Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Path Unfolding

Imagine walking along a path where you cannot see in front of you...perhaps there is fog or haze or dense forest. You push forward. And as you move along the path, sure-footed, but not so sure of yourself, the path unfolds. It opens up to reveal more path, a longer stretch. You keep moving and it keeps opening. You become aware that this is what faith is made of. You begin to realize that you need to trust that the path beneath your feet will be there, level and ready for you. You need only take one step at a time and have faith. This is the miracle of life unfolding. It is the miracle of readiness. When you are ready for the next step, the path unfolds. It's like magic. It's your life. And it doesn't get any better than that. You need only trust.

Friday, August 12, 2011

To Thine Own Self Be True

It's all too familiar: we are asked to do something and we want to say "no," but because we don't want to hurt that person's feelings or make them angry, we say "yes." Then we end up feeling hurt, sad, angry, frustrated and ultimately, resentful. We have not been true to ourselves, selling ourselves a bill of goods around wanting to please someone else. In the end, we have not pleased ourselves, so we have pleased no one.

Then there is the guilt. We may feel guilty for not doing for someone what they have asked, and we may feel guilty for not taking care of ourselves. Controlling people know this--they count on it. They might try to manipulate using words to incite in us feelings of guilt about taking care of our needs first.

It's rather easy to fall prey to this cycle if we answer a request too quickly. What I find helpful is telling someone: "Let me think about that and get back to you." I sit with the request and see if it really works for me and if I have it within me to fulfill that request. Only after taking pause, can I respond with clarity and confidence: "Yes, I would be happy to do that for you." or "No, this does not suit me to do x at this time."

We are not responsible for the reactions of others. We can only be true to ourselves. Now, how powerful is THAT?!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Are you marking yourself down?

This short paragraph recently appeared in my inbox via a dear friend:

"If you are not being treated with love and respect, check your price tag. Perhaps you have marked yourself down. It is YOU who tells people what you're worth by what you accept. Get off the clearance rack and get behind the glass where the valuables are kept! Learn to value yourself more...if you don't no one else will! If you like, repost this. It may help someone get off the clearance rack." --Author unknown to me

A beautiful illustration of this appears in Vanity Fair's recent interview with Jennifer Lopez about her divorce from Marc Anthony. She alludes to deserving better: "Sometimes we don't realize that we are compromising ourselves. To understand that a person is not good for you, or that that person is not treating you in the right way, or that he is not doing the right thing for himself -- if I stay, then I am not doing the right thing for me," she says. "I love myself enough to walk away from that now."

What is YOUR price tag?

Monday, August 1, 2011

To the Rescue

Rescuing...sounds so altruistic, doesn't it? It's the stuff of goodness, kindheartedness and humanity. It's actually the kiss of death. It kills the self and the self in others in subtle ways because we stop focusing on ourselves. In focusing on others, we do not let them own their stuff. In her book, Codependent No More, Melody Beattie devotes an entire chapter to this beast in relationships. She talks about an unhealthy need in us to be needed by others and the ensuing dependency this can create. We try to control others and their behaviors and outcomes, telling ourselves that "we are only trying to help."

Rescuing is when we do for others what they can do for themselves. When I think about rescuing, I think of how we sometimes want more for someone than we believe they should want for themselves. We may even think we know what they should want and when they should want it. We cajole, convince, trick, persuade and otherwise push the other into accepting our help--often before they have even asked for it. What makes this so dangerous for us in relationships? It's that when we help a drowning person, we risk being pulled under as well. We may forget to save ourselves.

Whenever I find myself focusing on someone else's problem and trying to make it my own by thinking and worrying about it,  I now ask myself the question: "What is it that am I not focusing on in my own life that currently needs my attention?" The list is endless! Then I get to the important work of making that phone call I've put off or doing that task I've left aside. And I trust that the other person will get to whatever task will help them along their journey. I rescue myself from rescuing another.