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Entries in resilience (25)

Wednesday
Apr022014

Losing sight of our needs while caring for others.

Our overwhelming desire to care for others and contribute to their well-being is often our own undoing.

We care! We care deeply and completely for our partners, our parents, our siblings, our friends, our children ... and that is what motivates us to keep going when we feel our reserves are dwindling.  

In caring for others so consistently, we often find imbalance creeping into our lives. Perhaps we notice it, perhaps we don't initially.  Many of us are not sure what to do about that imbalance, and so we ignore it or avoid it and carry on with our caring for others.

Many of us hold the belief that taking care of ourselves means ceasing to take care of others, and that in order to take care of others properly, we must forget ourselves. 

Those of us who have forgotten ourselves either pay the price personally (physically, emotionally, mentally) or seek to make others pay for it!

Our own joy and well-being must be priority when we care for others - particularly if we want that caring to be effective. If this is not the case, then it would be better for us and others if we did something else.

How often do we do damage to ourselves while doing good that we are no longer capable of doing much of anything? We cut ourselves off from our Self to such an extent that our energy and vitality run out ... we become broken.

By failing to listen to our Self we are living without compassion towards that Self and life (through demanding, controlling, overworking, feeling guilty) we run the risk of producing a violent reaction from life itself via an accident, disease, depression, anxiety, mourning).  

This new conversation with Self starts with asking "what are my needs?" or "how am I meeting my own needs and what needs are not being met just now". 

Begin it today. 

Sarah xx

Tuesday
Feb182014

Sitting in the discomfort.

It's been 4 months since we started our life in this new environment with a different language and culture, different schools for the children, different friends, different groceries in the supermarket, different climate... I was starting to feel settled. I was proud of what I had achieved in that time and amazed at how well things had been going. 

Just over a week ago I got a phonecall that has really shaken the "settle".

I am amazed again ... this time at how instability feels - how uncomfortable, how terror-filled, how nightmare inducing (literally!) and above all, how shocked I am at how temporary things are - even though I "know" in my head that it's always been this way and always will.

The hardest part is not slamming the door shut on hope. At different times I want to give in to my Mind that is taunting me with "see I told you this was too good to be true" and "I knew it - nothing THIS good could be real or last".  

I've been through all the emotions I can imagine. It hurts and it's hard. The work comes not from running away from the feelings, but in resisting the temptation to do so. I know this is life. And! (not but) the discomfort is excruciating some days.

So the work I am doing is to sit in it ... to just sit there in the discomfort, the pain, the fear, the anxiety and the not-knowing how it will all turn out. 

In doing so, I notice feelings of shame: shame at having let myself go, of having fallen so deeply in love, and having believed that I could have this wonderful experience. Shame that I had dropped my defenses enough to truly feel, to be vulnerable, to live whole-heartedly. 

I notice that naming my shame, my feelings and my fear has helped me stay in the experience rather than running away. Realising what I feel ashamed about has also reminded me of how I want to spend the time I have in this life: to live whole-heartedly no matter how excruciating the pain, true to my experience.

That realisation is where I feel myself lift - up out of the pain, the fear and the confusion - into a place of acceptance: acceptance that whatever is coming is going to be OK; of trust that I can cope with it, whatever it is. 

Beyond acceptance, I am grateful for the experience and it's lessons in vulnerability. I am thankful that I am still learning, noticing that I continue to find the courage to practice the things I say I want to have in my life: courage, whole-heartedness, sitting in the discomfort - walking the talk!

Of course I don't feel the lift all the time - I am still learning the "how" on this one :-) - but I am able to step back from the experience every now and then, to notice the dance of Self and Mind, to appreciate the difference between these two and to sit in the discomfort of learning and evolving towards a place I want to be

Where do you want to be evolving to, and what discomfort are you willing to experience to get there?

Sarahxx

Monday
Nov192012

Motivation vs ability.

Two days ago I signed up to do something that terrifies me - something that has held me back for years. I decided I'd had enough. As the saying goes "change only occurs when the pain of staying the same becomes too great" ... I guess I'm there cos I fear not following this dream more than I fear doing this course.

I was fourteen when I began to realise that my grasp of Maths was not great ... my Maths teacher when I was fifteen gave me enough of a push that I studied extra hard to pass my exams of that year. When Math morphed into Statistics and Calculus in later years I was completely lost. I recall sitting in the Basic Maths course during my first year at university (college) with 500 other students and an uncomprehendable lecturer writing on an overhead projector screen and thinking to myself "nah, can't do it", leaving and never returning. 

After that, I just managed around it. Mathematics at that level never really came into my life - I was gratified of course to find that I didnt "need that silly course anyway!!" ... but the truth is I do. And I want it. I want to banish this idea that I can not do Math. I want to move on in my career and education and I need Maths to do it. I am no longer enjoying this limitation I have placed on myself and my development.

Can't or cannot implies a lack of ability to do something. I don't believe I lack the ability to apply myself to most things. What I have definitely lacked up until now was the motivation to do it. 

Ability or know-how and motivation are very different things. Without motivation, know-how is pretty useless. 

My motivation for putting myself through this potentially excruciating experience is that, like the chicken or the Billy Goats Gruff, I want to get to the other side. I want what is on offer over there. To get there I have to go through - after years of going around this one I can finally admit that.

So it's not, and has never been, a lack of ability. It's always been a lack of motivation. The HOW of things is most often very easy - these days even easier than before! 

It's the MOTIVATION that takes time to find. Without motivation, ability or know-how is nothing. 

Sarah xx

 

Monday
Nov122012

A call to action.

By focusing on what did and what might have happened in your childhood or in your past you are giving it power - the power to stop you in your tracks, to hold onto the old, to forget about living now, creating now, parenting now, loving now.

You want so much to live NOW ... not back then, not in the corner cowering below upraised hands, ashamed, frightened, helpless.

It's time to choose a different approach ... to choose what you focus your attention on. 

Your life is what you are creating. In order to create what you want you need to be here NOW. To be here NOW you need to stop looking back over your shoulder at what has gone before, at what the past tells you happened.

Release the past, stand in the present, create your future as you want it to be. 

Do it with self-care and love. Do it with determination and a willingness to do things you find tough - simply because they are the stepping stones to a new way of living. 

Don't want another minute. Don't wait another minute. 

sarahxx

Wednesday
Oct242012

There is nothing 'wrong'.

This is a truly remarkable story ... so often we make ourselves and our feelings wrong. Here is how to take a different path. 

Originally posted on Huffington Post Healthy Living:

Sometimes when I talk about “Radical Acceptance,” I like to tell the story about Jacob, a man who, at almost 70 and in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s disease, attended a 10-day retreat I was leading.

A clinical psychologist by profession and a meditator for more than 20 years, Jacob was well aware that his faculties were deteriorating. On occasion his mind would go totally blank; he would have no access to words for several minutes and become completely disoriented. He often forgot what he was doing and usually needed assistance with basic tasks — cutting his food, putting on clothes, bathing, getting from place to place.

A couple of days into the retreat, Jacob had his first interview with me. These meetings, which students have regularly with a teacher while on retreat, are an opportunity to check in and receive personal guidance in the practice. During our time together, Jacob and I talked about how things were going, both on retreat and at home. His attitude towards his disease was interested, sad, grateful, even good-humored.

Intrigued by his resilience, I asked him what allowed him to be so accepting. He responded, “It doesn’t feel like anything is wrong. I feel grief and some fear about it all going, but it feels like real life.” Then he told me about an experience he’d had in an earlier stage of the disease.

Jacob had occasionally given talks about Buddhism to local groups and had accepted an invitation to address a gathering of over a hundred meditation students. He arrived at the event feeling alert and eager to share the teachings he loved. Taking his seat in front of the hall, Jacob looked out at the sea of expectant faces in front of him… and suddenly he didn’t know what he was supposed to say or do. He didn’t know where he was or why he was there. All he knew was that his heart was pounding furiously and his mind was spinning in confusion.

Putting his palms together at his heart, Jacob started naming out loud what was happening: “Afraid, embarrassed, confused, feeling like I’m failing, powerless, shaking, sense of dying, sinking, lost.” For several more minutes he sat, head slightly bowed, continuing to name his experience. As his body began to relax and his mind grew calmer, he also noted that aloud. At last Jacob lifted his head, looked slowly around at those gathered, and apologized.

Many of the students were in tears. As one put it, “No one has ever offered us teachings like this. Your presence has been the deepest dharma teaching.”

Rather than pushing away his experience and deepening his agitation, Jacob had the courage and training simply to name what he was aware of, and, most significantly, to bow to his experience. In some fundamental way he didn’t create an adversary out of feelings of fear and confusion. He didn’t make anything wrong.

We practice Radical Acceptance by pausing and then meeting whatever is happening inside us with this kind of unconditional friendliness. Instead of turning our jealous thoughts or angry feelings into the enemy, we pay attention in a way that enables us to recognize and touch any experience with care. Nothing is wrong — whatever is happening is just “real life.” Such unconditional friendliness is the spirit of Radical Acceptance.