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.
There are days.
There are days when I come face to face with the ugly side of life; when my heart asks, “So where is your God now?”
In order to survive, I have to do a quick tour of the inexplicable things that have happened to me over the years: times when…
- resources have come out of nowhere
- people were extraordinarily generous
- pain-relief came in the nick of time
- I was miraculously rescued from threatening circumstances
- life was overwhelmingly beautiful
Then, I can relax into what I don’t understand.
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.
Yesterday, I sent a document of critical importance for next-day delivery, guaranteed to arrive before 10:30 AM.
After multiple calls and promises, the package has yet to arrive, inconveniencing many people and drastically disappointing the recipient.
At one point, the dispatcher said it was impossible for the package to be delivered before 5:30 PM because the driver was on the other side of town.
Which translated to…
Of course, UPS could get it there if we deviated from our efficient plan, made a special effort, and used more of our resources, but, frankly
- our promise to you is relative in importance;
- we have bigger fish to fry;
- things go wrong and you just have to live with our failures (even if it is painful).
The whole experience reminded me of my own failures to deliver what I have promised for the above reasons.
Most of us have promised something that seemed easy to deliver at the time, but became an “expensive” choice later. You may have discovered, as I have, that the most expensive choice was choosing not to have enough integrity to do what we said we’d do.
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.
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.
I learned to “step away from the ledge” to resist the temptation to jump.
Now, I am learning to step away from the ledger to resist “jumping to conclusions” and chalking up judgments against people who might be in need of a little mercy.
When I don’t keep a “ledger” of everyone else’s faults, it makes it easier for me to forgive myself and believe that others are not keeping a ledger on me.
After posting my “three joys” yesterday, my friend and reader, Betsy reminded me of the best “Hawaiian” music of all time. I included the link (under the pic) of IZ’s “Over the Rainbow” with the video of the celebration after his death. I thought you might want to join the 319 million plus who have watched this YouTube video and just see if it could be one of your “three joys.”
Preparing people for depositions, attorney, Bob Goff instructs his clients to sit with their palms up. He maintains that following this simple instruction works to prevent defensiveness, reacting in anger, or tensing up when stakes are high. Good advice…not only for depositions, but for life.
Rather than approaching life with clenched fists, open palms signifies a non-threatening posture of acceptance and openness.
A palms-up morning routine of meditation is now my reminder to offer up all that I have for good, trusting that what I have will be multiplied to meet the pressing needs around me. By doing so, I replace the feeling of overwhelm with a feeling of confidence in the abundance of the Universe.
Here’s to a palms-up kind of day! Cheers!