WE ARE LIKE WILDFLOWERS

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Have you ever visited Waterton Lakes National Park (near the Alberta/Montana border)? The wildflowers are just amazing!  They come in so many breath-taking colors, shapes, and sizes.

We, too, like the wildflowers, come in many variations —  different colors and sizes, and also different religions, levels of education, different illnesses, disabilities, and limitations, different degrees of wealth and poverty, varying athletic abilities, and varying artistic talents.  We also vary a great deal in personalities. There are extroverts and introverts, those who like to plan and those who are more spontaneous, those who are known to be more organized and those who tend to be less organized, those who are fearful and those who are not.  The differences are endless – each individual has different attributes, and each has their own unique sets of strengths and weaknesses.  Nobody is perfect.  Yet we each hold our own special beauty.

Unfortunately, unlike the wildflowers, these differences can result in judgement, conflict, and even war.

Each wildflower, on the other hand, has the space to be who it is, and to grow and develop as it needs to.  All the different wildflowers, including the edible and the poisonous ones, co-exist side by side in peace.

All the different wildflowers create such beauty all together. Photographers travel from around the world to catch the wildflowers in Waterton National Park at their peak. If we could only be more like the wildflowers!  So what if we have differences?  Like them, let us strive to live and let live, accepting ourselves and each other with all our differences.  Nobody needs to be right or wrong – just different.  Maybe we can even celebrate our differences.  The field of wildflowers is all the more striking because of the sharp contrast in colors, shapes, and sizes, which adds richness and variety.  Differences can be challenging, but they can also complement one another, for example one partner’s sense of responsibility together with their partner’s funloving nature.

In its own unique way, despite being asymmetrical or lopsided, each flower is beautiful.  The same is true of each human being, despite our limitations.  Each individual is important and deserving.  Each person should have the freedom to be who they are, and to become what they can be without prejudice, discrimination, danger, or judgement.

Your challenge is to catch yourself judging yourself and others, and to turn that judgement into acceptance and, if appropriate, compassion.  You can use the wildflowers as an inspiring example.

 

THE GOOD MOM

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The “Good Mom” is that part of you that does a great job of handling the family, or the different parts of you.  She is very loving, understanding, validating, and empathetic to all family members.  At the same time, she is very wise and always does what is best for the family.  So while she is equally empathetic to the 2 yr old’s upset as he has a temper tantrum as she is to the withdrawn teenager, she does not bow down to their wishes, but sticks to what is best for the family.

Likewise, the “Good Mom” part of you is very understanding, validating, and compassionate to all parts of you.  As well, she knows what is true and reminds you of the truth.  She speaks with authority, and you always trust her because you know that she always speaks the truth.  She is a source of love, validation, understanding, compassion, acceptance, kindness, reassurance, encouragement, truth, wisdom, and guidance.  Her positive regard for you in unconditional.  She knows you better than anyone does.  She sees and honors your goodness.  She is infinitely patient.  She is completely non-judgemental.  She is always available to help you.  She is only a thought away.  When you think “Good Mom”, she is there with her amazing energy.  She can always help you no matter what.

Making use of the “Good Mom” can be transformative.  It can rapidly change things for you and take you from a very bad state to feeling OK.  Imagine that you are in a very negative state.  At these times, we generally feel all alone with our misery.  Then you think:  “Good Mom”.  Suddenly you are no longer feeling all alone.  Now there is someone with you who understands your experience completely, and who cares so much about you.  You feel her compassion and tenderness for you.  Perhaps she gives you a hug, or offers you some touch.  All this feels helps you feel better.  Then she tells you the truth about yourself and the situation that was upsetting you.  She helps you regain perspective and see things clearly.  She gives you whatever you need, whether that be reassurance, encouragement, guidance, strength, empowerment, confidence, courage, or a good idea.  Allow your body time to respond to her loving presence and helpful words.

There are many great things about making use of the “Good Mom”.  One is that she is always available:  anytime anywhere.  Another is how powerful she is:  she can help you no matter how deep in the pit you are and regardless of the type of distress or what it is about.  It doesn’t take long to feel better with her help. There are no “side effects” or other down sides to enlisting her help.  It is a very healing experience which deals with the core issues rather than avoiding them.  When they are temporarily avoided, they are  alive and well, ready to resurface later.  Instead, while you’re healing what is needing attention in the moment, you are investing in your future well-being by feeling important truths, thus making them more familiar to your system.  Also, it is a very empowering experience, because the “Good Mom” is a part of you.  It feels very good to help yourself shift from a bad place to a good place.  Lastly, you can very well see it as a spiritual experience.

Because the “Good Mom” provides healing and relief from your distress, you no longer feel the need to escape with the use of alcohol, drugs, food, electronics, gambling, eating disorder behavior, shopping, or other distractions.

With the help of the “Good Mom”, you are now grounded and are able to feel the way you want to and act in the way you want to, whether that be to accomplish something, enjoy something, or have the conversation calmly that needs to take place.  From this good state, you can see clearly.  You can trust yourself.  You can make good decisions.  Everything is much easier from here.  Life is more enjoyable from here.

Isn’t it a wonderful thing that the “Good Mom” is ALWAYS available to help you?

USE YOUR IMAGINATION

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Thankfully, we all have an imagination that is so vast in nature.  We can imagine almost anything.  If we wanted to imagine being a rock on Mars, we could.

Another wonderful thing about imagination is that it is effortless.  We don’t need to try to imagine things.  We can just see what comes up when we imagine this or that.  “Trying hard” to imagine things often gets in the way of the imagining just happening.

It is important to know that what we imagine can affect us.  If we imagine something pleasant, our bodies will respond by relaxing and perhaps have other, related pleasant experiences.  If we imagine something really scary, our bodies will respond by contracting and may  have other unpleasant experiences like a dry mouth and pounding heart.

Without consciously choosing to, when we worry and think “What if this or that”, we are often imagining negative things, and it has a negative effect on our well-being.

Why not, like Anne in Anne of Green Gables,  consciously choose to use our imagination for our benefit?

When we imagine things going well, we feel good.  Often, it is like a rehearsal, setting things up for the future interaction to more likely go well, for example.

To have a vision of a career goal or a goal to be slim, for example, can be very helpful in keeping one positive, motivated, patient, and engaged.

There are many helpful things that you can imagine.  You can imagine expressing your anger at someone then receiving the apology that you’re needing.  You can imagine a different ending to an upsetting memory.  You can imagine someone showing up to help you.  You can imagine receiving things you needed and missed out on in your childhood. People often wish that they could communicate with someone who has passed away. In your imagination, there’s nothing to stop you from having those conversations.  Just allow these types of experiences to impact you.  We use them all the time in therapy sessions, and they are very powerful and effective.

We tend to under-use our imagination.  Since you have it, and it’s vast, effortless, and can have a big positive impact, why not play around with it?

MANY KINDS OF TEARS

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Tears are often treated in our culture as something negative.  People often apologize for their tears.  Sometimes people hide their tears, or are embarrassed by them.  And sometimes people are afraid of them, thinking, for example, that if they cry, they might be becoming depressed.  Others, perhaps more so in males and certain cultures, tend to judge tears as a sign of weakness.

Paradoxically, when you think about it, there is nothing strong about being too afraid to feel or show your pain.  It actually takes courage and strength to feel emotional pain, or other intense emotions.  Feeling a range of human emotions is one way of feeling alive.

Tears of despair can be part of depression, or can be a passing experience.  Tears of sadness, grieving the loss of someone or something, are very different than despair.  They are a healthy experience, with no associated false belief.  They are a normal reaction to loss, and loss is a normal part of life for everyone.  This “clean” sadness, and compassion for one’s self or for another, mean that you care a lot.  These are healthy, often healing and beautiful tears.

Another common type of lovely tears are tears of relief.  Relief is a wonderful experience of letting go of fear, worry, and tension.  Relief is a gift to be enjoyed when it comes along.

Tears of joy are also wonderful.  Joy is one of the great experiences of life.

People can be touched or moved to tears by love, whether they’re feeling intense love, or feeling loved.  Is there anything greater than that?  Is there anything wrong with that?

People can also heave tears with hurt, fear, or with anger.

So whether you’re experiencing tears or witnessing them, don’t assume you understand them.  Sometimes our emotional reaction appears before we understand what we are feeling.  So take your time, and be curious, and the understanding will come to you on its own.  Don’t try to figure it out with your thinking, as you might come up with a wrong assumption.

Obviously, there is nothing weak about being human and experiencing the range of human emotions.  Self acceptance with all our emotions is so important and healthy.

It would be a good thing if our culture were more sensitized to tears as part of healthy living.

WHEN LOVE GOES INTO HIDING

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Sometimes the sun is shining, and you can experience its brightness and warmth.  Other times, it is stormy and the clouds are thick and low, with rain or snow falling.  Sometimes, the cloudy periods are prolonged.  When the sky is cloudy, there is no brightness or warmth from the sun.  But it is still there, behind the clouds.

In relationships where two people love each other, there can be anger sometimes.  At times, there is a lot of anger, and sometimes it can be prolonged.  At such times, we can question whether there is love, or believe that there isn’t, because we’re not feeling it. But just as surely as the sun is still there on a cloudy day though we do not feel its brightness or warmth, the love, or caring, is also still there at times of conflict, even though we do not feel it.

For example, when a parent is angry at a child, the child is not at that moment experiencing the warmth, affection, or nurturing of love from the parent.  However, the parent never stops loving the child.

Even when there has been prolonged anger, often love can be experienced with a change in the conditions.  For example,  the object of our anger becoming ill can bring out feelings that we had forgotten were there.  Likewise, receiving a heartfelt apology and feeling forgiveness can definitely change things for the better.

Anger is a normal part of loving relationships.  It occurs because we are all human and have issues and triggers, and there are always dynamics between people’s issues.

When one truly don’t care, one tends to feel indifference rather than anger. When there is a lot of anger between a couple in a session, I will sometimes comment on how much they evidently care.

So think of the sun on a cloudy day, and remember that the anger and conflict  is because of issues, not a lack of love.  The love, just like the sun, is still there, though hidden.

DON’T BE DISTRACTED:BE HERE NOW

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Anywhere, any time, just look around you and see what your eyes are drawn to.  Now simply notice what your eyes are seeing, without thinking about anything.  Next, notice what you are feeling in your body.  You will notice relaxation.

This is because the seeing happens in the here and now, in the present moment.  When you focus on simply seeing what you see, it brings you into the here and now, where there is no threat.  The tension in our bodies is often from thoughts about the past, or the future, which can be experienced as posing a threat.

Repeating this very quick and simple practice, which is called orienting, is very good for you.  It allows your body to be relaxed and your mind to be quiet.  This is a pleasant and useful state that is desirable to live in, to the greatest extent possible.  When we are here, we are grounded, and can perceive things more clearly.  Here, we can gain insights and understanding.  Here, creative ideas and solutions can come to us.  Here, we have access to the best parts of ourselves: our love, compassion, and wisdom.   Also, the present moment is the only one that actually exists.  The past and future are memories or anticipation, fabrications of the mind.  So when we are in the here and now, we are more fully alive.  You will notice a freshness, a sense of discovery and wonder there.

You can orient yourself to the present moment by using sight. Or, you can focus on other senses.  For example, you can orient to something that you hear, taste, smell, or feel.  All our sensing happens in the wonderful here and now.

Orienting is a very simple activity that is pleasant and very good for you.  I invite you to make a regular habit of it.  Enjoy!

THE FIGHT

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Do you relate to this familiar scenario?

You get into a spat with your partner, or it could be a family member, friend, or other.

The other person becomes angry and either communicates angrily, withdraws, or both.

You are angry, and maybe hurt.  There is distance between the two of you, and you feel that you are owed an apology.  You are focused on the other person’s angry behavior, words and withdrawal. How could they be so difficult? And you didn’t deserve any of this. Right?

As long as both you and the other person stay in this place, there continues to be distance between you.  Sometimes through no bad intention this painful distance can go on for hours. Or days. Or even can go on so long that you both forget why you a had a fight in the first place. Wow.

How can caring people climb out of this cold, miserable place?

What is needed is for you to step back and look at the situation more objectively rather than just from your own point of view. Look at the whole situation from the perspective of an impartial outside observer.  Try to imagine what the other person’s experience might have been like.  You need to be able to appreciate that both you and the other person are likely feeling very similarly.  The fact that you too have been angry and you also have something to apologize for can come as a revelation, and may be hard to accept initially.

Everyone has their own experience, and each person can legitimately see how they have been egregiously wronged. But why does each of us struggle to see the other’s painful experience? How can something so obvious remain so hidden from us?

The ego can be very good at focusing on the other person’s bad behavior, feeling wronged, and feeling self-righteous anger. That self-righteous smugness can feel pretty good.

And it gets worse.  Even when you start to see that it might be a good idea to apologize for anything on your part and take away the distance between the two of you, the ego can fight the idea.  It can make you feel that that would be a mistake, and that you would be giving in and losing something.  It can make you feel that you’re betraying yourself.

But the self-righteous smugness and the distance may not sit well with another part of you.  In actuality, in bridging a gap between yourself and someone you care about, you are actually being mature and self-aware.  The shift to being more objective, being able to see things more impartially and compassionately, gives you a more accurate perspective.  What you will likely achieve by apologizing for your part is feeling better about yourself for being more mature and coming from a bigger part of yourself, restoring the peace and harmony between you, and perhaps even prompting an apology from the other person.

So: practice mistrusting your ego, that part of you which tends to be one-sided, feel hard done by, and prone to self-righteous anger.  Practice shifting into an objective observer, calmly looking at the whole situation from the outside in order to gain the objectivity that you need to handle the situation with maturity.  You will be left feeling better about yourself, as well has having more harmony in your life.