Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

If YOU believe it, it is so…

10 Jun

All of our power of creation is invested in our belief, and because we believe it, that’s the way it is.
– don Miguel Ruiz

No truer words were ever spoken!

All one needs to do is to watch any elected politician (even if you do not agree with them), passionate preacher, evangelist, terrorist, judge, etc. to know passion does not lie.  What we believe to be true is the bedrock of our very foundation – and, even if such belief is based on total malarkey or fiction, if we believe it, it is so.  Passion and perception (in the absence of facts to the contrary) become reality.

What does this mean in the grand scheme of our lives?

It all comes down to another quote:

“Whether You Believe You Can, Or You Can’t, You Are Right
Henry Ford

My biggest learning in life to this point (I am at middle age) is that it is only your own opinion that matters in life.  (This is absolutely a polar opposite to how I was raised (and in my long-term now defunct marriage) where my opinion (and intuition) were secondary to others who “knew better” and would love me if I agreed with them.)

This is my three-part (big) piece of advice to anyone who will listen:

Trust YOUR instincts and your intuition first – no matter what others in your past (yesterday and before) told you to do! 

Love yourself for who you are (even if it means that others withhold their “love” from you.) 

If you realize that your intuition is dormant (it may have been squashed or never allowed to grow) – start today to listen to your higher being.

When others (whether they love you or not, and whether they are well-intentioned or not) cast judgment on your life..

or your behavior or your plans or your thoughts (heaven forbid!) – it is up to you and you alone to close the screen door and not allow such negative energy to enter your being.  Negative energy will always be a part of life, but it doesn’t need to be a part of you!

Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know… because you never had the chance (until now!)

Sometimes when you’ve grown up under the influence of others who insisted they knew more/better that we about what was best for us, you never realize that there is any other way.

If you were born into judgment, you learned to give away power and control early – maybe even before the age of reason. Why? Because it was easier to agree than fight. (In the typical “fight or flight” situation, if we are too young to fly, have nowhere to fly, and no way to win the fight without being rejected, we learn to override our intuition.) Then by the time we are four or five, we are already conditioned to believe that one choice (submit and agree) results in love, while others do not. We gain approval, acceptance and hopefully, love, when we agree with the dominating (and usually well-intentioned) mother, father, grandparent, or another.

I am probably a very slow learner, but up until six years ago (my divorce) I never realized this. I spent my life seeking a personal path that would please (or at least not raise the ire) of my husband, my parents, and often, emotionally abusive friends.  Because I am an independent thinker, an individualist, and a survivor, I faced a constant internal battle between my caged intuition (which did not agree with the martyr behavior of taking care of everyone else’s needs first) and keeping the peace (and being “loved”.)

How does Submission and People-Pleasing become a(n unhappy) Way of Life?

For me, submission began with a strict religious upbringing where one choice was possible – ever.  My parents would love me  if I followed their dogma, their interpretation of organized religion, their path in life. Opposition was considered an affront and rejected outright.  In my marriage, when there was disagreement, my spouse’s way of dealing with things was similar “your perception is wrong, that is not the way things are … and I can bring in witnesses who will prove me right.” End of discussion.)

For years, I sought approval (which equated to love and affection) by agreeing and acquiescing to “mandatory” church attendance, strict partisan beliefs, my spouse’s views and choices, and generally squashing down my intuition.  I was woefully unhappy, but felt that I was “loved.” I believed this all to be true, and therefore it was.

And I believed it was so, for so many years…

Looking back, I don’t know why it is remains difficult to forgive myself for being asleep — for the years where I overrode my intuition and higher power in exchange for feeling loved.  In the process of giving first to others and seeking to be loved, I neglected loving myself.  I believed then that I would never know love unless I put others first (even at my own expense.)  Thankfully, I could be myself in my business – and ultimately this freedom to be me led me to find a new path (and new beliefs).

Today I believe that the only authentic true-love (without conditions of any kind) can be attained through self-love. (Because I believe it, it is so!)

I believe the best choices for me come from my higher power and my intuition, not from others who purport to love me if I agree with them.  I also believe that inner peace, free from conflict, is the path to happiness (and I am happy!)

What do you believe (that might hold you back?)  Are your beliefs truly yours or are they beliefs you agreed to long ago as dictated by others?

Wake up to a New Life and New Beliefs!

My awakening, to the realization that I gave up my power and control to others, was life-changing.  While my road to authenticity and living with integrity is like climbing a mountain, (my daughter once told me after my divorce that to “reach the other side, you have to go through a lot of fire”) – I am grateful to finally have my intuition firing on all cylinders and directing my life.

As I continue to wake up even more to being under my own control (instead of the Stepford-like control of others) – life gets better. I believe in the power of the Royal We (me, myself and I), and… life is good!

What do you think?

(While I may not choose to allow your opinion to influence my life, I still like to hear how my readers think!)

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

Drama Free Living

15 Mar

I do not know who said

Youth is wasted on the young;

but more and more I believe that this is true.

In our youth, we worry about everything: Will we have enough money?  Can we get ahead? Will my boyfriend/girlfriend be true to me? Who can I trust? What do people think of me? What can I do at work to make a good impression? Will I ever fall in love? Where should I live? What can I do to improve my career prospects? Will my children be smart?  Am I a good parent? And so on…

We spend so many of our youthful days (our 20’s and 30’s) worrying and engaging in drama-filled lives that we often miss out on the sheer pleasure of being alive.  I know I did.  I worried about family, loved ones, children, my children’s friends, my friends, the friends I didn’t have, career, my spouse, my spouse’s career, my career, schoolwork, field trips, out-of-town trips, you name it.  As a young mother, I was a master of creating and living in drama.  If there was not a crisis looming or imminent, I created one or allowed my children to do so.  What a waste of time, energy, and heartbeats!

Today, my life is much simpler and happier than the bygone days of worry about things I could not (fortunately!) control.  My children are grown and happily independent; I have the freedom to come and go as I please; my cat is happy and well fed; I have enough work and money to be happy; I enjoy lots of social occasions; I am healthy; and I am optimistic about the future.  What more could one want?

I wished for a drama-free life years ago – one filled with peaceful days free of conflict, happy times with my children, unconditional love and acceptance from myself, and supportive friendships.  Today these are no longer wishes but my reality, and I am truly grateful.

Youth may be wasted on the young, but the joy of youth is certainly not wasted on those of us who stay young at heart.  Wish for a drama-free life, and it too can be yours!

Have a great day,

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?

Getting rid of clutter? Start inside your head…

10 Jan

Are you surprised at the title of this post?

I was when a friend of mine suggested it to me one day this week when I mentioned how I want to simplify my life.  We were talking about how I felt disillusioned by someone I knew when she remarked “there’s so much clutter inside your head that I don’t know how you can see anything objectively.”  At first, I didn’t know how to respond but then I realized that there was probably truth in her statement.  When I asked her to explain, she responded by saying that my mind was filled with so many contradictory beliefs that she said it must be oppressively crowded inside my head!

That’s when reality hit… I realized that I am a hoarder of beliefs – what I mean is that new ideas and opinions enter my mind (like buying new clothing for my closet) and none ever leave.  As such, I carry around a motley mismatched collection of childhood learnings, adult beliefs, truisms from experience, and “truths” imposed on me by others.  Maybe you are like me – you take in new ideas but don’t make room for them by discarding beliefs that no longer serve you well.  By now, there is so much clutter that it is difficult to distill things objectively into knowledge and truth.  It is time to take inventory of what I keep in my head!

I know today that there are NO RULES OF LIFE (outside of legal or societal norms) – except inside my head which means that anything can be removed from my belief inventory without consequence.  To de-clutter my life, I realize that I must first discard flawed beliefs and childhood “rules” that no longer apply.  To do this I compiled two lists: the first is the list of “momilies” (things a mom tells you) that I ingested growing up (that now contradict what I know t0 be true) and other beliefs I can abandon; the second is the list of beliefs I choose to embrace.  This inventory exercise helped me to separate what I can discard (the first list) from my reality and experience beliefs.

List #1:  Momilies…

  • The Golden Rule – “do unto others as you’d like them to do unto you”  – a motherhood and apple pie servitude that is a good idea, but it can imprison those who are “givers” in life. I have held on to this belief for far too long and it has bitten me many times. Most of our society does not adhere to this “rule”  and instead opt to walk all over those who upheld it.  It is an altruistic but unrealistic rule intended for an ideal world.  I let it go.
  • Think of others before yourself (Girl Scouts remnant) also called “The more you give, the more you receive adage” – This is one of the cornerstones of organized religion and enlists people to servitude (which works for some people).  After years of giving unconditionally and getting doormat treatment in return, I’m ready to let this belief go.  In reality, we must give first to ourselves, and if there is anything left over, then give to society and others.  Certainly giving can be virtuous and good for society – but should never at the cost of one’s best interests or self-preservation.   The truth is that we should remember the airline practice:  Put on your own mask first before assisting others!
  • Share and share alike. Another motherhood and apple pie teaching that works to discourage narcissistic children, but it doesn’t apply in adult life.  Not every child in a playground will share and this makes the idea of sharing inequitable.  The takers of the world quickly learn how to take advantage of those who do share.  In our capitalistic society of “grab as much as you can while you can”, anyone who follows the share and share alike will be quickly left behind.
  • Life is fair. I have no idea why this misguided idea was still stuck in my head.  I can only surmise that it resembled truth while growing up in a family where everything had to be absolutely equal (even to the extent of cutting up two fruit cocktail cherries to be equally divided among 5 siblings).  Life is not fair or equal – and it never was.  I banish this one from my head!
  • What goes around comes around (or the rule of Karma). Okay, I cannot completely let go of this one – even though it is unproven and may be “new age”.   If you are like me, you have seen many people cheat, lie, steal and otherwise mistreat others to get ahead in life with few negative consequences.  However, I still believe that one cannot cheat and pillage others indefinitely – without Karma “what goes around comes around” catching up.  Call me naive.
  • Money can’t buy happiness. What a bunch of bs it was to believe this one!  Money buys comfort, relief from stress, financial freedom and independence.  While this may be a good adage to guide kids careers towards service, it simply is untrue.  Just look at the family struggling month-to-month to pay a mortgage or feed their loved ones – and then suggest that money doesn’t buy happiness.  Quite the contrary – a lack of money can definitely result in stress and unhappiness.

Since childhood, I’ve also amassed a surprising amount of new (and often conflicting) beliefs that took up battle with the misguided beliefs above.  In light of the realities of life, I am willing to discard the unrealistic beliefs above.  In so doing, the mind battles will diminish so that peace and kindness can prevail inside my head!

Sunset

List #2: Truisms that I will keep

  • Don’t give away anything that you might need someday (especially money!)  When I had employees, I paid them the highest and most generous salary I could afford (far above the industry average) because I believed this was fair and the right way to run a business with high ethics (they were doing the work after all).  This was an altruistic and misguided choice as my employees abandoned me when the workload lessened, joined my competition, and I was left with a business without financial reserves.
  • Trust, but verify. This Ronald Reagan adage is a prudent way to protect your own interests from pillage.  I discovered the truth of this following a financially damaging divorce where I trusted the wrong people (without verifying) and I will pay for the oversight for years to come.
  • The best investment is you. This truism delivers a guaranteed high ROI.  School children should be taught self-preservation and self-love first. With so much negative thinking in our society today, a healthy self-image can be difficult to keep up yet it is a pre-requisite for success in life.
  • You are the best you’ll ever have – and that more than enough. You are whole, complete, and perfect just as you are – and deserve to be accepted and loved unconditionally just as you are.  In life, the only love you that you can be assured of reciprocity is from yourself. Everyone else is a risk.
  • A mother’s love is unrivaled. I would never have believed how much love I could have for my children and no matter their behavior, I will always love them unconditionally.  I would never change the experiences of the past because they are the rock of my life.
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. I know that this defies the Disney or “Dream the Impossible Dream” wishful thinking, but if it is too good to be true, it usually is 99.9% of the time.  Sure it can be fun to dream big, but believing people or promises that contradicts our intuition usually bites us. Everywhere we read about ripoffs, opportunists, cheats, and yet we so often hope that we cad defy the odds in spite of our intuition telling us otherwise.  We need to trust our intuition to tell us the truth and listen — instead of listening to people who make promises to which they cannot deliver.
  • If you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it is yours, if it doesn’t it never was.  This is so true in life.  While  typically applied to unrequited love, it also applies to friends, jobs, opportunities.  When WE love someone or something, it can be difficult to let go of the wish to keep them in our life. The only person or situation where we can be assured that will come back to us in love is oneself.

Clearing out the clutter between my ears is my first step to simplifying my life.  It is a journey I am ready to take this year, what about you?

p.s., My bookshelf find:  See you at the Top by Zig Ziglar is going to be a keeper!  Zig opens the book with several chapters exploring the 15 steps to a healthy self-image.  He asserts that success in life starts a healthy self-image but due to an overwhelming abundance of negative beliefs we hold about oneself (imposed by others over many years), we have a lot to overcome.  See You at the Top is definitely a book that I will keep in my collection – one can never have too many positive reinforcement books on a bookshelf!

Wishing you a clutter-free week!

Carol
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Everyday “miracles” every day…

7 Jan

angelsWhen you hear the word “miracle” what comes to mind?  For me, the word traditionally conjures up choirs of seraphim enveloping an accident scene where victims walk unscathed out of a tangled car, or a hospital room where a once-paralyzed child walks down a long hallway with movie music trailing in the background.

This is the Hollywood version of miracles, but I’m finding that mini-miracles actually happen every day – if we only stop to recognize them.  Dictionary.com defines miracle as

World English Dictionary:  miracle (ˈmɪrək ə l)
n
1. an event that is contrary to the established laws of nature and attributed to a supernatural cause
2.

any amazing or wonderful event

3. a person or thing that is a marvelous example of something: the bridge was a miracle of engineering
4. short for miracle play
5. ( modifier ) being or seeming a miracle: a miracle cure

I’ve purposely highlighted #2 ANY AMAZING OR WONDERFUL EVENT because this is what everyday miracles are to me.  Somehow we often focus on what goes awry in our lives (someone cuts us off in traffic, a sales clerk is snarly, a family member disrespects us, or a friend doesn’t return our call) – and we lose sight of the many wondrous things that happen along the way.

I believe that we are conditioned for this with the way that our news, elected politicians, and general attention-seekers focus on the negative.  Additionally, when we have unrealistic expectations of others it is easier to be disappointed (when they don’t meet our expectations) than to be delighted with them.  For example, if someone disregards us, we get hurt (this inflicts a small scar on our psyche), but then don’t appreciate a later kindness.

But, we can change this whole situation by consciously changing our perspective:  1. Reduce expectations of others’  behavior; and 2. actively watch for the little moments of amazement and wonder in our everyday life!

Everyday miracles

Here’s a few examples of everyday miracles I have started to notice:

  • A friend calls unexpectedly to say hello just moments after I read an email about a contract being canceled;
  • An attendee at one of my international lectures sends an email to tell me how my speech gave him new ideas he can use at work;
  • A colleague in India offers encouragement and shares his own story of career frustration to boost my spirits;
  • I find a $20 bill in a coat pocket;
  • A friend follows through on a promise they made;
  • My son (22) calls to say thank you for something I’ve done;
  • A stranger compliments me on my shoes;
  • Someone lets me in ahead of the to a left turn lane;
  • Someone says that they understand how I feel and they mean it;
  • Someone sends supporting comments about reading my blog postings;
  • A stranger ahead of me pays for my highway toll;
  • My daughter sends me a card just because…

You might call these everyday occurrences and not miracles and you could be right.  Some might actually say that these are expectations of how others should behave.  I respectfully suggest that when we remove our expectations of others, things become much simpler.  As such, I prefer to assess these behaviors as everyday miracles every day — I am truly grateful for each and every one of them.

How to stay positive in this down economy where gloom and doom financial woes continue to plague our nation?  My solution is to seek positive signs from the universe that things will get better.  When they do (I’m optimistic) then it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy (and I’ll shout hurrah).  On the other hand, if it takes longer for positive things to happen, at least I can take solace in the fact that good things happen every day.

Wishing you a positive week!

p.s., I am actively seeking speaking opportunities worldwide, so if you know of anyone looking for a great speaker on technology or industry optimism topics, please ask them to contact me at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com.  Thank you!

Carol

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