Viewing entries tagged
self-healing

Feeling Uncertain About Your Future?

I know how it is to feel like you’re immersed in nothing but question marks. Whether it happened suddenly or by stealth, your life seems to have taken a turn down a road that’s dark and thick with trees so you can’t get a glimpse of what lies ahead.

It can leave you feeling uncertain about everything and fearful about not knowing what lies ahead.

But the truth is, we never know what lies ahead, not beyond the very moment in which we are standing. We make plans and we think that they’ll turn out as we expect. Even though we know sometimes it doesn’t happen like that, usually we keep moving forward on the assumption that things will go according to plan.

And we’re shocked when they don’t. Or we’re hurt or feel like we’ve failed. Or we’re afraid because we feel like we don’t have any control over our lives.

In reality, control is an illusion. It’s really just about having a plan and believing it’s going to go as you want. But other things come into play and things happen that you hadn’t anticipated, or perhaps you had but you thought you might be able to stop them.

You have this moment, and only this moment. The only truth that exists is the one that you experience right now. 

Everything can change in the next five minutes or the next breath. Things come out of the blue; life happens and the only thing we know for sure is that change is a given.

When you feel like you can’t stand the not knowing, just remember that you never really ‘know’ anyway. You’ve only got a plan, but there’s never any guarantee that it will turn out as you want it to do. 

When you accept this and just be open to going with the flow and seeing how it will all turn out, you’ve done yourself the biggest favour in the world. Now you don’t have disappointment, because you’ve given up expectation. Now you don’t have fear of the unknown because you’re happy to see whatever comes and view it as an adventure.

 

When you feel lost, it’s all about your perspective. You don’t really know any more or less for having a plan or not - because life will continue to unfold as it’s going to do. Be at peace with this moment and the rest will take care of themselves. 

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Metamorphosis: Not Just for Caterpillars...

About a million years ago (or so it seems - I was still at school), I read "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka. I did not really "get it." But then, I was young, just beginning my own evolution - which, decades later, is still ongoing (exactly as it should be).

"The Metamorphosis" is the story of an unhappy man, Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman who lives with his family and awakens one day to discover that he has transformed into an enormous beetle-like creature. To make a long and very peculiar story short, no one takes the change very well. They avoid him, they fear him, and they shun him. They do not speak to him. His voice and speech have changed; he speaks to them yet they do not understand him, nor do they try.

There are attempts to treat him as they did when he was in human form. There are attacks on his body. There is ridicule, there is weeping. There is persecution and a stubborn refusal to accept who he has become.

Eventually, Gregor's love for his family makes him see that they will never accept him for who he has become. He sees that his metamorphosis is only causing them pain, embarrassment and unhappiness. He is unable to leave his room, or leave their home. So in order to spare his family any more suffering, he crawls into his bed and dies.

It seems most peculiar to me that I did not understand this story when I read it so long ago, when in fact, I was living it then, and I'm still living it now. I suppose I took it too literally and couldn't work out why someone would write a story about a salesman who turned into a giant beetle.

Throughout much of my life, no one understood me, or bothered to try. But then, for many of those years, I did not understand myself either.

Thankfully, this changed a few decades ago when I embarked on an ongoing journey of self-discovery. I've reinvented myself several times, with the most dramatic changes occurring in the last several years. I'm blessed to have some people in my life who welcome and embrace those changes, and who understand them and appreciate them.

For decades, many people have judged me rather harshly for making those changes. They seemed unwilling - or perhaps unable - to understand me, or the changes I was making. And they didn't even want to try.

It is one thing to dislike or reject change in oneself or one's own environment. But it something else entirely to stubbornly refuse to accept change in someone else.

This is where the first cracks appear between people, as change can signal the impending death of a relationship, a friendship, or a business arrangement. How each of them accepts the change - or doesn't - will determine the outcome of their association.

Others see in us what they want to see. A mother sees her grown children as her babies. A father sees his married daughter as "Daddy's little girl." Adult siblings still see each other as the pains in the neck they remember as kids - and sometimes still rival for the attention and affection of their parents.

Although it may seem sweet and sentimental to cling to the past, and to former identities and relationships, it is not a healthy way to live. Change is inevitable. For some of us, there is a lot more of it than for others.

Like many others, I've had a fair number of extremely challenging experiences and circumstances throughout my life. They have allowed me to continue to grow, to learn and to evolve, like a snake shedding the skin it has outgrown. And by sharing what I've learned through my willingness to change, I'm able to assist others through their difficulties or their desire for transformation in their lives.

Think about that word for a moment. "Trans" means across or beyond - so "transform" is rather like "beyond the form". The entire form or structure of something has changed, like a metamorphosis, in which something goes from one state to a completely different one - eg. a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

For people who are experiencing this kind of transformation, or metamorphosis, it is beautiful, empowering, and freeing. But for those who are left behind, it can be frightening and lonely unless they choose to understand or at least accept and acknowledge the evolution.

There are those people who will be able to do this. And there are those who will not. Some people are simply unable to comprehend such dramatic changes. It is not a flaw, not any more so than needing change is a flaw. It is just one of many differences between people.

It is one of the most difficult ones because it means some people move forward and into new situations, new lives, new ways of thinking - and some do not. When this happens, two people who were once traveling at a similar pace and in a similar direction are no longer even on the same road. One will have wandered off down a side road, taking a detour, disappearing into the trees on another path to discover Parts Unknown.

Change, evolution, transformation, metamorphosis...these are necessary for life to continue. At a very basic level, our cells die, and new ones are created all the time. If not for this, our bodies could not grow. Nor could they heal from damage or recover from illness.

But think about how we began - two tiny little cells that merged into one. And look at us now. If that isn't the most astonishing metamorphosis, I don't know what is. As I said earlier, if we didn't change, we'd still be sitting around, waiting for Thag to chisel a wheel out of a chunk of stone.

Change is a part of life. Greater change allows a greater life. And if you want to go the distance and transform your life, you must transform yourself. There may be people who throw themselves on the path, grab you by the ankles and try to hold you back. But if you allow this, you will not be happy.

It can be painful to leave those possessions, those places, or those people we love, and move forward in our lives. But sometimes it must be done if we are to pursue our own freedom, express our own individuality and uniqueness, and discover our own greatness.

And if everyone did that, just imagine what a magnificent world this would be...

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Your Words Don't Tell the Whole Story...

Think about the people in your life...just take a moment and contemplate anyone who comes to mind, whether they're positive thoughts or negative ones...

Go ahead; think of a few more. The ones who make you want to tear your hair out, the ones you want to see all the time, the ones you avoid like the plague... just briefly think of each one and move on to the next...

Did you get a good sampling? I hope so.

Now, what happened while you were doing that? I'll bet you were thinking about how each one made you feel. You'd remember one and feel all oatmealy (warm and mushy), you'd think of another and feel your blood begin to boil, and there were probably some in between, or even a bit of both.

You were not likely thinking about this or that specific thing that they did with you or for you. As your memory took you from one person to the next, you wouldn't have been thinking about them at all. Chances are, you were just feeling about them. Because that's what's important to us.

When you leave the lives of people with whom you've interacted, whether for three days, two weeks, or by moving, drifting apart, or departing this Earthly existence, first and foremost, you will be remembered for how they felt because of the way you treated them. The specific memories will come next.

The way you treat people will leave an impression, and it is the most important element in any sort of relationship, no matter what that relationship is. It might only be your occasional dealings with a little old lady you see in the village as she's walking her dog. It could be your sister or your neighbour or the grouchy man who runs the post office.

Have you ever been itching to share your favourite places or events with people who didn't really want to go? But you said "Pretty please" or maybe you didn't - but at any rate, they finally agreed to go, and you could tell they hated every minute of it?

Or have you ever been with people who said and did all the right things, perhaps they fed and housed you, or had to drive you to appointments or whatever, but you felt that it was out of obligation and you just knew they didn't really want to do it?

I'm sure that like most people, you can relate to these and other similar situations. And no doubt when you remember those situations, the first thing you do is remember how you felt. It doesn't matter whether those people showed up, attended the event with you, said please and thank you, said it's no trouble at all, or insisted they were happy to help.

The only thing that you're really left with are feelings that aren't very nice. 

Words don't always say very much. Imagine this: A man gazes lovingly at his wife while she reads the paper. He reaches over and lays his hand gently on her arm. Softly, he says, "I love you, honey.

She looks up from her paper, turns to him and you can see her face soften into a warm smile as she says, "I love you, too." You might guess how he feels in that moment. What a lucky guy!

Now same scenario again. Husband gazes at wife, loving rests his hand on her arm and says he loves her. She doesn't look up from her paper. She continues reading. There's a noticeable pause and he's not sure she heard him but before he can repeat it, and without looking up from her paper, she says in a tone as flat as a pancake, "Hmm...love you, too."

He's probably not as happy as the other guy.

It's not what you do for people; it's how you do it. It's not what you say; it's how you say it. Is it with a sour attitude? Is it with "I'll get you for this" in your mind? Or is it with a loving heart, and a willingness to bring joy to someone's life?

The size of the gesture is irrelevant. Whether or not it's something huge and expensive and time-consuming, or something very teeny like remembering a favourite little treat.

It is not what you do for someone, or what you say that is important. It is how you do whatever you do, or how you say whatever you say that matters, because that is what will trigger an emotional response in the person on the receiving end of it.

Think about how you would like to be remembered and let this be reflected in all you say and do.

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With every ending, there's always a beginning.

Generally speaking, our culture is frightened of loss, one of the greatest of which is death. It is a subject that makes people squirm as they try to avoid discussing it. We have all sorts of euphemisms for it, we shield children from it and many of us struggle to cope with the idea of our own mortality.

In a Tarot reading, people come unglued when they see the Death card appear. They think it means they're going to die and once again, we see this aversion to the entire subject. But the Death card means change, transformation. It means death in a symbolic way, followed by rebirth.

And with rebirth comes a new beginning, a fresh start.

Physical death is like this, too, as we shed our bodies and return to the spirit realm. It is simply a transformation, but one that those people left in the earthly realm do not always accept easily.

Endings and beginnings...beginnings and endings...you cannot have one without the other. Too often, endings are not by our own choice, which can make the new beginning at least as difficult. Sometimes even though we need or want change, and we just wish this or that could happen, we're still hanging on to what we've got with a 'have your cake and eat it, too' attitude.

But too often, this is not how it works.  In order for those changes to occur, and for us to get the desired result, we must let go of what we've got now and make room for whatever comes next.

I used to be unbearably sentimental about 'stuff'. I had the most ridiculous keepsakes - ticket stubs, corks from wine shared on a special evening, bits of wrapping paper from special gifts, napkins, swizzle sticks, tiny plastic toys from boxes of popcorn, every card and letter I was ever given, and countless items so silly I can't even remember what they were.

And of course there were more 'normal' items to which I attached myself. Furnishings, ornaments, dishes - and like many people, there was 'my mug'. How many people are very possessive about a particular mug they use for their coffee or tea? Or about their favourite chair at the table, or where they sit in the sitting room? Sheldon's "spot" on the Big Bang Theory, or Archie Bunker's chair on All In The Family...

I used to be very connected to my 'stuff' and even more so to any of it that had even remotely sentimental value.

When I say 'stuff', I'm not just talking about material possessions either. I'm also talking about aspects of my life that were important to me. A relationship or friendship, an activity I loved, or some part of my life that I didn't think I could do without.

I kept focusing on the losses and was so immersed in grief I couldn't stand to be in my own skin.

With an ongoing theme of loss throughout my life, eventually I thought I ought to figure out what I could learn from it so it wouldn't feel so awful.

First, I realised that as long as I focused on the losses, I wouldn't see the many blessings that remained.

Secondly, I discovered that with loss (and all challenges) comes the opportunity for a huge perspective shift. It's a chance to look for the positives, to focus on the happy memories or relationships that are associated with whatever it is that is changing or gone.

And thirdly, there is the Buddhist view that all suffering comes from attachment, and I can certainly say that the less attached I am to any 'stuff', the happier I am because when the 'stuff' goes, without attachment it cannot hurt.

And there is another important point to remember. It's in not focusing on the letting go, the ending, or the completion. It's in focusing on the fresh start, the new beginning and what lies ahead.

Yes, it may be frightening to walk down a new and unfamiliar road, leaving behind everyone and everything familiar. But if that new road has been presented to you, there is a reason for it. You must let go of the old, the stale, the stagnant and finished, and embrace the new, the fresh, the expanding and beginning. Before long, you'll have walked through the endings and blended straight into the beginnings, living the Death card and experiencing rebirth and the magic of renewal. It's a chance to create something different, something better.

The Wheel of Life will always mean there are endings. But the good news is, you cannot have an ending without a beginning.

Sure, you can fear beginnings if you want to do that, but it's better to see them as exciting adventures. A positive attitude will go a long way to reducing the impact of any speed bumps or potholes on that new road so buckle up and don't look back; you already know where you've been.

Now let's see where you're going!

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Happiness is not a destination; it is a choice.

sunflowers.jpg

I'm probably gonna take some flack for that title. I can well imagine people will be popping up with all kinds of objections, like how can they possibly be happy in this or that horrible situation or while surviving some tragedy or other.

I get that. I've lived that. I'm still living it because I have a pulse. All of us get nasty stuff lobbed at us if we're breathing. It is the nature of being alive on this planet; it is an inescapable fact of life.

I've got a life story that reads like a soap opera (more like several) - all your standard issue insanity, and pretty much everything you'd find on daytime TV, apart from having an evil twin appear out of nowhere (not yet anyway) or being cloned (I could use a few of those).

And although some people have had it much better than I, many have had it much worse.

But that is neither here nor there. This isn't a contest to see who's had a more traumatic life; we've all got our own pain to endure, and our own obstacles to overcome.

Within that pain and those obstacles lies the challenge to pursue happiness, whatever else is going on. That challenge is what stretches us, teaches us, allows us to expand, to grow, to find strength to get us through the darkest of times. And in doing so, we learn valuable lessons that we can pass along to others - an added bonus beyond our own progress and development.

Happiness is not something you find and keep; it is as elusive as the shroud of mist that hangs in front of the moon. It is not a destination; it is a choice you make every moment of every day. The pursuit of it is its own reward, for it is in travelling that road that we are open to finding happiness here and there, dotted like bright sunflowers peeking out from the brush and trees. The more of them you find, the more you will want to seek.

It doesn't matter what else is going on. No, it really doesn't! There is always, always, always room to step out of your 'stuff', your pain, your grief, your abject misery and find a bright sunflower. Even if you just take a peek, it is sweet relief for your soul when it is allowed to set its gaze on such beauty and rest a while.

Sometimes we're blessed to have an unexpected little 'sun shower' of happiness and how wonderful it is when that happens! But in between those lovely glittering drops that brighten our lives, it must be understood that the only way to find happiness is to discover it as if playing Hide and Seek. It will hide and you must seek, moment by moment, and in so doing, you will create the happy life that you desire.

 

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Life's too short to be serious all the time

Play. Just drop what you're doing and go and play. Find a puzzle, get some Lego, buy some crayons and a colouring book, go to the park and climb on some monkey bars. Sit on a swing, zip down the slide - and laugh if you don't fit like you used to do.

Bake some cookies and decorate with silly stuff like gummy worms. Find a sandbox, fly a kite, or find some mud. There's something really therapeutic about playing in it; squishing it between bare toes is as delightful as making mud pies.

Make a telephone out of two tins and some string. Squoosh some playdough into ornaments or dopey stuff. Maybe try a hula hoop or get a skipping rope.

Play hopscotch or tag. How about pick-up-sticks or jacks? If you don't have a cartoon channel on the telly, rent an animated "kid film", like Yogi Bear, Winnie the Pooh, or Casper or look for old cartoons on Youtube.

How about blowing bubbles? Or getting one of those huge plastic hoops that makes bubbles as big as the moon?? Well, okay, perhaps not quite that big.

So much of life is about responsibility and "have to" and work and being tired. We feel guilty when we carve out a little time for fun or just relaxing. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's good for you to play, to have fun and some down time.

If you work, work, work all the time, you owe it to yourself to find some play-time amidst your busy life. It's essential to your mental health and to being the best version of yourself that you can be. Keeping yourself topped up with positive input means you'll feel better, do better, and you'll have a lot more to give.

A little play-time will make all the miserable responsible bits a lot more palatable. Life should be about balance, and if you spent most of your time working or doing boring, miserable responsible stuff that feels like work, you're missing the point of being here.

Whether you're having naughty snacks or are out bowling, riding bikes or doing other great 'kid stuff', as long as you're feeding your "inner child", you'll be in great shape. That little child will demand to be heard, especially when things get bumpy as it's so easily ignored at that time.

Cut yourself - and that little child - some slack. A little playfulness and fun are life-giving - life-altering. Go and have a great time! Enjoy yourself!

(Photo courtesy of Chance Agrella at freerangestock.com)

A Little Faith, A Dash of Hope...

Things might be awful for you right now.  I hope not, but of course Life does have a way of being miserable sometimes.  And in some cases, it can go on a very long time.

It's not as miserable when you have some control over the situation, when you can actively do something to make it better, to change it in some way and get back to a happier place.  But it really sucks when it's pretty much out of your hands.

In those cases, all you can really do is change yourself, your own attitudes about what's happening.  Trust me, I do understand complete and utter despair.  I've endured some of the worst heartache, the worst illness, the worst fears (but thank heaven I've also been spared many others).  I do know what it is to suffer, so I'm not just talking out of my hat (such a bizarre expression).

When it gets like that for you, you've got to hang onto faith and hope.  And if you've lost them, you've got to dig deep and find them again, even if it's just the tiniest shred of each.

Although it doesn't always feel like it, you have control over what goes on in your head.  You can choose to think about how awful it is and how dark and miserable things are right now and how they're just going to stay that way.

Or you can look ahead and have faith that things will change, that the Wheel of Life will soon begin to turn in your favour again.  You can trust that there will be a bit of good news tomorrow or next week, that you'll see the first signs of improvement in your situation.  Because it will come, you know.  Nothing stays the same forever.  And if you're like I used to be, you'll say, "Yeah, I know.  It can get worse!"

And yes, that's true.  But equally, it also means that things can get better.  If you're gonna give some time and energy to the negative, the positive deserves at least the same attention.  Be fair and give it equal time. Or more.

Then find a little hope.  If you've lost that too, then make some more.  You do it by remembering other times when things were dark and horrible, but then they got better.  C'mon, don't tell me that every single minute of your whole existence since birth has been awful.  Even if there has been a lot of misery, if there have been many hardships, some of them will have made room for brighter days in the past.

And I'll bet that when you were in the soup back then, you might not have thought it would ever get better.  But it did.

And it'll get better again.  You create faith and you create hope by choosing to welcome them into your thoughts, by opening your mind, your heart, your life to them and telling yourself - no, by insisting - that your situation will improve.

Even in terminal illness there is room for faith and hope.  Have faith in the strength of your spirit's ability to face what lies ahead, to accept the situation and find peace.  Have hope that your suffering will be eased, that you will find comfort in your spiritual beliefs or in being with loved ones during this very difficult time.

The Universe doesn't always give us what we want.  But it always gives us what we need.  And if you need courage, strength, faith or hope, even if you have to look for them, you will always find them.

 

Positively Positive

I don't read the paper.  I don't listen to the news.  In fact, I'll go a step further.  I won't read the paper and I won't listen to the news.  There's so much torment and tragedy, murder and misery, nothing but story after story about man's inhumanity to man, about horrible accidents, Acts of God that cause death and destruction.  Do I really need to hear every possible rotten, awful thing that has happened out there?  Does it add anything to my life? Will I be worse off for not knowing about these terrible incidents?

No.

I figure that if there's anything I really need to know, like the sky is falling or Armageddon's happening after dinner on Tuesday, someone will tell me.  I told a journalist friend once that I thought I ought to start up a newspaper that was full of only good news.  He said it wouldn't sell because people want the blood and guts (my words, not his, but that was the general idea).  He said good news doesn't (or wouldn't) sell papers.

I think it would.  Some of us want to be surrounded by positivity.  Some of us want to know the good news, the happy events, the wonderful moments and miracles that are happening in the world.  Some of us want to be uplifted by the beauty that exists in the perfect stories of love and kindness that are taking place around us, especially when they happen between strangers.

Some of us prefer to be connected with light and lovely positive energy that allows growth and movement, rather than heavy, oppressive negative energy that keeps us stuck and stagnant

I refuse to give attention to the negatives in my life or my environment, above and beyond what is absolutely essential in order to deal with certain issues.  Beyond that, negative thoughts are chased away and replaced by positive ones.  If I find myself wandering into contemplations about anything that is distressing or upsetting - particularly if it's nothing I am able to change - I dismiss it, focusing instead on what I want - and not on what I don't want

I've spent - or rather wasted - far too much of my life enduring and choking on negatives already.  I refuse to give that rubbish any more of my precious moments because they would only harm me.  They would not add anything to my life; they would only take from it.  Well, they would if I let them.  But I won't.

Instead, I am immersed in sparkling, radiant, shimmering, positive energy of the purest kind. I will not feed the demons that thrive on negative energy; I let them starve to death, bloody tormentors that they wish they could be, if only I would allow them to ravage my life the way they used to do.  They tore and clawed at it until it was in shreds, lapping at the dark red pools beneath the carcass of any dreams I might have had.

No, there is no room for them in my life, my heart, any part of my being and they are unwelcome beasts.  I have banished them from the sacred space that is Me.  I am far more powerful than they could ever hope to be and they shall not destroy me again, nor shall I allow any more destruction of my time in this life.

Why would I choose to do anything else?  Unless, of course, I had some burning desire to destroy my own life, my own happiness and wellbeing.

I have complete control over what I think and how I respond to anyone or anything.  I have complete control in deciding where to focus my attention and energy.  I can choose to make my life better - or worse.

I know what I'm choosing.  How about you?