We all have choices in life- What we will pursue for a career, who we associate with and where we will live etc… We may also choose what mood we are in and yes we can choose the way we feel.
In the “Diary of Anne Frank”, Anne has a happy attitude through all of her trials hiding from Hitler’s regime and eventually ending up in a concentration camp. To paraphrase her she says, “Though they could beat me, take away my parents or starve me, they can’t take away the way I choose to feel.” We can choose how we want to feel about whatever happens to us. Have you ever said, “He makes me mad?” Well now we can see that no one makes us happy or sad or mad…It is a choice. True strength of character comes from being able to control how we react to difficult situations. Everyone loves the super-hero on television who keeps his cool when everyone around him is in a panic. That suggests how we should be. Our character of being honest, moral and kind to all should not be affected by what someone else does. We should be our best selves all the time…not just when it is easy.
In the movie “Just You and Me Kid”, Brooke Shields enters a wealthy mans home. She exclaims, “Wow, you must be rich!” The wealthy man played by George Burns replies, “No one must be anything..It’s a choice.” Yes we even have choices about our life style. Too many people give excuses why they cannot succeed in something. But there are many, many stories that tell of great success coming from extreme poverty and from the lowliest places.
We make choices each day whether we will be fat or thin by what we eat and if we exercise. We make daily choices whether we will be rich or poor by how we choose to work, spend or save. If you have a talent or hobby that you would eventually like to do full time or for profit then ask yourself how you spend your spare time. Is it doing something to accomplish that goal ?
There are some people who cannot control some parts of their emotions through chemical imbalances. Some can get depressed through hormones without any fault of their own. But everyone has a certain amount of choices made on a daily basis and these ideas could help if we choose to let them help us.
Our minds are very powerful and even suggestions we make to ourselves can affect our emotions. Have you ever said to yourself, “Watch me trip over that cord” or “I bet I can’t do that” or “I never am good at this”. When we talk to ourselves in this manner we prepare to set ourselves up for failure. We need to catch our negative thoughts and try to change them for positive ones. Such as when we think..”Well I never was good at this.” change it to a positive thought by adding..”but this time I’m going to do it well.” This way we do not rob ourselves of valuable self-esteem and possible success.
LETTING SMALL THINGS BUG US:
Cars on a street making the wrong signal in front of our vehicle can upset us if we let it. Replace the anger with thoughts about perhaps why the person made a mistake. Maybe they just found out about a daughters illness or lost a job and can’t think clearly. Also we should remember that we also make mistakes I usually make the same mistake that I just got upset at someone for a short time later. This oftimes happens to me..such as if my little girl spills milk and I get upset I usually spill milk or something worse a moment later. It never pays to get upset. It only results in not feeling good about not being in control or high blood pressure…
ASSUME THE BEST:
This brings us to assumptions. If we assume the best of others and ourselves then life is less stressful and we can use our otherwise negative emotions spent on anger for a more positive use. All people tend to think through different situations to try and figure the outcome. This can lead to a build-up of assumptions that if negative can prevent the good that could have come.
When I came home complaining about someone else at school, my mom would ask about the other persons life. In a small town, I would know that their dog died or dad was in the hospital. My mom would then say, “See, they are having a difficult time right now…Give them a break and love them through it instead of getting mad at what they’re doing.” Now that the town I live in is not so small and I don’t know the circumstances of everyone…I must assume the best of everyone.
SERVICE BUILDS OUR EMOTIONAL POWER:
I once got a class handout with a small paper doll in a baggie that said. “A person who is all wrapped up in themselves makes a tiny package.” This is so true. Serving other helps our own life-s emotional power to grow. We should each try to find a service for others and spend our time, talents and energy in doing that service. It helps us to keep life in perspective.
We are all connected to each other in this great big world. We need each other for survival and fulfillment. Everyone has problems and everyone can help someone else. If we help someone else fill a need…it helps to give our own soul a deeper meaning and helps us to feel better about ourself. This character trait of serving others can save, cover and correct many other flaws we may have. As the Bible says…”Charity covereth a multitude of sins.” Charity can actually empower us emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Look outside of yourself to find what you can do to serve. Even if it seem small to you…If you had the idea to help someone else…It may be important to them.
This is where we go around like mindless robots doing the same things everyday and making the same mistakes, or not paying attention to what is going on around us or even what we are doing or knowing why.
I have a planner and then again sometimes I feel like IT has me. Don’t let your schedule be your master. I have to watch out that I use my planner to free my mind so I don’t have to mentally rehearse what I have to do the next day. However, I feel like I have to look in my planner to see if I have time to brush my teeth (just kidding)…Planners help you to be honest by remembering to do something you told someone you would do….But day planners shouldn’t be the focus of living life and becoming a robot.
Organization and structure are important for emotional stability. It has been proven that for children in elementary school it is important to establish a routine for emotional stability. However, We will feel better emotionally if we are aware of our lives as we are living it. We need to take time to appreciate life and the things around us.
Open your eyes. Look around you. See the sunset, the flowers, anything that is beautiful. Be aware and enjoy it.
I get so stuck in the same old rut that I find life can get boring useless we take small moments to enjoy small things that are wonderful. It doesn’t take a large amount of time but it gives a large amount of pleasure.
BACK OFF FROM OVER PRESSURING YOURSELF:
Allow yourself to waste a little time. I have to tell myself this because I feel that life is so short as it is, that I have to fill every minute with meaning and importance. If you are an over achiever than you need to give yourself some spaces in time to reflect, meditate and otherwise relax. When my daughter comes home from school sometimes she sits down in front of the television. I sometimes over-react as I see this as time wasted and will say “Don’t you have homework or piano to practice?” I am putting my over achieving pressure on her and expecting perfection. She needs a break from school and sometimes needs to rest.
Not that I think we should watch t.v. for hours and hours on end. Constant television watching and living through a box instead of serving others and learning something or loving someone is a waste of valuable time. I do love a good movie or seeing a good program, but there is a lot of service and worthwhile activities or learning experiences we can have instead.
One of the most important things you can do is learning to say NO to an activity that would not be beneficial to you or would be too difficult for you or your family. It is okay to say, “I’ve already committed to something else.” or “This is not a good time for me to do that.” or “I’m sorry but my schedule really does not permit me to do that.” If it isn’t going to be good for you….JUST SAY NO. (Yea and my family says why don’t you try it yourself mom)
We waste a lot of time doing things that add too much stress and do not add to the fulfillment of our life. Try to filter your choices down to the most quality of activities and do them. Resist feeling pressure from others you can only live the life you choose to live. You cannot live someone elses life for them as well.
HUMOR IS IMPORTANT:
Life happens to everyone everyday. Sometimes things that happen can upset or annoy your daily rituals. That’s when anger strikes us and then we let our emotions control us instead of us controlling our emotions.
In situations where we cannot change what has been done…look for the humor in the situation. Shakespeare said, “Tragedy plus Time equals Comedy.” So, look at how the situation will look in a year from now..Could it be funny? Would it make a great locker room story? Well try to laugh at it and enjoy it now…The sooner the better.
Whatever the irritation may be, keep in mind a positive outlook. This could help until the problem passes.
Saying I’m sorry is often difficult for many people. This is important for our character to shoulder our own responsibility for our mistakes. If we hold grudges or if we make excuses for our mistakes and never make amends for it, it can build up and hurt our own emotional bank account. We should apologize with intent to correct or if it cannot be corrected at least give a decent apology.
Also accepting apologies is important for us to release whatever grudge we may hold inside ourselves. This grudge holding hurts us more deeply than anyone else.
HANDLING LOSS OR GRIEF:
Whether it is the loss of a loved one, a job, a friend moving away or we graduate from school or have a new schedule we can feel a sense of loss.
Most cultures have rituals to deal with death of loved ones, but many Americans tend to ignore or deny that they have any grief. Some keep reliving the same “movie scene” in their minds. Mourning or grieving takes time in order to be productive.
First you need to identify and recognize that you are experiencing loss. You can tell if you have nightmares or continually think about something or wish it constantly to return.
Recognition is hard because many of us are not aware of why we feel only that we feel. And I believe that all of us have some uncompleted “feel bad” inside of us about something. One good place to identify the loss is to write in your journal or on paper anything that makes you feel sad, hurt, angry or numb.
Next you need to deal with your grief. Dealing with it is an individual thing. Some have to cry until there are no more tears. Others have to talk it out outloud. Perhaps even yelling in the mirror until the emotion is spent (Of course you’d do this in private so as not to upset or burden another person). Some like talking to someone else about the problem so they can verbalize their feelings. Some like to express themselves in writing where a journal comes in very handy. Some things such as death of a loved one takes a lot of time to deal with it…so allow it to gradually take its course.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross tells of the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. You may recognize these stages if you experience a loss yourself or be aware of it in others. I personally think every person goes through these stages but at different times, for different lengths of times and in a different order than others.
My sister who was very close to my other sister who had passed away fixed her hair for the viewing and did her make-up the way she thought she would have wanted it done. I felt like this helped her to accept her death sooner than if she hadn’t done this one last service for her.
A little brother of one sister who died thought she was afraid of the dark and put a nite light in the casket. At least he felt like he was able to fix something…since he had no control over the whole situation.
One daughter was afraid that her mommy would be alone when she died so she put pictures of the family in with her.
Children especially need to be listened to when they are suffering a loss because it can stay with them all of their lives and affect them if not. Understanding the feelings they have and trying to do things (no matter how trivial it seems to us) to eleviate the pressure inside is important.
No one can know exactly how someone deals with their own personal grief and we cannot put a time limit on it. We do need to face our own fears before we can help others. This is done by open and honest communication. In helping others to deal with their grief or loss you can be the listener. I once heard someone say after a funeral “Don’t just do something..stand there…and listen.”
Follow up is important in helping others also. I like to send greetings or flowers a few weeks after a funeral. When my aunt that had raised me all of my life (thus I called her MOM) died of heart failure, there were lots of people around and commotion during the funeral. However, after the funeral it had seemed that everyone had forgotten and went about their regular days (as expected). I on the other hand was left to silence when I would return home from school and temporarily forget she was gone and call out “Mom, I’m home.” Silence would answer loudly. This would bring out the loss all over again. One thoughtful person brought me some flowers weeks after the funeral and sat to listen if I wanted to talk. I have always remembered that thoughtful expression of kindness and have since tried to imitate it on occasion.
After the emotions have come out set about to make positive habits to catch emotion right away and deal with it quickly before it hinders progression. Remember with grief and loss that it can return even when we think we are over it by getting nostalgic over a familiar memory. This is normal and many beautiful and positive poems, songs and stories have been written as a result.
Memories are important for preserving heritage and keeping lessons alive that we have learned so as not to repeat the same mistakes. However, many like to live in the past and wish their lives had been different. This can cause excuses for failure to be made so much that it inhibits the good we can do NOW.
“I should have married Karl and now I wouldn’t be single” or “If only I’d tried out for that job I could be rich now”
We can make ourselves miserable by feeling the sense of failure and a lack of faith in the future bound by the past. But most often if those events you wish for would have happened it may not have been good for you or you have gained much needed experience that you may use to help others or fulfill your desired future.
I love the movie “Mr. Destiny” to prove that point. In the movie the main character felt like his life would have been a total success if he had just won one baseball game. Mr. Destiny comes to him and changes the ball game in the past and places him in this point of time as if the ball game would’ve been won. He had married someone else and was President of the company he now worked for and was mean, dishonest and ruthless and hunted eventually by the police. He wants his own life back and begs Mr. Destiny for it. It is returned to him and he comes back much more appreciative of his wife, friends and yes his job.
Our failures can actually help us to be better people if we learn and grow from them rather than let them hinder us.
RULES TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL ARGUMENT:
All people have times in their lives when they disagree with someone else. How we choose to handle this can be the difference between success and failure of a relationship.
- First of all we need to be CALM. I have to remember to tell myself this often. When we are out of control, we could actually say or do something that could change our entire lives in just a few minutes. So calm down before discussing differences. Fight fire with water and control your emotions.
- START with something POSITIVE . You should think about what it is that you admire, respect or like about the person. Say what you like about the person or their behavior before going into the negative matter.
- Be well ORGANIZED to tell your side of the story. Don’t take too long and lose interest before you’re finished. State the most important things first unless it is best to build it in the order of events.
- Try to realize the other persons VIEWPOINT. This will take time to listen to the other person fully. Listen to their entire story before trying to fix anything or coming to any conclusions. As in Robert’s Rules of Order used in court and official meetings, hearing the entire story of each side avoids confusion. Keep in mind that they may be upset and could be exaggerating or saying things to upset you..Try not to become defensive or you will close up and not be able to think clearly to finish the argument. Once you start to show them that you are willing to listen to them and that you’re trying to understand them…then they usually will open up to yours as well.
- STICK to the SUBJECT. If you are arguing about where to go on vacation and someone mentions, say, Hawaii and it reminds you of suntan oil…Don’t start arguing that you didn’t like the brand of suntan oil the other person bought… Stay with the issue or action that is bothering you and do not attack the person or his or her character. Keep the PERSON separated from the BEHAVIOR. You can love people but dislike what they did. All people have a spark of the divine. Some people just have difficult experiences and make bad choices and mistakes. Learn to separate the two in a disagreement.
- Say what you “FEEL” rather than what you “think”. People can argue with your thoughts but find it rather difficult to argue with your heart. If you state what it is you “feel” or how you believe you will feel when the action you dislike takes place, then others can relate what they might feel also and perhaps a compromise can be made.
- Don’t call NAMES. “You insensitive brat…” or other such names can only make the other person defensive and mentally close the communication channel. They usually won’t listen to another word after hearing a name. Another tactic close to name calling is using generalities such as: “You always…” or “You never…”. First of all it couldn’t hardly be true for nothing is absolute…Things are always changing…
- END the talk on a POSITIVE note. This is also an important time to end the conversation with a summery of how you both feel and perhaps any agreements you decide upon or that you choose not to decide at this time. Keep it positive at the end and continue to build the positive side of the relationship.
Look for SOLUTIONS. Maintain a higher perspective and look for a “Happy Ending” that each of you can live with. Remember the relationship is more important than the disagreement.
ACCEPT YOUR CHILDHOOD
All people have some bad memories in their childhood. Life and people simply just are not perfect. Things that happen when we are young usually have a profound affect on us as adults. For example, I teach voice lessons and the majority of my students were told not to sing when they were young. Perhaps they were told that because the person who said it wanted to do something else and simply did not want to hear any singing at that time…But as a child they may have thought that it was because they didn’t sound good. This caused them to believe that they could not sing at all causing a mental block for the art of singing. I have found that if they start over and listen to good music and get used to their own voice most people who do not have a hearing loss can sing quite well.
Sometimes we feel bad about ourselves in the past. We may think that we did something wrong and find it hard to forgive ourselves. Returning to a hometown or former classroom may bring back old insecurities that you may have forgotten about. Remembering what actually happened here through the eyes of an adult instead of the eyes of the child as you remember it…you may find that it really wasn’t because YOU were bad or did something wrong…but because of the children or adult in charge had a difficult time and could’ve handled the situation better than they did. If looking back in time you still feel that YOU were the one who acted badly then realize that we are all human and you were a child then……And forgive yourself. And forgive others…Covering up these emotions can only cause them to hide deeper inside of yourself instead of dealing with it and pushing it out. We have to take out the trash and clean house inside our minds to prepare for success, and other exciting things to take the place of the bad inside our minds. This could be important for your internal progression.
Sometimes there is a memory that is so painful that it affects our daily lives greatly. If that is the case and you cannot find comfort on your own, then seek professional help. In seeking the professional councilor or therapist find someone who has a good record of graduating clients and not someone who has had the same clients for years and is trying to build a consistent practice. Pray for help in your goals of emotional beauty and you will find peace of mind.
SEEK FOR PROGRESSION WITHOUT COMPARISON
OR EXPECTING TOO MUCH
Comparing ourselves to others can cause us to have too much pride and walk around full of ourselves not thinking of others…Or it can cause us to be upset and frustrated with our perception of ourselves. This could cause us to make excuses and finally damage our performance.
Our society tends to glamorize people and places and sets us up to compare ourselves on others. We cannot base our self worth on a picture in a magazine or something we see, hear or know about someone else. When we compare ourselves to others we become either bitter or vain. If you pick up a magazine or turn on a television you can always find someone who is prettier or not as good looking as you are. You can always find someone who is in better condition or not as healthy as you are. You can always find someone who is less or more talented than you in a particular skill or art. The trick is not to measure your success by anyone else but to measure your progress by time. Are you better today then you were yesterday? If the answer is yes, then you are a success.
Competition can be good if we use it to strive to do our best and improve our standard of excellence. It can also help us to see in others what character traits we would or would not like to develop for ourselves. But competition can also be harmful if we let it stop or hurt our performance.
In our youth competition between family members could be taken also good or bad. If we were compared to a friend or relative it could put a wedge between that relationship. If you had this happen realize that it was not the friend or relatives fault that you were compared to each other…but the person who compared the two of you…And even that person could have had good intentions for you. So forgive them both. It really harms no one but ourselves if we hold a grudge.
If you have a relationship that is strained and you can’t tell why then… Search honestly and deeply in your soul to see if you have an invisible grudge or one that is hidden deep down.
Perfection is also something that society tends to indicate is the norm. We see so many models on tv and in magazines with make-up and film lighting perfect skin. Most of these models were perfected through computer enhancement and you cannot judge your real self against what was fixed on a computer.
Remember again that we are all human and it is impossible to be perfect in all things at all times. If you expect perfection in yourself or others you will be frustrated emotionally. I believe that most abuse in relationships come from unrealistic expectations. Such as adults could become frustrated with a child who has not mastered a skill on an adult level because they cannot they are a child. That expectation can cause some painful emotional and sometimes physical scars. If you had an adult who had that expectation of you in your childhood, realize that it was an error on the adults part.
A friend of mine going to school got a low score one day on an exam. She wanted to drop out of school all together because she her idea of perfection looked impossible.
Another friend was on a diet. She cheated during one meal and thought she should quit the whole diet because she failed to be perfect.
Allow yourself room for errors. We all make mistakes. Take that into account and feel good about the positive things you do.