Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Wisdom’

The Importance of Self Love

Charlie Chaplin who was best known as a mime actor wrote a poem on self love. The whole topic of loving ourselves may, at first, be thought of as hedonistic. Yet, how can we ever truly love another if we have not first learned to love ourself? Often we are so busy on our quest to make others happy that we discount our own needs and desires and agree to do things that in our heart we really, really do not want to do. As a result we end up resenting the situation and over time even the person. Self love teaches us to be authentic and recognize our own feelings, needs and desires first. Basically, we allow ourself to say ‘yes’ AND ‘no’ without guilt. As we begin to practice self love we become happier and more self confident, authentic, and mature. We learn to back off and let others experience their own lessons in life. The help we offer is not to do something for them but to let them know that we have faith in their ability to overcome the issues that come up in their lives. After all, the more we rescue the more dependent others can become – and that hurts both parties.

In the poem Chaplin said, “As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at exactly the right moment. So I could be calm… As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is LOVE OF ONESELF.

Is it time to practice self love? It’s worth considering!

Have 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!

Developing Serenity

We have all read the Serenity Prayer at some point in our lives. ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change. And the wisdom to know the difference.’ If you are like me it seems I have read this a million times and yet actually applying its deeper meaning seems to work better when issues are less critical or important in life. When the ‘big dogs’ of problems surface oftentimes, the real meaning of this prayer is lost and we find ourselves simply reacting as we have done in the past and feeling more and more frustrated with the results. We typically take the path we have chosen so often in our lives because it has become a conditioned response.

As with so many significant sayings in life we can mouth the words, even memorize them and yet never completely internalize them which will cause a change in our attitude, beliefs and behavior. I have chosen to use the Serenity Prayer over the next few blogs to delve more deeply into what it can do for us. The few words contained in the prayer have tremendous potential to help us arrive at a greater sense of confidence, peace and wisdom in our lives. It is worth taking the time to think about in greater depth over the next week. It can help us harness the power of these words and then apply them when we face the next truly big challenge in our lives.

The Serenity Prayer basically boils down to two issues: learning how to accept with grace and humility the things in life that cannot be changed or learning how to dig deep to surface the needed courage to change the things that are possible for us to change. Seems straight forward enough doesn’t it? Ah, but as with everything else in life simplicity is an art that only results after wrestling with the true complexity of the elements behind it. Determining which path to take is, of course, the ultimate challenge but it is not a mere choice arrived at easily but rather the result of understanding and examining the complex web of emotions and beliefs established from our early conditioning, cultural mores and personal life experiences.

To begin our more in depth look at the deeper meaning of the prayer I would ask you to consider the following questions.

Which approach is usually HARDER for you … accepting the things you truly cannot change (without anger or resentment) or finding the courage to actually change the things (with grace and tenacity) that you can change?

Your answer to the above question is important. As individuals we have a preference for one approach over the other. It doesn’t mean that we can’t use the other approach but it is not something we typically do or prefer to do especially when dealing with the ‘biggies’ in life.

Your answer is very important as we continue to dive deeper into the well of understanding about human emotions in our goal to develop greater wisdom and Serenity. In essence, in one response we are dealing with learning to trust more fully and with the other response learning how to better control our fears. Both are difficult but achievable behavioral changes. One answer is not better than the other it is simply different and will help us decide on the next pathway to follow. In the meantime after you decide which approach is harder for you the logical step is to ask yourself the question – why? Really think about why that particular approach is harder for you – just a hint – it is usually the result of early conditioning.

Stay tuned and we will follow up on the possible ‘why’ in the next blog.

Have a great few days!

Developing Wisdom

When you ask someone what they would change about their life, they usually think for a moment and then comment, ‘nothing really because I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if I changed anything.’ Well, let’s think about this for a moment. Let’s assume that you would be the same person and know everything that you know now but could still have one ‘redo’ in life what would it be? You only get one so think hard before you decide. This practice is called, strangely enough, thinking about thinking and it is a valuable skill to develop because it is the initial step in developing wisdom. To think about what you have learned through the challenges and opportunities in life – the life lessons – and what you would have done differently if given the chance is more than wishful thinking. It is part one of developing wisdom.

Although we all have the seed in us to develop it wisdom doesn’t develop automatically as one becomes older it needs to be cultivated. In fact, there are many young people who just seem to possess a certain wisdom about life and have some lessons to teach us regardless of our age. By observing them, we watch them consciously reflecting on events or situations in their lives as if they are a bystander watching someone else. We often hear them saying, ‘ ….happened and next time I intend to do …. differently.’ They are in a constant mode of self evaluation, trying to unearth the lessons in their recent experiences for the purpose of becoming wiser.

People who possess wisdom refuse to see the world in absolutes. Sometimes you run across people who are so busy directing things and telling you how to think and what to do that it is exhausting. They are the black/white, right/wrong, for/against type of thinkers. Their thinking and behavior is the antitheses of those who are wise. People who have developed wisdom see in what one author calls ‘the shades of grey.’ Realizing that each situation and person is unique they try to put themselves in another person’s shoes. They refuse the simple and dangerous act of judgment or simplistic answers and move rather toward a deeper understanding of the person and their circumstances at the time. They are attentive listeners who do not offer input unless asked and then give it only after careful thought. Frequently, they will first ask you how you feel about the situation you are describing to them. Their most important concern is how you are feeling not merely voicing their opinion on the matter at hand. They look for the road less travelled – the more challenging analysis in the situation.

Folks who have developed wisdom in life just seem to have a purpose than involves others as well as themselves. They have the perfect blend between altruism and taking care of self. We often watch and marvel at how things just seem to work out for them. Yet, in reality, these folks truly work at it. They understand that to achieve what they want others must also receive and benefit in the process. Life for them is a win – win. Although they give as much as they receive they would, if needed, put themselves second for the sake of a better outcome for others.

Look around you this week and see if you can spot someone who epitomizes the attributes of wisdom. They are a pleasure to behold. The good news is that we can all become wiser if we choose to put in the effort to do so. It’s a practiced skill. The more you practice it the better you get at it. No one has the corner on the market for wisdom. It is an equal opportunity skill just waiting to be developed.

Have a great few days!