Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Universal energy’

Take 5 to Show You Care!

Empathy and self-reflection are two important human characteristics that we seem to spend a lifetime trying to develop. But what if there was something undermining this development without us even realizing it? Actually there is – and it’s partially due to the digital age of communication.

Let’s look at just one of the possibilities – our techie patterns of communication. Many of us seem wedded to the texting, Facebook, Instant Messaging, Twitter etc. craze in which we either send ‘words’ (I use the term loosely) in 1 or 2 phrases to communicate. The message is received but little else. In fact, I know of a lonely mother of 2 adult children who receives 95% of all communication from them this way!

Our voice is energy. Real conversation is an exchange that involves two parties with both an intended message and feelings involved. When we actually talk to someone it causes our brains to process their humanness and helps us develop greater empathy. Interestingly, a recent psychological study of students from the smartphone generation has found a steep decline in empathy. Not just a decline – but a steep decline. That’s big. Is it time to reevaluate our incessant 3-5 truncated ‘word’ response to someone and take an additional 5 minutes to actually talk to them – hear their voice – and listen as we check up on how they are doing? Don’t have a lot of time? No problem. Just start the conversation with, ‘ I only have 5 minutes but wanted to talk with you.’ You set the stage for them to give you their undivided attention.

The smart phones are an incredible tool for both efficiency and effectiveness. I am not discounting the importance of being able to send off a quick response to a colleague or friend in need of a response regarding a time or date. That just makes sense. But rather it is the other type of communication I am talking about which cannot replace the positive effect of a heart to heart talk regardless of how many emoji symbols such as 😏 ☕️ 💁 you use. Something is just left flat and feels a bit missing in this later type of communication.

Steve Jobs, the man who said he wanted to make a dent in the Universe (and did so) by creating the smart phone realized this as well. Even given the incredible way he was able to reshape communication in our world he still forbade tablets and smartphones at the dinner table and encouraged real conversation to take place instead. He recognized the value of human connection.

When we see people unable to function without checking their phones repeatedly we are really witnessing lonely people in search of connection. It is as if they are saying ‘I’m here…include me too,’ as they scroll the latest social media site in search of a bit of news from family or friends. Sad. Unfortunately, this type of connection does not help to develop empathy or self-esteem. In fact, it may even erode them further since there is no personal depth or meaningful exchange between people.

Maybe we can’t find the time to send a Hallmark greeting card (yes … they still exist and are beautiful things to send and receive) but when we choose to stop merely ‘thumbing’ our way through communication and occasionally pick up the phone and call we are saying ‘ I care enough about you to stop and touch base.’ Greater empathy and self-esteem will result on everyone’s part in the long run. That’s a beautiful thing.

Have a great few days!

Practicing Forgiveness is Good for Your Heart!

In childhood it’s all about self but as we mature into adulthood we begin to understand the importance of being kinder, more forgiving and accepting of others. We start to see the world in shades of grey rather than simply black and white. This week the Pope’s message was to practice ‘peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.’ It seems that integral to doing this is to practice the art of forgiveness.

There is a reason that forgiveness is at the heart of healing. At a recent gathering in Manhattan 400 people were asked if they had difficulty and were not on speaking terms with members of their families. Over two-thirds of the participants raised their hands! Think about how many people are holding on to grudges and surrounding themselves with negative energy – it must be exhausting. Recognizing the importance of the topic, forgiveness is being further studied through the Stanford Forgiveness Project.

There are two common themes within all of this – forgiveness and its challenging cousin – judgment. When we think about an upset between family members or friends it seems to boil down to two things: assuming we hold the trump card on truth (believing that we know how others should feel or behave) and refusing to accept responsibility for any hurt we may have caused them through our practice of judging. Judgment can be felt without any words spoken.

When judgmental attitudes surface those half-hearted apologies of ‘I’m sorry that you’re upset,’ are not examples of respect or love. A true apology is recognizing what we have done that has hurt someone and then being courageous enough to verbalize it to them. In other words it’s about us – our actions – and not their reactions that are at play here.

The good news is that as we practice accepting responsibility for own own behavior we become stronger, more positive and happier people. We begin to realize that we don’t walk in another’s shoes and really have no idea about how difficult it is for them to learn their own life lessons. Maybe – just maybe – they are doing the best they know how at this moment.

Dr. Fritz Perls, the noted German psychoanalyst who emphasized Gestalt Therapy speaks to tolerance and acceptance of others in The Gestalt Prayer:

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
And if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful…

When I read this prayer I think of a world in which true acceptance of differences is foremost in our thinking and behavior. Peace, tolerance and respect for self and others flows from this mindset. We become more rather than less as human beings.

We are all in a fluid state between independence and interdependence in life. Doesn’t it just make sense to look for the strengths in family and friends rather than focusing on what we perceive as their weaknesses? When we acknowledge their effort we show them that we have faith in their ability to handle difficult situations. We allow them to grow. As we learn to judge less and forgive more the value and significance of touching base or celebrating holidays begins to take on a greater significance. We learn to bring our best selves to the table and treat our family and friends as we would like to be treated.

Over the next few days let’s try to see how we can practice greater forgiveness and allow the Pope’s message of peace, tolerance and respect to take seed in our 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!

Become Extraordinary!

Judge not, fear not, resist not. These words are so powerful and applied to our lives can change us from ordinary to extraordinary. We can become happier, more excited and fulfilled as human beings when we choose to view life from this empowered perspective. So how do we do it? Here’s a few hints.

See the gift of today – for this day – this moment – will only happen once. Live it to the fullest!
In essence – bring your total self to today – no holding back! Don’t worry about being judged by others… they are on their own unique path.
Have a mind that is open to everything – say ‘Yes!’ to life!
Be the optimist – no one truly knows enough to be a pessimist!
See the positives – see the love – it’s always there – surrounding us – we just need to open our eyes, breath deeply and invite it in.
Dream as though you have nothing to lose – because you really don’t – and smile as those dreams become a reality!
Believe as though anything is possible – because it is …there are no limits to what we can be or experience.
Love as though your heart knows no bounds – and feel the love being generated back to you!
Remember that everyone is doing their best this day – this very moment – listen to them and celebrate their effort.
Radiate light into the world by what you think, feel and say. Light is the energy of the Universe!
Believe in miracles – they come in the form of people – who love us unconditionally.

Remember, “As a man thinketh, so is he.” When we choose to make our todays extraordinary – amazing things start to happen. Life becomes better than we had ever dreamed possible … and just think – it all started by choosing…. Now that is powerful!

Have a great few days!

Are We Listening or Telling?

In my last blog I talked about three things- judge not, fear not, resist not. Let’s go a bit further into the topic of judging. When we judge others it actually means that we feel we have THE answers not only for ourselves but for them as well. Judging actually demeans the other person and short circuits their capacity to work through their existing life challenges. When we demonstrate this behavior the real message – what we are truly saying to the other person is that we – and we only – have the knowledge, skill and attitude to be all knowing.

In the spirit of humility that is beyond possible. If we had all the answers we would be perfect. Have you met anyone that qualifies as such? Of course not! We are all growing, developing and becoming all that we can be at this time in our lives. If we look at it another way, we have only walked in our own shoes and chosen our unique journey. What would possibly allow us to think that we could tell another person what they should say, think or feel – regarding their situation? That type of thinking is way out of my comfort zone!

It is true that people come into our lives for a reason, season or lifetime. Often it’s because they simply need a listening ear. We only have the capacity to direct our own journey by learning from our own missteps along the way. We have our hands quite full learning our own lessons which take a lifetime to master.

Everyone wants to feel valued. When we choose to tell rather than ask is says way more about our inability is listen and give them the gift they are seeking – a caring ear. Allowing ourselves to tell others what they should say, think or do is way above our experience or pay grade on this earth.

The most loving thing we can do for another person is to ASK them how they feel about a situation and then truly listen as they process through their present dilemma. The time we give them by asking – and not jumping in with our take on the situation – is the greatest gift we can give them. We are, in essence, offering unconditional love and acceptance. We give them that boost of confidence by showing them they are capable of working out their own life challenges. Just think – this all happens when we stop telling and start listening! Basically this is why a therapist asks questions rather then short changes their clients by simply giving them answers.

When we catch ourselves thinking … ‘If they do this or that their life would be better, easier, more productive’ let’s just stop and exhale slowly and realize that this type of thinking actually causes more harm than good. If life were that easy we would all have it under control. Just as we cannot simply explain to a young child how to walk and expect them to do it we need to allow them to try, fall, get up and keep trying as we encourage them with a loving heart. Listening rather than telling is a form of cheering others on from the side as they fall, get up and brush themselves off.

The actual motivation behind the topic of judgment is one of control. I have yet to meet a person who wants to be controlled. Why? Simply put, the message behind control is that ‘you can’t do this on your own – you NEED me to tell you how to handle it. Not so much!

Stepping back and asking the Universe to help us be strong enough to listen, without judgment, and to give others the benefit of our confidence in them is a gift that keeps on giving. When we love ourselves enough to accept that we can not change others and accepting that they are on their own unique learning path we go along way to bringing more light into their world.

Have a great few days!

You’re Doing Your Best!

What if we could live by three tenants: Judge Not, Fear Not, Resist Not. Maybe – just maybe – we could get to the point where any limiting ideas or distorted perspectives of ourselves would simply fade away and allow our minds to refocus on the journey. We would see the joy and blessings of today, this very moment, where anything and everything is possible. By choosing this more positive mindset do you think we might become more tolerant with ourselves and a bit more compassionate with others?

For example, how many times have you played over and over in your head something that you wish you would have said or done differently? Can’t let it go right? That’s because you are playing the blame game and are probably becoming quite good at it! Unfortunately this game has no winners. The sad thing is that it accomplishes nothing and simply causes you to feel even more badly. I’m all for learning from experience but blaming or perseverating on what was – is not learning – it’s more like self flagellation. Color me gone!

Resisting, fearing and judging are all of the same negative ilk. These behaviors keep us locked into our microscopic world where we are judge and jury – but without legal standing. We have no remedy because we have no cause. Time to drop this case and move on!

Having more tolerance and acceptance for yourself begins when you realize that you brought everything you had to the past circumstance and did the very best you could at the moment – because you really did. Self reflection can be a positive thing when you cut yourself a little slack and admit you are human. I’ll bet if you think about a past situation when you feel that you didn’t bring your ‘A’ game to the table, if you really ponder it, you know you didn’t purposely choose to fall short of what you wanted to achieve. You just did. Things happen. Move on. Eliminate the blame and simply change it to a lesson learned by telling yourself, ‘The next time I face this type of situation I intend to …’ and do it. The operative words, of course, are DO IT.

Likewise, when we observe others and think to ourselves ‘why don’t they do this or that’ or ‘they should do it this way.’ Really? Since we can’t walk a mile in their shoes it’s probably better to stop judging and simply remember that they are also doing the very best they can at the moment. They are giving life their best shot – regardless of whether it hits the mark or not – time to give them a break as well.

We are all perfectly imperfect human beings who are trying to navigate life with the knowledge we have at the moment. When we have greater knowledge and experience we may choose to respond differently. But until then … there is no place for judgment, fear or resistance. We are better than that because we know that we are all on the journey of our chosen lifetime and learning day by day along the way.

So today, look in the mirror and smile, pat yourself on the back, and know that you are doing your best – with today’s knowledge – and that’s good enough!

Have a great few days!

‘Everybody’s Got Something’

Robin Roberts the cohost of Good Morning America writes in her book, ‘Everybody’s Got Something,’ that her mother always told her that everyone has challenges and issues to handle in their lives and the important thing is to ‘make your mess your message.’ In other words rather than allowing ourselves to feel defeated and surrounded by fear to learn from them and share those experiences with others so they can benefit from our example of strength. Significant advice from a person who twice dealt with the life altering diagnosis of cancer. Yet she did it and chose to take her mother’s words to heart.

Looking at your own life, what have you dealt with that you have learned from and can make your mess your message? Is it death, divorce, depression, economic strife, illness? Remember everybody’s got something. When we see people who are upset rather than getting angry wouldn’t it be wonderful if we chose instead to remember that they are dealing with their own mess.

The amazing thing about life is that each of us has chosen our path, both the good times and bad, for the lessons. When we begin to view them as a challenge that we will overcome we help others draw strength and inspiration from our example. We create a mission and purpose for ourselves that is so much more powerful than simply getting through the moment.

Roberts offered another point in her book, ‘when fear knocks let faith answer the door.
Regardless of your personal belief system, I believe she is talking about a belief that ‘all is as it should be’ and that ‘this too shall pass’. It may not be easy, in fact, it could be downright life changing but by remembering to inhale slowly and realize that you will get through this regardless of how tough it is you give a gift to give yourself amidst the chaos. The gift is the physical and mental energy you need to overcome.

There are two powerful and opposite emotions in our life – love and fear. Love allows, celebrates and expands our capacity and fear restricts and limits us. We all know the statement that 99% of what we worry about never comes to pass. Yet, so often we spend our limited amount of time on this earth in the ‘what if’ mentality that keeps us bound up with worry about our tomorrows.

Let’s try, just for today, to listen to our thinking. When we hear an element of fear enter consciously stop and redirect it. Choose to believe in yourself and the power to overcome whatever obstacle is presently in your path. Start small – just a day or even part of a day and experience the gift of believing in yourself. The Universe is just waiting for you to choose belief – power and positivity – and will respond in kind.

Our Challenges
When all we see is darkness and gloom.
We feel totally helpless and running from doom.
We eventually confront our inner brick wall.
Our choice is to break it or give up and fall.
We may search for our strengths,
Waiting patiently deep inside.
From life’s obstacles there’s no reason to hide.
All our challenges we must embrace and defeat.
As we open our eyes our true purpose we’ll greet.
Let’s take a step outside our routine comfort zone.
This will carve a path where our goals we shall own.
Our personal challenges, quite difficult may seem.
But if we believe in ourselves,
Life will be sweet – as a dream.
By anitapoems.com

Have a great day!

What is Love?

What is love? We see versions of it enacted on T.V., or read about it in a superficial basis in novels but once in a great while we experience it ourselves. We may be mislead into thinking that there is only one type of love and it either exists and withstands the test of time or not. But the ancient Greeks developed a deeper understanding of love and described it using four terms each indicating a different type of love.

Agape -the unconditional love that causes us to accept others with any and all their flaws and differences. We love them and expect nothing thing in return. We may see the word ‘agape’ on church bulletin boards or in book stores indicating anyone and everyone is welcomed and accepted. The second type of love, Philemon, was defined as a platonic, friendship type of love. This type epitomizes the phrase, ‘I’ve got your back and you’ve got mine.’ It’s the kind of love that best friends, not seeing each other for a time experience when meeting or talking again. It is, as if, nothing has changed in their relationship and they just pick up the where they left off. The third type of love was named Storage by the Greeks. It is a love of family and dear friends. It is unconditional, committed and causes us to feel comfortable and safe. Regardless of what we might say or do we know that we will always be accepted and loved. Eros, the fourth type of love is passionate even arousing a feeling of a natural ‘high’ when you are with the other person. You can talk for hours upon hours without even realizing the time that has elapsed.

Some relationships may focus on one particular type of love and it works for them. It is said, however, that for love to be everlasting all four types of love need to evolve into the relationship over time. What exactly does this all encompassing type of love look like?

We find ourselves thinking about this person frequently and wondering what they are doing, if they are thinking about us and when we will see them again. We are willing to expose ourselves to them – literally and figuratively. Over time we start to share our vulnerable areas without fear of judgment. We just know that if needed they would be there for us in a second. It offers an assurance, a strength that is outside of ourselves. We no longer feel we are taking this life journey alone but have someone along the way that is as equally interested in us as we are in them. The novelist, Cesar Pavese said, “You will be loved the day when you will be able to show your weakness without the person using it to assert his strength.” Love softens us, smoothes out our rough edges. This type of love causes the object of your love to be more important, more vivid to you than you are to yourself. Thoughts, ideas and plans are more exciting as you discuss them with the one you love. Your looks and touches can often best be understood through the magic of a song that you have heard a million times before but this time, yes – this time with him – it speaks to both your heart and mind. We feel more inspired and joyful about living. David Brooks explains it this way,” We want to do something special for them. Cooking a meal, buying a special little gift, picking them up at the airport, getting them water to drink – it’s a gift-love not reciprocity- love.” We experience for the first time something mystical, bigger than ourselves and we may try to analyze it to no avail. Eventually, we simply settle into the awesomeness of the experience. This type of love seems to expand our heart and causes us to smile from the inside out. It is said that the more you love, the more you can love because love expands with use! How beautiful it is to see this type of love between people. Once observed, we know that all is right with the world.

Have a great day!

Let’s Learn From Each Other!

We have often heard the saying that ‘today is the first day of the rest of your life.’ It may sound a bit trite but let’s think about it. Today we have the choice to view life from the box seats rather than the nose bleed seats if we so choose. All it takes is the realization and personal commitment to refuse to be weighed down by our past. Regardless of the baggage we have been carrying – the questions we keep replaying in our minds – the regrets or ‘if onlys’ need to be gone… totally and without question. Many people hang on to past issues and seem to carry them as an invisible backpack as they go through life. You can spot them easily by the permanent frown lines on their faces and the ever increasing slouch of their shoulders and walk. They seem intent upon seeing life through a lens of disappointment. Why? When we stop to think about it today – this very moment in fact, will never happen again. Carrying around old wounds is the most unproductive thing we can do physically, spiritually and emotionally.

In a similar vein, when we let ourselves reflect on the past with longing or comparison such as ‘kids are not as mannerly as they used to be’ or ‘everything is so much more expensive than it used to be’ (technically untrue) the list goes on and on – we sabotage our days with negative thoughts and rob ourselves of the joy of today.

Let’s start expecting more positive moments in our lives. For instance, I have watched young boys – 8 years old – hold the door for others and I smile. In fact, I truly can’t think of a time recently when a person – regardless of age – hasn’t held a door for me. Since I’m not in a wheelchair or using a cane could it be that I simply look at them with a feeling of acceptance and value that they instinctively feel?

Our younger generation is thoughtful, kind and growing up to be a positive force in our world. They bring a purity and kindness to so many thing as they watch with childhood enthusiasm for the pluses rather than the minuses in life. They do not have the ‘old days’ to compare to and are not weighed down with regret.

There is a reason why being around children seems to enliven our spirit and energize our days. They demonstrate an unbridled joy for living. Let’s let it rub off on us – starting today.

Achieving wisdom takes time and it is something we can share gently with our younger generation. They, in turn, can model for us the sheer joy of being alive. We have much to learn from each other.

Have a great few days!

You are beautiful!

We make it a practice to recognize and compliment others. When we see them accomplish something they have been working toward or achieve a deeper understanding we celebrate them. We often tell them how good they look. Well, today let’s take a moment to pat ourselves on the back. Although we deserve it we seldom think about giving ourselves a ‘thumbs up.’ Take a moment and think about where you have come from, what challenges you have overcome and what growth you have made as a person. It’s time to reflect on all you have been through and celebrate the fact that you are still learning, living and loving.

To someone out there you are their everything. Now that’s impressive! Rather than falling into the trap of continual self criticism think about yourself through the eyes of someone who really cares for you and just smile. The following poem from BlondOwl says it all…

Beyond the Reflection

Looking in the mirror, What do you see?
The eyes of a monster, the hair of a beast.
A bump, a lump, an excuse for a nose.
Eyelashes too short, eyebrows that grow.

Shoulders broad but legs too skinny,
a smile with lines too deep and wimpy.
Cheeks rather puffy, and a scowl, rather scruffy.

Now mirror my eyes, What do I see?
Eyes of an angel, hair of a Greek.
A curve, a shimmy, a perfect nose.
Eyelashes that accent eyebrows of pose.

Shoulders of confidence, legs just so perfect,
A smile with lines of laughter from living.
Cheeks so cute, and an expression of love.

What monster do you speak of?
A beast? I see none.
Before me, an angel of wings,
a friend, a loved one.

What ugliness is this?
What flaw is that?
Shush ….
You are blind as a bat.

You strut,
You dance,
You shout and sing,
To me you are beauty…my everything.

Have a great day!