Monday, July 14, 2014

Concious Compassion

I believe compassion is one of the cornerstones of society. As I observe people going about their daily lives and observe what is in the media,  I believe it is in short supply these days. ( I include myself in these observations).  I am not talking about the type of “compassion” where we donate money to what we consider to be worthy. That may be a form of “compassion” although perhaps a bit impersonal.   I’m referring to practicing compassion in our daily interactions with others and our attitude toward others.

Do you believe it is important to be compassionate?  What does practicing “compassion” mean to you?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Continuity with our electronic devices

Do a search on twitter or other social media and you will see the use of the word "continuity" as language they use to market their electronic devices to us.  It is a valuable asset and something you want to have with your cell phone, computers, printers, etc.

It struck me recently how little continuity we have in other parts of our lives.  Everywhere I hear the "mantra" that the only constant in our lives is change.  I think this is especially true now with the fast paced lives we currently live.  It was not so for past generations.

The generation born around 1925 and sometime thereafter worked at the same company for most of their lives and longevity was honored and celebrated.  Currently you can become professionally “stale” if you remain with one company more than five years. Often as companies change and the economy adjusts we are not even given the option of remaining for more than a few years.   Most marriages don’t last as long as the previous generations – 50 years or more. We tend to change houses about every 5 years.  We frequently move from city or state.  

I agree it is good to accept and welcome change.  Still we do need continuity. (Continuity is defined by Webster’s as “the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time.)  As with most things I think we need to achieve a balance.

Where is the continuity in our lives?  We seem to form most of our relationships in our work environments.But what happens when our work situation changes?  I find continuity within my family but I am aware if I rely too much on them the relationship can become a burden, even poisonous. Lack of continuity in other areas of our lives strains our relationships. I am painfully aware that when I don’t find continuity elsewhere I do rely too much on my family.

How do we find that balance?  Perhaps if we (as a society) valued it more we would find more of it in our lives.   Instead of valuing excessive activity or “busyness” we could value continuity and community. After all it is only with continuity that we forge strong and lasting bonds with each other and with communities.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Forgiveness and self-love

Acivity is the enemy of reflection.  Don’t get me wrong too much reflection and we can become morose and even depressed.  But too much activity and we can gloss over or repress our feelings and emotions.  It is, like most things in life, a balancing act.

Forgiveness is an especially tough one.  The need to forgive can be masked by so many other emotions like guilt and even anger.  We need some real time to reflect in order to discern what we need to forgive ourselves for.  For me a big one was to forgive myself for being such a lousy mother for so many years. (I still make many, many mistakes i must forgive myself for, in spite of my huge improvement). 

We carry around this guilt or anger or feeling of uneasiness or dissatisfaction.  Something is nagging at us and won’t give us any peace.  Usually when I feel that way I know I have done something “wrong”.  It takes a little bit of soul searching to figure out what it is and then more soul searching to actually forgive myself.   It means that I have to admit I am not perfect and I actually made a mistake. (See my last post). Then I have to tell myself I am human and we all make mistakes.  That is how we learn and grow after all as mistakes are our great teachers.  True forgiveness means I can’t call it up at a later time and chastise myself for this mistake or failing.  Often I find I say I have forgiven myself only to catch myself beating myself up at a later time.   Identify, forgive, learn the lesson and then close the door on the recriminations, guilt, anger, etc.  We want to dispassionately remember the event or mistake so we can call up the lesson but we don’t want to continue to berate ourselves for making the mistake.

It is so true that until we can learn to forgive ourselves we can’t possibly forgive others.  Is this another aspect of self-love perhaps?  We often confuse forgiveness of others with simply accepting bad treatment from them.  There is a difference.  Forgiveness means we let go of any anger or judgment.  The false forgiveness may simply be a lack of boundaries where we are willing to “forgive and forget” bad treatment or behavior.    Forgiveness is not easy or automatic.   We develop a forgiving heart by forgiving ourselves and then when we have acquired a forgiving heart we can also forgive others.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Perfectionism and self-love

So many of us grew up believing we had to be “perfect” in order to be loved. We had to earn love. (Have things changed?)  It was not until I became an adult that I realized love is a gift. I still have a hard time believing it.

Being “perfect” meant conforming to the societal norms for a “girl”.   We were polite, considerate, thoughtful, never boastful or ambitious, supportive of others, put the needs of others ahead of our needs, patient, humble and much more.  We were supposed to blend in.  We never wanted to call attention to ourselves. (This is one reason we struggled in the work world).  We would berate ourselves mercilessly if we failed in any small way in our pursuit of perfection and love.  We would harshly judge and certainly avoid other “girls” who failed or chose a different path. We looked for “perfection” in others as well but we were hardest on ourselves.

It is impossible to accept who we are if we are always falling short of this “perfect female”. (We are even afraid to admit we have any faults or shortcomings or even make mistakes and so we are dishonest with ourselves and others.)

Doesn’t genuine love happen, not when we glorify or idealize another person, but when we love them with all their shortcomings, foibles and faults?  We don’t really love another person if we love the image or fantasy we have created of them.  The same can be true of us. Perhaps that is what the “experts” mean when they say you have to love yourself before you can love another. It is only when we accept ourselves for whom we are (and admit we are not perfect) that we can accept others for who they are. We can experience genuine love. It seems self acceptance is one part of self-love.

Monday, April 28, 2014


gas mask business man -
Empowerment photo? Someone posted it as one. 

Everywhere I turn it seems I see the word empowerment. It is tied to food, women, health, and on and on.  It struck me today that I really have only a very vague idea of its meaning. Is there any substance to the concept of “empowerment” or is it just a marketing gimmick.    I looked it up in Webster’s which provides a meaning, “to give power to someone”. So are we giving power to ourselves or is someone else giving it to us?   My vague understanding is that much of the “empowerment” information in terms of women’s issues is about giving power to ourselves or at least not letting others take away our power.

When I use the word “power” I specifically mean we have the power to change our lives by changing our own behavior and attitude in any given situation and at any given period of time in our lives. First we have to recognize what our attitude is and that may be the hardest part. Our attitudes and behaviors are so ingrained in us they can be very, very difficult to recognize.  Once we know, recognize and understand our attitude and/or our behavior we can work to change it. I’m not saying changing it is easy but at least we have a target.

By giving you my thoughts am I “empowering” you to change your life by changing your attitude and behavior?  My curiosity is peaked and I will be looking into the meaning of “empowerment” more in the coming weeks. I will also be exploring self-love more. (I tend to jump around subjects a bit.  I apologize). 

What empowers us?  What does it mean to be empowered? Do we need to be empowered? Who empowers us?  I always seem to have more questions than answers!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What is love?

It seems before we can explore the idea of "self-love" we need to explore the concept of love in general. That makes sense. 

Is love an art just like living is an art?  If it is an art it requires knowledge and effort.  Or is love just a pleasant sensation? 

According to Erich Fromm in his book, "The Art of Loving”, love is an art which requires mastery of the theory and mastery of the practice just like any art such as music, medicine, etc.

Today is short and sweet but something that needs some serious pondering?  How do you see "love"? Do you treat it as an art or as a pleasant sensation?