Tag Archives: Golden Rule

Everyone can use a little “pruning”…

13 Jan

By the title above and the fact that I live in Florida, you might be led to think this post is about regularity… thankfully (at least from my viewpoint) it’s not!  It’s about making room in your life for new growth, new experiences, new insights – no matter how old you are!  In fact, today is the youngest you’ll ever be again in your life, and if you’re reading this post, it is so much better than the alternative…

It’s probably obvious to you that we’re all born into the world completely pure, unadulterated, fresh, … we are like an oak seedling just sprouted. We are ready for nourishment, sunlight and warmth (love), and ready to take on the world. For most of us at this point, life is good.

By mid-life, we’ve weathered seasons and storms and our branches bear witness to years of events.  Our heads are filled to the brim with memories of experiences, hurts, biases, judgments, opinions of right and wrong, conditions, critiques and rules — so much so that there is barely room for anything or anyone new.

oakWe find that we are now solid oak trees, each of us bearing a customized pattern of branches forged through a unique set of events, circumstances and relationships. These branches bear witness to our life experience and often form a mismatch of uneven projections shooting out in myriad directions. During warm summers (the good times in our life), these imperfections stay hidden, obscured by bountiful leaves and we can fully bask in our beauty.  When winter sets in (the less than perfect times of our life), as it invariably does, our branches and scars are exposed bare leaving us feeling vulnerable and bare.  Over the years, our “branches” build up layers of  moss and hide skeletons of dead wood – emotional baggage – that can impede our natural growth. Sometimes this buildup happens overnight (such as a lightning strike or other stressful event), but more typically it accrues over time, seemingly unnoticeable as we go about our daily routines.  That is, until something jolts us to observe that dead wood and moss impedes our  future growth.

A colleague once told me (after a tumultuous time in my life):  “You really need to prune your life – get rid of the dead branches (the toxic relationships and ways of thinking that no longer serve you) to make room for new growth.”

The analogy was “bang on” (as we say in Canada) and her advice came flooding back to me today as I read the following:

1003924_560500844040225_309166825_nIt hit me – to accomplish ANY of these things means getting rid of dead wood in our heads… taking out the rote programmed reactions and ways of thinking.  Replacing the emotional baggage and dead end thinking with considerate, thoughtful, intentional responses to life.  One at a time…

“Learn to love without condition.”  Wow, this means I need to be conscious of and lower the biases (and judgments) that lead me to love others with conditions.  (The conditions are like a wall intended to protect me from future hurt – but ultimately it limits potentially great relationships!)  I need to consciously CHOOSE to accept and simply love people as they are, without conditions, (just as I would like to have happen to me.)  This sounds like a good habit to adopt.

“Talk without bad intention.”  Sometimes I reassure myself that I already do this, but if I am brutally honest, sometimes the good intentions are skewed when I am talking to someone with whom I have an imperfect past.  If there has been some mal-intention on the part of the other (even perceived) some mal-intention back could occur.  To talk without bad intention requires me to clear my head of judgment, before I speak, so that the words come out pure and the tone is positive.  This gives the other party the chance to simply be and respond without their defenses being up.  Sounds like another good habit to practice.

“Give without any reason.”  If you’ve grown up with a scarcity mentality like I did (there’s never enough money, food, jobs, time, energy to go around), giving can end up being biased and giving ends up with some sort of expectation.  Giving without reason means letting go of the need to get anything back in return (today or any day!)  Giving without any reason, just because I can – this is another habit that will enrich my life!

And “Care for people without any expectation.”  For me, this one hinges on my childhood learning of the “Golden Rule (do unto others as you’d like them <expect them> to do unto you.)”  This learning always set me up for failure because it implied that there would be reciprocity – that kindness begets kindness, generosity begets generosity, and so on.  The reality is that when I expect (not hope) something of others, I am imposing on them MY rules/code of behavior, my background, my need to  control – and that is simply not fair.  Letting go of the dead wood that expectations bring allows me to care for others as I can, while first taking care of my own needs (first.)

Pruning the dead wood in my  life takes concentration and work to properly trim (not chop) so that I remain whole and healthy.  Too much pruning at once or in the wrong season can be worse than not.  Figuring out new habits, such as those above, is a journey to remove the old (negative) habits of judgment, bias, reaction, and reliving old hurts, and replace them with new (positive) habits of acceptance, love, response and openness.

While old habits die-hard – I realize that this old dog can learn new tricks and the added bonus is that my new life is enriched, full, and thriving!

Wishing you a great week!

Carol

 

We live what we learn, then learn what we live…

27 Jun
learning to ride a bike - _MG_2933

learning to ride a bike – _MG_2933 (Photo credit: sean dreilinger)

You’ve heard the saying “We live what we learn” and the concept is truly how we raise our children in Western societies.  Parents and influencers teach us how to live based on their actions (and some of their words).  For our formative years, we live what we have learned, and often it is exactly as these people have taught us to live – by rules, customs, dogma, unspoken approval/disapproval.  Over time, our personalities emerge and either gel with our families – or they don’t (and we soon find out just how “disdainful” that might be!)

As adults, I believe the opposite thing happens.  When we are on our own in the world, living, loving, getting hurt, falling down, becoming successful, being disappointed, etc. – these ALL lead up to a series of New Learnings based on what we live.

While learning and growing is always a positive step – WHAT we learn is not necessarily so.

I have learned that the naive trust of others that I grew up with and carried through during many years of marital “bliss” was misguided.  Today, I no longer trust without verifying (a good thing) based on learning through life’s lessons.

I seldom get comments on my posts (maybe the content is solely my experience and isolated to my polarized view of life!) – but I’d love to hear what you’ve learned from your life!

In exchange, I offer you my list of adult learnings (and a + or – denotes whether this was a positive or negative discovery!)

  • The Royal We (me, myself and I) must come first, foremost and exclusively (except when small children are involved!) This is hardest for women, as we were taught to take care of the world (and everyone in it) before we take care of our own needs.   +
  • No one else can love me unconditionally except for me (and to expect anything else was folly). Self-love is the greatest love (thank you Whitney Houston)   +
  • Trust, but Verify – believe what others say at face value, but verify it with other sources.  Learn when someone deceives or violates your trust to verify before trusting again:  “fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice —– SHAME ON ME!” +
  • Despite the traditional view that we “need” others, we come into the world alone, die alone, and traverse this life alone. We might “want” others, but we do not “need” others  +
  • “As for worrying about what other people might think – forget it. They aren’t concerned about you. They’re too busy worrying about what you and other people think of them.” – Michael le Boeuf   +
  • Alone and lonely are two different concepts. Alone = state of being solo.  Lonely is something that can happen even when surrounded by lots of people.  Alone does not equal lonely (and I am seldom lonely in the company of  the Royal We)  +
  • Never be a partner to anyone about whom you say “I hope I am never on their bad side” because eventually you WILL be!  +
  • Mean doesn’t go away.  (I mistakenly thought that cruelty was a learned behavior that can change.  Unfortunately, it is a character defect.) –
  • Never make anyone a priority for whom  you are only an option.  +
  • Become your own best friend – it is the best company you can ever find!  “Wherever you go, there you are!” +
  • Dating is an interview process – never ever settle for a second-rate candidate!  +
  • Make sure the Royal We (and your intuition) approves of your friends. +
  • Family (and friends) can be toxic to your health.  Life is too short to ingest poison.  –
  • Attitude trumps skill, looks, status, environment.  Always be positive! +
  • There are reasons that people from your past do not make it into your present or your future.  +
  • Never, ever waste a heartbeat on people who don’t matter.  +
  • Realize that a chance meeting with anyone on the street may be having a rough day – if you have a smile to share, do it! +
  • The Golden rule is a great theoretical rule for religion and children. People are far more selfish in practice.  –
  • Say no before saying yes to something that you will regret. +
  • Give freely without expectation of thanks or reciprocation! Giving and receiving are two unrelated concepts – giving is about you. Thanks and acknowledgement is all about the receiver (as is any reciprocity!)  I know that a perceived lack of gratitude (and acknowledgment) usually has nothing to do with me. +
  • Never stop learning.  I am learning that there is SOOOO much I don’t know that I don’t know. +
  • There is no one, true religion for all mankind +
  • Learn from your past (sometimes there are no lessons except how to avoid crap in the future) +
  • EVERYONE deserves respect no matter their age, creed, status, look, etc.  Be tolerant even if you do not accept their way of life – everyone has a right to live as they please without infringing on others. +
  • Don’t turn down an opportunity before it is presented. +
  • The internet is forever.Never write, post, text, tweet, or Facebook anything you would not be willing to say in public! +
  • You (and me) are whole, complete, and perfect just as we are. +
  • Be yourself!  Trying to be someone else for someone else sacrifices the great you and robs the world of your talents. +
  • There is nothing wrong with me! (and there never was.  Just because people in my past and present want me to change to SUIT THEM has nothing to do with me!) +
  • Having a boyfriend or significant other means NOTHING! I am beautiful, lovable and deserve love in this world, period. +
  • Never override intuition – anyone who says that “your perception is wrong” is delusional and emotionally unavailable.  (I lived this and now know better!) +
  • Not everyone you meet in the future is a clone of your past. Protect your heart. +
  • Be grateful for what you have! +

To my silent readers, do you have anything to add?

Have a great week and celebrate you!

Carol

Do Mean Girls Grow Up?

6 Mar

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~ Dalai Lama

If you cannot say something nice, don’t say anything at all.  – Anonymous

Nice mantras, good ideals I grew up with, but hardly apropos in real life when it comes to mean-spirited women (who probably started out as mean girls.)

The Past

I grew up around mean girls – you know the type – the fashion princesses and cheerleaders in high school who made life miserable for anyone who was not.  I learned to fantasize that their home life was less than ideal or that they would fail at adulthood – anything to keep their taunting at bay.  Some were not so lucky and still hold the scars of teen torment into their adult years.  Who knows why girls (especially) are mean to each other… but that’s all part of childhood right?

The Present

As an adult, why would it amaze me to meet mean women?  After all, mean doesn’t go away (one of my mid-life learnings!) , but I never really thought about this until I met two of them this weekend!

Coincidentally, there was a new pilot TV show launched on ABC called GCB (based on the book Good Christian Bitches. The series considered renaming to Good Christian Belles but settled on just GCB.) The central theme is a group of women who have not changed much since their sniping, bitchy teenage years in Dallas, TX.  A main character returns to Dallas as a thirty-something widow of two teens, having been the biggest queen “B****” in high school.  She thinks she is reformed (in some ways she is), but her neighbors are former friends who remain proud current-day GCB’s and display nasty behavior in front of husbands, children, and congregations.  This series joins the crowded stage of women-behaving-badly shows like the myriad of “Housewives of xxx.”

(As an aside, I loved the Saturday Night Live mock trailer called Housewives of Disney! that you can find on Facebook or YouTube.  Send me a comment if you’d like me to send you the link to that parody!)

Will you Comment Please?

This weekend, I had two separate GCB-like (mean women) experiences and I would like your opinion.  I know that I am not perfect (or crazy!), but I was stunned to see such bitchy behavior in real life by women here in Tampa  Help me out – what is YOUR experience?

# 1. VERONICA (not her real name)

I was good friends with Veronica for about 2 years up until a few weeks after she started dating Bob.  We met him at a local pub and he hit on me first, but it was not reciprocal.  Veronica then started dating him and within 3 weeks they moved in together.  It should not have been a surprise to me when she asked if he could come with us and share the hotel room I booked and paid for in New York City just weeks later.  Originally I said okay, but realized that sharing a room with a new romantic couple would be uncomfortable so I told her no.  She got upset and they both stayed elsewhere. End of story – or so I thought.

While I knew she held a grudge and we stopped hanging out (he is not a nice person), it wasn’t until about two months ago that I found out that she was trash-talking all sorts of things about me (I found out from a mutual friend).  I let it go, considering the source, then ran into Veronica at a local wine tasting event on Friday night.  What a b**** she was there.  To my face she pretended to be as sweet as cream pie, but I knew that anything I’d say would be turned into venom against me.  It was an interesting evening as she squirmed when I went over to talk to her (she tried to avoid me) and simply exchanged small talk.

What would you have done?  Would you confront the person with their own bad behavior or do as I did and simply pretend not to know?

#2. BEATRICE (not her real name either)

Saturday I arranged for a new friend (of less than a month) and I to volunteer at a local event and I agreed to share a ride with her (she drove this time since I’ve driven her for the past month!) I drove to her place where I parked my car, and didn’t say anything to her about the fact that  she kept me waiting for 30 minutes (at the time pre-arranged for her convenience so she could have her “I need to sleep until noon on Saturday” time. Volunteers had to be there by 1pm and it was an hour drive.)  Enroute, I endured her tantrum driving to Tampa (I didn’t realize that traffic could evoke such foul language), two stops for her to pick up money and cigarettes rendering us 45 minutes late to the event.  I was embarrassed to be that late, but didn’t belabor the point since we were at least there!

All day she stuck to me like glue (I’m not used to people being tethered to me at a volunteer gig) and we ended up attending an after-party with organizers at a hotel courtyard.  One guy there was interested in me and I in him so we ended up spending a lot of time talking – and I probably ignored her.  As the party wound up and I got ready to leave with her, she disappeared!

As a friend, I got worried (she had too much to drink to drive home sober) and texted and called her to no avail.  I was DITCHED without a ride home and with no explanation or even courtesy to tell me she was leaving.  The next morning (there were no rooms available so I bunked in on the sofa of two guys who had a room – thankfully!) – as I was hailing a $50 taxi back to my car, – she finally returned a text saying “I am fine… you botched the friendship…. don’t ever contact me again.”   I asked the guys if I had said or done something reckless to her the night before and their response was simply – “we were there, she was simply gone, and wow, that’s f***’ed up!”

This GCB (she professes to be religious and righteous) refused to tell me what horrendous deed I had done to deserve being left behind, but other friends tell me that when alcohol and a guy are involved, bitchy women can become psycho.  How did I miss this whole segment of society to this point?  I realize that there really wasn’t a friendship in the first place to lose, but again, I am stunned at the behavior and would like to avoid this type of person in the future.  (She sent an almost identical text to a guy she had an “encounter” with just the week before when he left her on a Sunday morning.  So she has a pattern of dismissive texting.)

The Future… Advice please?

Do you think mean girls can grow up?  Do you meet these people when you are out and about?  How should I handle these people and what would you do?

Karma says that the Veronica’s and the Beatrice’s of the world will get theirs… and I do not wish harm on anyone.  But whiskey tango foxtrot, I do not need these people in MY life.

Have a great week!

Carol

Don’t take ANYTHING Personally…

21 Feb

The Four Agreements a book by don Miguel Ruiz, and the Four Agreements Companion Guide outline an incredibly powerful philosophy that can revolutionize one’s life.  My insightful daughter gave me the first book as a gift when she was only a teenager and I was still married to her father.  At the time, I took a lot of criticism and verbal abuse personally, and The Four Agreements gave me solace and started me on the journey of not taking anything personally (the Second of the Four Agreements).

Now, almost 8 years later, I am in a better place, happily single, and optimistic about whatever adventures lie in my future thanks in part to the teachings of don Miguel Ruiz and the Four Agreements.

Agreement #2: Don’t take ANYTHING Personally

For me, this is THE single, most difficult agreement to master – and the one that allows me the most freedom and solace.   When we realize that other people’s behavior has NOTHING to do with us and is not our responsibility, it allows us to be truly ourselves.  We should not take anything personally whether it is POSITIVE or NEGATIVE.

This is not easy to do, especially if it was ingrained from an early age to do just the opposite!

I grew up learning to take everything personally whether it was from family, friends, strangers, or even strangers who cut me off in traffic.

My mother is now over 80 and is a master of taking everything personally.  I recall many occasions where she would remark that she couldn’t understand why a friend would treat her so poorly and intend to hurt her.  When I tried to console her and tell her that it might simply be a matter of circumstance or misunderstanding on someone’s part, she would chide me by saying “of course she meant to hurt me – she does this on purpose!”

I also remember many times coming home from school and talking to her about some family occurrence (she was one of 9 children) that seemed to be blown out of proportion.  I remember my cousin choosing to attend another church (heaven forbid!) and hearing  “O M G! can you believe that my niece left the church?  How can her mother allow her to do that to her?  I don’t know what I would ever do if one of  you kids ever did that to us!”  And so it went… every time anyone, me, or my siblings did something of which my mother did not approve the response was the same:  “How could you/they do that … to me?”   At the time I simply observed and was confused.

Personally, none of my choices or behaviors ever had anything to do with my parents, yet they took every move personally.  I cannot imagine making a decision about my life and having to consider how everyone in the world might react, especially when it is not about them.  When I realize that I believed what I was taught, I can understand why it is hard to NOT take things personally.

Despite this realization, the second agreement is difficult to put into practice – but I am determined to make it work! Today don Miguel Ruiz posted:

Write this agreement on paper, and put it on your refrigerator to remind you all the time:
Don’t take anything personally.

So I did, and in a matter of hours, I had to stop myself three time from taking things personally. Here’s what happened:

1. A potential contract on hold:

I received an email from a company with which I am a candidate for an upcoming contract  (I interviewed with them twice last week.) The email said that the company has decided to consider a few internal people for the position before moving forward with me.

My gut first reaction:  I felt that I might not be qualified enough or that I did not make a good enough impression on the recruiting manager (who I only spoke to once).  It felt like it could be a personal slight against me.

Reality:  The hiring manager does not know me. The decision to consider internal candidates has NOTHING to do with me. It is NOT personal!  If the company decides in a few weeks to move forward with me, again it is not personal to me.

2. Email from my father:

My father sent me an email in response to photos I sent of my newborn granddaughter, ignoring the photos but saying how I am hurting my mother by not renewing ties with a toxic relative.  He cited religion as being the reason I need to go back to fix the relationship and said that whatever caused the rift should be ignored as irrelevant.

My gut first reaction: This felt like a personal affront.  My first reaction was to think that “there is nothing I ever do or not do that is good enough for my parents.  Unless I follow their edicts exactly, they will always reject me.”  The accusatory words and religious “guilt-mongering” from someone I love further made it feel personal.

Reality: The email is not really about me at all.  My choice about whether to embrace a toxic relationship is my choice and it has nothing to do with my parents.  It is purely an extension of the childhood “how could you do xxx TO US?”  and is a pattern.  It’s not personal.

3. A kind gesture from a stranger

Someone let me go ahead of them into the single merge lane in a construction zone; an act of small kindness.

My first gut reaction: S/he let me in because of all the times I have let others in. Maybe s/he liked my smile and realizes (?) that I am a good person.

Reality: This was NOT personal. When someone does a random act of kindness their behavior is purely a reflection on them, not me.

These were three minor events where my “gut reaction” (my ego) was to take things personally.  It takes conscious thought to overcome this tendency – especially when it is part of our family behavior.  With effort, we CAN overcome the old programming that causes us to take things personally.

Remembering not to take ANYTHING personally is a hard thing to do…
but mastering it brings power, peace, and freedom!

What do YOU think?

Have a great week!

Carol

Recovery from Childhood – a Lifelong Journey…

24 Jan

I am a big believer in The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz and his recent book The Fifth Agreement.  In summary, don Miguel teaches us to get over the seemingly innocent agreements we entered into and made (often unconsciously) in early life.  We accepted these in childhood as a done deal imposed by parents with the noble intent of “domesticating” us into submission and assimilation into a civil society.

Our parents typically raised us in the same way they were, without consideration that such ways might not prepare us to deal with the disappointments and realities of adult life.  Case in point:  life is not fair, and there are no guarantees of respectful treatment, yet many of us learned to follow the Golden Rule.  Others were taught (especially females) to take care of others first and foremost (see my previous post Put on Your Own Mask First for more about this…)  These concepts don’t hold in adult world where others are focused on self-interests (as well they should.)

The Four Agreements and The Fifth Agreement are worthwhile investments for anyone seeking to understand relationships – especially because both books explain how to work with others and ourselves in daily life.  I love the writings and the works!

In spite of studying and practicing The Four Agreements (1. Live with Integrity; 2. Don’t take anything personally; 3. Never assume (ask questions instead); and 4. Always do your best) – I face challenges to overcome “childhood teachings”- even though decades separate me from those years.  Moreover, in talking to friends both older and younger, I am not alone!

Why is it that we spend the first 15-20 years learning how to live (childhood) and the rest of our life overcoming the same?

Some people do not have childhood baggage.  I know people whose childhoods abounded with unconditional love and acceptance, and their parents treated them as the apple(s) of their eyes. As a result, one friend has so much self-esteem that co-workers tire of her incredibly healthy self-image!  Unfortunately, I think that this situation is more the exception than the rule.

Is there ever a point when our parents can no longer get under our skin, or when they are no longer the voices in our heads?

Even though I am middle-aged, I routinely get emails from my father chiding me for not calling enough (I call every week), emailing enough (I respond and send emails all the time), thanking enough for gifts (no matter that I have).  These emails bother me, and it bothers me that they bother me!  I should be used to the treatment by now… and one would think I would stop hoping for acceptance!

As an accomplished professional, I know that I am a great person – so why would I still hold out hope that my father will someday notice this?  As a child, I learned that 97% was never good enough – it was always 3% short of the perfection that meant acceptance.

Why do we keep hoping for change in others even when we know that we can only change ourselves?  Why do grown women seek approval from judgmental fathers (and often marry similar men)?  Why do grown men keep hoping they will buy that perfect gift for an unapproving mother?  Why do we strive to make our parents proud long after it shouldn’t matter?

I know that parental love is expressed by pointing out shortfalls and faults, yet I still hold onto the dream that someday just being ME will be enough.  I’m not alone in the lifetime journey of recovering from childhood and some people have it much worse. I read about similar struggles on blogs, in discussions, and in listening to friends and colleagues worldwide!

I am optimistic as I watch my son and daughter-in-law raising two daughters in a loving, accepting and supportive home, and it warms my heart as they show their princesses unconditional love.  Even so, I wonder if anyone has a childhood from which they do not seek to recover.

Wishing you a peaceful week where you experience self-love and an ongoing recovery as you move forward in your life!

Carol

The top 10 affirmations for 2012… The “Royal We” Checklist

2 Jan

2012 is already starting to be an awesome year – and it’s only two days old!

Instead of having a list of resolutions about what I want to change about myself and my current situation, I want to follow my advice about self-love by practicing what I preach.  In other words, “walking the talk”, doing what I say I am going to do, being consistent and living with integrity – well, you get it.

A bit of background…

I spent most of my life being told:rear view mirror

  • what to believe (a strict no-questions religious upbringing),
  • how to feel (“Carol, you should feel happy about …”),
  • how to dress (vanity is the work of the devil),
  • why I do what I do (“you are purposely making me late so that you will make me embarrassed”),
  • how to be a friend (“you have to be a friend to have a friend” – ignoring the fact that I had any rights in any relationship not to put up with verbal or other abuse!),
  • how much others loved me (“I’m only telling you this for your own best interests because I love you so much”), and
  • how much more they knew about me (“I know you better, Carol, than you know yourself”),
  • and so much more, and the worst part of it all was that

I believed them and allowed these people in my inner circle of life to override my intuition and self-love.

For most of my life, I put more credence into what others purported (and sometimes yelled to insist) to know about me, that I became invisible. In my personal life, I became the amorphous amoeba-like people pleaser that everyone else wanted me to be, and in the process, I fell-asleep to the wonderful, incredible, creative person who is me.

I woke up six years ago (and am happily divorced!) and have been on a path to self-discovery and acquainting myself with the Royal We (me, myself, and I) from whom I have withheld true love since birth.  It has been too long without self-love!

2012 is the Year for Us!

2012 is going to be my year of affirmation and true love for the Royal We, and because of this goal I am already a happier, healthier person.  I share my Royal We checklist with you in the hopes that your journey of self-love can advance to a place where you can become the great person you already are (and just don’t yet know!)

The Royal We Checklist

1. WAKE-UP:  Did I begin the day truly thankful to be in the company of the Royal We?  Did I thank myself for one great characteristic that I am proud to have?

2. GOOD MORNING!  Did I look at myself in the mirror and notice at least one great physical attribute? (I love how my eyes sparkle!)

3. PUTTING ME INTO THE DAY:  Have I planned my day to include at least one totally selfish, self-indulgent pleasure that I can do without anyone else? (It can be as simple as walking down to the seashore for 5 minutes because I live near the water or making sure that I look up at dusk to enjoy the sunsets that I so love!)

4. CHOOSE TO SHARE UNCONDITIONALLY: It is MY choice throughout the day whether or not to share a great aspect of the Royal We with anyone else – to give, to smile, to complement, to help, to be courteous – and if so, it is my gift to the world without conditions or strings attached.  If others choose not to receive or accept graciously, or reciprocate, that is THEIR choice and it has nothing to do with the value of my gift.

5. STOP THE GUILT programming from the past about anything in the present by affirming that the Royal We have rights!  We have the right to our own earned income (the Royal We works hard), good food (yes, we deserve to indulge in our favorite cheese even if it is more expensive), good friends (who respect us and affirm us) and great experiences that  we can afford.  The life I am living today with the Royal We is the only life we have.

6. THE ROYAL WE COMES FIRST!  Remind myself that I am the only one who can or ever should put the Royal We FIRST!  It was a lie that I was taught to put others first and that then others will put me first – it is not the way that life works!  It is a right of life that I should “put on my own mask first” before helping others… and it is about time that this becomes instinctual! (Sidenote: it is not a reflection on oneself when you have to terminate a “friendship” or other relationship that is toxic or off-balance or providing no value… it is a reflection on the incapability of the other person to be a friend to us.)

7. CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY ALONE WITH THE ROYAL WE.  We are on this earth to be happy – to make heaven on earth… yet so many others attempt to make it a living hell for themselves and others!  I choose to be happy today and everyday – content with the satisfaction that I am always in the great company of the Royal We!

8. LOSE THE ANTICIPATION and expectation of anyone outside of the Royal We. While “we” grew up with the Golden Rule and a giving nature, it is not an universal belief.  The only change I can make in life is about me – not about anyone else, and THAT IS OKAY!

9. STAY COGNIZANT THAT WE ARE ONLY RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR OWN BEHAVIOR. When others behave badly, as they inevitably will – it is THEIR responsibility (not ours) to clean up the mess without our involvement!  Just as we must take ownership of our own doings, others are responsible for:

  • their actions (yelling, berating, ranting),
  • their words (especially when negative, disempowering, disrespectful),
  • their tantrums (stomping, screaming, pouting, silent treatment),
  • their lack of support, and
  • their judgments!

When the person in question is over the biological age of 2, remember to be thankful that we have the Royal We to hang out with.

 10. LOVE THE ROYAL WE COMPLETELY AND UNCONDITIONALLY!  I am reminded of the mom-ism (a saying from my mother): “remember wherever you go, there you are!”  Finally at this awakened point in my life — I am truly grateful this is true.

WE, (The Royal We, that is) are going to have an incredible year and we hope that you do too!  Happy 2012!

Carol

Put on your own mask first…before assisting others

19 Sep

I am fortunate this week to have the company of my daughter who is down from NYC for a bit of time before she moves overseas to teach English in Asia.  She is one of the most caring and generous people I know and often espouses wisdom beyond her years.

Either yesterday or the day before (my memory is just not as sharp as it used to be), we were talking about the support she constantly provides to others, and how, at critical times of stress, one cannot lend support to others when it is most needed within.  I hope that she won’t mind me paraphrasing her words – but they were along the lines of

“Put on your own mask first… before assisting others.”

As women, I believe that most of us were raised to help others before thinking of ourselves — and, as a result, we support everyone around us, before tending to our own needs.  Often, when we need support, we find that we stand alone.  And, I might add, it is our own fault – we have a flawed belief system!  What gives us the right to expect support from others just because we give it?

Life is not fair (we know this by now) and there is no guarantee of reciprocity!  (I’ve said it before that The Golden Rule is a good theory for teaching children to share, but it seldom works in adult life!)

I’ve talked to several confident and successful women friends who were raised similarly (gosh, one of the Girl Guide sayings when I grew up in Canada was:  “A Brownie is cheerful and obedient – a Brownie always thinks of others before herself” – sheesh !!!!) — and share a diminished sense of self-worth!  When one gives away something that which is still needed (support), it is folly to expect survival.  After years of giving to others, we end up feeling resentful that no one is nurturing us.  The answer is that we need to nurture our own needs first!  This means giving ourselves ample support –be it financial, emotional, cheerleading, physical rest, happy thoughts, encouragement, empathy, unconditional love, etc. — BEFORE supporting others.   (A novel thought indeed!)

I believe that this “oxygen mask philosophy” should be taught to children (and adults who never learned it) everywhere:  Take care to support and love yourself (put on your own mask first); then – and only then – can we effectively help others.

To my lovely daughter – I wish for you all the wonders and love that the world can possibly give you – you deserve it.  I love you and I hope that somehow, someday, you’ll see my love as support and wisdom back to you.  Thank you for YOUR wisdom…

Have a great week!

Carol

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