You can’t stop it, but you can embrace it…

May 20, 2019

A post from the Jack’s Winning Words blog from some time back inspired me to write this morning – “Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.”  (Sydney J. Harris)

None of us can stop change from happening in our lives, but we can resolve to embrace the changes and make the best of whatever comes our way. Many try to resist changes in no-changetheir lives, even in the face of inevitability. They try to ignore the changes or refuse to acknowledge that they have taken place. They want things to remain the same as they always were. Some rail against change and try to roll back the clock. None of those approaches makes any difference. The changes occurred and there is no going back.  A better use of your time is trying to embrace the changes and adjust your life to accommodate them, as best that you can.

Some changes, such as the loss of a loved one or the dissolution of a relationship, are highly emotional and difficult to put behind you and move on.  However, move on youlife-choices must. That person is out of your life. Feelings of loss are natural; however, feelings that you cannot go on without them are what can lead to depression or worse. Rather, try to embrace that change by celebrating the memories of the good times that you had together and being thankful for those times. Make the place where you store the memories of them a good place to go and not a sad place. Try to find comfort in those memories and not sadness.

Sometimes change points us off in very new directions in life – a job change, a graduation, a wedding. There are usually remnants of the past still in or lives, but many new things, too. The key in those changes may well be understanding how to let go of the decisionsthings from the past that just don’t work anymore or embracing the new elements into the context that we brought with us. Welcoming and embracing the spouse that is the new member of the family or accepting the adult individual that your son or daughter has become, come to mind. Maybe embracing a new role as a grandparent is the change that you are facing. Whatever it is; you can’t stop it, but you can choose to embrace it.

Take some time to stop and think about the changes that have occurred in your life and reflect on how you have reacted to them. Are you in denial that they have occurred? Areproblem-solver you fighting against the new reality in your life or have you embraced those changes? Once you realize what has changed and how it is effecting your life, you can take steps to embrace the changes and figure out how best to adjust your life to accommodate them. Once you do that, things will get better.

Have a great week ahead dealing with changes in your life.

Advertisements

Opinions, prejudices and bad habits…

May 17, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this bit of sage advice – “We accumulate our opinions at an age when our understanding is at its weakest.”  (G.C Lichtenberg).

I took the liberty to add prejudices and bad habits to the list in my title for this post. It is unfortunate that so many young people are exposed to, and influenced by, others to form those opinions, prejudices and habits before they have developed the intellectual capability to make decisions on their own. The recent case of the teenager who decided to go against the wishes of his mother and be vaccinated is an example. His mother’s ill-considered notions that vaccines are bad for children put him at risk and he eventually developed the intellectual capability to see that for himself and decide on a different course of action.

Unfortunately, many never seem to re-look at or rethink  things that influenced them at a arrogantyoung age to become opinionated or prejudiced about certain things and people. They just continue throughout their lives to jump to conclusions about people or events that are driven by unsupported opinions or prejudices. Some look back at a lifetime of misconceptions with regret when they get older. They finally see how fear or mistrust that was fueled by prejudices held them back from meeting or knowing some really great people with whom they crossed paths in life.  They see missed opportunities for friendships or even relationships. There is a melancholy sadness about finally realizing how one’s own ignorance or misconceptions have dulled what could have been a much richer life.

Perhaps you have been living with bad opinions, habits and prejudices and may not even realize it. Take the time to stop and ask yourself a few questions. When I encounter people who are different from me, do I have a reflexive response to draw away or girl with nose chainbecome concerned and fearful? Why? What is it about their appearance or actions that I find threatening or distasteful? Why? Do I avoid going to certain places or events because I fear encountering “different” people? Why? Do I immediately become “on guard” when encountering people of a certain color or who are dresses a certain way. Does seeing a person with blue or pink hair immediately bring to mind something bad about them? Why? Do I really have an opinion of my own about events or news that I hear or do I immediately call to mind something that I was told by someone else?

Once you stop to think about what drives you to have reactions to people or events you can begin to see which of those reactions are actually yours and which might just be Controllingopinions or prejudices that were “planted” in you by others. That is the first step towards both understanding and towards formulating your own opinions. It is a major step towards taking back control of your life. You can’t do it all at once. Perhaps take the time at the beginning of each week to reexamine a habit or opinion or prejudice that you have fallen into and resolve to either prove or debunk the basis for it. The young man who decided to be vaccinated did a lot of research on the subject and concluded that his mother was wrong in her opinion against vaccines.

There are many things in your life – opinions, fears, prejudices and bad habits – that will not withstand intellectual scrutiny. See if you can be debunk one of those in your life each week and things will become much more pleasant for you. You can still have visualizingopinions, but they will now be informed opinions. You may still have habits, but make them good habits. There is no reason to still have prejudices. Thinking about, and understanding these things in life, will shed light on the dark corners of your mind and drive out the bad things that lurk there. Understanding is the antithesis of the ignorance that drives those behaviors.


Focus upon what you can control…

May 7, 2019

At my Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce referral network meeting this morning our norma-nickolosonspeaker was Norma Nicholson, author, motivational speaker and owner of Wise Owl Enterprises, a life coaching business. Norma helps people deal with what life throws at them and live a better life. If I boil down what Norma talked about in her advice it is this – “Focus upon what you can control.”

Norma uses several examples of things that have happened in her life and in the lives of others that she has helped, to set the stage for how she helped herself and now helps others. Her examples are all things that happen to many people – the loss of a loved one, a divorce, the loss of a job. These are things, most of which are totally out of our control, that just happen to us. What Norma focuses people to look at is how they react to those things and how to take control of those reactions.

I’ve posted here several times about letting go of things and realizing that we cannot control all of the events in life that happen, no matter how hard we try or would like toabusived wife believe that we are in control. What we can control is how we react to those events. Almost all of life’s big events cause an initial, sometimes overwhelming, emotional reaction. There is nothing that we can do to avoid the fear or sadness or sense of loss that washes over us at the moment of impact of such an event; however, we can, and should, try to recover and regain control of ourselves as soon as we can. Why? Because we are also often called upon to make quick decisions and to answer the immediate question – What now?

If we just surrendered to the grief, anger, or remorse that initially overtook us, we might slip into depression, lash out in response, or otherwise react foolishly. We would be letting the event control us, instead of controlling our response. The beginning of facing the wall 2regaining control of the situation is the admission to ourselves that we cannot or could not have controlled the event. For some that is difficult. They tend to spend time in self-recrimination, searching their minds for something that they could have done differently to prevent the event from occurring. What a waste that is. It did occur and there is no going back, no do-overs. There is only, “What now?”

So maybe you’d benefit from buying and reading one of Norma’s books. You might also benefit from going back to re-read some of what I’ve posted here about dealing with life’s challenges, such as this post on letting go.  Maybe reading about being in control of your life instead of life-s event would help. There are other posts about how to deal with life by dealing with the issue of control. The point of most of them is coming to grips with the fact that you are not in control of anything except how you choose to react to what is happening around you and to you. That is up to you.

Many people find that turning to prayer in difficult situations helps. Perhaps it is that momentary need to refocus upon God that gives them the peace that they needed to start woman-prayingto think clearly again. Whatever, the cause, the effect of turning to prayer can be immediate and dramatic. Most importantly, when you turn to God you have to let go of control of the situation and admit that there was nothing that you could do to change it, it happened. Then you can move on to the question of – now what? Your most effective prayer might be, “Lord, give me the strength and wisdom to get through this situation.”

Whether you turn to prayer or not, the advice that both Norma and I provide is to focus upon what you can control – your attitude and reaction to the situation. Don’t allow yourself to become self-defeating, but rather be self-empowering, through a positive attitude. A saying from a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words Blog comes to mind – “If you wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes.  If you don’t wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes.”  (Unknown)

There will be a tomorrow. Focus upon what you can control.


Take the first step today

May 6, 2019

Let’s start the week with a quote from my favorite source for inspiration, the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it.  The time will pass anyway.”  (Earl Nightingale)

Whether you call it a dream or a goal, sometimes when we think it up and then think about it, our dreams seem too big to get done or we think that it will take too long to bootsaccomplish. Sometimes we defeat ourselves before we even start with those kinds of thoughts. I’ve posted here many time about breaking seemingly impossibly large problems or tasks into smaller pieces and accomplishing them one at a time. Making steady progress, even in small steps is important, as is rewarding yourself along the way for having accomplished whatever small step you were focusing upon.

There was a story this weekend in the local paper about a man who walked out of the rehabilitation facility that he has been in for the last three years while he fought his way back from a horrific automobile accident. The accident initially left him paralyzed and there were probably those who thought that he might never walk again. Apparently, he was not one of the naysayers. It took him three years of hard work to learn how to walk again.

What dreams do you have that seem too daunting, too far out in the future? Have you thought about the steps, no matter how small, that you need to take to get to your dream? Which ones can you accomplish today, this week, this month? Remember the advice of Lau Tzo – “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”walking man

Take your first step today.


Look within first…

April 25, 2019

Do you know someone who is always seeking your approval or the approval of others? Maybe that describes you.

There are many things in life that require someone’s approval before we proceed; but just being yourself is not one of them. Yet, far too many people are so unsure of themselves that they constantly seek the input and approval of others. They need constant reassurance that they are OK; that they look OK (maybe beautiful); that what they are doing is OK (maybe trendy). This insecurity and constant need for approval is a sure sign of low self-esteem.

Perhaps parents or siblings who constantly tore them down as children – telling them that they were ugly or dumb or bad –  causing their low opinion of themselves. Maybe cruel people at school made fun or you or shunned you. Maybe you were bullied at bully.pngschool or at work. Maybe you have fallen into an abusive relationship where control is achieve by constantly tearing you down. Maybe some or all of that has happened to you.

No matter what the root cause, the path to a better, more productive and satisfying life starts by first looking within and becoming comfortable with what you see. You must accept yourself and love yourself, before you interact with others. A key to that self-acceptance is to understand that God accepts you and loves you as you are. God does not judge you. You are beautiful in God’s jesus-as-lighteyes. He forgives you whatever sins you may have committed and opens His arms to welcome you.

Once you accept God onto your life and understand that He accepts you just as you are, you will find that your need for acceptance and approval by others is gone. Once you realize that God loves you, you can love yourself and that is the bedrock of self-confidence. The approval of others is no longer required and the control of you by others is no longer possible, once you embrace God and learn to love yourself.

Some who lack self-esteem may fall into the pit of depression. It is important to realizedepression3 that no matter how dark it may seem or how deep the hole is that you find yourself in; you are not alone. God is there with you and He is always ready to help, if you will only let Him in. The way to do that is simple – surrender yourself to Him. I have written here many times about the simple, short prayer that I’ve used in times when I needed God’s help – “Not my will, but thy will be done.” The results can be immediate and dramatic.

You do not need the constant approval and reassurances of others. You only need the peace that comes with your acceptance by God. Who else really matters? What else really matters? Start by realizing that God loves you and then you will find that you can love this-is-meyourself and that is the ultimate in self-esteem.

Start your day by looking within and liking what you see. If you don’t see it, ask God to had you a new mirror. There’s a you in His mirror that you’re really going to love.

Have a great and confident day. You are OK.


Use your powers today…

April 24, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this quote – “Kindness is within our power even when fondness is not.”  (Henry James)

As I thought about that quote, and contemplated writing something about it; other, similar thoughts came to mind –

Compassion is within our power even when sharing is not

Forgiving is within our power even when forgetting is not

Believing is within our power even when understanding is not

The point of all of this is that we have it within our power to deal with the events and circumstances that life presents even if we cannot change them. The key is being able to accept that we cannot change them and moving on by dealing with life as it is and not as we would like it to be.

I’ve posted here in the past about the amazing stories that have come out of some of the most terrible hate crimes of recent times. I recall one in particular which involved a mass killing in a church. Sometime later, several survivors of that atrocity were interviewed and shared that they had forgiven the shooter and were now praying for his forgivesoul. They will never forget, but they had forgiven.

Perhaps the issue for most of us is focusing too much on the part that comes after the “even when” in those sentences. It takes a conscious effort to be kind to someone that we may not “like” or of whom we may not be fond. Having compassion for the plight of someone is possible, even if we cannot imagine or share their situation. It is especially hard to move on to forgiving someone who has wronged us in some way when we cannot get the act out of our minds and forget it.

For many, the final saying above is the hardest because they cannot let go of the need to understand everything and just believe. Yet, at the very core of faith is believing. It is the surrender of the need to understand that frees us to accept God and have faith. Thatwoman-praying need to understand is man’s ego coming out and the need to try to control things. Faith is admitting that we are not in control and putting our trust in the one who is – God. Faith starts with the little prayer “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

Start by believing even when you don’t understand. I think you’ll find that the rest of those things that are within your power – kindness, compassion, forgiveness and more – will come more naturally. Use your powers today.

believeIt’s going to be a great day.


We should learn from history, not just ignore it or try to change it

April 22, 2019

There was an interesting quote on a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.”  (Golda Mier)

I recalled that quote while watching the news on Easter Sunday. One of the news stories was about the so-called “Slave Bible”. The story concerned the efforts that slave owners made to change the Bible that they gave to slaves by removing any preacher-pointingpassages that they felt might ferment rebellion. The result was a Bible that was about ¼ the size of the actual Bible and one in which slaves were advised to mind their masters in Peter 2:18 “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”

That story reminded me also of modern attempts, mainly in the South and somewhat successful, to remove the racist history of the South from school history books. Also conveniently erased from many school history books is the very poor treatment of Native Americans over time, including most references to the enforced marches to arrogant“reservations” that took place. These are ugly scars on our history, and some would just remove them from our school history books, in an attempt to protect our children from the ugliness of the truth.

Instead of just erasing or covering up those times in our nation’s history, we should be using them as teaching moments with our children to help them understand the tremendous negative impact of racism and bigotry and to make sure that history does not repeat itself. There are many examples through our history as a nation where hatred or fear drove the country’s leaders to make decisions that upon reflection were wrong. The internment of all citizens of Japanese descent during World War II was another example. The McCarthy “witch hunt hearings” to try to ferret out Communists in our midst was another.

The Civil Rights Movement in modern times provided many vivid examples that many people would like to sweep under the carpet and have us forget – but they happened and many were broadcast right into our homes on the nightly news. Today we have the “border crisis” and the plight of asylum seekers and   would-be immigrants. The pain and suffering of families torn apart at the border cannot and should not be ignored or predjuiceswritten out of our history. We also have intolerance and bigotry against those whom we somehow judge to be “different” – the LBGTQ community, those who are mentally or physically challenged, or those look or speak differently. We cannot write them our of our lives and our history.

We judge nations and the people in them using many standards, not the least of which is how they deal with inconvenient truths. Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia are two examples of nations with dark pasts that many in them would just as soon forget or re-write. There are many example today in the Middle East, South America and elsewhere of nations living through eras that someday they will wish didn’t happen.

But, it did happen. It is happening. There is/was suffering and death. We cannot just ignore it by writing it out of our history books or refusing to teach about it in our schools. Rather, we should use these unfortunate historical events as teaching examples of what not to do as a people with our children. We cannot erase the events of history. Much of the history of our country might not fit the present, but that does not change it. Some we may even have trouble explaining (or rationalizing), but we must try and we must point out what went wrong in order to teach what is right.