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11 April 2012 · 4:32 am

When One Is Out Of Touch With Oneself

“It is not the desert island nor the stony wilderness that cuts you from the people you love. It is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. When one is a stranger to oneself then one is a estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea … 

What Anne means when she says “one is a stranger to oneself,” or “one is out of touch with oneself,” is that when we allow others to influence the decisions we make–when we allow others to manipulate our character, we are no longer our unique, authentic self, but are a hodgepodge of selves, including those of others. I know individuals in harmful relationships in which they allow the other person to control them, and throughout it all, remain in denial. When we say that we are out of touch with our self, we are generally stating that we do not have the ability to communicate effectively with our inner self–our wants and needs, our beliefs and convictions.

One of the worst side effects of being out of touch with oneself is the loss of integrity. To be a person of integrity we must be aware of what is important to us and we must act according to our high moral and ethical standards. But if we do not know what those are, then we obviously will not be able to do so.

So how is one to go about “getting in touch” with oneself? The first step for me would be taking some time in reflection of my wants and needs, my beliefs and convictions. I should consider what is important to me, and what I expect from life–from others, and from myself. After forming a base understanding who I am, I can then choose to be that person in all my dealings in life so that I might touch the lives of those around me in deep and meaningful ways.

The only way I can affect the lives of those around me in a positive way, is if I am comfortable with myself. I must take the time and make the effort to slow down and get in touch with my own needs, and then ensure they are met. Then, and only then, will I be able to help others effectively.

Reflect for a minute on who you are and on what are your needs.

Questions to consider:

Why do so many people neglect themselves while trying to help others?

What are some ways that you could get in touch with yourself?

When was the last time that you took time for reflecting upon your own needs and how to fulfill them?

For further thought:

“You are a child of the universe, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” In the history of creation, there has never been anyone like you. Accept this reality about yourself–that you are a special, unique human being who has a place on this earth that no one else can fill. Acknowledge yourself as a glorious expression of your loving Creator. This healthy self-love will form the foundation of a joyful and satisfying life. Then, as you love and accept yourself, your inner light will shine outward to bless and heal your fellow human beings.” ~ Douglas Bloch

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Do Not Let Tomorrow Rob You Of Today

“Some people are making such thorough preparation for rainy days that they aren’t enjoying today’s sunshine.” ~ William Feather … 

The first thing that came to mind when I read William’s words was a teacher of mine from grade school. I remember walking to church service in the morning as a class, and she would always have her umbrella with her, just in case it would get rainy during service and she would have to walk back in the rain. This was not necessarily the case with her, though, for she enjoyed the weather regardless, yet the analogy still fits. Often times we are so worried about the possibility of adversity and hardship in our future that we truly fail to live our lives today–in the right here and right now.

Many others do fit this bill: a couple in a relationship, one who is so worried about the two breaking up, that they fail to enjoy the other’s company. This just might create the tension that will lead to a breakup. Or a coworker who is so worried that they will be laid off in the near future that they are unable to give the necessary focus and effort to their job. This might lead to a decrease in their productivity and work, as well as their attitude and interactions with their coworkers. This seems a bit ironic to me–and perhaps a bit sad at the same time.

I think it is also important to note that others tend to enjoy the company of people who are active and enjoying the present moment. Being active in the present allows us to elevate that moment to a much higher level, which in turn allows others to enjoy it much more easily as well. Being engaged in the present also frees you from the worries and stress inherent in the unknowns of the future.

There are times in our lives where preparation is necessary and beneficial so that we can enjoy ourselves–saving up money for retirement, workouts, and practices with the team prior to a hockey game, or planning a vacation to visit family this coming yuletide. But when we spend too much time focused on things that may happen and ways to prevent mere possibilities from becoming reality, we squander those quality moments that we could be having right here, and right now. Do you waste sunshine?

Go out and do something that requires you to live in the present moment today.

Questions to consider:

Why do so many people fear disasters in their futures when they have actually experienced no real disasters at all?

What effect does focusing on preparing for the future have on our present moments?

How can we recognize when we’re preparing for rainy days instead of enjoying this sunny day?

For further thought:

“Worry not about the possible troubles of the future; for if they come, you are but anticipating and adding to their weight; and if they do not come, your worry is useless; and in either case it is weak and in vain, and a distrust of God’s providence.” ~ Hugh Blair, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres

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Be Of Good Cheer

“Let us be of good cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never happen.” ~ James Russell Lowell … 

I used to waste many hours of my days stressing out, worrying, and trying to avoid things that never actually came to be. As a boy, I would worry what my friends would think of me. And in high school I would worry about not living up to others expectations in sports, or even possibly breaking a bone or suffering a catastrophic injury. I spent countless hours agonizing things that never happened or were just plain silly.

Life will have its calamities and misfortunes for us, most of which we can surmise will never come to pass. Still it is in our nature to desire to look ahead in life–to try to be aware of what may be in our future. Doing this, though, can be very unhealthy and dangerous for us, for it adds unnecessary stress and misery into our lives. Often times, this additional stress causes more issues with our health that in turn bring about more stress. At times I still find myself reminding my wife of this fact when she gets stuck in the cycle of stressing out over something she has little control over–or is simply a terrible possibility that is not likely to occur–and causing herself heartburn and other issues. Sometimes our symptoms and misfortunes are merely in our heads.

If I keep a good spirit about myself–a sense of cheer and humor–I can learn quite a lot from my misfortunes. They are something I am going to experience, and I have dealt with them before so I know I can handle them. I have lost friends and family, I have had a flat tire on the road, I have spilled food on my shirt during a date (and still do)… and I have dealt with these things. But it is the misfortunes that never happen that needlessly harm me–these are the ones that I do not need to dwell upon, for they will never provide anything of value for me.

If there is something on your mind that you cannot control or may not happen, tell yourself you will not let it worry you and remove it from your thoughts for today.

Questions to consider:

How does it happen that so many people suffer from misfortunes that never really happen?

What are some ways of recognizing when we are stressing about something that probably is not going to come to pass?

What are some of the ways to deal with it when we are focused on non-existent misfortunes?

For further thought:

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.” ~ Mark Twain, Mark Twain on Common Sense

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Grow Up Without Getting Old

“Life begins as a quest of the child to become a man, and ends as a journey by the man to rediscover the child.” ~ Laurens van der Post, The Lost World of the Kalahari … 

It is easy for me to remember a time in which my friends and I could not wait to grow up and to be able to drive cars, receive special privileges, and do whatever we were in the mood to do whenever we wanted to. And although we dutifully learned from our parents, from our teachers, and from our elders that which was necessary for us to grow up, somewhere along the road we lost sight of the important things that make us who we are.

Growing up is a beautiful thing. Through the process, we become more independent and self-sufficient, and as we start to make our own decisions in life, we gain a level of freedom from society and begin to enjoy respect from our fellow human beings for our knowledge and opinions. As an adult, if I wish to take the day off of work because it is beautiful outside, or I wish to spend some time with my wife and children, that is my choice.

Yet as I gained these freedoms and benefits, I lost much of the wonders I once had as a child. I am not referring to the screaming, crying, or the immaturity, rather, I am talking about the wonder and awe I felt for all the amazing things of this Earth: the ability to trust life and everything in it; to marvel at the sensations of sight, sound, touch, and taste and hold no prior judgments towards anyone or anything. The ability to not care about what others think of me, or how they interpret my actions; and to be so open and willing as to allow others to help me.

As a child we allow our innocence to be an important part of who we are, and we act from that innocence. But as adults, we tend to lose that innocence and instead act unethically and immorally. I therefore find myself as an adult, trying ever so hard to pursue those qualities I once possessed as a child. I want to be able to have fun without worrying about what other people think. I want to look at other human beings with interest and without judgment. I want to be able to be enchanted and amazed, and to be honest with my words and feelings. And I especially want to be in touch with the innocence that could be such an important part of my life and allow me to feel all the other positive aspects of life like it was when I was a child.

Do one fun thing you used to do as a kid, regardless of what others may think or say to embarass you.

Questions to consider:

What is the difference between “childlike” and “childish”?

Why do people teach us as we are growing up that it is important for us not to act like children anymore?

How might we go about reclaiming some of the important parts of our childhoods?

For further thought:

“Youth is a circumstance you can’t do anything about. The trick is to grow up without getting old.” ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

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You Can Never Be Too Careful?

“The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions.” ~ Alfred Adler … 

Perhaps you have heard it said before, “You can never be too careful.” Typically, this saying is used in a sarcastic manner, for instance, someone speaking in retrospect to bringing an umbrella along for a walk on a sunny day. But the truth is that we can be too careful–we can take so many precautions that we lose all possibility for spontaneity in our lives or make our lives seem outright silly.

Imagine if I put eight tires on my car, just in case one of them goes flat while I am driving. Or if I were to bring along two pairs of shoes, or two baseball caps, or two pairs of eyeglasses. It all seems illogical and unnecessary of course, because it is. And if I am constantly trying to make sure certain outcomes always happen, I limit the other possibilities. Like an animal in a cage at the zoo… taking too many precautions can restrict our lives. I know of a couple folks who will not try to meet new people because they are afraid of the unknown, of being hurt, or of the possibility of being rejected or being made fun of. And while they may successfully prevent themselves from being hurt by others, they do so by removing the joys that come from being in the company of others, and end up inflicting hurt on themselves in the form of loneliness and low self-esteem.

It is interesting to note that Alfred refers to taking too many precautions as “the chief danger” in life–a strong assertion by any means. Yet in many ways, he is right–living a life with little to no faith is an extremely dangerous life that excludes spontaneity and surprises, new adventures and experiences, extraordinary relationships and friendships, reduced happiness and joy, and insufficient purpose and meaning.

It is difficult to find life fulfilling without being open to all the possibilities and outcomes inherent to it. When we do so, we indicate that we do not have faith in God, and we therefore feel that we must take care of ourselves. Faith in life allows us to live our lives to the fullest. And although life may not always give us everything that we want or need, it will take care of us. Trust life; and above all, trust in Him.

Do one thing outside of your comfort zone.

Questions to consider:

What causes many of us to focus so much of our time and energy on taking precautions to prevent certain things from happening in the future?

In what ways can you take risks today that are acceptable risks to you?

Why do so few people seem to embrace risk and risk-taking?

For further thought:

“There is only one form of security we can attain during our lives. It is inner security–the kind that comes from courage, experience, and the ability and the willingness to learn, to grow, to attempt the unknown. Security is not what the wise person looks for; it is opportunity. And once we begin looking for that, we find it on every side. You can measure opportunity with the same yardstick that measures the risk involved. They go together.” ~ Earl Nightingale

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An Adventure Called Life

“I have learned that life is an adventure in forgiveness. Nothing clutters the soul more than remorse, resentment, recrimination.” ~ Norman Cousins, Head First: The Biology of Hope and the Healing Power of the Human Spirit … 

Forgiveness is not something that has to be a bad word. We are all guilty of hurting or doing others wrong to others in some way, shape, or form. Likewise, others, too, have similarly wronged us, sometimes more than once throughout the day. And because much of what we say and do in life is done in carelessness, haste, and ignorance, it is only expected that forgiveness is so often necessary, for if we wish to dwell in peace of mind, body, and spirit, we must be willing to forgive others and accept their forgiveness as well.

I think it is fair to say that the majority of the things we do or say that need forgiveness are not done or said out of anger, or with bad intentions, or even meant to hurt others–they are simply a result of a lapse in judgment or thought. Perhaps I wanted to impress someone, or maybe I just did not take the time to think about the results of my words and actions. In such instances, forgiveness is somewhat trivial, but also often overlooked.

In addition, our humanity leaves us susceptible to moments of weakness–occasions in which the pain, hurt, or harm we have caused someone else was intentional. Here, we often lose our trust in each other and we lose our desire to be a part of each other’s lives. Like an untreated wound, a sort of hate and malice begins to form, to fester, and to grow. In these instances, it is usually a lot more difficult for us to seek or bestow forgiveness. Yet these are the times when the ability to forgive is most important, most necessary. For just like an untreated wound, the lack of forgiveness will harm us completely–mind, body, and soul. It will remain a sore and a malady that we carry around with us that others will see, and that will affect our attitudes and how we treat one another.

Forgiveness is a wonderful and important gift that we can give one another in life. It can be very difficult, true, but nothing that is worthwhile and important is ever easy in life. Life demands that we make sacrifices, and forgiveness of others is a simple thing for us to do. In fact, doing so is one of the easiest ways in which we can improve our lives.

Forgive someone today who has wronged you, and then ask forgiveness of someone whom you have wronged.

Questions to consider:

Why is forgiveness so often so difficult for us to share?

What are some benefits of forgiving others for the perceived wrongs that they have done to us? What are some benefits of accepting the forgiveness that others extend to us?

What are some of the obstacles to forgiveness in your own life?

For further thought:

“Forgiveness is an act of love. As I forgive, I release negative energy that may manifest as resentment or anger. I open the way for something positive to happen. If I feel wronged or annoyed, I release the impulse to judge. The lines of communication remain open, and understanding flows freely. Relationships with family, friends, and colleagues flourish when I act with compassion and easily forgive. I relate to others in harmonious ways. I exercise the same forgiving attitude toward myself. If I have erred, I learn from it and move on.” ~ unattributed, excerpt from the Daily Word

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“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word–excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.” ~ Pearl S. Buck, The Joy of Child … 

We have the ability to enjoy nearly everything we do… it is merely a matter of choice. I know individuals who like to complain about their jobs and their professions in life. For some, they do not like the hours or the pay, or they cannot get along with the management or their coworkers. For others the environment or atmosphere is not pleasant enough, or perhaps some other complaint that removes the burden of making work enjoyable from the individual. However, the deeper truth is probably much closer to this: they do not like their jobs because they do not give their all to their job, and for this reason, they never reach the level of excellence that brings about great amounts of satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy. Getting by doing the bare minimum required will never be fulfilling work.

As a boy, each year I would spend a month of my summer detasseling corn. This required me being up at around 5am every morning and working in the dewy, muddy, heat through some of the hottest times of the day. Most would admit they do not enjoy detasseling if asked, yet here they all were, coming back each day along with me to get out in the field again. The trick, I found out, was to not think of it as work–if I am going to be doing it, why not enjoy it a little bit. After all, I found a way to enjoy weightlifting three days a week, and I managed to enjoy football practice in the intense heat for two hours a day. And if I can enjoy that, I can certainly find some enjoyment in being outdoors in the sun, with the gentle breeze blowing upon my face; or in burning calories and keeping healthy and being paid to do so. Or even for the simple fact that I was helping farmers to produce something beneficial for others.

I demand excellence from my children when it comes to their schoolwork. I know that the difference between success and failure is simply the amount of effort put forth. An accomplished Olympics distance-running coach named Jack Tupper Daniels once said that what surprises him most about runners in a race is that when they start to feel tired, almost none of them actually think about speeding up as a way to work their way through the fatigue. He mentioned that in his experience, speeding up offers the legs a new pace and a new stride that can help a runner do their best in a given race. When we get tired of our work in life, rarely do we think of pushing harder in order to make the work more interesting.

We can gain a lot of joy and satisfaction from doing something well–it gives us a feeling of fulfillment and offers us a sense of accomplishment. In this way, we all can enjoy our work in life, for such enjoyment is due not to what the work is, but rather what we give to it. This dynamic can set us apart from those who are unhappy and do not put forth much effort.

Complete a task that you do not enjoy. Do so with purpose and enthusiasm, and then at the end of the day, reflect upon how you feel.

Questions to consider:

How might we start to give all we can to our work, even if we sometimes find it tedious or annoying?

Why is it so easy to start focusing on other things at work if we are somehow bored with the work we are doing, instead of putting ourselves into the work more?

What are some of the benefits of giving our all to our work and starting to enjoy the work and the results?

For further thought:

“There are four stenographers in my office and each of us is assigned to take letters from several men. Once in a while we get jammed up in these assignments. One day, when an assistant department head insisted that I do a long letter over, I started to rebel. I tried to point out to him that the letter could be corrected without being retyped–and he retorted that if I didn’t do it over, he would find someone else who would! I was absolutely fuming! But as I started to retype this letter, it suddenly occurred to me that there were a lot of other people who would jump at the chance to do the work I was doing. Also, that I was being paid a salary to do just that work. I began to feel better. I suddenly made up my mind to do my work as if I actually enjoyed it–even though I despised it. Then I made this important discovery: If I do my work as if I really enjoy it, then I do enjoy it to some extent. I also found I can work faster when I enjoy my work. So there is seldom any need now for me to work overtime. This new attitude of mine gained me the reputation of being a good worker. And when one of the department superintendents needed a private secretary, he asked for me for the job–because, he said, I was willing to do the extra work without being sulky! This matter of the power of a changed mental attitude has been a tremendously important discovery to me. It has worked wonders!” ~ Vallie G. Golden

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