Archive for November, 2010

November 29, 2010

Adorn your soul

by Dandy

There is an old hymn titled, “Soul, Adorn Thyself with Gladness,” by Johann Franck.  You’ll find it in every hymnal in every church.  It starts like this,

Soul, adorn thyself with gladness,

Leave behind all gloom and sadness;

Come into the daylight’s splendor.

We put so much thought into our physical appearance and making sure everything matches neatly.  Why don’t we put as much thought into how we need to adorn our souls?  Ask yourself tomorrow morning while you’re getting dressed, “what do I need in order to adorn myself to get through this day?”  Perhaps I’ll wear my cloak of gladness to get through the hustle and bustle of this time of year.  Then I’ll wear the shoes of grace so that I may walk peacefully instead of rushing about.  I also need my scarf of gratitude so that I may feel the warmth of all my blessings.  Put some thought into how you want to adorn your soul and you will display a more beautiful version of yourself.  With gladness, grace, and gratitude we will affect others positively with this inner adornment.   Your soul deserves to be beautifully adorned with all the virtues this world possesses.  Not only will your inner self shine brightly, you will be made rich in spirit.  The only way to ever obtain richness is by obtaining the very best of virtues and values. 

What will you adorn your soul with?

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November 22, 2010

Self-forgiveness

by Dandy

In our quest for peace, healing, and self-esteem finding forgiveness for ourselves is crucial.  When we do not forgive ourselves the result is guilt, shame, and inadequacy. The benefits of forgiving others lifts the burdens we carry.  Resentments, anger, and destructive behaviors are freed when we forgive our trespassers.  We free ourselves from the prison bars we never should have been behind.  Forgiveness allows us to soar out of the role of victim and be more of who we were meant to be.

But what about self-forgiveness?  Maybe you are caring onto a past mistake.  It can be small or very big.  When we carry regret that is a way we fail to forgive ourselves.  Why are we so unwilling to forgive ourselves?  We believe that we deserve happiness, peace, and acceptance, but somewhere back we started to believe that the rules and regulations of society defined who we are supposed to be.  We stopped believing in our inherent worth.  We stopped trusting ourselves.  We received the message that, “we are not good enough”.  Messages such as, “if you would only just”, or “you failed”, or “this isn’t good enough”, became such a never ending litany for us to abuse ourselves with guilt and shame.  It is abuse when it is painful and damaging to our selves, and when we do it to ourselves it is just as scarring as when others do it.  To these perceived offenses, we became judge and jury and found ourselves guilty.  When parents, teachers, and other societal influencers are unable to love and accept themselves unconditionally this “learned attitude” is passed on as shame and guilt in attempt to control behavior. 

Shame and guilt are very different even though both are harmful and soul damaging.  Guilt is about behavior.  Shame is about being.  Shame reaches down deeper in its pervasiveness.  Children who grow up thinking they are “not good enough” become care givers and influencers for the next generation.  I’m not blaming caregivers and parents, for this is how they were parented.  True maturity can only be reached by forgiving our parents and care givers for being human, damaged humans at that.

When we start to believe that we are worthy, that there are no mistakes we begin down the path to self-forgiveness.  We must stop perceiving that the opportunities to learn as mistakes.

So how do we forgive ourselves?  There are many steps.

  • Think of a certain situation in which you carry regret.  Change your perception of it.  Remember that our thoughts create behavior, and it is our perception that creates our interpretations.
  • Accept yourself – perfection is non-existent anyway.
  • When you make an error in judgement, always admit to it, apologize, and let it go.  The lessons that have contributed to our growth and made us who we are need and deserve our appreciation.
  • Think of how you would respond to someone who has made the same “mistakes”.  Would you berate that person the way you’ve berated yourself?  How would you respond if you learned that a loved one was treating themselves in the way you treat yourself?

When we don’t love ourselves we tend to treat others harshly.  When we don’t forgive ourselves we tend not to forgive others.  It is a long and rough path to walk through life on.  Ease up.  Forgive yourself.  Let go.

Dandy

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November 17, 2010

Accept and be free

by Dandy

There is so much stress coming at us from all directions.  Some of it is avoidable, some is not.  Sometimes we bring it upon ourselves by trying to fix people or wishing they would change.  Learning to accept things and people for what and who they are means stepping out of the self-imposed stress and letting go.

There are people we look at and see what they are doing wrong and the various ways they could improve themselves and their lives.  That is judgement.   We are all guilty of it.  Sometimes that judgement can cause us anguish and heavy amounts of stress.  When we are wrapped up tightly around people who have qualities we disapprove of it affects us in profoundly negative ways. 

People are who they are.  Just because we see room for improvement in their lives doesn’t mean they’ll change.  People won’t change because we want them to be happier, better, or different.  No matter how many times we kiss a frog it will still be a frog.

Start by choosing to accept yourself.  We all pick ourselves apart at times.  Women especially are notorious for this.  When we feel we aren’t good enough we either have high expectations of our partners, or have none at all.  Just because we feel a person should be a certain way doesn’t mean they will feel obligated to meet those expectations.  Nobody is obligated to adopt or adhere to our belief system.  Do not speak or think the words, “ought to”, “should”, or ,”why can’t she”.  If you are profoundly unhappy with someone, move on and away from them if possible.  If the someone is someone you can’t say toodles to, strictly limit your time with them.  Look after your own well-being.

That’s the wonderful benefit of learning to accept others for who they are…it frees you from having to problem solve, giving unwanted help, and unsolicited advice.  It frees you from all the energy it takes to try to change someone.  Take all that precious energy and put it into your precious self. 

Change the changeable, accept the unchangeable, and remove yourself from the anacceptable. – Denis Waitley

What are the things you need to stop judging yourself on?  Who have you been trying to change?  Can you wish them well on their journey and let go?

November 11, 2010

Romantic relationships – an exercise on values

by Dandy

Romantic relationships – a heavy topic.  We all desire connectedness, love, respect, and companionship.  In todays very tough economical times, having stability in our relationship with our partner is so very important.    Continue reading for a fun exercise that can only make your relationship stronger and healthier.

We all desire to experience and share love, but yet we are all very unique individuals.  A persons uniqueness can lead some couples to have more in common than others.  Then there are couples who are drawn together because of their differences.   Couples must be willing to grow to understand each other’s full natures.  Impartial curiosity must be allowed to move them beyond their attachments so they can learn more by exploring each others values.

We are all guilty at times of trying to change the other person and to blame the other if something is making us unhappy. It is crucial to move beyond the need to be right and to seek the deeper answers, which will help both to learn how to relate on a level of deep awareness.  Perhaps then any differences will blur and soften because of a  stronger understanding of each others intentions and this will produce a greater compassion for each others values and needs.

It is so easy to get into a blaming state of mind.  But it is imperative to a healthy relationship to release the need to blame.  To have a bridge of support we must move beyond pettiness.  The bridge itself can be the common ground for better communication.  Throw away the blame and the need to be right and embrace compassion.

A wonderful exercise for couples is for each person to make a list of their own values.  Then on that list mark which values are negotiable and which ones are non-negotiable.  While doing this exercise leave judgement behind and use curiosity.  You will discover what your partners deeper intentions are as well as your own.  Each person will see that who their partner is is who they are.  The desire to change the other person will lesson.  Perhaps each person will see that there is no right and wrong.  Differences are not necessarily wrong or negative.  Both people have values and they are important to respect. 

In understanding each others values, a neutrality can be built.  When a conflict arises each partner can see a the other may not be coming from a place of selfishness, but rather a place of love.  This is why a deep understanding of each others values are crucial.  In a neutral place compromise is possible.  By taking inventory of greater values, each will come to understand that everyone has different needs and why they are expressed the way they are.  Needs will never be met by trying to change the other person.

Having open discussions of what you learn will be helpful in solving problems and conflicts, especially if they have been building for some time.

If your partner is currently unwilling to do this value exercise with you, you can still make a list of  your negotiable and non-negotiable values.  This self-awareness may be enough to change the dynamics of your relationship, creating an open space  for your partner to make a shift.  Being in touch with your authentic self can never hurt.

November 8, 2010

Emotional & intellectual benefits of reading

by Dandy

I have been a life long lover of books.  I’m a chain reading bookworm who knows every square inch of my public library.  When I was a teenager my parents always knew where to find me – in the library’s basement on the green sofa curled up with a book.  I never, ever got into trouble as a kid, because I didn’t have the time to get in trouble with my voracious reading schedule.  I guess you could say books were my recreational drug.    It was my love of reading various types of literature that compelled me to pursue a degree in English.  All I wanted to do with my life was read and study. 

There are so many articles everywhere about our physical health.  We all know that yoga is good for the body and soul.  We all know to eat our veggies and fruit, because it makes us feel better.  We all know that exercise is the key to a long life of good health.  We all know the vitamins we need.  But what about reading?  What are the health benefits to reading?  Read on and find out.

Stress Relief – Reading is therapeutic.  It stops us from ruminating about our own worries.  Many different studies have shown it to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and social isolation.

Rejuvenating – Being alone with a book recharges us emotionally. 

Entertaining – Reading will make you laugh, cry, blush.  It will challenge your core beliefs.

Right Brain Stimulation – Reading opens us to new possibilities.  It makes us ask, “what would I do in this situation?’  It stimulates us mentally and increases concentration and focus. 

Relaxation – We all need this.   The beauty and rhythm of language can calm and relax. 

Widens Vocabulary – Reading causes us to be alert and curious to new words.

Intellectual Curiosity – As our vocabulary increases so does the desire to read more challenging material.

Expands Reality– Reading takes us out of our geography and time line.  It expands reason and opens us to more diversity, customs, ethnicity, and lifestyle.

Builds Self Esteem – Reading makes us more knowledgeable about a certain topic hence increases our confidence.  People will look to us for answers. 

Memory Improvement – Reading requires remembering details, facts, figures, plot lines, characters, themes, and structures.  It stretches our brain.

Improves Creativity – Reading will give us exposure to new ideas and information.  It inspires and encourages innovation. 

Sometimes a single book can change our entire lives.  We are made better people because of reading.  It can take us on an unexpected course.  It shapes our personalities and beliefs.  You don’t need to read War and Peace or The Canterbury Tales to experience the health benefits of reading.  If you are not much of a reader, start with a short book.  Or read poetry if you have trouble focusing on anything too long.  Read something today that you have never thought about reading.  Challenge yourself, you will be healthier because of it.

What books have you read that had a profound effect on you?  What topics have you been wanting to read, but haven’t gotten around to it?  What is your favorite genre?

November 2, 2010

Boundaries for good health

by Dandy

There are great advantages to having boundaries.  We need to have them with everyone and everything.  Having boundaries makes it difficult or even impossible for us to be mistreated, taken advantage of, walked on, and abused.  Having boundaries shows that we respect ourselves and place great value on our self-worth.

When we have boundaries, we aren’t overly accommodating.  We can recognize when something doesn’t feel right, or when something feels wrong.  We know the point of when to say ENOUGH.  People with boundaries can take appropriate action when needed.

When we have established our boundaries we get along better with friends, co-worker, neighbors, relatives, and partners.  We discover what our values are and what our value is.  It’s about knowing what we are willing to accept and what we aren’t and we commit ourselves to it.  That way when people cross our boundaries (and unfortunately some will) we become empowered with the signal that something isn’t right and that action needs to be taken. 

When we do not accept the crossing of our boundaries, we give attention to our basic gut instinct that keeps us safe, physically and emotionally.  In keeping our boundaries strong we say no to those whose behaviour is unacceptable and inappropriate.  We are saying we value ourselves.

Having boundaries is one of the most healthy things we can do for ourselves.  Some of the most critical mistakes I’ve made in my own life have been when I allowed my boundaries to be crossed and I suffered needlessly for it.  Having boundaries doesn’t turn us into hard s.o.b.’s.  It doesn’t mean we aren’t flexible to people and life challenges.

If you need a place to start in figuring out your boundaries, look at past relationships, professional and personal.  Look at what did and didn’t work.  In doing this you can start to define what you can put up with and what you cannot.  All relationships must have deal breakers.  Write them down, put it up where you can review it often and adjust yourself to your new set of values.  This is the road to self-esteem, healthy relationships, and self-worth.

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