How Beliefs Work to Help or Hurt Ourselves and Others

Over and over, I’m reminded of how many times us as individuals believe something and try to make what we believe true for someone else. Our thoughts about doing it can be well intended. We can think that our beliefs save someone else from themselves or others. We can think that our education gives us the facts on what is real and what isn’t. We can believe that our faith is what everyone else REALLY needs. We can believe we are more and someone else is less or that we are less and someone else is more. Beliefs can cause us great pain to ourselves and other, and beliefs can lift us up, so we can help others lift themselves. 

Here’s What I Know

Beliefs are perspectives. We can each choose to believe a perspective that feels right to us. We will base our beliefs in science, faith, family, education, culture, society, media, social circles, support groups, religion, relationships, political views, history, etc.  In the end, we will each make the choices that feel right for us at the time. NOBODY’S beliefs are 100% the same. They can’t be. Each individual’s experiences will form, change, alter, shift, grow, and expand based on each event that takes place in his or her life. 

That’s Not True

We all get exposed to people sharing their opinions of what is true and what isn’t. We each have a right to share our truths. We will all find our own truth whether someone else believes what we say or not.  I’ve been told that my way of healing from my history of trauma wasn’t true for victims of rape. UMMMMM… if it is true for me, and it is what helped me have healthy relationships with myself and others—How can someone else say that it’s not true? A victim of any trauma can choose to stay in a place of pain or they can find a path to thrive. It depends on each individual’s mindset on what they want the experience to mean for their lives. I do my best to inform people that my views of the world are MY perspectives. If someone takes a seed that I give and wants to plant it in their internal world that is completely up to them.  But does it make my or their experiences any less true? No, because it is what we are experiencing based on the beliefs we have chosen to follow. 

We are a society that is very quick to judge something as absolute, when very little is actually absolute.  When someone says, “That’s not true” or you find yourself thinking it, just try for a moment to say to yourself, “That is what is true for them, why?” Go deeper! If you want to engage with the person, try to find out why she or he came to the beliefs that are guiding her/him. Here are a few suggestion of questions you could ask:

  • Does believing that make you feel better about yourself or about the world? Why or why not?
  • How does believing that help you make good and healthy choices?
  • How does believing what you do limit your ability to change and grow and/or how does is help it? 
  •  How do you find what you say to be true?
  • Do you think this belief helps or hurts your connections with others?
  • Do you think this belief limits your thinking or expands your opportunity to learn?

Every time I hear myself saying that someone else’s beliefs aren’t true, I have to tell myself that is their perspective of truth. Then, I need to determine whether it is worth trying to find out more, leave it alone, or let them know what I believe.  One thing I know for sure is if someone is drinking or on drugs, I keep my mouth shut and walk away. If I care about the person and authentically want to know why they believe the things they do, I ask when they are sober. We each have to make that choice for ourselves. I can tell you I’ve grown and expanded in my beliefs because of being open to learn and listen about how others think.  If I am exposed to a belief that comes from a place of fear, often time I don’t comment, because I know I need to find my own way of expressing my beliefs, hence my blog, articles I’ve written, and my upcoming book. People who want to know what I believe will choose to read my work, follow me on social media, call, text, or email me with questions or asking for advice. Each of us is having experiences that are true for us right now. The quicker we understand that, the easier it will be to authentically connect with someone else. Our perspectives don’t have to be the same in order to find common ground. 

Our Personal Paths

I know that I’m not going to force anyone to change their beliefs or convince them that what they believe is true or isn’t, that’s not my job. I feel my purpose is to share my perspectives in case there is another person out there that can relate or that is looking to change, shift, and grow because they aren’t comfortable where they are, or they simply want to gain more perspectives to help them find their own perspectives of truth that work best for them.  All I ever can offer someone else is seeds from my garden. Not all my seeds will grow into big strong trees, beautiful flowers, or luscious edibles. If I’m sharing out of old belief systems of pain, chaos, confusion, and/or fear, I’m giving seeds that contain weeds and strangling vines that will do damage if planted. I can’t say I’ve never given these kinds of seeds out because I lived my life in a lot of pain for many years. I didn’t mean to hurt someone else, but I was self-abusing and when we self-abuse, the seeds we have become toxic, invasive species. The healthier I got, the more weeds and strangling vines I pulled out of my own garden. When I did that, I limited the toxic seeds I distributed.

We each start our lives with a collection of seeds. Some of them are inherently planted before we are even able to process thoughts. As we travel along our paths we are given seed after seed and we decided whether or not to plant them. Sometimes we have to make space by clearing out an area of our garden that no longer serves us. No garden is the same. All gardens are ever-changing, growing, and expanding. Some are not well kept and are neglected. Others are thriving with amazing life. Then there is everything in-between. 

Our Choices

Many of us limit our power by believing we don’t have any. We convince ourselves that we are trapped (a perspective). We give our power away time and time again by blaming others for the way we feel, think, act, and react. We give away our power by believing someone or something can make us live the way we are living. Nothing outside of us needs to change in order to live a better life. What needs to be worked on is between our own two ears. When we realize how much power we have to internally change our thoughts, beliefs, feelings, actions, and reactions, we open ourselves up to creating a beautiful expansive garden. 

We Are Here to Learn

Anyone who has ever gardened knows that it takes continued maintenance to have a healthy garden— we are no different. The longer we go without self-care and self-maintenance, the more the weeds will grow and spread. Even if we do take good care of ourselves, old weeds will pop-up looking pretty as they invasively spread and take life from our healthy flowers and plants.  We are here in this life to learn. 

We need those weeds to help us see how we can grow and expand in a healthier way,  or if we choose a destructive way. We just want to make sure we don’t let them take over. When weeds take over, we know by our addictions that we use to numb ourselves, along with anything else we do to avoid doing the work to change the things we don’t like in our lives (blaming, shaming, bullying, gossiping, etc.) The more open we are to learn, the more healthy our gardens will be. 

Why Do I Stay Focused on this Topic?

If you follow FromALovingPlace.com, you know that I’ve written about this topic multiple times and in multiple different ways. Each post is different, but carries similar messages. This is part of my self-maintenance. I have to remember these things, because I’m not above being triggered. When I write these posts it soothes me. It helps me to see that a reaction I may have had was just a weed popping up that I need to pull out. Writing is one of the tools I use to pull out the weeds that can grow and spread if I don’t do something. Writing is my something. We all have to decide for ourselves, which tools we want to use, and how to use them. We aren’t here to plant our seeds in other people’s gardens. We can only offer our seeds. Writing on FromALovingPlace.com is how I offer the seeds I’ve planted. It also is helps me to plant seeds I’ve received. I use this blog to spread loving messages that help me maintain, grow, and expand my garden in a way that makes me feel good. If someone chooses to take them and plant them in their garden, the energy of love spreads. My seeds aren’t the only seeds. There are so many seeds that spread love. People don’t have to plant mine. That’s what I love about this process. The ones who offer different perspectives of love help me to expand my garden even more. Staying on this topic helps me to stay open to grow and expand. The more I can see the world through perspectives of truth, the more curious I get about learning from others. As I learned from my time in AL-ANON, I take what I like, and leave the rest.

With Love and Gratitude, 

Rachael Wolff ©2019

Breaking Toxic Patterns: Why Do I Keep Doing this to Myself?

Why Won’t These Seeds Thrive?

Trying and Failing to Make My Internal Garden Thrive

I lived in the darkness for a long time pretending to love, but I wasn’t capable. I read book after book, went to multiple therapists, and would even go to seminars trying to find the help I needed. I kept searching for an outside source to fix an inside problem. I could live motivated for short stretches, but deep down I was living the fake it until you make itapproach, but the make it just wouldn’t come. I thought I had it, then bang! I would sabotage my happiness once again. I thought I was ready to plant all the amazing seeds I would get, but my ground wasn’t fertile enough for the seeds to thrive. I would try, but I didn’t know how to feed, nurture, and sustain them. They may have looked pretty on top of the ground for a little while, but the roots were weak, so they just couldn’t survive on my toxic foundation. Something lurking underneath was killing every flower and tree I was trying to plant. I needed to figure out why.

Just like the internal garden I was trying to create, my outer self could look great on the surface for short periods of time, but because my roots weren’t strong, I would eventually begin to crumble. I would move before others could see my decent into madness. In my new location, I once again would plant the seeds I had picked up along the way. Then would sabotage myself again. 

Toxic relationships were my drugs of choice for a long time. They were the way I could keep myself right where I was comfortable. I didn’t know it at the time, but the chaos was my comfort zone.  I knew that if I could see why I kept repeating this pattern, I would find the source of this toxic muck corroding my foundation.

If you are noticing the definition of insanity in my words, you are getting the message. I kept trying to do the same thing, and I expected different results because I was in a new location. Some refer to this as a geographical cure—An outside fix trying to repair an inside problem. 

How Do I Plant these Damn Seeds to Make them Thrive?

Digging Into My Own Toxic Muck to Fix the Problem at the Source

I was in my thirties before I started to change my patterns to create a new reality. It took me becoming a shell of a person before I would be ready to fully surrender to get better. I couldn’t just plant the seeds, I had to fix, repair, and nurture the ground. I needed to come face to face with the woman in the mirror looking back at me and dig down to see where the source was for this toxic muck. The digging took years; not days, weeks, or months. This didn’t mean there wasn’t progress. My life was definitely changing for the better the more I was willing to REALLY face myself and clean up my own mess. The more I did this, doors would open and others would close. I was on the path to making a garden that would thrive.

My path led me to a college that couldn’t have been a better fit. I learned so much about myself in the 4-½ years it took me to get my degree. The experiences I had with the classes, professors, and other students would help me to have the energy to keep doing the work to fix my foundation. I received more and more seeds I wanted to plant. 

It took a lot of lessons for me to find out the answer was to dig further down into this toxic foundation. I had to find out why I kept attracting men and getting into relationships with individuals who were unhealthy. I needed to look at why I wanted to rescue them. I had to dig deep to get to the bottom of this toxic root. It was the weed that kept strangling all the beauty I would try to grow in my garden.

What Will I Find at the Source of These Toxic Patterns?

Through the Layers of Digging

  1. I saw that I wanted to feel needed.
  2. I learned everything I could about co-dependency.
  3. Digging deeper, I saw that I wanted to feel needed because I lacked self-worth and had a horrible self-concept.
  4. I began to look into the mirror and figure out what I didn’t like about myself.
  5. Going down even deeper, I found that I felt unlovable.
  6. I had to face why I felt unlovable, and that was digging down to the core of my toxic foundation. I found the source, which came from the shame that was buried and hidden under all the layers of guilt, anger, rage, resentment, fear, hate, chaos, confusion, and separation. 
  7. I started doing the work to have a loving relationship with myself.

What Did I Discover?

I’m Happy I Decided to Get Dirty and Do the Work

Digging down to the core took years, but as I faced layer after layer, life would improve and seeds would start growing into flowers. As my energy became aligned with the garden I wanted to create, I understood what I needed to feed and nurture the seeds to make them thrive—LOVE!

This wasn’t about receiving love from the outside world. This was about understanding that I had to feed the seeds my love, and I only could do that by loving myself. Anytime I spoke to myself in a disrespectful way, I was pouring poison onto my land. When I chose to focus my energy on forgiving and loving myself, my land became fertile ground. My garden began to thrive and I started attracting more sources to nurture and feed my garden. I was finally capable to fully love others authentically, because I could love myself. I stopped laying down for people to walk on me. I stopped accepting unacceptable behavior, because I love myself enough to know my value. I live abundantly in my internal world, and I do the work daily to stay there.

Who Is Attracted to My Life Now?

Appreciating the Individuals Who Cross my Path

The people who are attracted to the garden I’ve created aren’t looking to steal from it, they are asking for seeds, which I lovingly give out. People also come into my life offering new seeds. Some I accept lovingly, others I may realize are strangling vines, so I say no thank you and move on. No one can plant a seed in my garden without my permission. If I mistake a strangling vine for a flower, it’s my job to dig the seed up from the root to find out why it found a place to grow in my garden. If we waste energy blaming, we will avoid finding the solution, because blame is just an excuse to stop digging.

Are You Looking for a Seed?

Just like me, others have to go on their own journeys of learning what it will take to let their gardens thrive the way they want them to. If you are reading this looking for a seed; the best advice I can give is to be open to go deep and pay attention to the signs along the way.  Keep praying for help in seeing signs and learning the lessons to uncover the answers. You are worth it! Be prepared to get dirty. We all have what it takes to create beautiful gardens; we just have to be willing to do the work.

With Love and Gratitude, 

Rachael Wolff ©2019

If this journey resonates with you, I hope you will explore FromALovingPlace.com and check out my upcoming book, Letters from A Better Me: How Becoming an Empowered Woman Transforms the World. When we become our best selves, we change the world around us for the better. 

Struggle: A Mom’s Tale

As a follower of love and an inspired child of God, I can reach some wonderful places inside myself. I can be a light for friends and strangers. I can show love in ways that many people just don’t understand. Being able to do all this doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I struggle. Most of all right now my struggle comes from being the best mom I can be to two kids entering into puberty and trying to find solutions and tools to combat their emotional and mental struggles that range from a hard past to a hormonal present. Having a degree in Human Development may seem helpful, but when it’s your own kids, their and your own trauma, the degree doesn’t quite work in my favor. Sometimes it seems harder because I know too much about all different mental/emotional issues and I get completely overwhelmed in questioning everything.

As a mom, I don’t want my children to hurt. Yet, they are hurting so much. I didn’t cause the pain, but I’m left here trying to figure out how to help them overcome their past, deal with a broken school system, and finding joy in their lives. I thought things would be different for them since I’m well versed in overcoming, but a child going through puberty doesn’t want to hear how their whole life can change if they just could choose to look at things differently. I thought since I taught them from an early age that their thoughts, reactions, feelings, and actions are their personal power that they wouldn’t go through blaming everybody else for the way they are feeling, boy was I wrong.

I’ve tried strategies from courses I’ve taken in using positive discipline, counting, and play therapy, none of them seem to have made any great impact on what is happening on a daily basis. I have personality quirks that don’t always align with the self-discipline some of these parenting practicing take. I’m also a single mom who does all the parenting herself. I don’t linger too long there, or I can sometimes get resentful. On most days, I’m grateful.

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Being a single mom with kids who have been through trauma has it’s own unique challenges. This doesn’t mean married couples don’t have similar challenges, but not having a partner who takes equal responsibility for a child comes with the added bonus of abandonment issues. This can happen even if both parents are active, but not together. I learned that in couple’s therapy years ago. I had and sometimes still struggle with an over attachment to time and schedules. I used to actually miss out on a lot of quality time with people due to being so attached to time, I was constantly looking at my watch and recalculating when I had to leave, what I was doing next, and how I was going to get from point A to point B. The therapist told me my obsession with time was about having something I could control. Now with my children, I try to take into account if a situation makes my kids feel unwanted, rejected, unimportant, or abandoned. I can go through tons of scenarios in my head because of my education of how each thing can affect them. Oh it is just so much fun (Laughing hard)!

I’ve met so many amazing moms and dads along my path. I’ve seen how healthy family dynamics create beautiful atmospheres for kids. I’ve also seen no matter how great a family is, no family is perfect. This is what keeps me from feeling like a failure when things don’t go how I thought they would. We are all here doing the best we can do with the information and situations we have. Parenting can be a struggle, especially the more aware we are.

One thing I try HARD not to do is judge other people’s parenting. My belief is that we are all having the exact experiences we need to fulfill our purpose. I’ve seen kids who have grown up hard become amazing advocates and voices for change. I’ve seen people who grow up privileged help and/or hurt others. No matter how a person grows up it will create lessons and blessing for the people who cross their paths. I need to focus on my part. What can I do? How can I contribute? What seeds are important for me to pass on?

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This piece is just a reminder that no matter what path we are on as a parent, we all will have times of struggle. It’s not healthy to beat others or ourselves up for not being perfect, because no one is. Our children have to have things go wrong. That is how they get tools for life. As a parent, we simply can do the best we can to protect, love, and honor their journey. I know one of my struggles is remembering it is their journey. We are here to give them all kinds of seeds and see what they do with them. We can watch them create their own garden. They may have to do some heavy weeding and even lose some of their best flowers and trees, but they will learn.

I want to teach my kids that the lessons are a necessary part of life. The trick is to learn from them and don’t become a victim of fear and pain. My hope is that they keep taking chances, making mistakes, and trying new ways to find the path that is right for the life they individually want. There is no time limit, just keep moving in the direction of a positive and rewarding life. I want them to learn not to attach to the fears that hold people back.

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I recently needed the reminder, so I thought I would put my thoughts down on paper reminding me to give myself a break, keep moving in a positive direction, don’t judge what others are doing, and I’m a good mom. I love my kids.  I’m doing the best I can, struggles and imperfections included.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff ©2018