Well-Read Posts

You can't undo anything you've already done.  But you can face up to it. 
You can tell the truth. You can seek forgiveness. And let God do the rest. 
Chapter  One
Awareness, Acceptance, Action


       I enjoy sanity when I look at life realistically.

       This is awareness.  A good start.  It's also incomplete.  It's eighty-eight percent of the answer when handling life's problems.  There's no remedy if we don't see the issue.

       Awareness is facing life's chal-lenges.  It prompts personal growth.  It spikes our learning curve.  Circumstan-ces linger for months or years.  If not seen or dealt with.

      Clarity of life develops when we stop looking at it through the gauze of false beliefs, assumptions, interpretations and denial.

       Some clients kick themselves when they see an area needing im-provement for the first time.  "Gosh, if I only saw this ten years ago," they say, "I am so stupid."  They verbally and mentally abuse them-selves.  They think this is their necessary penance for being less than perfect.

         Being harsh towards ourselves is yielding to false beliefs.  Here are a few:
1.  We need to be perfect.
2.  That what we do, including making mistakes, is a statement about our worth.
3.  We have to pay a price for being wrong.
4.  Making mistakes is counterproductive.
"We achieve inner health only through forgiveness - the forgiveness not only of others but also of ourselves."                                             - Joshua Loth Liebman
         These false beliefs do not cripple me.  I view life differently: if we become aware of areas needing growth, we are getting healthier.  We are becoming a better person.  We have a maturer, more accurate perspective.

Rooting Out the Problem
The Vital Need for Acceptance

      But, we want to go beyond awareness.  Acceptance follows. This is dealing with the emotional impact of our circumstances. This step is often neglected. If we don't take it, we are only trimming the shrub of our problems, using awareness and action alone.  Our problems will reappear.

       Acceptance is handling the issue at the visceral level.  It involves several steps:
1.  Seeing the vexing area.
2.  Feeling our emotions and needs beneath them.
3.  Taking our feelings a step further by grieving any losses involved.
4.  Letting the negative sentiments go---often through forgiveness. This is coming to terms with reality---not living in a fantasy or with defensive hope.
5.  Seeing what steps we can take next, acting upon our options.

      Acceptance helps address the problem from the heart level. It is not acceptance with resignation, "Oh, this is my lot in life, I'll bear with it."

      Here's another critical point: many go straight from awareness to action. "I see the problem, and, this is what I need to do.....," then develop an action plan.  Bad idea.  We are only operating from our head.  Our emotions are ignored. Without acceptance, the problem can't be rooted out.

      When was the last time we made time, determining why we isolate?  When have we done an inventory of an area perturbing us? Connect-ing at the gut level, looking at the payoff for unhealthy behavior helps us see our areas of need.  It's uncovering our motives. We don't do anything, if there isn't a reward.

       Key point regarding acceptance: we don't have the psychological or emotional distance to clearly see areas needing growth. Having friends who accept and love us, yet challenge us are a great help when rooting out a problem.

The Shoe Leather of Personal Growth

       After we are aware of the triggers, source, behavior and people who contribute to our difficulties,  we apply shoe leather.

       Donning the protection of practical principles and practical action steps help us when we are out in the street of life, handling its demands.  We want to healthy alternatives.  We move away from unhelpful default modes, unsuccessful former approaches to life's challenges.

       Action is the remaining step needed for handling the pains of life.  There you have it, the Three A's.  Awareness deals with the head, acceptance with the heart and action with the feet (what we do).  Applying healthier alternatives---staying in the solution---helps us move beyond what were once monuments of our past pain.  We enjoy better relationships.  Sanity, serenity, emotional health and ease becomes ours.

       We want to apply healthy steps towards the stumbling blocks encountered in life.  When we do, we are creating a better today.
How About You? 
Which of the three A's are you using to deal with the difficult areas in your life?

Chapter Two
Becoming Comfortable With Discomfort

        Elated. Disap-pointed. Growing characterologically. Embracing multiple feelings. This is emotional maturity.  Difficulties do not distract me from the beauties life offers.

        I take in lovely skyscapes, when walking or driving.  I am free of frantic thoughts.  They do not rob me of life's treasures.  I am as innocent as a two year old.  Past scars no longer prevent me from enjoying this day.

        Wildflowers along country roads are taken in when driving.  When walking in the city, I notice the flowers that sprout from sidewalk cracks.  I enjoy the laughter of an infant.  Life and its joy intoxicates me.  All these are had in beautiful small moments.

          Ones easily overlooked when we are pushed by the frantic demands of life or captive to painful memories of the past.


         Relationships are rich. They are deep in texture.  My connections are maturing.  I weave in the good, using discernment to remove the frayed threads of unsafe people who want to creep in.  Negative and limiting beliefs no longer fill my mind with fear and low self-esteem.

         I no longer tolerate unacceptable behavior.  My mind enjoys greater peace. I am free from reacting to perceived difficulties.  I am growing in my comfort with discomfort.  I now respond. There is less reacting when life's drama appears.

        My friendships are soul satisfying.  They are transparent. Authen-ticity and joy are hallmarks of my relationships.  The compassion and the lack of judgment in them make them safe.  Discernment prevents me from engaging in black hole friendships that suck all my energy.

        Applying boundaries has been the key to creating a safe, loving, nurturing community of friends.  Living by recovery helps me navigate away from the disturbing waters of unhealthy relationships.

        When challenged in a relationship, I remain present. I don't let "what ifs," fears and assumptions distract me. I am present.  Equanim-ity, peace of mind, tranquility, community I enjoy. I don't let mental chatter rob me from making the most out of what life offers.

        Uncertainty and discomfort are welcomed friends.  I do not insult the complexities of life by looking at it in terms of black and white thinking---seeing everything as good or bad, right or wrong.  I pick out burs of goodness embedded even in the ugliest blankets Life tosses my way.

         For several years---eleven, since being a part of Al-Anon Family Groups---no longer am I triggered by awkward, anxious moments.  I am comfortable, not stressed when the outcome is unknown. There are clouds to ride, stars to explore and mountains to climb as I move beyond controlling outcomes. I enjoy being present.

        I embrace what is, discovering my role within it.  The world does not revolve around me.  I surf the waves tossed my way.  I listen care-fully to what God says to me through the orchestration of events. It's that simple.

        Certainty is sameness and death.  I am less sure. I am more myself.  Life is richer than ever dreamed.

Chapter Three                                       
Being Present: Not Being A Swami
A great way to avoid etching lines in
 your face is being internally referented. 

    We don't experi-ence an  interpreta-tion.

   We imagine them.  Expressing my feel-ings without inter-preting is being present.  Whenever I state what is alive without judgment or presumptions, I am letting those I relate with know the real me.

     The nice thing is, these words are more likely to be heard. What I say can be felt by friends better than control-oriented pronounce-ments: "Oh, you are doing this because..."  Or, "I feel attacked." Or, "Once again you are ignoring me."  These are faux feel-ings.  These comments are more a judgment about another's behavior than a statement of my emotions.

       The best part is not that others are more inclined to listen.  It is eliminating "mind chatter."   I am saying what I feel.  I am not caught up with that word again, interpretations (or imaginings).

        I am connecting with what I am sensing.  I am expressing what I am feel while with that person.  I am authentically expressing what is happening within, what I am noticing.  Not my thoughts.  My thinking may not accurately see reality.  They may be colored by buttons or triggers.  Instead,  I share what I am experiencing.

       When I do, I am more likely to heal and forgive.  That occur-red a few weeks back.  I had a difficult conversation.  I cried three times.  But, I was real.

       The next day, I was free from the pain I was holding in.  The authenticity I expressed the day before was cathartic.  I was resurrected from the coffin of despair.  My impassioned, intense conversation helped release negative feelings.

        I moved beyond the dark cloud bank of unhappy feelings.  Being real helped me emerge into a clearing.  I regained serenity and peace of mind.  My well-being was restored.

       This next day, I was happier.  I felt joy physically.  In. My. Body.  I was not trapped in my mind.  I did not return to this refuge I ran to, when mistreated as a boy.

       What made this possible?  When the trauma happened, during the painful Saturday conversation, I was present.  I expressed my anger.  I shared my resentments.  Quietly.  Tearfully.  Respectfully, but honestly.

       I was true to what was going on within.  I was not the nine year old Pablo.

       I did not panic.  I did not stifle my anger or resentments.  It was fulfilling.  I was with someone who respected my authenticity. She was not frightened by it.

       When we do not interpret or judge, the other person is more likely to hear.  They will not be defensive.  Why?  Because we are speaking about what we heard.   We are telling them how we processed their comments.  This is better than saying why we think they said it.

       It's not our job, being a swami.

      Our imaginings are not a crystal ball.  They do not give us the right to judge.  We can be wrong in our interpretations.  We are not God.  We don't know the heart---the motives---of others.

      This true even with those who harmed us severely.  Often, their behavior had nothing to do with us.  Their actions were the result of  their baggage.  Scars and wounds they had before we were ever around.

      Do we really want to be frequently angry or fearful?   This happens if we live by our interpretation of events and what others say.  We want to tune out this mental static that bombards our mind.  When that happens we are not responding to what really happened.  These negative thoughts and feelings may make us feel wronged, but righteous.

      It is not worth stirring up misery, harboring bitterness within.  The only good in living by our interpretations is that they validate the story in our head.

     But it may be as genuine as a wooden nickle.

     Authenticity sets us free from self-imposed misery.  Being in touch with what we are experiencing lets us live in reality.  We are in touch with our feelings.  We are in tune with what we want.  We will know calmness.

      We will experience healing for our damaged emotions.  We will discover a peace of mind that we can know no other way.  We will be in touch with reality.

Chapter Four                                       3/17/11
Calmness In the Eye of 
the Emotional Storm

     It's important sheltering our-selves.  Like the fellow in this picture.

     Especially when overwhelm-ed by the waves of an abusive per-son.  It is key for serenity. Taking care of ourselves is critical when experiencing

despair, frustration, self-loathing or the nega-tive behavior of others.  

      Like yesterday.

      An important part of personal growth has
been Al-Anon Family Groups.  A supportive community of  wise and practical people.  And an emotional and mental life saver for me. Check the link for more info.
      It is easy sur-rendering our boundaries, being intimidated.  It's usu-ally a default reaction when relating.  Espec-ially when we're with an angry or manipu-lative individual.  I'm happy with a recent response.  It was a time of drama,  some-one having an emo-tional meltdown.
       I didn't please the un-pleasant per-son.  I didn't bear the burden of her  misbehav-ior.  Nor did I yield to overbear-ing conditions. For more about principles that help us relate with difficult people, read this

        Yesterday was a humdinger of a day.  Lots of turmoil.  There was no need watching an action movie if I wanted excitement.  Relating with a volatile person was plenty.
        In the midst of her violent ac-tions, I checked in with me.  That was not my tendency as a kid.  Or when an adult in my twen-ties or thirties.  Thank God for personal growth. 

       When we have it, we respond. We
don't react, during stressful times. Be-cause I responded, I thrived even when a vase was thrown and smashed.  I even basked in serenity, while in the eye of yester-day's emotional storm. 

         Years ago, I believed the needs of others were more im-portant than mine.  That's a lie. This false belief was groomed into me as a kid.  I was coerced into being codependent.  By my school, church and parents.  Now, I know better.  

     Paying attention to my behavior, thoughts and feelings is critical.  Meeting the needs beneath them increases my joy and peace of mind.  If we do not nurture ourselves, our spirit and soul will demand attention.  Depression is our neglected psyche issuing a silent scream.  This draining emotion informs me I am not taking care of myself. 

       I am experiencing an unmet need. Yesterday, it was two: tranquility and respect.  Applying principles instead of being passive provided me with emotional safety.  Even when witnessing intense drama.  I'll list them in today's gratitudes. 

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

When I react during an emotional storm, I lose.  I give away big chunks of my values.  Trying to soothe the situation by giving in, is a bust.  Like yesterday's vase.  Manipulators, angry or abusive others discover our vulnerability when we do.  

      Bad idea.   We made ourselves their prey. 

  This is not my response now.  For more about dealing with emotional bullies, read this.  It provides an excellent article: "Words Do Hurt--Stop Bullying From Affecting Your Health." 
      Bullies are more than thugs who harass kids on school playgrounds. They are not just those occupying the seamier parts of town.  They can be siblings, our spouse, 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 a person's  emotional maelstrom, I emotionally step aside.  I use emotional aikido. 

      I can pause, deciding my response.  This is what police, fire fighters do.  Those who work in psychiatric hospitals, too.  It's the best approach when in a crisis.   We want to consider our options. 
4.  I'm thrilled that moments that once disturbed me can now be seen with humor.  I'm thankful for viewing through the prism of healthy principles.  This lens allows my joy to remain, even when enduring pressure. 
5.  I'm thankful for skills that allow me to thrive during moments that at one time overwhelmed me. 

    Yesterday, it was helpful detaching from an aggravated person.  I remained courteous.  But I was firm, too, towards a person who yelled at three different people.  This included the mailman.  She smashed a flower pot, dirt, flowers and all, on the floor, on her carpeted living room.

      If only she could have been a little more emotional. (I'm kidding.)
6.  I was calm while witnessing this emotional meltdown.  My face was 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, I considered my options.  One was getting away from that person.

      It's reassuring, knowing I'm not a helpless victim.  I've choices.  Doing what provided serenity, during an intense, unpleasant moment, was my priority.  

     After the outburst, I left.  Time elsewhere, enjoying freedom from emotional drama, was how I took care of me. 

    Others do not determine my moods or define me.  Allowing that to happen is codependency.  Instead, I stayed within the lighthouse of recovery principles.  It allowed my feelings to stand firm.  I was not moved by the big waves of drama that washed my way. 

Chapter Five
Defensive Hope: It Ensures Disappointment

       The following material is from page 97 in the book, Safe People, by the authors, Drs. Cloud and Townsend, published by Zondervan.
        Defensive hope is hope that [we think] protects us against grief and sadness. Sometimes simply hoping a person will change keeps us from the pain that we need to face.  Humans are incredible optimists when it comes to  destructive relationships.  For some reason we think that a person who is hurtful, irresponsible or out of control, abusive, or dishonest is going to change if we just love them correctly or more or enough. We think that if we just let them know about their mistakes or cry the blues, or get angry, that they will change. 
        In short, we have hope, but it is a hope that disappoints. In this scenario we use hope to defend ourselves against facing the truth about someone we love. We don't want to go through the sadness of realizing that they probably are not going to change. We don't want to accept the reality about who they are. So, we hope.
        Usually this kind of hope did not start in our current relationship.  We usually have an old pattern of not facing grief and disappointments in many past relationships, dating back to childhood (Emphasis, mine.)
Facing sadness is difficult, for it places the responsibility of change on us, instead of hoping that unsafe person is going to change.(See footnote 1) We have to learn to not expect that he will change.  We have to make other friends.  We have to adapt to a nonfulfillng marriage.  We have to get the courage to set limits and consequences and make many more tough choices that may change our relationships.
Yes, hope is easier in the beginning, but in the end it is more difficult. Not facing reality is to stay stuck and to get more of the same in the future.   Defensive hope is one of the biggest reasons that we allow destruction to continue in life.
         It is important, looking at reality.  It is critical, grieving our losses.  It is essential, letting go of our fantasies----that things will get better----with those who disturb us.  It is the first step towards getting healed, emotionally.  As we move from being victims to individuals making healthier choices, we begin seizing control of our lives.  2 (See footnote.)

              What is said in this passage is true regarding negative circum-stances.  We may fantasize about them, not want to face the truth about them.  We need to confront life's disappointments.  To know emotional healing we need to grieve them.  We have to go through discomfort in order to draw closer to reality, to what is.

        We want to let go of our controlling efforts. It is best seeing reality for what it is.  That will help us decide what to do next. (See footnote 2.) This is our healthiest option. .    

        When we make peace with reality, we'll have a greater Attitude of Gratitude to complement the increasing sanity and serenity we enjoy.
How About You? 
1.  What losses have you been grieving, regarding a relationship?
2.  What are some tough choices you are making?
3.  In what ways have you been facing reality, lately?

1. "If  I can learn to evaluate my own actions and behavior and value my own judgment, then the approval of others will be enjoyable, but no longer no longer essential to my serenity. Just for today, I will appreciate myself.  
    "I will not look to others s for approval; I will provide it for myself. I'll allow myself to recognize that I am doing the best I can. Today my best is good enough."
                Courage to Change, p. 9
2. "Focusing on ourselves doesn't man that we let other people walk all over us and pretend not to notice, or that whatever others do is acceptable.  Nor does it imply that we should stop caring about our loved ones.  Focusing on ourselves simply means that when we acknowledge the situation as it is, we look at our options instead of looking at the options available to other people.  
     "We consider what is within our power to change instead of expecting others to do the changing. As a result, problems have a better chance of getting solved, and we lead more manageable lives."   Courage to Change, p. 359
      Our life becomes somewhat more manageable ("have a better chance") because we do have some control over how we choose to live our lives.  I say "some" because our character defects get in our way, even here, as we attempt to transcend our errant ideals, past history and pain. This points to the value of having Balcony People.

       For more information about them, you can read here. Have a great and grateful day!
Image: Cumbria: Dervent and Skiddaw  by Tim Blessed © all rights reserved, used by permission.

Chapter Six                                            6/30/15
Emotional Resiliency: Six Steps Needed

     Thriving during difficult times.

     Emotional resili-ency.  Not cowering to abusers.  An inner strength that enables us to stand firmly, when tested.  Even when the feet of our character are put to the hot coals of stress.

      Resiliency is relating with difficult people. It is doing so well.  It is maintaining confidence, when stressed. Our happiness is not robbed when tested.

     Hara Estroff Marano, Editor-at-large for Psychology Today, wrote in "The Art of Resilience" 
Resilient people do not let adversity define them.  They find resilience by moving towards a goal beyond themselves, transcending pain and grief by perceiving bad times as a temporary state of affairs.  It's possible to strengthen your inner self and your belief in yourself, to define yourself as capable and competent.  It's possible to fortify your psyche.  It's possible to develop a sense of mastery.
     Yes, there is hope. The following are strategies that help us overcome stress.    Do you want to de-feat unpleasantness?  Interested in thriv-ing?  Want to be clear-headed?

     Even when circum-stances have their hands around the throat of your joy?  Do you care to maintain dignity and know autonomy while under pressure?  Read on.

    Resilient people know the value of:

1. Boundaries. Resilient people do not let circumstances
dictate their moods. They clearly know who they are.  Stress plays a part in their story.  But it does not overtake their identity.

     We are not what happens to us.  Let me say that again.  We are not what happens to us. Resilient people weather rough times well. They use boundaries.

     Resilient people have a firm understanding of what they accept.  They know what they will not tolerate.  This understanding shields them.  It protects against manipulators and vulnerability. They stand true to their values.

      Applying boundaries protects the resilient from emotional predators.  Boundaries guard emotionally hardy people.  It prevents them from caving in when stressed.  They don't just know boundaries, conceptually.  They make decisions based on them.

      Their behavior is guided by boundaries.  They apply these principles above the vulnerable parts of their personality.  They are fearless.  They do not get their worth by how others react to their boundaries.
2.  Resilient peo-ple See the Big Picture.  Present persistent pressures do not narrow the vision of the emo-tionally strong. They envision steps that remedy dire circum-stances. They stay in the solution.  Resil-ient people do not use inadequate coping measures.

       Strategies used as children to cope with pressure are abandoned. They are seen for the inadequate ways of handling stress they are.

      Passivity is dismissed.  Seeing life from their Victim Story is re-placed.  They view life from the strength.  They operate from hope.  They are strengthened by the love they know by living with a loving community.

      Resilient people are responsible.  Making excuses or not standing up to difficult times is not their style. They are psychologically and emotional strong enough to handle pressures. They do not respond like frightened children.  Past coping patterns that hampered them emotionally and mentally are not used.

      Staying present allows them to operate from strength and power.

3. Emotionally stable people face the storms of life with equanimity.  They are clear about their identity. They realize they are not what happens to them.  Calmness during trying times comes from perspective.  Circumstances fluctuate.  Resilient people don't. They surf---not fight---the waves tossed their way.

4.  Those who are resilient keep good company.  They surround themselves with emotionally mature others.  Balcony People give them space to grieve. They help resilient people work through what troubles them. They don't chide nor give advice.

     With this sup-portive network, transparency is possible.  A safe environment is created.  Authenticity and vulnerability are expressed.  What ails the resilient is voiced.

   There are positive fea-tures with having a sup-portive network.  We practice exper-iencing our feelings. It is an ideal place for expressing needs. We de-velop the skill of commun-icating authentically and deeply.

     With practice, we eventually take this skill into the world, where it is more difficult to do.  This group of healthy friends permits us to practice expressing who we are. We reveal our needs.

      We develop emotional strength. Our verbal skills are enhanced. We can now use them when relating with difficult people.

     A good support network involves braided relationships. These are connections that go beyond superficiality.  We are real with these people.  They are an arena where we unveil our vulnerabilities.

     In this environment we can be open.  We don't suffer from judgment or shame.  These relationships undergird us when enduring hard times.

      While a chain is as strong as its weakest link, a rope is as strong as its strongest strand.  When we emotionally or situationally fall apart, the strands of good company bind us together.  All of us are meant for this kind of bonding.

5.  Emotionally resilient people know what they need to do more of to handle their problems.  They know what they need to do less of.  They have perspective. They are aware of what they need to stop doing and what to continue doing.  They get the larger view of life because they talk out their circumstances with supportive network.

    They also see the overall picture of their circumstances because they inventory their lives. Without a recovery-centered mind, it is usually the last thing considered when in crisis.

6.   Key is knowing our vulnerabilities.  And admission of our weak-nesses is a sign of strength. "Pride goes before the fall," the saying goes. Same is true when we operate as a Lone Ranger, in our strength, using our mind alone, not from the strength gotten by living within a braided community of Balcony People.

How About You?
Do you have relationships that hold you together?   When afraid, how does your supportive network help you when you are "a-frayed"?

Chapter Seven
Experiencing What Is
    What a ride down a waterfall it has been, the past few weeks.

     I love that I hold every-thing with an open hand.  It's exciting, resting in God's will. I don't dare rest in mine.  It is won-derful knowing a strength and peace that transcends my circumstances. There is much I need to learn.
     Interpreting isn't reality.

     I know that.  Most those I relate with don't.  I suffer as a result.  Inter-preting is a result of an overworking mind.  It is not based on fact.

    When we judge---based upon our imag-inings---we are being controlling.

    It's easy jumping to conclusions. We can be quick at in-terpreting the mean-ing of another's comments. Or their actions.  Often, we translate events or what another says in terms of how we were treated in the past.

    Or we future trip. We understand a comment in terms of something that could happen in the future. We lose touch with the present, when we do that.

        It is best noticing our emotions.  The anger, fear, hurt or whatever is boiling underneath our interpretation or judgment.  Then dig be-neath, discovering what these feelings are about.  Many times, we learn we are reacting.  We are reacting to our interpretations. Or a button has been pushed.

        We are not responding to what is actually happening before us.  Or our feelings are produced by haunting specters of painful moments of the past.  Or our reactions are being churned by anticipated catastrophes.  I am not interested in persuading anyone, if they are stuck with stories created by assumptions, not fact.  That is baggage of theirs they need to process.

     When a reaction surfaces, it is usually us being sensitive to impressions con-firming our worst fears.  Unfortunately, these buttons   pre-vent us from seeing reality.  It is best---when this happens---to mention what we are experiencing. We want to express our needs instead of al-lowing our feelings to be unaddressed.

     It's important not being defined by other people's im-aginings of us.  Be it of our motivations or their assess-ment of our character.  It takes discipline, letting people think what they think.  Even if their impressions distorts the truth. Even if they judge us incorrectly.

     When we express ourselves openly, there is the risk being misun-derstood.  Our self-worth does not have to diminish, when that occurs.
 "When the applause of others becomes the reason for my behavior  and necessary for me to feel satisfied, then I have given them power over me."     Courage to Change, p 9. 
        Sometimes we are the culprit with the active imagination.  In that case, it is better expressing what is racing through our minds. We want to say what is going on within us, when triggered.  We want to see our assumptions for what they are. They are not reality.  

        Revealing our imaginings helps us stop projecting them on others.  It reduces the likelihood of us getting triggered.  Noticing what is, including our reactions, helps hold the image of ourselves more lightly.  We become free from the tyrant of our active insecurities.  We slay the dragons of frequently untrue imaginings that we have, when relating with others.

        We are more than how we perceive ourselves.  We are vastly more than how others see us. There is much missing.   Our perspective is distorted.  Often due to abuse we endured.

       How others perceive us is narrow, too.  It is easy to be harsh towards ourselves.  Or worse, we accept harsh criticism as truth.  Rubbish. This is where being internally referented is critical.

      Imaginings help us feel in control, that we know what is happening.  They support the illusion we know what's going on.  Usually we don't, really.  Again, living this way prevents us from experiencing what is.  Frequently, false beliefs and scars rattle within our minds, hindering us from seeing reality.

      We slow down our reactions, if we can identify the buttons and false beliefs that irk us.  When we see how they cloud our vision, we can uncover what is really going on.  Our mind chatter is our brain's attempt at protecting us.  This is its effort at avoiding anxiety, the helplessness of not knowing or not being in control.  Yet our real self doesn't need protecting or defending.

      It simply needs to be experienced.  When that happens we have a better taste of what is true, what is real.

Chapter Eight
Facing Fear 

      Many demands keep me from my innkeeper duties.  It was a matter of first things first.  Like rest.  Or maintaining sanity.  I am almost back on track, as the guardian of this abode of gratitude.
       The city of Sacra-mento, 105 miles away, has been my part-time hometown for more than four months.  I'm getting training.  Some-times I am there three days a week.  Every Tuesday, for sure, after time with clients in San Leandro.  This upcom-ing week, I'll hunker down there Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday.  Next Sunday I graduate.

        Creating and giving a four-week couple's workshop has me busy. Besides the training and public speaking, there's the book I am work-ing on.  Not to mention clients seen during the week.   At night, for four hours---several times a week---I work on client files.  You know you love your career when you enjoy the practical work nobody sees.  I do.  Immensely.

       Am I complaining?  No.  No success without pain.  Sometimes progress means little sleep. At times, not much time to eat. It involves denying ourselves.  We push beyond our limits.

       We can't become the person we want to be by remaining the way we are. "Success depends not merely in how well we do the things we enjoy, but in how conscientiously we perform the duties that we don't."  John Maxwell, Developing the Leader Within You.

       Tonight required every ounce of me.  But the evening was good.  Fear was faced.  Big time.  My heart pumped wildly, as if I was at the end of a seven mile run, barely breathing.  Or think.  Taking the next step without analyzing what I was doing, was required.

       More than twenty calls were made.  This was part of my Sacramento training.  Getting donations for a good cause. Eighteen calls were with people I did not know.  The responses were positive.

     Every. Person. Said. Yes.  I was positively shocked, if that is possible.  This morn-ing, visions of quitting, giv-ing up was entertained. Yes, I thought of doing this in the last mile of this four month training marathon.  Throw-ing away all the hard work, wasting the thousands of miles I traveled to Sacra-mento over the past four months.

      No way could I accom-plish this pleading assign-ment. That was my mental chatter.  I was certain.  I was also certainly wrong.

       Being exhausted, coupled with a migraine headache didn't help.  Fear crippled me.  Feelings of failure overwhelmed me.  Sunk beneath my negative feelings, I was.  That's when the value of living within a loving, caring, inspiring community kicked in.

       It helped me spit out the dust of despair. I gulped it down as I was sprawled out on the ground of despair.


       It started with a phone call to this friend of more than three decades and five years.  He pulled me out of the pit of my defeatist, Lone Ranger attitude.  He joked with me, rallying me away from dark thoughts and dread.  He didn't shame me.  He overlooked the cowardice preventing me from tasting success, trusting the process.

       "Just make the calls," Stuart said.  "That's all you have to do.  That's the hard work.  It doesn't matter the response you get.  Pablo, you haven't asked me.

       You haven't told me what you want."

       What a gentle friend.  He helped me grow my confi-dence, overcoming the terror felt within.  He did this with a smile in his voice.  I took a deep breath.  With my heart pounding, I asked, "Stuart, I am involved with fund raising. Would it be possible for you to help?"

         The words barely left my lips, when he replied.  "Yes, Pablo.  I will provide two items the silent auction and donate money too, towards the food for the dinner."

         What planet did he come from??  The planet of compas-sion.  Just like that, demons of apprehension that had been tormenting me fled. Because of Stuart. Because of the support received from a dear friendship and living in a loved-filled community.

         The curtains to my house were shut all day today.  No light was let in.  I was in a dark space, physically and emotionally.  Gripped with anxiety about fundraising, I was.  Now, having flown through the dark cloud bank of fear I emerge into a clearing filled with lightness and joy and hope.

         I know a gladness I would have never experienced, if I had isolated.  I have a happiness and strength derived from living in a caring community.  I know the love of many.  Strangers rooted me on, as I asked for their help, their contribution. They had smiles in their voices when I spoke with them.  Eager to help, they were.

         I feel like birds flying high.  Like the sun in the sky.  Like the breeze drifting by or a blossom on a tree.  It is a new dawn, a new day, a new life and,  I'm  Feeling Good!
Stuart, Teresa and Tony, cared enough to listen.  It was terrific, the roles reversed.  I took care of me by asking for their attention.

      I asked for what I wanted.  Just like the phone calls made tonight.

Chapter Nine
Four Steps to Freedom From Fear

Image: "Woodland: The Edge of the Forest" by Tim Blessed
Copyrighted photo used by permission. 
        I'm thankful God controls my life.  I can't.

        Days fraught with tension or fear, are not taken one day at a time, as recovery suggests.  Instead, the follow-ing help:

1.  Staying present, going through rough days fifteen minutes at a time.  This cages the dragons of fear and false belief, not letting them overwhelm us.  We become grounded by the fact that most fears are imagined, not experienced.  Our mental bag-gage makes our situations appear worse.  It does not project reality.

2.  Determine the needs beneath our fears and limiting beliefs. If we are prone to passivity, our fear may be someone will get angry if we speak our truth. Our need in this case may be for respect or to self-express. When we realize we are simply presenting a different per-spective and are not asking others to agree, the idea of speaking up is no longer frightening.

       Fortunately, the frequency of troubling days can become like visits to a city three hundred miles (482.8 km) away.  Not a frequent event.  Emotional safety and tranquility are key to fortifying us against stress. This brings us to two spiritual disciplines that create distance from anxiety and fear.

3.  The first is talking to God: prayer.

      There is more to this disci-pline than meets the mind. When we talk, we don't quickly mutter our thoughts, shake the other person's hand and leave.  No, we pause. We let the other person have his say. We listen.  Then, there's our re-sponse to his comments. We go back and forth several times. So it is when praying.

    Afterwards, we want to pause.  Be still, and know He is God. (Psalms 46:10)  We want to hear his voice.  Some-times it helps writing out our prayers. It forces us to focus. We are as strong, spiritually, as we are in our pray-er.  If we are frail in this area, we are weak in our relationship with Him.

        Spiritual disciplines are the chaise lounge for our souls. They create a vacation for our inner selves. They free us from the carnival of distractions that vy for attention. We become liberated from the demons of distraction like the internet, texting, gaming, spending too much time with others or watching TV.

     The other discipline...

4.  Meditating, which is listening to God.  It is a calming practice that quiets us emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

       While exercising this discipline---we want to look at the orchestration of events in our lives. We try to discern His message woven within what is happening in our lives. When our minds are busy with urgent but not important tasks, we can become deaf to His voice.  We are spiritually confused, with no clue to God's message for us.

      Understanding His will---guided by the compass of His quiet voice, moves us from the ghetto of confusion and fear.  We walk confidently guided by Him.
"I call my sheep and they hear my voice and follow me."  John 10:27
 Led by healthy principles, we walk at a surer, gentler pace.

       When on the bus of misguided prior-ities, it doesn't help, running the opposite way.  Spiritual dis-ciplines rescue us from this wayward bus.  Meditation, silence, solitude, prayer and being still provide direction. They free us from losing our focus. Our life becomes more consistent with our values.
 "If thy law [and His guidance] had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction."  Psalms 119:92
Today's Gratitudes:
1. I will invest in personal growth today.  It's refreshing, feeding my soul through material that improves my life.
2. I've made time for  fun. When emotionally taxed, I've learned to treat myself "extra specially." Tonight, I am going to see the SF Giants play with my family. Can't wait.
3. Before taking in a baseball game I will cycle at Chabot Regional park.
4. I am thankful for knowing a God who loves, guides and encourages me.
5. I wrote an honest letter, sharing my feelings and needs. I am glad I enjoy the benefits of saying what I want and don't want.  It is one of the skills that needs to be a part of our lives as adults.
6.  I love the hope God gives me.  Again:
Now faith is a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see.              Hebrews 11:1
How About You? 
1. What do you do to develop your spirituality?
2. Does having a connection with a Higher Power sound like an odd concept?
3. Would you be interested in connecting with the God of your understanding? You can find out more about this in, "Getting through the Day." You can read it here.

Chapter Ten                                                    1/13/16
Handling Disappointment
Image: "Riverside" by Tim Blessed
Copyrighted photo.  Used by permission

          I've been away.  I am making sense of last year. And this one. Recu-perating, too.  For several months, at the end of the year, I was tossed in a whirlwind.

      It happened while getting train-ed and experiencing unwanted changes.  In a relationship.  The former consumed time.  The latter drained energy.  My equilibrium was thrown off. 

          I am processing a bewildering storm.  The end of the training I received last year was disappointing.  Not the training.  The celebra-tion at the end of the program troubled me.  It was an emotional let down.

         I accept stupid behavior in a poorly written comedy movie.  But not with people I cried with. Not with colleagues I grew closer to.  Nor with people I grew to respect over six months of shared training.  Sha-dows from my childhood poked me during this event.

        Ghosts of sad adult memories startled me.  The demon of alcohol danced.  The occasion stirred dank, hollow feelings. Ones not felt in ten years.  It was a blast from the past.  

        Just not a good one. 

       The claws of the dragon of inner emptiness slashed my serenity.  I left the celebration as soon as I could.  My early departure confused some.  I had  no choice.  I armored myself by not accepting unaccept-able behavior. 

        Since October, an occupational whirlwind spun my sanity.  Added to the intense training, this winter tried my patience. The tranquility I know was dented. Fortunately, I've landed in a better place. The storms stirred up a lot of instant learning, stretching my mind.  Professionally, the results were good.

       An emotional hurricane converged at this time, too. Subduing and saddening a normally cheerful innkeeper.  Honest conversation with dear friends emptied out my pain.  I let down walls normally used to protect the inner me.  I was healed because I did not make my heart a walnut during this time of disappointment.

       Defensive hope never works.  Instead, I opened up to my commun-ity of Safe People.  They grieved with me.  They held my hand.  Not physically.

       They comforted the damaged parts of me with their compassion and loving support.

        Because of my healthy supportive network, I saw reality.  Clearly.  It hurt.  I was disappointed.  I saw in a relationship my need for integrity was not met.  I was not treated with consideration.

       Authenticity and discernment did not exist.  I deserve and expect better.

       That is my story.  In time, I overcame disappointment.  I dealt with sadness and anger.  Not quickly.  It happened gradually as I gathered with my tribe of authentic, grace-giving, tender friends.

       Connecting with them restored my soul.  I was warmed by the hearth of transparency we shared and my friends being present, not controlling when I spoke with them.

       Coming to terms with my emotions forced me to make time for someone special.  Me.  It slowed me down.   Good.

       I am discovering wildflowers of hidden blessings: patience, perse-verance, better discernment and faith. I am learning that often they are tucked along the country road of life's detours and disappointments.

 Chapter Eleven
Healthy Relationships: Three Impediments
Scotland: "Loch Linhe and Loch Eil from Ben Nevis"
By Tim Blessed.  Copyrighted photo, used by permission. 
     When we are hurt by relation-ships, it isn't chance.  Usually there is a common factor: ourselves.  Ouch.  It is easy blaming others.  There is nothing wrong with us----so we think.

     Often, we do not see what prevents us from evaluating others properly: our character issues.  Most poor relationships are our fault.  Yes, ours.  What are some causes?  For things to improve, we want to learn what causes bad choices when relating. 
  We need to guard our hearts     with all diligence for from it     flows the issues of life.                                                                   Proverbs 4:23
1.  Lacking Discernment

    There is one factor that con-tributes to unhealthy relation-ships.  A lack of character discernment.  As children, most of us were not taught this skill.  We do not know how to tell who are safe, who are not. 

    Often we are drawn to people for the wrong reason.  External circumstances like worldly suc-cess.  Or perhaps looks.  Our decisions are not related to character.  This is a certain formula for disaster.

     Relationships are character driven.  Is the person kind, patient, when wronged?   Does the person have compassion?  Are they gra-cious, when we goof?  Does the friend listen, when we talk?  These are character issues that make a person safe.

     Or, when something is amiss, does the person care more about the issue than the relationship?  When s/he talks, do we become an audience of one.  They talk at length.  They don't notice we haven't spoken in ten minutes.  These are the marks of an unsafe person.  We want to steer of such people. 

2.  We Don't Know How to Connect

     We are isolative.  We don't know how to be intimate.  Intimacy is not sex.  Often, that is the farthest thing from it.  Tenderness is trifled, reciprocity is not a reality.

      Being intimate is revealing our fears.  Those we relate with---who are safe---will not judge.  They don't have a need to advice.  Nor are we ridiculed.  Safe friends don't use blame or shame when with us. Sharing our vulnerabilities is safe.  They will not use our past against us.

     "Bob" is a fellow I know.  He worked in the health care field, as a registered nurse.  Tragedy took place.  Someone died under his care.  He revealed this misfortune to a friend, "Barbara." 

      From time-to-time Barbara did something troubling.  Bob would try addressing what irked him. His female friend would bring up that Bob "killed" a patient.  She would tell Bob he could never say anything negative to her.  It wasn't as bad as Bob killing someone.

       Such a relationship is entirely unsafe.  What was shared in vulnerability by Bob was used as an ice pick to stab him. Safe friends don't judge. They support us with compassion, instead. 

3.  Fear of Abandonment

       Often people find themselves in unhealthy relationships.  Boundaries are in order.  It doesn't happen.  Why?  Fear of being alone cause the individual to cave in.  Having something is better than nothing, they reason.

       Sad.  This reveals the need for a supportive community.  It provides strength. It gives us emotional object constancy.  It empowers us to take emotionally depleting steps as we distance ourselves from a toxic relationship.

      Frequently, we do not keep good company. What motivates us to do that?  Low self-esteem.  We can do better. We get what we tolerate. We train people how to treat us, be it for good or ill.

Chapter Twelve 
Intimacy: The Pathway to It
     Being tongue tied.

     Fear, being timid, or having low self-esteem prevents us from speaking the truth. We are op-pressed by others.  We lack courage to stand true to our boundaries.  By not speaking up, we find ourselves lacking motivation, depressed. We are frustrated, who wants that??

     Why do we put our emotions in the garage of our lives?  What causes us to exist in the lower drawers of the banged up chest of tattered feelings?  What prevents us from living in a mansion, of self-respect, emotional abundance?

     We are not honest. That's why. We do not stand true to our values. We ignore our emotions. We read books, without applying what we have learned.

      We stay in our head.

      We procrastinate from reality. We think we need to learn more, "Then we'll act," we say.  "I can't" we declare.  We quit before trying.

      We do not see progress because we are buried.  We are held back by our limiting beliefs. All that does is condemn us to live in the greasy chute of misery. What a sad way to live.

      We fear others  We lack honesty when relating.  These habits prevent us from enjoying life fully.  We are not consistent with our values.  Authenticity does not exist.

      It's important clearing the air, expressing our feelings and wants. Transparency helps us overcome hurt, anger, confusion.  It enables us to surmount conflict.  Expressing ourselves openly lets us enjoy life fully, vibrantly.

     When we are honest, we are not weighed down by our measure of defeats.  We avoid the emptiness of inauthenticity.  We let others know our wants and feelings. The results are:
  • We are no longer tethered to terror or tyranny.
  • We are no longer fettered to fear.
  • No longer are we shackled to shame.
      We want people to know our frailties.  No, not just anyone.  We open up to those who are emotionally healthy.  With them, our facades are removed.  We don't present the false self, the persona used when we fear others won't accept our naked selves.

       In healthy relationships, there is no fear of being emotionally bare.  If we want amazing, life-giving connection, we have to be transpar-ent.  Intimacy doesn't thrive without a strong, genuine contact with another.

      Being controlling is as tasteless as sand.  It is as emotionally filthy, too.  Being freed from agendas allow us to reveal our true selves. When letting others know how they affect us, we are specific. We repeat back exactly what the other said or did that touched us.

      This is the two of us working from the same reality. This is the stuff of transparency.

     Being specific connects me to my experience, not to what I interpret.  As I wrote here, an interpretation is never experienced, it is imagined.  Being transparent is a form of of deeper self-awareness.  The key part of being transparent is looking at ourselves honestly.  No praise or blame.
 "Seeing yourself  is an act of observation, not evaluation."               Susan Campbell, Getting Real, 41
About You 
What are your thoughts on transparency?  When are the occasions that allow you to be this way?

Chapter Thirteen
Intimacy: Transcending Outdated Fears 

      Being honest.

     Often hard. False beliefs block the way.  We think we'll be rejected, the object of scorn, if we express opinions differing from the crowd.  It is common to be in-fected by doubt and the anxiety of not fitting in.  Our fears often are the offspring of outdated lessons from youth. We cling to invalid conclusions, not reality.

      As children we may have suffered for being transpar-ent. A false belief we hold on to, now, is that we are asking for grief, when we are authentic or assert our values.

      It's far better noticing what prompts our fears.  Instead of resisting emotional pain, it is best focusing on it.  Not because we are masochists. Our intent is seeing what transpires when facing this black beast known as terror.  What image surfaces?

      Compassion towards our vulner-able selves is our goal. We are not judging our pain.  We stay with it, not resisting it.  It's best evaluating generalized fears in light of current circumstances, present reality. When we do, often we'll encounter mental freedom from goblins that once goaded and harassed us.

      We'll find, like the ghosts our fears appear to be, they vanish, upon scrutiny--- when placed in the light of reality.

      Holding on to nebulous fears makes them larger. They become more disturbing.  Fear can easily haunt our psyche, instilling dread.  Most are imaginings.  Little substance to them.  Acknowledging our anxieties--facing them, staying with them, seeing where they take us---usually diminishes the generalized unease they produce.
 "Courage faces fear and thereby masters it." 
       When relating transparently, we don't need to be perfect.  We reveal who we are---the good with the bad.  Comfortable in our own skin, we are.  What makes this vulnerability possible is having a supportive network.  When surrounded by good company, it is okay to fail.

       It is no big deal.

       We can pick ourselves up when we fail.  With our friends, our worth is not related to how well we perform. With good company, there is acceptance.  We are not defined by our failures.

        Our friends may not approve of our behavior.  But we are accepted for who we are. The good along with the not so good.  We are simply loved.  Safe People---emotionally healthy people---are committed to us. They have empathy.  Empathy does not mean agreement but it provides compassion.  Being graciously loved, we are motivated to take the path of gentleness towards our weaknesses and failures.

        It is essential finding people who prefer truth to being comfortable.  Avoiding honesty to protect others from feeling uncomfortable or ourselves from their reactions, if we are honest, is insincerity.  Let me say that again.  If we are a chameleon about our values, adapting them to whatever group we are with, we are as phoney as a plastic flamingo stuck in our front lawn.

        Without transparency we will not laugh all of our laughter. We will not cry all of our tears.  Without authenticity life loses its fullness.  Strong, authentic connection will not be impossible.  There's a word for strong contact.

       Intimacy.  Living transparently, it can be ours. 

Chapter Fourteen
Ruminating: A Defeating Addictive Mental Habit

       Ruminating is a big problem for many.  Key is connecting at the heart level with emotionally mature friends.  This action could break us free from self-sabotaging limiting beliefs.  Here's the post:
      Overthinking is easy.  It's like a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do, but it gets you no where.  The problem is, fretting usually leads to depression.

     “Your mind goes round and round over negative events in the past, problems in the pre-sent or bad things you’re worried will happen in the future,” says Nolen-Hoeksema, who pioneered the study of women’s rumination and depression and is considered the go-to expert in the field.
         And this inability to release bad thoughts and memories gets a person down.

        “You rehash events and ana-lyze them, but don’t do anything to 
solve the problems or feel more in control of your situation,” Nolen-Hoeksema says.  We will discuss one antidote for this tendency. 

         Women are twice as likely as men to become depressed, and they’re also more prone to rumin-ation.  No coincidence, states Nolen-Hoeksema.

How Does Ruminating Lead to Depression? 

       Negative thoughts breed hopelessness, despair, low motivation and self-esteem. When rehearsing negative thoughts over and over, they can grow more powerful, disturbing. 
As a person thinks in his or her heart, so is he or she.   Proverbs 23:7
        Stresses seem bigger.   You’re more likely to react in an intense, lasting way.  If vulnerable to depres-sion, you can end up seriously upset.  Where is the growth in that?   Yet, for many, this is the default mode.  

        As an alcoholic binges on drinking, the depressed person binges on depressed feelings.  They are his or her normalcy, clinging to self-sabotaging---and often, limiting---beliefs.  Often they have been that person's constant companions since childhood.  Unfortunately, such mental strategizing effectively distracts the person from experiencing what is.  Our mind is full of all sorts of ideas about how people are and how circumstances should be, how things work and how they should work. 

       Our mind is so full of mental noise that there's little space for noticing what is
Automatically responding to your worst internal fear is a common control pattern. Your buttons are pushed, and you react.  This pattern keeps you in familiar emotional territory, where you don't have to risk learning anything about yourself.  You don't have to change.  Susan Campbell, Getting Real,  23
       Wow.  All we can deal with is what is, not our limiting beliefs and fears.  

        It's key, directly experiencing the present moment.  Many of us have a mind that won't stop telling us what to watch out for.  Often, rumination is focused on the past – bad things that occurred or situations you wish had gone differently.   Then the person starts thinking that nothing is going right at work, co-workers don’t like him/her and his or her marriage is falling apart.

        The emotional downward spiral begins.

How Can You Tell If You’ve Crossed From Brooding to Depression?

     When a person suffers from major depression, they are down most of the time, losing interest in almost every-thing.  There are also other symptoms – changes in sleep or eating habits, tired-ness, trouble concentrating, feelings of worthlessness.  The symptoms are bad enough to interfere with the ability to handle daily life.

        Ruminating makes these symptoms worse.  If you’re only a little down, this mental self-torture can tip you over to severe depression.  Problem-solving becomes harder.  Increased depression saps motiva-tion to try any solution.

Do Women Suffer More From Depression?

         A long list of biological, social and psychological factors increase women’s chances of becoming depressed.  But they may also be genetically disposed.  And dramatic hormonal changes can trigger it. 

Is The Cause Mostly Physiological?

      Social factors contribute also.  Women often have more traumas, and that leads to a higher depression rate.  They also may live with chronically stressful situations such as job, sex discrimination or living with an abuser.   Psychologically, women can get wrapped up---due to codependency and passivity---in relationships, unable to pull out of unhealthy ones, usually a result of not having boundaries or discern-ment.   Conflict with others is a common trigger.

Why Don’t Men Ruminate?

      Men are generally less prone to rumination.  Men typically spend less time thinking about relationship problems.  When they do, they're less likely to brood over conflicts with others, how they feel about things.   Instead, they take constructive steps to solve the problem or destructive steps to avoid it.

Should Women Try to “Man Up”? 

       We want to cultivate our strengths.  Women usually are good at understanding feelings.  When a person is not mired in rumination, it allows that individual to cope with distressing situations.   Women more often anticipate the emotional consequences of life choices, which helps in making well-informed decisions.   Sometimes---as I am personally experiencing in my dealings with someone dear---antici-pation of all possibilities related to a problem stymies us, paralyzing us.  The 3 P's come into play---which is actually a regression----perfectionism, procrastination, paralysis. 

One Antidote

       With problem-solving, women can be mentally flexible, focusing on getting things done, not just getting their way.   With clients, most ses-sions end with creating an action steps.  We look at healthy alterna-tives to the problems they face.  When we do this, we are creating a better today.  

       This is "staying in the solution."  It involves not giving away our power.  We may not be able to control our circum-stances but we can control how we respond to them. 

Second Antidote     

       Asking for help is a good idea, too.   This permits us to use the combined strengths of those around us, instead of doing everything ourselves.

       All in all, thinking can be helpful.  The trick is not to get mired in over-thinking that leads nowhere but down the road where the cross streets are Depression and Despair.

       What do you do, to slow down your mind, when it is in overdrive? 

Chapter Fifteen

Speaking Our Truth: Why We Don't

         Saying what we want.

         How difficult it can be.  Fearing the reactions of others. It makes us feel like walking on egg-shells.  Wanting to please, we have a false belief.   We think our needs are less important than others.

        We are not honest.  We don't disagree---outward-ly.  Yet inwardly, we protest.  We do not state our opinions---what we want or do not want. We com-ply. Inside, we fume.

       Being authentic is hard.  We fear rejection, if we are.  We dread disapproval.  Expressing our feelings and wants doesn't happen.  We don't want to ruin the relationship.

       Big question.  What type of relationship is it, if we can't be honest?  Is it worth having?  I say no.

        Not expressing our true selves does not let others know the real us.  How empty is that?  No-body's needs are met.  Our need for connection and closeness are not met.  Intimacy---to know and be known is not satisfied. The need of others to understand us is neglected. Relating with us---genu-inely---doesn't happen.

      The ancient Greeks used masks in plays.  The classic tragedy and comedy masks we know. They indicated a performer's role.  Built within them were megaphones. They amplified the character's voice.

      This is where the mask got it's name.  Personna.  Per---which means through---and sona, which refers to sound.  The persona was the image the character gave as he "sounded" through a mask.

      This is the source for the word "per-son."  More than 2,700 years later, it is still true.  Many continue to speak through a big mask.  We do not reveal our true selves.

      We say, "I'm fine" when asked how we are.  We aren't.  Our relationships are as tasty as shredded wheat.  That is an insult to shredded wheat.  That fiber filled cereal is tastier than insincere, inauthentic relationships.

      Today, I was real.  I was angry towards someone.  This person had not seen me express this emotion.  A rare occurrence.  There was no mask.  I said what I wanted and what I didn't want.

       It.  Felt.  Good.

      There's nothing wrong with anger.  It's how we express it that's important.

Chapter Sixteen
Tears of Healing

More about him in a moment. 
        I cried.

       Touched and fearful I was. Twelve people lined up, facing me. One at a time, they shared the good they saw.  In.  Me.  It was hard. Taking it in.  As the waves of their com-passionate words washed over me I felt long-sought tears emerging.

       By the penultimate person's affirmations, I could not hold back these droplets of healing.

       Then, a surprise.  The exercise was done.  So I thought.  The instructor said, "Wait!" She scooted, standing in front of me, now.  She did not do this with the other six students who went before.

      With a gentle smile, she said,  "The good I see in you is you are an innocent and sensitive man."  She embraced me.  I hugged her back.  That did it.  Tears poured as I made my way to my seat.  A fellow student next to me gently rubbed my back, letting me know the compassion she had for me.  I was the only crybaby during that exercise.

      What's wrong with me? You'll find out. Read on.

      Crying more, I am.  That's good.  I am thankful for my sensitivity.  It hid for years.  As a child, it wasn't safe, being vulnerable.  I turned my soul into a walnut.  That way, I could not get hurt.   Mercilessly, I was teased by my siblings, when growing up.  I was shamed and physically hurt by my dad.

      In elementary school, starting in the fifth grade, I was laughed at.  In class.  I had a speech impediment.  It was the result of being chang-ed from left-handed to right. That happened when I was ten. At the time I thought I was stupid.

      I could not say words correctly.  I was brain damaged. My tongue got twisted up. Every night, in my bunk bed, I prayed.  I asked God to help me not be stupid.

      Affirming people everyday, is what I do.  Natural, gentle, insightful, practical encouragement is my profession.  Saturday, I saw this was going to happen to me.  They did it to the other six students, first.  Filled with fear I was, knowing I would have my turn.

      Does that surprise you, my readers, fellow guests of this inn?

      Saturday, vestiges of my wounded heart took over my emotions.  During this exercise it happened.  My normal reasonable self was incredulous.  Why would others line up, to say good things about me?  A violent war took place within, as I faced the line of people.

      I was terrified.  My emotions overrode logic.  Fear rode over my educa-tion.  And here, they were going to say positive things about me.  Me.  My heart disregarded the love expressed at that very moment.

      Decades of past pain overtook three decades of personal work on my weaknesses.  My fear overcame professional training.  My recovery work failed me during this crisis moment.  The principles of Al-Anon Family Groups did not rescue me. The little Pablo surfaced.  The fearful, damaged me.

      Was I surprised.  I was in the grip of a violent, fear-inducing, four hun-dred pound gorilla.  His name, Abuse.  It was he who pounded the joy and hope out of me, as a little boy.  He did this on a daily basis.  It was this gorilla who robbed me of innocence, when young.

     "You are undeserving," he screamed after each person in the line praised me. "This is a sham, not true!" this vicious primate yelled when a person gently said what they liked about me.  If I was ever close to insanity, it was Saturday night.  During this exercise.

     I stood there calmly as reality and abuse played tug-of-war with my brain. My heart could not comprehend what was happening.  Cold sweat formed on the back of my head as I listened to each person.  Anxiety produced from past terrors filled me with dread.  I knew Halloween was approaching, but I did not know that its goblins would haunt me a week early.

     What was the balm that provided healing from this gorilla of abuse?  Affirming words from others and my tears.  I felt the ghost of long suppres-sed fearful feelings.  I faced them.  I recognized their terrible power.

      How they throttle me, emotionally.  Even while being encouraged!  This happens when I don't confront these fears and pain with truth.  It happens if I am not mindful of who I truly am. This takes place when I overlook the amaz-ing qualities of my life.

      I was unfettered from my painful past by the love received Satur-day.  The hugs from those with me combatted past terrors.  Their affirming words healed old wounds.  Each tear I shed washed away a moment of terrible pain.  This healing is not gotten living alone or within our heads.  Chains of past pain were shattered by love received from a community.

      I was made whole this weekend by the soothing presence of com-passion.  It is not derived by isolating, playing with electric devices.  Healing requires human touch.  It emerges when I bond with healthy, supportive others.  It is born from community.  Immersing ourselves with others who have hearts of love is the only way that frees us from past pain and fear.

      I know. 

Chapter Seventeen                                          7/17/15
Warmed Over Death: 
Truth and Grace Need to Be Married
     It gave me the creeps.

     Someone wrote a comment here, at the inn, at 8:15 this morning.  The se-cond time he has posted.In four years. It had no heart. The comment was delet-ed.

      How easy it is, staying in our head.  Warmed over death.

     The last two sentences sounds like a a lyric doesn't it?  Don't mind me, I've been listening to Neil Young's music lately.  I
write songs, too.

     His comment was full of judg-ment.  No grace or compassion could be found within it.  It was full of insensitive declarations.  I imagine this person feels obliged to condemn.  Oh, it wasn't about me.  And, I agree with the truths underlining what he said.

     Here's the tricky part.  How we do something that is fre-quently more impor-tant the task.  We've greater effectiveness drawing people through attraction than calloused proclama-tions.  We want to love before we level, con-nect before correcting.

      This is true if we are relating with our children, friends, subordinates or our neighbor next door.  No one cares about what we have to say if we attack them.  Such communication is tragic.  Why? Because blame, shame, guilt, fear and judgment only throws up a wall.  They create a barrier between us and those we are trying to reach.

        All they hear is that we reject them.  We don't like them.  And "throw up" is a good phrase. That is what we are doing, vomiting on them.  Our judgments.

       They cannot and will not hear what we say. There's a saying, "People don't care how much we know, until they know how much we care." About them, first.

        What did I think when reading his nineteen paragraphed rant?  My judgments were: I felt death, not love.  I was bathed by the cold shower of self-righteousness.  I shivered in the frigidity of impersonal words.  I imagined I would not want to be his friend.

        That's okay.  My guess is he wouldn't want to be mine.

        We are the average of the five people we hang out with.  I prefer having a joyous life.  I want to know God's love (and truth).  I don't care to have a cold worldview.  I don't want a judgmental perspective.

         I prefer connecting with those who reflect God's character.  Especially His love. They motivate me by their example.  I am drawn to people who are lighthouses of hope. They guide me to the harbor of peace of mind.

         With my safe friends I share joy.  We don't crawl around in life's underbrush, with all of its snakes and worms.

         Paradoxically he discussed a subject dear to me.  God.  But, no way would I want to know this fellow.  Truth without grace is judgment.   Grace without truth is unreality.  We need both.

         I said both. This means being gracious and loving, along with speaking the truth.  My judgment was this fellow's comment was all truth. It was austerely written. Heart was lacking in the words he uttered in print.


La girl said...

Sometimes it gets very difficult to get past the awareness stage because taking responbility and taking care of me is not an engrained habit. I'm still working on the wiring and hopefully the more I work on masked, the more I can take action.

Pablo said...

Dear LA Girl,

I feel bad about the tardiness of my reply. I've been suffering. For four months. What I have endured has sapped my energy.

I needed to lay low and regroup. Gradually, I am returning to the abundant life I normally know. I refer to inner abundance.

I applaud the work you are doing to take care of yourself and strengthen your interior world. When you do, you are not selfish, but practical. When you are solid and balanced, it makes it possible for you to truly contribute to those in your private community.

As we become more present, we find ourselves more authentic. And the masks we wear fall away.

Thank you, for your comment. I appreciate them. They help me to know you better and provide community in this thankful place in cyberspace.

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.