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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The Secret for Getting “Unstuck” in your Life…. 3 STEPS for What You NEED TO DO

I nor anyone else cannot make you do what you need to do. If you find yourself flailing, feeling ‘lost’, unproductive, uninspired, anxiety-ridden, waist deep in self-sabotaging behaviours, the way back – the easiest route you could possibly take involves believing in yourself; and in making the ordinary – extraordinary. Ultimately, you must find a way to own up to what you are doing.

It’s called an Awakening.

And it can’t happen unless you are prepared to look at yourself with stark honesty and truthfulness. Stop telling yourself that you are justified for being this way and move beyond what you have always done.

I find that clients shift their reality when they are made to look at themselves truthfully. In those moments when I speak candidly and honestly with them, if often triggers several uncomfortable but equally relevant emotions: shock (that someone has found them out), sadness, self-pity, shame and at times …as their psyche seeks to quickly defend their ongoing behaviours (which they’ve built their current life around), they may also make bold excuses for why they can’t do what they know (even if they won’t admit it) is the ‘right’ thing. This by the way, is how you hold yourself hostage.

How long have you been adrift? Caught up in the stories that you tell yourself and why you can’t do something? For example: ”It’s too hard”, “I’m in too much pain”, “I don’t know how”, “I don’t have the time”, “I don’t have the motivation”, “I feel lost”, “I don’t know what to do”, “I’m afraid of doing the wrong thing” etc, etc. Whatever statements you cling to, whatever set of “untruths” that you have adopted as your beliefs, take a closer look at them now. Even when what you are telling yourself SEEMS true….it never truly is. Everything that you do or don’t do is based on what you tell yourself and what you have chosen to believe.

 

With every excuse you make (and there will always be more than a hundred reasons why you remain stuck and feeling unfulfilled), KNOW that the time comes when you can no longer function this way. It may take months, even years of constant repetition of your ‘untrue’ stories swirling around in your mind, or any number of self-sabotaging behaviours and unhealthy habits, all reinforcing whatever “stories” you tell yourself.

OR… You can decide one day that you will chose to think (and act) differently. Just remember, it only has to be one different thought that leads to a new behaviour…. for you to see what you are really capable of.

An awakening is a moment of truth. It is examining your inner dialogue and the actions that follow and then ‘waking up’ to see that you have not been living honestly. You have convinced yourself of whatever limitations you hold because for whatever reason, this (you have convinced yourself) is EASIER than doing the necessary WORK to fix or change your existing behaviours. It doesn’t need to be me in a session of therapy to help you by pointing out what you already know – but keep avoiding. For most people, it means getting to a place where it becomes intolerable to function at all before something ‘gives’. (And this by the way is very sad to watch). As creatures of habit, we thrive in the comfort of knowing our misery – even though we feel awful and hopeless.

The idea is to be motivated by the search for pleasure rather than staying in the pain of what we know so well. If you’re still feeling a strong need to defend your position of inaction right now, consider any of the iconic people (Mahatma Gandhi is one) who have been subjected to immense physical and emotional pain and who have chosen to thrive inside their mind – directing their thoughts to what they hope and look towards, rather than the suffering and misery that surrounded them.

Awakenings occur when you are simply honest with yourself. (Not rocket science – just truthfulness). When you are willing to state the facts rather than hide behind what environment you have constructed that allows you the facade of being safe – protected from the world or your previous failings at seeking change, . Ask anyone who has overcome a personal hardship and they will tell you that it was perseverance that made it possible for them to overcome; perseverance and belief – and never looking back. Awakening is a reality check – but only as you remain humbled to its truth – the truth of what “is” and not what you keep telling yourself.

 

Inspirational quote by Gautama Buddha (563 BC-483 BC) on earthy

 

3 STEPS to getting yourself unstuck and moving in the direction of what will heal and support you in life:

1. Admit honestly (write it down so it’s real and starring you back in the face) what you NEED TO DO DIFFERENTLY in order to be the change you say you want. (Step Two will test you to see just how badly you want “it” and how willing you are to stop living in the untruths you have surrounded yourself with.

 

2. With discipline, and yes, even though it may be emotionally or physically painful at times to move past what you’ve been convinced of for so long – FOLLOW THE ACTION STEPS you have listed in STEP ONE and SEEK HELP from either a professional who has proven they know the journey because they have lived it (so ask them if you’re not sure!).  You need to feel confident that they will give you additional tools and strategies while keeping you accountable to the goals you have set making it possible for you to see the change happen.

 

3. Never Stop.

As much as change feels overwhelming for many people, if you attempt to avoid it you will return to being fearful and deny the unavoidable path of constant growth. Regardless of your age, life continues to be filled with new experiences, teachings, and wonderful new opportunities if you remain open and look for these.

 

Now get started!

 

namaste everyone!

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A Note about Sadness

In a world were so much focus is placed on our outer appearance, the state of what physical objects we own, how we look and appear to others, what others see; and what we wish to see of our self, there is less of a need to acknowledge and honour what is within. Working to find our unique path in life; one that allows us to feel a sense of promise, hope, and fulfillment happens only as we are aware of our heartfelt desires; those gentle and yet sometimes fierce inner urgings that tell us to take a certain path; to try this new thing, or to go in search of a particular new experience.

 

 

Feeling attuned with your inner self means being aware of this place deep within you. Your sadness, and any other inner anxst or turmoil are often visible reminders that there are things beneath the surface; inside your being that need attention.

 

Sadness can often be the result of some past life situation – perhaps unresolved.  A general low level of sadness that seems to be there whenever you find yourself in moments all by yourself, can have very different meaning for you.   The main point is to no longer attempt to cover or deflect the sadness (or any other emotion you may be feeling) and instead step in ever so further. The point of looking at any emotion to explore and uncover its root origin allows us to have information- to have knowledge about why we feel the way we do and to address the underlying root cause.

 

Sometimes you will find yourself feeling sad for no real reason. The sadness comes from your train of thoughts and whatever you were thinking in those recent past moments.  Uncover your thoughts to see how your thoughts influence your overall mood state.

 

Sadness like any other feeling has an underlying purpose. It is there to reveal what may be missing, unhealthy, unsatisfactory, or disturbingly wrong with a present life situation. Sadness also comes out of our choice to focus on a particular life situation without truly empowering ourselves to discover what we need to do with it. We remain lodged in the feelings of sadness and replay the conversation or event rather than contemplate “What can I learn from this?” or “What would I need to feel at peace (happy, content, healed, etc) from this situation instead?”

Let your heart (your intuitive source) point out some real possibilities and begin to imagine yourself following the path toward them. Contrary to any previous thought, you do not have to remain sad; sadness is a feeling that is the result of “something” and not a resting place for our state of being.

 

The next time you glimpse even a fleeting sense of the feeling of sadness, consider what you are guided to do instead. Feel the sadness but decide whether you will choose to remain here; whether you will make sadness a regular experience or whether you will acknowledge it as simply an emotion that calls on you to attend to its for purpose – it is always a feeling that requires further exploration and examination.  Likely your decision to explore sadness will allow for some positive action that moves you toward feeling an entirely different set of emotions after all.

Namaste everyone!

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A DAY in Celebration of Fathers….

There are many definitions for who and what a ‘father’ is.

In organized religion, “Father” (theologian, priest, Padre) is the term used to refer to a person who performs and oversees a sanctioned sacred ceremony. “Father” is also the name for a higher power – e.g. “God the Father” (the first person of the Holy Trinity). Biologically, a father (a male parent) is someone who has co-created a child.

As a transitive verb: “to father” is to beget, bring forward, make something new; and to accept responsibility for.

 

*Check out the origin of Father’s Day at the bottom of this blog*

 

We likely expect a great deal from our Father. After all, they have taken on this role willingly and eagerly, right? This means that they should know what fatherhood is all about and consistently “know best”. Of course, fathers are not perfect….nor can we expect them to be.

 

Perhaps I offer a different viewpoint simply because as a Psychotherapist, I am privy to hearing the less than positive experiences clients convey about their own fathers, husbands, and father-in-laws.  I hear how these men have come up short; “have not spent enough time with their young growing children”, “have been absent”, “verbally (emotionally, or even physically) abusive”, “manipulative”, “irresponsible” and the like. (And ‘Yes’ I do hear the “good” stories; but predominantly I am called upon to help with the ‘less than ideal’ realities others live with).

 

Just because you have co-created a child doesn’t mean you automatically become a great father. Indeed, the title ‘father’ like any ‘title’ is one that requires consistent effort, learning, patience, understanding, discipline, forgiveness, and so many other traits that typically require more “work” than you could ever have imagined.

 

 

Just yesterday I heard ‘a father’ scream at the top of his lungs (so loudly I wanted to find cover as far away as I could get to) at “his” 6-yr old son because the young boy was “not listening”.

 

 

I don’t hear people claiming that parenting is an easy ‘role’, yet it is a role that challenges any adult male to come to terms with their own demons, to take responsibility for their choice to co-create, and to ‘make peace’ with their family of origin issues (including their own relationship with their male parent).

 

Fatherhood should you choose that ‘role’ is one that requires the commitment first to be your very best self. Fatherhood (and similarly Motherhood) are very much among the most challenging ‘responsibilities’ you will have. For most people, the role of parent is a great character builder; teaching us to think of the well being of others and in cases, to put others’ needs first before those of our own, to love unconditionally (even when our child does not act lovingly toward us), and to allow ourselves to be stretched and moved to grow beyond who we once were.

 

Fatherhood is a significant and life altering role – primarily in the first, formative years of a child’s development, and then, hopefully as your child grows, you recognize that your role as a father changes. You become mentor, guide, counsellor, and also friend. There will be a pivotal moment in your child’s life where you really aren’t practicing the ‘practical’ role of father as you once did. If you can let go of your need to attach too much of your self-worth to your title (and this usually goes hand in hand with making less demands of your now adult child (or children), and simply enjoy their company); you will likely see the fruits of your labour, and enjoying the forever changing relationship that exists between parent and child.

 

Success in fatherhood isn’t always ‘getting it right’, but being willing to learn from your past behaviours in order to be different – and of course –”getting it right” going forward.

 

 

Clients who report to have the most loving relationship with their adult children are those who enjoy them; without continuing to micro-manage details of their life.  Fathers who truly embrace their parental role realize that love is the only true requirement of them – particularly as a child grows up, becoming their own adult.

 

As a father, consider giving up any and all needs to be ‘perfect’, ‘all knowing’, and ‘right’ (including the need of your ego to prove yourself so), and instead let the experiences of your role as father: teach, shape, challenge, and aspire you to being your greatest version of yourself.

The role of father does not imply perfection, nor wisdom.

 

Rather it is in a man’s ability to be open to learn from their life experiences as ‘father’, to learn from all that their child ‘demands’ of them (because children are among life’s great teachers even when they do not realize they are being so), and from their ‘duties’ as caregiver, role-model, and mentor – that ultimately they experience the wisdom and grace of what teachings they have so perfectly been given.

 

Become a great father by being willing to change, transform, and grow through examining your ‘behaviours’, your character traits, vulnerabilities, and existing belief system. Deciding to see yourself honestly will then influence how you choose to be different. Consider how you want to teach, model, mentor, and offer guidance so you can be the great father you aspire to (and especially in those most challenging moments).

 

This isn’t a new message I’m relaying. The message is worth repeating because so many men idealize the “role” of father when indeed one’s ability to be ‘a great father’ to anyone begins with your ability to first be a great human being.

 

Some practical suggestions if you are contemplating fatherhood or …reflecting on aspects of your present role as a father that could be better:

 

Begin with a simple list of behaviours and character traits that you believe would make you a great father. (Noting that some of these may be what you already possess). Next, make a second list of any behaviours and personality traits that you know would benefit you as a person– without attaching yourself to any roles here.  Even if you don’t initially know how you will accomplish your changes (which is what clients initially say), trust that by imagining the new actions that would support your new ideals, you begin a path toward becoming different. Change doesn’t happen without working toward a new outcome. Making self-improvements always has a positive spill-over effect to how you are as a …. brother, husband, friend, uncle, boss – and any other role you choose to be.

Notice the similarities of both lists.  Hhmmmmmm  

Now…begin moving toward the changes in small steps.

And finally….A father doesn’t have to have produced ‘off-spring’ to be a great father. I know this first hand.

Namaste everyone!

 

Did you know?

The idea for an official Father’s Day celebration came to a married daughter, seated in a church in Spokane, Washington, attentive to a Sunday sermon on Mother’s Day in 1910. This was two years after the first Mother’s Day observance in West Virginia.

 

The daughter was Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd. During the sermon, which extolled maternal sacrifices made for children, Mrs. Dodd realized that in her own family it had been her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran, who had sacrificed-raising herself and five sons alone, following the early death of his wife in childbirth. For Mrs. Dodd, the hardships her father had endured on their eastern Washington farm called to mind the unsung feats of fathers everywhere.

Her proposed local Father’s Day celebration received strong support from the town’s ministers and members of the Spokane YMCA. Newspapers across the country, already endorsing the need for a national Mother’s Day, began carrying stories about the unique Spokane observance. Interest in Father’s Day increased.

 

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson and his family personally observed the day. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended that states, if they wished, should hold their own Father’s Day observances. He wrote to the nation’s governors that “the widespread observance of this occasion is calculated to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children, and also to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”

 

It wasn’t until 1972, sixty-two years after it was proposed by Mrs. Dodd, Father’s Day was permanently established by President Richard Nixon. 

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ONENESS….

ONENESS can exist in many forms in your life.

When you feel at ONE with yourself, you likely feel empowered, balanced, ‘in control’ and self-aware.  These positive feelings are the direct result of being honest and authentic with yourself and others; and in behaving in a manner that is congruent with your values and beliefs.

Fundamentally, the idea of oneness urges you to be your best self by being REAL and holding to your highest integrity at all times!

 

When you compartmentalize the various aspects of your self, you begin to feel false, fake, and ingenuine.  This is because when you show others the part of you that you want them to see while being something different with others, or in your own private moments; you actually become disconnected and divided from your SELF.

It’s like being on your best behaviour some of the time, while hiding the parts of you that you don’t particularly like.  When you do this, you actually never really get to work on your inner growth because you are too busy pretending you are someone you are not.  In fact, the fascade you have created tends to fall away in moments of high stress, mental and physical fatigue, or if you let your guard down.  Since your core beliefs are already a well-established part of who you are, it becomes really difficult to keep your beliefs ‘hidden’ for long.  Your true thoughts and feelings end up revealing themselves in inopportune moments; but they always get out.  You might think you are hiding the REAL YOU from others in order to maintain relationships, make good impressions, or get what you want; but in the end…..your true character comes out.

 

Some examples of behaviors that come out of our disavowed self are: smoking; excessive and-or binge eating; excessive or impulsive drinking; drug use; uncontrollable gambling; cheating; and violent behaviors.

These behaviors become the hidden part of you that you often do ‘in secret’, and later feel shameful for. 

 

So why not make peace with the part of you that you have chosen to ignore  for a long time?

Dare to ask yourself: Who am I?

 

Consider how you would define yourself to yourself.  How do you describe who you are?  What parts of you would you like to change and how do you then integrate these “improved” parts back into the ONE person that you could be with everyone and at all times? (e.g. No more being on best behavior, or not speaking truthfully when someone asks for your opinion).

I’m sure most people would say that they know themselves.  In fact, that’s one of the first comments clients make when I give them this challenge.  Yet when you start putting pen to paper, how well can you really describe yourself?  How honest are you really?

 

Make sure you include what are all of your greatest qualities as well as the parts of you that you are less happy with.  Once you have exhausted your list of attributes, you may then ask one or two trusted others to give you their input.  Be sure to explain that you want to hear what they think are your less than admirable traits as well as your most positive ones! (Eliciting others’ perspective isn’t necessary; but if you are unsure of how to describe yourself this may help.  Without judgment, consider how come you need to hear another’s perspective.  Do you trust enough in what you think?  Do you appreciate hearing how others’ perceive you?)

As you bring awareness to how you see yourself, you realize that what you reveal of yourself to others and who you are in those quiet moments of your life where no one is watching may indeed be different!!

The idea of oneness as I discuss in my upcoming book,

Wisdom:  A guidebook of Universal truths and teachings to inspire and transform consciousness; and for living an enlightened life depicts a state of conscious awareness where you practice living congruently and revealing your true self at all times.  No longer do you disavow your ‘dark side’ (the part of you that you attempt to keep hidden; that you are less proud of), but in fact you are willing to look closely at yourself in those moments when you are behave in ways that are not indicative of your true nature, and seek to work on the changes in your thought patterns and beliefs that will help you successfully be your ONENESS.

 

For example, perhaps you have a tendency to lose patience easily, to be aggressive or even bully others to get your way, or maybe your self-serving or egocentric attitude continues to damage your relationships.  Your commitment to ONENESS is your willingness to acknowledge this incongruent part of your self (the parts of YOU that begin with a thought or unhealthy belief and result in negative actions and behaviours).  Instead, become far more observant of the conflict that begins with your own negative thought patterns and work to change this so that you can live congruently with your ONE true nature: the part of you that is wholly kind and loving.

When you seek to establish oneness you no longer have to pretend.  You can be your true, authentic self – your whole self – with everyone.  Reveal your TRUE SELF in all areas of your life; with all people; at all times; and you will no longer need to hide or conceal the ‘dark side’ of your personality.  In those far fewer moments of weakness….because we are human … you will quickly correct what you said or did…in part because you are practicing greater awareness of your ONEself; but also because your new mandate – your new way of being in the world ….is to be ONENESS.

 

“The idea of oneness is to live congruently, with greater consciousness; as a highly evolved being.”

-Dorothy Ratusny

 

If you truly want to practice living ONENESS….consider what parts of your self you continue to keep hidden.  What behaviours do you want to continue keeping “secret”?  Rather than being inauthentic, consider how you might give up hiding the parts of yourself that you don’t like; consider how you might get help to change your actions and reactions, so that you no longer need to expend energy and effort hiding these parts of you away from the rest of the world.

Acknowledge what thoughts and behaviours you are not happy with.  Decide instead how you truly want to be.  (Sometimes we lie to ourselves saying we want to be different but really we aren’t truly prepared to do the inner work to be accountable to those changes).  Consider that you may need help from others you trust; and you may need to ask for gentle reminders when others notice that you have stepped back into old patterns.

Know that you will need to be far more self-observant and AWARE during those moments that you are tempted to live incongruently, and instead call on your conscious nature to bring your attention to what you are doing…. or what you are about to do.

ONENESS of self is a journey. 

It is something that we work toward throughout our life as a function of our intentional evolution and higher state of consciousness. 

Attaining a congruent nature as a loving being says you can be your highest self – your most loving self – with everyone at all times.  That is the ideal we strive for.

Namaste!

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JULY 2011: ‘Bodycare’

This month, consider the challenge of paying greater attention to your physical body – and at the same time, detaching from it. 

Your physical body works best with kind attention to what it needs: rest, exercise, healthful foods, and proper care.  And yet, as much as we identify with our physical self, your body is not you. 

If you take excellent care of your body, you enjoy the benefits of having few if any limitations in your physical world.  At the same time, maintaining an attitude of non-attachment to your physical self challenges you to identify with your inner being – your spirit

Know that you are much more than simply your physical nature.  In fact – you are a divine spiritual being having a human (physical) experience.

Some time ago I began seeing a new client.  He was destined to spend the rest of his adult life in a wheelchair – the result of a car accident that occurred while returning home from his soccer game.  At the time of the crash, he was 26.  He had been working as a financial auditor – and was given much responsibilty and autonomy at such an early stage of his career.  As he spoke about what must have felt like a lifetime ago, I could feel the obvious passion he still felt for this profession; one indeed he was well suited for.

Today, life is very different.  Even the timing of our sessions means that my client has not eaten all day and refuses the water I offer.  He explains that he does so because he has no control over his bowels.  While he remains sufficiently independent, living on his own; he is paralysed below the waist.  He describes living a solitary life.  Married for a short time, his wife (whom he met on-line three years ago and who moved from another country to be with him), recently left claiming it was “more difficult than she might had ever imagined”.  While he was initially bitter (and even hateful), my client has begun to forgive, understanding that “it was a lot to ask that someone should want to be with him, giving up so much of what they could do” because of his physical limitations. 

My client attends support meetings with other wheelchair patients at a nearby hospital.  By his reports, the statistics are certainly grim.  Most individuals who become parapalegics also inevitably become divorced.  Of the 15 others who were part of the support group when my client began attending, only 3 remain.  While new individuals continue to join, my client informs me that 12 of the initial members have since committed suicide.  A physical body now vastly tranformed, makes for an almost unbearable life. 

He too admits deliberating the idea of taking his life.  What has kept my client going these last 12 years has been his “Mother’s love and care” (his Father has recently passed), and possibly (although he has not admitted so) the hope of finding love again. 

During this month, make an effort to reclaim appreciation of your physical self – and yet at the same time – become somewhat detached to the significance of your physical body. 

July offers us a perfect time to rethink lifestyle and dietary habits, to create goals – as well as the resolve to improve our ‘bodycare’.  It may be perfect timing to remember with gratitude the ease to which your physical body performs. 

You might also consider not attaching your whole nature – your entire self image – to how you view and display your body.

Know that your body is indeed important, yet it remains only the ‘vessel’ of your human existance.  Instead, consider your SPIRIT. 

Embrace the opportunity to live as a spiritual being ‘in action’ and live showing the world your true nature – the divine element of your inner self.

As for my client, he has been considering a return to university – to retrain in the field of social work.  He wants to help other wheelchair injury victims, by reminding them of their true nature – to be a shining light in the world – simply as they already are.

In doing so, I imagine he will reclaim more of his whole self.

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TRUTH

In a perfect world there is the integrity of kind words and actions. 

There is hope and the mindful blessings that occur when one is easily kind and compassionate. 

And there is truth.

Much can be done to live kindly and with loving action.  But without truth you become easily lost.  Without truth your lies, secrets, ommissions, and distractions serve to convince others of who you say you are trying to become. 

Without self-honesty and a willingness to admit your truth, you become ever so quietly mired in the lies and misguided statements you tell yourself (and others).   Without truth you have nothing.

I listen to clients and others talk about their lives and I can sense when they are being self-honest …. and when they are trying to convince themelves of their lies.  The two sound very different.  As a therapist my job is to ask socratic questions which allow clients to see the events of their lives – and the way they view themelves and the world…differently.  I am also known to challenge clients – encouraging them to live in their truth.

With honesty a person is willing to look at their self even when what they admit is painful, embarassing, or self loathing in nature. 

With self-honesty there is a real awakening – as if revealing what is true in and of itself begins the process of healing, transformation, and  discovery. 

The act of conscious awareness, ownership, and self-integrity means that you can look ahead to what changes you seek; and how you want to be.

When you don’t ‘live in your truth’ your web of lies becomes unbearable to manage.  After a time you begin to falter because – after all – the deliberate act of maintaining “untruths” is both time consuming and mentally fatiguing.  You suffer in all aspects of your personal and professional life and you are inhibited from true change – from growth – and from having the kind of life that you really want.

Ask yourself if your willingness to hide the truth is really worth it.  Ask how much more of your life quality are you willing to sacrifice for what you have set up to believe in your mind.  For no matter how good you become at ‘lie telling’, your body, your DNA and molecular structure – your inner self …knows the truth. 

The inconsistency between the tales you spin and what your inner       consciousness knows keeps you locked in anxiety, fear, depression and above all else – your true self.

When are you willing to stop hiding?  When do you begin to live truthfully?

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Your Authentic SELF

Perhaps one of the most undervalued privileges of the human experience is self-knowledge. 

Beyond describing what it is that we do for a living, our preference of music genre, or our favorite ice-cream flavor, how well do we really know our self?  Much of our adolescence is spent contemplating who we would like to be (or self-loathing who we think we are) in comparison to peer groups and current media influences. As we enter adulthood and strive to be autonomous, self-knowledge is somehow less important that the perception others have of us. We decide on a vocation, a life partner and all of the other tangible items (e.g. job status, accumulation of material goods, even our decision to have children) that fulfill society’s requirement for living a meaningful existence – all without placing value on knowing our self.

Knowing your self comes from journeying within. At the core of self-knowledge is honesty and authenticity. You need to be willing to see yourself accurately, and yet with acceptance rather than judgment. Sometimes this is best achieved when a loved one can act as a mirror, reflecting back to you what they observe. More often, it is your commitment and perseverance to self-awareness that elicits insight, knowledge, and understanding. Out of the honest observation of your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, it becomes intolerable to ignore the truth. Self-knowledge promotes positive action.

Out of self-knowledge you are forced to examine your vulnerabilities and imperfections. Through self-awareness and self-responsibility, you see the various events of your life as challenges to grow – and to become more. Through this process of growth, you evolve. Self-actualization (the realization of one’s true potential) is the result of the relentless pursuit of conscious awareness and personal growth.

While clients may initially seek therapy for help and guidance with a specific problem or situation, the inescapable benefit of the therapeutic process, is the opportunity for self-honesty and clarity. The net result is an understanding and authenticity that comes from being truthful. You may not always like what you see, but your commitment to self-honesty is what facilitates positive change.

Some suggestions for attaining greater self-knowledge and understanding:

Create a ‘Who am I’ list.

Use a journal to record an exhaustive list of qualities that best describe who you are. Without screening or judging your thoughts, note all of your traits, core competencies, positive attributes as well as what aspects of yourself you would like to change. The process of creating such a comprehensive list requires you to identify your self-concept (how you see yourself). The qualities that you wish to change provide you with a place for personal growth.

Practice Conscious Awareness.

Self-knowledge and understanding cannot exist without consciousness. Practice present moment awareness for bringing your attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours – particularly at times when you are not your ‘best’ self. With conscious awareness, you continue to learn about yourself. Out of self-knowledge, you choose how you want to be.

‘Live in your Truth’.

Without self-honesty, it is impossible to develop a healthy sense of self. Out of honesty and knowledge comes the ability to grow self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem requires that you value yourself and your happiness. You feel confident in your ability to express yourself with honesty and authenticity. To live in your truth means that you honour what is best and right for you and you live according to that.

With greater self-knowledge and understanding, comes increased clarity of what you want from your relationships. You look to cultivate relationships that are based on integrity and truth. Out of your desire for honest relationships, you seek others who have healthy levels of self-esteem, knowing that positive self-esteem sustains the honest expression of one’s self. You inherently move away from relationships that no longer contribute to your quality of life, largely because you are willing to recognize the limited capacity of that relationship.

Your ability to be truthful with yourself and others determines the quality of authenticity that you experience. For example, it becomes very difficult to feel authentic happiness when you have dismissed your needs in place of putting the needs of others first. When you believe that you need to sacrifice what you want in order to be loved, cared for, or desirable, you build inauthentic relationships. It becomes only a matter of time before you feel miserable. What you hoped to gain in moulding your life around another human being has become meaningless. You feel resentful and angry with yourself for being taken advantage of and yet you alone are responsible for giving away your power.

When you master the art of fulfilling your needs, not at the expense of others but certainly as an alternative to living vicariously through others, you have the tools for making your current relationships more fulfilling and complete. Cultivating personal happiness (which comes from the effort you place on knowing and valuing the person you are, and nurturing self-love) allows you to create the single most important relationship you will ever have – with your self. Enigmatically, it is the positive relationship that you have with your self that enables you to thrive in your relationships with others. Source: The Purpose of Love: A Guidebook for defining and cultivating your most significant relationship (Insomniac Press, September 2007).

In an authentic love relationship, the level of honesty (and openness) expressed is directly correlated to the depth of intimacy and closeness that is experienced. Without revealing your true thoughts and feelings to your partner, he or she can never know you. With mutual self-knowledge comes the potential for creating the highest degree of compatibility between two people. It is only out of knowing yourself intimately, that you can be selective in choosing the most suitable partner. Without self-knowledge you are more willing to tolerate qualities and characteristics that less appropriate to you.

Self-knowledge as a precursor to authentic love:

Create an ‘ideal mate’ list.

The better you know yourself, the easier it is to define the qualities and traits that are most important to you in a love relationship. Whether you are in an existing relationship, or in search of one, take the time to establish your list of ideal qualities suitable for a life partner. Prioritize the top ten ‘deal breakers’ that you absolutely require. Creating such a list helps give you clarity as to what you need to look for. Notice if your ‘ideal mate’ list changes the more self-knowledge you acquire.

Practice honesty and authenticity at all times.

Despite wanting to make a good impression and to reveal only your ‘best’ self at all times, honesty and authenticity are fundamental to a healthy love relationship. This means sharing your expectations about what you want from a life partner and what you envision for your life. Knowing that your goals and ideals won’t always match up with your partner’s is natural. That’s the purpose of dating. To convey that you are something different just to align yourself with another person begins a spiral of inauthentic behaviour. Knowing yourself means that you can readily admit when a relationship is no longer right for you.

Build healthy self-esteem.

Positive self-esteem supports your ability to be truthful and honest. Healthy levels of self-esteem are established out of self-knowledge and awareness. You demand more out of your love relationships simply because of the high value you place on yourself. (This is different from “ego” which is an inflated view of one’s self for the purpose of replacing feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt). Seeking ways of supporting and building healthy levels of self-esteem is an important life-long effort. The higher your level of self-esteem, the more willing you are to seek out for the ‘best’ partner rather than settle for someone who is ‘good enough’.

 

 *The above article was originally published in HEART Business Magazine, Spring 2009.

 

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just…let go

How would you assess your first week of a brand new year in your life?

Have you experienced everything exactly as you have imagined…or have there been challenges?

Any time you set an intention you can be sure that you will receive Universal Guidance, help, and the occasional challenge to test how well you are doing (and to give you a gentle reminder of that original intention).

In my previous blog, I encouraged you to consider the month of January as a time of ‘surrender and release’ to all that is not working in your life; and to all things that do not serve your highest good. 

 

Anytime you are faced with: conflict, hardship, awkward / tense moments, critical thoughts, a difficult situation, or any challenge that creates disharmony; consider surrendering to it and releasing – letting it go. 

Give up your typical way of responding to these events:  e.g. fighting to hold on to it, needing to fix or change it, making it your responsibility / obligation / or duty, and notice what freedom you make room for in your life. 

The idea of a practice of “letting go” means that you can free yourself.  Ideally you free yourself to come back to the right direction of your life, your purpose, and your path.  Letting go also means freeing yourself of all of the moments (and sometimes hours or even days) of analyzing, critiquing, replaying a story narrative in your mind, and the emotions of angst and unhappiness that go along with your ruminating inner thoughts. 

To truly surrender and release means that you can let go of what you have always done (and which likely isn’t working) and examine the situation from your own perspective.  This isn’t an opportunity to point a finger outward and blame others, rather let others be who they are without needing to personalize their behavior as something that was done to you.

Focus on how you will let go (‘surrender – release’):  feeling hurt, sadness, worry, anxiety, grief, anger, or any other emotion that comes from all of the conscious (and unconscious) inner dialogue that you have created in your mind.

Bring your attention back to how you can let go / release the situation, the events, or the person that wronged you – and return to your life, your focus, your goals and intentions for how you wish to be, all that will serve your highest self (the part of you that is most pure; and closest to god-like).

Surrender and release means you bring the focus back to you as a changing, evolving, loving being and how you might return to living your life the best way possible.

When you begin to walk around in your life….reminding yourself to surrender and release to things that otherwise caused you disappointment, upset, or inner turmoil, you actually create moments of “pause”… of positive reflection on who you are and where you’re headed before you move toward it…ever so gracefully.

‘…Surrender and Release’

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Celebrate…

During December, as the people of the world celebrate their culture’s holidays, I am reminded of the beauty that we strive to create:  candles lit on menorahs, wreaths to decorate our front doors, lights that create amazing brightness, ornaments and objects shimmering, sparkling, bright colors that are seen everywhere, and delicious foods that we indulge in and enjoy. 

What are you celebrating?   

Take a moment to answer this.  Whatever first pops into your mind is usually your higher self speaking. 

Photographer: Chloe Whitehorn 'Christmas Stills' www.aMusePhoto.com

Sometime the answers are: LOVE, PEACE, gathering with family and friends, or perhaps you are celebrating a new chapter in your life.

But… ARE you celebrating?

In 2010, consider all of your joyful moments, endeavors, amazement, hardships, peace, and moments of pure exhilation.  What about your life can you celebrate? 

Are you healthy? employed? in a loving relationship? embracing singlehood or the ending of a less healthy relationship?  Are you generally happy?  Have you learned things?  Are you loved?  Are you proud of your children?  Are you grateful?  Do you have a bed to sleep in at night? 

How might you celebrate your life; YOU; or the possibility of what is next? 

How can you celebrate these things…today, tomorrow, and each day of your life?

The message of celebration is to embrace it.

 

I hope that you choose to celebrate your lifeand celebrate often!

Blessings to all!

Dorothy

 

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Intention

Intention is everything.

You can say that you want to do something, to try and change something, to begin something…but what do your intentions really say? 

Your intentions describe your actions … you are intending what you want through those actions (or at time lack thereof). 

Your intentions drive your actions and behavior.  When your intentions are strong and consistent, true actions, consistent actions follow.

Intentions that support honest action are those that are important to you – that are significant and reaffirming.  They come out of your desire, your need for change; to create something more; to establish yourself as a kind, noteworthy human being.

Rather than simply desire, hope, dream, idealize – use intention to demonstrate the significance of your actions to yourself – largely as a result of the emotional display of need; the depth of true desire; the courage to move ahead, creating what your intentions claim to be.  This is the true third Universal Law:  The Law of Deliberate Intention – the IDEA that you truly create (at the speed of light) that which you not only think about but place deliberate intention – emotion – behind.

INTENTION and the Third Universal Law are discussed in more depth in my new book: UNIVERSAL WISDOM ….due out in 2011.  I share here some precise defined measures of what it means to have INTENTION.

The Universal Law of Deliberate Creation is explained as: ‘that which you give purposeful, intentional thought to, you bring to you.’ It is about having the expectation that what you think about will be, coupled with the belief that it will be as you think it, and the allowing of this to occur, will bring it to you. I like to think of it as creating what you most want and then having the absolute faith and trust in it being so.

 The law of deliberate creation is further explained by the notion that what you give thought to you begin to attract. Once you propel it powerfully with emotion, then if you simply expect that which you have thought about, you receive it.

Thought –> expectancy –-> belief. Now you are in the perfect position to receive the subject of your thought.

 A simple way of stating this is “What we believe we create.”

 

Try it….

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What Do You See?

I understand that it can be hard to face our ‘truth’. 

The idea of therapy is that we have someone (hopefully that we can trust and feel safe with) to help us see a different perspective of our self: our thoughts, perceptions, attitudes & behaviors…..our truth.

Until we become skilled at seeing ourselves more clearly…seeing all aspects of ourself including the parts we want to hide from the world, disavow, conceal, lie about, admonish, ignore…. it can be helpful to have someone help us look at our SELF through a different lens.

One upcoming and incredibly talented photographer: Katie Hebert (www.katiehebert.com) has given me permission to share her recent ‘work of beauty’ with you.  Take a close look at her recent venture out into nature….and see what you see.  Do you see leaves, an almost bare tree, or do you see something more….perhaps a reflection, a puddle of water….and maybe something more….

By seeing only what we choose to see we don’t see everything.  By not stepping outside of ourself (our self-focus), it becomes difficult to see the needs of another: our children, our friends, our family – to see another as they are, and not as how we perceive them to be.  We also don’t see our actions and behaviors as they really are because we are so caught up in protecting ourself from what we “believe and perceive” to be further hurt, pain, suffering, angst.

What we observe- realize-reveal when we are able to step outside of the limitations of our busy mind…is that the world around us looks different, can look different – and that others can and do benefit from our kindness, our thoughtful actions, our smiles and heartfelt gestures.  Others benefit when we think of them rather than just of ourselves. 

If we look with different eyes, we too will see so much more than what we have always known.

Look…..see what you have always seen….see it…. differently.  Begin to live in your truth and with the ability to step outside of yourself in order to see the world and others…. differently.

 

A kind and generous THANK YOU to all of YOU who have posted comments to me in the recent while…your heartfelt support in reading, subscribing, and sending messages of kindness have been so very touching and meaningful.  

Blessings!

                 – Dorothy

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The UNIVERSAL ALTRUISM Project

A LOVING INITIATIVE FOR THE PLANET…

Altruism is defined as a caring and self “less” concern for, or devotion to the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Sikhism, among many others.

To be altruistic means to help others by ‘doing good’ without rewardPure altruism is giving without regard to reward, or the benefits of recognition and need.

The purpose and mission of the Universal Altruism Project is to remind us of our innate potential to demonstrate intentional kindness, compassion, joy, empathy, sharing, love, truth and respect.  These eight foundational elements offer significant guidelines for how we might better live our lives, and in doing so, teach our children how to live their lives with this same knowledge and meaning.  The Universal Altruism Project has its purpose in demonstrating and teaching the planet how we can live intentional, compassionate lives, in unity.

The idea of the UNIVERSAL ALTRUISM Project is for you and everyone else on the planet to become far more consciously aware of the impact of your actions and words, and of the intentions of your actions on all others.  It is an expression of the possibility that we all can create a better world, a higher level of individual meaning and purpose, and a way of life that follows far more closely to what was likely intended.

Visit the website and learn how you can begin to cultivate altruism in your life…. Become mindful of and begin practicing the eight fundamental principles that make it easy to act with altruism.

www.theuniversalaltruismproject.com

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Is Everything in your life EXACTLY as you want it to be?

We aren’t always ready for change.  And we certainly aren’t always ready or willing to make changes to who we are. 

I recognize that not everyone is looking to change themselves.  Many people live out much of their life without even contemplating that they need to change any of who they are.

And yet, there is always room for growth, movement, different action/behaviour, and even life altering change that comes from looking at who you are and what you’re doing – and contemplating how you might become different.

It’s a little like clients who are ‘required’ to attend counselling – as part of: the requirements or conditions of a legal (often criminal) matter, an ultimatum demanded by a spouse or family member, or the contractual fulfilment that is posed by an employer or boss.  Counselling for these specific matters may involve sensitivity training around a particular misconduct in behaviour, and/or the requirement to change some part of yourself in order to improve yourself and/or a relationship. 

Sometimes individuals who attend counselling under these circumstances are unwilling to see that they may in fact be responsible for the charges that have been laid against them – and in some ways it becomes a part of my role to help them “see” themselves with different eyes.

Socrates once said that “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” 

There is great wisdom in being self-aware, self-reflective, and stepping out of the busy “ness” of our lives long enough to see ourselves clearly.  There is also great wisdom in cultivating a life that doesn’t mean you are constantly reacting to all that goes on around you, but rather that you are a constant creator of your life.

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