Archive for December, 2009

Knowing Better Now

December 29, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

When we look back at the past, knowing what we know now, we often find it difficult to understand how we made the mistakes we made. This is because once we learn new information, it is nearly impossible to reenter the headspace we were in before we learned that information. And so we look back at parents who spanked their kids, for example, and wonder how they could have thought that was a good idea. Similarly, our personal pasts are full of mistakes we can’t believe we made. We did things then that we would never do now, and this is precisely because we have information now that we didn’t have, or weren’t able to access, then.

From ideas about how to raise children to how to treat the environment, our collective human past sometimes reads like a document on what not to do. In many ways, this is exactly as it should be. We learn from living and having experiences. It is from these past actions that we garnered the information that guides us to live differently now. Just so, in our personal lives, we probably had to have a few unsuccessful relationships or jobs, learning about our negative tendencies through them, in order to gain the wisdom we have now.

In order to live more peacefully with the past, it helps to remember that once we know better, we tend to do better. Prior to knowing, we generally do our best, and while it’s true that from the perspective of the present, our best doesn’t always seem good enough, we can at least give our past selves the benefit of the doubt. We did our best with what knowledge we had. Beyond this, we serve the greater good most effectively by not dwelling on the past, instead reigning our energy and knowledge into our present actions. It is here, in this moment, that we create our reality and ourselves anew, with our current knowledge and information.

Acknowledging Your Growth

December 24, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Since personal evolution is most often a slow and gradual process, it can be difficult to recognize the scope of the changes taking place in our lives. Yet it is important that we regularly acknowledge our ongoing growth and reward ourselves for the many wonderful feats of self-improvement we have accomplished. When we intentionally contemplate our progress, we need never feel that we are languishing between past achievements and the realization of future goals. If we look closely at our lives, we may see that much of what brings us pleasure in the present is representative of the ambitions of our past that we worked so hard to attain. At one time, the abundance we enjoy currently likely seemed like a far-off dream. Now it is simply reality—a reality we created through our diligence, passion, and unflagging determination. Whether our progress is fast or slow, we deserve to congratulate ourselves for our successes.

To remind yourself of the insights you have gained with time, temporarily adopt an outsider’s perspective and carefully consider how your life in the present differs from the range of experiences you lived through in the past. Creating a written list, in a journal or otherwise, of those strengths, aptitudes, and inner qualities you now attribute to yourself can help you accept that you are not the same person you were one year ago, five years ago, or 10 years ago. Your attitudes, opinions, and values were likely markedly different, and these differences can be ascribed to your willingness to accept that you still have much to learn. If you have difficulty giving yourself credit for these changes, think about the goals you realized, the lives you touched, the wisdom you acquired, and the level of enlightenment you attained over the past years.

Recognizing growth is neither boastful nor immodest. Evolution is a natural fact of life and becomes a potent motivational force when celebrated. Knowing that you are brighter, stronger, and more grounded than you once were, you can look forward to the changes to come. In acknowledging your growth, you build a sturdy foundation upon which you can continue to blossom well into the future.

Coming out of a Haze

December 24, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

When we feel muddled and unfocused, unsure of which way to turn, we say we are in a fog. Similar to when we are in a fog in nature, we may feel like we can’t see where we’re going or where we’ve come from, and we’re afraid if we move too quickly we might run into something hidden in the mists that seem to surround us. Being in a fog necessarily slows us down by limiting our visibility. The best choice may be to pull over and wait for the murkiness to clear. If we move at all, we must go slowly, feeling our way and keeping our eyes open for shapes emerging from the haze, perhaps relying on the taillights of someone in front of us as we make our way along the road.

By and large, most of us prefer to be able to see where we are going and move steadfastly in that direction, but there are gifts that come from being in a fog. Sometimes it takes an obstacle like fog to get us to stop and be still in the moment, doing nothing. In this moment of involuntary inactivity, we may look within and find that the source of our fogginess is inside us; it could be some emotional issue that needs tending before we can safely go full steam ahead. Being in a fog reminds us that when we cannot see outside ourselves, we can always make progress by looking within. Then again, the fog may simply be teaching us important lessons about how to continue moving forward with extreme caution, harnessing our attention, watching closely for new information, and being ready to stop on a dime.

We cannot predict when a fog will come, nor can we know for certain when it will lift, but we can center ourselves in the haze and wait for guidance. We may find it inside ourselves or in a pair of barely visible taillights just ahead. Whether we follow the lights out of the fog, wait for a gentle breeze to lift it, or allow the sun to burn it away, we can rest certain that one way or another, we will move forward with clarity once again.

Working with Our Insect Neighbors

December 22, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

A change of season may bring about a change in the insect activity in and around your home. Rather than heading for the fly swatter or bug spray or calling the exterminator, try working with the insect kingdom rather than fighting it. Making this choice on a conscious level puts you in touch with nature, allowing you to create harmony within your ecosystem.

Insects “bug” us for shelter, water, or food, but they can also come into our lives to bring us a message. Though many cultures have decided what insects represent to them, you may be able to decipher their message just by thinking about their attributes. For example, bees may be telling you to communicate psychically with your family or to spread your talents like pollen. Their buzzing could be warning you about someone who could sting you or reminding you to stop and smell the flowers. Once you get their message, they may leave on their own. But if they don’t, you may want to spend a few days patiently inviting them to leave. In meditation or aloud, explain that this is your home and that the insect world is outdoors. While you understand their hunger and thirst, you will provide them with a designated place outside. Be sure to offer them appropriate food and make a commitment to replenish the supply regularly. You can even make a ceremony of it: Choose a time such as sunset every Sunday, or every full moon, then create a line of demarcation around your home with sage or by sprinkling some herbs before giving your offering. This serves the dual purpose of keeping your bargain with your insect neighbors and keeping you in sync with nature’s cycles.

As we make the decision to respect nature, whether inside our homes, outside enjoying a picnic, or while gardening, we acknowledge that we all share the earth and need each other for our mutual survival. As we work together, we learn how to live in harmony with all living beings.

The Pursuit of Conscious Wholeness

December 19, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Striking the right balance between our physical and spiritual aspects is one of the most challenging aspects of existence. We are dual beings by nature, spiritual entities bound to earth by physical bodies. In our lifetimes, we are charged with the duty of nurturing and tending both with equal devotion and love. Yet while both aspects of the self are deserving of honor and respect, there is a tendency for people who are more spiritually focused to ignore, avoid, or dismiss their bodies. Similarly, many individuals are entirely ensconced in the carnal realm and pay no attention to the needs of the soul. In both cases, an adjustment is in order. We are whole only to the degree that we embrace both sides of our beings.

If the soul is the inward manifestation of our consciousness, the body is the living, breathing expression of that consciousness. The physical self provides the home in which the spiritual self takes root and flourishes. Just as we must tend to the seed of the soul to ensure that it grows strong, so, too, must we care for the protective shell that is the body to make certain it is capable of playing its role in our development. Though there will no doubt be times in our lives when we feel more comfortable focusing on the spiritual self or the physical self, denying the fundamental importance of one or the other can lead to ill health, emotional distress, and a sense of incompleteness. Both facets of the human experience play a vital role in our well-being.

The body and the soul are the yin and yang of our current reality. They are, at this point of human evolution, irreparably bound together, and many spiritual teachers agree that the body is one of the greatest vehicles through which to access the soul. In fact, many believe that our spirit has chosen to be embodied as an essential part of our spiritual development. Consequently, it is the responsibility of each person on the planet to forge a marriage between the two, so that these disparate aspects bring out the best in each other, creating a vibrant, dynamic, and workable whole.

Time for Some Loving Kindness

December 18, 2009

[Posted by Ed and Deb Shapiro in Care2]

It’s that time of year again when we start giving to each other. And although presents are wonderful, perhaps what we all need more of is simple loving kindness. But that does not always come so easily. Here’s a story that helps get us in the loving kindness spirit:

At the time of the Buddha, a group of monks wanted to do a quiet retreat away from the crowds of followers, so the Buddha sent them to a glade in the forest where he said they would be undisturbed. The monks found their way there and settled down to meditate. What they didn’t know was that the glade was inhabited by a gang of tree spirits who were upset by the monks’ presence. When tree spirits get upset they can be extremely scary, ugly, smelly and noisy–ferociously shrieking all over the place. They did everything they could to spook the hermits and make them leave. And it worked.

The monks couldn’t possibly meditate with so much disturbance, so they went back to the Buddha and begged him to let them go somewhere else. But no. Instead, he taught them a meditation practice of loving kindness, or metta in Sanskrit, which develops loving kindness towards everyone, including yourself and your enemies. And then he sent the monks back to the forest. His famous words were, This is the only protection you will need!

Thinking the Buddha must be mad, the monks reluctantly went back to the glade, sat down and began practicing metta. The tree spirits, who at first were not at all pleased to see them returning, no longer had any affect on them. For all their antics, the monks just kept sitting there and beaming out loving kindness. Eventually the spirits were won over by the waves of love and compassion emanating from these monks and turned into their disciples.

Who are the tree spirits?

The tree spirits are everything that goes on in our own minds, all the dark places, doubts, insecurities, fears, anger, negative thoughts that constantly undermine our balance and positivity. The Buddha demonstrating that loving kindness has the capacity to overcome all types of inner monsters and can lead us to a truly open heart. Metta is the act of extending our love, kindness and friendship equally towards all beings, proving that love is more powerful than any negative force. Rather than trying to deal with negativity, we cultivate the opposite; seeing and knowing pain, we bring loving kindness.

Just be kind and loving, how great, what a cool idea. But in practice it is not always so simple, such as when someone says or does something that is personally critical, derogatory or hurtful. Can metta still flow when the ego is upset? By focusing on loving kindness as a way of living, it shows us all those places that are bound in ego and selfishness; it brings us up against our limitations and means confronting our boundaries. Where do we meet our edge? Where is our capacity to step over the edge into greater kindness? How genuine is our ability to bring kindness to a difficult situation?

If we feel affected by someone being hostile, dismissive, critical or hurtful, it is invariably because there is a hook in us for that negativity to grab hold of, a place where it can land and trigger all our hidden feelings of unworthiness, insecurity, doubt, even self-hate. However, when we extend metta towards someone we are having a hard time with, an extraordinary thing happens: the landing place, or the hook within, begins to dissolve. In opening to loving kindness our positivity is strengthened. When there is no place for the negativity to land, it dissolves.

Metta asks that we stay caring, that we keep the heart open in the face of the person or situation we are struggling with and all the accompanying anger, annoyance and conflict, and to hold that with gentle tenderness. Then amazing change is possible.

Winning Isn’t Everything

December 17, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

The urges that drive us to compete with others tend to be straightforward. Years of both evolution and societal influences have shaped us to pit ourselves against our peers. The needs and desires that inspire us to compete with ourselves, however, are entirely personal and thus far more complex. A need to outdo our earlier efforts—to confirm that we have grown as individuals—can motivate us to reach new heights of accomplishment. We are capable of using our past achievements as a foundation from which we venture confidently into the unknown. Yet if this drive to compete with our former selves is the result of low self-worth or a need to prove ourselves to others, even glowing successes can feel disheartening. Examining why we compete with ourselves enables us to positively identify those contests that will enrich our existence.

There are many reasons we strive to outdo ourselves. When we are ambitious in our quest for growth, we are driven to set and meet our own expectations. We do not look to external experiences of winning and losing to define our sense of self-worth. Rather, we are our own judges and coaches, monitoring our progress and gauging how successful we have become. Though we seek the thrill of accomplishment tirelessly, we do so out of a legitimate need to improve the world or to pave the way for those who will follow in our footsteps. Be careful, though, that your competitiveness is not the result of an unconscious need to show others that you are capable of meeting and then exceeding their standards.

Consider, too, that successful efforts that would be deemed more than good enough when evaluated from an external perspective may not satisfy our inner judge, who can drive us ruthlessly. In order to attain balance, we have to learn the art of patience even as we strive to achieve our highest vision of who we are. When we feel drained, tense, or unhappy as we pursue our goals, it may be that we are pushing ourselves for the wrong reasons. Our enthusiasm for our endeavors will return as soon as we recall that authentic evolution is a matter not of winning but of taking pride in our progress at any pace.

How and Why We Cry

December 16, 2009

[ By Allison Ford, DivineCaroline ]

Crying is an emotional reaction that’s completely unique to humans. Our capacity for complex thoughts and feelings means that we can cry whether we’re overwhelmed with any emotion–happiness, despair, or fear–but not everyone cries the same way or for the same reasons. Some people break into tears at the drop of a hat; others remain stony-faced even when confronted with great tragedy or pain. Understanding the impulse to cry isn’t always easy, but understanding the psychological and evolutionary reasons we do it is even more complicated.

Sad or Hurt, Same Response

All tears are comprised mainly of water, oil, and mucous and are produced in the lachrymal glands near the eyes. Made of the same stuff, we actually have three different kinds of tears: basal, which protect and moisten our eyes; reflex, which flush irritants and foreign objects from our eyes; and emotional tears, which are produced in response to strong emotions or pain. The body automatically produces basal and reflex tears, but emotional tears are only ones produced by the process we think of as crying. Emotional tears have been shown to contain higher levels of certain hormones like prolactin, which is associated with breastfeeding and milk production, and manganese, which helps regulate our moods.

Emotion and pain are both processed in the limbic system, the area of the brain that also processes memories, our senses, and behavior. Humans can cry whether we’re in emotional pain or physical pain, and regardless of the stimulus, the tears are the same. Because of this lack of differentiation, some researchers believe that the body can’t really distinguish between emotional and physical pain at all. Even though the mind knows the difference between a broken heart and a stubbed toe, the body generates the same response to both.

Crying–The Body’s Pressure Valve

Although the mechanisms of crying are not yet fully understood, the presence of hormones seems to indicate that shedding emotional tears is a way for our bodies to restore equilibrium. When we experience any kind of heightened emotion–grief, jubilation, anger, or pain–hormones surge through our bodies. Once they’ve built up, the body needs a way to release them and crying may be one way it equalizes itself.

Confirming the conventional wisdom, a study at the University of Florida found that most test subjects reported that their mood improved after a bout of crying. Despite high levels of anxiety and increased heart rates in response to stress, many of the criers eventually report feeling calmer and more relaxed than the non-criers, and those that showed the most benefit were those who received some kind of social support while they were crying.

Some research shows that people who cry in response to stress, pain, or emotion are generally healthier than those who don’t. It’s widely known that keeping emotions pent up contributes to stress levels, which in turn can cause headaches, heart disease, depression, hair loss, and a host of other physical maladies. Crying in order to alleviate stress may be one of the body’s ways of protecting itself.

Nature vs. Nurture

So why do some people cry at the drop of a hat and some never seem to shed a tear? By the time we reach adulthood, women cry on average of sixty-four times per year, but men cry only seventeen times. It might be a result of the hormones, especially prolactin, which directly affects puberty, breastfeeding, and childbirth. Women have 60 percent more of it than men. Dr. William Frey, in his book, Crying: The Mystery of Tears, suggests that prolactin and its interaction with the endocrine system may be the reason that some women are more emotionally volatile than men.

Up until the time when children start school, boys and girls cry at about equal rates. It’s only after then that boys start crying far less. Scientists have yet to determine whether societal pressure forces boys to stifle their tears or whether it’s hormones that ramp up crying once girls hit puberty. However, it’s interesting to note that in old age, when men and women’s hormones equalize again, women begin to cry less and men begin to cry more.

An Evolutionary Adaptation

Could it be that women are evolutionarily programmed to cry more often? Deep down, are we just damsels in distress?

Crying is the first form of communication for humans. During the first few months of life, babies don’t produce emotional tears; their crying is purely a social signal to relate their vulnerability to caretakers. From an evolutionary perspective, crying might work the same way in adults. A study from the University of Texas at Arlington found that when women cry during arguments with men, they were more likely to reach a resolution to their conflict. In arguments where the woman did not cry, the conflicts escalated, suggesting that for women, crying is a valuable tactic that lets people know that the crier needs attention and support.

Even with other women, crying can be a signal that we need help. The University of Texas study found that after watching a film clip of a woman crying, female test subjects felt emotionally closer to the woman. The researchers theorized that this demonstrated women’s biological need for social support networks.

People who cry more than normal may have learned over time that it’s a simple and effective method of getting what they want. However, crying louder and longer isn’t necessarily the best strategy for getting attention. Many evolutionary biologists believe that crying is ineffective when it isn’t genuine. Crying too often is like “crying wolf”–eventually it fails to elicit the right response from others. If someone is known to be prone to fits of tears, other people may take those tears less seriously than the tears of someone not normally disposed to crying.

The science behind crying is imprecise and inconclusive and although there are many promising theories about why, when, and how we cry, plenty of questions remain. When it comes to crying, only one thing is clear–if it makes you feel better, then go ahead and cry your eyes out.

As We Ebb and Flow Through Life

December 16, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

As we bob and weave with the ebb and flow of life our roles change, but our true self remains constant. As spiritual beings having a human experience, we go through many aspects of humanity in one lifetime. Living in the material world of opposites, labels, and classifications, we often identify ourselves by the roles we play, forgetting that these aspects shift and change throughout our lives. But when we anchor ourselves in the truth of our being, that core of spirit within us, we can choose to embrace the new roles as they come, knowing that they give us fresh perspective on life and a greater understanding of the lives of others.

As children, we anticipated role changes eagerly in our rush to grow up. Though fairy tales led us to believe that “happily ever after” was a final destination, the truth is that life is a series of destinations, mere stops on a long journey filled with differing terrain. We may need to move through a feeling of resistance as we shift from spouse to parent, leader to subordinate, caregiver to receiver, or even local to newcomer. It can be helpful to bid a fond farewell to the role that we are leaving before we welcome the new. This is the purpose of ceremonies in cultures throughout the world and across time. We can choose from any in existence or create our own to help us celebrate our life shifts and embrace our new adventures.

Like actors on the stage of the world, our different roles are just costumes that we inhabit and then shed. Each role we play gives us another perspective through which to understand ourselves and the nature of the universe. When we take a moment to see that each change can be an adventure, a celebration, and a chance to play a new part, we may even be able to recapture the joyful anticipation of our youth as we transition from one role to the next.

Of Equal Worth

December 15, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

The notion of humility as a virtue brings numerous images to mind. We tend to envision those rare individuals who humbly bear life’s struggles while downplaying their own strengths. Yet humility is also associated with people whose insecurities compel them to judge themselves unfavorably as a matter of course. The true definition of humility, however, does not correspond precisely with either of these images. Humility is not passivity. Rather, it is an utter lack of self-importance. The individuals who embody the concept of humility appreciate that each human being on the planet occupies a unique place on an infinite spectrum of development. Though they can take pride in their own accomplishments, they also understand that the people they interact with each day are as valuable and have as much to offer the world as they themselves do.

To be humble is to accept that while there will always be individuals more and less advanced than yourself, those on all parts of the spectrum of development can provide you with insights that further your personal evolution. Recognizing these insights is a matter of opening yourself to the fact that not only do others think and feel differently than you, but their life experiences have shaped them in a very different way than yours have shaped you. This means that while you may have a greater understanding in some areas, others will always be able to teach you something. When you cultivate a genuine yearning to know what skills and talents those you encounter have been blessed with, you cannot help but learn humility. You instinctively understand that emotions like envy breed resistance that prevents you from growing, and that being flexible in your interactions with others will help you connect with unexpected mentors.

When you practice humility, you want to become as accomplished and evolved as you can possibly be, yet you are willing to submit to the expertise of others to do so. You understand the scope of your aptitudes yet you choose to eradicate arrogance from your attitude, and you can distinguish the value you possess as an individual while still acting in the interests of your fellow human beings. Humility, simply put, is a form of balance in which you can celebrate your own worth while sincerely believing that every other person on the planet is just as worthy as you.

Lightening the Soul

December 15, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

From the moment we are born, our souls may feel heavy because they are carrying the weight of all we have lived, loved, and learned in our past incarnations. It is only when we actively seek to work through our issues that we can lighten the load and our souls can evolve. Divesting ourselves of what no longer serves us, such as unwarranted fear, the inability to feel empathy, or self-limiting behaviors, are just some of the many challenges we may face in this lifetime. While some issues we face are easier to deal with because they are the final remains of residue from a past life, other issues offer greater challenges because we are meant to work through them throughout this lifetime.

Often, we expect ourselves to recover quickly from difficult or painful circumstances. When we do not or cannot, we may feel emotionally inept or hopeless. The evolution of the soul, however, is an ongoing process that can take many lifetimes. It is a matter of accepting that even when we do our best there are going to be situations, people, and outcomes that we cannot control. It is also important to remember that your experiences now may be setting the groundwork for future healing—whether in this lifetime or the next one. The more you release in each time, the more you grow and the more your soul will evolve.

Although it is not always possible to work through all of our issues in a single lifetime, it is important that we confront what we are called to face in this life and do the work we need to do.  It is also important to remember that the most effective way to let your soul grow is to be an active participant in life. Be present in each moment and your soul will do this work for you.

Right in Front of You

December 15, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

When it comes to the things we want, there always seems to be an endless list. No matter how many times we get something off that list, we add new things to replace it. In life, this drama of wanting and getting and wanting is all part of the dance. The things we want motivate us to get up and get them.

And yet, at the same time, we can torment ourselves with our wanting, especially when we want something we can’t have or can’t find. It is in cases like these that it might be fruitful to entertain the idea that maybe what you really want is right in front of you. Maybe you are using this desire you can’t fulfill to distract you from truly engaging the blessings you already have. It may seem like that doesn’t make sense, yet we do it all the time. It may be easier to see in other people than to see it in ourselves. We have all heard our friends wishing they were more this or less that, and looking at them we see clearly that they are everything they are wishing they were. We know people who have wonderful partners and yet envy you yours. We wish we could give these people a look at their situations from our perspective so that they could see that what they want really is right in front of them.

It’s not too far-fetched to consider that we might be victims of the same folly. It can be scary to have what we want. We get caught up in the chase and forget to enjoy the beauty right in front of us—like a child who never wants the toy she has in her hand but always the one just out of her reach. Take a moment today to consider the many things you are holding in the palm of your hand and how you might best play with them.

Using Our Outside Voice

December 5, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Each of us has developed an internal filtering process that helps us choose which parts of our constant inner monologues get voiced outside of our heads. Sometimes the choice is based on what we consider to be polite or appropriate, using subtlety instead of directness to try to get our point across. Other times the choice is made based on our expectations of the other person and what we feel they should know about us, our feelings, and our needs. But our best chance of getting what we need is to communicate specifically by converting our inner voice to our outside voice.

This may seem unnecessary sometimes, especially when we think the other person has the same information we ourselves are working with, but we have to remember they also have their own inner voice, evaluating what they hear in light of their own issues and needs. With so much to consider and sift through, we are truly better off if we communicate precisely. Not only does doing this minimize the chance for misinterpretation, but voicing our thoughts it is an act of creation. We convert thought and imagination to sound, releasing it from the chamber of our minds into the outside world. This carries energy and intention with it, making our thoughts, wishes, and even dreams come true. 

When we have the courage to speak our minds and use our voice to send the desires of our hearts from our inner world to the world outside, we take a bold step in making them happen. By removing fear of what others may think and expectation of what others should understand, we free ourselves and our thoughts from the bondage of the mental chamber and let loose our desires onto the canvas of the world. Next time we become aware that we have a choice about how to communicate, we can choose to use our outside voice and watch its creative power at work.

Unearthing Your Roots

December 4, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Each of us is a piece of a larger puzzle. We are all born into the unique and complex network of individuals, settings, and circumstances that constitute our heritage. Whether or not you are aware of your ancestors, you family’s country of origin, the cultural history of your people, or the trials faced by the people responsible for bringing you into the world, these forces have had a hand in shaping your values. Knowing your family history and reflecting often upon your own personal history as it relates to your heritage empowers you to look at your life in a larger historical context and to understand that you are a vital part of an ongoing drama greater than yourself. 

Researching your heritage can prepare you to meet the future. The traits of your ancestors can give you insight into how your character has developed and the beliefs that form the foundation of your worldview. The knowledge you gain can help you appreciate your values and your character, giving you the confidence to be more expressive where both are concerned. At a cellular level, you carry a genetic code from your family determining things like how you age, your blood type, and personality traits. But as a spiritual being you bring in what you chose to do with that genetic coding, your free will. Unearthing your heritage is not simply about uncovering who did what when or reconnecting with long-lost relatives. Rather, it is a method of building self-awareness and bridging the gulf that divides your past from your future.

In researching our individual histories, however, we may encounter relatives who made interesting choices or were involved in traumatic events. It’s easy to overestimate the importance of these pieces of our past and to cling to them. Balance is key. While your heritage has influenced the development of the person you are today, you are more than an ethnicity, a culture, or a family name. You should not feel driven to alter your likes and dislikes, dreams, preferences, or values because you feel your heritage demands it. Knowing your history is about loving who you are, understanding where you’ve come from, and preparing for your future.

Choosing Not To Be a Target

December 3, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Hurtful confrontations often leave us feeling drained and confused. When someone attacks us emotionally, we may wonder what we did to rouse their anger, and we take their actions personally. We may ask ourselves what we could have done to compel them to behave or speak that way toward us. It’s important to remember that there are no real targets in an emotional attack and that it is usually a way for the attacker to redirect their uncomfortable feelings away from themselves. When people are overcome by strong emotions, like hurt or anguish, they may see themselves as victims and lash out at others as a means of protection or to make themselves feel better. You may be able to shield yourself from an emotional attack by not taking the behavior personally. First, however, it is good to cultivate a state of detachment that can provide you with some protection from the person who is attacking you. This will allow you to feel compassion for this person and remember that their beha! vior isn’t as much about you as it is about their need to vent their emotions.

If you have difficulty remaining unaffected by someone’s behavior, take a moment to breathe deeply and remind yourself that you didn’t do anything wrong, and you aren’t responsible for people’s feelings. If you can see that this person is indirectly expressing a need to you—whether they are reaching out for help or wanting to be heard—you may be able to diffuse the attack by getting them to talk about what is really bothering them.

You cannot control other people’s emotions, but you can control your own. If you sense yourself responding to their negativity, try not to let yourself. Keep your heart open to them, and they may let go of their defensiveness and yield to your compassion and openness.