Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Power Of Choice. A Good Thing Or A Bad Thing? And Does It Help Or Hurt?

In every single thing you do, you are choosing a direction. Your life is a product of choices. Dr. Kathleen Hall

We're given free will, and we have power to make choices. Then we tend to label things good or bad, helpful or hurtful. But the initial outcome of our decisions can be deceiving. What we at first consider a negative outcome can be a blessing in disguise. Our choices take us in many directions. And the process can be complicated.

Formula for choosing: We choose with our mind, our heart, or both, and our formula in this process depends upon many variables. We come into the world with inherent traits, and during childhood those traits are either nurtured or discouraged by our environment. We're molded into a personality, and what we learn from our experiences influences the way in which we make choices.

 Blockages to positive outcomes: In our own unique way, we sometimes create outcomes we don't consciously intend to create. An impulsive person may make impulsive decisions, and then suffer disappointing consequences. Being fearful of making a mistake can cause hesitancy in choosing. A lack of self-confidence may cause someone to lean too much on the opinions of others, and lose out in the long run. Much depends upon our personal approach.

The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live. Flora Whittemore

We don't realize how many hundreds, maybe thousands, of times each day we choose something...coffee or tea, which radio station or TV channel, back door or front, answer that call or not...on and on. And most of the time we don't say, "I think I'll choose this instead of that." We simply choose and then act upon our choice, unaware of the brain and heart activity at the time.You may believe that only the 'big' choices are important, like those pertaining to work, relationships, health, finances, etc. The rest is just little stuff. But that little stuff is part of your overall approach to decision-making. And all of your choices determine the quality of your life, with consequences depending upon the importance of each choice.

Choice is strength. Having choice is also freedom. Coulter Watt

And having choice is a blessing. You choose what you want in your life, and you can choose to be happy with a positive attitude. You choose. Then the happier and more satisfied you are, the more good you can bring into your world. Maybe you're already a good decision-maker but, once in a while, when you create a negative outcome, you can choose to learn from it and find a blessing in that lesson. I used to be an expert in creating painful outcomes from well-meaning choices. And I didn't see a blessing in any of it. But sheer frustration and 2 years of therapy saved me. Now when I occasionally goof up, I can find the blessing. We're all works in progress, aren't we?

So how do we reduce the goof ups?

First step in decision-making: The first step is to train yourself to be a good decision-maker, so you can choose wisely.
1. Get to know how you make decisions. Impulsive, thoughtful, thorough? Clarify your strengths and weaknesses.
2. Notice what you feel when faced with a minor/major decision. Fear, discomfort, confidence?
3. What do you really want in your life? Or not want? Be specific.
4. How much do you trust yourself? Or others? (family, friends, sales people)
5. Think about your past mistakes, and what you might change. How do you handle mistakes? Guilt, anger, let it go, learn from it?
Next step: Choosing.
1. Know the outcome you want, and clarify your requirements.
2. Gather information. Read, ask questions, explore your possibilities and ways to get what you want. Will your choice hurt you or help you?
3. Analyze and compare different choices.
4. Explore your alternatives. Consider outcomes, positive and negative.
5. Now leave your mind, and quietly go within to your intuition. What is your heart telling you? Listen with your full attention.

Now choose, not in fear, but with confidence. You know yourself better, and you've done your homework. You've learned well, and you will goof less. And you're blessed.

I wish you many wonderful outcomes.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Where Do You Go When You Need Understanding And Compassion?

Life promises to give us a variety of experiences, and it certainly keeps its promise. Just when we think we're sailing downhill, a cloud fills our path, and we're hoping for a miracle. Maybe most of the time, we're able to cope and move on, but there are times when we're emotionally bogged down and need help climbing out.

You already know how to solve your problem, but you're hurting, and you don't have the emotional strength to move ahead. Right now you need support to know you're not alone--you're loved--you matter. You need help.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

Family and friends may respond with either pity or compassion. Both can feel sorrow, but one will help and the other won't. Pity is a more passive response. It doesn't require becoming emotionally involved with understanding or feeling your feelings. And it doesn't improve a situation. You may hear people say, "C'mon. Smile. It's not that bad," or "Count your blessings," or "I had the same thing happen to me, and I got over it." Well, that is them, and you are you. And they don't get it.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. Dalai Lama.

In excerpts from an article by Tris Thorp, Master Educator at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, she says, "Compassion has the ability to connect and heal. To actually feel someone's pain is to be empathetic and to be passionate to help that person create a different experience. When you look upon those in need with compassionate eyes, you can act as a support or lend a helping hand if needed. Showing compassion means being there for another without judgment--being a pillar next to which they can stand."

 Sometimes all we ask is that our words be heard and our feelings be validated. Randi G Fine

Have you ever gone to someone for help and left feeling even more empty and alone? Years ago, I was going through a hard time, and I went to family members for emotional support. Their response was telling me what to do and venting their own problems. They hadn't heard anything I said, my pain, my feelings, etc. So I talked with my Minister about it, and she said we all have gifts--something we do well--but we don't all have the same gift. And not everyone knows how to listen, understand, and support with love and kindness.

She said think about what gifts the people in your life have, so you'll know who can share your feelings and give you the understanding and compassion you need ... and who can't. Then when you're going through the pain of a difficult situation, go only where you know you'll be supported, and go to others for other needs. But love all of them anyway, and give your own gift freely with love.

Well, a couple years ago an old patient of mine said all this in just a few words. She said, "You can't get bread from a hardware store." How profound. Now I know who's a hardware store and who has the bread (support). So I know where to go when I need understanding and compassion.

As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way. Mary Anne Radmacher

There are many kind people who have difficulty dealing with another person's pain. And if you're one of those, look at your own life and discover your gift. You may not be aware of what you would call a gift, but you do have one--something you do well. And you can use your gift to put some light in someone's life. When just talking with someone, listen to their words and hear with your heart. Give your gift with a smile, and you both will be blessed. And when you're hurting and need help, look for the bread store. :-)

I wish you blessings whether giving or receiving.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Using Health Challenges As Windows To Self-Discovery

In our travel through life we live in mostly predictable patterns involving every aspect of life. When we get up in the morning, we expect our day to be as we've already imagined it. Our plans are made, and we expect to fulfill them. And we don't want unexpected occurrences changing any of it. No interruptions, please.

But whether we like it or not, unforeseen things do happen, like a check bounces at the bank, the car has a flat tire, your kid missed the school bus, you forgot an important appointment, etc, etc. All bothersome, but part of daily life and fairly quickly resolved or at least tolerated. But what happens when unexpected illness invades your systematic life, like a ferocious belly ache, a hip replacement, a fractured leg, the flu, various viral infections, etc, etc. Such health challenges are not life threatening, but they put your life on hold, and they require more than a band aid.

Ten days ago I had eye surgery to remove old lens debris from cataract surgery 7 years ago that just now caused a cloud over my eye. After surgery I spent 2 days exhausted and a little dizzy, maybe from anesthesia, most of the week with visual restrictions, not driving, and I'm still using eye drops and an eye shield at night. I never heard of such a thing, but it's a good example of how a health challenge can suddenly interrupt your life.

Some perceive even a minor illness as devastating, while others take it in stride. The way you perceive it depends upon your personality and the way you view your life. It may involve physical pain, frustration, annoyance, guilt, self-criticism, worry, resentment, added expenses, etc. And it may rob you of your mobility, freedom, and independence, leaving you feeling helpless. It interrupts your daily plan for living and leaves time on your hands that doesn't fit in with your scheme of things.

Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you. They're supposed to help you discover who you are.  Bernice Johnson Reagon

Over the years we're given many opportunities to learn and grow as our own unique, special self. But do you ever see such a blessing in those health challenges that knock you off your familiar path? How do you respond in those situations? Do you stomp your feet and throw things because you can't keep that important event? Do you worry about being late paying the electric bill? Do you worry about the unknown? Or do you take advantage of each situation to observe yourself and discover more of who you are?

The wish for healing has always been half of health.  Lucius Annaeus Seneca
My eye surgery could have been more stressful had I not learned from a bout with pneumonia last spring with 3 days in the hospital, then home with medication and oxygen 24/7. That oxygen hose hanging from my nose and dragging the floor around my feet and legs slooowed me down enough to turn on some self-observation. And I'm learning a lot about myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I don't like being sick--I'd rather be swimming with an alligator in Silver Springs (a tame one)--but now I'm better able to view illness not as an enemy, but an ally there to help me. I'm learning more about me, and I'm transferring what I learn to other aspects of my life.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr

When you go through a non-life-threatening illness, and your life has been put on hold for a while, quiet your mind and ask what you can learn from that experience. Clarify your thoughts and feelings. And pay attention to how you react to physical pain and/or your situation. What are you losing and gaining? Question your life style. Are there positive changes you can make? Use this extra time to learn more about you...the most important person in your life. And come through it changed in some way with gratitude.

I wish you happy enlightenment.