Posts Tagged ‘Emotions’

Stepping Stones      Once upon a time, I was subject to all sorts of stress and chaos.  That’s because for many years I was under the dominion of feelings, rather than acceptance of reality.  That’s not to say that feelings aren’t real or don’t count; they do.  I’m just saying it can’t be what guides you.

Thankfully wisdom eventually comes the longer one lives. So when I saw these rocks at a gift shop recently, and knowing nothing is a coincidence, a vision of truth settled over me.  It was as if a 12 step program (okay fourteen, but who’s counting?) for our emotions was suddenly available in summary form.   I thanked God for the instant wisdom and beauty He had provided.  So when you’re down and out, start by taking baby steps towards the power generated in just a few words worthy of being carved on rocks.  Meditate on them and then implement these action-steps and you will begin to leave drama behind and move towards peace, joy, and positive decisiveness.  Love is a decision, so take the steps necessary to love your life!

BreatheBefore you lash out or make a decision based on how you feel right now, just breathe.  It sounds simple, but it can be elusive when you’re hyperventilating on anger or extreme sadness.  Stop!  Get grounded.  Take a step back.  And just breathe.

ChangeThere are only two things you can change in life:  Your situation or your response.  It’s that simple.  If you can change your situation, by all means do.  Dump that toxic relationship, go back to school, decide to get out of debt,  get rid of that which is holding you back,  apply for that job you don’t think you’re qualified for anyway, go ahead and write that book you’ve been contemplating.

But what about the boss who chewed you out?  The spouse who abandoned you?  The grown child who never calls you?  And every other situation under the sun that falls under the category “unfair”?   There is only one thing you can do.  Change your attitude or response.  Besides you have to.  Why let what you can’t control destroy your well-being and sense of peace?   Acceptance of others and their flaws sets you free.  Putting up boundaries by saying, “I can’t talk to you until you calm down” or “I won’t allow you to speak to me like that” and then leaving a heated situation, shows that you are in control of your life and that you respect yourself to not allow others to disrespect you.  Remember you don’t have to be right all the time or have to convince others.  The goal is to be at peace!

ChoiceMy favorite advice on choice is this:  Choose your suffering.  Essentially that means don’t waste your suffering.  The Bible even states that “in this world, you will have trouble.”  And that is no lie!  You don’t get to the end without experiencing tragedy, abandonment, loss, hurt, sadness, anger, and unfairness.  Kind of like change, you have to make a decision.  Are you going to let that which you can’t control destroy you, or rest as the rock foundation that you build your testimony on, and become a source of inspiration to others, and even yourself.  You are stronger than you give yourself credit for.  Tap into that strength.

CourageDare to face the horrible truths in your life that you’d rather not:  You have a problem.  Deal with it.  Get help when necessary.  Tap into your faith.  Call on your friends.  Don’t go through the hard stuff alone.   As you get rid of toxic relationships outside of yourself, you’ll find it’s time once and for all to deal with the habits and hang-ups that keep you from reaching your full potential:  Insecurities, lack of confidence, bad or destructive habits, or fear of failure.    Attack each of these self-destroyers with all the tools in your toolbox:  Faith, family, friends, and above all a willingness to change.   Each step you take in the direction of courage builds momentum making each subsequent step a little bit easier than the one before.

Dance Put on the jamz and pump up the volume.  Life is too short to purposely not do things that can bring you happiness and joy.  Why settle for ho-hum washing the dishes and vacuuming the house when you can crank up your favorite music and dance the night away as you work!  As long as your multitasking, at least do it with joy.  Throw off those shoes and dance.  Grab a partner and surprise them with the joy of dance.

Dream Never give up your dreams.  Never!  What is that thing you’ve always longed to accomplish?  Write a song?  Start a new career in a totally different field?  Lose thirty pounds?  Then be like a Nike ad and just do it!  Start today!  You have to start sometime.  Don’t let excuses or lack of time be your reason why you didn’t fulfill your dreams.  A little today is better than none tomorrow and the day after that.  Slow progression is the key towards long-term results.  The key is to act with intent on your dreams.

Heal What is it you need in order to heal?  Professional help?  Spiritual guidance?  The compassion of a friend?  Then seek it and don’t be ashamed.  Perhaps you just need time.  That’s okay too.  Time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds, but it allows us time to get our head together and weave that which hurt us into the fabric of our being, so that we can step out in courage anyway.  You wouldn’t let an infection on your skin fester and get worse.  It’s essential  that which troubles your heart or your mind be healed as well.  Don’t let pride stop you from getting the healing you need.

LaughGo ahead; lighten up!  Laugh at your mistakes, it’s okay.  Don’t be wound so tight, you can’t allow yourself to be human.  Go to a funny movie with a friend!  It’s good therapy.   Become mindful of joy and learn to laugh.  Laugh lines are more attractive than worry lines anyway!

Organize– Get rid of excess.  Everyday pick a room, a drawer, a box to organize.  Stop buying that which you don’t need.  Put things away as you use them.  Remember that it’s more fun to do and to be in life than it is to haveExcess of things don’t make us happy; relationships do.  We don’t get to take our things with us.  The only commodity we truly have in life is time.  Time to enjoy our life, but more importantly time to make a difference in the lives of others.  When you are organized, you have more time to see friends, volunteer, and get out in God’s beautiful world and enjoy all there is to see and do.

Play You work hard.  Don’t deny yourself this essential ingredient in life.  Get a hobby.  Play a sport.   Play with your kids and your pets every day if you have them.   When you play, you’re apt to laugh and that is good medicine for the soul.  Definitely find ways to play!

RelaxSimilar to just breathe, this is the mechanism you need to calm your soul and soothe your spirit.  It sounds easy, but how many times do we deny ourselves the opportunity to just relax because everything else seems essential?   Reading a good book or watching a great movie or just taking a nap on a Saturday afternoon can totally change our perspective when we’re stressed.  If you never have time to relax, than go back to organize.  What things, commitments, or excess people do you need to purge in order to enjoy the necessary stepping stone of relaxation?

RememberRemember others who are suffering and you can be a blessing to.  Remember the good things in life that God has blessed you with and choose to save some of them.  Take pictures of the good things.  Make a family scrapbook.  Have a treasure trunk where you keep mementoes of happy events.  Remembering that which brings us joy and leaving behind that which causes us pain is a great way to have a fulfilling and joyous life.

Rest We can’t organize, relax, remember, play, work, heal, dance, laugh, make necessary changes, or even dream if we don’t first get enough rest.  We were designed to rest for a reason.  When we allow our mind and body to recharge, we are taking the first step to complete all the others.   Get on a schedule and get the rest you need.

TeachTeach others life lessons you’ve learned so far.  Mentoring others is a great way to make a difference.  Also be willing to be taughtHaving a teachable spirit is also a key to wisdom.  Try not to take all advice, even when unsolicited, as a means to control you, but perhaps as a kernel of truth worth mining.  Having a teachable attitude means accepting that we don’t necessarily know everything.  And that’s okay.

Okay, so that’s 14 stepping stones to lead you to a better life.  But there is one that was left out intentionally.  All these stones, pale in comparison to the solid rock foundation they rest upon: 

FaithThe people I’ve known in life that have it the most together mentally, physically, financially, and spiritually have a deep faith that is the bedrock upon which all else is built.  Having faith means you personally don’t have to have all the answers or be in control.  That’s because when God is in control, someone bigger than you is in charge.   You don’t have to know everything or be responsible for every outcome.  Faith steps in when people step out.  Faith is believing in someone or something bigger than yourself.  Faith is prayer.  Faith is active.  Faith is forgiving.  Faith allows us to love.  Faith is a conduit to all that is good in life Faith is more than a positive attitude, it is an assurance of things hoped for and not yet seen.   Sharpen your faith, and live the good life.

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“Spiritual Surrender” by Christopher Cuseo

      It’s these same themes I keep revisiting in writing and especially in life in general:

  • We don’t really have control; it’s always been an illusion
  • Acceptance is the only way out of darkness
  • There’s no such thing as coincidence

When we know this at our core, life gets easier.  Clarity comes into focus.  You start realizing every prior moment in your life was orchestrated in such a way to bring you to this one.  What will you do with it?   What will you do now?

Most people hit a point in life where they start asking the big questions:

  • Why am I here?
  • What is it that will make me truly happy?
  • Is this all there is?
  • Will I get the rough relationships smoothed out?
  • Will I obtain the desired relationship I don’t yet have?
  • Will I accomplish my goals professionally?
  • Will I have time to make my dreams come true?
  • Will I accomplish these things before my time runs out?
  • Externally, do I present myself to others the way I view myself?

       More than ever, we now live in a world of disconnect.  We find out about new babies, weddings, funerals, and news of the world and news of those we love by way of social media.  We respond in equal measure with our affirmations of LIKE or by hammering a few words out as a reply.  If we don’t respond, we can always feign ignorance.  We can pretend we didn’t see something we don’t want to know or deal with.  No one else is the wiser.

We disconnect from others, but more so, we like to disconnect from the discomfort of having to answer hard questions about our life.   We become too busy to find the answers.

    But are we living true?  Are we at peace?

There are two possibilities we receive when attempting to answer questions where the answer isn’t yet clearly revealed:

Anxiety or Acceptance

     Anxiety usually involves stewing, ruminating, playing a situation or conversation over and over in your head.  Rewind; play, repeat!   Each time it replays, new details emerge and our anger and our fears become embellished.  Before long we are living in non-truth.    I’m convinced at my core that is where our feelings of unworthy, unlovable, undeserving, unforgiveable, and our inability forgive or move on lie.  Yes, where they LIE.    We are created to live in peace and be at peace, but sometimes we live as if we are the main characters in M. Scott Peck’s People of the Lie.

    Acceptance is freedom!  It means giving up control of others or having to know the outcome of things.   Acceptance allows good to come into your life because you are open to it.  You’ll be free to notice beauty, goodness, love, and truth in the smallest of things in life.  You will realize that there are no coincidences, and that even bad moments can be used for good, if you can have proper perspective.  Positivity, wisdom, empathy, and love first start with acceptance of the way things actually are.

      Easy to say, but how do you transition from anxiety to acceptance?

Oh, if only it were easy.  This is life’s great journey.  There are thousands of books in the self-help section.  There are motivational speakers, there’s church and the Bible and other holy books.  There are therapists, psychiatrists, musicians, artists, and friends all who are happy to give you their two cents worth.

How do you usually first respond to challenges?

  • Emotionally–You immediately feel angry, hurt, or a strong need to defend your position.
  • Logically–You need to explain and rationalize and get to the bottom of why or what now.

Well, maybe the answer is spiritual in nature.  Sometimes the big questions do involve our faith—faith in God, faith in ourselves, and above all faith that God is actively involved in our lives and situations.   If we are courageous enough to believe that, than our need to control life and find justification in our feelings and responses diminishes.

We can just live aware of each moment.  We can take a step back and WAIT.  Wait before feeling or speaking or explaining.  We can wait for wisdom to show us the right way to respond.

Bono’s right when he sings “I’m not easy on my knees” in Love and Peace or Else.  In the next line he sings, “Here’s my heart, you can break it.  I need some release, release, release.”   Indeed!  Sometimes God allows things that crack our hard hearts of stone.  Those with tender hearts of glass are even more easily shattered.    The next part is up to us.   It’s our Moment of Surrender.

I hope you will able to surrender that which is hard, or hurtful, or defies explanation.   When we finally can surrender or let go, we are able to find the rhythm of our soul; we can live in peace and live true.   I’m convinced once we are able to surrender; we lose our chains.  Then we can then let God’s love and light in our life, and then live our life as mirrors by reflecting to others all we’ve been blessed with.

   Open your heart to the rhythm of yes.  Surrender.  You too are loved.

At the moment of surrender
I’m falling to my knees
I did not notice the passersby
And they did not notice me
I’ve been in every black hole
At the altar of a Dark star
My body’s now begging
Though it’s begging to get back
Begging to get back
To my heart
To the rhythm of my soul
To the rhythm of my consciousness
To the rhythm of yes
To be released from control

“Moment of Surrender” – U2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blqa-3q-b38

(Also worth watching:  U2 – Moment of Surrender live at Rose Bowl on 4/06/2010)