Friday, March 29, 2013

Lead By Example

Today I had the privilege of hearing that my decision to go on this journey and the changes I’ve made have inspired those around me to try to improve their own lives, as well. That was really touching. And exciting. That means I’m not just saying I’m changing, I actually am, and others are noticing. And others are helped by it. So many beautiful concepts in there that fill me with joy.

Not only am I leading by example, but I’m viewing everyone I encounter as a teacher. So the feeling is mutual. It’s like what Elizabeth Gilbert says in Eat Pray Love. The Physics of the Quest: If you're brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.

Just remember to keep going. It’s a choice you make every single day. You can’t hear something like I heard today and then decide to coast. You must always strive to be better. Always strive to come from a place of empathy and love. Always strive to free yourself from any false perceptions (aka negative perceptions). See the opportunity behind the crisis. Always give love.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Be Careful What You Expect

When you come to an interaction with an expectation, you are looking for that expectation to be met. Be careful with that. Be aware that you are naturally doing that so you can counter it by reminding yourself to be open-minded. If you expect someone to act a certain way, or if you are expecting a certain outcome, you’re already setting the situation up for failure. You have to come at the situation fresh and without bias. Don’t look for the undertones in what someone is saying. Spoon out some of that empathy. Your reactions guide the experience, so if you’re expecting hostility, and so you present a level of hostility back, then yeah, the situation will be hostile.

That’s something I work on just about every day now.

Also, this morning I was tired and in a “blah” mood. I held the elevator door for someone walking a few steps behind me. They were surprised and grateful. I usually do that, but usually I’ll also try to smile and seem friendly. This morning, not so much, which I found a little amusing. I held the door and then I probably appeared to be bored or grumpy. I wasn’t, but I just didn’t have the energy.

You know what though, that act was a little bit of a boost. The fact that I found the situation amusing was a little boost.

No matter how you feel or what you are expecting, bring love and empathy to each situation. It will make things a whole lot better than the alternative.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Always Walk Away Feeling Strong

Don’t ever come away from a workout feeling weak. Don’t leave a workout feeling like, “Well, that’s all I can do. I hit my limit.” You must leave a workout feeling strong. Feel proud and strong based on the entirety of the workout, not the mere fact that it ended. Feel strong for pushing yourself. Feel confident.

The same goes for anything else. Any conversation, any argument and any task. Come away from it loving yourself and the effort you put in. That, of course, means that you have to be present in those moments prior. You have to give it your all and be gentle with yourself – emotionally gentle. Don’t taunt yourself. Don’t have shame. Don’t have a deep feeling of worthlessness that creeps up under all your effort. That negativity is working against you. That negativity is useless and destructive. It has NO helpful purpose. It doesn’t prepare you for anything; it doesn’t shield you from anything; it doesn’t motivate you. If you need someone to challenge and motivate you by saying, “You can’t do it!” Well, that’s one thing. But when you believe it, that is another. And that’s what I’m talking about here.

For me, that ties nicely into the whole not having to defend myself concept. I’m getting so much better. There have been times where I started feeling defensive and I stopped myself, took a deep breath, and told myself, “I don’t have to defend myself!” I don’t have to prove anything. How did I even get that caught up in it in the first place? I’m not sure, but for some reason I feel like no one ever believes me or takes me seriously, so I have to defend myself and prove and explain everything such that they will understand.

Just yesterday someone had asked me if I had taken care of something. I instantly went on the defensive in my mind. Of course I hadn’t handled it! Since we’d last spoken, there had only been one day, and I had been out of the house from 7am to 10:30pm! And I have to go somewhere that is open from 9-5 to handle it! Seriously?? Had I taken care of it yet?? Really? How would I have? I have to prep beforehand and somehow I have to get there during the right hours… Adjust my entire schedule if I’m going to do it during the week…

But I caught myself. I don’t have to defend myself. I don’t have to explain every detail to this person. I always feel like I do, and I get into so many arguments with people because some personality types try to pick apart my reasons and it is really annoying. I don’t have to feel like I’ve failed. I don’t have to defend my integrity. I know that I haven’t had the time. I don’t have to convince anyone. Just say that. Say when I will get to it. Or say the simple answer to any other question. I don’t have to list out every reason and defend it. It’s okay. And again, walk away feeling strong. Don’t walk away feeling defeated. That will fester inside you and ruin you.

I’ll bet that if you walk away from a workout feeling strong, you will become physically stronger faster.

I’ll bet that if you walk away from a conversation or other interaction feeling strong, you will become emotionally stronger. Not really emotionally… but your confidence will be stronger, and how you act from then on will come from a place of strength.

It really is all in your mind. You have the power to control your perspective and your reality. You are perfect as you are. Your only problem is you don’t believe it yet, and that’s where all the issues come from. Believe in yourself and the rest of the issues you worry about will fall into place.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Speak Up

Over the last couple days I’ve noticed some improvements and some areas that could stand improvement. As a person well on their way down the road of this journey I am able to appreciate how far I have come instead of getting upset about how far I have to go. I just take note and keep going.

Some areas I am better in are interjecting my own ideas and speaking with confidence. I wouldn’t call this a strength of mine yet, but I have started leaving behind my attitude of only speaking up if I have some drastically different idea, or if something really needs to be clarified… all of the cases where I didn’t feel it was necessary to interrupt others or change the line of thought unless it was really important. No! I can be in the conversation, too! I don’t have to sit back and let the extroverts high-jack the entire conversation. Even if some of my comments are talked over, I can still get in there and make a few comments and show that I, too, am aware of what is going on. I may not have anything new to add, but I will express that I am on the same page as the rest of you.

I also noticed I still need to speak with a little more command, because a few times today I declared my own hypothesis about something, only to later have people say it right back to me because they had just figured it out for themselves. I must not have said it with enough confidence originally. That has happened to me quite a lot over my life, and normally I take it personally. But this time (these times, really) I did not. I made a mental note that I need to speak with a little more authority, and that I can trust my judgment a little more than I give it credit for in some of these scenarios. And you know what, even if I’m wrong, in cases like this, it doesn’t matter. Good ideas are good ideas. It shows you are thinking analytically. It shows your thought process. It can still impress people. I’m talking about work right now… let me make that distinction. You shouldn’t go around trying to impress people in your personal life, haha.

I also worked on communication, which… if you’re experiencing a problem that you don’t understand to begin with, it is hard to make any logical sense when you are conveying the problem to someone else… Again, there was room for improvement today, but I think I did a lot better. And I spoke up more in the conversation about it. All in all, I did pretty well today on those fronts. Not perfect by any means, but some great progress.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Selective Empathy

Okay, so let’s be painfully honest for a second. It’s easier to have empathy for people when we’ve been through what they are going through. It is easier to have empathy when we understand their perspective. One of, or possibly THE biggest issue for me is guys and their hormones and women-using, hedonistic crap. I have absolutely no empathy for any of that. It is just wrong.

But let’s think about that for a second. Guys are children, just like me, and then they hit puberty, and they have all these hormones. I never had those particular hormones. I know the girl’s perspective, and I know it is wrong for a guy to think girls are interchangeable and to want to just use girls for sex. But seriously, how would they know that? Who would tell them that? How would they figure that out for themselves when they are flooded with those hormones? The hormones drown everything else out, so I’ve been led to believe. What could happen in a guy’s life to snap him out of it and realize that women are people, too, and they should not be used? That they should want an actual RELATIONSHIP, a BEST FRIEND, a CONNECTION with a girl? I don’t think a guy can go to his parents with every erotic thought he has in order to be talked out of it and shown how to have a healthier view of women. That all makes me very upset but I’m TRYING to have some empathy for it and just understand how things would turn out that way for them.

But then I’m confused. I know guys who are not that screwed up. I’ve known guys to truly love and cherish a woman, and to want a meaningful relationship with a woman, even at a younger age. So what am I missing here? I’m trying to take a good, long and honest look at this species called “males” and figure out what would be a valid expectation here. I seriously think I need a guy with mommy issues. I think those types are looking to be loved and accepted by a woman to reflect their longing for love from their own mother. Otherwise, men probably feel like any woman will pamper and spoil him, just like his mother. That’s expected and is interchangeable. Is that really what it comes down to? I just want someone broken in the right ways… is that the difference between the kind of relationship I want and the kind that I don’t?

Back to the main point. I’m trying to have some empathy for men. I’m trying to see that, truly, the hormones and expectations on them have caused them to be crappy for periods of their life. But again, what could I expect to happen in their lives that would make them wake up and grow up? Just wait until they are 30 and their testosterone starts to diminish? But I wanted someone who was never that screwed up… what is the least screwed up that could be understandable? So many questions I am asking myself right now. And I’m not focusing on these questions, these are just things in the back of my mind as I go through my life. I’m in no rush to figure this one out. This is a huge issue for me and it will not be resolved quickly. I honestly don’t expect it to be even remotely resolved for another year or two. But I’m working on putting a dent in it. Empathy. Hormones. Needs from their own broken past. I’m trying to stop looking at them as evil and start truly taking a look at life through their eyes as much as possible so I can really figure out what makes a good man and what doesn’t. What can stay in the past and be forgiven, and what is just too much.

To be continued…