Wednesday, March 30

Perfectionism, Procrastination, Paralysis: It's Antidote ......... 3/30/11

    Good morning, earlier risers and night owls.

Many of you know I was booted from another community--------it's closing Friday.  So, here I am. This blog is a miracle.  

          It reminds me when I drove my first car, an auto with a clutch, for the second time.  I was a sixteen year old kid when I did so, on a busy street with no one else assisting me. I had no idea what I was doing. The same was the case two weeks ago, when I opened the doors to this inn.

         It's encouraging hearing from you. Thanks for dropping by where we share our Attitude of Gratitude.  This is where we rejuvenate our hearts through praise. May you experience God's blessing as your heart is lifted up with thoughts that resonate with positivity and hope.  You're investing in yourself when you post.  

         This week has been eventful, if you only knew.  I thought the drama I've experienced only happened in movies.  I'm glad I remained present, not allowing the crisis to trigger feelings or cause me to perseverate.  

          Tuesday, I spoke before an audience on not being overwhelmed by those who frustrate us or push our buttons.  Tonight. I shared how we can get back our voice and not  be manipulated by the anger of emotional bullies. 

          It makes my day seeing people interested in developing greater discernment in their relationships. It's heartening witnessing others delighting in this great big life God wants us to enjoy.

          When it comes to speaking before others,  I do the best I can, leaving the results to God.  My best is good enough. I've discovered that perfectionism is a disease. Have you heard of the three P's?  They are perfectionism, procrastination and paralysis; they are related to each other, progressive and they go from bad to worse

          So, it's actually regression.  Perfectionism usually leads to procrastinating. If I do enough of that and I become paralyzed.  This happens when my principles are overrun by the more vulnerable areas of my personality, areas like fear, anxiety, resentment----you get the picture. I find the following words helpful:
I have yet to meet an absolute perfectionist whose life was filled with inner peace. The need for perfection and the desire for inner tranquility conflict with each other. Whenever we're attached to having something a certain way,better than it already is, we are, almost by definitionengaged in a losing battle.  Rather than being content and grateful for what we have, we are focused on what's wrong with something and our need to fix it.  When we are zeroed in on what's wrong it implies that we are dissatisfied, discontent.
Whether it's related to ourselves---a disorganized closet, a scratch on the car, an imperfect accomplishment, a few pounds we would like to lose---or someone else's imperfections------the way someone looks, behaves, or lives their life--- the very act of focusing on imperfection pulls us away from our goal of being kind and gentle. This strategy has nothing to do with ceasing to do your very best, but with being overly attached and focused on whais wrong with life.
                  Richard Carlson,  Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

        I thank all who post.  I love hearing what's going on in your lives.  Communicating, fellowship and celebrating life is good for everyone's soul.  Have a terrific Thursday.  Keep looking up,
Related Post:

Tuesday, March 29

Hope For Dark Times............ 3/29/11

Experiencing a gracious living God is like feeling the
 sun's warmth streaming through the clouds of difficulties
         Good morning everyone, 
It's easy getting overwhelmed with the pressures we face.  It's second nature, relying on our mind, believing it will solve our problems.  It doesn't.  The lynch pin is

Saturday, March 26

Getting Through the Day (Staying intact & refreshed, while under pressure) .......... ...................3/26/11

    The following spiritual disciplines help us get through the day, especially those days with challenges and stress.

1.  Meditation.

    This exercise slows us down.  It helps us get away from the frenetic white noise of a busy life.  Meditation stills our mind.  It allows us to get perspective about the events transpiring in our day, the past week or month.

      Seeking God's will in the midst of all that confronts us, is what we attempt.  Praying for God's grace to carry out His will, not ours, our goal. This is Step 11 in recovery.  Spirituality is humbling, is healing, is rare.

     Meditating is connecting with a transcendent God.  Prayer is talking to Him.  Meditation is when we stop and listen to Him.  We were given one mouth and two ears because we were meant to use them in that proportion.  When we speak we only say what we know.  When we listen, we may learn something we didn't know before.  Listening requires humility.   When we open the ears of our heart we find direction.
"The mind of man plans his ways but the Lord directs his steps."  Proverbs 16:9

Monday, March 21

Persistence, Patience, Practice and Perseverance: Progress 3/21/11

The Angel Oak on Johns Island in So. Carolina.  The oldest oak tree east of Mississippi.  It is certainly one of the most beautiful. It's 1500 years old. It's 65 feet tall, over 6 stories. The crown covers 17,000 sq. feet. It's longest limb is 89 feet long. It's maintained by the city of Charleston. This tree grew from one acorn. Here's to our growth
 Patience With Our Progress

         Today, I'm leaving several quotes. May they help us maintain an Attitude of Gratitude. Availing ourselves to God on a daily basis, seeking  His will, helps our patience grow.  Immediate results are no longer our focus.

         I've discovered that life, like the growing oak tree referred to in the quote below---and pictured above---is a matter of many, mini successes.  Like stalactites, found hanging from cave tops, successes build-up over time.  Little victories demonstrate growth developing within.

        Progress doesn't look like much on any given day; growth is slow.  However, over time, it happens.  Continued victories are assured when we practice discipline in areas where we desire success.
"Success depends not merely in how well we do the things we enjoy, but in how consci-entiously we perform those duties that we don't."  
        John Maxwell, Developing the Leader                          Within You
Placing Principles Over Unhealthy Habits
         Exercising regu-larly, refraining from seductive junk food and rejecting ration-alizations that justify harmful behavior and saving our mon-ey may not be fun, for many.  Eating unhealthily is tempt-ing.  Many of us love indulging in greasy hamburgers, french fries, ice cream, pizza and potato chips.

         We know it's best not eating them, if we want better health and longevity.  It's better choosing health and vitality over the temporary pleasure of unhealthy appetites. That's why I exercise and ride my bike as much as I do.

           In the same way, placing principles above self-damaging habits promotes growth. Our character gets better, we experience the beginnings of thriving. Yes, we'll slip on occasion.  Developing and maintaining healthy pattern of living requires patience.
I need not judge the rate at which I change old habits or ways of thinking.  If  I'm uncomfortable with old behavior,  then on some level some level I am already mov-ing toward changing it.  Change will not be effective unless I am ready for it.   
I need only trust that, when the time comes to  move  forward, I will know it.    
               Courage to Change, p 221  
"Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed. Let me look upward unto the towering oak and remember it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well."            Oren Crane
Gentleness Helps
        Being gentle towards ourselves helps. When we engage in less than best habits, we simply forgive ourselves.  It doesn't help to kick ourselves:
"Condemning my imper-fections has never enhanced my appreci-ation of life nor has it allowed me to love my-self more."  Courage to Change, p. 19
Re-engaging healthy principles is preferred. (It's time to put those kicking boots away. For more on that, please click here.)  They allow us to become our better selves and move on.

      Have a great, gracious, patient-with-yourself, characterologically growing, grateful day,
How About You?
1. What helps you to be patient with your progress?  

      For me, in addition to what I wrote above, it helps me to remember that the voices that would want to condemn me are liars. Yep, liars. Also, it helps me to know that God, my Higher Power does not cheapen himself by using shame, guilt or judgment to motivate me. He uses love, balanced with non-condemning truth. 

2. Focusing on the positive, where is an area that you have seen progress with your life? 

      I continue to be amazed at the equanimity I have, even when in very stressful situations. It boggles my mind and is very comforting to my body---stress, without recovery can kill serenity, tranquility and my emotional safety. 
Another related post:
Perseverance click here.

Friday, March 18

Progress Not Perf3cktion .......3/18/11

      Being gentle with ourselves is critical for our serenity.  Often, the negative voices we hear in our head are the critical comments we heard as a child.  We no longer need adults to say the shaming statements we grew up up with.  I agree, it's important to make amends when we've done wrong.  The surprise is learning that the first person we need to make amends to is ourselves.

     Risking, and allowing ourselves to make mistakes contributes big time, towards self-acceptance. The following passage I find helpful. Having this perspective helps us have an Attitude of Gratitude.

Progress can be hard to recognize, especially if our expectations are unrealistically high. If we expect our negative attitudes or unhealthy behavior to change quickly and completely, we're likely to be disappointed, progress is difficult to see when we measure ourselves against idealized standards. Perhaps it would be better to compare our present circumstances to where we had been in the past.
As I overcome inadequate coping strategies, I realize holding grudges hurts me. I now let go of resentments and Idespair when these attitudes persist. Fortunately, I've learned to focus on progress, not perfection. Although sometimesI still hold on to resentments, I know I'm making progress because I don't do it as often as I used to. I'm not resentful for as long a time. 
Today, I don't seek perfection; the only thing that matters is the direction in which I'm moving. As a result of hardwork I've done to work in this area of my life and a willingness to change, I am moving in a positive direction. I celebrate my progress today. I know that the process of personal growth will continue to help me grow toward a better way of living.
"Keep adding little by little and you will soon have a big  hoard."     Latin proverb
        Have a great and grateful weekend, freed from the stress of trying to attain something that is unattainable. Thanks for dropping by.  Please keep posting your gratitudes!

Wednesday, March 16

Responding, Not Reacting, Part I, Calmness in the Eye of an Emotional Storm ...................3/16/11

    It's important shel-tering ourselves. 

    Especially when overwhelmed by the crushing waves of abuse. This is also true when we're experienc-ing despair, frustra-tion, self-loathing or the negative behavior of others. This was the case yesterday.

         An critical part of my personal growth is Al-Anon Family Groups. It's an amazing organization.  It's been an emotional and mental life saver.  For more about it, see the footnotes.  As, always, take what you like and leave the rest. 

       It's easy sur-rendering our boundaries. To be intimidated.  A natural reaction when relating with an angry or manip-ulative individual.  Below is my re-sponse to such an occasion.  

         I'm thankful I no longer please unpleasant people.  I don't bear the burden of anoth-er's misbehavior.  Nor do I submit to overbearing conditions.  For more about that, you might want to read this

       Yesterday was a humdinger of a day.  Quite a bit of turmoil.  Relating with a volatile person does that. 

     I was encouraged seeing that in spite of the turbu-lence of her actions, I took time, noticing what was going on within me.  That wasn't my tendency as a kid.  Thank God for personal growth; it helped me thrive in spite of yesterday's difficult circumstances.

       Years ago, I believed the needs of others were more important than mine.  Now, I know better.  Understanding the importance of paying attention to my behavior, thoughts and feelings has increased the joy and satisfaction I now have.  Even if we are not aware we are not nurturing ourselves, our spirit and soul require attention.
                  Depression is our neglected psyche issuing a silent scream.  This negative, draining emotion is letting us know we are not taking care of ourselves.  Emotionally we are experiencing an unmet need.
    While not depressed yesterday, I yearned for tranquility.  Applying healthy principles permitted emotional safety. Even during a  moment of intense drama.  I'll list them in today's gratitudes. 

 1.  I'm thankful it's best staying present when in a crisis.  It's better responding. Way better than reacting. 

When I react during an emotional storm, it's my loss.  I end up giving away big chunks of my values.  Trying to soothe the situation by giving in, is a bust.  Manipulators, angry or abusive others taste our vulnerability when we do this.  Bad idea.   

          This 's not my response now.  For more about dealing with Emotional Bullies, you might want to read this.  This link provides an excellent article: Words Do Hurt--Stop Bullying From Affecting Your Health. 
           Bullies are more than thugs who harass kids on school play-grounds.  They are not just those who occupy the seami-er parts of town.  They can be our adult siblings, our spouse, our boss, among others.  Yikes!
2.  As I get stronger, I am not rattled when "bad" things happen.
3.  I'm grateful that---with practice---while enduring another person's  emotional maelstrom, I can emotionally step aside, using emotional aikido. 
     I can pause and decide my response.  This is what police, fire fighters do.  Also those who work in psychiatric hospitals.  Best approach when facing a crisis.  Considering our options, asking,"what can I do to take care of the situation?"
4.  I'm thrilled that moments that years ago would have disturbed me can now be seen with humor.  I'm thankful for a viewpoint that sees through the prism of healthy principles.  This lens allows my joy to remain, even while enduring significant pressures. 
5.  I'm thankful for skills that allow me to thrive during moments that at one time overwhelmed me. 
     Yesterday, it was helpful detaching, while remaining courteous, yet firm, towards a person who yelled at three different people, including the mailman (poor guy).  She had just smashed a flower pot, dirt, flowers and all, on the floor, smashing it to pieces, in her living room.
      If only she could have been a little more emotional. (I'm kidding.)
6.  I'm happy that, when I witnessed this emotional meltdown, I was calm. 

     The muscles in my face were relaxed.  I spoke in a measured manner.  My heart rate, wasn't too elevated.  

      Of course adrenaline kicked in----I'm human.  During the drama, my options, I considered.  One of them was getting out of there, away from that person.
     It is good knowing I am not a helpless victim.  I have choices.  Doing what provided serenity, during an intense, un-pleasant mo-ment, was my priority.  

     After the episode settled down, I left.  Time elsewhere, enjoying hours free from emotional drama, doing something that nurtured me, was the tonic chosen.

Not Letting Others Affect My Serenity or Joy 

         I'm fortunate that I don't allow others to determine my moods or define who I am.  That's being codependent.  For more about that, you might want to look at this.  When I need the applause of others to feel good about myself, I give them power over me.  Not a good idea.  (Courage to Change, Virginia Beach,  Al-Anon Family Groups, Inc., 1992, 9, Print) 

        I'm thankful that yesterday, when I had an opportunity to do spiritual weight lifting, I did.  For several reps, I calmly lifted the weight of a dramatic situation.  Towards the emotionally intoxicated person, I was compassionate, yet detached.

        I've learned that pigeons do what pigeons do.  I've learned not to sit under a tree that has pigeons roosting in it.  I don't take a pigeon's behavior personally.  Angry people are caught up in their misery.  Many don't  know how to express their needs.  Anger is a tragic expression of needs.  It either alienates, infuriates or freezes those encountering it.

       I'm glad every time I respond to abuse or drama, using healthy, compassionate, assertive principles, I get stronger.  It also gets easier, responding from strength----not fear.  Also, acting this way in the future becomes more likely.

       It feels good, not being manipulated by anger---not caving in to guilt, shame, blame or fear.  When relating with others in a nonviolent way, I'm placing principles above my personality.  Please see footnote 1. 

      My response yesterday, while in a maelstrom of someone else emotional relapse is a huge change.  Abuse I endured as a child. Please see footnote 2.  My nature, before----and now, if I don't exercise the presence of mind which recovery from codependency offers----was passivity.  I'd either become frozen with fear or withdraw and isolate. Those were two ways of protecting myself. 

       I once permitted abuse to shower upon me.  I felt I deserved it.  Now, I know that thought is an outright lie.  Once, I was a doormat.  Now, and yesterday, I got up off the floor. (Courage to Change, p. 361)

       Seeing myself emotionally mature is gladdening.  Transforming from being emotionally the age of a seven year old to that of a mature man in his late twenties (even though I'm older than that) is heartening.  That's progress, not perfection.  And for that, I have an Attitude of Gratitude. 

How About You? 
What helps you to stay "centered" when you are pushed by the emotional storms of others? 

1. Al-Anon Family Groups is an international organization for friends and relatives of alcoholics, whether this person is actively drinking or not. Click here to find a meeting near you. 

     It is in no way related with Alcoholics Anonymous. This is an entirely separate organization, helping those who have been affected by the effects of alcohol in another. 

    Members learn how to deal with emotional abusers, less than pleasant bosses, intimidators, issues of control, perfectionism, and other problem behavior characteristics often found where others are chemically dependent or emotionally repressed. Al-Anon Family Group (AFG) members learn to clean their side of the street, how to take care of themselves. 

      Even if a person doesn't relate with an alcoholic, attending may help that person recover from passivity, fear, self-loathing. Members learn that establishing healthy boundaries is key for emotional health.  There are open meetings for those who want to learn more about this organization. 

2. "Looking within is essential from the effects of another's drinking [or abuse], for although we may have experienced difficulties and trauma in our formative years, it is actually the continuing reaction to these things that troubles our lives today. Although we may have left the alcoholic [or abuser], we did not escape the turmoil, guilt,  insecurity, rage, and fear we knew in our youth.  In fact, we were suffocating in our own unhappy habits (or emotions), never realizing  that another way, a spiritual way, could allow us to draw  life-giving breaths of hope, friendship, and love. 

    "Awareness does not settle everything, nor does change happen overnight.  Spiritual growth takes  time. Making the "new" [our recovery from less than perfect circumstances] a familiar and comfortable part of ourselves takes personal commitment and the support of help us on our way."   From Survival to Recovery, p. 268. 

A Calming Perspective When in Turmoil (Also, Going Beyond Our Self-Imposed Limitations) .......3/16/11

       Good evening,

How are you?  For those new to this inn,  I ask if  you could share at least three gratitudes for today.
The following are mine:
1.  The fact that even though I may not control my circumstances, I can control how

Monday, March 14

Handling Stress and an Emotional Bully 3/14/11

In the famous words of the philosopher
 Alfred E. Newman, "What, me worry?
      This evening, I spoke.

       It's an interesting experience.  In school, I performed in plays. It's the same dynamic when giving a talk. The audience continuously interacts with me, in this case, as I shared my thoughts about "getting a life."

       Tonight, several attending stretched their necks as they listened. They had difficulty hearing, an effort made difficult because I'm soft-spoken.

Sunday, March 13

The Opening of this Inn: Hey, I'd Enjoy Hearing Your Gratitudes .......................................... 3/13/11

Welcome to this journal of expressing our gratitudes!

     Thanks for dropping by. I've been writing for a closed community that deals with health, fitness and nutrition. It's closing. So, here's my new digs. I'll work on making this site more attractive. There's much I still need to learn about creating my own blog. Well, at least I've established a beachhead in this world of cyberspace.I ask if you could please share three things for which you are grateful by posting them here. This place will be a gratitude journal for those wanting to reorient themselves and detach from the negativity that pervades the world.

Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.