Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Life Centered Around Self-Love and Self-Caring

I was taught that a "good person" always put other people ahead of him/herself.  Of course, I was also taught that this was supposed to be even more true for women.  That putting yourself first, loving yourself, and self-care were bad - selfish attitudes that made you a bad person.

Those lessons led me to a place where I never got enough sleep, enough nutritious food, dental and medical care.  Funny thing - living like that created chronic anger without my really being aware of why I was so angry (and sad and fearful and totally overwhelmed).  I had nothing to give to anybody.  All I really wanted was a day off!

I mistakenly thought that the solution was for other people to take better care of me.  Then I landed in a recovery program because I was truly at the end of my rope.  They told me that well-intentioned people had simply taught me things that weren't true.  And that I was the one who was supposed to be taking care of myself. 

Since then I've been on a long, long, journey of learning how to take care of myself.  I began by doing the obvious things - food, rest, medical and dental care etc. 

Then I realized that I had developed a disdain for fun - that I believed that in deadly serious world with problems galore to be solved, taking any time for fun was just plain evil.  So I tentatively started to explore what I thought might be fun.  I discovered that as an adult I still liked to swing.  It's kind of embarrassing to go to the park and wait your turn with all the kids, but it was totally worth it.

So, now years later, I'm still practicing.  I'm not an expert at this yet.  But I can say that I continue to discover what, for me, a life centered around self-love and self-caring looks like. 

The basics of food, rest, exercise and medical and dental care continue to get better and better as I learn more.  I see the dentist four times a year and by so doing, my gum disease has been arrested.  I go for my annual check ups.  I get a flu shot.  I've studied nutrition tailored to a woman of my age with the health issues I have and I work at creating food that I love and that meets my needs.  With research and expert help, I have an exercise program that also meets my particular needs - a little bit of seated aerobics, modified yoga, strength training, and a lot of exercises to keep my core muscles strong. 

I've learned that treating other people the way I want to be treated usually causes other people to treat me well.  Even when it doesn't turn out that way, I'm okay because I've learned that people treat other people the way they treat themselves.  If they treat me badly, it's usually because their own self-care isn't good.  I've learned to listen better although I still need a lot of work in that area.  I've stopped trying to change people (usually) and just ask for what I want.  If they don't want to, I work on acceptance.  If people treat me badly, I ask them not to.  If they don't change, I put distance between us. 

I realized too that part of a life centered around self-care and self-love is to use my talents.  That's been a lot harder because I ran right up against my fear of being judged.  So now I'm working on growing a thicker skin.  I've taken classes and try to do something with my talents every day.

There was a little piece of the truth in what I was taught about giving to others.  It turns out that sharing with other people is also a way for me to take care of myself.  The thing is, it's important for me to give from a place of plenty - which I can do when I've taken care of my own needs first. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Retreat Arranged by God

Snow days weren't a big deal when I was a kid.  Unless there was a sheet of ice on the roads, we just carried on.  Since I was an only child and we lived in the country, getting time off from school wasn't that exciting.  There weren't any other kids nearby and it was a time before television.

Later when my kids were home from school because of snow, I either had to go to work anyway or we found ways to entertain ourselves.  But it didn't really seem like a vacation.

In most recent years, I usually just carry on.  Unless there's a bunch of ice.  In my mind, it's more than a little bit wimpy to let snow scare you.  I've got front wheel drive on my car and I just carry on.

Last week when we had the blizzard of 2013, and the local stations were going on and on about the snow (we had four whole inches), it suddenly occurred to me that I could take a snow day.  I hadn't realized it before but God was giving me a gift - I could just check out of life until a melt!

It's probably just the stage of life I'm in, but I've been noticing that I enjoy quiet more than I ever have in my life.  Sometimes I feel like I'm recovering from a lifetime of scurrying around from this to that, in a noisy world, trying to stay out of trouble with other people. 

A blanket of white silence outside, the bright white light from the white outside coming through my windows had the unusual effect of quieting my mind and body.  I ate, slept, prayed, sat and thought, listened to music and read Winnie the Pooh.  When the melt came, I wasn't quite ready and so pretended to be snowed in for a couple more days.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

There is No Situation too Difficult to be Bettered and No Unhappines too Great to be Lessened

The closing that's read at the end of one of the recovery program meetings I attend contains the above sentence.  I love it because of its unfailing truth!

When I came into recovery I was in many, many very difficult situations and was extremely unhappy.  I felt hopeless and helpless.

Very gradually the people of the program showed me how my situations could be bettered and my unhappiness lessened.  That sounds like it was a lovely, delightful process.  But it wasn't.

I actually hated every minute of that process.  What I wanted was for them to tell me how to make the people change that I thought were causing my problems.  I had very detailed stories about how wrong those other people were.  But they didn't listen - they just pointed out that I had many possible solutions that did not involve anyone else changing but me.  I felt accused of being at fault.  I felt as if I was being told I should have already thought of the ideas they offered to me.  I was sure they just really didn't understand how innocent I was and how guilty those other people were.

I didn't begin to open my mind until I had truly had all the pain I could stand and then I thought I might try some suggestions even though I still felt as if they really just didn't understand.

Lo and behold!  Their suggestions worked.  Over time I've realized that my resistance was really my ego wanting to always be right and wanting to blame somebody else for my problems.

I've come to understand that whenever I'm blaming and complaining, it's my ego trying to shield me from my own harsh self-judgments.  I've forgotten that I am a child of God, with flaws but still a divine creation and that it's not my job to live in self-hate.

When I can (with the help of mentors) turn my attention to the question, "What can I do (with the help of God) to make my situation better," I find that I have many, many options for solutions and partial solutions. 

The unexpected outcome for me is that I actually have a good time solving problems now.  It's great entertainment.  Thanks to things like "Google" I have a world of ideas open to me!

Friday, November 29, 2013

"Solicitous Domination"

Eeew!  A very creepy phrase: solicitous domination." I read this in a recent reading in one of my meditation books.  It was referring to the pattern of behavior that's common to folks taking care of someone who needs care. 

I noticed when I worked for the Alzheimer's Association and talked to a lot of family members who were caring for someone with Alzheimer's that it was very common for the caregiver to speak to the person as though he or she was not all there.

Of course, the person actually wasn't "all there," but he or she didn't know that and usually became very angry about being spoken to in a way that seemed very disrespectful to him or her.  Solicitous domination. 

Then I began to notice that that "solicitous domination" was very common with all caregivers.  I used to say that it seemed to be a human thing to become obnoxiously bossy when someone needed help. 

Then I noticed that I was that way with my husband when he was ill.  I seemed to think that I should tell him what to do all the time.  I eventually apologized to him and, for the most part, was able to give him enough respect to let him decide for himself how he was going to live his life.

Of course, I had good motives:  I loved him and I wanted him to feel better and I wanted him to live for a long time.  However, good motives didn't excuse obnoxious bossiness (solicitous domination). 

After the 2005 wreck when the love of my life died and I was seriously injured, the awareness of the common behavior pattern in caregivers came in handy.  For quite awhile I was completely dependent on the people around me and had the experience of being bossed.  Because I knew it was a common behavior in caregivers, I didn't get my feelings hurt or get angry.

Not everyone was like that and the ones that were probably had the same good motives as I had when I was like that.  They loved me and wanted me to get better and thought they knew what I should do.  Sometimes they were right.  A lot of the time they were wrong. 

I didn't say much because I didn't want to piss anyone off.  I just ignored as much of it as I could and when it was necessary, I called in expert opinions to be sure what was right.  In my heart, I had to know that this was a case of "what goes around, comes around."  I gave my husband several years of bossiness (solicitous domination), and I only had to deal with a much shorter time. 

I am still learning that although I might be very very sure that I know what someone ought to do about whatever problem is going on in his/her life, I actually cannot be sure at all.  Plus I am way out of line by telling them what to do when I haven't even been asked because their lives are theirs.

Of course, I think I'm pretty smart so it's often been hard to shut up.  I've collected some lovely rolls of masking tape that I keep around to remind me that I will never regret keeping my mouth shut!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Living from Intention and Intuition

I've been listening to Oprah and Deepak Chopra's 21 day meditation challenge.  One of the recent ones reminded me of some old, old lessons I've learned.

By old I mean that one of them was first taught to me over 30 years ago before I even got into recovery and the other one I learned very early in recovery.

The concept of "intention" was something I learned in some pretty off-the-wall seminars I took in the 70s.  Off-the-wall or not, I got some information that really helped me navigate some very difficult times. 

The concept is that we can either have unconscious or conscious intentions.  Either way our intentions guide our behavior and therefore create our lives.  It's a whole lot better to have intentions that we choose because otherwise we are kind of driven by whatever our brains come up with at the spur of the moment - which may or may not be what we actually want.  Impulses are not always healthy or positive!

I learned early in recovery from my spiritual mother that rational thinking has it's place but intuition often trumps it for inspiration, God connection, and living from a spirit of love. 

Intention was relatively easy for me to grasp how to use it.  I understood that I could have a vision and intention for my life, for each day of my life and for each moment of my life.  By consciously choosing my purpose/intention, my life grew more and more satisfying.

Intuition was much, much harder.  All the explanations and definitions just seemed kind of lofty and full of air - nothing to get hold of; nothing real.  My spiritual mother suggested I just look back through my life for situations when I had had understanding or knowledge that didn't come from my rational mind. 

Sure enough I could remember many of them and how when I ignored the knowledge, I paid a price.  She said she thought that God and our hearts spoke to us through our intuition, and that by following that guidance we would be able to steer through difficulties that used to have us stumped. 

I'm still practicing choosing intention and daily practicing connection with my intuition.  It's easier but still pretty mysterious.  It has paid off in so many ways.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Struggle, Struggle, Struggle

Periodically I read back through my journals.  I've been journaling pretty much every day since 1996 so I have piles of them.  (I've requested that my oldest daughter gather them up and trash them as the first thing she does after my death since there's not a thing in them worth reading by anyone else.  No secrets, no dramatic revelations.)

What's in all those piles of paper is a long history of struggling to use my time and energy in the way I most want to.  I'm pretty much always writing about the war I'm having with myself to lose weight, eat right, exercise, keep tight track of my finances, get done for my kids with disabilities what I think needs to be done, and last but hardly least, finish the writing projects I start.

In little teeny, tiny inches forward, I can see by reading back that I make progress and that it is worth the struggle. 

Friday, November 08, 2013

Powerlessness does not Equal Helpless nor Hopeless

I am so amazingly powerless.  I thought that was a terrible thing when I first admitted it.

Turns out it's just the first step to real power.

I have an infinite number of options in every situation of powerlessness.  I just don't have to power to overcome addiction, other people, remove my own character defects, etc.

I can always ask God for direction and the power to carry out that direction. 

What is absolutely certain:  God's ideas are always for the absolute good for everyone and I would never have thought of them by myself.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Surrender is a Wonderful Thing

I am pretty sure that surrender to God's will was the first thing I did in recovery.  I didn't know what that even meant since I didn't believe in God.  But desperation is a really useful thing.

When I get in a tight spot now, I conveniently (or inconveniently) forget about surrender. But in order to have radical acceptance where I accept myself and everything else in the universe as being exactly the way it is supposed to be, I have to first surrender - to the truth - that God is the boss and not me.

Why Accept Everything?
Well, for starters, fighting reality, fighting things that I'm powerless to change, complaining incessantly about the way things are, got me absolutely nowhere in my life.  With the spiritual practice of acceptance, I've gained huge amounts of peace of mind.

How is it possible to accept EVERYTHING?
I think it's possible because of God's grace.  I believe I am in God's care and I remind myself of this every day.  My dear spiritual mother used to ask me, "Did you turn your life and your will over to the care of God this morning?"  When I said, "yes," she would say, "Then everything is exactly the way it's supposed to be." 

Of course, the first several times she said that, I got really angry because things were happening that I did not like and that I thought were WRONG!  After awhile I began to suspect that she might be right.  After some more time passed, I realized that the more I acceptance I had, the more joy and peace I had. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Commitment to Happiness

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." 
Abraham Lincoln

I for sure thought that happiness was not something you could just decide to be.  What about when things happen that I don't like?  What about all those times when the people around me didn't treat me right?  What about all those problems with my job?  What about all those natural disasters?  What about when my beloved children were not happy and I couldn't fix it?  What about when people that I loved with all my heart died?  You have got to be kidding me!  There's no way I can be happy anyway.  That would make me crazy or inhuman.

It turns out that I can be happy and sad at the same time.  I can even wish things were different and still be happy.  It doesn't make me inhuman.  I will still have all my normal human emotions.  AND I will still have my commitment to be happy, in general, in my life.

What else is there really?  I've been given a wonderful gift - a life to live on this beautiful earth.  I really have little to no control of what happens around me.  So, in honor of the gift I've been given - in spite of the fact that I have no power to arrange everything the way I want it - I choose to be happy, accepting and grateful.  All I have to do is remember every day that that's my commitment to God and to myself.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I Love My Country

I never used to think about whether I loved my country or not.  I knew that I was supposed to, but I never really thought about it one way or another. 

In my 20s I woke up to the fact that things in my country weren't really like I had been taught, and so for awhile I didn't feel a lot of love for my country.  It worried me that it seemed to be the land of the free for only some people, and that our prosperity seemed to be founded on slavery and our good luck to have a lot of oil under our property.

After awhile I mellowed and realized that I live in a geographically fabulously beautiful country.  I realized that although the citizens of my country were very flawed individually and collectively, we had pretty good intentions over all.  I also learned that in a democracy I had all kinds of opportunities to have input into decisions made on my behalf and I was so grateful for that. 

The election in 2008 of an African American president proved to me that the majority of citizens in my country really wanted to move forward into an era of equality for everyone.  I already knew about backlash, so I was kind of prepared for the efforts of the opposition to trash the efforts of those who voted for equality.

But now I'm worried again.  For the first time in my long life, I am afraid that those who believe our country should be about every man for himself, and that force is the way to settle everything are getting an upper hand.  Politics seems more like war than a democracy right now.

Now I'm hearing that my country is not supposed to be a democracy but is supposed to be a republic.  I'm hearing that people who need help to have a decent life should just be on their own - older people, children, people with disabilities.  People who are not white are to be automatically thought of as less capable and less worthy.  Women need to be kept under control and stay in their place.  Those who have money want to keep it and will only pay taxes for roads and police and military, etc. because those things benefit them.  They want to never have their tax money spent for anything that doesn't benefit them.

A perfect example is that one of the candidates for president in the last election said he thought instead of letting poor children have free lunches they should be made to do the janitor work to pay for them.  Hmmm.  Scary.

It seems to me that the opposition is saying, "If you don't agree with me, I will play dirty and make your life so miserable that you will have to give in and give me my way even if the majority of people disagree with me."

I didn't vote in the last presidential election for the first time in my life.  I knew it wouldn't matter how I voted in my state since I am in the minority.  My elected federal officials are quite sure they have nothing to worry about because they are from a state that is heavily in favor of their point of view.  They usually do not even bother to respond to any of my letters.  I am feeling very cut off from having any input for my point of view and am searching for another way. 

I still love my country.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Inner Roommate

Sometime in 1995 I listened to some CDs in the car that were recordings of a class a gal taught on how to work the 12 Steps on just our spirituality.  She said that we should start listening and paying close attention to our thoughts because our thinking was the source of our troubles. Now I had certainly heard a bunch of times that "stinkin thinkin" was a huge source of trouble, but I hadn't ever heard it described in just that way before. 

So I suddenly became aware that my thoughts were what was causing me so much emotional pain. Those thoughts were almost always telling me that I should be worrying about an enormous number of things, and that I should be judging myself harshly for all my mistakes, and it always predicted that I was going to fail miserably at everything I attempted. The point was that most of what my thoughts were telling me were lies.  It was a huge awakening.

Then one of my mentors invited me to a book study of a book called, "Soul Without Shame."  It was a kind of odd book but very useful.  It described something the author called, "The Judge" that constantly criticized us in our minds.  I equated "The Judge" with what I had heard about "stinkin thinkin."

Sometime later the same mentor invited me to a book study of "The Four Agreements."  Lo and behold, this book described "The Parasite" which is composed of a judge and a victim.  Of course, the description was of the "stinkin thinkin" that goes on in our heads. 

Just in the last few months I came across another book that describes the phenomenon as "your inner roommate."  I like that term the best.  The other descriptions are awfully negative.  I believe this "voice inside my head" that I used to call my thinking, is actually something that evolved to help me.  It tries to think of everything that might be dangerous and warn me.  It tries to improve my character with its criticism.  The trouble is it's run completely off the tracks and instead of preventing or solving problems, it has turned into the problem.

The problem stems from the fact that I believe my inner roommate is ME...  that it's me that says all the stuff it says and that what it says is TRUE!  It turns out that it's actually NOT me.  It's just a voice in my head.  And if it were an actual person sitting at my kitchen table saying the stuff it says to me, I would never believe what it says. 

My inner roommate is incredibly neurotic, obnoxious and negative.  In fact, it's mean and cruel and mean- spirited.  I wouldn't even be willing to have it for a friend, let alone acknowledge it as ME.  And yet I have listened to this horrible crap day in and day out for my whole life.

So...what's the solution.  Well, for starters, being aware of the actual truth.  Everybody has an inner roommate and I suspect that theirs are as much a pain in the ass as mine is.  If it were an actual person, I could just kick it out of my life.  But since it lives in my head, I'm stuck with it.  So I am gradually learning to just not believe what it says - its criticisms and judgments of me, its predictions of future horrors, and its painful, mean-spirited judgments of my past behavior.  I thank it for trying to be helpful and turn my attention elsewhere. 

Little by little my inner roommate is becoming quieter and less cruel.  It has even stopped bringing up the time when I was in second grade and stole a pencil off Miss Edison's desk.  That was one it used to like to remind me of when it couldn't think of anything else. 
I'm looking forward to the time when it falls asleep from lack of an audience. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Expectations = Pain

I've been taught that expectations are premeditated resentments.  Reality is that I am a terrible predictor of the future - which is where expectations lie.  (I'm pretty sure everybody else is too.)  So, it is inevitable that I will be disappointed at least 50% of the time, maybe even more than that.

Somehow I must have grown up believing that there was a way to make things happen the way I want them to happen.  I do believe that I have an influence on what happens in my life, of course.  The thing is, there are other people around, there's weather, there are all kinds of other influences.  None of that may be influencing things the way I want.

So, if I want to have peace of mind, I must let go of expectations.  I can certainly hope and influence - just not expect.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Some of the Stuff I used to Believe but Don't Believe Anymore

Some of the stuff I used to believe I just picked up unconsciously from the culture (media, etc.) and some was taught to me (parents, school, church, etc.).  I really did my best to live by what I believed.  I worked at making myself conform by torturing myself with inner criticism and blame - which was what I had been taught would work.

What makes you a worthwhile person is:
  •  If lots of people like you (popularity)
  •  You get good grades in school but not really good grades because that makes you too smart to be popular(if teachers like you, that doesn't count either).
  • You are reasonably decent looking although it makes a huge difference if you are really, really, really nice looking.
  • You must NEVER be overweight.
  • You need to have some kind of talent that you can be admired for.
  • It's a good idea to be entertaining - funny.
  • Getting a lot of money is a great way to be a worthwhile person. 
  • Getting a high class job is essential to being a worthwhile person.
  • If you're a girl, never, ever have sex unless you're married to the person (or at least don't get caught), because no one will ever think you're a nice person again if anyone finds out.  This doesn't apply to boys, by the way.  Having a lot of sex is admired.
  • Having boyfriends/spouse that are very good looking, educated, from a high class family and who have jobs like doctors, lawyers, or other professional jobs plus lots of money is almost essential to being a worthwhile person. (For guys, all the girlfriends/spouses have to be is very good looking.)
  • Have good looking, very smart, well-behaved kids.  If your kids don't measure up, neither do you.
  • If you're a woman, you must always put your significant others' needs and wants ahead of your own.
  • If you're a women, it doesn't matter what your talents, interests or desires are.  Your first priority is to be a good cook, housekeeper, etc. It doesn't count if you don't want to or don't have the ability.  You have to learn and do it anyway.  You were born to serve men and children - it's your destiny.  No sick leave, paid vacations, or retirement.  You must crank out those meals and keep the house immaculate, etc. until you keel over.
  • You must keep your emotions under control.  Nice people don't cry, yell, or curse.
  • Dressing according to the fashion is essential.  The goal is to dress so well that you look better than everyone else. 
  • Go to church.

There are lots of other things too like going on glamorous vacations, going to a church that a lot of other worthwhile people go to, being known in your community, etc.  But those things aren't absolutely essential to being a worthwhile person. 

As I got older, I became suspicious that a lot of that stuff was not very believable.  I suspected that it was kind of impossible to live up to, for one thing, and that a lot of people just pretended to be those things and lived in shame and secrecy because they were not.  Most of all, I began to notice that all those rules were really about how OTHER people saw me.  And I began to think that I didn't want my life to just be about social convention and whether I was PERCEIVED to be worthwhile or not.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Taking Care of Myself in Relationships and with People in General

After learning to take care of myself physically and emotionally, my spiritual mother began to teach me about other people and how to be in relationships ranging from the person at the checkout counter to my spouse.  I'm pretty sure I will not be finished with this learning process in this lifetime.

I still attend meetings in both recovery programs.  I still especially need to get information and hear sharing from other people in order to continue to change my part in interactions with others.

Most of my trouble with people came from my fear that I would be hurt.  When others judged and criticized me, my feelings were hurt and I fought back.  Of course, there are other ways people could hurt me and I feared that possibility also. 

First of all I learned that there were a myriad of ways I could take care of myself around other people.  Up until that point I had believed that the only way to take care of myself was to make other people change.  It turns out that making other people change is completely impossible.  No wonder I was chronically upset!

I was taught that after I've prayed about a situation I have going on with another person and talked to a wise person, it's perfectly acceptable to ask for a change in the other person's behavior - if I ask in a way that has no elements of demand, criticism, or judgment.  (That can be difficult!)  I was also taught that asking once - or at the most twice - was the limit for the number of times to ask.  I was told that beyond twice was unhealthy; that I was trying to control the other person instead of taking responsibility for my own feelings and desires.

If I am truly being harmed, I must consider the possibility of ending the interaction with the other person - either temporarily or permanently.  But sometimes I wasn't really being harmed - I was just taking offense when I was misinterpreting the communication I was receiving.  I realized that sometimes I was unconsciously putting myself in a position to be hurt because I was so narrowly focused on what I wanted instead of caring about the other person's well being as well as my own.

My teacher also pointed out that everyone has their own rules.  One of the major problems human being have, she said, was that we all thought our own rules were the only right ones and that everyone knew what the right ones were.  When people were not behaving as we thought they should, we believed that we should straighten them out.  Actually, she said, no one's "rules" are exactly the same, and there are a lot of "good rules" that are different from other "good rules." 

The concept of solving my own problems without trying to change anyone else was totally new to me.  So my teacher had to remind me over and over again.  I had a lot of trouble with the "rules" thing.  I wanted people to follow mine and I was offended when they chastised me for not following theirs.  It was a hugely new concept that for most part, there were no universal rules.

She kept encouraging me to look within and discover what I believed the rules were and where I had learned them.  Then she encouraged me to explore what values and "rules" I really wanted.  For example, my self-searching and exploring eventually lead to my belief that I wanted love, peace and compassion for everyone as well as myself to guide my actions.  I began to feel deeply that I could live by those values more than I could arbitrary rules.

So, with those values in mind, I found it pretty hard to judge other people as "bad."  When they judged me, I reminded myself that they were just going by their rules. 

I have found that living by those values is complicated and requires lots of prayer and guidance from my spiritual community.  So far, though, I haven't accumulated any lasting resentments, I have very little shame, and I usually don't take offense when others judge me by their rules.  Boy, is it ever a lot more peaceful inside my head.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Taking Care of Myself: Letting Go of Guilt

By the time I had reached recovery, guilt was my middle name.  I felt like a total failure at everything.  I especially felt terrible about the harm I'd done other people.

I was well informed about the basics of the Christian religion - that God sent his Son to redeem us from our sins.  But when I went to church what I heard (even if that wasn't what was said) was condemnation.  So the concept of being forgiven was of no use to me in my heavy load of guilt.  There were quite a few people in my life who had judged and condemned me as well.  Although I didn't want to believe them, I was pretty sure they were right.

I had given up on myself so I was pretty sure God had too, if there even was a God.  My dear sponsor and spiritual mother assured me that I was the only one who had given up on me.  She said God hadn't and she hadn't.  She explained that I hadn't had what I needed to live the life I was created to live, but that now I did have what I needed.  All that was necessary was to  put it into practice.

The missing piece, she explained, was that action was necessary to amend the harms I had done.  Of course, it's impossible to change the past, but it is possible to do our best to make up for our wrongs.  Amends are not the same as apologies either.  It's necessary for us to actually correct the mistakes to the best of our ability.

The process of making amends was and is a very complicated process.  The simplest ones are the financial ones - paying back what is owed. 

Of course, it's at least a beginning to express our regret to the people we have harmed, but that needs to be followed by a change in our behavior so that we don't do those things again to anyone.  Even if a person has left the earth, we can make amends to the world.  For example, if we owe that person money, we can give the amount we owe to a charity that we think the person would like.

The ultimate goal is to be able to look back at our lives and know that we have done and are doing every day, everything we can to amend our mistakes and that, therefore, we have no reason to condemn ourselves or to accept condemnation from anyone else.
What an amazing freedom that is.

Of course, it's necessary to keep up with current mistakes and correct those.  There's a step for that - continuing to take personal inventory (daily) and correct our mistakes.  That keeps resentments, fears and guilt from piling up again.

I've often wondered what purpose any of those negative emotions serve beyond alerting me to problems that need my attention.  I really believe now that that's really what they were created for.  They let me know to take care of things as they come up and then let those feeling go.  It's been a long time now since I've felt guilty for any length of time.  I believe if I have uncomfortable feelings for more than a day, it's time for me to solve (with the help of God and a wise person) the problem that's causing them.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Taking Care of Myself: Outgrowing Fear

When I first read about "outgrowing fear," I thought it was a crazy idea.  I believed that fear was more or less an instinct and had an important purpose in keeping me alive and out of trouble.  But my dear first sponsor in recovery assured me that letting go of fear by relying on God was essential to sobriety.

Of course, it's true that some fears do help me stay out of trouble.  I have a healthy fear of running red lights, for example.  But most of the fears that were running my life were actually just mental - ideas I had that I was scaring myself with.

I had a big fear of being judged by other people.  I don't know what I thought would happen to me if I were judged.  Of course, I thought people that loved me would stop loving me.  But the thing is, if I pretend to be something I'm not, I'm not actually being loved because those people don't even really know who I am.

So I learned that pretense would just create a life where I never really knew how I stood with anybody.  Little by little I learned to just be who I am.  I tell the truth about who I am, what I think and how I feel.  I don't hide my mistakes.  Every once in awhile I get mad because someone judges me, but I get over it pretty quickly.  I do my best.  If that's not okay with them...well, what can I do about that?

Most of my other fears were about what might happen in the future.  I didn't think good things were going to happen - just stuff I was sure was going to be terrible and cause me great emotional pain.  Some stuff like that did happen and sure enough I had pain.  But all the worry ahead of time didn't make it hurt less.  Besides, a lot of the things I feared never happened.

The bottom line was that fear was not all that useful.  So I was more willing to consider the possibility of outgrowing it in favor of reliance on God.  Stuff does happen that I don't like, but my job is to let go of my resistance and be willing to let God be in charge.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Dream Hangovers

I dreamed last night that my dearly departed husband had left me for another woman.  I was devastated and tried to talk him into coming back.  He was mad at me for refusing to do something he wanted me to do so I guess he found someone else to do it.  I really wanted to give in so that he would come back but I didn't.  I just tried to explain why I said, "no" and that I loved him very much.  He was hugging me but I got the impression he wasn't coming back when I woke up.  I remember feeling very, very sad that he was leaving but a little bit proud that I didn't sacrifice what I believed was right to keep him.

I've been up three hours now and I still feel really sad.  I hate dream hangovers.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Taking Care of Myself: Getting Rid of Resentment

After she taught me the basics of physical self-care, my dear spiritual mother began to show me the next vital responsibilities I had - taking care of myself mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  At that time I was prey to intense fear, anger and guilt.  I was in emotional pain pretty much all the time.  I seemed to have been born that way (me and Lady Gaga).  So she taught me the tools for dealing with myself.

We started with the resentments (coming from chronic anger) that were torturing me.  She told me to pray for the people I resented every single day until I didn't resent them any more.  She said to pray for them even though I didn't mean it and to pray that they have everything I wanted for myself.  And that helped - a lot. 

Next she pointed out that my thinking patterns were really what caused resentment - not the actual behavior of other people.  That seemed incredibly obscure to me.  So we took specific incidents that had caused me to resent someone - incidents where I felt victimized - and looked for ways that I could use the new information, support, and spiritual help I had recently acquired but didn't have at that time in the past.

In every one of those incidents, we were able to identify several ways the problem could have been solved without having to try to make someone else change their behavior.  A very simple example is that when someone is talking to you in a negative, critical, hurtful way, you can just excuse yourself politely and go to the bathroom.  If they persist, you can leave the whole area.  If you don't stay there and listen, you are taking care of yourself and don't need to get a resentment.

This strategy will work on bigger problems too.  Talking to a wise person when you lack ideas will work too.  It is never necessary to try to protect myself by getting resentments.

Little by little I learned how to take care of myself.  By doing that I stopped blaming other people for my problems and began solving them myself. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Taking Care of Myself Physically

The first things I learned about taking care of myself were extremely basic.  The beautiful lady I call my spiritual mother explained to me that to start with, my responsibilities to myself were things like going to the doctor for annual check ups, going to the dentist twice a year, eating nutritious food, getting as much sleep as I needed, keeping myself reasonably clean and pleasantly dressed.  I really don't remember ever having focused my attention on those things before and I was in my early 40s. 

I vaguely knew that those things were supposed to be done, but I had no idea that putting them first was my responsibility.  It took a long time before I was consistent at carrying them out.  I usually waited a long time before going to the doctor when I was sick, for example.  It seemed to me that other things were more important. 

It wasn't until I consistently went to the doctor when I was sick, that he figured out I had such severe allergies that early every winter I got upper respiratory infections which started with fall allergies.  Now it's been years since I have had the upper respiratory problems that used to start in late November and last until February.

I just ate whatever was handy and slept as little as I possibly could.  I was very thin and chronically sleep deprived.  If I sat down, I usually fell asleep.  I lost a few teeth before I learned to get myself to the dentist on a regular basis.

I still track my nutrition, exercise and rest to keep myself conscious of what I'm doing and whether I'm being responsible for myself.  I'm still a little slow about getting to the doctor, but I get myself to the dentist three times a year instead of two to prevent problems.

I still have a ways to go with nutrition and exercise before I can say I'm truly taking care of my physical self.  But I am a very long way from where I was.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Taking Care of Myself

Taking care of myself was not a concept I had ever heard of, let alone practiced when I entered adulthood.  In fact, I am still learning how to do it. 

I think that our parents and teachers believed that the way to bring children up in the right way and teach them what they needed to know, was to constantly point out what we were doing wrong.  Some of us, like me, had our spirits pretty bruised by all the negative input.  The result was that I came to believe that I was a very defective person, unworthy, and basically deserved every bad thing that could happen to me.

That way of thinking led me to never really thinking about what I needed to do to take care of myself.  I was halfway through adulthood before I even came across the idea of self-care.

With the help of a recovery program, some really good therapy, and lots of reading on the subject, I've arrived at a point where I take the idea very seriously.  When I fall back, I usually get bruised, so I work at taking care of myself every day.

As I visit with others who are using me as a sponsor in their recovery programs, I've noticed that we all have something in common when we haven't learned how to take care of ourselves - big fat ugly resentments against other people - sometimes very old ones that we've been carrying around for years.  We have chronic anger.  We're very judgmental of other people (a great way of distracting ourselves from the judgments we have about ourselves).  We complain a lot about everything.  None of this makes for anything like a great life!

Learning how to take care of myself (and I'm still learning), has taken years and years.  I'm hardly ever angry or upset about anything anymore.  That is NOT because I've found a way to make everything go my way, but because I've practiced acceptance of life on life's terms and because I do my best to carry out my responsibilities to myself instead of expecting other people/the world to do it for me.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sunday School Ideas

I don't watch the news very much because there's so much trouble in the world I can't do anything about.  I do try to catch up on what's going on every few days, though.

There's so much carrying on about the religious ideas regarding sex and sexuality that I am constantly amazed.  How that gets all mixed up with politics I'm not sure.  I read that Texas passed a law outlawing male masturbation (pro-life).  I wonder if that could actually be true.

Anyway, none of this stuff was in my Sunday school lessons.  What I heard was stuff like: love your neighbor as yourself, forgive others 70 times 7, turn the other cheek, feed people who are hungry, take care of the sick, visit people in prison, take care of children, God is love.  I wonder why none of that has snuck into politics.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

I Didn't Have Any Trouble Stopping Believing in Santa

In recent years I've realized that I had a lot of beliefs that I acquired as a child that are not true at all.  I doubt that anyone actually taught them to me.  It was just stuff I picked up that my child's mind formed into a belief.  It turns out that none of it is true.  And because it's not true, trying to live by those beliefs made my life very difficult and often painful.

I believed that:

  • it was possible to make other people happy.
  • I was supposed to do everything "right" and then I would have no problems.
  • the way to solve problems was to find out who was to blame and yell at them and complain to other people.
  • the way to get people to like me was to always do everything they wanted me to do.
  • the way to have prestige was to dress perfectly and look perfect.
  • I would be happy as soon as I got everything I wanted.
  • Being single meant you were unwanted.
  • The purpose of life was to acquire as much money as possible.
There are so many other beliefs that were kind of unconscious but ran my life that I can't possibly list them all.  It has been extraordinarily hard to get rid of them.  Which is kind of odd since they are so clearly wrong.  Just like it's really clear that there's no such thing as Santa Claus or the tooth fairy, and I let go of those beliefs without any trouble as soon as I got old enough to think clearly.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Beginning to Do My Part

It's been a long time since I've written a letter to an elected official.  I live in a state where all the elected officials think entirely differently than I do, so I've told myself there's no use in communicating.

However, a recent news item changed my mind.  The more I think about it, it's my duty as a citizen to speak up even if I think they will disagree.

After the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado one of our senators was interviewed about the possibility of having safe rooms built in schools.  He said safe rooms can collapse.

This worried me.  So I researched it.  It seems there's a project run by the University of Texas that tests safe rooms and checks on safe rooms after tornados.  They checked all the safe rooms in Moore and none of them collapsed.

So I'm going to write my senator and ask him if he will also check the truth of his statement and if he finds he was incorrect, make a public statement to that effect. 

His earlier statement might have stopped people from building safe rooms.  He is seen as an authority and people will believe him.  So I think he owes it to his constituents to be accurate and I'm going to encourage him to do so.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Reading Has Saved My Life has read my mind.  I get emails every few days, letting me know about books I might want to read based on what I've purchased in the past.  They are almost always right.  I have a stack of books almost as tall as I am that I haven't read yet.  I am excited.

Most of them are very serious stuff - about health and spirituality.  A few of these new ones are novels - humorous science fiction.  I realize I am a bit odd to still be reading everything I can find on how to improve my life, but since I've learned things in the past that have literally saved my life, I probably will never quit.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Making New Memories

It seems so strange to me how my mind wants to be so passive.  Maybe it's the character defect of sloth.  I made no plans for my birthday (I'm 72 today) and in my mind I was just going to act like it was just another day. 

Well, what I really believe is that there's no such thing as just another day.  It's up to me to make every day count and what's a better day than my birthday to do that?

Too bad it was almost noon before I caught on!  But it's never too late.  So, I'm going to go to a meeting in a few minutes (and another one tonight), get a massage and read a little bit in all the new books I've accumulated.  I might also go over to the Woodward Park rose garden and see how the roses are doing!

Saturday, June 08, 2013


I think it was 1964.  I had a baby and a two year old.  It was early in the morning and I wasn't all the way awake.  I had just changed the baby's poopy diaper and went into the bathroom to rinse it out (no disposable diapers in that time).  I saw that my two year old and done a nice poop in the potty chair. 

This presented me with a dilemma - the toilet would only flush once and then you had to wait for the tank to fill up.  So, I thought about the best way to go about this and decided to rinse the diaper first, not flush and then dump the potty.  I was thrilled that I had figured out the most efficient way of taking care of this chore.

Then I thought to myself that it was pretty weird that a smart gal like me had no better use for her mind than figuring out the most efficient way to dispose of poop.  I laughed to myself.

Later in the 60s  when I read Betty Friedan's, The Feminine Mystique, about how motherhood and housewifeing might be too little for all women to spend their lives doing - that all humans had a contribution to make and it surely must be possible for women to be good mothers, homemakers, and still contribute other things to the world, I remembered that morning when I was thrilled about efficiently disposing of poop and understood what Betty meant.

Thursday, June 06, 2013


I love company.  I love solitude.  In the past week I've had both.  First my daughter and her oldest son and his wife were here, and we took a tour of local restaurants.  We also went to the Farmer's Market and Whole Foods.  Since my dear grandson and his dear wife are "foodies," we had fun.  AND as nearly as I can tell, I'm not any larger.

Then my dearest friend, Eric, was here and our first order of business was to eat at our favorite restaurants.

My treasured departed husband introduced me to the concept of food as entertainment.  I guess before that I thought that it was a good thing to like what you ate but it never occurred to me to raise food to the level of entertainment.  Of course, in my case, there's a downside.  I'm larger than I need to be!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Never, Ever be Bored

The last time I was bored I was about four years old and in church with my parents.  There was not one single thing for a four year old to do.  Soon after that my mother taught me to read and I've never been bored since.

So my first recommendation for never, ever being bored would be to read.  If you don't like to read, it's probably because you've not read anything you liked.  If you actually have trouble reading, get audio books.  Libraries are full of them!

I suggest you secrete reading materials in your pockets, your car, your briefcase, purse or whatever.  You never know when you'll have an extra minute with nothing to do.  Never let it go to waste just sitting and listening to your thoughts.

Speaking of thoughts - if you're tired of reading and/or didn't bring any reading material with you, organize your thoughts.  Why let boring repetitive thinking go unchecked.  Think up interesting and new things to do on holidays, new and interesting things to do on weekends.  Make mental lists of people you know that could use a blessing of some kind - babysitting, hedge trimming, flowers, a basket of fruit, etc.  Those are just to get started with.  Once you get in the swing of thinking creatively you won't be able to stop.  And you will never, ever be bored.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Gift of Recovery for Mother's Day

A couple of my friends were disappointed with what their children did for Mother's Day.  It occurred to me that I have never been disappointed on Mother's Day, Christmas or my birthday or any other day since my early days in recovery.

I don't really remember how this happened - probably my dear first sponsor taught me - but I decided to have no expectations of anybody.  The saying is, "Expectations are premeditated resentments (or disappointments)."  For one thing I think our consumer culture puts pressure on us to outdo ourselves for the people in our lives on these holidays.  If you don't conform, they tell you you are communicating a lack of love.  Crap!

So if I have no expectations, anything that happens is wonderful. 

My mother, on the other hand, was fixated on being critical of everybody's efforts to show their love for her on those "special " days.  She griped all the time.  Nothing was ever good enough and she let you know if incessantly.  The result was that I disliked her more and more.  If you want to get people to dislike you, accuse them of not treating you right.

I think holidays should be spent in enjoyment that I create for myself.  If someone else shows up, that's great. 

For whatever reason, somehow the thought came to me this year that Mother's Day would be a good day to find ways to mother mothers and to reach out to all the children in the world that don't have what they need.  Cards, flowers, eating out - that's all fine.  But mothers need support all year round.  Plus we have a world where there are millions of children that don't even have enough to eat.  What better way to celebrate than to contribute to solutions. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mixed Feelings on Mother's Day

Anne Lamott wrote an article titled, "Why I Hate Mother's Day" on  I thought about my own mixed feelings about Mother's Day when I read it.  Anne thinks it singles out mothers as some sort of super heroes which some deserve and a lot more don't.  She doesn't like it.  I don't either but I wouldn't say I hate Mother's Day even though I realize it was probably invented to sell greeting cards, flowers and restaurant meals.

I've given birth to three children, only one of which is still on the earth.  The other two died at early ages in confusing, tragic circumstances.  I will always feel guilty and sad that I wasn't able to fulfill the most basic of motherly duties - keeping my children alive.  I really don't know if I had done something differently that they would have lived, so I just live with a certain amount of guilt.  It's always food for thought on mother's day.  I miss them both every day but especially on mother's day.

My two youngest are very disabled.  I had no idea when they came into our family through the foster care system that it would have such a negative impact on our family.  Once they were with us, they had nowhere else to go.  They are adults now and, for the most part, have the care they need.  But I will always be sad for the hardship for us all.

I know there are many, many other mothers with mixed feelings on mother's day.  There are all kinds of reasons - some similar to mine, some different, but the mother's day cards don't address those situations. 

On the bright side, I have two fabulous adult daughters and four beautiful grandchildren who give me great delight on mother's day.  I focus always on them and the joy they are in my life.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Neighborhood Party

I finally made it to a neighborhood party.  They have one about every year but I am shy and stay home.  Today I went for about half an hour and did my best to socialize.  I found out that my neighbor across the street that was married to one of Ron's professors at the University of Tulsa, and whose second husband was killed in an accident in 2004 is getting married next year.  Hot neighborhood gossip. 

Every time they have one of these parties, I sneer at it and think how much better I could do.  This year I said nothing.  They were over the top.  They had a mobile Italian restaurant, music, a drawing for a prize (I don't know what it was), and were handing out a flyer with information about suspicious characters they had seen in the neighborhood since most of the people at the party were part of the neighborhood watch.  There were two giant friendly dogs in attendance.

I met my next door neighbor again who landscaped his yard elaborately when he moved in a couple of years ago.  I hate him and I always tell him.  He claims he gets all the trees and plants from his father-in-law who re-does his yard every year.  I said I was more in need than he was then.  He said his father in law had offered him a Japanese maple.  I've longed for a Japanese maple ever since I saw one but they are so expensive.  So he says he will bring me one.  Hope he really does.

A good day all around.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013


Just finished reading a book called, "The Power of Habit."   It's a best seller and goes nicely with my constant reading of the blog called, "Zen Habits."

A very long time ago I realized that I was terrible at making changes in my habits and that it caused me a lot of trouble.  So I'm in the middle of researching what scientific research is learning as well as what Leo of Zen Habits has learned and tried out on himself.

I've been working at this for several weeks.  One of the habit changes is exercise and I've done okay with that.  Not to the extent that I could say I've established a habit, but enough to have experienced some benefits. 

I feel better.  I have a tiny bit more energy.  I'm hoping that my lower back pain will go away like it did when I was in physical therapy.

Of course, the trick is to keep at it.  I have five priorities - things to do every morning.  I'm working at managing to do all of them the majority of the time.  I'm not even half way there yet, but I have achieved an average of three times a week.  Not too bad. 

It's making a big difference in my self-esteem and in my mood as well as creating a higher level of peace. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

I Wish I Had that Piece of My Mind Back Now

I wish I had that
piece of my mind
back now.
They didn't want it
And now I just
feel foolish.
No wonder
with such a big
piece of my mind

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Two Ding-a-Lings Don't Make a Bell!

Not only do two Ding-a-Lings not make a bell; a rooster and a hen don't make a farm.  I heard these sayings in a meeting the other night.  They are funny, easy to remember and most of all, TRUE!  I love it.  So here's another thing that it's really, really a bad idea to do in relationships:  go into a relationship with all your issues unresolved. 

In trying to remember what I thought about my problems that I knew I had going into relationships, I am a little stumped because I didn't really think about it at all.  I don't remember that I was ever taught or even heard that it would be a great idea to think about my issues and how they might affect the other person and the relationship as a whole.  I guess I thought it was the other person's job to be understanding and to put up with me.  It most certainly did not occur to me that the other person could have issues and that I would be called on to understand and put up with them.  Needless to say, that mind set did not work well at all.

It's been my observation of myself and others that there are issues that really have a big negative impact on relationships.  For example, I was a very fearful person and as soon as I was in a relationship a lot of my fears got transferred to the person I was with.  I was defensive, irritable, and suspicious.  I've noticed that I was not alone in this - that many people seem to have this problem.  Another example:  I was emotionally immature and thought that the other person was supposed to somehow be my unconditionally loving parent.  Oh boy!  That does not work!

So, what to do?  Well, the only thing I know that will work is to get help to resolve fears and to grow up emotionally so that we can stand on our own two feet and be a contributing, loving member of a relationship.  Help comes in all sorts of ways - a good, professional counselor that will help us see ourselves in new ways, a program of spiritual growth that gives us trust in a power greater than ourselves so that we can stop trying to make other people our parents, and information about how to treat other people.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Becoming More Myself

I just realized today that my studies and my spiritual practices are coalescing into a pattern.  This happens all the time, but I'm always surprised!  I'm not sure how many years I've been "studying" now.  It's probably around 30 years.  I've always been a reader from the time I was a little kid.  Since my parents were big readers, I just accepted massive amounts of reading as the normal pastime. 

In the beginning I just read whatever seemed interesting and entertaining at the time.  After I came into recovery I began to notice that my reading gravitated, without my conscious thought, to whatever I seemed to need at the time.  When I came across something that really spoke to me, I read it several times and took notes - which is why I call it "studying." 

For a long time I read mostly about practical things like money and time management.  I had sooo much trouble with those things and needed education badly.  I probably read hundreds of books on organization, money and time management, how to clean a house, how to be a good, efficient cook, nutrition, etc.  I now feel, and have felt for quite awhile, very well educated in those areas.

In the past few years I've realized that I am drawn to information about the potential for growth we have as human beings.   Recently I've read several books on the mind/brain capability.  Famous ancient people have always said (without, of course, any scientific proof whatsoever) that we (humans) are capable of using our mind/brains to create our bodies, our lives and our experiences.  That we are not at the mercy of forces outside ourselves, that we are all connected so that how we think and behave affects the entire world.  Now there's a lot of scientific evidence to back this up.

I have a lot more studying to do before I can really put this information to work, but I have enough to make a start.  Condensing it into what I would need to do to put it into action, comes out that a very dedicated meditation practice would be the first thing.  It seems that all those scientists agree that meditation brings us into contact with the part of ourselves that can re-create ourselves, our lives and our connection with the world around us.

I've just entered the second month of a morning meditation practice that I've been consistent with.  I don't notice a lot of change but in small ways I feel more myself.  I realize "feeling more myself" is not a very clear description but it's the best I can do right now.  I have been through so many changes in the past 7 1/2 years that I have often not felt like myself.  The meditation seems to be restoring me to who I used to be or maybe just more in touch with who I am now.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How to Make Sure You Follow Through on Making Changes

This is so wild, so funny and so true.  My Zen Habits guy that I've been following for a few years now is all about leading a simpler, less stressful life.  The barrier to getting this done, for him and for me too and apparently for a lot of other people judging by the thousands of followers he has on his blog, is procrastination.  He posts articles every few days as well as links to other bloggers working on similar issues.

He has a Sea Change program that I signed up for to make 12 habit changes (one per month) in 2013.  The first thing we worked on was "unprocrastination" which was about choosing a "Most Important Task" (MIT) and establishing a habit of getting that done first.  The next was adding more nutritious food to your diet and this month it was establishing a meditation practice.  I did okay with the MIT thing (which was writing) although I'm not doing so hot now.  I did okay with the nutrition thing although I'm slacking on going to the store so I have what I need.  I've done really well with the meditation thing. 

A few days ago he posted a guest article on insuring success that knocked my socks off.  This guy hired a gal that he found on Craig's list (for $8.00 an hour) to sit with him while he wrote.  If he stopped writing, she was supposed to slap him.  According to the article, she did have to slap him a few times, but he managed to finish the project he was working on in record time!

This same guy had people take him to a cave in an isolated are where he camped for a month - no cell phone, no computer, etc.  He hand wrote an entire project during that month and was completely finished when the people came back to get him.

A long time ago I read a true story about a guy that was consistently late to work, to the unhappiness of his boss.  So he hired somebody to come into his house, wake him up, take him to the shower and turn it on, make coffee and breakfast and follow him to his office so that he got there 30 minutes early.  Problem solved.

This is all very serious and hysterically funny at the same time.  The funny part is obvious.  The serious message is:  "How serious are we about getting the things done that we've been putting off?"

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It's Possible to Never Have Another Argument Again!

It's a fact that you never have to have an argument with another person as long as you live!  I can prove the truth of this because I stopped having arguments with people.  If I can do it, anybody can.

What I'm not promising is that you will never be invited to have an argument.  You'll probably have plenty of invitations.  Not very many people give up arguing like I did, so other people are bound to invite you.  Not that I'm better than anybody else - I just learned that I could quit.  I think that the truth about arguments is not well known among humans.

The thing is, it takes two humans to make an argument.  If one person has decided to stop arguing, there will be no arguments.  Simple.  Very simple.'s not an easy thing.  Those invitations are extremely difficult to decline.

So what is so incredibly attractive about arguments that swearing off is so very, very hard?  In my case, I argued in order to prove I was right (very important since being right was all I had to shore up my low self-esteem).  I also argued to defend myself whether I actually needed to defend myself or not.  I often perceived a threat from other people whether there was one or not.  I defended myself just in case.  The bottom line, though, was that I was trying to get my way about something.

The sad thing is that arguing never, never, ever, ever got me anything but a worse relationship with another person and a feeling in my body that I had been poisoned.  Once in a great while I got my way, but that was so very rare.  Even when I got my way, I didn't enjoy it because of the emotional hangover from being in an argument.

So I eventually got willing to investigate another way.  It turns out that it's tremendously more effective to just ask for what I want instead of fighting for it.  Asking in a friendly way and being willing to accept "no" for an answer, doesn't invite a fight and may encourage the other person to say "yes."  If someone else wants to pick a fight with me, I can do my best to understand what they're really saying to me and resist my impulse to fight back. 

In order to have the capability to resist my impulse to fight back, I have to live each day, with the help of a higher power, as best I can in accordance with my values.  When I make mistakes, I try to correct them.  Cleaning my side of the street keeps me from being so defensive when someone is wanting to fight with me.  This is a very hard, lifetime job.  I'm not great at it, but I have finally practiced enough that I at least remember to try every day. 

Usually when I'm invited to a fight, the other person is telling me that they've interpreted my actions as a threat whether I intended a threat or not.  Maybe their feelings are hurt because they think I meant to hurt them.  Maybe I said "no" when they had a lot of energy bound up in my saying "yes."  There are a ton of reasons why someone might want to fight me.  I often wish I could reassure them that I mean no harm, but that rarely works.  I can just remember what someone told me a long time ago - "You add just as much suffering to the world when you take offense as when you give offense." and refuse to take offense myself. 

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