April 14, 2014
…and “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.”
ALL ABOARD!!! Kick it!
Hey Passengers age is a funny thing, isn’t it? It’s both an internal and external measurement by which many of us, consciously or not, judge our successes and failures, and how we are often judged by others: “she’s so young to be CEO;” “he’s too old to be a quarterback now;” “those guys should have stopped touring years ago;” “how old is that woman he’s dating?”
Measurement is part of our culture.
Paradoxically, the paths most of us initially choose for our lives usually happen at times when we are the least prepared to understand the significance of our decisions.
It took me until I reached “mid-life” while, simultaneously, hitting rock bottom to finally change the course of my life and, most importantly, to learn how to let go of the “whys,” “what ifs,” and “if only” that had become my everyday mantras for a while.
It’s not easy to put your past in perspective and ignore cultural measurements, and it can be unnerving to allow yourself the time and space to evolve, but from my experience the mistakes, bad choices, and seemingly insurmountable challenges you may now be facing are truly fixable.
And once you decide you’re ready, you’ll find that it’s cathartic (and, yes, a little frightening) to give yourself some time to find your true path—however you define that for yourself.
The quote in the beginning says not to let yesterday take up too much of today, it doesn’t say: “don’t ever look back.”
I believe that while “never” looking back is a noble goal, it is very difficult for many people to do—especially me—without the kind of awareness that comes only from distance. So I chose a quote that, for me, was accessible, allowing me the space to safely pause and reflect, and then inspiring me to act when I was ready. You, too, will find the right words for you, if you haven’t already.
It took many years, a traumatic event, and a couple of near death experiences for me to, essentially, start my life over. And still it was difficult and I was afraid when I made that decision; change is scary regardless of it being “right.”
The simplest realization that “Change Happens” regardless, helped me gain clarity and perspective, and then time gave me the confidence and courage to act. And remember cultural measurement? I measure myself differently now, and I actively learn from people of all ages.
This is my story so far. I encourage you to find your inspiration and motivation to help you on your journey and then perhaps you’ll share your story.
Most importantly, you need to know—not just “believe”—there is a right time for you to change, no matter how hard, no matter your age, no matter the obstacles. If you feel in your heart that you are not where you want to be it is never too late. Be your own light; the universe will wait for you.
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!!!
April 4, 2014
ALL ABOARD! Welcome back aboard the LifeTrain! Time for the end of week…weekend ride…Kick it!
For the last couple of weeks I’ve encountered some difficult and strained times where I’ve really had to dig deep, man up and “Take the High Road”. So much so that I decided to pull out a letter I wrote to myself long ago. I wrote this letter to myself to help me stay in control of my emotions and realize that, to quote Ghandi:
“An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind.”
I hope my letter, to myself might be of some help to you someday. It goes like this:
Dear Mr. Conductor,
Across the world people struggle in difficult conversations, times of upset, painful discoveries etc. When people become upset or angry they often want to lash out, seek revenge, shut down or explode. Staying calm, cool and collected as the saying goes, is often the last thing humans want to do when hurt or upset.
Sometimes people lash out for the sole purpose of causing the other person pain so they “get” what it feels like to be hurt. Other times the lashing out is simply a knee-jerk reaction. Regardless, though, of why human beings lash out when hurt, I’m sure all of us can understand the pull to want to do so. After all, who can’t understand the desire to yell, scream and rage at your wife for having an affair with your best [girl] friend, a woman no less…but, I digress and I am defeating myself here! …LOL… Go figure…so, I totally understand wanting to do that and more! Been there, done that…and to this day I still need to read this letter to myself periodically..
.”LAUGHNG OUT LOUD”
…And, I also know—that freaking out on a spouse because of an affair, or on a friend in response to them saying mean things, or to a co-worker for putting your job in jeopardy—is not going to serve you. The last thing you want to do is make life harder for yourself by reacting in the extremes.
Yall hearing me?
When you’re able to respond to life’s most difficult circumstances with grace, calm and strength, you will feel better and heal faster. The bottom-line when it comes to handling life’s most difficult moments is to always remember to take the high road—even when those around you are behaving atrociously.
I’m very passionate about this and sharing this with you. I have been in some situations where the average person truly would’ve killed the gnat…with a cannon. And because I didn’t…oftentimes, I got the victory later down the road…which in some cases was just a simple healing, clarity and peace. All glory to God! And the Comforter, The Holy Spirit!
Below are my five reasons I try to always take the high road:
1. When you respond to hurtful behavior by acting like a crazy person–people will see you as a crazy person. When you respond with integrity—others begin to look at the other person as though they are the unhealthy one.
2. When you freak out in response to someone else’s freak out—that person ignores your message and simply thinks, “You think I’m crazy—look at you.” [MORE LAUGHTER] Your poor behavior gets in the way of them seeing their own poor behavior.
3. When you’re able to act with calm and integrity in the face of someone else’s hurtful behavior, it feels empowering, healthy and internally strong.
4. When you can stay calm in the most difficult of moments, you avoid the “reactivity hangover”. There’s no shame, self-hatred, regret or embarrassment about what you did. You can hold your head high and feel good about you.
5. When you stoop to the other person’s level you are off your A game and unable to make rational responses and decisions. Take the high road knowing that the poor behavior of others is NOT a green light for your own poor behavior.
Taking the high road means to act with integrity at all times—not just the good times, happy times or respectful times. Harming another physically, spiritually or emotionally is out of proper integrity—even in response to an affair, lies or manipulations. Don’t stoop to some else’s level and claim your behavior is okay. Stay respectful, set limits, take care of yourself and then decide how you’re going to intervene in such a way that you’re respectful of yourself and the humanity of the other person. Avoid the awful feeling of “reactivity hangover” and remember that although seeking revenge or going off on the person may feel great in the moment—that feeling seldom lasts forever.
A LifeTrain Challenge: If you’re struggling with someone else’s hurtful behavior, pull back, breathe, calm your heart rate down and dare to take the high road. Refuse to act like an out of control raging person. Settle yourself and respond with calm, strength and grace. You will feel better for it and can hold your head high under the most difficult of circumstances.
In the gospels, Jesus taught and role-modeled high road living on a daily basis. That’s good enough for me.
See you on the high road!
ALL ABOARD!!! THE LifeTrain!!!
March 31, 2014
“Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.” ~Eckhart Tolle
Hey Passengers, welcome back aboard. The other day a good friend from back home (Ohio) called me hysterically crying. She felt certain she just blew a second job interview, and she’d hit a breaking point.
She’d been struggling for months, just barely paying her bills and wondering if she could afford to keep her apartment.
Every purchase had become an exercise in extreme deliberation. In fact, I’m fairly certain that when I visited last, I saw her stressing in the grocery store about whether she really needed that box of Twinkies that beckoned from the shelf.
Now here she was, hyperventilating, recounting in explicit detail all the things she’d done wrong in this interview.
The interviewer looked disgusted, she said—he was probably thinking she was incompetent. He asked her questions in an abrupt way—he was trying to trip her up. He didn’t respond when she made conversation on the way to the door—he most likely hated her and couldn’t wait to get rid of her.
Having gone through countless interviews with multiple companies after sending out dozens of resumes, she was just plain exhausted and starting to feel desperate.
As she recalled the anxiety she felt in this encounter, I visualized her sitting vulnerably in front of his desk, and my heart went out to her. I imagined she felt a lot like Tom Smykowski from Office Space when he was interviewing with the efficiency experts to save his job—pre-Jump-to-Conclusions mat.
“I deal with the “CENSORED” customers so the engineers don’t have to! I have people skills! I am good at dealing with people! Can’t you understand that? What the “CENSORED” is wrong with you people!?”
Twenty minutes out of the pressure cooker, she was drowning in fears about what it would mean to not get an offer. She may have to move back in with her parents. She’d need to ask her also unemployed boyfriend for financial help. She’d have to develop a taste for spam, ramen noodles, or maybe even cat food.
Worst of all, when she inevitably failed, she’d have to acknowledge it was all her fault for blowing this interview.
About ten minutes in, I realized that comforting her was not an option.
She didn’t believe me when I told her she’d done her best and she shouldn’t be hard on herself. She felt sure there was no other way to look at the situation; the interviewer was sitting in his office stroking his handlebar mustache and laughing maniacally about the inept woman he had no intention of hiring.
She was talking herself in circles, alternating between statements of certainty—that all had been lost—and asking me what I thought might happen, as if perhaps there was still hope if only an outsider would verify it often enough.
But whenever I suggested that it’s never over until it’s over, she plummeted back into prophetic despair, convinced her inadequacy only allowed for one disappointing outcome.
Just then, between tears and speculative conclusions, call waiting beeped in. She got the job.
I could feel her immense relief. From 500 miles away, I felt her heart rate slow down, her erratic thinking simmer, and her narrow vision of doom expand into a blend of shock, euphoria, and excited anticipation.
I felt it all along with her. I’d been an accomplice to her panic attack, after all.
As I thought about how unnecessary all of the worrying had been—and how I wished she didn’t put herself through that—I realized I’d been in her shoes before. There have been many times when I’ve felt overwhelmed by a sense of powerlessness and desperate to feel some type of control.
There have been times when I’ve asked people for their opinions and then felt unsatisfied until I heard exactly what I wanted to hear. When I’ve made assumptions about negative things to come and then obsessed over what I could do to prevent it, or what I should have done to avoid it.
In retrospect, all that mental busy work did very little to change what was coming.
It wasn’t even slightly useful or productive, and it definitely didn’t soften the blow if my fears came true and something went wrong or didn’t pan out.
In fact, it only exacerbated the situation, because worrying essentially began the disappointment retroactively.
If you worry and nothing’s wrong, you’ve wasted precious time over nothing. If you worry and something is wrong, you’ve still wasted precious time.
Every time we use the present to stress about the future, we’re choosing to sacrifice joy today to mourn joy we might not have tomorrow.
It may seem like we’re creating solutions or somehow protecting ourselves from pain, but in all reality, we’re just causing ourselves more of it.
Perhaps the key is to challenge that instinctive sense of fear we feel when we start thinking about uncertainty. When I look back at the most fulfilling parts of my life, I realize most of them took me completely by surprise.
I may not have gotten everything I wanted, but I’ve wanted what I’ve gotten more than often enough to compensate. The unknown may have provided some heartache, but it’s also provided adventure and excitement.
For every time I’ve felt disappointed, there’s been another moment when I’ve felt a sense of wonder. Those are the moments we live for—when all of a sudden we see the world through new eyes in a way we could never have known to predict.
Uncertainty is the cost of that deeply satisfying, exhilarating, spontaneous sense of awe.
It would be easy to say that mindfulness is the answer to worrying. If you’re truly immersed in the present moment, there wouldn’t be any reason to fixate on what might be coming. But I suspect it’s inevitable we’ll do that from time to time. We’re only human, after all.
Maybe a better suggestion is a combination of being in the moment and trusting in the one to follow.
We can’t always control what it will look like, but we can know that more often than not, it will lead to something good if we’re open to it. When it doesn’t, we’ll get through it—and faster if we haven’t already overwhelmed ourselves with what-ifs and worst-case scenarios.
On the other side of worry, there’s trust. We can’t always trust in specifics, but we can trust in ourselves.
Merry Monday Passengers…
All Aboard!!! The LifeTrain!!!
March 24, 2014
ALL ABOARD! MERRY MONDAY!!!
All Aboard! Welcome passengers…welcome back aboard the LifeTrain. As you board, here’s one of those black and white business cards I like to hand you as I help you up the steps onto the train for today’s ride. It reads:
Kick the music and enjoy the ride…
Today on the LifeTrain we have a guess speaker to help get our week kicked off to a great start. I asked Pastor Warren to give us a word of encouragement to help us sail through the week. Remember, anytime life throws a curve at you this week…pull that card from above out and “BE HAPPY!”.
Don’t Give Up: Refuse to Be Bitter
by Rick Warren
“Job said, ‘I came naked from my mother’s womb and I shall have nothing when I die. The Lord gave me everything I had, and they were his to take away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!’ In all of this Job did not sin by blaming God.” (Job 1:21-22 LB)
Grief is a part of life, but you can’t let a season of grief turn into a lifestyle of grief.
At some point you have to let it go!
There is a difference between mourning and moaning, weeping and wallowing. A loss can deepen me, but that doesn’t mean it can define me. A loss is a part of my maturity but not my identity.
God gives you grace to get through what you’re going through. Others don’t get that grace, so they may give you bad advice!
“Job’s wife said to him, ‘Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.’ But Job replied, ‘You talk like a godless woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?’ So in all this, Job said nothing wrong” (Job 2:9-10 NLT).
Job refused to become bitter and resentful. Bitterness prolongs pain. It doesn’t relieve it; it only reinforces it. “Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you … it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives” (Hebrews 12:15 LB).
Job gives three steps in refocusing:
1. Put your heart right. That means you forgive. “But I can’t forgive!” you say. That’s why you need Christ in your life; he’ll give you the power to forgive.
2. Reach out to God. Ask him to come into your heart and heal those wounds and help you and give you strength and power for tomorrow, next week, next month.
3. Face the world again, firm and courageous. Many people, when they’re hurt, withdraw into a shell. They say, “I’ll never let anybody hurt me again!” They retire from life. Job says to do the exact opposite: Resume your life; don’t retire from it. Get back out there in the world.
There’s a happy ending to Job’s life. “The Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life even more than he had blessed the first” (Job 42:12a GNT). Job went through all this hurt, but, in spite of that, God blessed the last part of his life even more than he had the first.
Wouldn’t you like the same in your life? Say, “God, I don’t care whether I have five years or 50 years left. Would you bless the last part of my life more than the first part?”
The lesson of Job’s life is this: It doesn’t matter who’s hurt you or how long you’ve been hurt or how deeply you’ve been hurt. God can make the rest of your life the best of your life if you’re willing to forgive and let go of resentment and release the offender.
Talk About It
- In grief, why do you think it’s easier for us to draw into ourselves rather than be with the people who will help us move forward?
- What do you want God to help you accomplish in the rest of your life? What do you need to let go of so that he can work fully through you?
Well Passengers…a good word From Pastor Rick eh? Merry Monday guys and…
ALL ABOARD!!! The LifeTrain!!!
March 20, 2014
All Aboard, welcome back fellow passengers! Kick it!
Today I finish my rant on how to use your pain to YOUR advantage. I’m a passionate advocate for reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues, and I started my whole journey of learning about personal development and emotional resilience because of my own battles with stress-related illness.
I help people find joy, passion, and a sense of purpose in life and that’s undoubtedly because I spent so many years in a relationship that didn’t suit or that where I didn’t feel I was making a difference in that person’s life.
I’ve also struggled in jobs that really did not suit me because I didn’t know how to handle the stresses and challenges that some positions can bring. I didn’t understand the importance of asking for help, having strong support networks, actively managing stress, and making sure I wasn’t mentally giving myself a hard time too often.
Having to take a break due to burn out and stress felt horrible at the time it happened to me. But during that time out I studied, trained, and read—a lot!
I realized that resilience is a practice, not some innate skill that you either have or you don’t. I learned how to develop my own resilience and that made me immensely driven to help others do it, too.
My dark times also forged my sense of empathy, a key skill I bring to my work. If I’d had the “charmed” life I’d originally wanted, would this have been the case? Somehow I doubt it.
All of the lessons I’ve learned led to wisdom that can only be gained through experiencing life’s ups and downs.
Hard lessons learned are deep lessons. They shape us. Most of us are familiar with the term post-traumatic stress, but did you know there is also a phenomenon called post-traumatic growth?
It’s the ability to grow through adversity—to come out the other end stronger, clearer, and with a renewed zest for life.
I think that’s what many of us fail to recognize in ourselves, that those dark times, far from diminishing us, can give us the most profound of gifts—the gift of recognizing human life in all its messy, painful, courageous glory.
We can take those gifts and use them to be a beacon to others to say, “It’s okay. I’ve been there. This too will pass.”
And that surely is a real gift worth giving…
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!
March 18, 2014
ALL ABOARD!!! Kick it:
Hey passengers it’s becoming a tradition for me to hand you a black and white business card as you board. Today’s card reads:
“When something bad happens you have three choices. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.
Don’t hate your past. No matter what it contained or what it did to you, the past shapes who you are, not just for the things you felt damaged you but for the lessons you can take from it.
I love working with the people I call the world shakers. They’re the people who want to make a difference in the world so that they leave it in a slightly better way than they found it.
I love these types of people because they’re so driven by their heart and passion for others. They’re kind. They value people. You can find these types of people at our online ministry: www.Praying4you.org
You know what else these people have in common? They have empathy for others and a desire to make the world a better place. Not in a showy, “give me the Nobel Peace Prize” kind of way (although a bit more showy-ness wouldn’t go amiss!) but in a gentle, modest way.
Do you know what really amazes and inspires me about world shakers? They’ve had their own hurts, challenges, and heartbreaks but instead of letting those things harden them and make them brittle, they’ve allowed themselves to stay open and vulnerable.
They’ve taken those things that have wounded, battered, and pierced them and transformed the experiences into fierce empathy for others.
They can’t walk past the person who’s struggling because they know how it feels to struggle. They have a way of recognizing the human condition in all of us.
They turn it outward and use it as a learning experience, one that enhances their ability to empathize and drives their conviction to change things for others.
It could be the mother who refuses to pass on the cycle of abuse she experienced to her own kids, or the teacher who bans the world “stupid” from her classroom because she can remember how much it crippled her to hear it as a child.
It could be the man who gives coffee to the homeless guy every day because he can knows what it’s like to feel like no one cares about you, or the recovering addict who works with troubled teens to try and save them the pain of his experiences.
World shaking is often driven by a need to make things better because of the pain we’ve suffered ourselves.
Still, I still have to catch myself when I bemoan the things that have happened to me over the years. Like everyone, I’ve had my share of unpleasant, difficult, and down right heart breaking experiences.
For the longest time I was angry at the world because I’d experienced them. I hated the mistakes I made. I berated myself for my screw-ups and stupid choices. I felt defined by them—embarrassed and soiled—like I should be wearing a T-Shirt with the words “Damaged Goods” on it.
One day, a very wise person said these words to me:
Everything that has ever happened to you is the perfect preparation for the person you’re destined to become.
And everything flipped.
Those things that I had regretted so much had shaped me. What’s more, I had a choice in it. I had inadvertently used those things that had happened to me as things that drove me forward. Many of the things I’d become interested in, my passions, and my values were driven by those very experiences. Thursday is therapy Thursday here on the Train. Hop back aboard for a little LifeTrain Therapy in Part II of Using “PAIN” To Your advantage. Posting this Thursday…Part II.
ALL ABOARD! The LifeTrain!!!
March 13, 2014
All Aboard! And welcome to Therapy Thursday…Kick it (the music):
As you board the Train today i’m passing out a business card to each of you which simply states:
“No one will ever love you as much as you can love yourself”.
If all you want is to be loved, you need to understand that no one will ever fulfill that feeling as much as if you wholly and completely loved yourself. Many of us have grown up with movies like Jerry Maguire that promise a perfect person who will complete you.
It may seem radical, but what if that person was you? What if you acted as your own true love? Choose love for yourself over the fear of being alone and realize your own power.
No one is worth sacrificing your values for.
We all sacrifice a certain part of ourselves for others, whether it’s deciding not to get a cat because your significant other is allergic, or getting up early every Saturday to drive your child to football practice. These sacrifices are a way of showing we care about another person’s happiness and well-being.
But anyone who cares about your own happiness and well-being with never ever want you to sacrifice your values. Our values are what define us as human beings. To deny them is to deny our very essence. Stay true to them and to yourself.
There is always something to be grateful for.
Just as in my darkest moment (divorce and the loss of my mother) I saw how truly beautiful this world could be, so can you find something to appreciate.
Take time out every day to witness the wonders that exist not just around you but within you. From the way your body allows you to run and jump and dance and sing, to the sunshine and fresh fruit on a summer’s day.
If you take the time to notice it, life is really very wonderful.
Spending time alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely or bored.
When you spend time alone you learn more about yourself than you ever could in a crowded room.
By being alone you can determine your own likes and needs without any external influences. You can discover passions you never knew existed, and when you don’t have to worry about what other people will think you are able to pursue them wholeheartedly.
There is always something new waiting to be discovered. Seek it out and become your own best friend.
When you say no, you open yourself up to more meaningful yeses.
By being a people pleaser and saying yes to every opportunity that crossed your path, you may have thought you were doing yourself a favor—that people would appreciate you more. But without creating boundaries, you give people an opening to take advantage of your generous nature, and risk becoming burnt out and resentful.
Instead, learn the power of no. Take time out for yourself so that when you do say yes, it’s sincere and meaningful.
Change and grow a little each day.
No matter how much you feel you’ve lost yourself, you can always instigate change and rediscover who you truly are. It’s okay to start small. Try a new hobby, go on a vacation, do something you’ve always wanted to try. Expand gradually. Learn a little more each day.
By putting yourself first you can discover who you truly are and form an identity separate from any other person and unique to you.
By forming a loving, happy, confident base to work with, you teach others to respect you as a person. When you become a whole and complete individual it doesn’t matter what storms appear in your horizon; you will have the strength to weather them.
March 10, 2014
Merry Monday Passengers. To help you get the week off to a great start I’ve invited one of my heros on board to speak with you my fellow passengers (work with me here!).
Seriously though, the following is a piece delivered by General Powell that I think is just awe AWESOME…and a great piece to read as we hop off at our individual station stops today to get our week started off right.
Bridging the Gap – General Colin Luther Powell:
American Statesman and Four Star General in the United States Army and Former Secretary of State.
The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people.
As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where theyare…
Friends that don’t help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you.
Never receive counsel from unproductive people. Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how. Not everyone has a right to speak into your life.
You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person. Don’t follow anyone who’s not going anywhere…
With some people you spend an evening, with others you invest it. Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life. Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships. If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you
associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights.
“A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.” The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those
with whom you closely associate – for the good and the bad.
Note: Be not mistaken. This is applicable to family as well as friends. Yes…do love,
appreciate and be thankful for your family, for they will always be your family no matter what. Just know that they are human first and though they are family to you, they may be a friend to someone else and will fit somewhere in the criteria above.
“In Prosperity Our Friends Know Us. In Adversity We Know Our friends.” “Never make someone a priority when you are only an option for them.” “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude..”…Colin Powell
Fellow Passengers…I “really” hope you got as much out of that as I did. Now…Go forth! Charge! Make it a great week. Oh and remember:
“An army of sheep led by a lion are more to be feared than an army of lions led by a sheep.” – Chabrias, 370 B.C.
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!!!
February 28, 2014
Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will. Zig Ziglar
A woman with whom I once worked seemed to talk non-stop and loudly, interrupt incessantly, gossip about whomever wasn’t in the room, constantly complain, and live quite happily in martyrdom.
It seemed nothing and no one escaped her negative spin. She was good at it. She could twist the happiest moment of someone’s life into a horrendous mistake. She seemed to enjoy it too.
At first, my judgmental mind thought her behavior to be quite inappropriate. I simply didn’t approve of it. But after weeks of working with her, the thought of spending even one more moment in her presence sent me into, well, her world.
Her negativity was infectious. More and more, I found myself thinking about her negativity, talking with others about her negativity, and complaining about her constant negativity.
For a while, though, I listened to her whenever she followed me into the lunchroom or the into the office we shared at the time. I didn’t know what to say, or do, or even think. I was held captive.
I’d excuse myself from the one-sided chit-chat as soon as possible, wanting to someday be honest enough to kindly tell her that I choose not to listen to gossip. Instead, I chose avoidance. I avoided eye contact, and any and all contact. Whenever I saw her coming, I’d get going and make for a quick getaway. I worked hard at it, too.
And it was exhausting because whether I listened to her or not, or even managed to momentarily escape her altogether, I was still held captive by her negativity.
I interacted with her only a handful of times a month, but her negative presence lingered on in my life. And I didn’t like it. But what I didn’t like didn’t really matter—I wanted to look inside myself to come up with a way to escape, not just avoid, a way to just let go of the hold this negativity had on me.
And when I did look within, I saw that I was the one exaggerating the negative. I chose to keep negativity within me even when she wasn’t around. This negativity was mine. So, as with most unpleasant things in life, I decided to own up and step up, to take responsibility for my own negativity. Instead of blaming, avoiding, and resisting the truth, I would accept it. And, somehow, I would ease up on exaggerating the negative.
I welcomed the situation as it was, opening up to the possibilities for change within me and around her.
I knew all about the current emotional fitness trends telling us to surround ourselves with only happy, positive people and to avoid negative people—the us versus them strategy for better emotional health. I saw this as disconnecting, though. We all have times when we accentuate the positive and moments when we exaggerate the negative. We are all connected in this.
Instead of attempting to continue to disconnect, to avoid being with negativity, while just denying my own, I wanted to reconnect, with compassion and kindness toward both of us.
She and I shared in this negativity together. And once I made the connection, and saw our connection, a few simple, and maybe a little more mindful thoughts began to enter my mind, and my heart. This reconnection would be made possible through love.
And these simple little, love-induced thoughts spoke up something like this:
- Patience can sit with negativity without becoming negative, rushing off to escape, or desiring to disconnect from those who choose negativity. Patience calms me.
- And while I’m calm, I can change the way I see the situation. I can see the truth. Instead of focusing on what I don’t like, I can see positive solutions. I can deal with it.
- I can try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. Why might this woman choose or maybe need to speak with such negativity? I can be compassionate.
- Why does what this woman chooses or needs to say cause me to feel irritated, angry, or resentful? I have allowed her words to push my negativity buttons. I can’t blame her.
- She doesn’t even know my buttons exist. She’s only concerned with her own needs. I’ve never even told her how much her negativity bothers me. I see what truly is.
- I see that we are both unhappy with our shared negativity. People who complain and gossip and sacrifice themselves for others aren’t happy. I can help to free us both.
- I will only help. I will do no harm. I have compassion for us both. I will show kindness toward both of us. I will cultivate love for us, too. I choose to reconnect.
- I will start with me and then share love with others. May I be well and happy. May our family be well and happy. May she be well and happy. I choose love.
And whenever I saw her, I greeted her with a kind smile. I sometimes listened to her stories, excusing myself whenever her words became unkind, much the same as I had done before. But I noticed the negativity no longer lingered within me. It disappeared as soon as I began choosing love again. I was freed. And I was happier. And compassion, kindness, and love had made me so.
My desire was not to speak my mind in an attempt to change hers, to change her apparent need in choosing negative words. I did hope she might free herself from negativity and liberate herself by choosing positivity instead. Our re connection was complete, quite unlimited, too, and it gave me hope that happiness could be ours, shared through our connection.
I continue to cultivate this loving connection, being compassionate and kind whenever people, myself included, choose to speak negative words, for we all do from time to time. We are positively connected in this negativity thing, and everything else. And compassion, kindness, and love happily connect us all.
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!
February 25, 2014
“The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now.” ~Robert G. Ingersoll
ALL ABOARD!!! KICK IT!
Dear Past Me,
Remember that day when you thought all was lost? When you thought there was barely any point in carrying on?
The bank account was dangerously low.
You were arguing with everyone close to you.
The roof was leaking.
It felt like everything was a struggle and the so-called abundance of life was nowhere to be seen.
You were going over the mistakes you’d made.
The money you had lost.
The Church hurt…
The failed marriage…
The opportunities you had missed.
You were going over angry conversations and thinking about how right you were and how wrong they were.
You were searching for forgiveness but holding onto the unfairness of it all.
Remember how low you felt?
You actually spent more time than you care to admit wishing the disappointments and mis-steps didn’t exist.
You do realize now that you wasted waaaaay to much time with that ridiculousness, right?
You wished for a lightning bolt of awareness to hit you in the head.
You were hoping for a finely tuned droplet of self-aware genius to magically transform your heart.
Your inner wisdom surfaced and provided because in the next few moments, you read this:
The average person lives to be 76 years of age, which is approximately 28,000 days.
That’s when it hit you.
Every day is truly precious.
Months seemed to come and go.
Years flew by.
But days. Days were made up of habits.
You woke up to your own habits at that point.
How much time had you wasted drifting into jealousy?
How many hours had been lost sinking with regret or moping over disappointment?
If you added up the hours you’d filled with worry, regret, anger, sorrow, and guilt, how many days would it equal?
It was terrifying to even consider.
You found three ways to live in each day that have changed you forever.
1. You are not your feelings.
When anger or hurt hits your heart like a ton of bricks on a hot summer day, it can feel like it consumes you.
The more you resist, the more you fight it, the bigger it gets.
Allow the pain to be there. Talk to it. Realize that you are the witness that is doing the talking.
2. Solitude and Meditation.
It seems like everyone talks about meditating.
Once you made it a non-negotiable part of your life, everything else shifted for you.
Think of it like brushing your teeth or taking a shower.
You can sit quietly anywhere. In your car. At your desk. Just close your eyes and breathe.
It will help you to be in the day.
As much as you’re struggling with your own crapola, everyone else is going through his or her own lessons as well.
As soon as you leaned into forgiveness, you felt better.
You stopped resisting.
Forgiveness gives you flow.
And when you flow, BOOM—you’re in the present moment again.
I want you to wake up to what you have right now!
I want you to know that no matter what, today is beautiful.
It doesn’t matter if it’s pouring rain, pounding snow, or penetrating sunshine.
Weather is neither good nor bad. It just is.
Today is what you make it and I want you know that here and now, in this future moment that I’m writing you from, love is the only thing that lasts.
Whether your current moment is filled with sorrow or bursting with joy, this too shall pass.
Find ways to make today into a beautiful painting of kindness toward yourself and toward others and you will reach the end of your 28,000 days with a knowingness that you lived well.
What day is it today?
It’s the best day ever.
Fellow passengers…Can I see you …in the morning!
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!!!