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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: September 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

And: Do I know enough about myself to make a good decision?  For anyone in emotional pain inside and in a difficult situation outside, these are essential questions. 

But sometimes we get too caught up in the first question to really delve into the second one.  And the second one is usually what informs the first one.

I'm not just talking about difficult marriages, though most often this is where the first question comes up.  But also jobs, communities, housing situations, friendships, houses of worship, therapy. When we are thinking of making a change, and we start to wonder more deeply about what is bothering us, we have to go beyond the externals.  If we focus only on what is wrong with the other person, people, environment, situation, we miss out on a lot of good information about our own character, needs and tendencies - information that can help us live better and make changes with a deeper degree of inner peace and certainty.

It usually means unpacking the hurts, the angers, the invisible bricks in the wall that separate us from feeling the connection that we need.  Most always there are external factors, mistakes, personality issues, actions of others that contribute to our bad feelings, our ambivalence, but the more we know about our own history, loyalties, needs, beliefs and feelings, the better chance we have of making changes that serve us well.

Often, it takes a little while to understand the complex set of feelings we bring into our decisions.  And sometimes, we want to get away from the bad feelings, not the person, or the situation.  In those instances, it  is especially valuable to learn whether or not the feelings can be resolved or transformed before we make a change, especially if we are feeling urgent (unless we are in real danger).

Sometimes change is the solution, but sometimes, no matter where we go (or who we are with) we will eventually bump into the same bad feelings.  When we think that there is even a small possibility of this being true, we have to slow down and answer the second question more fully in order to do a good job with the first.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What About Syria?

Some of us are close followers of world events; some of us less so.  And sometimes, things heat up on the bigger scene so much that we almost have to be aware of what's going on.  And we have to somehow filter what we hear, see, feel and believe and figure out if we are supposed to act, react, weigh in on it.  Sometime we wonder what we can do anyway.  Sometimes things seem so overwhelming and so big that we just sigh and do our day.  Sometimes we carry with us the burdens of the bigger world.

Personal, private, emotional reactions to world events vary greatly of course.  Some folks are moved and distracted, some are grateful for their own circumstances in comparison, some are afraid, compassionate, annoyed, outraged, some all of the above at any given moment.  But we still have to live our lives in our own routines.  We have our own worlds to contend with, to take care of and to function in. 

What do we do with our own world in the context of the bigger world picture?  Is there anything we can do that is useful to both?

I'm thinking yes, of course.  Because how we react to world events shapes us.  Most of us have mixed motives for most of the decisions we make.  Sometimes we are selfish, or self protective, sometimes generous, giving.  Whether our actions are driven at any given time by our feelings, our beliefs or our thinking, we and others are shaped by the choices we make.

And this is where I think we can combine our efforts for both a better inner world, a better outer world and a better world for everyone. And too, for those in emotional pain, get some relief:

We can give charity (does not have to be big amounts, it all helps)
(check this out)
We can give time (just a little counts)
We can say something kind to someone.
We can work on our own pain.
We can be sensitive to the pain of others.
We can give someone the benefit of the doubt.
We can get curious before we get hurt.
We can smile at someone, compliment them, ask about their day.
We can sit quietly and send good vibes into the universe, or pray, or say a short meditation.
We can give someone our blessing, our good wishes or our attentive compassionate ears.

I'm not saying we are going to bring world peace by working on inner peace or peace in our worlds. But I think it's a win-win when we try.  Even as we deal with our own fears and angers and difficulties, when we are willing to open a dialogue with ourselves, or with someone with whom we need more peace and take a deeper more curious, gentle look, we create new hope, new possibilities, new energy.
Doing these things shapes us for the better.  Doing these things adds good vibes to the world.  Doing these things adds to the collective good will in the world. 
Some of us are called to do more, much more.  But for most of us, we can help by being awake to ourselves, and taking  a good action (even if its small) that will bring us better feelings about ourselves, and send good karma into the world.  And maybe even create stepping stones for bigger change.