Lessons in the Drama

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“Argue with your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.”

-Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah p. 75

 

Drama can be a great inspiration to grow. Life can be nice, calm, and move along, but where is the fun in that. When we start seeing drama as a teacher, we can appreciate the lesson and move on and away from it much faster. Sometimes it takes drama to get us to change. Drama likes to stick around us and get worse until we learn the lesson. How do we know when we learned it? The same situation can be there, but there is no more drama surrounding it. The situation changes or it goes away. It is as simple as that. If it still creates an emotional reaction, the lesson has not been learned.

I have an ex-husband. Our relationship was not pretty. It was full of drama, and it got worse and worse throughout our relationship. I had to come to a point where I said enough. Not enough to him, but enough to myself. I wasn’t getting peace at home because I had no idea what peace looked like within me. I was constantly a part of the drama. I was the person that people felt sorry for and was the victim of my world. I knew nothing about how to have a low drama life. I was an awful-izer. I knew how to make absolutely everything around me awful. My relationship, my kids, my friends, and my life. I was swimming in a pool of drama. I could see everyone’s toxicity around me, but I couldn’t see my own. I love all those saying about leaving the negative people and drama behind. The part I didn’t get, “I” had to leave it behind.

The drama in my life told me, I needed to change. For years, I tried to change the situation around me, my location, friends, jobs, and partners. The problem was that I didn’t change the source of the problem: ME. I kept expecting different results and the drama kept escalating. I wasn’t getting it, and the drama wouldn’t stop coming until I did.

After embracing a path that was about changing myself, everything in my life improved. Do I still struggle with drama from time to time? Yes. Yesterday was actually one of those days. I wrapped myself right up in it. My head was in a completely chaotic place about my daughter and where she was emotionally. I completely submersed myself in my story about how horrible things are for her and felt completely helpless about how I could help her. The drama was building up around her. Yesterday, I crashed. I hit the point I call it a breakdown to breakthrough moment.

I needed the drama to get me to do something different. I needed to stop talking about the problem and start embracing a solution. Once I was able to get to that place and see my part in the drama the miracles started happening. People started showing up to help. I got appointments in the small windows of space  I had open. The voice inside me said, “It’s time!”.

We can pretend the drama is not there by focusing on other people, doing for them what we don’t do for ourselves. We can gossip and read about all the other problems in the world and bitch and complain until we are blue in the face. We can blame our parents, brothers, sisters, friends, family, partners, and kids. You name it, we can do it. The problem is, we are just letting the drama grow and fester until the point of explosion. We can’t change it and make it better until we see our part in it. If we didn’t have a part in it, the drama wouldn’t affect us. It couldn’t effect us. Drama only has a life when we create it.

Are you engaged in someone else’s drama? We only engage in someone else’s when we are avoiding our own. Something inside us is stirred up and not getting attention. Otherwise, when someone else has something going on we know how to separate it and look at it from a constructive point of view. I’m amazed when people feel like they are putting their problems on me. Nobody can put their problems on me. If I pick up their problems and walk away with them, that is my stuff. I know when I am supporting a person, Their drama is their journey. I don’t take their situation personally. I don’t take it personally when they don’t agree with what I’m saying or the advice I am giving. It is not my drama, and I know it.

Is it more challenging when it is our own kids, partners, family and friends? Of course, because they are the best sources for our deepest and most powerful lessons. I was just there yesterday. The great news, the time it takes to learn from the drama gets shorter and shorter as we become aware and take less personally.

Here are a few of the resources I use to teach me the lesson in the drama:

  1. Byron Katie. My favorite book is Loving What is  in the audiobook version because it has her in the live sessions. Nothing beats hearing her at work. What her work does is it gets me to question my thinking. She doesn’t say that I need to change it. She just makes the participant aware of it. You can also find her sessions on her Facebook page, The Work of Byron Katie.
  2. Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom This book is an easy read that educates the reader on how to free themselves from the drama that surrounds us. It helps us become the best versions of ourselves and not to take other people’s journeys personally. I can’t tell you how many times I have read this book!
  3. Talk to drama free people. When I want change, I want people who are solution oriented. I’m not interested in getting advice from people who are jumping into the pot with me. If I go to advice from those people, I know I still have work to do.
  4. Become aware of self-talk. I know that this will effect everything! If I am being hard on myself and have my “bad me” bat out, I will not find the best solution. I will take the fear and anger route and that never leads to good things. I only create more drama. The whole point is to learn from it and move on.
  5. Get out the gratitude list. I will write every day about what I’m grateful for. Nothing gets me out of drama faster than realizing, I don’t need to be in it.
  6. The positive play list. I created a play list on my phone that is full with songs that inspire me to feel better and move. I also have a library full of audiobooks and meditations.
  7. Walk around the lake. I love walking around the lake and playing a meditation to get my head straight. I’m a big fan of the Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation ExperienceThere are different experiences available for helping with a variety of topics. These are a great ways to stay centered. If you don’t have a lake or it is not accessible, find a peaceful place and use it.
  8. Keep the Feed Clean. I love Facebook because I have liked so many wonderful pages that help to keep my positive thoughts on whenever I need a boost. I choose not to follow anything that is negative. You can find many of the pages that feed my thinking on my Facebook page: From A Loving Place

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

Please, come on this journey with me! Pick a post that calls to you from the menu on the top left corner of the title page on the From A Loving Place website and like me on Facebook. Send me a message, I would love to hear from you.

(All red type is a link to the site being discussed)

Photo Credit: Rachael Wolff

 

 

Spirituality and Religion From A Loving Place

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(4) Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant (5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (6) it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. (7) It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(8) Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. (9) For we know only in part, and we prophecy only in part; (10) but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.

-Corinthians 13.4-13.10, Harper Collins Study Bible (Student Edition) p. 1950

Do I act from a place of love or fear? Do I treat myself in a loving or fearful way? Do I believe in a Higher Power out of love or fear? Is my Higher Power a loving all powerful being? Does my religion conflict with my beliefs? Does religion embrace or separate? Where do I fit in to it all?

These are some of the many questions I’ve asked myself throughout the years. I have had the pleasure of sitting through many wonderful services through a handful of different religions. I have also sat through services which preach fear, separation and judgment. The amazing thing is they could be within the same designated religion. How can religion be interpreted so differently? I have studied different theories and interpretations looking for what rests true in my heart. I have looked, observed, and studied people’s interpretations of their spiritual and religious paths. I do my best to leave my judgments at the door, but nothing puts my walls up faster then hearing about a God to fear or who creates fear in others. My vision of the Divine is in the verse above. Anything that contradicts that is not part of my spiritual path.

These are my observations. This is my path. Yours may be different and that’s Ok. I’m not here to push my beliefs on any one else. I’m not here to say I’m better or worse than you. I’m not! I don’t think your beliefs are better or worse than mine. I honor many different belief systems because they give me many opportunities to see love in action. That, for me, is what spirituality is all about. I love hearing about how other people’s religions help them be a better person and reach out to others. I know they are embracing what is right for them by the love and passion that they exude through action.  Here is what I’ve seen on my path:

How we feel about ourselves reflects the the spiritual world we create.

When we don’t show ourselves love before we choose our beliefs in a Higher Power and/or religion, it becomes easy to focus on the fears of the religion instead of the spirit of our Creator. The more love we give ourselves, the more we have to give to the Creator. Jesus was all loving, to all people. He didn’t pick and choose. That is what I focus on. That is the path I am proud to follow, the path of loving action. His love was healing. Love is healing! Since I come from a loving foundation, I focus on all the loving acts I see. I want to follow those paths because of the power of that love. I have noticed when people come from fearful and judgmental places they will talk to me about the fear, shame, and sin of mankind. They will focus on being afraid of their God’s judgment. They will feel shame for being human. I see a lot of separation. I want to make sure my plate is clean and my love is pure. Judgment separates me, and I want to be connected.

The power of prayer crosses all religions.

The most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed is the power of prayer. The beauty of prayer is that anyone can do it. It is not limited to any one religious practice. Prayer is a true spiritual practice. When people of all religions get together in prayer amazing things happen. Prayer is sending loving energy into to the world. Prayer connects individuals, communities, and the whole world. People can come from all walks of life and discover the power of prayer.

I once read a book called Transforming Fate into Destiny by Robert Ohotto. This book changed how I prayed and saw prayer. In chapter 4 he describes ego prayers vs. soul prayers in a way I had never heard before. It helped me to learn how to pray more effectively and to let go of my ego. Pages 57-67 were pages I have taken with me. I didn’t connect with the whole book, but I am so grateful to have read it just for those pages. I trusted that I was supposed to keep reading. I knew I was connected to the Divine. I prayed for answers; I got them. We all have that power!

I believe that the Creator of all is bigger than any human mind will ever understand. 

I find it fascinating when people tell me that there is no other interpretation, but the one they believe. All these books that explain religions are interpretations. Each one has had the hands of human on them. Each one has had to interpret words that may not have an exact definition. Pieces are chosen and denied based on humans. Each Pastor, Minister, Priest, Rabbi, Imam etc. are all interpreting from their belief systems. They are all doing the best they can to get clear messages to pass onto their congregations. They are still human and do not belong on pedestals. Each may have a beautiful message of love, what a shame to miss them because we don’t think there is anything to learn from other spiritual paths. If we believe in something from the core, it will not change, but it may grow, strengthen, and expand.

Good travelers leave no tracks. Good words leave no trace. Good counting needs no markers.

Good doors have no bolts. Yet cannot be forced. Good knots have no rope but cannot be untied.

In this way the Sage always helps people and rejects none, always helps all beings, and rejects none. This is called practicing brightness.

Therefore the good person is the bad person’s teacher, and the bad person is the good person’s resource.

Not to value the teacher, not to love the resource, causes great confusion even for the intelligent.

This is called the vital secret.

Shih wei yao miao

-Tao Te Ching Lao-Tau Translated by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo (#27)

My spiritual path does not separate me from anybody else. It doesn’t make me better or worse. When I am not loving myself and others, I am denying my spiritual path. I become separate and alone. I choose to live there as little as possible. Yet, I still do choose it when I am in my humanness and judging others and/or myself. I have accepted that nobody is perfect. I can’t expect that of an individual, group, country, world, or religion. I know that everyone who comes into my life has a reason for being there, and I choose to learn as much as I can from the experiences in order to grow on my path.  Another person does not have to believe I am going home to my Creator; I believe it, and I will live following actions of love all the way home.

“If they are illusion, then I also am illusion, and so they are always of the same nature as myself. It is that which makes them so lovable ad venerable. That is why I can love them. And here is a doctrine at which you will laugh. It seems to me, Govinda, that love is the most important thing in the world. It may be important to great thinkers to examine the  world, to explain and despise it. But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration and respect”

-Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha p. 147

 

 

I’m Not Stupid After All: School Testing and Self-Worth

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The divergent thinker has considered the problem from all angles and made connections between the question and each of the potential answers. He has now spent four times as long on the question as the person who is tuned to think convergently, and his likelihood of choosing the “right” answer is still no better than chance. Instead of eliminating some of the answers to improve his chances of making the correct choice, his divergent thought processes have brought all answers into the realm of possibility.

-Shelley Carson, PhD, Your Creative Brain p. 128

I have always loved learning, but all through high school felt stupid. The feeling came from taking multiple choice tests. I don’t remember when my anxiety around these tests began. I didn’t realize how bad the experience was on my self-worth until I was an adult.

I had to study more than many of my peers. I took notes on everything in order to get it. I had to practically memorize the material to get an 100% on a test. I realized, if I could focus on the material in the book, I could get an A on the test. When other people were doing dance and sports, I had to spend that extra time taking notes on what I was reading.  I used to pray for essay tests, because I knew I could get an A without a problem. I used to run out of room because of the amount of details I could provide. I didn’t understand why I had such a problem with multiple choice. Come SAT time, I was a complete mess. When I didn’t have specific material to study my anxiety would take me to a shameful place. My self-talk was brutal. My hair twisting and pulling increased to a level where I’m surprised I have hair today. What was it about these tests? Why couldn’t I figure out the right answers?

When I was an adult, I realized  I also had a fear of filling out forms. I was so scared of answering a question in the wrong way. I wanted to be honest and accurate, but I found myself wondering do they mean this, or do they mean that. In order to be a pre-school teacher, I had to take courses filled with multiple choice tests. I remember being told that many people don’t pass them the first time. I can’t tell you what that level of pressure did to me. Luckily, by the time I got to the test I was grounded in my spiritual path and I prayed that I would be able to pull the knowledge from my head as needed, and thankfully I did. Yet, I still went through the constant questioning in my head during almost every question. I just kept trying to remember the words that the books used. I still felt stupid. Why weren’t the answers black and white? I knew the material well enough that the tests should have been a breeze.

So, why did I feel so stupid when it came to multiple choice? I wasn’t going to understand that until I was around 37 years old and back in school. Eckerd College is known for their strong writing program. The Program For Experienced Learners (the program I attended) held us to the same high standards as the residential students. I loved it there. The classes were small, professors were available, lots of writing, and very few multiple choice tests.

The answer finally came in a course called, The Creative Process, taught by an amazing professor. I knew I would love the course just by the title. Once I met my professor, I knew I was in for a big ride in self awareness. The reading materials for the course were eye opening, but one in particular would help to heal years of pain and anguish over my fears and anxiety around multiple choice tests and filling out applications.

Your Creative Brain (This is a link to the website): Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life by Shelley Carson, PhD.was the book that would give me understanding about brainsets and where I was most comfortable. The book explains all the different brainsets, then has a little test to show the reader where her/his personal comfort level is. The best part is in the next chapters she gives the reader exercises to strengthen the different brainsets. Based on the test, I was most comfortable in the connect and absorb brainsets. This made perfect sense to me. This has been my strength in my personal and professional relationships. It was what made me successful in sales and marketing. It is the power behind my creativity. It is the reason, I am driven by the connections I make with humans, nature, and animals through love.

How could this gift cause such anguish in school? 

“Convergent thinking is the type of thinking you do when you access the contents stored in your brain (including knowledge and memories) to come up with the one correct answer to a well-defined problem.”

-Carson, Your Creative Brain p. 125

OH! Multiple choice tests are based on convergent thinking. Now, everything is starting to make sense. I don’t fit into the mold of this type of education, wait a second… My son is completely immersed into the testing world, and he is having the same struggles and feelings that I did. He is an A/B student who is feeling frustrated, stupid and lost in the school system. I’m so glad, I have been educated enough to help stop the negative cycle that I have lived with since I was a child in school.

I have broken many of the negative cycles that came from the generations before me. It can take a long time to heal old wounds. I still feel my stuff come up when my son is discussing school, and it is a challenge to try to figure out what is the best thing to do for him. I need to approach him and the educational system from a loving place, but sometimes the how is hard to find.

I have watched many groups try and fail to change the educational system. I have read the research that is being used to fight the system. I have listened to countless parents and teachers who know that all this testing is not good for these young developing brains. The tests keep coming. Little changes keep happening, but I feel like we are still left with a lot of misunderstanding. Some teachers don’t know how to spot convergent and divergent thinkers and that makes a huge difference in how a child will absorb material. We are still focusing on the broken system. The negative energy is feeding the beast. What if we collectively could put our focus on what we did want to see in schools, instead of what we don’t? I still struggle with this one. I know the answer comes from a loving place, I just don’t know what it is.

My son was lucky enough to have an amazing third grade teacher. She made the time to really look at him as an individual and figure out how he needed to look at the material in order to be able to see the correct answers. She helped me to see that it was possible for a divergent thinker to work with these tests. There are so many  kids, parents, and teachers who don’t know what is going on in these students’ brains. How do we get this information out there in a way that it is not done through angry messages of what we don’t want to see anymore? How do we not shame people for not knowing any better? How do we inspire change through loving actions? 

Finding out about the different brainsets and how they contributed towards different areas of my life has been priceless. It has helped me gain understanding about myself and others. I finally know, I am NOT stupid. I actually have a beautiful gift of a divergent mind, and its because of this gift that I am here now. I figured out that the things I negatively labeled myself with are actually the very parts of me that I love the most.

We All Have Our Own Journey

Why do we feel it necessary to judge others’ journeys? I find it so easy to get caught in this web. When I can pull myself back from it, I can see a better way. I choose to embrace my own journey!

When I put the focus back on me and see that I’m only emotional triggered when someone else’s story hits too close to home, I’m set free. In this place, I can heal my old wounds. I can take responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, and actions. My power returns back to me.

I have gone through a lot in my life. I could have chose the bitter, victim of the world route and many people would rationalize my decision. I chose a different way. I chose to keep getting up, learn what I needed to, and move on. This is my journey.

It took me a lot of work, spiritual guidance, and loving support to get me where I am today. I had a lot of challenging lessons that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but they gave me exactly what I needed. Because of that, I can’t deny someone else’s journey is any different. We are all going through exactly what we need to for our personal journey.

Some of the most heart wrenching stories have the most to teach. We are all created different, we need to have different stories too. We need all of them to make this planet thrive. We can’t expect others to live according to our own path.

We will only ever leave impressions that may help others figure out their own path. Loving actions can plant seeds, ignite passions, and create positive energy around a situation. All judgments do is make a person feel worse and bury themselves deeper in the pain that is holding them back. If a person is leading a lifestyle that is hurting her/himself or others there is a shame cycle running through them. Shaming them feeds that cycle. They will experience consequences for their actions, they will pay the price, but we can help them by not keeping them in a prison of thought.

When we focus on our own journey, we can be a light for others. We don’t have to push our beliefs on them. We just need to show them by how we choose to live.

I’ve learned to help others  and myself by asking more questions. They, just like me, may get defensive when someone is approaching the buried truth. That’s a good thing, as long as I allow them to have their reaction without filling myself up with the defensive energy too. That is when the situation can get out of control. I keep reminding myself, this is their journey. I also remind myself when it’s my journey and that I don’t need to take all the advice that is given to me. I don’t have to get angry with someone for giving me advice either. It just means someone cares and they are doing the best they can with the tools they have.

My mom is a great example of a person who is really good at uncovering this through questions. She is one of the few people who can reach my hot spots for growth. I feel safe enough to react in my defensive way, come back, and understand what I was covering up. I’m very lucky to have her. By example, she has taught me to do the same thing.

Once I changed, so did some of the people around me. My circle of friends is amazing!! We are all very supportive of each other’s growth. I have this, because that’s where I put my energy. I don’t jump down into other people’s holes and I don’t expect them to jump into mine. I sit next to the hole and wait for them to tell me they would like a hand getting out. My solid foundation of love can only help them if they use their personal strength to pull themselves up. People only come to me when they really want change.

I also have learned not to take other people’s journeys personal. They need to go through and repeat their lessons as many times as it takes for them to figure out their own way. I am here to give them seeds of hope. It is their choice whether to put them in the ground and let them take root. The same goes for me, when the roles are reversed.

The most important lesson for me was to embrace my own journey. I know, I can only give what I already have inside. If I spot something in someone else, it’s because I have it in myself too. The best part about that is it includes the good stuff.

We are capable of embracing the light or the dark inside us at any point in time.  The dark has a lot to teach, I like to make sure that even in my darkest spots, I embrace the candlelight to have a foundation for love to guide my way. The better I talk to myself, the quicker I will get through the dark spots.

Embrace your own journey! It’s worth focusing on. You are worth it!

Why Did I Choose Him?

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“The unloving person continues to blame bad luck or a series of external factors for their not having a loving relationship. Love can only be attracted by and returned by love.”

-Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, The Power of Intention: Learning to Co-create Your World Your Way p.204-205

One night, I was lying in my bed, the tears would not stop coming. I kept asking myself: Why do I keep ending up with these guys who treat me like shit? Why do I keep falling for the traps, when I see the red flags flying from a mile away? Why do I keep ignoring what my friends and family already see? After around thirty years of dating, I finally  got it. I was getting exactly what I asked for. Who would ask for this? Me. The real question is why?

Even though, I have read plenty of books on the laws of attraction and have seen it work a million times, I somehow overlooked how it worked the same way in my relationships with men. One of the key steps in attracting the things we want in life is to focus on the affirmative. That means stay away from thoughts and statements about what I don’t want. If I say, “I don’t want another addict” my thoughts are lining up with that next addict while I think that very thought. It may be a different type of addict, but guaranteed he will come into my life in some way, shape, or form.

When I didn’t believe in myself, I chose men who didn’t believe in themselves and who didn’t believe in me. They couldn’t, we were together because we both agreed not to believe in ourselves. Neither one of us could give what we didn’t have.

When I didn’t want to look at myself, I chose people who were looking to avoid themselves too. I would assign myself the role of fixing their life, and they would in turn try to fix mine or they would play the child role and let me act more like a parent.

When I was abusing myself physically, emotionally or mentally, I chose partners who would treat me the same way. My personal journey does not include physical abuse in the form of hitting, but in the form of physical self-care, or I should say, lack of care. My most severe abuse to myself was emotional and mental, which is why I projected that out in the majority of my relationships. An amazing thing happened when I changed the abusive thoughts about myself, I stopped attracting people who would reflect them back to me. I was even able to stop the pattern in a relationship that built itself around the abuse. The relationship didn’t last long after that, because as I got healthier our paths no longer connected, and the road split.

If you are anything like me, you’re asking, “OK I get it, but how do I stop doing it?”

These are the steps I took in order to put my thinking right to attract the person I TRULY wanted in my life:

  1. I wrote a list of all the things I wanted in a relationship. I was clear and specific about the partner I was looking for. I only used positive terms. Here are a few examples: Lives a healthy lifestyle, is active, is adventurous, is spontaneous, uses actions to show he cares, respects me, loves my kids, shows up for me.
  2. I became everything on my list for myself. I used the premise of Byron Katie’s “the turn around” to stop projecting what I wanted onto others and “turn it around” to me. I knew that if I wanted it in a partner, I needed to become it for myself first. Once I had my list, the tools were easy to find. I found tons of books on every subject I needed to work on, I watched videos and seminars on-line, I took notes, I attended AL-ANON, I found the right friends, and I opened my eyes to all the signs leading me in the right direction.
  3. I fell in love with myself. It was amazing how this worked. I started playing out my list and living the way I wanted to with a partner. I started to go on more adventures, engage with my kids more, become more active, talk to myself in a loving way, and the list went on. Life became beautiful.
  4. I stopped Looking! Once I became the list, I stopped looking for a man. I wasn’t missing anything in my life. My life was full and wonderful. I was happy, my children were happy, I had no complaints about the way my life looked. This was it, I was content.
  5. I opened my doors. When I first stopped looking, I thought, “This is it! This is what I want, I don’t want a man in my life. I love this freedom!” It took a little while until I opened my doors and said, “OK, if there is a person out there that could fit into my life, I will allow them in”.

Little did I know, I had already put the positive energy out there and would be getting what I asked for in a very surprising way. I had no idea that simple request for information about fishing would turn into my best adventure yet. My relationship now is exactly what I TRULY want. I respect myself, and he respects me. I take care of myself, and he takes care of himself and we work as team to take care of each other. I still feel free to be exactly who I am.

I recently went back to the list I wrote almost three years ago, and I am completely amazed how far I have come. It is possible! Invest the time in yourself and watch the miracles happen.

If this post helped you, check out my full blog: From A Loving Place. Each post offers the tools I used to transform my life. Take what feels right, and leave the rest behind. Have a transformative day!

Photo Credit: Rachael Wolff

 

 

An Open Letter to Those I Have Judged…

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“Unconsciousness, dysfunctional egoic behavior, can never be defeated by attacking it. Even if you defeat your opponent, the unconsciousness will simply have moved into you, or the opponent reappears in a new disguise. Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” -Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose p. 75

To all of those I have and haven’t judged:

First, I would like to apologize and to say that this letter is directed at me as much as it is to you. I don’t know anything about your life experience. I don’t know what got you to the place you are right now. I have no idea what you experienced as a child, a teenager, or an adult that contributes to the decisions you make today. Whether you lead the life I think I want, or it’s a life I can’t imagine having. Either way, judging it or myself in comparison, is not how I want to live my life anymore. I am no better or worse than you are, I am different. I finally understand the power of the negative energy that I have been putting on you and me. I will choose to be happy for your successes and send loving thoughts to those who are struggling to make healthy choices for themselves and others.

I know that every person has strengths and weaknesses, and it is my personal journey to embrace either one I choose. I can decide to get out of my own mental/emotional position, at any moment, for better or worse. I know that judgments (including about myself) put a negative energy into the world and I am contributing to the problem instead of the solution. I know that things such as the media, politics, society, poverty, wealth, food, technology, health, religion, and addictions are the way they are, because of focusing on the negative energy in myself, others, communities, and the world. If I keep focusing on what I don’t want to see in the world, I will keep making it worse. If that is where my focus stays, then I am responsible for my part of that energy.

“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”

-Mother Teresa

I know that when I look at the world with love and compassion, I only see more examples of it. I know if I stop contributing to the hate, then I’m contributing to the same power that comes from the miracles of prayer. It is not my job to tell you who to be or what to believe. It is not my business if you pray, send positive thoughts, or are being the example of love in motion. When I am the change that I want to see in the world, the world has no other choice than to get better. Even if it starts with the people around me, I know that love will spread.

From this point on, when I catch myself judging, I will instead, send you love. I will look at myself and ask myself if I have the right to judge anyone else’s life? The answer will always be no. If you are contributing to the love in the world, I will send you more for added strength and courage. If you are contributing to hate, whether it is for yourself or others, I will send you love in hopes that it will help you see a better way.

My hope is that this message spreads to all of those who are feeling alone because you are not perfect. I want you to know, neither am I. I have made poor health, partner, parenting, love, and life choices too. I will send my love your way and pray that you get the energy you need to make the choices that will help you become stronger, braver, and more compassionate to yourself and others. I hope that you find away to forgive yourself and start a new day.  In life or death, let no one else’s energy hold you back from leading a love filled life.

In closing, I want to thank all the people who lead different lives than I do. I learn what I want to improve about my own life. I learn how to be stronger, braver, and more compassionate to all those around me. I know that if I focus on the lesson instead of the judgment, I grow as a person. Each one of you helps me become the person I know that I want to be. I am a person building a house on a foundation of love.

With all the love I have to give,

A Better Me

Photo Credit: Rachael Wolff (as always)

This piece was also featured on BeingBetterHumans.com. The site is filled with wonderful inspiring stories. 

Discovering the Meaning of Love

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“My negativity was as destructive to me as alcohol is to the alcoholic. I was an artist finding my own jugular. It was as though I was addicted to my own pain.”

-Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love p. 9

Coming from a divorced home, it is not uncommon to have problems with intimate relationships. If there are challenges such as mental illness, addiction, workaholics, chronic pain, relationship issues, and/or financial struggles, whether a family is together or not, it can still contribute to problems with intimacy. No matter what the situation is, when there is trust and connection issues from childhood it tends to spill over to adulthood.

It is common to work our past issues out through our current relationships. I learned to effectively communicate with my mom in my teen years. My mom and I learned the language of speaking to each other in “I feel________ because_______” terms. We went to group therapy, which was a powerful tool. It helped me break the blaming cycle early on.  after I was able to step back and heal some of the old damage, I was able to heal, repair, and develop many positive female relationships without any added drama. I’m surrounded by those relationships today.

I tend to see the majority issues in two areas, with my kids and with men. My kids offer me so many tools in self exploration. They tend to show me the best and we will say “works in progress” on a daily basis. Before having kids, I promised myself I would get my act together before they became teenagers. My mom’s transformation had a giant impact on my life, but it was very hard in the early years because she had to put most the focus on her in order to be better for my sister and I in the long run. Her transformation began when I was around 13, so it left a lot of doors open for learning the hard way. I wanted to get a head start, I’m definitely a work in progress. Staying present is one of my biggest challenges in parenting. All I know is if I am present, I can hear their needs clearly.

As for men, when I was young, I would cling to the attention of them. I wanted to be loved so bad, but I had no concept of what love really was. My definition was warped and twisted. I thought boys wanting me sexually was healthy attention. I thought I needed to chase them and that sex equaled intimacy. I made a lot of unhealthy decisions in my quest for love. I even hurt other girls and women because I truly had no self-worth to think about how my behaviors would affect them. I would get jealous of what other girls/women had. I acted out accordingly.  I made a lot of amends in my late teens and early twenties.

I used to obsess about the romantic movies wanting that kind of Hollywood love story. I loved words, if a guy could say the right things, I would fall to his feet.  I had a string of short-lived relationships because I found that after the 6-month mark things changed and the story ended. The romantic words became less frequent and there was little to go on. I used to joke that the first person I lasted over 6-months with: I would marry. Guess what, I did. The problem was, I still didn’t know what love truly was. I didn’t know the effects of emotional abuse and how it masked itself as love. Before I became a mom, I went to a seminar about parenting. I learned the importance of language when communicating with children, and how saying things like, “You’re crazy”, “You’re stupid”, and “You’re lazy” labels them as a person and has lasting psychological effects. Changing the language and making a point not to label and make a comment such as, “You are acting silly” changes a lot. Now, take that to intimate relationships, how is it any different?

As important as words can be in this way, I had to learn that words mean nothing if there is no loving action behind them. Sweet words followed by fearful actions are a pathway to abuse, whether it is emotional or physical. It is not just abuse given or received to another person, it is the abuse we do to ourselves. Understanding my fears keeps me from acting them out on the people I love. Ignoring them and/or denying them is a time bomb waiting to go off.

When I was ready for a lesson in love, the door opened and I read a verse that I have seen and heard a million times:

(4) Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant (5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (6) it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. (7) It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(8) Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will com to an end. (9) For we know only in part, and we prophecy only in part; (10) but when the complete comes, the partial will com to and end.

-Corinthians 13.4-13.10, Harper Collins Study Bible (Student Edition) p. 1950

My house built on a foundation of fear crumbled to the ground. This was so much bigger than my problems with intimate relationships. It was a wake up call to how I treated myself, children, life, community, and world. When I started to believe in these words and concepts my life had a new purpose. They were not just words on paper anymore, they had life. They were everything that was right and wrong in the world. I started seeing oneness and becoming a lot more aware of ideas and groups that used separation as a tool to judge others. I found my judgements were all personal reflections and that love truly wasn’t about being right. That included the old concepts I believed about myself.

Am I going to always have the presence to act out of loving place? No! I’m human and far from perfect. I will be challenged time and time again. Will I do my best? Yes! Will I stop beating myself up when I fail? Yes, because that is an act of love. I only continue the cycle of fear when I keep the hate, fear, and self-loathing going. I choose to stop the cycle. Louise Hay has great table calendars, which help change the way we talk to ourselves. I have multiple days posted on my bathroom mirror, and I have made lots of gifts for friends with the past days (I just can’t imagine throwing them out). I find working with them in creative ways helps to keep their messages present within myself.

I knew, I wasn’t going to find this kind of love in another person until I could start to be this for myself. This wasn’t a small task, it took a lot of unlearning. This is not an overnight project, the more walls we hold onto the longer the process takes. I already had a head start with the work I had been doing. The journey and discovery is well worth the time I put in.

“Live in a good place. Keep your mind deep. Treat others well. Stand by your word. Make fair rules. Do the right thing. Work when it’s time.”

-Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Translation: Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo, #8

Leave room for mistakes, because they leave us with more opportunities to grow from a loving place. Peace to ALL!

If you want to come on this journey with me, visit me on Facebook and/or follow my blog.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

Embrace the Breakdown

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When I was 17, I struggled with severe depression.  I could send myself into a tailspin within seconds. It got so bad that I agreed to be admitted into a hospital to get help. I used to believe that it was only going to get worse, and that there was no hope in my future.  There was a period of time that I’m surprised I survived.

This was the time frame that I learned to embrace the breakdown. Like many others, I used to do anything I could to avoid the breakdown, but learning to embrace it made me see breakdowns as good things. I wasn’t going to hit an emotional bottom. I was going to break through a barrier that was holding me back.  It is empowering to be in charge and  head down a downward to have a break through. I say I’m getting ready for a  growth spurt. The bigger the spiral, the bigger the growth spurt.  Learning this skill did not keep me from experiencing dark times, but it helped me see that the dark times would pass as soon as I got what I was meant to get out of the situation. A lesson could take a day, month and sometimes longer. It really depended on how stubborn I was being and how tight I was holding on to the problem.

Growth spurts are what I call my emotional break throughs that lead me to better places. I  usually have something great happen after one of my breakdown to break through episodes. After I embrace the breakdown, which is feeling all the feelings that are going through me. Sometimes I am hit with a lot, all at once. Those are my category 4 hurricanes. Next, I look at the situation from other perspectives. I’m not going to lie, I had a great role model for this part. We lovingly refer to my mom as “Pollyanna”. She modeled the skill of looking at things from a much brighter and less sinister angle. I remember getting so annoyed when I wanted to stay in a bad mood. Eventually, I came around and realized it wasn’t that bad. It’s funny watching my kids’ reactions when I do it to them. The best part is, they have now started to keep me on track too when I slip. After that, I look at the lessons in what’s causing me stress, anxiety, and/or depression.

In my early thirties, I was introduced to the work of Byron Katie. A friend gave me a CD series called, Making Your Thoughts Work for You By Dr. Wayne Dyer and Byron Katie. I had already done a lot of work on this, but her methods are truly amazing and easy to use. There are tons of videos out there of her work. Her method is brilliant. She even has an easy to use worksheet on her website. Katie’s way of looking at a perspective is a tool I use on a regular basis when I get triggered by anybodies actions or words. For the parents out there it is a great tool and a great way of life to teach children. It gives us great tools to see our children clearly and teaches them to take personal responsibility, while not getting caught up in what my mom calls, “awful-izing”. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but just like anything else it plants a seed.  When they are ready, it will grow.

Another thing that works for me was suggested  by my first sponsor in AL-ANON. She said to stand on a chair and look at the room from a different angle, then do your daily routines in a different order. My favorite was to change the order I put my foot in my underwear. I had to literally put a note in my underwear drawer to remind me to get out of my head and make different choices. I’m in my head a lot! I am one of those people who have to do a lot of work to get out of my head. I love hiking off-trail to help me with that one. When I have to pay attention for sticks, snakes, and direction, my mind stays clear!

I have worked with a lot of people on the topic of personal growth and I can share a couple of observations about what has kept myself and others in the vicious spin cycle longer.

  1. We try to run away from it using people, places, or things. I have used the busy world of doing, relationships with my children, family, and friends to keep me distracted from looking at myself. I have seen others use excess alcohol and drugs. In my experience, it never works to solve problems. Create problems, YES! Solve problem, No! I learned that when I feel over emotional about something I avoid alcohol completely or keep it to one glass of red wine in a relaxing environment. The relaxing environment part is essential.
  2. There is something about the chaos that makes us feel comfortable. Here’s an example: I used to be in a relationship with a lot of yelling and name calling. I was always on edge. I never knew what was going to come next. The reason it was comfortable to me is because it was what I experienced as a child watching my parents’ relationship. There was a normalcy in it. It took a lot longer to break that pattern than it did others. I had to consciously study healthy relationships and surround myself with friends in healthy relationships.

I’m sure there are other reasons, but for me, these are the ones that always stand out.  Don’t be scared to feel everything that comes up. This can take time. This is not a quick fix. If it doesn’t work, go deeper. In the beginning for category 4 breakdowns it would take me a month or longer to get through it all, and some days were downright ugly. As I have practiced the skills and have learned to spot warning signs, I can tend to get through the process in about a day. But, not all the time. Around three years ago, one of my breakthroughs was from a failed relationship that was a carried pattern of many failed relationships. I had tried before to go deep, but it obviously wasn’t deep enough. I had to deal with childhood shame that was buried deep down. That took a lot of time and tears to get through. If there is shame involved, face it. If there is guilt involved, forgive yourself. If there is anxiety involved, get present. Anxiety comes from fears of future, and future in not predictable (at least for most of us). If there is anger, forgive them. Don’t forgive for the other person, forgiveness is personal. Repeat the mantra, “Breakdown to break through, breakdown to break through!” I will share my break through reading list soon.  First, I have to do some digging.

Most importantly, treat yourself kindly from a loving place. It has been said many times by many different people, “We are our worst critics.” We are all doing the best we can with the tools we have been given. You deserve love and compassion just as much as all the people around you.  Cry, scream, let it out! Stop running and embrace the breakdown.

 

From a Loving Place Introduction

The most attractive thing about the Buddha was that he saved one person: himself. That’s all he needed to save; when he saved himself, he saved the whole world.

-Byron Katie, Hope Beneath Our Feet p. 190

Hi, my name is Rachael. I am a single mother approaching 40 (and I mean within months). I’ve spent the last 4 1/2 years earning my degree in Human Development. In my first course in college I read the quote above ,and I felt like I finally learned the secret to an abundant life. I have one of those pasts that gives a long lists of reasons to be miserable, but I have chosen to not let my past to be in vain.

My life has been a series of lessons that have strengthened me and made me who I am now. My past has helped me show compassion and understanding for others who are having a hard time finding their way. It has given me space to be less judgmental and remember what it is like to struggle. Overall, my past has made me a better person. This is because I do not let shame and guilt way me down. This was a process and it cannot happen overnight. I had a friend once brought my attention to the fact that it took me over thirty years to get sick of my warped way of thinking. It takes time to undue patterns that I have survived on and built walls with. I need to take down the walls one brick at a time.

Why did I decide to write a blog? One, I want to stay on the right track. By writing, I will keep reminding myself of how blessed my life has become because of all my realizations. Two, if there is even one person out there that my journey helps, then I am fulfilling my purpose. Lastly, I love to write. I plan on sharing not only the things that have worked to make my life better, but also my darkness and how I let it stop dragging me down. I don’t know about anybody else, but for me, when I am feeling alone reading about tools to get me out of it, I can sometimes feel more alone. Logically, I know what to do and how to get me out of the chaos. The problem is that when we are down in it, logic does not apply. The connection from our emotions to logic has a short. No matter how much I have learned, I can always get to that place, and no one should feel alone there.

This blog is about how I save myself and my journey to show up to life from a loving place.