Awareness of my being is my ticket to freedom…when in pain, anger, frustration, exhaustion, jealousy, despair, boredom, desperation, or fear.
Much too easy to say from my desk chair, yet I have found this to be a lifeboat in the most terrible situations.
When I stop, notice my breathing, pull into an awareness of the trillion cells keeping me alive, and shift my thoughts to the incomprehensible majesty of the Universe, my sanity returns…with power…to meet life on its terms.
“Attachment (to anything temporal) is based on fear and insecurity – and the need for security is based on not knowing the true Self. Chasing security creates anxiety; it ends up making you feel hollow and empty inside, because you exchange your Self for the symbols of your Self.” -Deepak Chopra
I never liked Phantom of the Opera…until I understood it was about my own struggle with the dark side.
I dissed Sci-Fi…until I found it could teach me essential things.
I mocked country music…until, okay, I still mock country music.
I hated tomato juice…until I tried it.
I ignored animation…until I laughed my way through Toy Story and Shrek.
I never made the effort to learn enough about other cultures…until important people came into my life from other cultures.
I undervalued my enemies…until I knew they were like me.
I didn’t appreciate other points of view…until I listened carefully.
I can become bored with my partner…until I look at him as an eternal, masterfully-created being.
I wonder how much wonder, joy, insight, pleasure, and happiness I have missed because I confidently and callously refused it.
If someone is telling you about…
- their cancer diagnosis
- They don’t want to hear about your diagnosis or someone else’s.
- They are only asking you to care enough to listen.
- their pain or challenges
- They don’t want to hear about yours.
- They are only asking you to show concern.
- how you offended them
- They don’t want your excuses.
- They are only asking you to hear and understand first.
A friend recently shared his frustration since his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer; “Everyone wants to tell their story. We only want people to care.”
The author of Alphatudes, The Alphabet of Gratitude, wrote the book because she suffered from insomnia. Instead of counting sheep, Michele Wahlder decided to go through the alphabet and count all the good things that began with each letter. Before she made it through “D,” she was sound asleep.
For those of us whose minds go on a feeding frenzy at the wrong time of night: chewing on our screw-ups, problems, and random mental junk food, and/or regurgitating every conversation and event from the last decade, this tactic may be worth a try.
Even if it doesn’t put us to sleep, we will have fed our ravenous, nocturnal mind a much more nutritious bedtime snack.
If we want someone to hear our side of the story, we can’t start with it. We must start with their side of the story, so they know we get it.
If someone communicates to me in this manner, I find no need to defend myself (because they are defending me) and I can listen to the other side of the story with ease.
For example, if someone felt as if we had disrespected them when, we feel they misunderstood us and were overreacting, the following would get us the best result…
- I understand that you felt disrespected.
- I never want you to feel disrespected.
- I am so sorry that you had to go through that experience.
- (Then (and only then), the other side of the story)
If, instead, we merely say, “I understand,” be prepared for the other person to roll their eyes.
“If you have time to whine and complain about something, then you have the time to do something about it.”
That might sound trite…until we calculate the astonishing amount of time that we have wasted whining and complaining.
With just a little of that wasted time, I have found that I can…
- Ask the Universe for wisdom and help
- Offer what I do have without complaining about what I don’t
- Seek out mentors and inspiration to counteract my feeling of helplessness
- Decide to do what I don’t want to do
- Take a baby-step toward something meaningful
Probably worth the discipline it takes to watch what I say…
Hmmmm, which is better? To freak-out over my concerns or to keep it simple?
What if…? WTF? How will I make it? Why am I such a loser? Who do they think they are? Why is this happening to me? What am I going to do?
I’m going to do the best I can with what I have, trusting that all will work out, breathing the oxygen that miraculously feeds my trillion cells (while traveling through the Universe at one-thousand MPH on a planet made of hot molten lava).
People in my life need love. I’m not sure how to give it.
I need to write. I don’t have the words.
Work must be done. I am too distracted.
There are great needs. I feel I have nothing to offer.
I make too many mistakes. I need hope.
I am confused. I need ideas and direction.
It’s the frustrating place or it’s the human place.
It is the place where awareness of my own limitations can debilitate or move me to humble and confident dependence on the source of everything.
The Universe is an abundant place. I wish I had treated it as such in the past.
Humans are mean, uncooperative, or difficult for lots of reasons other than being “evil.” (It’s important to remember that when hurt, or when on social media.)
Sometimes they have been scarred by evil.
Sometimes they are blinded by fear.
Sometimes they are just as prone to screwing-up as I am (when hurting).
When I remember to take this into consideration, tolerance and compassion come easier.
People who are not afraid to be tolerant and compassionate are the type of people I want to be around.
This Keats quote has more punch to it when his circumstances are factored in; dead at twenty-five after years of poverty and painful illness. In spite of that, Keats lived with good spirits, focused on the beauty in the world and the truth revealed through that beauty.
Sounds way too simple…until I read something moving, or see a beautiful child or a stunning sunset, or am the recipient of an unexpected kindness. At that point, the meaning of life is distilled into such simple purity that I understand what Keats was getting at.
Or, when meaningless cruelty, inexplicable suffering, or aborted happiness knocks me off my feet, and I realize I don’t know what I thought I knew, then, Keats’ reminder that I really never knew is a lifeline to sanity.