One of the more difficult evolutions of my character and personality has been to trust. The very idea has raised the hair on my neck over the years and the thought of it’s potential failure has set up fear alarms on many an occasion.
I admit I used to think it would probably be easier to assume nothing and nobody can be trusted. The reality of this type of thinking resulted in living life looking over one’s shoulder and never truly understanding the core concept of relationships or peace as a result.
Life is filled with turning points (if we are lucky) and I have been truly blessed. To believe in any form of sadness (whether intentional or not) as an easier path for living (hopefully) taking that person to an eventual point where it’s best to understand and perhaps redefine the word “easy.”
What is easy about believing nothing that means anything can work because you have built up a wall designed solely to “protect” you from being hurt, humiliated, shamed, disappointed or even embarrassed in the potential of failure? Living inside that wall of protection can be perceived as a way to avoid the hurt and pain, but why would the unknown or unexperienced joys and successes not be worth the risk?
To trust in the best result, the right outcome or the success of a decision is the truest and most beautiful form of faith. Isn’t trust just faith in the first place? I put my trust in you or in anything and I am expressing an inward faith in the result (even if the obvious goal is a favorable outcome.)
But once I learned more about faith versus fear I began to understand the complex madness and beauty in simple trust and the issues began to melt away. It isn’t necessarily smart to jump to the full opposite of the fear that built the walls. I have learned to hone, listen to and heed my basic instincts and intuition. When I know something is not to be trusted innately it is likely something I should steer away from. But I finally learned things actually can be trusted and began to climb out of the hole I had voluntarily built.
The best way for me to learn how to trust was to trust (I know, that’s deep.) Program tells me to take the leap and the net will appear. In another conclusion I have learned to understand in some of my failures as possibly the best ways to lead me further towards my successes. Making mistakes is not detrimental to my character or reputation. I am stronger for each decision and it’s result, whatever that may end up being. But in trusting I have become wiser and the result of the many, many times my trust and faith in a situation, place, person or thing has worked has opened my mind allowing me to grow and mature as a human doing (instead of just being.)
I once had a sponsor tell me there were no mistakes. Yes, there are always consequences and results but we cannot be guaranteed they will be bad… and we cannot be sure even the bad result is not going to change our life in ways we may not have been able to experience otherwise. Everything has it’s reason. Everything has it’s purpose. All my decisions were a basic part of the path I am on. Even some of the things one could argue were NOT my decisions became part of the path based on my reactions to them.
But when I do not trust in the potential action taken: the “yes,” the relationship, the decision, the experience… I risk not finding a truer, more vivid potential on the short trip on Earth. I trust because I need the adventure. I trust because I crave the change and I adore the growth. I am teachable and trust helps me to learn. Where I don’t trust I am limiting my view, my potential and more than likely my mood about all things around me. When I don’t trust I often end up in resentment and, as I have been taught, resentment is liking taking poison and expecting someone else to die.
Today I choose to trust in my future, my path, my relationships, my continued growth. Faith is stronger than anything I could ever muster up on my own. In it I am powerful. It allows me the strength and happiness to enjoy life as I need to. It really is happening for me and NOT to me.
Stop. Smile. Breathe.
I don’t think you can take too many stabs at optimism and gratitude. Personally I believe the more I concentrate in these arenas, the more I am likely to experience what they provide.
Here is my bottom line: I don’t like every day I am live. I don’t enjoy every experience I am have. I don’t enjoy or even like every person I encounter. I am sometimes under false influences (such as lack of sleep, hunger, elements of emotion or fear and not at my best self.) I am not a saint. I am not everyone’s cup of tea.
I am human.
When I allow any of the above factors to steer me towards the potential negatives of anger, resentment, mistrust or selfishness, it is only I who (truly) suffers the moment. I will lose no matter what or whomever else is involved. When the negatives have a stronghold I am subject to a waste of time, energy and spiritual progress. If I am not experiencing my best day as a result of my own thinking it is tantamount to throwing away time and happiness in favor of opting for doubt, suspicion and sadness.
It is easy to create a problem that does not exist.
Sometimes I forget how short life really is. Unfortunately I am reminded from time to time when I experience a loss both personally or simply by watching the news and seeing what is occurring in our world. The thought of wasting precious time in negative places feels criminal. I want to share the things I have learned, the talents I was born with or have honed through my life’s education. I want to see the world, experience the people and enjoy the magnificence of art and science. If I am in my head angry about a perceived slight, a potential loss or something not working either as it should or as I believe it should I am holding on to thoughts and patterns detrimental to the simple positives which are being pushed aside as a result.
There is always so much to be grateful for. Sometimes it is forgotten and taken for granted. Sometimes it is perceived not to be enough. But if my gratitude is front and center the rest has a chance to be pushed out of mind. Nothing I experience in a day, no matter how intense or overwhelming should have the power to negate the beauty of my life. The gifts, the opportunities, the people, the places the experiences are ALL so much larger and more amazing than any negative I encounter. It seems ironic to think this simple fact might be a struggle to maintain.
Anger can be comfortable. Entitlement can be addictive. Expectations can be killers.
For me the biggest truth is to remember life is not happening TO me, it is happening FOR me. To not see it as the gift it truly is must only be my own responsibility. It is up to me to see the glass as more than half full and know whatever tempts me to defend myself against or move towards victimization or martyrdom is my devil. These thoughts are not real (at least enough to cause me the harm I may think they are going to cause.)
Each morning I look at my fear. I write it down and I respond to it with my best solution. More than often the fear is not real. Likely addressing it as I do allows me to take away the power it can hold. This does not stop it from coming, I understand, but as with most areas of my world in my cumulative life education, it is never about my fear in the first place…. it is about my reaction to it. It is I who holds the power over the fear, not vice-versa. This is a daily challenge and always an evolving lesson. Although I will never conquer fear, I have learned how to temper the reaction:
Stop. Smile. Breathe.
There is an old saying which tells us “no news is good news.”
The implied meaning of the above saying would indicate not hearing anything at all is actually a positive because you aren’t hearing anything is wrong. I get that. There is always a good case to avoiding news to not receive information you may not want to hear, (although in most cases it could be said those waiting for this news would obviously prefer hearing something positive.)
And while there is merit to the above line of thinking, where nothing could still mean it’s all good, it is also important to remember how programmed and conditioned we have become as a people to news being something to shock, sensationalize or sell… thus the idea that bad news has become (in the eyes of mass media) very good news for the ratings, the business and the bottom line, it still does not mean we want to hear about it and would not prefer the good over the bad every time.
Of course we want good news.
But not all news has to be bad, right? I guess that would depend on to whom you are speaking. News that speaks volumes in the decline of our civilization in my eyes could very well be the very answer another person has been waiting for. If I were to receive news that a job I’d interviewed for was being offered, I can only imagine there would be one, two or more others learning soon after that the same position was not going to be theirs. That might not be good news for them.
News is relative. News is subjective. News can literally be defined as anything one hears that has not been known already. If news is simply information, then does it not make sense that it is really not about what that information IS, as much as the way we react to it? Does it incite? Depress? Anger? Is it disgusting or does it perpetuate fear? Will the news change my life or barely go noticed?
When I watch television news I am often stunned by the seemingly unceasing flow of anger, hatred, disease, issues, pointing fingers and senseless suffering. It never ceases to amaze me how much bad news we can create in our world in the name of religion, greed, politics and fear. What is wrong is what often leads a newscast, a headline or the top of the page. We have become conditioned to seeing and feeling the world in a wicked and scary way. Why, we might ask, do people do these things? can’t everyone think like we do? What is wrong with those people?
Perhaps the people we are questioning are thinking the same thing of us.
So what is the solution? It is very easy to turn off the news on my television. It is vital for me to keep myself informed through different and trusted sources. It is important to remember not to bury my head in the sand simply to avoid some of the real harsh realities, but it is more advisable to remember I do not have to be the sum or result of the negatives that may (or may not) exist around the world. To understand that these negatives exist is essential to understanding the world. Shit happens. To hold from judgement of others whose lives, backgrounds or beliefs may be somehow associated to what I might see as negatives is a task that is often very difficult to process, and very easy to succumb to.
But to remember I am not required to have an opinion or reaction to every piece of what seems to be a negative in the world is the ultimate goal. I am not going to ever be sheltered completely from what I will see as “bad” news, but my reaction to it, whether my news or someone else’s… is what is going to help me stay in the best frame of mind possible.
My frame of mind is what helps me to work through each day and all of what that day offers with the most productive and positive outlook and result. Nothing has to be worse if I do not react to it. So it may be appropriate to state that no news is good news, but it might be more accurate to remember the news will only be as bad as I allow it to be.
Stop. Smile. Breathe.
In Alcoholics Anonymous the definition of Insanity is described as repeating the same behavior over and over and expecting different results. I have often described my own spiritual breakthroughs as being of ‘the brick wall’ variety: where I will repeatedly hit my head upon a brick wall until it is bloodied enough to finally elicit a psychic change or breakthrough.
No, I am not literally hitting my head on a brick wall. This is a metaphor. But the insanity thing could hold merit in some of my behaviors and, most definitely, as examples or instances where I would seem not to be either capable or willing to surrender a particular line of thinking, habit or reaction. This tends to happen when faced with a person, place or thing I am experiencing some form of resentment with.
Resentment is not always obvious to me. It can be a blatant disregard for fact, my ego wrapped in an entitlement or retaliation, a conscious wall I have set up to separate myself from the situation or an unconscious fear of whatever it is I believe I am potentially not getting or standing to lose.
Unfortunately resentment is not something I can curtail or stop completely within the way I think. It happens. The sooner I accept it is a part of the fabric of my thought-process, the better. The trick to this understanding is in an awareness of the process and my willingness to stand armed and fight resentment with better, more powerful and productive tools and thoughts. Combating the negative with the positive and “right-sizing” my thinking will help to achieve a better, healthier, more spiritual end result.
Of course, that is easier said than done.
It sometimes seems the realistic view of my thought process will always set the default to defense. It can feel I am here on Earth, one could say, to protect myself and make sure that I am going to get the things I deserve and am owed. Very few people are different by this nature. It is actually quite natural to want and need to protect one’s best interests. What tends to be different is how, and to what lengths, this default setting might take people. In my head it can be dangerous, but in the end that danger is never real to anyone but me.
I am aware that doesn’t necessarily make me sound at all spiritual, but please read on.
Fortunately the “default” I have described no longer has a long shelf life. Often it doesn’t come up for air at all. With a created habit of better thinking (a filtering process so to speak) and it’s results from the associated different actions, I have been able to learn this change in thinking. It is the result of being around people who want to enjoy life, with no tendency to feel everything and everyone owes them something for simply being who they are, that I am slowly eliminating the vicious cycles of the closed mind and embracing the changes which spark the adventure and growth I seem to always crave.
But the changes must always start with me.
Where I have a tendency to get stuck I might not realize I am actually repeating the wrong behaviors. It has traditionally been easier for me to blame things around me… be it within the situation, the person in charge, the personality, the rule, the timing, the differences in moral thought or tastes…. it really doesn’t matter. When I am unhappy it is likely because I am trying to control an outcome. It is because I feel (often mistakenly) that I possess the best answer to whatever it is I am afraid someone else might be trying to do to or for me (often, if not always, with a different point of view.) I have the potential to become an antagonist in a situation because forget I don’t have the power to know the future and often don’t completely know what is right for me or the situation at hand.
As a result I have experienced the phenomena of repeating situations over and over and finding myself confused and frustrated that I can’t seem to step out of the lesson with a resolution and continue down whatever path I am on (have you ever felt stuck?) Repeated behavior means I did not learn what was supposed to have been learned from the experience in the previous time(s) it occurred. I am doomed to repeat aspects of my life, experiences and relationships until I check myself and change whatever reactions and responses I know don’t work.
The change in me and my thinking is precisely the recipe to allow the results I believe I need in my world. The fact still remains, however, I will not know what the best thing for me is going to be until it happens. I can no more control an outcome (completely) than I can predict the future and how any outcome will pan out.
I have learned the key to this is in seizing the moments that are negative and remembering even my thinking is a choice. If it doesn’t work I can change it and find something more positive that will. If it doesn’t work I can learn surrender. As with everything else it has to be about the reaction (or, in many cases, the non-reaction.) By changing this thought process I am realizing and admitting it is time to end the vicious cycle.
Stop. Smile. Breathe.
It never fails: when ego appears I am invariably disassociated from my best thinking and the necessary humility which results in the best possible end result to any situation.
This isn’t to say ego is always a bad thing. There are times when I know my ego is important to my evolution in how I both view the world (and the world views me.) As an example, without the strengthening of my ego I might not have been able to overcome the adversities confronting me as a younger man. Without a healthy ego I would not have been able to slowly grow towards learning how to love myself, embrace my defects and hone what I would learn were my many assets towards a better understanding for how to navigate this planet successfully.
Without the positive elements of ego I am not likely to believe in myself, the things I am able to do and the person I am learning to be. It instills confidence and applies my ability to walk through the walls holding me back from being the best man possible. My ego pushes me through fear, as well as all the little and colossal challenges I confront on a daily basis.
When the conversation with my ego becomes necessary is when my it decides to run the show, telling me what I deserve and what I am not getting. Fear has the potential to run my world. Ego is often a defense mechanism or shield there to “protect” me from what would appear (my perception) as a problem, a barrier or a person, place and thing I must prove something to. Invariably, the correct likelihood will be there is nothing at all which needs proving, my ego created the whole scenario in the first place. For me this becomes one of the definitions of a vicious cycle. This is where it becomes a danger to dwell, or think too much about the way the world is and how I am “treated” within it.
Last week I wrote about creating my own problems. Ego is often a culprit when this happens (along with the ever-lurking ISM tied to both my fears and the thought-based ego in-between my ears.) When I am unhappy in any situation I have undoubtedly started to believe I am not being taken care of or not getting what I deserve. I have removed myself from the basic tenants of service and selflessness and placed myself in a starring role where the need for validation or reward is highly unnecessary and often unwarranted. Although I could not possibly speak to every situation (there will be times when thoughts of change or recognition provide a healthy and/or justified means to an end,) it is more probable that whatever is perceived when involved with my ISM is more a product of resentment and fear.
So how does this conversation go? When I am fortunate enough to become aware my ego is steering me into unhealthy or unproductive pathways, I have found ways to (what’s the name of this blog?) halt the thought processes and prospective behaviors that could result. This is no easy task even with awareness when you are in the throws of “where is mine” and “what have you done for me lately?” It is very difficult to sidestep fear when the over-active imagination is tarnished with learned or practiced behavior that can default to the negative (for many this is a comfortable place.) “What if” tends to be a far easier go to than any positive alternative. Hope and faith appear to work far better in situations of comfort and safety, as opposed to the places where the threat (real or imagined) of loss or pain (emotional or physical) block the view.
This is where my ego is dangerous. When I am not in the more powerful spiritual mindsets I have been fortunate enough to learn and understand, I am in danger of thinking incorrectly without awareness or memory of the tools which have saved me (and helped me grow continuously in the past.) My ego is good, my ego is bad… but the most important thing I must know is my ego is manageable and better for me when used for the right reasons. It is all about the awareness and the resulting conversation.
Stop. Smile. Breathe.
Note the irony. Today I am not going to write about creative ways to conceive and perpetuate the issues in my life. It makes sense our problems tend to be around us without any help from the internal process… but the question I must pose is how many of them are actually something NOT of our own making and, conversely, (and perhaps without even knowing,) how many have I constructed in my head?
Perhaps to the “normal” mind (what exactly is that?) this sort of thinking is out of step and a bit hard to comprehend. For those of us who entertain an ‘ism’ it is not without merit or reach to speak to the manner of thinking that provides an additional inner dialogue touching on shades of resentment, envy, self-righteous ego, fear and a dollop of paranoia.
Now I have gone and made myself sound a bit off the deep end, haven’t I. Truth be told there are some who will read this particular entry and understand completely what it is I refer to. Others, undoubtedly, will wonder if I shouldn’t somehow be medicated. Personally, I would disagree regarding myself, (but for those who might actually benefit I choose not to hold an opinion on the topic.)
What I do know is I have an extra conversation in my head pretty much at all times. It is an active sense of self-preservation, dis-comfort, fear of losing something or not getting something else. It is, in common terms, an easier way to describe or define my dis-ease. It was this dis-ease (and I spell it as I do for a reason) which brought me to my knees many years ago. It was this dis-ease that originally showed me my answers and solutions were in dangerous places doing dangerous things. The core of my dis-ease may not have changed very much at its root over the years, but the solutions have altered and provided me with ways to look at myself and my behavior, thinking and LIFE in healthier, more productive and very positive ways.
It is no longer about the problem for me, it must always be about the solution.
What problem do I speak to specifically (today?) My thinking.
Without the tools and answers I have been taught and learn over and over again within my program for living I am left with the sort of thinking which drove me to the wrong solutions in the past. With the tools I live in a peaceful and spiritual surrounding even IF there are moments where I must take my “medication” (which for me is in the form of steps, service, communication, deep breathes and contrary actions.)
The world around me is busy. It is a hectic mix of messages; social, world or work politics; bad news; change; expectations; traffic; financial demands; work & life challenges and swiftly moving calendars. Granted, along with life on life’s terms comes the beauty of the world around me (one needs only to really look) including unconditional love, rest & relaxation, creativity, travel, commitments, and success (any way it looks to you.) It is easy to be hard on yourself in the former list of descriptions and just as difficult to forget the gratitude that must always be attached to the latter. The tricks are in balancing and, as I always write, acceptance and patience regarding the person you are or have become, the way you breathe and handle each and every thing offered and the ability to grow, learn, keep an open mind and understand ones own intentions.
Intentions can (should?) make all the difference in how we think.
If I am to create a thought about a person, place or thing which can blossom in lightning speed or with hesitance and reluctance, into a full blown blockade of progress, a resentment that impedes communication or growth with a relationship or happiness as a whole… I am screwed. For me the very idea that I am not being treated correctly or appropriately “liked” for any reason or situation is merely a focal point to zoom in on and make sure I understand the motive towards the thought.
What is my motive?
If the thought is about self and not grounded in the best intention it is likely (in most cases if not all) to be a self-centered egotistic and harmful message being devised by the very dis-ease that has caused me to avoid happiness in so many other cases and periods in my life in the past. I am constantly learning to “uncover, discover and discard” as my program has taught me. The very awareness of my dis-ease has allowed me to become suspect of the problems I feel are real and ask myself if they are necessary in the bigger picture.
More than often, they are not.
Each day I must ask myself to keep my mind clear of the clutter and allow myself to move forward in thinking with honesty, love and good intention. I am not a doormat, nor am I stupid, but I am more inclined to believe my day will be better with the elimination of fabricated issues and the reminder of simple clear motives and thinking.
I would prefer to keep the creativity channeled into writing, art and the strategy of better living.
Stop. Smile. Breathe.