Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘fear’

Unconditional Love

The importance of maintaining balance in our thinking cannot be overstated especially when it comes to love. The saying that love is blind is real. Differences are viewed as exciting, clever even precious. Over time, however, we may start to see those differences in a more critical light and get to a place of judgment and assumption and find ourselves feeling a bit off or emotionally unsure at times…all from the result of our overactive minds. Take a moment and think about the last time you jumped to conclusions about your loved one only to find out later you were 100 percent wrong. You allowed yourself to become both judge and jury and decided their behavior was, at best, uncaring. When you found out ‘the other half of the story’ and realized your assumption was in error it was embarrassing right? Yet, we all do it until we decide in our hearts that the love we share is bigger and more important than any petty grievance and way too important to be questioned even for a moment. 
Fear is the culprit behind the lack of balance in our thinking. When you find yourself perseverating about something it comes purely from fear. Ask yourself what evidence you have to fear…most often than not there really is none. Yet, we can often imagine a million and one ‘what if’s’ while we let our minds run wild. Fear can be a wedge in even the strongest relationship.
Time to regroup. Time to stop judging and start appreciating, honoring and loving yourself and the special person in your life without fear. Are they different from you? Absolutely! Is that a good thing? You bet! When you judge you are saying, in essence, that they should be more like you! Really? Their differences make them who they are…the person you fell in love with…and that’s a beautiful thing. Do they always respond in a way that makes you comfortable or happy? Probably not. But truth be told they could probably say the same thing about you. I know that may be hard to believe but trust me on this – it’s true. We all have our idiosyncrasies.
When you truly love someone, unconditionally, there is no room for judgment or assumption. You see past their humanness. Your love embraces their whole being including any ‘shortcomings’ that you may attribute to them. In fact, the thought of shortcomings, in itself, means a judgment has taken place. You didn’t fall in love because you wanted a mirror image of yourself right – well hopefully not! Individual differences can add texture, color and depth to a relationship.
No one likes to be judged. It taps into a primal fear of insecurity and can close up our hearts as a form of protection. When we remember that we are all a loving being of the Universe that grows and blossoms from love the answer is quite clear. Slow down your thinking, trust and believe in the relationship and watch in amazement as it deepens even more over time. 
Have a great few days!

We Have a Choice…

Funny thing about how history repeats itself. The 60’s brought us a greater awareness of the need for peace with the familiar chant, ‘Make peace not war,’ an emphasis on the need for greater love for others and even a clothing style that melded the colors of the rainbow into the popular tie-dyed shirts that signaled a relaxed and confident belief in tomorrow.

Like any era the pendulum also swung in the opposite direction with characters such as George Wallace, the Deep South governor of Alabama who wrote a book entitled, “The Politics of Rage.” He went on to run for president (more than once) as he stoked the fires of hate and fear in anyone and everyone who would listen to him. He was against ‘bearded hippies, intellectuals, war protestors, people of color or cultural difference, welfare recipients, civil rights, Washington politicians, the list goes on and on…he was a divider.

For those of us who remember his demeaning comments woven into speeches filled with empty ‘plans or solutions’ to our national issues he was the master of fear, anger and deceit. His one-liners eventually served to unhinge him in the national spotlight and the nation heaved a sigh of relief. The ultimate take away for those of us who lived through that decade was ‘everything in balance’ and ‘love prevails over hate or fear.’

Fast forward to today. Around the world we see pockets of anger, fighting, and destruction as we did in the 60’s. Yet, we also see emerging the importance of greater mindfulness as we live our life. The tie-dyed shirt is once again popular as a symbol of freedom and inclusiveness. But we also hear from a few of the leading political candidates similar demeaning statements and vitriol that attempts to separate and divide us as a nation as we did from Governor Wallace. Their ‘Plans’ (I use the term loosely) proposed to fix the ills of our country by some of the ‘would be presidential’ candidates amount to one liners of simplicity at a time when the complexity of national and world concerns are nearly inconceivable.

Ahh…there’s the seed of the problem… it takes time to understand the depth of any one of the challenges we face and often we choose not to invest it. We turn to an escape movie or entertainment nightly sequel or grab our phones to send one more text to someone. I get not having the time or energy left at the end of a busy workday to invest in understanding sticky, complex issues. I understand that many of our world problems can make our brains hurt when we try to analyze them. But what I can’t accept is allowing ourselves to be swayed by a comical or puritanical snake oil salesman that dismisses any and every challenge with one liners that elementary students would recite out of pure ignorance.

History does have a way of repeating itself. Let’s hope that as Americans we will remember the lessons learned from the 60’s and once again rise to the challenge of choosing someone who can unite us as we wrestle with what the future holds. It will be a wild and bumpy ride. We need someone at the helm who is knowledgeable, calm, mature and truly interested in making our nation and the world a safer more inviting place. Someone who is brave enough to admit that there are no easy, simplistic answers to anything. A person who believes in the spirit that founded our country…hard work, caring for our fellow man and a belief that we are blessed to be in a country where each individual is valued and has demonstrated those values in their lives.

Have a great few days!

Are You In a Dependent Relationship?

I have written about the four different types of love that were identified by the Greeks hundreds of years ago (see blog archive 8/16/15). Their point as reiterated by David Brooks in his book, The Social Animal,” was that for love to be everlasting all four types of love need to develop in relationships over time. That makes sense. Once the initial physical attraction is experienced, deep love like the flowering of a rose takes time to tend and nurture to full bloom as it celebrates the individual strengths of each other.

But what happens if the Philemon type of love – the platonic, friendship type of love you have with a best friend seems to be difficult to juggle as you spend more time with your new found love? Let’s first look at what causes two people to become best friends. Shared interests, respect, admiration and concern all rank high on the list of factors.

However, once in a while this type of love can devolve into a needy, unhealthy type of dependent relationship. When you share your excitement about this special person in your life with your best friend and you hear subtle demands that infiltrate into your relationship such as wanting to know when they will see you again it’s time to consider the possibility that this could be a type of co-dependency. Maybe – maybe not – but for sure sharing you is not something they want to do. The label itself is less important than the recognition of the signs involved.

Any dependency is usually rooted in childhood and these individuals often become ‘survivors’ that exhibit fear, anger, pain or shame which was ignored or denied early on in life. These feelings begin to color their world over time since dependency is a learned behavior. The more it is practiced the stronger it becomes. The friendships they develop are more need than mere want but they simply don’t see it since abandonment is a constant issue.

The good news is that by recognizing dependency and learning more about the signs and signals it can be overcome and replaced by confidence and trust in one’s own ability to thrive in future healthy, loving relationships regardless of what happened in childhood.

How do you know if a relationship of dependency exists? Let’s look at some other possible indicators. Is there a pressure to touch base frequently – fearing anger or hurt exhibited from the other person if you are not in constant contact? In reality, best friends can go days, weeks, or months without touching base but still know the other person cares for them and has their best interest at heart.

If you experience feelings of rejection when you spend time with someone other than the dependent friend and it results in pouting, temporary withdrawal or outright anger until they have your attention once again – you can be sure dependency exists.

Other indicators of co-dependent people are their difficulty talking with people in authority, making decisions, handling pressure regarding time frames for completion of tasks, difficulty or even rigidity in adjusting to change, feelings of inadequacy, and an inability to share their feelings – especially with family members. Basically, they have low self-esteem often due to their early upbringing.

If you are involved in this type of relationship at first you may feel a sense of importance by ‘being needed.’ Unfortunately, your attention and constant concern or attempt to do more than your share does not help since this behavior can become compulsive and self-defeating as the reliance increases. In essence, both parties start to develop a view of ‘us against the world’ and the dependency increases.

As stated, the good news is that when the dependency is recognized and steps are taken to readjust the invasive nature of this type of relationship personal growth is experienced by both parties and over time an even higher level of friendship develops. Sometimes it takes a best friend to get their attention and even professional to unearth the need for dependency.

When you really care about another you want the best for them. Moving from dependency to independence is the best gift you can gift yourself and the other person. The Philemon type of love is a critical element in best friends as well as deeper love relationships.

Have a great few days!

Space and Time are the Magic!

How many times have you instantly responded back to someone’s comment and regretted it after? Later you might think to yourself, ‘my ears didn’t hear what my mouth said … until it was too late.’ We may then start to worry about how others will view us. Regret usually follows as we remember the last 10 times or so that we also responded without thinking. We may, at first, try to justify our response. But after a short while we start to feel embarrassed and begin to put ourselves down. We add to the negative view we have of ourselves. Eventually we become worried that others might think we are always ‘that way.’

Our rapid fire responses comes from defensiveness or fear that we learned ages ago. Over time, we have developed a habit of striking back immediately at any perceived slight from an individual. We have become quite good at something that does not serve us well in the long run. But once habits are recognized they can be changed.

The author, Steven Covey, wrote about this in his book, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. His first habit is to ‘Be Proactive – Become aware of the Space’ between every stimulus and response to achieve greater happiness. That space – that moment in which we have the freedom to choose our response actually defines us. Do we choose anger or calm, a negative, positive or neutral reaction? When we become aware that we have an opportunity to redirect any challenging emotional response simply by using time (it may be only 30 seconds) which is the space Covey is referring to – between what happened and how we respond to it we put ourselves in the driver’s seat. We are able to use both our mind and heart to achieve personal growth and a feeling of being more in control. We then experience a more positive self concept and greater happiness. Just think … All this happens when we train ourselves to take a deep breath BEFORE reacting or responding to a comment or circumstance. As Covey said, “Next to life itself, this self-awareness of our freedom to choose, to direct our lives, is our most precious gift and power.”

The space thing is a big deal. Just like music, visual and performing arts, and writing the white space is purposeful. It allows for greater meaning and deeper understanding when we train ourselves to observe and work with it. Think of an actor who delivers his lines quickly compared to one that uses space and pauses for greater emotional impact. The space – the pause often speaks louder than the actual words.

There are no blue ribbons or best in show awards given to the person who practices a rapid fire response to life. In fact, it speaks volumes to the maturational level of the individual. Think of a young child – they react quickly to someone or something because they have not fully matured and developed a more appropriate response mechanism that will serve them better over time. They have not yet learned the magic of space and time.

When someone says something that sounds hurtful or uninformed the magic is in YOUR chosen response. Remember the concept of space and time. You can build up, educate and win or merely strike back. It really is a choice that is completely yours.

Have a great few days!

Overcoming Our Pressure Points

My last blog talked about how our walk speaks volumes. As part of the whole topic of body language which has been said to constitute 55% of the first impression we give to others an awareness of this is important. Let’s dig a little deeper into the topic of the messages we give off to others by considering the soles of our feet. Sound strange? Just stay with me on this one.

The soles of our feet stretch from our heels to our toes. They have experienced millions of miles on our journey through life. We have seen the machines that when stepped on show us the hot spots or greater pressure points that we have developed on our journey. Suggested orthotic shoe inserts, different shoes or even specific exercises are then recommended to us ease our pain. From our walk, stance and daily activities all have had an impact on the soles of our feet. We can become slow, stiff even weak because of the pain we have accumulated in life until we choose to deal with the pain – head on – and overcome it.

When you think about it there is something significant about the words sole and soul other than purely sound. Actually, the soles of our feet are a good analogy to our spiritual souls. Each of us have unique hot spots, retraction points and pressure issues that we have come to accept as a normal part of living. Some of us accept the challenges or pains we have accumulated in our hearts as just something we have to endure. Rather than limping with bad feet we retract our energy (a form of limping through life) when we choose not to deal with our issues directly. This causes us to bring less enthusiasm, excitement and fun into our lives for fear of being hurt or uncomfortable. We believe that we are protecting our unique hot spots.

The nonstop change process that we are living in today can send some of us running for cover, locking the doors trying to prevent the changes from disrupting our lives. Yet, and here is the kicker, the harder we try to hide from change and not deal with our ‘hot spots’ that we have acquired on our souls the greater our ‘limp’ becomes in life. Visualize it on a scale from limping, to using a cane or ultimately not even being able to walk. Why? Because we have chosen not to recognize the individual pressure points on our souls. We choose to ignore rather than deal with them proactively. Consequently, the tenderness continues to grow and our spiritual limp becomes more visible and more limiting.

No one comes into this life or lives it without accumulating areas of tenderness or hot spots that need to be worked through to becomes more fully functioning human beings. It is not a question or ‘if’ but ‘when’ we take on the challenge.

If fear of anything is controlling your behavior it is a signal from the Universe. It’s time to deal with it rather than pass. Deciding to use a crutch to sustain us will not achieve less pain but simply start us on a path of greater and greater dependency. Recognizing the fear – the issue for what it is is 75% of overcoming it. You are strong enough and wise enough to overcome anything once you choose to do so. We know that the Universe gives back to us exactly what we give out – no more no less. Choose to embrace your individual pressure points or hot spots and recognize them for what they are … simply an opportunity for growth and greater happiness. You can do it!

Have a great few days!

Living in the Present!

What if we woke up each morning and after thinking for the first minute or so what we are grateful for in our lives we then thought, ‘I want today to be one of those days I will never want to forget.’ It would put a new spin on our expectations for the day. It doesn’t have to be something big but just something – the look in someone’s eye, the response you receive from someone that causes you to want to remember the moment. It would help to remind us of our importance in the Universe and the fact that life is unfolding just as it is supposed to – one person – one action at a time.

Even if the saying sounds a bit trite, we do know at a deeper level that happiness really is an inside job and no one can do it for us. Sometimes it just takes a small adjustment in our thinking to see the magnificence of the rose rather than worrying about the thorns but it’s not only possible but easier than we might think. Bob Proctor one of the writers in the book,’The Secret,’ talked about ‘secret shifters’ that each of us has which can instantly change our feelings and thus our energy frequency. For some it may be a song, a memory, being out in nature, reading a book or talking with a friend. The list of possible energy shifters is limitless. Yet, we each know what works best for us. When we choose to use an energy shifter we are living in the present. We are recognizing that we need an ‘energy adjustment’ and know just what to do to make it happen at no cost! We realize that life is not happening to us but through us. That’s a powerful state of awareness.

Lao Tzu said, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Those three sentences really sum it up. The ultimate gift, the beauty of our entire existence evolves from our thinking. Are we stuck in the past, living in the present or worried about the future? Planning for the future is important and can be made even more powerful when we let our plans peacefully incubate in the back of our minds once they are formed. Living in the present and knowing that the future will be exactly as it is supposed to be allows us to breathe more deeply which in turn attracts even more positive energy to us and helps to make our plans a reality. That sequence of thinking – planning – then letting our plans incubate while living in the present – eliminates the regrets of the past or fear of the future that often slip in, like an unannounced visitor, as we go about our daily lives.

Could this be the day that we choose to begin to fully live in the present? It’s worth a thought and to me might just be the perfect beginning of the rest of our lives!

Make it a great few days!

Developing Wisdom and Serenity

This is the fourth and final blog ( the first three can be found in the March archives on my website) on the Serenity Prayer. A prayer that millions of people repeat daily to help them hang on, push forward and recognize either their own present behaviors that are limiting them in their lives or impeding their desire for change. The prayer itself, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,” can be life changing when you take it apart and study the intent behind the words.

To date, we have looked at what it takes (and what limits us) to change the things we can change as well as what’s required to accept the things we cannot change. Both areas involve our inner discovery of the way we choose to look at our own fear factors, early conditioning and life experiences. The gold nugget obtained by truly thinking about what causes us to react the way we do is an important element that can allow us to move forward toward greater understanding and control in our lives.

Now, let’s look at the last part of the poem, “the wisdom to know the difference.” Many people believe that wisdom is only acquired by living decades on the planet. I disagree. In reality it is not simply the experiences but our ‘thinking about our thinking’ behind them that can cause us to become wise beyond our years.

For example, when something happens that was out of our control we live through it but do we then use the mental energy to dissect the experience and search for the lessons learned? Many people are just relieved that they have made it through the experience and try to put it behind them. However, the residual feelings of ‘what next’ or the shock and fear from the experience just lays in wait in the emotional baggage in our minds. Negative emotions buried result in a greater fear of tomorrow as we try to wrap ourselves in a protective cocoon of control.

Similarly, when we face something that needs to be changed and we know we should do something about it – but don’t – it erodes our self confidence and enthusiasm for life. Over time, this pattern results in thinking that life is simply what it is and any attempt to change a particular course is fruitless or at least not our responsibility. That type of thinking erodes our hope for a better tomorrow. It takes both courage to change things that need to be changed and grace to accept those
things that cannot be changed to fully live.

The last part of the prayer, “having the wisdom to know the difference,” is not as elusive a concept as we may think. We all experience intuition, that inner voice or gut feeling, that little nudge that let’s us know that a certain path or decision is the way to go for now. Sometimes when we are unsure we say to others, “Let me sleep on it.” It gives our minds time to process what our intuitive sense is trying to tell us. Waking to the light of a new day the answer seems as clear as a bell. This is your internal ‘wisdom worker’ activated during sleep when the daily distractions prevents it from being fully heard.

Greater wisdom and serenity can result from every life experiences we have IF we do our own mental work to discover what the purpose and reason of them were designed to teach us. The answer is usually found by asking ourselves, ‘What is the most difficult thing to accept about the experience?’ Our lives are not random pieces of material thrown together but a beautiful tapestry of life experiences, each piece sewn together with the thread of lessons learned that create who we are at our core. To create our own unique tapestry we need to keep our eyes focused, our ears attuned and our heart open to accept what is clearly presented to us with gratitude.

Wisdom and serenity then is an accumulation of both our experiences and thoughtful reflection of them. When we get into the daily habit of doing so it results in less fear and more confidence as we face tomorrow. We realize the truth in the statement, “All is meant to be,” and we receive the ultimate compliment when someone says, “How did you get to be so wise?”

Have a great few days!