaware and inattentive to everything around her.
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Therapy is a wonderful place to examine any of the “stuff” (emotional baggage, old patterns of behaving, self-critical and negative thoughts) that continues to dominate your life – causing you to feel stuck and powerless, holding you back from living life in the full expression of joy that is your authentic nature. If you have the gentle guidance of someone who can help you discover healthy strategies, you begin to make progressive and lasting changes. The result is a feeling of personal satisfaction and feeling whole. Healing the past wounds that are still the triggers for why you react the way you do is a necessary step to eliminating old behaviours that no longer represent who you want to be. This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours in therapy dredging up the past. But you do have to examine what happened in a way that can begin the process of healing. The purpose of therapy isn’t to talk about what bad things happened. Its about examining what bad things” happened from the perspective of understanding how these events shaped who you are, and what you need to do to heal from what happened.

In therapy, you gain a different perspective – shifting your thinking from being hurt, a victim, and lost, to feeling forgiveness (towards another or yourself), empowered, and having a clear directive for what you need to do next. Therapy is about looking at old problems in new ways that you hadn’t before. This different perspective allows you to see the whole truth rather than your particular (and often limited) version of the truth.

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Like Leah, we’ve all “run from ourselves”. This is precisely what all of our busyness is about. Clients often tell me that they take great lengths to “not be alone”, even when it means being with people that aren’t adding to the quality of their life.

 

As Leah explained, her experience of mindfulness caused a dramatic change in her behaviors. Being self-aware allowed her to pay attention which meant she was able to react differently in situations – beginning with more self-control and the ability to feel her “anger falling away” (her words). I thought that this insight was especially interesting since we often don’t realize that it is our thoughts and perceptions that cause our emotions (and not what happens “to us”). Anger in particular is one emotion that can seem to come out of nowhere, “causing” us to react in ways that we are later not proud of.

 

Being self-aware or mindful is like turning the lights on in a pitch black room – instantly you are able to see everything. I call this seeing what “is” rather than what we have been telling ourselves is true. And, as the old adage goes, “the truth will set you free”.

 

Practicing mindfulness brings into your awareness all that you have been ‘running’ from. It’s in seeing what “is” that you know what you need to do (to change what you don’t like). Seeing things as they are rather than how you have been convincing yourself they are, means that you will have to face some of what you have been hiding (or running) from. In the end, being honest with yourself is the only way that change can actually happen.

 

Afterword:

The word ‘Mindfulness’ has become quite popular in today’s wellness literature. To be mindful, practice observing yourself whenever possible. Reflect on situations that have happened when you haven’t been self-aware and consider what you could have said or done differently to create a different (and more desirable) outcome. Stop blaming others for what happens and take responsibility for the direction your life has taken. Remember, everything that you think about with intensity manifests itself in your life. Who and what you are currently is a reflection of your inner world. Being mindful is stepping out of the world you have created in your mind and seeing everything as it really ‘is’.

Meditation practice is all about learning mindfulness. Not only will you reap the benefits of meditation, but your practice deepens your ability to live mindfully in all of your waking moments.

 

For guided meditations to help you develop mindfulness, please visit my Youtube channel  https://www.youtube.com/user/DorothyRatusny

or you can upload free guided meditations at anytime on soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/dorothyhelps

 

 

 

 

 

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A Mother’s Day Inspirational Message

Helping a Mother Understand what it means to be Gay: Healing a Relationship of secrets, pain, and anger.

 

My client and her mother are not so different from other Mother and Daughters. As I sit before both of them I feel hopeful. A Daughter willing to enter into therapy to work on gaining closeness and understanding with her Mother and to overcome the hurt of offensive comments and past wounds that she has carried largely in silence. A Mother, not knowing what it means to live in shame and self-loathing, nor to be misunderstood by those who are supposed to love you the most, is open and willing to be part of a process that she has little knowledge of, and certainly no idea of where it will lead.

 

What makes my client’s story so interesting for me has nothing to do with her sexual orientation (she initially dated men and women before deciding she would prefer a gay relationship). Rather it is the level of commitment that each woman brings into the therapy session that highlights the value they place on one another – on being a family, on improving the way in which they communicate so that words are not spoken without consideration of the other, and perhaps the ultimate hope of healing the past so that there can be a new way to experience one another – a way that they both can trust in.

 

What I see (and I tell them so) is two women reestablishing their relationship as ‘equals’. The “role” of Mother as I explain, is very different than how it existed before. There are no diapers to be changed, nor lessons on how to cross the street at a crosswalk, or what to expect with a first period. The vast amount of ‘Mothering’ has been completed almost two decades earlier; the role of Mother today needs to be one of: supporter, validating her Daughter’s painful hurts from the past (like the times when she was physically hurt by her older brother and then threatened if she ever spoke of it). The “role” of Mother today is simply to listen, to validate her Daughter’s journey in discovering who she is; and to ask the necessary questions that will provide her with understanding and knowledge so that she never again prejudges or mistakenly condemns her Daughter’s choices.

 

Mother’s day means different things to each of us. Perhaps you too have experienced a “shifting of roles” in your relationship with your Mother, relying on her for different things (perhaps just to lend an ear as you talk about a current issue on the phone, or having your favorite dish waiting at Sunday brunch). Perhaps you now see her as your equal. Or, as in some cases when roles actually become reversed, you can accept that your Mother has technically completed her ‘duties’ as your ‘go to’ for everything. You may have become someone that she now comes to for guidance and help.

 

Most important is to appreciate your Mother for all that she has done, accepting that her new role in your relationship may be something quite different. Finding what that ‘different’ is will (if both of you are willing) help heal the wounds of the past and build new parameters for what your relationship is…and is becoming.

 

I always appreciate my sessions with my client and her Mother.  I can see their closeness deepening (like the time recently when Mother reached out and took her Daughter’s hand, holding it gently as she listened to the story of how her brother used to pick on her, and become physical when the Mother was not around).  I can hear the patience in my client’s voice when she listens to her Mother tell her some of the backdrop to the past; how being a single parent with two young children was only one of several challenges that she rose above.  I know that these women have already begun healing…their laughter and sharing of one another’s lives in our session highlights how they are learning much about one another – as who they are now.

 

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When the love we are shown as children is fake, self-serving, and conditional…

When you were a child, perhaps the love you were shown by one or more of your caregivers was confusing because it was not consistent, unconditional, or pure in intention.  Now as an adult, the mixed messages and inauthentic actions that you continue to observe help make sense of what was likely always there.  What you are being shown is not unconditional love.  It never was.

 

Perhaps there are times when we all need to make choices around self-preservation and self-love.  We may need to ‘let go’ of the wishful thinking that someone could be kinder in their words or not ‘two-faced’ – acting as though they care when really they are just making the obligatory small talk – or perhaps feeding their own selfish need to feel good about their relationship with you.  Perhaps it is enough that we take care of our own needs, honouring what would be best for us – even if it means spending much less time in the company of others whose professed ‘love’ of us is self-serving at best.

 

These are real life stories; they exist for real people.  We cannot just assume that because we are ‘family’ that each member wants to or is able to love us without conditions.  Rather than compromise who we are, give in to societal pressures, or lose our self in the quest for approval based on someone else’s subjective and limited views, why not first acknowledge what you see and feel. Validating your experience doesn’t mean it will change anything.  But it will help you to make sense of what love is not.

 

 

Perhaps one person’s story of a childhood of “conditional” love will help explain what too many of us have experienced.  Perhaps you or someone you know can also relate and through reading this, know that you are not alone.

 

 

I watch closely but I do not feel love.  I hear the words “I love you” but they are empty. Sometimes the words spoken carry a weight of expectation: they are spoken in order to hear the same in return. I can feel it.  I watch the look on their face when I say the words back and they are satisfied, like an addict that has just found their fix.  Love is indeed a drug to those who do not know what it means to love themselves.

 

I realize that words without truth are just words.  They are confusing at best because they are empty.  They do not give me comfort nor do I feel cared for.  I am left confused – as if something is missing. Imagine a lifetime of this.  How I come to know love is through the love that exists within me – what I feel inside is love felt easily, naturally when I can be around animals – when I can feel and experience unconditional love in my love for my pets. They return my love. (As do certain extended family members whom I feel a genuine warmth and an unconditional love from whenever I see them.)  My pets return my love.  This feels wonderful …but most of all it feels REAL.  No words – just the experience of real love from within – expressed by me and also felt – reciprocated – in the instinctual behaviours of my pets directed toward me.  My love given and received by another living being – unconditionally – validates my experience of what genuine love is.

 

As with all kids, I learned to read the body language and facial expressions of my primary caregivers.  Perhaps most crucial – I could feel the energy attached to the words someone spoke.  Almost like a human ‘lie detector’, I was able to know instinctively when the words someone spoke were congruent and authentic with their true feelings – and when it was not.”

 

This is how we know truth.  Words spoken are not always truthful. In fact, we hide behind our words – spoken to cover our true feelings because it is safer – easier – and because it is what we have simply been conditioned to do.  When you continue to communicate with words that are not backed in (your) truth, you will continue to feel empty inside.  This is where the sadness comes from even though you may not realize it is building, growing – perhaps for years – inside you.

 

Words without truth are empty.  They die in the space between being uttered from someone’s lips even before they reach you.

 

 

 

As a child there is NO “off switch”.  Children learn how to guard and protect themselves only after many repetitions of being hurt, experiencing ongoing betrayals of trust, and of course through physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.  These are the experiences that teach us not to trust, that love is uncertain, conditional, and unsafe when ‘delivered’ by certain people.

 

 

As a child your tap simply “flows” with love.  You don’t know how to ‘shut it off’.  You LEARN to close your heart in self protection and self preservation because if there is no escape from the ongoing harm of lies, hurts, or abuse, you must find a way to survive.

 

I hear many stories from clients who were emotionally, physically, and also sexually abused by the people they placed all of their trust and love in.  These were people who I believe as parents had the most important job on the planet but failed to see it as so. 

 

 

As a human race, we have all experienced conditional love. The difference is that some parents make the conscious decision to not treat their children as they were treated; and that it is up to them to love themselves – to heal themselves first – before repeating the cycle.

 

When you return to your childhood home – whether it is to visit those same caregivers or to reunite with extended family at holidays and special occasions – the ability to intuitively perceive whether there is real love or just empty words – carries much weight. As an adult you no longer have to feel uncomfortable, sad, hurt, “wronged”, betrayed, or a lack of belonging – even though you likely will.

 

Our feelings (and the situations in which we have been wronged) remain buried deep inside us – buried because that was all that we could do with them as a child.  Buried because they were just too frequent and damaging for us to make sense of them at the time. Burying the hurt allowed us to carry on – to function in hopefully the best way possible – while always hoping, wishing – that what was told to us (when there were kind words) …was really true.

 

As an adult, one of the best ways to acknowledge any of the painful memories of your past is to open them; to look inside and see what is true. Find a means of first validating and then reconstructing the discrepancy between what you were told (e.g. empty words, lies, manipulation) and the truth. Once you can begin to make sense of what confusion you felt but could likely not explain nor understand (as a young child) – what inauthentic actions and hurtful words your caregivers did and said that made no sense, then you can begin to release – ”to shed” – this pain. 

 

These vast incongruencies meant that you were “right” to feel confused, sad, and uncared for, at the mixed messages of love, for its inconsistencies, for love being withheld, for the inappropriate and disproportionate degree of punishment (aka discipline) that were based on your caregivers inability to contain their rage, frustration, or overwhelmed feelings.  All of these examples were not love.

 

 

As adults, we are (in most cases) biologically able to have offspring. We are not always so able to offer the emotional security, unconditional love, and care that a child requires.  Or – as in most cases – we are able to offer this some of the time.

 

 

 

We need to examine our own childhood long before we contemplate having children.  We need to first make a commitment to heal our own past, (from abusive homes and parents who gave us conditional love (if love at all). We need to return to our childhood through the eyes of our ‘inner child’ and see what damage has been done – not for the purpose of blame and finger pointing, but out of the ability to heal past actions through understanding that the times when we didn’t feel the congruency of being loved – indeed we were “right” .

 

As an adult, if we remain observant to the actions of our former caregivers, we will be shown the accurate ‘proof’ of what was true.  It offers the inner child in all of us validation for all of the feelings felt when there was no explanation for why we were feeling them.  It also provides an understanding for all of the (years of) sadness, mistrust, and our reservation for letting our guard down with them now.  In the presence of these former caregivers and everyone else who acts inauthentic and dishonest – now you know the truth.  To know the truth will be enough to heal you.

 

THE PROACTIVE SOLUTIONS?

For some of us who are exploring the relationship with our inner child – (the inner part of ourselves that we recognize was hurt or wounded at a earlier age) – and because our inner child was without the adequate love, nurturing, protection, safety, kindness, etc to navigate through that particular experience successfully (aka without lingering emotional dissension or trauma) you may wish to return to a particular time in your mind where you experienced a past incident. Using visualization, allow your younger (inner child) self to speak ‘their’ mind.  Allowing them to have a “voice” offers empowerment, and a way of acknowledging the wrongness of the past. Having an inner conversation with your younger self where you allow your true thoughts and feelings to surface gives your inner child strength and the power to change the outcome by going back in time.  In your visualization, see the outcome you want – make it different!  (There is great healing in visualizing a different outcome while feeling the effects of what you are seeing in your mind.)  Let your inner child be heard, loved, validated, given fair treatment.  This is how we can wrong what has happened in the past.  This is what is meant by “taking back” or “reclaiming the self”.

 

Secondly, as an adult, it is up to you to speak honestly whenever you see (or sense) incongruence or in genuine behaviour.  (If you sense something is not congruent to what you are being told there is a strong likelihood that you are receiving what is not perhaps being spoken but is nonetheless there).  Speaking your truth is not to prove that your hunch is correct – it is to simply give your feelings a voice.  Speaking your truth never guarantees that someone will change, admit the truth, apologize, etc.  Speaking up with firm kindness and compassion simply gives you a window into the past – into acknowledging what is (and what you believe to be true) and for holding others accountable to their behaviours.  It means that you have acknowledged what you are witness to in that moment even if they cannot.  Notice how this step is enough to help you make your own peace with who they still are…and some of the past.

 

 

 

An Afternote or two…

The more inner work you do to be authentic and truthful, the more it will bother and even upset you when others are acting inauthentic.

 

Parents who themselves were mistreated or given “conditonal” love often seek love through their children – realizing their young children will love them “no matter what”.  Because of this parents can ‘get away with’ being quick to anger, using harsh words to manipulate or scold when not obeyed. Parents can enforce what action they demand through guilt, bribery, and by withholding love or through punishment.  There can be no trust gained for these caregivers for two main reasons:  one being that these parents may still continue to act out in ways that are harmful and that inflict wounds.  Second, if the damage is deep, their adult children will always be cautious, careful, and guarded – to not become prey to the habits of the past.

 

Parents have different relationships with each child because they are different people at each birth – and at each stage of child rearing.  How inexperienced parents raise their first child will be substantially different than how they raise future children.  Who that child is in their ‘nature’ and ‘personality’ also greatly affects the relationship a parent has with each child.  Even though you may be in the same family of multiple siblings – each of your siblings experiences throughout childhood will be significantly different.  Having older siblings to help (or hinder) a child’s experiences in their family of origin also plays another important role in their experience growing up.

 

For those of you seeking to make amends, to dialogue, communicate, seek understanding and an improved quality of relationship with your adult parent, realize that this may not be possible – not because you aren’t making a genuine effort or that your desire is not great enough – but for the same reasons that your caregiver’s behaviour existed in the first place.  Your parents may not be capable of letting go of their ‘stories’ and the misperceptions that have served them so well.  They may become defensive to your honesty and candidness – being triggered by the wounds of their own childhood.  They may become enraged, resorting to the same type of behaviour you witnessed so many times in childhood: and they may lash back – causing your ‘inner child’ wounds to be felt all over again. 

 

This is why much of the work in healing the inner child – or simply your adult self – is done without the presence of these caregivers.  It is safer without their presence or involvement and the healing may happen best when you can give your (inner child) self what you need in order to heal rather than hope or wait on your needs to come from a place where it has already been proven that it never can.

 

In the end, you may decide to have a very different – perhaps far more distant relationship with your adult caregiver.  In cases where the abuse and emotional and physical neglect were extreme – there is really no room for anything of substance (or depth).  These caregivers themselves are stuck in the emotional habits of blame – of not being willing to look at their own actions, nor are they willing to truly seek the change that is needed to heal themselves so that they can cultivate a healthy dynamic.  This limits any growth that could potentially happen. 

What remains is your choice – whether to allow them a simple place in your life, or not at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Manifesting an Ideal Relationship

I used to wonder how it would ever be possible to heal – improve – specific relationships.  After all wouldn’t doing so require the full commitment of both people?

With BELIEF and the commitment to realize (no matter how long it may take) what it is you want most…truly anything is possible!  Most of the time, when we fail to see the fruits of our efforts, its because we have given up (we have stopped before what we wanted has manifested completely!)

 

With belief you can manifest anything!  (In fact, what you desire most ends up being true because of such a strong resolve you have in making it a reality – even when at times its a reality only in your own mind!)

Consider that the one thing holding you back from having the relationship  (e.g. love, friendship, sibling, parent-child, etc) of your dreams is simply how you perceive it.  The other important factor is the amount of belief you hold in making your ideal relationship – a reality.  (This INCLUDES the effort and work that is required to propel you towards what you want most – making it happen!)

 

Most of us focus on the problem.  We become lost – caught up in the negative aspects of our relationship, and focused on the flaws of the other person, rather than the solution – and what we want the relationship “to be”.

 

We can manifest the most incredible ideals for anything in life….but the moment we begin to focus on the problems, we direct our focus and energy on these, perceiving (and even making them) to be bigger than they really are.  We also lose sight of what is “good” and “working well” and most important “how” we want to improve our relationship further.

FYI:  The other thing that we can do is minimize the ‘real’ problems (e.g. abuse, neglect, deceit, infidelity etc.) and convincingly ignore these in the “hopes” that they will somehow ‘improve’ on their own.

 

In the first example, we are more likely to ‘give up’ on our ideals for a healthy relationship, deciding that it simply isn’t possible to have what we want.  In the second example, we ignore and make excuses for the “real” problems rather than end the relationship and seek our ideals for a healthy relationship elsewhere.

 

Important to remember, manifesting your ideal relationship may no longer be possible with the person you are presently with.  In some cases, a relationship will not be able to improve because one of its members simply doesn’t have the same desire (or ability at present) for it to be different (better).  For a relationship to progress and develop: to strengthen, deepen, and transform in a way that takes both people to a new level of understanding, respect and love, both have to share a similar desire – and to focus on this desired outcome as they do the ‘work’ of making it so.

In all relationships, when both people share similar ideals – i.e. and if they both believe – without doubt – in the possibility of the relationship to reach new depths of love and intimacy, and levels of honesty, openness, and closeness – it will happen!  (It can also happen even if only one member of a relationship desires and believes in this – but as long as there is effort made towards this  – AND OF COURSE…that the other person remains open to the positive efforts they see are being made.  One partner’s positive efforts is often a catalyst for a relationship improving – if both members truly desire this).

 

So, what have you been manifesting?  Are you looking at the ways in which you may have an even more incredible relationship with those you love?  Or are you focused on what’s wrong, missing, or the ‘water under the bridge’ (old hurts and resentments of the past)?  Either direction will subconsciously bring you that result.

 

Make it possible to have what you want by defining it first – either in your mind or in written form – detailing exactly what you want your relationship to be.  Next, consider what you are willing to do toward accomplishing this.  Let your thoughts and ideals be the road map and your actions be the ‘tangible’ ways that you make your ideal relationship possible.

You may be surprised at first as you begin to see your relationships transforming.  Notice even the simplest ways in which you have been able to contribute to making your relationship “better”.

Sometimes (like in my case) your efforts won’t fully be materialized for YEARS!!  During this time, it may seem easier to throw in the towel, to stop believing, to give up the idea that you could ever have the kind of relationship with someone that you’ve always wanted.

Just remember… You have any relationship (providing that the other person is as deeply invested in deepening and strengthening the relationship – by first BEING / LIVING / the ideal for HOW you want the relationship to be.
For example: if you wanted a more open and honest dialogue with a family member, you need to begin by first modelling this behaviour, directly ‘asking’ for the same in return (forthright communication is such a pivotal component of healing and nurturing relationships) and providing examples of what this ‘looks like’ for them.  You also need patience and fortitude to overcome the preconceived ideas you have about what the other person is capable of – as well as persistence and BELIEF that EVERYTHING YOU DESIRE MOST is possible.

 

In the end, no matter how long it may take, perhaps you will be (like I was) both amazed and grateful at how it was possible all along – just as long as you remained focused on the positive behaviours (that you are responsible for), PATIENT (you may see results instantly, but it can also take years!), and constant in your BELIEF of the outcome you want most!

Namaste everyone!

 

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Witnessing Your Incredible Nature Through the Eyes of Others….

As much as we may experience the challenge at times of seeing ourselves with loving eyes (often we are our own worst critic, repeating many of the same words that we’ve grown up hearing others say to us), I am always in awe of  how incredibly healing it is to hear how others “see” us.

 

Whether from a friend, loved one, or perhaps someone we don’t really know – hearing genuine kindness spoken quite deliberately affects us deeply.  Hearing words of truth that are spoken through another’s eyes gives us a new ‘landing point’ – a way to see and evaluate ourselves differently.

At times the parts of our selves that we are struggling with most need reassurance, loving words, and acceptance. Having others acknowledge our greatness can help us to believe in our self; and to see with approval all that we already are.

Having nothing at stake, we can more easily consider the words of others spoken sincerely, and allow these words to sink ‘in’ …feeling their positive effects in ways we had perhaps not imagined.

 

Consider witnessing yourself through the positive words, adoration, and kindness of others.  Write these words so you can see and read them later  – and at moments when you may begin to doubt yourself.  Remain open to the ways in which messages of ‘truth’ and appreciation about who you are finds you… and trust that these are exactly the words that you need to hear at that moment.

 

Namaste everyone!

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How Do You Know?

With anything you choose, how do you know what will be a ‘right’ choice and what will be so wrong?

Remember who you are choosing for. When you make decisions that affect your life, are you choosing based on what someone else thinks or recommends, or do you focus on the best outcome based on your needs and what is right for you?

 

Growing up, we are taught to “listen” to our parents, to “do” what we are told, to ‘follow’ without needing to think for our self. If you have not had much practice in making decisions autonomously, how can you trust that what you decide will work out in your favour?

Decision making, like any daily life choice follows a particular pattern. If you focus on the problem or the challenge you are faced with, decision making will be more confusing.  You will continue to be caught between what you hope won’t happen and all of the possible scenarios that might. This never helps you to make a ‘right’ choice.

 

Focusing instead on what you want most gives you a clear directive.

How do you know if your decision will be the right one?

Answer:  Because you are focusing (and acting) in the direction of what you want most; and of what is best and right for you.

Namaste everyone!

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Friends for LIFE

Sometimes weeks or even months pass with limited contact between myself and my closest female friends.  When we finally get together, I can then sit with them over a meal and easily catch up; any time ‘in-between’ doesn’t feel as though it is measured in clock time; we pick up right where we left off, with such ease and comfort.

 

The few female friends I hold dearly in life, share a similar yet pivotal commonality: I never feel judged by them, and they don’t hold expectations of me or of our friendship.  I would hope that they feel the same from me.

 

This means that we can truly be ourselves; blurt out our ‘truths’, say whatever is on our mind at any moment… and not be afraid to reveal anything – since we hold no judgment toward one another.

 

Lately I am reminded of the importance of BEING a friend.  Too often I see others looking, relying, depending on their friends for much.  I wonder if we look at our ‘friendship’ relationships as ways in which we might give unconditionally – trusting that when we do so, we always manage to receive exactly whatever we need in that moment even if we have no preconceived idea of what that need might be.

 

The value of a true friendship suggests that we are loved by another.  Being loved by someone outside of our family suggests that others have CHOSEN US to hold dear in their life.  The state of a true friendship is measured not by how much face time two people share, but by the quality of the moments spent with one another, and the depth of honesty that they are willing to share.

 

…And I suspect that whomever said, “You only need a few good friends in life ” truly knew what this meant.  We can’t possibly engage in the depth of quality needed to nurture such an honest and authentic relationship if we are juggling fifteen people whom we call “our closest friends”.  Like any significant relationship, a ‘true’ friendship requires nurturing and growth over time.

 

Your friendships add to the quality of your life; the friends you hold dear to your heart grow with you even if the person is going through very different life experiences than you.

 

Consider what YOU VALUE MOST IN your friendship relationship.  

 

Perhaps its the simplicity of being accepted as you are …being loved unconditionally….. or being free to talk about anything without fear of judgment.

 

I am in awe of how much love I feel from my friends; and pray that they feel my love for them.  I enjoy and cherish knowing of our ‘history’ together…of sharing in so many happy moments that we both will remember forever… and for them being my soul sisters….

xoxo

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TRUE Compatibility in LOVE

love-never-fails

Living with someone else requires a dedication to the spirit.  It requires an understanding that their soul has unique experiences it seeks to have – experiences that may be different from your own.  This doesn’t mean that two people cannot be compatible unless they share EVERYTHING – rather it is when two people share everything that they follow NEITHER of their chosen paths – for their paths must be clearly their own and not a ‘compromise’ of what they truly desire.

Honour the wisdom of your OWN HEART.  Honour the freedom to experience yourself and your path at all times.  This is the true meaning of living a full life.  Even as you honour the life choices you make, begin to see how these will shape who you become – who you wish to be.  Knowledge of the path we wish to choose is important for our lives.  We can live anything as long as we choose it first; as long as we are indebted to the process of becoming who and what our soul yearns for.

 

In a love relationship, we must experience it first through our own eyes…. and including the urging of our heart at all times.  Openly examine your deepest desires to reveal what is most important – and to live that TRUTH.  To dishonour this inner calling only means you are left feeling something is missing, something is lost, and that there is inherently more that you need to be doing and living.

 

Couples who remain together indefinitely and who remain truly fulfilled have given themselves the “permission” to pursue the activity that they truly care about – its like taking many workshops of different styles of painting as an artist, but then choosing to paint pictures with the style that is truly what you enjoy most.  To do anything different would never feel authentic nor as pleasurable.

 

Let your spirit tell you what truly makes YOU happy and LIVE IT.  Trusting in the process that both people – if their compatibility is high enough – can live an incredible ‘couplehood’ together  – each one allowing the other to pursue their deepest desires and goals while pursing their own.

TRUE COMPATIBILITY in love is not dependent on doing everything together rather it is love INCLUSIVE of what actions and choices each member of the couple might pursue.

It is also TRUST that lasting love also requires movement for growth and independence for each of the two people.

 

To love someone unconditionally IS to accept that you will allow them to follow their unique path – to enjoy as many moments and times that are available for you both to share – but to acknowledge that loving someone fully does not require that you do everything SIMILAR or TOGETHER.  This is the true definition of acceptance – of unconditional love – of ‘unselfish’ love.  This way of being is what affirms, supports, and bonds a couple infinitely.

Namaste everyone!

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FALL RETREAT: – Honouring Self on the path of Enlightenment –

 

 

DIVYA PRAJNA RETREATS with Dorothy Ratusny presents…

 

Honouring SELF on the Path of Enlightenment: A FALL RETREAT

“Discover the WISDOM of your heart and the way to live enlightened now.”

 

At SUGAR RIDGE RETREAT CENTRE in Midland, Ontario

Friday, Oct 26th, 7:30pm* until Sunday, Oct28th, 2:30pm 

*First Didactic Session begins Friday at 7:30pm.  However, you are encouraged to arrive at anytime after 4:30pm and become acquainted with your beautiful surroundings.  Dinner (included) will be served at 6:00pm.

 

To honour your SELF, you must be willing to live in your TRUTH; for this is how you come to realize your greatness.  The sacred gift of living enlightened comes from learning what it means to honour who you currently are, and to live aware of your SELF as a spiritual being. To experience your spiritual self you must be willing to become quiet – to be guided gently within – to the place of infinite calm and wisdom that has always been a part of you. ” – Dorothy Ratusny, Retreat Facilitator

RETREAT HIGHLIGHTS

Didactic and Experiential Sessions: Explore the true meaning of spirituality and allow it to become more a part of your daily life.  *  Discover the sacred principles that support what it means to truly honour your SELF and live “in your truth”. *  Connect with the wisdom of your Highest Self (your soul consciousness).  *  Learn what it means to live enlightened now.  *  Nourish yourself with healing Nature Walks,  * a gentle YOGA class, *  and individual time for reflection and journaling.

Guided Meditations & Techniques: Gratitude, Manifesting Abundance and Self-Acceptance.  * Learn the Three ‘Power Points of Meditation’ – Centering, Grounding, & Expansion as effective tools for building your practice.  * Discover how to open your intuitive channels to hear the wisdom of your Highest Self. * Experience the YOGA postures specific to each Chakra – to open and restore the body’s energy systems and facilitating all healing. 

 

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Friday October 26th

*Arrive anytime after 4:30 to relax and settle into your cozy cabin, have some tea and snacks, and take advantage of some relaxing time outdoors or inside by the fire

6pm – Dinner

7:30pm – Guidelines for Retreat and Guided Meditation Practice on the notion of Gratitude and Manifesting

9pm – Reflective Questions for Self-introspection and Journal practice

9:30pm – free time and rest

 

Saturday October 27th

6:30-7:30am – Guided Meditation

7:30am-9am – Explanation of the Chakras and Experiential Session: Yoga Postures (Asanas) for Opening and Healing your Energy Systems (Chakras)

9am – Breakfast & free time

10am – Didactic Session: on Spirituality, Enlightenment, and Inner Wisdom.

[11:15 approx – Tea and snack break]

11:30-1pm – Didactic & Experiential Session: Knowing Truth & Accessing the Wisdom of your Highest Self + Meditation for opening to your Inner Wisdom

1pm – Lunch

1:45pm-3:30pm – Open ‘free’ time in solitude for you to simply ‘be’, & journal your reflections (snacks available)

3:30pm-4:30pm – Group Sharing Activity

4:30pm-6pm – Knowing ‘Your Sacred Journey’ – Didactic presentation with Guided Meditation

6pm – Dinner & free time

8pm-9:15pm – Experiential Technique – Reflective Writing with Guided Questions: Communicating with your Highest Self

9:15pm – Closing Meditation & Mantra

 

Sunday October 28th

6:30am-7:30am – Guided Meditation

7:30am – Reflective Journalling

8am-9am – YOGA

9am – Breakfast & free time

10am-11:30am – Nature Walk

11:30am-12:30pm – Final Didactic Session: Exploring the Wisdom of your Highest Self as you live Enlightened

12:30pm – Lunch

1:15pm-2:30pm – Closing Group Sharing and Final Guided Meditation

2:30pm – depart, and/or stay on a little longer and enjoy some quiet time in the beauty of Sugar Ridge

 

 

“Everything that occurs on this retreat has meaning.  Everything you experience is a communication about the path you are already on.  Deepen your intimate knowledge of SELF and the wisdom of your inner knowing” 

– Dorothy Ratusny, Retreat Facilitator

 

 

ALL-INCLUSIVE$535.00/pp(includes hst).

Each Cabin sleeps four comfortably with cozy duvets and private views of your beautiful natural surroundings.  Guests may choose to reserve private accommodation enjoying their own Cabin (one-time additional rate of $50).  Semi-private rates are $30 per person (one-time additional rate) which are ideal for couples or friends/family attending together.

The retreat fees include two nights of accommodations, all (six) vegetarian meals prepared on-site with fresh local ingredients (organic where possible), daily snacks and beverages, personalized retreat facilitation and individualized retreat handbook. 

You may bring a mat or pillow for meditation practice, or use one of the plenty of mats and cushions that are supplied by Sugar Ridge. Comfortable clothing, and dressing in layers is recommended, as well as weather-appropriate gear for walks in nature.  A personal notebook / journal for writing is needed.

Sugar Ridge is named after the abundant maple trees on its 150 acres of majestic forest.  It offers lush meadows surrounded by 3000 acres of provincial land, and 20 km of trails accessible from the property – making it a perfect oasis for finding space to be alone in quiet, to rejuvenate the spirit and to nourish the body.

www.sugarridge.ca Near Midland Ontario, Sugar Ridge is a newly (2008) built unique facility that boasts organic and locally grown vegetarian cuisine prepared daily on-site.  There is a wood fireplace and cozy seated area for lounging,  We will be using the 1200sq ft circular meditation studio designed with heated floor for many of our group sessions and meditation experiences.  For your individual work, you will easily find many intimate ‘spaces’ in and around the property to feel supported and nourished in as you experience the peaceful quiet of your inner being.  I chose Sugar Ridge for the site of this fall retreat because it has been designed and built with love, attention to detail and offers a perfect balance of rustic simplicity and quiet beauty to comfort and soothe you.  You will find and hear your inner voice (your spirit) here and feel the gentle calling of your Divine path.

Sugar Ridge Retreat Centre:  5720 Forgets Road Wyebridge, ON L0K 2E0 866-609-1793

 

For more information or to register please contact Dorothy: 647.889.8722 or dorothy@dorothyratusny.com

 

Dorothy Ratusny M.A., (C). OACCPP. (PhD Candidate) is a Certified Psychotherapist in Toronto, Canada who specializes in Cognitive Therapy.  She is the Author of ‘The Purpose of Love: A guidebook for defining and cultivating your most significant relationship’ and ‘Live Your Life’s Purpose: A guidebook for creating and living a purposeful life’. Dorothy is currently completing a PhD in Metaphysics (the study of science, world theology, and spirituality).  In addition to extensive formal training and study as a teacher of meditation, she offers a practical, skill-based approach, within a holistic model of healing, personal growth, and self-actualization. For more information, visit ww.dorothyratusny.com.

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Miracles…reflections for October 2012

In this brand new month of Autumn it is easy to see what is changing in our environment.  Noticing the new season with appreciation of what is perfect and beautiful is how you allow yourself to accept what IS with miraclous appreciation.  This same philosophy is how you might view all of the miracles of life that are constantly occurring all around you.

 

Appropriate especially to this ‘ever changing’ time of year, the idea of miracles reminds us to be clear about the miracles we most desire …and to look for them to show up in our life with belief and faith.  It also reminds us to go in search of what miracles of life we want to manifest with positive action.

When we are open to even the smallest miracle – we always receive so much more.

I remember as a child that sometimes my grandmother would lay next to me as I was falling asleep.  She would always lie close to me; so close that I could feel her breath on my face.  She would hold my hand firmly in her strong yet delicate hand.  I used to think that maybe it comforted her to do so.  I felt her expression of love vehemently and this gesture connected us to one another as we both fell asleep.

Visiting her in the 24-hr care facility where she has just celebrated her 89th birthday, and living in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, she took my hand – the first words she quickly spoke were, “I love you”.  As my sister and I sung traditional ethnic songs along with her and spoke in short conversation, she held my hand firmly – lovingly.  It was as if nothing at all had changed from all of those times as a child; except for the miracle of experiencing the power of her gesture.  The miracle in those moments was that she – in all of her frail, sometimes confused, and likely scared state of being – was comforting me.

I was reminded of all of the beautfiul ways that she had comforted me throughout life…and in that moment it was the greatest gift to feel comforted by her.  It reminded me of the miracle of love that transcends all obstacles, illness, and time – for all of us.

 

As you begin this new month and look ahead to all of the perfect ways you might experience the simple miracles of life…first be open.  Expect that miracles are present everywhere…and all that you need to do is allow them to touch your heart.

See EVERYTHING as a potential miracle…without judging it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’; and experience the perfect magic of miracles that exist everywhere.

Namaste everyone!

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BEING LOVE

As human beings, we have a fundamental and inherent need to experience love.  Whether it manifests itself as an unconscious desire to have others like and accept us (and so our behaviour becomes motivated by this need); or an deliberate drive to experience love through our relationships, the truth is….we all seek love.

Never before in the history of the universe have we recognized this universal truth – that love originates within us.  It is in experiencing love as something that we create from within … that we can feel LOVE.  The action of being love (sharing love with others) is another form of the expression of LOVE.  Third and finally, we have the ability to feel the energy of love that comes to us from another.  

Even if we do not feel love for ourself , or deserving of others’ love; we are able to both experience love and express it openly with others.  This is what makes our nature as loving beings so incredible.

We are awakening to the realization that we are capable of expressing love because LOVE is our inherent nature.

In fact, a UNIVERSAL PURPOSE of life is to be unconditionally loving.

In LOVE Relationships:

LOVE is both experienced as a feeling and a state of being.  We experience our self in a love relationship and feel a sense of validation; inspiration; elation; and purpose.  Historically, social and cultural conditioning teaches us that we are special and important when we have “found” love (simultaneously making it less desirable and fulfilling to be single).  Society still perpetuates the idea that a couple relationship is one of the ultimate goals in life, since it offers validation that we are indeed lovable. 

In actuality, we are born worthy of love.  If we at some point later in life we believe anything else it is because we have been “taught” that we are somehow “not good enough” (unfortunately, this is one of the most common ‘negative’ core beliefs humans possess). 

If our love relationship should come to an end; in most situations, rather than take a breath, step back, reflect on what we’ve learned, rediscover our SELF and seek to work through old issues and fears – we immediately begin looking for a new person to love us.

In this perpetuating cycle, we fail to discover (and also model for our children) the notion that our need to be loved drives our desire to: be in a relationship; our life choices, and even aspects of our character.

Despite the incorrect messages that bombard us to seek love in relationships with others; consider the truth of love’s origin.

“We are both beings of love and at the same time – seekers of love.”

It is in being LOVE that we are an incredible magnet, drawing others to us and building a framework of beautiful relationships, new friendships and a life mate.  We have been taught to seek love without learning how to be it first.  We have been given the wrong messaging that falling in love will ‘complete’ us. 

“Falling” in love is inevitable.  As soon as you allow your natural tendency as love to shine through; like a lighthouse beacon – you make it easily possible for others to find the beauty and grace within you.

In your experience of love in its purest form, there is nothing that you require; nothing that you need in return; nor expect from another.  Love in this form is unconditional in its giving.  This is the type of love we give and receive most easiest when we are being our highest self; our Spirit.

 

We understand Spirit best in the context of energy – universal consciousness – infinite divine wisdom and of course ‘God’.  To be god-like is to be our inherent blissful nature uninhibited by the mind’s ego.  To experience our Self in this divine state we exude love easily.  Not only can we easily be loving with others but our divine nature fills us with love.

When we are unconditional in our delivery and giving of love; it is because we are not dependent on anyone to love us in order to feel worthy, validated, purposeful. 

The greatest and most worldly blessing any human can realize is their own divine potential – and their infinite nature of being love.

There are a few ways in which we can cultivate a state of unconditional love much more of the time.  We can remain present to life and live from a place of present moment awareness (this allows us to live from our heart rather than from our critical mind).

Pursuing our innate (god-given) talents and gifts fulfills us; and this is a heart chakra quality.  When we are simply doing whatever we most love (which is also by the way what we are already talented in), there is no differentiation between Self and doing.  We become the very gift that we are blessed with being able to give.  To share this talent with others only reinforces the perfect nature of our Self.

We can also begin a spiritual practice – a journey into the Self through the experience of our self as oneness with a divine universal consciousness.  This can be contemplated within the context of exploring Self in therapy, through a guided or self-directed spiritual practice, or with a mentor or spiritual teacher.  Remember that any spiritual practice if done with authenticity will promote inner work and a discovery of who our Self is.

 

Those who have convinced themselves that they are worthy only as they have someone to love them; will forever be chasing the idea of love and the fairy tale image that their mind reinforces. 

This idea of finding love to feel loved can never be completely fulfilling because each one of us needs to ultimately love who we are first.  Love originates in our heart.

Consider experiencing yourself and your feeling of love here; in the center of your chest.  Expand this awareness by breathing with inward intention.  As you practice expanding your feelings of love from within it becomes second nature.  You feel the experience of love first within and as it expands and “fills” you – it becomes easy to share it with others.  This is you being love. 

Namaste! 

 

 

 

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