Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dealing With Hard Times, And What To Do When They Hang Around Too Long

Hello. Sorry I missed last week. Computer trouble. Now I can't get images to attach to my posts. I think I need to take a lesson from this week's subject. Hard times are hard teachers, but they're part of growing in our potential. Blessings.

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards. Vernon Saunders Law

Everyone experiences hard times, and they run the gamut from a hang nail to a devastating situation, depending upon who's doing the interpretation. Roget's International Thesaurus notes descriptions such as dilemma, complication, misfortune, catastrophe, disaster, and many more.

What's interpreted as a hard time is unique to each person. And this depends upon each one's past experiences and their ability to deal with problems. A crisis to one person may be a snap to another. So to me, hard times are whatever feels like hard times to you.

Those challenges are part of the package, and we can't live without them. But when one happens to you, do you ever ask yourself why? What brings them into our life? Some stem from outer situations, while others may be our own doing. Or their presence could be just the difference between opportunities or handicaps, help or going-it-alone, or the belief system we formed from childhood messages. But whatever the reason, they can be difficult to get through.

For some, hard times come through lack vs abundance in their environment. In many deprived countries, and some areas in our own country, there are those who spend their whole lives trying to survive. There are always a few who rise above it, but for most of them it doesn't end. And believe it or not, the majority are not lazy, good-for-nothings. They're born into adverse conditions and will never have a way out.

Others even attribute their hard times to superstitions or karma. And there's nothing they can do short of finding a guru to release them from whatever's got a hold on them. So everything becomes a crisis and hangs on for a long time.

Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. C. S. Lewis

Most of us are just ordinary people tending to our work, relationships, finances, health, spirituality, various commitments, etc. And we move along through life. Then adversity enters and knocks us side ways. We see it, we know what's going on. But sometimes we get so consumed with the problem we don't question the reason it's there. And that reason could be an important lesson.

The hardest lessons to learn are the ones your soul needs the most. Kelly Cutrone

We come into this life with missions to learn, grow, serve, identify and use our gifts, and express our God given potential. Fulfilling these missions means dealing with hard times. So how can you deal with them and shorten their time, so you can fulfill your potential in a happy life?

Non-Resistance: Usually when a challenge first appears, we just want it to go away, so we respond with resistance. But the more you resist, the stronger the challenge becomes, and it's not going anywhere. So you need to set a healthier approach from the beginning.
Acceptance: Here acceptance means that you acknowledge the presence of a challenge--it is what it is--and you will do everything you can to resolve it. It may take a while, but you accept that you are patient, strong, and capable.
Clarify: Clarify the main problem, and be specific with a plan. You may need plan a, b, c, etc. Ask if there's a lesson in it for you, and listen for answers and guidance. You may not hear anything at first, but stay alert.
Action: Begin your plan with confidence and reassurance. And get help if you need it. Give it your best, don't drag your feet, and be patient.

When we are no longer able to change a situation; we are challenged to change ourselves. A Teacher

If hard times hang on, in spite of your efforts, it could be for one of two reasons.

First: As Pema Chodron says, "Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know." What? A useful message? A lesson? Listen for an answer
Second: What is there within you that may need changing? See yourself with mind and heart, and make whatever changes. Know that you can live with that hard time in peace with yourself and the challenge. A happy life is worth it.

I wish you many sunshiny days.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Starting Over And Leaving Something Behind

One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure. William Feather

Starting over means different things to different people. What does starting over mean to you...some monumental, life changing, fearful transformation in your miserable life? It may be all of that...but not necessarily. Starting over can be involved in any number of scenarios from minor to serious, depending upon the situation and your ability to take action.

We start over dozens of times every day and don't even know we're doing it. You're looking for the cereal aisle in the grocery store and take a wrong turn. Start over. You take the wrong book off the shelf, put it back, and start over. It can be as simple as changing your mind about something...anything. Some call it going back to square one. So we have a lot of practice starting over in non-threatening situations where the consequences are not life changing.

The only way around is through. Robert Frost

But some situations are thrust upon you, like loss of a job, a loved one, money, your health, an important relationship, etc. It might even involve a broken heart you think will never heal. You didn't cause any of it to happen, and you can delude yourself into thinking it didn't happen. But you know it did. And if you want to survive, you have to get through it. You have to do something. You have to get up and start over.

And suddenly you just know it's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginning. Meister Eckhart.

Sometimes the choice to start over is one you make within yourself to move from the status quo to a different path, like choosing the marry, move to another city, pursue a dream, etc. But it all involves starting over from your own conscious desires or being given a new direction. You may have a restless feeling inside, like there's something you need to do, but you don't yet know what it is. Years ago, I was working as a waitress, and for a long time I had that feeling. Then one day at work I heard a voice in my head say, "You have to work in the mental health field." I was totally flabbergasted by that bizarre idea. I knew nothing about it, and had no credentials for such an endeavor. But it kept pushing me. So I moved to a new path and started over. I was scared, but I went back to school, and ended up working many happy years in the mental health field. You will know when it's time to change the path you're on and choose a new one. 

You don't need a new day to start over. You only need a new mindset. Hazel Hira Ozbek

No matter what the reason for change, there may be some confusion, fear of the unknown, lack of confidence in your own ability, a situation that seems impossible, anything that could hold you back. If this happens, accept those feelings as quite normal, clear your mind, and begin moving forward with a new beginning. If you need emotional help, find someone you trust for help and support...family, friend, counselor. It's wise anyway to voice your thoughts and feelings. This helps clarify your situation and give you the confidence you need. If you're in a situation that can't be changed, you don't have to be controlled by it. It's part of your life, but not all of your life. Your task now is to put some emotional space between you and the situation, and add something new in your life just for you.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Arthur Ashe

Starting over always involves letting go of something and embracing something new. What is there you no longer want or need in your life? What are you ready to release? Write down where you've been, where you are now, and where you want to go...and what you'll need to get there. Then begin releasing what you don't want, and start over on your new path. Believe in yourself. Trust yourself. You have the ability to create whatever you want. Go for it.

I wish you happy days ahead.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Relationships. You Can't Find Bread In A Hardware Store

We all have different gifts, so we all have different ways of saying to the world who we are. Fred Rogers

If I asked you how well you know each person among your family and friends, you'd probably say you know them very well. After all, you've known them for years, and you can usually...usually...predict how they will think, feel, or act in various circumstances. But sometimes a situation arises between people that brings about a new perspective in how well they really know each other.

A few years ago, I felt very depressed over a situation for which there was no immediate resolution. I knew how to resolve the problem, but the depression was robbing me of stamina I needed to move forward with it. So I went to see two friends for emotional support to help me through it. I told them about my depression, but their reply told me they'd not really heard me. The wife began telling me how to fix the problem, which I already knew, and the husband came back with a totally unrelated problem of his.

Confusion is the first step toward clarity. Syd Field

I went home feeling unimportant, invalidated and confused, worse than when I reached out for help. I knew my friends cared about me. Why had our meeting not brought the help I needed? I had to gain some understanding and clarity for this situation. So I asked my Minister for feedback, and I learned an important lesson.

Different people have different duties assigned to them by Nature; Nature has given one the power or the desire to do this, the other that. Each bird must sing with his own throat. Henrik Ibsen

She explained that we've all been given certain gifts, or talents, we use to help others, and not all people are good listeners. But each is important. There are fixers, caretakers, and doers, and some offer humor, knowledge, patience, understanding and compassion, while others give good directions, etc. So when we need help, we must go to whoever has the talent we need rather than someone who can't help us. And be ready to share our own talents with others in need.

In the past, I had not noticed anyone with their particular talents in mind. They were just my dear family and friends. Now each relationship has expanded with new dimensions and new ways to relate to them. We've actually been sharing more than I had realized, and our relationships are more meaningful.

Maybe you've experienced times when you kept going back to the same place for help, but kept coming away confused and empty. The door was closed, and you didn't understand. It wasn't that someone didn't love you. They just didn't have the talent you needed, and couldn't help you. How much easier it would have been for both of you, had you known where to find the open door.

I can do thins you cannot; you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things. Mother Teresa

We take so much for granted in relationships that we can actually miss parts of the other person's personality, and can misjudge some of their actions. How often do you look at a family member or friend with your own mind so preoccupied, you can't really see them at that moment? And that moment might be very meaningful.

When you're with someone, take time to really look at them with different eyes. Notice what you haven't seen before. Feel their presence. Acknowledge who and what they are to you. What's different and special about them? What makes them unique? And if you see something you don't like, that's okay. Accept the whole person, and let it be. Don't judge.

This may seem like a tall order, and one you don't need to do or have time for. But it will break down the doors of communication, and you'll know how to be there for someone else, and who has the bread when you need help. And the better you know and understand the people in your life, the more fulfilling and meaningful each relationship will be.

I wish you clear vision and a happy journey.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Your Thoughts Direct The Quality Of Your Life. What Are You Thinking?

Listen when your body whispers to you, so you don't have to hear it scream. Unknown

Every day we're faced with stressful situations, minor to life changing. And we've been given a mind to guide us to positive outcomes. But we don't always listen to the part of our mind that's divinely tuned in to truth. We listen to the confused rattle of our human thinking, and allow our thoughts to keep us stuck in situations we don't want. But whatever the situation, if we're aware, there's usually a reminder to lead us back to where we need to be.

Recently, I went to my physical therapy session, and noticed a message on the wall. It said, "The body achieves what the mind believes." Aha. I know that. And so do most of you. But when you're in pain, and you see no way out, it's easy to forget. We just leave everything up to the doctors and whatever they prescribe with a 'one size fits all' attitude.

Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live. Jim Rahn

I'm struggling with an 8 month old injury to my side and back, and I never once remembered the power my thoughts have over my body. I've just plugged along every day wondering when I'll finally recover and the pain will stop. No positive thoughts there--just ain't it awful--until I was reminded to examine what my mind believes about my health.

It's easy to forget that every issue in your life is a reflection of your thoughts. And maybe your thoughts are in the wrong place. A few years ago I was facing a nagging problem believing I had to resolve it, me alone, or it would not get resolved. Well, I'd done everything I could think of, and nothing changed. Then one day I was standing outside looking up at the sky, feeling very inadequate and frustrated when I heard a voice in my head (no, I'm not crazy) saying, "Leave the orchestration to God. He/She knows the music." Wow. 

I realized then that some situations, like relationships or work, require more than my efforts, and I could not change everything myself. I actually got in my own way with my worry and fretting. So I stepped back and took a breath, did what was mine to do, and the rest easily came together. By the way, I told my dentist about what I'd heard, and he made a plaque for his desk with those words on it.

You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be. Marianne Williamson

Some situations in life such as any kind of personal loss cannot be changed. They are what they are. But they don't have to destroy you. I know someone who's wheelchair bound with multiple sclerosis, and at first she was devastated. But she changed her thinking and found peace. Now she is remarkable. A friend takes her to lunch every week, she and a neighbor 'walk and roll' around their neighborhood every day, she does light chores around the house, she and her husband are active in the children's program in their church, etc, etc. And she always has a smile for everyone.

Clear your mind of can't. Samuel Johnson

Every once in a while look around and see what you have created in your life. And if there's something that needs attention, examine your thoughts about it, and correct your thinking if necessary. It's important to believe in yourself and your ability to choose sound options for change. Ask for help when you need it, but think about what's yours to do, and do it. And don't forget to include and maintain hope and faith in the process. They will keep you moving forward. Move through each day in a state of awareness, and you'll see your life unfold in miraculous ways.

I wish you good thoughts and a happy life.