It is so easy to fall into thinking that we can control outcomes in life. When things don’t work the way we want we start with the “What ifs.” If I had only finished something at work faster, if I had only been nicer, if I had turned left instead of right. Depending on the situation we can blame ourselves for what happened. We can also blame someone or something else. One way leaves us feeling guilty and the other way exonerates us but leaves us angry and wanting to lay blame on someone.
There is also the problem of responsibility. Some families have solved their children’s mistakes so many times that the child has no sense of responsibility for their actions. They have not suffered any consequences. Unfortunately, we need to be held accountable early on in life or when something happens that can’t be fixed then the result can be devastating.
Life is unpredictable. When we are truly at fault we need to take responsibility but we can’t take on guilt for the vagaries of the world. Knowing the difference between these two is a critical life skill.
When situations arise take a hard look and sift through what happened. Learn to use some perspective and don’t take on things that are uncontrollable. Don’t lose yourself in the “what ifs.”
I have been thinking about the words “status quo.” There are many people who struggle against change of any kind. They fight for things to remain the same. The problem is that things never stay the same no matter what.
The one thing we can count on is that things will change. Sometimes that change is for the better, sometimes not. One of the greatest lessons we can learn is how to cope with change.
Recently I have used the term “new normal.” This is how I describe the pattern that is present in my life at the moment. I hope that this pattern will hang on for a while. Patterns give me peace. But I can surely count that, at some time, everything will change again.
Coping with change is one of the critical lessons we can learn. The ability to let go of our previous “normal” and move on to another has a lot to do with our state of mind. For those of us who battle anxiety change is a trigger word. It can send our whole world into a tailspin. Coping mechanisms for dealing with change are a must. I have a friend who says that when change happens that is negative we are entitled to fuss, fume, and cry about it…..for 24 hours. I have found this works. Just being able to rant for a while seems to get some of the frustration out and it helps me to move forward. I may be having a pity party alone or with someone…it doesn’t matter. It helps either way. There is a positive to venting. Let all those feelings out! Then move on.
When change comes use all the coping skills in your arsenal to overcome fear and anxiety. It can be done!
I feel as if I am in a time warp where “normal” has been taken away. Monday we experienced what I call “the perfect storm”. One of those days where everything you touch turns to #%&*. I discovered that the RV we planned to take to Mayo had a problem somewhere between the generator and the things that work from it. Things just didn’t work. So we scrapped that idea and went to plan B. In the meantime my husband and grandson worked to remove some leftovers from the rental house we are selling. While taking things to the dump the trailer they were using had a flat time (at the dump) and the tire had to be taken to fix.
I was working on a Christmas thank you letter and the printer decided to disappear. I am good with technology but the printer had just made up its mind not to work.
Tuesday I drove my husband to Mayo, taking the dogs with me, dropped him off and drove home. A six hour trip. Wednesday I helped out at the church office where the folding machine quit and I spent an hour cleaning it. Then the staple machine glitched and I spent time fixing that. At this point I realized that I was the link and I had better not touch anything else.
Just a normal week.
It is odd how when things start to fall apart they seem to do it in multiples. Some people say things happen in threes but that was more than three. Nothing was irreparable but everything aggravating. My son has to work on Christmas so that will not be a “normal” day but it will all work out. Life is never boring.
In life, without a sense of humor, we would be hauled away in a strait jacket. Being able to laugh at how ridiculous it all is saves us from a strait jacket.
Life will continue to challenge us and the only important thing is how we respond to it. We have no control over what happens but we do control our reaction. I will just keep moving ahead and be grateful for the life we have.
Today has been an interesting day. The plans for our trip are changing daily. I may stay home part of the time. Family may stay here. We will just take one day at a time.
Someone that I read today said that learning to turn ourselves off in prayer or meditation is an ego-ectomy. To do either we have to let go of ourselves and place ourselves in the unknown or the hands of god. We let our own thoughts and the clutter of our minds drift away. I used to be able to do that. I can remember being able to let go to the point that I felt “out of body.” I was lifted up off the floor. I long to have that experience again. I am trying to get back there but it does take time and practice. When you start out thoughts crowd in and want to take over. With time, the ability to “center down” (Quaker expression) becomes easier.
It is so easy to go off the deep end about something that is really not important. The fact that I can’t walk through my office is insignificant at this moment. My bed will get made and the laundry will get done. Eventually. There will not be anyone coming in to inspect. One day at a time is all we have to handle. Remember that!
The other night I had the strangest dream. I was in a situation where all I did was wait. I won’t explain the whole dream but it was obvious waiting was the point. I was with others and waited for hours. I got very upset and angry because the wait was due to poor management.
I don’t like confusion, poor planning, and waiting.
Years ago I learned the response to poor planning: “poor planning on your part does not constitute and emergency on mine.” I actually used it once and then felt so bad that I have never said it again.
I think the dream was trying to remind me that there are times when we have to wait and we need to do it patiently. We also have to remember what we are waiting for, This season before Christmas is Advent. The dictionary says that Advent is: the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. If you are Christian then the wait is for the Christ child.
I am not sure in this day and age how seriously we consider this. There is so much else….shopping, parties, baking, decorating and sometimes traveling. We are so busy that there is not time. I doubt that those who are celebrating other holidays do any better at paying attention to the meaning of the holiday. I hope some do.
During this time before Christmas I plan to concentrate on the meaning of it all and try to move away from concentration on gifts and gatherings. I hope that my times of meditation and contemplation will help me to focus on what I am waiting for.
This morning the pastor at our church said in her sermon…spoken to God….“Let me not confine you in the narrowness of my mind.” This is a very profound statement.
Whatever your belief, if you espouse any God, this tells us where most of us want to be. We want a God who is like us. We want to create God in our image instead of the other way around. We want a God who thinks like us. We want a manageable God.
If God is like us then God has the same bias, the same prejudice and the same belief system. Then it is easy for me to point fingers at others and scoff at their beliefs. It allows me to pick and choose what God thinks. Aren’t I amazing?
This God can occupy a nice closed box in my mind and I will only let out what I deem appropriate. However, God is tricky and sneaks out of the box in and plants ideas that I don’t want to consider. He/she is constantly challenging me and widening my mind, calling me on prejudices and making me rethink my ideas.
It is abundantly clear to me that however much I could live with God in a box that is not going to happen. And in reality it would not be something I want.
I see a God who is infinite and intimate. I see a God whose mind I cannot comprehend. I see a God whose thoughts are so far above mine that the universe can’t contain them. Maybe this is not at all comfortable but this, for me, is God.
We so often talk about knowing ourselves. We want to see ourselves and know our innermost thoughts and feelings. Most of the time I don’t think that we are ready to see ourselves fully. The truth would be too painful.
I often think about this as standing in a bright light looking in a mirror. In the mirror we see our face unadorned. All the blemishes and flaws are totally revealed. If we see this most women are quick to add make up to cover what we see and make it acceptable to us. We hope that others will not see what we saw. The face we present to the world is different than the one in the mirror.
The same thing is true of us. We don’t really want to see all the flaws that would be revealed if we could really see what is inside. Our minds have doors that we don’t open. We say we want to see but we look without opening those doors.
I wonder if this is part of the reason that contemplation/meditation is so difficult. Not only is it not part of our culture but it can be revealing. Sitting in silence and letting the unconscious be in charge can be scary. We may learn things we didn’t really want to know.
The other side of the coin is that opening those doors and cleaning out those closets can bring us a peace that we can only imagine. We just have to be strong enough to accept what we find and let the ugliness drift away and hold on to the beauty. We will find beauty there as well and it can bring peace and help us to love ourselves.