Listening to people from all walks of life, I’ve noticed a common foe of resilience: self-blame. It’s sneaky, like a deadly undertow. The self-blaming person is all hope and forward intention above water, but underneath, their feet are being sucked backwards. There’s no omen more worthy of dread in that situation than the words “I should”, or their ugly cousin “I should have”. The shoulds have their own mysterious, immobilizing power. It’s hard to think of a way out.
Restrained and thwarted by our own thoughts, we become fixated on what we didn’t do in a way that presents zero solutions. “Why did I do that?” “What was I thinking?” “Why am I so hell-bent on self-sabotage?” Did you ever notice that there is no way of coming up with a good answer to such a question? Questions like these are worse than useless; they’re downright dangerous. And yet we insist on wading into the same dark water without our waterwings. Continue reading →
Last week’s post examined the hot spiritual fad we call “being in the present moment”, offering up some centuries-old wisdom from some Buddhists and a Jesuit. This week, we contradict ourselves (or do we?), by offering up spiritual practices in which one completely checks out of the present moment.
Like many things that have been refined, distilled, and codified into spiritual practice, imagination is a fairly irresistible human tendency. Cavedwellers and scientists alike have produced evidence of rich imaginations. Continue reading →
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” —Viktor Frankl
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space”. The truth is, many people don’t even notice that there is a space between stimulus and response. In fact, that space may be so miniscule, we simply react to a stimulus rather than respond. But the space is there, and there are things we can do to expand it.
The Feast of the Epiphany just passed, for Christians. So I’ve been musing on the other meanings of the word “epiphany”.
It is one spectacular word. In addition to describing human experiences some would refer to as “encounters with the divine”, this word can also refer to those moments when we’re “seeing the light” all of a sudden, or those moments when our perspective shifts and we feel like we’re “seeing things as they really are”. These days, we might also call that a “lightbulb moment”. “Epiphany” refers to powerful experiences of renewed perception and understanding. An epiphany could happen to anyone. Continue reading →
I’ve noticed that goal setting works a whole lot better when I’m gentle with myself. Let me name it right off the top: I think New Year’s resolutions are often just ways for people to disappoint themselves. Do we need more reasons to beat ourselves up? No. Then why do we make them?
Because the lure of self-improvement is real. Even in the darkest moments of life, when motivation and hope are scarce, there is often a faint voice in the depths saying “I wish it were otherwise”.
I propose a new approach. I call it “Intentionally Misinterpreting the Word ‘Resolution’”. Continue reading →
“The full and joyful acceptance of the worst in oneself may be the only sure way of transforming it.” — Henry Miller
Most of us are far more practiced at sending acceptance and compassion outward than inward. We all have awkward and ugly aspects of ourselves that we’d rather ignore, or better, erase.
Carl Rogers, a great psychotherapist, knew keenly how much people desire acceptance. He observed that offering radical acceptance of the person had the power to spark significant change in their lives. He based his method around that insight, and cultivated an attitude of what he called “unconditional positive regard” for his patients. Continue reading →