Tag Archives: God

Trust means letting go of the outcome

11 Dec

I’ve been on hiatus – living life to the fullest, meeting new people, having the best time of my life, learning that becoming my own best friend is a wonderful thing!

As part of this journey of happiness (“Happiness is a journey not a destination” – Souza), I am discovering that TRUST is a powerful word laden with all sorts of emotional baggage from the past.  I grew up with an unbalanced view of God and the universe (in my humble opinion) – if anything in my life went well, I was told that it was because of God shining favorably on me.  However, if anything went bad in my life, well that was solely due to my inadequacy to make things go right – and furthermore it must have been due to my personal lapse with God.

Today I know better!  I know that there are certain things that are within my control (trusting my instincts, choosing what is best for me, putting my best self into a relationship, making good choices, choosing whether to stay friends with abusive people, being kind, doing charity, etc.) and there are many things that are completely outside of my control (how other people behave, other people’s choices, what people say or do to me, the weather, traffic patterns, who passes me on the street, when the universe will deliver what I need, etc.)

It’s not really trust when it is within YOUR control…

For me, the road to becoming blissfully happy has been to know the difference between what I can control (me) and what I cannot.  Trusting myself has little risk – the outcome is something that I can reliably count on.   I trust that my perceptions, feelings, intuitions, and outlook are genuine and right for me. It is powerful to know this (and to dismiss as uninformed anyone who tells me otherwise.)

Cover of

Cover of The Four Agreements: A 48-Card Deck

Sidenote:  If you are like me and spent time in a narcissistic or controlling household or marriage or relationship, to arrive at a position of trusting oneself (after years of being told your perceptions were wrong) is an accomplishment in itself.  Never allow anyone to override what you know is best for you – your intuition is the best friend you can ever have!  Read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz for guidance on doing this (Agreement #1 – Always live with integrity.  (in other words, respect and love yourself and never say anything to yourself that you would not say to a best friend!)

Trust really comes in when you do not have control…

I believe that our views on Trust (trusting another to put your best interests first) gives “Trust” way too much power over us.

We trust our government to do the right thing (individuals do what is in THEIR best interests not necessarily ours), friends to be there for us (again it may not be in their best interests all the time), family to love us (outside of our control), and the universe/God to answer our prayers and manifest our dreams (timing is outside of our control.)  And when the other party lets us down, we find it hard to trust again.

But, when we reframe the word Trust into a concept where we let go of the outcome and tie Trust to Hope and not Expectations – we can continue to Trust without being angry or hurt by the outcome.

Trust tied to expectations ends up being about me (which is ego-centric and unfair to everyone involved).

Trust tied to hope is about letting go of the outcome and realizing that life happens in spite of us.  This is a much healthier way to live.

Let me illustrate with a few examples:

1. I ask you to mail a package for me and I “trust” that you will do it.

If trust = expectations, then if something comes up (outside of my control) and you neglect to mail the package at the appointed time, I will be angry at you for not meeting my expectations (and putting me ahead of other priorities).  If trust = hope, I can let go of the emotion that the outcome had anything to do with me.  I can be disappointed, but with hope, I can realize that the outcome was not within my control.  I trusted that the outcome would be good, but can live with the fact that it was not what I had hoped for.

2. I ask you to go to a company dinner with me and I “trust” that you will attend.

If trust = expectations, then if you forget to put it on your calendar and make other plans, I will be agitated that I wasn’t important enough (when the result may have had little to do with me.)  If trust = hope, then I can be disappointed, but I can realize that I cannot control you or your behavior.  (I may not ask you the next time, or may remind you next time, but I can live knowing that I am not in control of you!)

3. I commit my dreams to God/the Universe and “trust” that they will come true.

If trust = expectations, then when my dreams do not manifest in the exact time and place I want, I lose faith in God and the universe and wonder what I did wrong.  If trust = hope, then as my dreams unfold in the exact way that is best for me (I have to trust in this) then I am okay with the outcome.  Life seldom unfolds in the exact way we would have it if we were entirely in control, and often it comes out better than we could have ever planned.

The Next Five Weeks…

I have a wedding (my son), a move (5 weeks notice to vacate was just given to me by my landlord), the holiday season (laden with people and stressors), and some family issues to deal with… I know that I will get through it all by reframing Trust with Hope.  I trust (hope) that the universe will help me to find the perfect new place to live; that my son’s wedding will be a day they long remember with fondness; that the family issues will sort themselves out.  But I don’t expect it all to be “peaches and cream and rosy.”  I can do what I can do and Trust (= hope) that everything will turn out fine.

I hope that something I’ve written here resonates with you – have a wonderful December and a Happy New Year 2013!

Carol

Hope and Expectation – Two different Constructs

15 May

Our life’s journey to discover happiness is a solo adventure (happiness comes from within) and no one other than you can make it happen for you.

Having said that, we compulsively enlist others in OUR pursuit of happiness and load them up with expectations of which they are often unaware.  It is “expectations” that cause relationships to unravel, tempers to flare, and what-once-appeared-to-be-love, to die.  No matter what we were taught in childhood,

expecting anything from others is unreasonable. 

We can hope, but we can never expect!

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This is the key point of this post:
Hope and expectations are completely different constructs (concepts)!

  • Hope is something we create internally and through our desires we project out into to the world – hope depends only on us:  our dreams, our goals, and our thoughts.  We hope for an outcome, we hope for things to happen, and we hope to feel a certain way when “it” happens.  Hope springs eternal and does not need others to be involved in our journey.
  • Expectations are a completely different thing because by their nature others are intimately (and often unsuspectingly) involved every step of the way.  While they are also created internally, expectations are immediately infused with judgment and criticality based on “what would we do.” Expectations are like writing a screenplay for others and chiding those who don’t play their role the way you’ve intended. “Unfulfilled” expectations create detours and unnecessary delays on our road to happiness.

When you hang on to hope and let go of your expectations, life becomes easy!

Here’s some examples of the differences between hope and expectations:

Practice letting go of your expectations of others and replace them with hope.

Wishing you a happy week!

Carol

Judgment or admonishment, excuse me either way…

13 Apr

Do you ever feel like you just want to be accepted — or left alone?  There are times when I get tired of having others reject, correct, chide, or otherwise disrespect me, that I wonder if it is worth meeting new people.  Is this what life is like for anyone else?

I make an effort to tolerate others “ad nauseum” (it just doesn’t make sense to get upset over little things in life), but it is not reciprocal.  Sometimes it is hard to keep up the good fight (being tolerant), when others seen to tolerate nothing (and then insist on telling me.)

I try to follow the motto “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all” – and yet most people disagree.  I often am told off if I glance in the wrong direction (according to them.)  If you are a reader of my past posts, you might sense my growing frustration with how there is so much judgment and so little acceptance in the world today.

This week it started with a Facebook post…

I shared a quote (picture at left) on my Facebook wall and in turn, several friends shared it on their wall.  Different people commented – most agreeing with the sentiment – except for one who wrote:

” I understand the wrong of being judgmental. But to never judge doesn’t ring true does it? Quoting from “http://www.tldm.org/News6/judging.htm” Those without convictions proclaim a mistaken notion of tolerance: But ‘tolerance’ can be a genuinely harmful force when it becomes a euphemism for moral exhaustion and a rigid or indifferent neutrality in response to every great moral issue—when, in G.K. Chesterton’s phrase, it becomes the virtue of people who do not believe in anything.”

Holy Schmoley!

It always surprises me how religious zealots will cite scripture to justify why they deserve to confront (and judge) others about their choices.  While such people spout words of acceptance (“God loves everyone…”), they are typically intolerant of anyone who does not share their beliefs.

When religion and righteousness enter the conversation, logic often seems to exit. We end up with bullying behavior from adults under the guise of “I am compelled to save you (from your own misguided way of thinking)… because I know better than you what is right!”

Argh – I hate that!   It is like saying “I accept everyone for who they are, but I simply will not tolerate anyone who is not as righteous as me!”  (It reminds me of a notepad I saw once depicting a crotchety an old woman ranting “There’s nothing I hate more than intolerance!”)

You have a right to your opinion, as long as you agree with me…

I realized that what bothered me about the comment was that it felt too familiar. My parents use guilt and scripture as rationale for their non-accepting, strongly worded opinions, and incessant chiding (verbal spanking). It makes no difference to them that I am a good person with high morals and values, it only matters if I follow their edicts.

You might think, after decades of guilt mongering, I would have figured it out.  I COULD be loved and accepted if I could just fit into the first communion dress I wore as a child. It will never happen, and I am happy and healthy loving myself.

Today, I live thousands of miles away, yet my father continues to send me (dis)missive emails.

You might recognize the pattern of the email:  “Dear Carol, How are you?  I hope you know how much you are hurting (or how much suffering you are causing to) <insert family member name here> by <insert unrelated behavior here>.  You know that God would want you to <insert their recommended behavior change here> because He says <insert convenient bible passage here>.”

Fight or flight (or fright?)

I have learned to ignore such rhetoric until it escalates with follow-ups.  At some point, I end up confronted with the primal “fight or flight” response, and neither renders a good outcome.  Fight means a showdown of religious righteousness that I am unwilling to wage (it is a no win).  Flight ends up being a chase where I am eventually caught to further face guilt-laced “gentle correction” to save me from the fires of hell.  Why so much judgment when there is so  much goodness to accept?

Judgment or admonishment – who needs it?  Please excuse me either way…  I am living a good life, and no matter how much judgment you heap on me, I’ll still tolerate you.  What do you think?

Have a good week!

Carol

Fear is a four letter (F) word…

27 Mar

Fear plays a huge part in society today, and our public media knows that creating a frenzy based on fear sells newspapers, increases advertising and makes millions!  Globally, fear is a part of almost every society – and it motivates governments, countries, groups and people to take often irrational actions.  Fear is a scary thing!

Pick up any newspaper or listen in on conversations and you’ll find an increasing (and sometimes irrational) list of fears around us.  It is amazing that we get anything done when this mountain of fears are waiting to block our way:

  • Fear of terrorism (globally – and “we” are not necessarily on the friendly side worldwide);
  • Fear of God and eternal damnation (the religious right think they “know” the future);
  • Fear of differences (the Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered and Bisexuals know this more than others);
  • Fear of the unknown (what if the world ends on December 2);
  • Fear of what we think we know (we believe too much of what we read on the internet);
  • Fear of the past repeating itself (which can paralyze us from taking a change on new things);
  • Fear of new experiences (what if I don’t like it);
  • Fear for our children (what will the world be like in 30 years);
  • Fear of change (this one is wide open!);
  • Fear of turning into our parents;
  • Fear of being alone (how can I live without him/her even though it is bad);
  • Fear of being lonely (will I ever finding true “love”);
  • Fear of not being alone (or being stuck in a bad relationship);
  • Fear of losing our house or job or security;
  • Fear of the future (what if’s);
  • Fear of other religions (we do not understand);
  • Fear of other cultures (how can they live like that);
  • Fear of losing face (what will the neighbors/family/friends think);
  • Fear of loss/gains/failure/success;
  • What fears could you add to this list?

I could go on and on with the phobias and fears in daily life, but there is one item missing on this list:

  • Fear of the four letter “F” word: FEAR !

I believe that so many people feel they live a life that is out of control (and dominated by factors they have nothing to do with), that fear moves in.   By seeking and needing to control aspects of our life that we do not, we sometimes allow (or even create) fear to paralyze us and become the excuse that we don’t take action. Sometimes we even use fear to rationalize our irrational behavior!

Moving forward from our past…

Certainly, our experience plays a big part in our present fear – we want to avoid repeating behaviors that caused us pain in the past – but that is like driving forward by looking in the rear view mirror.  When we are soaring over the cliff (we were not watching for the “bridge out sign” ahead of us), we reassure ourselves that at least we were not rear-ended.

I believe that Fear is a Four Letter “F” Word that has no place in an optimistic vocabulary or our psyche.  Maybe we ought to start to ‘wash out our mouths’ for using this four letter F word?  It simply does us little good, and furthermore it clouds our judgment.

If I allowed my past together with fear to decide my future, I would never go out with another man, I would never trust another friend, I would never move to a foreign land, I would stop trying and dreaming and hoping… and that would be, frankly, irrational!

For me, the only way forward in life is to face my fears like the same way I would confront a bully – with strength, determination, and sheer guts.  My hopes, dreams, thoughts and life is too important (to me) to allow a little four letter F word to run amok.

Have a good week!

Carol

Childlike is not Childish…

26 Mar

What a joy it is to watch confident children under the age of 10 at playgrounds or at social events!  They make new friends quickly, are color-blind (to race and gender), approach adults with sincerity, are uninhibited, and look at the future with wonder.

When I take my 8-year-old granddaughter out to a playground or the beach, it amazes me how quickly she makes new friends with other children.  There is no judgment, no hesitation, no sizing up of the other -a simple sharing of time, energy and fun for the duration.  It is nice to see children who are color-blind (not sensitive to racial differences) and gender neutral playing together as fast friends.

Somehow, between childhood and the teen years, we lose this trait of accepting others at face value, replacing it with judgment, scorn, racism, sexism and “society” rules that keep us from easily mixing with people we don’t already know.

It also amazes me to see how freely children will dance to music – they seldom care whether anyone is watching or judging their moves.  Somehow we gain so many inhibitions when we grow into adulthood. Inhibitions stick with us for a lifetime – at least until we are so old we no longer care.

Any newspaper I pick up (globally) is filled with stories about disagreement and hate in today’s world, and I long for and wonder what happened to the children we were yesterday.  Can you remember what it was like to be uninhibited and free of judgment? Can you imagine what our world would be like if adults were more childlike and could accept each other at face value?  Racism, sexism, ageism, and other biases are learned behaviors – can you imagine how incredible life could be if we fostered acceptance instead of discrimination?

We need more childlike behaviors in our world today (not the childish ones we so often see).  What do you think?

Just food for thought on the first Monday of spring.

Have a good week,

Carol

The more you Give, the more you… Give

13 Feb

As a classically trained engineer, I know that there are some immutable (unchangeable) laws of physics such as:  an object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by a moving force; an object in motion remains in motion unless acted upon by and equal and opposite force; the law of gravity (gravity works); etc.  These are guaranteed laws that hold true no matter the where or when.

When it comes to people, however, there are few immutable laws. People behave well or badly often without logic.

Nonetheless, there are marketers who promote their workshops and profess networking prowess based on what they tout as an immutable law:

The more you Give, the more you Receive…

What a nice momism (things moms say to make the world seem nicer!)  Certainly the world could be more harmonious if this was a law of nature, but the two concepts (Giving and Receiving) are not coupled.

This causes undue stress when we believe that Giving and Receiving are related because it gives rise to unrealistic expectations.  Giving does not necessarily have anything to do with increasing the amount one will be given TO.  It is simply a fallacy to relate the latter as a natural occurring result of the former.  The truth is simply that the more you give, the more you, well, give.  Nothing more.

The expectation of reciprocity implies balance, of give and take in equal amounts, and when it comes to human beings, this simply is not the case.

There are those who give and give and then give some more, while there are those who readily take and take and take.  In between the two extremes are those who give and take and take and give in equal measure, but the two are still not related concepts.  There is no guarantee that giving will result in reciprocal giving – it might be a nice bonus if this happens, but that’s it.  A bonus.  If you are a frequent giver, there is nothing that says you will ever receive anything in return, nor should it ever be associated with the giving.

Now before you cite me as being critical and negative, think about this for a minute.  If you give unconditionally and altruistically, why is it that if you gain nothing, ever, in return do people get upset?  It is the anticipation that there will be giving and receiving in some equal portions – and this is simply an unrealistic expectation (leading to disappointment).

There is no relationship between giving and receiving, and it is about time that society (and parents) realize this. These are two separate concepts:

  • Giving is sharing and providing something to another without strings or conditions.  A giver that gives freely should never anticipate or expect anything in return – ever!  This is the simple concept of giving.
  • Receiving is a completely different concept and is the opposite side to giving.  Those who give need to give up the notion that there is a relationship here.  What you get has no dependence on what you give.  If someone decides to give something to you, they may associate it with an action you took, but it really is an independent self-contained action on its own. One can give without receiving, but one cannot receive unless someone else gives.  Giving is an independent, receiving is a dependent action.

Why is it so important to separate giving and receiving?

Only recently I woke up to the fact that I am an obsessive OVER-GIVER, and this is as unhealthy as being an OVER-TAKER.  An over-giver gives of him/herself relentlessly and often at their own expense (the classic sign of an addiction).  Conversely, an over-taker is often a narcissist who simply takes and takes without notice or regard for anyone else – this is not an addiction as there is no victim when it comes to overtaking!

Problems arise when an over-giver succumbs to his/her addiction and wakes up to the reality that s/he gave away too much and it is too late.  Over-givers lose friends, family, and loved ones in the process because they do not give others the chance to make it independently (over-givers do not like to watch others struggle – especially when s/he could ease the suffering through sharing and giving).  Over-givers need to step back and take care of themselves first (see earlier post – Put on your own mask first!)

Confessions of an Over-giver

Being an over-giver came naturally and quickly took its addictive hold.  It started innocently and early: as the oldest of five children, I already had four siblings by the time I was seven.  I had to share everything with everyone, and then some.  Growing up I can recall my father emphasizing Matthew 19;24 “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” and once I hit adulthood it stuck with me. I recall feeling like every cent I ever made was destined for sharing with everyone around me, lest I be a bad person.

Naively, I trusted that those with whom I shared would in turn be kind or at least appreciative, and instead they responded with entitlement or worse.  I did not realize that there was no connection between giving and receiving.  I gave and gave to others before giving to myself.  It didn’t stop with money – my over-giving extended to time, energy, expertise, passion, kindness, etc. – even if it meant that others gained, and it was to my detriment.   Giving the shirt off of one’s back was my mantra.

Today, at mid-life, I realize that my current financial, career, and relationship situation is a direct result of my compulsive over-giving.  It has rendered me powerless, almost penniless, at times jobless (I would spend time finding work for others first), and it caused conflict with former friends and family.  I have a feeling today that over-giving is a common addiction, but it is seldom talked about because there are no obvious victims aside from the over-giver him/herself.  And those who are over-takers love to be taken care of!

I am not alone in Over-giving…

I take comfort that the author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert struggles with her own over-giving and wrote about it in the December 2011 issue of Oprah magazine: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Confessions of an Over-Giver  (Dec, 2011):

(As a great British wit once quipped, “You can always tell people who live for others, by the anguished expressions on the faces of the others.”) All I know is, those friendships withered under a cloud of mutual discomfort, and now we cross the street to avoid running into each other.

Years ago, in India, a monk warned me, “Never give anyone more than they are emotionally capable of receiving, or they will have no choice but to hate you for it.”

The blog The Curvy Life, featured a post on May 4, 2010 called The Trap of Over-giving.

Here is an excerpt:

For many of us, giving comes so naturally and easily that we have to be reminded not to over-give, either by giving beyond our means, beyond our time constraints, or beyond our energy levels. While I think that over-giving is often motivated by a heart full of gratitude and love, I also think that giving to the point of discomfort or pain can be motivated by a feeling that what we have to give (within our means, time, energy) or even more tragically, who we are as a human being, is not enough…

Over-giving is a trap. What may start as heart-centered giving can become a burdensome obligation. Those around us can begin to expect and feel entitled to our over-giving, thus depriving of us our rightful recognition and further feeding our sense of not-enoughness.

Where do you fit in?  Are you a freely giving person who can accept that the more you give, the more you give?  Or do you expect some level of reciprocity with those to who you give?

Or are you a taker who revels in the fact that people routinely and happily give to you, without consideration of giving back?

A counselor once told me that my ex and I were polar opposites:  I was the classic addicted over-giver who “enabled” his over-taking.  Receiving remained an unfulfilled and unrealistic expectation on my part.  I know better now.

What has been YOUR experience?

Have a stress-free week ahead!

Carol

Surviving in 2012 – Practice the P word…

29 Jan

How many times do you hear people lament at the end of a day with “I really need a drink (or a break or a massage or ______ …fill in the blank)” ?

Our days are increasingly filled with hours of stop and go traffic, rush-rush-rush, hurry up and wait, dropped cellphone calls, disconnects and misconnects, voice mails, emails, texts, and interruptions – hardly what our founding fathers (and mothers) would have imagined.

Is there a key to putting aside the hustle-and-bustle so that we can enjoy moments of zen (happiness and peace) during the day?

I believe the answer lies in the “P” word – Patience – a word celebrated and recommended by formal religions, self-help gurus, and philosophers throughout the centuries.  You might find it puzzling to know that past generations would be impatient (after all, life was so much slower in years gone by), but since the beginning of time, Patience has eluded us.

Life today is increasingly complex and runs at nanosecond speed, and impatience prevails.  Its results are not pretty as it manifests  into such negative outcomes as:

  • road rage (impatience with other drivers),
  • disgruntled employees (impatience with bosses),
  • robberies (impatience with one’s finances),
  • divorce (impatience with a partner),
  • fights (impatience with another or a situation),
  • restraining orders (impatient outbursts),
  • among others.

Impatience can be an autonomous reaction (without pause or thought) to a trigger or situation.

Patience on the other hand is a deliberate response to the same situation.  Patience calms the mind, quiets the soul, soothes frayed nerves, and allows us to focus on what we can control – such as our response.

Patience can be difficult (especially in stressful situations) – but can become natural through conscious practice.  Patience is similar to remaining calm in the midst of a storm, and in today’s “stormy” world – we have more than enough opportunities to practice!

What do you think?  Do you agree that the P word – patience – is an important survival tip?

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