Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December Post

"I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us...if we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do."  Christopher Reeve

For Christians this time of year finds us between two holidays. We have just finished remembering Thanksgiving, and are about to celebrate the advent- the coming of God into the world and our lives. Perhaps we have it backwards when we are thankful & then enters God. Or perhaps we have it right. Maybe something about being grateful opens our hearts to God's involvement. I've noticed that there is something about remembering what I'm thankful for that brings a good feeling to my heart.  Maybe being thankful is also a way of expressing trust in God, and making space in my heart for Him to further His work on me.

One way to think of God entering our lives is as Christopher Reeve suggests.  That God is a "little voice" inside us that we may or may not listen to.  It's easier for me to just react impulsively and without reflection.  I'm aware of several things that I do that keeps me from hearing that little voice.  When I'm continuously busy or caught up in task I don't hear too well.  I also don't hear well when I'm afraid.  For me, fear seems to muffle the little voice.  However, I find that it works out better for me when I pause and listen to the voice within.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November Post

"Many seek advice, few profit from it."  Publius Syrus (42 BC)

All of us ask advice, looking for the magic bullet that will save us, or help us find the right solution for our problem.  For me helpful advice is the kind that directs me to look within first.

I remember telling a friend I wanted to confront a family member about an issue.  I was angry and wanted to give  it to them, and good.  When I asked my friend about it, she asked me what I hoped would come of me confronting this person.  As I pondered my motivation, I realized that my true intention was for this person to feel bad and to change.  I didn't like admitting this, but it was true.  When I acknowledged this to my friend, she asked me if I thought that was likely.  Was this family member likely to be open to my feedback and change?  It didn't take long for me to realize this was unlikely.  Upon further reflection I decided not to confront.  I'm thankful that I took my friend's advice and took an honest look in the mirror at my motivation before acting.  If I'd acted without thought, I probably would have merely hurt my family member and frustrated myself.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October Post

"It isn't that they can't see the solution.  It is that they can't see the problem."  GK Chesterton

We tend to focus quickly on the solution, having barely paused to consider the problem.  Few of us spend too much time pondering the problem.  I find that patient reflection on myself yields me knowing myself better, and leaves me more able to find the natural solution.

I can think of many times I've impulsively jumped to a quick response, only to later regret that I hadn't stopped to allow some space to ponder.  I remember one time I was standing in line for lunch at a fast-food restaurant.  It seemed to be taking forever for the 5 or 6 people in front of me to move.  I looked around to see who was setting up a campsite at the front of the line.  A young guy in his 20s was at the front of the line.  I rolled my eyes and went back to tapping my foot in line.  Several minutes later I looked up to see the same young guy at the front of the line.  Exasperated, I decided to say something to move things along.  Just as I took a deep breath to bark at this guy, something inside me told me to hold off.  I let out my breath without speaking, and a moment later the young guy finished his transaction and turned towards me to leave.  By the look on his face, he was mentally retarded.  My impatience melted away.  I thanked God I hadn't said anything stupid, as I would have felt like a jerk if I had barked at this retarded man, probably doing the best he could.

I believe we allow the still, small voice of God within us the best chance of being heard when we stop and reflect on a problem, quieting our minds long enough to hear from within.

Monday, September 5, 2011

September Post

"To thine own self be true." William Shakespeare

I believe Shakespeare meant that we are to be true to our own interests first, and to help others second.

I find wisdom in the old playwright's words. Continually givung to others without giving to ourselves is a recipe for resentment. I believe the most generous of us take good care of themselves.

For me, to be true to thyself carries an additional meaning, having to do with finding and being grounded in our genuine self. It's so tempting to live mostly to gain or keep other's approval, or avoid criticism. Some of this is probably okay, but I believe a steady diet of this disconnects us from our true being.

Now some of you are thinking that I'm proposing a selfish way of living- but quite the contrary. It's my observation that the most selfish people are the least aware of themselves. And the most generous are the truest amongst us.

To live true to thyself I believe has something to do with living connected to your genuine self, and being aware of your desires, loves and hates. I don't know of a surer anchor to tether one's life than this. I think many of us fail to find satisfying lives because we fail to find work and relationships that support and further our true selves.

I recently got together with friends, and someone I hadn't met before joined us. As the evening went on I found myself with nothing to say. I was tempted to say something anyways, as I was concerned about what she might think of me. Fortunately, I caught myself and held my tongue, allowing myself to be quiet when I had nothing to say.

So be what you are! And if you're successful others might say about you, "what you see is what you get."

Friday, August 5, 2011

August Posting

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."  William Shakespeare

We naturally think of those who frustrate us as "bad", and those who give to us as "good".  It is the most basic way of categorizing our experiences.  I believe some of that is okay, especially when we do this briefly in the moment.  However, I think we get ourselves in trouble when we make the people we're frustrated by into "bad" people in our minds; that is, making them into fairly permanently "bad" people.  The problem is that we create and hold onto resentments when we do this, not letting people off the hook.  There are certain people in my life that are easy for me to think of as "bad", and I have to keep an eye on this.

I believe what we resent in others, we resent in ourselves.  And what we forgive in others, we forgive in ourselves.  This always works both ways.  So forgiveness, letting people off the hook, really is a kindness to ourselves. If you want to feel forgiven, if you want to let go of guilt, then take a look at what's literally holding you back.

So you might take a look in the mirror and see what resentments you're holding onto, what people you think of as "bad", and what this might be costing you in peace of mind.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July Post

"It is when I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer...that ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence they come, I know not, nor can I force them." -Mozart

"Where do I get my ideas? That I cannot with certainty say. They come uncalled, directly and indirectly."

I am fascinated by these comments by masters of creativity. I seek to access my own creativity from within as I write novels. In some moments I seem to find this creative space, and other moments I can't seem to find it if my life depends upon it. I suppose my creative life does depend upon it. I'm reminded of Winnicott's concept of the play space. He writes about creativity coming from a place in between objective and subjective reality, from which all true "play" emerges.  I've learned that I can't demand creative ideas to come, as Beethoven and Mozart point out. Sometimes I wish I could simply conjure up great ideas on command. As I sit down to work on my current novel, I hope to find that elusive, creative play space.

I wonder what sort of creativity the founding fathers of our country employed to give birth to the nation we celebrate today.

Anyone have any success finding their own creativity? If so, please tell us your "secrets".

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June Post

"To say 'I love you" one must know first how to say the 'I' "- Ayn Rand

How many of us can truly say who we are? Now I don't mean, say much ABOUT who we are, since most of us can list things about ourselves- occupation, favorite music, color, movies, food, ect. But to say who "I" am suggests that I know myself, or at least am trying to. I believe to say the "I" means I know what I'm passionate about, care about, hate, love, am trying to become. Perhaps only those of us who are trying to make sense of their lives, and live intentionally are best able to say "I".  Perhaps Ayn Rand suggests that "I love you" is hollow without a solid "I' behind it... Any comments?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Going postal May 1st

"authenticus"(root of authentic in English) is Latin for "coming from the real author"... David Simon writes, "Being authentic means assuming the responsibility for writing the story of your life."

I like the translation "coming from the real author"...Who better to write the story of our lives than ourselves? Would you want anyone else to make sense of, not to mention plan, your life? We are the only person capable of writing the genuine story of our own lives. Any other author wouldn't be the real author of their own life. Now I know what some of you might be thinking- that God is the One who should be planning our lives.  Granted- however, I suspect that when we are most in touch with ourselves, we are most in touch with God. So maybe it's the same thing in our truest and deepest moments.

In my work as a psychologist, I love to help people to make sense of the lives they've lived so far, as well as intentionally write the next chapters of their journeys... Would you like to wake up some day and realize you haven't intentionally lived?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Weekly Muse for March 22

I just finished reading a well-written summary of attachment theory research, in which Wylie and Turner suggest that "during the last 15 to 20 years, attachment theory has exerted more influence in the field of psychotherapy than just about any other model, approach, or movement." (Psychotherapy Networker, March/April 2011, p 19-20).

What excites me about attachment theory, is that the findings suggest that if we can somehow come to terms with our personal stories, which means that we begin to make peace with the experiences and important people that have impacted us, we can create secure attachments for ourselves and our children. This means we can create safe, emotionally secure relationships, that become a crucial "home base" for us. Sadly, so many of us go through life forever looking for a "home base" that eludes us. This keeps us from having someone we can freely talk to about whatever may have affected us during our day or week.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Weekly Muse

"Worse than dying is never having lived." (unknown author)

I love this quote! I find that while many of us may have busy external lives with fun activities, few have rich inner lives. One of my favorite parts of my work is to help people do the "inside job" of creating a full internal life. 

Any thoughts or reactions?