I have come across many people who hide from themselves, they resist the pursuit of finding themselves, and miss out on growing into the happiest possible version of themselves.
Have you learned how to be happy and accept who you are, and ignore the opinions of those who set out to change or criticise you? Have you stopped the force of influence from people who you do not aspire to be like?
Are you authentically true to yourself?
Does your life and character reflect who YOU really want to be?
There are some important steps to pursuing the authentic, untainted version of you! Steps towards learning how to become the You, that YOU really want to be.
I have found these steps to be the foundation of what I have gained during over 6years of honest therapy, with a few different psychologists.
Sometimes, often even, a stigma can follow an announcement of seeing a psychologist. Those who have not had therapy, or not understood the need for it, may vastly misjudge those of us who go regularly, and wonder what is ‘wrong’ with us. Some may avoid therapy even if they think they need it, because this stigma covers them with shame. Sure, the most extreme cases of ‘crazy’ are treated in therapy, and so are a variety of mild to severe mental illnesses, mood disorders and psychological conditions. However I don’t feel you have to have a severe problem to benefit from regular therapy. In fact I think everyone would benefit from seeing a good therapist, even just once in a while.
I have found that a good therapist is a sounding board, a place to express your own thoughts, feelings, desires and concerns about who you are and how your life is going. It is place to escape the onslaught of voices from those who have taught us their own rules of good & bad, right & wrong, should & should not. It can become a place where you get to investigate and choose which rules YOU agree with, which ones you want to alter, and which to delete entirely.
A good therapist will not tell you what they think you should or should not do, but will empower you to eliminate those toxic, unhealthy influences and rules you are not benefited by. Those you have adopted through exposure during your lives, which do not improve your sense of fulfillment and self-acceptance.
Have you spent time digging through your beliefs, choices, actions and habits and figured out what makes you tick? I recommend we question everything we were ever taught and test it against what we have learned in our own experiences. What was true for our parents and teachers may not be true for us. What we teach our children is based on our own perceptions and may not be true for them as they grow into their true selves.
Once you have figured out which rules you want to keep and apply, establishing some boundaries will protect your belief system. Developing your own boundaries in a healthy productive way, gives strength and stability to your choices. Good therapists will help with this. The instability from past attempts at boundaries, I have found, resulted because they were actually walls put up reactively, out of anger and resentment etc. These unhealthy walls will probably crumble at the first sign of challenge, or cause even more of the bitterness and anger that first created them.
A healthy proactive boundary will bring a sense of peace, it does not need to be pushed onto anyone else, but when challenged can be gently, or firmly, reinforced exactly where you have comfortably placed it. It gives assurance of the ‘You’ who you want to be, because when challenged, you won’t allow someone you did not permit to influence your beliefs and your sense of the authentic YOU!
A friend recently quizzed me, “Where on earth is their common sense?” in the midst of describing someone’s behaviour which she found to be unacceptable. It was coincidental, because I have been pondering a few questions about common sense lately.
How common is sense anymore? What exactly are the common elements of sense? Does common sense even exist? Or does it perhaps keep evolving as the generations change focus on what is sensible?
I had a thought the other day that perhaps common sense might advance as we develop sensitivity to consequences, to become more sensitive to what we feel is right and wrong.
Does it then make sense, that those who appear to have less common sense than others, may have been afforded less understanding of the consequences when faced with their own poor choices? Are those who have lacked productive discipline even aware of the actual repercussions of their actions which lack ‘common sense’?
The wisdom of this generation varies far and wide, some think that it is common sense to ‘block’ someone who bullies you online, yet regardless of the amount of awareness on this subject, many others seem unable to reach this conclusion. A few may recognise that it is common sense to be ready to be a parent when you choose to start having sex, especially if you been told this all your life. Yet so many others are still children who can barely look after themselves when they make this huge decision. Some feel it is common sense not to air dirty laundry on facebook because it gives so many others the opportunity to voice their opinion about the private situation, and that adds fuel to a fire they are already struggling with. We don’t have to look far on our newsfeed to see how uncommon this sense is… It can leave those of us who have “common sense” baffled by the lack of sense those around us display.
I asked my husband, “What do you think is the difference between sense and common sense?” He replied, “I don’t think there is any such thing as common sense!” Wow! I found his straight to the point answer, freeing and mind blowing on so many levels.
Common sense refers to an accepted understanding which everyone knows. Past examples of common sense include ‘the world is flat’ and ‘African Americans only have worth as slaves’. So then assuming everyone knows a wide range of things is a stretch! Isn’t it?
While looking up some examples of common sense I found this quote.
“Don’t confuse lack of common sense with absent mindedness. Common sense refers to deliberate decisions about which you can predict the outcome.” (Ref – Yahoo Answers)
So therefore, is anything we can predict the outcome of (either via our own experience or a logical reasoning) simply sense, or can it become ‘common’ if enough people accept the theory?
So some examples might be; if you go out in the rain you are bound to get wet. Or if you don’t eat you get hungry, don’t drink and become thirsty, don’t sleep and become tired. The really basic stuff may in fact be common sense, yet we often stretch this phrase to accommodate other examples which may not be as common as we have been led to believe.
I personally have learned many valuable lessons and live my life differently because of them. The choices I apply in my life have now become common practice for me so they feel like common sense to me. But can I expect anyone else to have the same sensibilities as me in their own lives? I don’t think so….
All these questions have led me to a couple of theories.
We can no longer assume everyone or anyone knows something that we understand, just because we have believed it for a long time and found others who agree with us. I have lost count of how many things I thought I knew to be true only to discover they were merely a misguided opinion of someone who was certain enough to be convincing.
The idea of adamant common sense may be linked to our childhood, if whoever raised us convinced us, and our other family members, of various ‘reasonings’, then it can be frustrating and confusing when the outside world holds completely different principles to these.
Perhaps it’s time to let common sense and the assumptions we make regarding it, take a back seat to sense from sensitivity and open mindedness, and encourage loving explanations instead of frustrated collisions and unmet expectations?
A special and long time friend of mine put this statement on her facebook page recently “I asked God to protect me from my enemies and I started losing friends”, it really struck a chord with me. I am sure many others can testify to the same.
When I first began breaking my habits as a ‘people pleaser’, and tried to stop doubting myself into compliance when others criticise or don’t accept me, I noticed distance began to form between me and some members of my family and friends.
It can be hard to remain close when someone makes such drastic changes to their lives and selves. The relationship may no longer hold the comforts it once did and those who can not adjust to the changes may drift away.
At first this may appear to be a bad thing, it can feel like rejection. However the freedom that comes from that distance gives much room for personal growth. This growth may not have occurred with the constant influences of those people in our lives. It also makes room for others who encourage the changes, to move closer. Those friendships we hold onto tightly, keeping them in our lives, may be the very reason we are not at peace with ourselves, or even why we haven’t made enough steps towards our personal goals. Instead of being the ally we depend upon, they may actually be enemies to our fulfillment of self.
The quality of friendships is much more important than the quantity, and true friendships are a vital piece to our sense of happiness.
The philosopher Epicurus held the following stance:
“We don’t exist unless there is someone who can see us existing, what we say has no meaning until someone can understand, while to be surrounded by friends is constantly to have our identity confirmed; their knowledge and care for us have the power to pull us from our numbness. In small comments, many of them teasing, they reveal they know our foibles and accept them and so, in turn, accept that we have a place in the world. We can ask them “Isn’t he frightening?’ or ‘Do you ever feel that…?’ and be understood, rather than encounter the puzzled ‘No, not particularly’ – which can make us feel, even when in company, as lonely as polar explorers.” (Quote from the book I am currently reading ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’ by Alain De Botton)
In the same book I read the following statement, which helped me clear out the belief that I must give authority to the opinions of those who oppose me, as they must be able to see it clearer than I or they wouldn’t be so quick to criticise. How wrong I was…
“Errors in our thoughts and way of life can, at no point and in no way, ever be proven simply by the fact that we have run into opposition. It is in the soundness of their method of thinking that should determine the weight we give to their disapproval.” – Socrates (The Consolations of Philosophy’ by Alain De Botton)
Until I began to question the sound logic of those opinions held by my criticisers, I tried hard to gain their understanding, acceptance and approval. Yet at the same time I kept developing my internal understanding, which began to outgrow them. This diatribe of mixed messages caused so much confusion that I believed at times I was losing my mind!
Learn from my mistakes, and challenge opposition and criticism, by thinking in a methodical way, so as to gain understanding and awareness of oneself and truth, while maintaining your own personal growth regardless of who’s understanding or approval you may outgrow.
So often I hear stories and see with my own eyes the damage brought about when parents separate. Children from split families often struggle with insecurity, and a string of psychological conditions. This is a subject extremely close to my heart, as I was estranged from my father from the age of 10 until I was an adult, and I still battle with the internal scars it caused me.
After doing some research I found some shocking statistics effecting children whose parents are no longer together. Not only are the children from split families prone to psychological distress, which lasts well into adulthood. These statistics also showed frightening increased levels in the following areas when compared to children from homes with both parents, these include; lower grades, poverty, poor health, suicidal tendencies, incarceration, teen drug and alcohol abuse, early sexual encounters, and the likelihood of being victims of child abuse and assault. 40% of children growing up in America today are being raised without their fathers; commonly the case in Australia also. Half of the children in America and Australia will witness the separation or divorce of their parents. A study of children six years after a parental marriage breakup revealed that even after all that time, these children tended to be “lonely, unhappy, anxious and insecure”.
It seems that many marriage vows are no longer taken as an actual ‘vow’, it is a promise too easily broken, same goes for people who chose to have children together without considering how the child may be effected if there is no family unit. For example when I learned of my teen pregnancy I knew I would manage on my own just as my Mum had, but I never considered how my child might be affected by who her father was. It seemed irrelevant to me, because I was a child who grew up without a father, and at that time I thought I had turned out ok. (Ha! I can tick off well over half of the points above!)
Due to the rampant popularity of sex before marriage, it has become more common to agree to have a child with someone before we have even decided if we would marry them. Having a child together should be acknowledged as an even stronger commitment than marriage, yet this often fails to be the case. Children from separated families raising their own children are sometimes unable to see the consequences from that separation, as they have not developed the self-awareness to see their true internal stability or instability yet. Therefore the cycle continues and increases throughout society.
So often in our relationships we allow too easily the bumps of life to divide us, we live in a throw away, walk away society which has destructive, devastating consequences to the development of our characters and the spiritual “footprints” we leave behind. Western culture allows us to choose our own life partners, we choose out of emotion, need and desire, and then quickly, easily, we doubt our choice. Perhaps we assume it was the wrong choice because our previous lessons came from one of our bad decisions. Perhaps its because we didn’t apply Godly principles of LOVE to our relationships. Perhaps it is just too hard and we give up in search of something easier, of course we forget that it was not meant to be easy. For children this destroys their ingrained belief in the capability of their parents. The very foundation of a child’s perspective of stability and security comes from the belief that their parents are the most capable people on earth, they look to them for reassurance. When parents fail to work on their relationship and it breaks down, so does the trust of their children in them.
The emotions behind the reasons we chose our life partners are fickle! Once powerful and thought-consuming, eventually will change, develop, or even disappear completely over time. We are humans with much baggage and sin, and we expect our life partners to miraculously fill our empty places and help us carry the baggage weighing us down, and that means they are hoping the same from us also. Love and sexual connections actually allow our baggage and sinful nature to rise to the surface, so that we can face it and deal with it together as a couple. However, the ‘Better or Worse’ promise only seems to apply when we see their ‘better’ side, and we stop loving them when faced with their ‘worst’, too often facing each others sinful baggage causes much heartache and leads to bitterness and separation.
Speaking from personal experience, this is something I spend most of my time in therapy dealing with. The essence of both parents is within a child; therefore any bitterness viewed by a child from one parent toward the other is identified in some way as bitterness towards a part of them. It sends confusing messages into the inner foundation of their self-love and security.
Due to this inner battle, where I turned this bitterness upon myself, I have suffered from an incredible amount of insecurity, unsure of how anyone can truly love me because it took years for me to learn to accept myself, like myself, let alone LOVE myself.
The enemy within knows our inner wounds and is out to destroy the foundation of all of God’s designs, especially the functional family unit.The inner enemy can exaggerate our emotions, pointing to the hurt or painful memories over and over, knowing the action that follows will be a destructive one. We owe it to our children to use our inner angels to war against these emotions, striving to make sure our actions are the result of a selfless, logical decision and not a selfish, emotional one. We need to call on our Heavenly Father, knowing that our obedience to Him allows His promise to protect our children to be fulfilled.
Didn’t we make a secret promise to our children when we became parents? We would do anything to keep them safe. Their inner security is vital when determining the ‘safer’ path they will walk in their lives and it is our duty to steady their feet for their journey ahead.
Until the passing of my Dad from cancer a couple of years ago I had not previously suffered the loss of anyone who was extremely close to my heart. It was such a shock to my inner spirit, even though I consciously knew it was coming, I had no idea how I would handle the grief of such a loss.
He was the most spiritually-powerful person in my life who would fervently pray for me when I was too deep in my own weakness to pray for myself, which of course was when I needed it the most. He was my mentor, my confidant and my friend and the hole he left in my life is proving to be extremely hard to fill.
I guess I am lucky in the sense that he helped me to build such intensely strong beliefs, and somewhat of an understanding of the spiritual realm, I truly believe to my core that I will be with him for eternity when I too leave this physical realm. He has left reverberations throughout my spirit so that I can hear his voice from time to time, sometimes I dream vivid dreams where I am spending time with him, it’s almost like I get a nights holiday to visit him in that place where time and gravity does not exist. Sometimes I get a sign specifically relating to him and a memory which I believe he wants me to remember and to apply to a current situation, a bit like advice from beyond.
Yet I miss him dearly, it is strange that life just goes on without someone. I remember that first day when I woke up without feeling the weight of his death on my chest, when it wasn’t the first thing to float into my conscious mind from the distant sleep I was emerging from, it was scary, like I was forgetting that he was gone, and thinking he was just at his house waiting for me to visit. Then something would happen, I would hear a song, or see a picture, perhaps find a piece of paper with his unique handwriting on it, and it would hit me all over again like a punch to my stomach and a tear to my eye. He is really gone!
Recently I had a friend share with me her pain and confusion at the loss of her own father, quite simply the anger she feels at how unfair it was for him to be taken from her and in a way she could not fathom he deserved. It is so hard for our carnal human minds to comprehend all that is going on in the universe. I have had many experiences and interactions with the spiritual realm and yet my mind still has trouble grasping for the tangible reality of it. I feel a sense of duty to try and bring my friend some comfort and perhaps perspective in the midst of her pain. I am praying about it as I write this, asking for the Lord to give me the words to explain why these things are part of a plan we cannot yet see the final design of.
I believe this place is merely a stage for us to perform a role upon; a place to act out all mannerisms of human nature to develop our character and qualify for the position we will take up permanently in the next place. A temporary stepping stone in the midst of a more permanent yet spiritual world. If you can imagine a sphere similar to earth’s atmosphere, and picture it as a parallel universe where all the mysteries of life are no longer hidden from our human sight or understanding. Then take a paper thin layer and place it around the sphere, this layer represents the physical realm. It is connected to, but also separate from the spiritual realm. The physical realm is only a tiny element of the universe in its entirety, full of limitations yet vital to our personal journey. If you lay eternity out in a timeline form with no beginning and no end, imagine how tiny the blip of a human lifetime would be! A mere 70-80 years more or less is nothing compared to the infinite existence of the spiritual platform. So why does it feel like it goes on forever and then ends abruptly and somewhat finitely? As we grow older, we usually grow more distant and cynical in connection to the spiritual realm. This place is all we can see and touch,it can harden our minds and can prevent openness to unknown things. There are a chosen few who have a heightened sensitivity to all things spiritual, a bit like having a few extra radio stations than is widely available. (I believe this metaphor gives a basic way to shed some light on people such as psychics, mediums, paranormal investigators etc.) It is just as common as someone with an extra special gift for mathematical equations, science, or perhaps medicine, an extra level of awareness in a particular field is all.
We are not meant to stay here, this life is hard, full of aging disabilities, poor health, worries, disappointments, heartaches and unmet expectations. The sooner we are taken to the next place the sooner we must be needed in our next and permanent role. The butterfly effect from any life-force here is evident to some more than others; that those touched by a life, no matter how long or short that life may be, are caught up the universes unfolding design. The feelings and experiences brought about by connection to a life or the loss of it are essential to the development of the people they connected with.
Of course there are many, many wonderful and joyful things to experience here as well, I am not a pessimist by any means, I believe there are elements of both heaven and hell on earth to help us discern the path we choose and give us a taste of what is to come. We are not meant to understand everything yet, that is why it is called faith. Faith – meaning trust, confidence, and reliance.
WOW! Praise the LORD! As I sit editing this, I’m hoping it will be easy to follow and comprehend, hoping it will help, suddenly a Christian lady whom I work with walks in and hands me a book. She has no idea of what I am writing about, yet I sense the spirit world using her to give me the nudge I need to trust my words.
The book is a true story titled – “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent …… Here is a link to see an interview with Colton Burpo now 11years old – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhT36Dizo2s&feature=relatedThe back cover reads: “Do you remember the hospital Colton?” Sonja said. “Yes, Mommy, I remember,” He said “That’s where the angels sang to me.” When Colton Burpo made it through an emergency appendectomy, his family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival. What they weren’t expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the months that followed – a story as beautiful as it was extraordinary, detailing their little boy’s trip to heaven and back. Colton, not yet four years old, told his parents he left his body during the surgery – and authenticated that claim by describing exactly what his parents were doing in another part of the hospital while he was being operated on. He talked of visiting heaven and relayed stories told to him by people he met there whom he had never met in life, sharing events that happened even before he was born. He also astonished his parents with descriptions and obscure details about heaven that matched the Bible exactly, though he had not yet learned to read. With disarming innocence and the plainspoken boldness of a child, Colton tells of meeting long-departed family members. He describes Jesus, the angels, how ‘really, really big‘ God is, and how much God loves us. Retold by his father, but using Colton’s uniquely simple words, Heaven is for Real offers a glimpse of the world that awaits us, where as Colton says, “Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses.” Heaven is for real will forever change the way you think of eternity, offering the chance to see, and believe, like a child. “A beautifully written glimpse into heaven that will encourage those who doubt and thrill those who believe.” – Ron Hall, co-author of Same kind of difference as me.
I have not yet read this book, however what I have shared here gave me chills over my entire body as I read it. I thanked my work friend with a hug and a tear in my eye, I’m not sure if she knows how much I appreciate that she was used by angels to confirm to me all that I have written here. I feel I had no choice but to tack it onto the bottom of this blog, and I can’t wait to get reading this book!