This is funny…except when sticking to our story keeps us stuck in a punishing rut.
After speaking to a group of people about changing their lives for good, inevitably, someone always tells me how their situation is different and they cannot be held accountable for using the techniques I have offered. Although disappointed, I am not surprised. For decades, I was that person.
How easily I let myself off the hook! And how easily I told the story that stole the relief I desperately needed.
All the more reason for regularly examining my stories.
“If change doesn’t feel uncomfortable, it probably isn’t really change.” – John Maxwell
I had the unfortunate habit of challenging and resisting anyone who even hinted that I might need to change something. It was so insulting and painful. Maxwell suggests that the best way to avoid this discomfort is to repeat the following mantra:
- Change is personal: I need to change.
- Change is positive: I’m able to change.
- Change is profitable: I will be rewarded by change.
These words have changed the way I think about the pain associated with change.
And thinking differently is always the first step to relief.
It took me decades to forgive myself for not being perfect.
During those decades, I rode a roller-coaster operated by conditional self-love: plunging to painfully low lows when I didn’t approve of myself, then, climbing to unsustainably high highs when I did.
Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements reminded me to “be impeccable with my word.” But, it wasn’t until recently that I applied that to the words I spoke to myself, understanding that talking badly about myself, to myself, was an act of self-betrayal.
The image below has inspired me to sit still long enough each day to find the unconditional love necessary for staying off of a “roller-coaster life.”
Happy Friday the 13th.
No fear. You are in control of the ride.
Today, a women working in a bakery saw me. She saw me as a valuable being and not just another customer in a long line of customers, or another obligation in a long line of obligations. It was a rare and special treat…sweeter than the cake she helped prepare.
There are a few things in life that refresh our souls in a manner that nothing else can. I had two of them today: the first crisp and cloudless day of Autumn, and an encounter with a remarkable human being in an unremarkable place.
When things are bad in our lives, we have this choice: we can fix it or live with it. Or, we can poison everyone else with it.
That term, “sweet poison of self-pity,” came from Boethius in The Consolation of Philosophy. The personification of Philosophy comes to him in his lament over his unjust imprisonment saying, “let me now wipe his eyes that are clouded with a mist of mortal things,” reminds him of the fates of Seneca, Socrates, and other noble sufferers, then inspires Boethius to live above his circumstances.
English author, Neil Gaiman, has a prescription for getting through anything; Make Good Art. (If you haven’t listened to his funny graduation speech, Google it.) Ultimately, the message is…we can take charge of our lives wherever they are…and actually enjoy doing it.
Or, we can drink more sweet poison and succumb to misery.
Be aware, though, we are poisoning people we love in the process.
Be generous in prosperity and thankful in adversity.
Be fair in judgment and guarded in your speech.
Be a lamp to those who walk in darkness and a home to the stranger.
Be eyes to the blind and a guiding light to the feet of the erring.
Be a breath of life to the body of humankind,
A dew to the soil of the human heart and a fruit upon the tree of humility
To make these words more than a beautiful sentiment, I say it as a personal commitment:
I am generous in prosperity and thankful in adversity. I am fair in judgment and guarded in my speech…I am a breath of life to the body of humankind, a dew to the soil of the human heart and a fruit upon the tree of humility.
Check it out:
When I feel so nostalgic that I cannot be content with the present.
When I feel so negative that I shut down my own productivity.
When I am so pessimistic that I attempt to solve tomorrow’s challenges without tomorrow’s resources.
…and better logic.
Which is worse:
- Getting a divorce or secretly wishing your spouse would die?
- Leaving a boss that really needs you or incessantly talking bad behind that boss’s back?
- Telling the truth or leading someone to believe you love them when you don’t?
- Disappointing someone by not following their advice or secretly hating them for ruining your life?
Sometimes, we lie to ourselves and to others to protect what is un-protectable. Sometimes our fear of violating mores prevents us from seeing the forest for the trees. Sometimes our judgment has been seriously compromised and we don’t know it. Sometimes we have valued appearances more than real wisdom.
When our lives feel too complicated, they usually are. Changing the question from what looks right to what is right is the first step to simplicity.
And, sometimes, changing the question yields a third, and better, option.
We are jarred out of the illusion…
that our lives were ever in our control
that this life is “all there is”
that inner strength wasn’t of paramount importance
Today, we live with eyes wide open.