“I’ve always admired how you do everything you can, but never blame yourself for what you can’t do” a loving friend said to me one day.
Yes, i grieve when i can’t accomplish what i set out to do. But i have to let the failure go, then i need to reflect about what i have to learn from the experience. I’m too much in my head some say, but that’s just one of the things i have to do; so i do what i can, without blaming myself what i can’t do.
“The how and why of self-blame and self-criticism: The adult habit of self-blame is often an internalization of childhood experience. This is especially true if you grew up in a household that put a high premium on everything going right and looking perfect, and if a parent, or even both parents, needed someone to be the scapegoat when things didn’t.”Continue reading Do What You Can, BUT Don’t Blame Yourself For What You Can’t Do!
Letting go means we will first have to manage the fear which makes us procrastinate, or even to discard our dreams. Some even go back down the unhappy path they’ve been following.
If we want to change our persona, our behaviour, our lives, our relationships, our jobs, or our living environment, most of us have to let go what was, before we can move towards our goal. And most people resist changes, and resistance to anything means the possibility of less than happy outcomes is first and foremost in our minds.
Change is scary to most people to a greater or lesser extent is what i’ve seen and experienced. Such fears can and often do generate anger, anxiety, generating inner conflicts, and even depression.
Many interpersonal conflicts require resolutions to inner (with ourselves) or outer (with others) conflicts; and that might (and most often does) mean modifying our behaviour, and our beliefs about ourselves.
One such person, a grandmother in her 70s, was in bitter conflict with her adult daughter, also a mother. And as the mediation process evolved, the grandmother decided that she wasn’t able or interested in becoming the reflective, curious person her daughter wanted her to become. She didn’t want to know the “whys” behind the acrimonious behaviour, the anxieties, or the anger which had motivated them to build an almost “insurmountable wall between them
She didn’t want to explore “triggers” or motivations. It was all “psychobabble” anyway. “Why couldn’t they just get along, she asked?”
But when her daughter emotionally shared that “she just wanted and needed to be with her mother like she would be with a friend” Her mother understood what was being asked of her, probably for the first time.
The older mother still didn’t want ‘peel any onions” to discover what was below the frustration and anger both regularly experienced, but she did modify her behaviour so that they could co-exist as friends with boundaries. And breaks from each other.
She didn’t need the “whys,” she just needed the “whats.”
Anger and anxiety are always motivated by fears; fears about consequences which are scary. How scary is always up to you. Remember, being afraid of the unknown may be a counter-productive use of your imagination.
So however you do it, you will have to manage the fears if you want to let go what was, and move forward towards your new reality. And if you want to let go the fear, most of us need to know what those fear and consequences include.
So yes, many like me need to peel our inner onions, with tears being part of the process. William Bridges calls this process “grieving what we’re letting go” in his book Transitions.
For me, it’s been a rewarding mission for over 40 years on a beautiful, eclectic, sometimes challenging, but always gratifying and satisfying path.
I hired a plumber to help me restore an old farmhouse, and after he had just finished a rough first day on the job: a flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric drill quit and his ancient one ton truck refused to start.
While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence. On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.
When opening the door he underwent an amazing transformation. His face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.
Afterwards he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.
‘Oh, that’s my trouble tree,’ he replied ‘I know I can’t help
having troubles on the job, but one thing’s for sure, those troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and the children.. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home.
Then in the morning I pick them up again.’ ‘Funny thing is,’ he smiled,’ when I come out in the morning to pick ’em up, there aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.’
Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance.
“You’re like a dull knife, just ain’t cuttin’, just talkin’ loud and saying nothing.”
This observation is attributed to singer James Brown, which tells us what he thought of those who loudly proclaimed their ignorance to one and all.
Since the beginning of time, humans have used the power of words, voice, body-language, their perceived intellectual supremacy, and physical violence to overpower others to try and satisfy their needs. Bullying is a human disability, and it’s often taught to their children.
Sadly, those who know the least and those who consciously or unconsciously believe that they’re not very smart, often talk the loudest; they also argue their positions the most aggressively. The internet is plagued by many, and for the first time in history, we can see how many “dull knives” there really are, and not just the ones around us.
Don’t you sometimes wish you had a remote to turn down their volume?
Most of us grew up with such people at home, at school, or at work. At times, i was one of those loud-mouths, until, way back in my 20s, a loving friend and a caring boss pointed out to me that i was shooting myself in the foot if i wanted to have meaningful debates and discussions.
From that point on, if i didn’t know something, i just STFU! Then i went out and learned what i needed to know about myself, and my behaviour.
The first step is always realizing and accepting that we don’t know everything we think we know.
And the learning never stops, at least for me.
I also often hope that those i see yelling in person and on the net access and apply some emotional intelligence, look in a mirror, listen to themselves, then modify their behaviour.
It will make their lives so much easier.
So why do people bully others instead of questioning how we can more effectively communicate with them?
“The sad truth may be that for some people, there are significant social and personal benefits to bullying.”
“Almost everyone has been bullied at one time or another, and we often take solace in the assumption that living well is the best revenge. We will have happy and fulfilling lives, whereas bullies are trying to compensate for their own low self-esteem and will lead miserable lives.”
So here are five components of Emotional Intelligence, which apply everywhere in life where we have relationships and have to make decisions.
The Featured Image is a stock photo, and not situational.
Approaching the lovely park across the street from my apartment on this gorgeous spring-like sunny day, i was stunned as i watched a beautiful young Dalmation being locked into a pristine red car.
In my head i heard ‘but it’s only for the drive home, so she’ll be ok’.
Would a mother ever lock her baby in the trunk of her car, on purpose?
I’d even bet that the Dalmation fur-baby’s mother(?) loved her 4-legged family member no less than she would a child. But she and her two friends looked like they didn’t have a care in the world as they got in the car with a fur-baby in the trunk, and drove away. I wondered heart-brokenly what that poor Dalmation was experiencing in that cold, dark, cramped space?
I was shocked and upset to watch such probably-unconscious yet ignorant cruelty!
“We only hurt the ones we love” is inaccurate; we do hurt the ones we love, but not only. Many people say they love others, but does loving mean ‘not hurting regardless of other considerations’?
So when we see we’ve caused pain, stress, or sadness, are there alternative behaviours we might adopt which would more accurately reflect our loving?
Or are we even empathizing with those we say we love?
Are we always ‘walking our talk?
How do our “loved ones” experience our loving them?
“Just as a snake sheds it’s skin, we must shed our past.
“This is the secret to Mushin, living life in the moment with your mind an empty cup so it can be filled with new constructive and functional material. If it doesn’t add value to your life, why keep it.
To remain relatively calm and controlled in the heat of conflict, a disputant must “Sit relatively comfortably in the discomfort!”
When helping people resolve emotionally-charged interpersonal conflicts, i see that the longer disputants’ differences and a disputant’s experiences remain unresolved, the more their history affects them. Sometimes to the point that their experiences are traumatizing.
As we know, carrying unresolved issues like those traumatizing experiences with you everywhere you go will be like carrying mountains on your back as you follow your paths. They will slow you down, or even stop you dead in your tracks.
“Mountains exist for you to climb, not for you to carry.”
Carrying around ‘mountain-like’ obstacles like past traumas both great and small will do nothing to resolve your inner conflicts, or those external conflicts with those involved in your trauma. They will certainly do nothing to ease your mind. So the choice is yours:
The human race is again challenged by barriers and limitations, including illness and death. That is our common reality; some riot, some act out their deepest pathologies, but the majority use their built-in abilities to adjust, survive, and thrive.
Being human really means using our intrinsic abilities to go with the flow regardless of what happens to us.
When you look back at your life, what do you want to think, feel, and believe. Because most of you will be there one day.
Each one of us is challenged as we journey through life, successfully or not. It’s our ability to manage and to overcome the obstacles we encounter along the way which will decide how we view our lives retrospectively. Think about this.
What do you want to think or feel when you look back at these challenging days?
I am grateful for reaching the first of my adult life’s barriers at 20. It was my choice fed by a perception that i was indestructible. Without going into the gory details, it took me about 3 years to recover physically, emotionally, and psychologically to a point where i functioned as i wanted. But i refused to die (the doctors said), also refusing to accept any prognosis except a full recovery.
I am very grateful, but some people who know me still don’t believe me when i say that the long struggle was the greatest gift i ever received.
The truth is that rebuilding my body and self actualizing (partial amnesia erased much of who i had been) enabled me to live the life of my dreams for the next 50+ years.
I learned early that if i persisted mindfully, no challenge was insurmountable. In time i also learned that I didn’t need to travel through life overcoming barriers unaided. I learned that asking for help was not a sign of weakness, but a strategic necessity which just made life easier. The gift was that many of those trusted allies and mentors became lifelong friends.
The bottom line is that the pandemic, like so many other challenges, can be a gift, or a torpedo. The choice is ours.
Once in a while someone does a nice job of describing a Canadian, this time it was an Australian dentist.
You probably missed it in the local news, but there was a report that someone in Pakistan had advertised in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed a Canadian – any Canadian. An Australian dentist wrote the following editorial to help define what a Canadian is, so they would know one when they found one.
A Canadian can be English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. A Canadian can be Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab, Pakistani or Afghan. A Canadian may also be a Cree, Metis, Mohawk, Blackfoot, Sioux, or one of the many other tribes known as native Canadians.
A Canadian’s religious beliefs range from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or none. In fact, there are more Muslims in Canada than in Afghanistan. The key difference is that in Canada they are free to worship as each of them chooses. Whether they have a religion or no religion, each Canadian ultimately answers only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.
A Canadian lives in one of the most prosperous lands in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which recognize the right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.
But they also welcome the least – the oppressed, the outcast and the rejected.
A Canadian is generous and Canadians have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return.
Canadians welcome the best of everything, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services and the best minds.
These are the people who built Canada.
You can try to kill a Canadian if you must as other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world have tried but in doing so you could just be killing a relative or a neighbour.
This is because Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, can be a Canadian.
Please keep this going! Pass this around the World. Then pass it around again. It says it all, for all of us.
50 years ago, almost dying changed me forever. One minute i was playing at what i loved, the next i woke up in a hospital bed not knowing where i was while machines and feeder tubes kept me alive. 6 weeks had disappeared except in the deep recesses of my psyche.
The experience changed me in ways which i only noticed and acknowledged as years flowed by.
Most of my life, others have observed how fortunate i have been. I agree. But i haven’t won any lotteries and the only prize i’ve ever won was 2 tickets to a Diana Ross & Supremes concert in Montreal back in the 60s.
Nevertheless, the ah-ha moment landed on me when i realized that the angel on my shoulder needed my help to make her magic.
So synchronicity, with my help, has enabled me to live a wonderful and exciting life by inviting people and situations to my path so i could learn.
Now in my 70s, and as recently as this year in the middle of a pandemic, she’s done it again!
During these difficult times when so many are suffering physically, emotionally, and psychologically, we have options. We can’t stop change, but most of us can control how we respond to challenging changes. And we never have to do it alone.
As i’ve experienced and seen, the challenges presented me and many others with opportunities.
We could embrace changes which make our lives and our societies more satisfying and pleasurable, or not.
“Wanting to understand something that is not possible to be rationally understood, can be incessantly frustrating” she said to me with a stressed but accepting look on her face. She went on to say, as if accepting her inevitable fate…
To be free of that persistent feeling when i die is, in some kinda way, something to look forward to. Until then, the world could certainly use more confused minds like yours, wheels spinning, still trying to understand. Far better more of those than those who are happy to con themselves into thinking they have it all figured out.”
So how do people react or respond when they don’t understand something of more than less importance. Some carry on regardless of the shock they might earn….
The epiphany i had about never being able to figure out ‘life’ and ‘living’, or ever to control life, only came after having several near death experiences.
The answer was that there was no answer, and that i didn’t need one.
The irony of living was that i controlled only myself, and not even that at times. So i began to pictured living life as being somewhere between a twig in a swift flowing stream and an albatross flying with and against the wind.
So whenever something confused me, i eventually learned that there was information i didn’t yet have, or had not yet seen. So all i had to do was try and understand what i could, and put aside what i couldn’t understand; in newspapers it used be called “spiking” an article for use at some future time; or not.
Buddha said that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. In my life i have had many such epiphanies from human and situational teachers.
So for the 55+ years since that first significant teacher showed up unexpectedly, acceptance and appreciation of what ishas worked for me, and funnily enough, it still does, beautifully.
The departed want us “To Carry them with us – that is our task.”
How do i know? I know because we carry them with us whether we enjoy the ride or not. This is my reality and my gift; a gift available to all of us.
“What task do the departed want us to do?”
“To carry them with us – that is our task. We carry them all inside us, all our dead and shattered loves. Only they make us whole.”
“If we begin to forget or cast aside those we’ve lost, then… then we are no longer present either.”
All the loved, all the dead, all the people we’ve known are the rivers which feed our sea of souls. If we refuse to remember them, that sea will dry up too.”
Once upon a time i met a new friend, and love, who was visiting our small town, but only temporarily. We had an intense and passionate relationship. One morning she looked as if someone close to her had died overnight as she awakened me with; “I have to leave later today; i know i may never see you again, and i feel like crying. You make me so happy to be with you but i know our respective realities make any longer term thing impossible.”
We spent the next few hours together but there was a cloud hanging over us under the clear and beautiful Spring sky. “You will always be with me” i said to her as she finished packing her car.
“Vanessa, you will be in my heart and in my mind through this life, and maybe even through my next iteration. (Yes, that’s the way i talk. LOL) Every time i remember you and our times together, you will bring joy to my heart, a smile to my face, and a tilt to my kilt. Once i’ve grieved your absence, after crying whatever tears need to be expressed, i will forever after carry you with me.”
Plagiarizing Nina George’s character’s words, “I can only talk about the things i’ve experienced. I’d have to get into the pan with the potatoes in order to give my opinion on the french fries.”
I don’t know if Vanessa believed me because we never connected again. Nevertheless, within me i carry her, all those i love, and everyone i have loved, and they make me whole. That is my experience.
Sometimes i find a book which inspires a cornucopia of relevant and inciteful “ah-ha” moments; The little Paris Bookshop by Nina George offered so many lessons; her words i’ve quoted (italicized) are just a few of those gifts.