Breaking the Cycle of Toxic Relationships

  
I followed the cycle of my parents and married into an unhealthy relationship. I remember the anger, yelling, fear, and eggshells. Trust was constantly questioned and life was in upheaval. This was no way to live, but what was worse, I was showing my son how to treat women and my daughter how to be treated by men.

I don’t blame my ex for this. We both were apart of setting up these toxic roles. We both had to accept the roles in order for the relationship to last as long as it did. I found myself treating him in ways I would never treat my partner now. I was just as much a contributor to the toxicity. It is never one-sided. I did it differently then he did, but if I was healthier than he was, I wouldn’t be in the relationship. I know this part may be hard to read, at least it was for me when the concept came into my life. So much so, that I didn’t even realize the seed was given to me over and over, said in different ways, in different arenas, and with different purposes. It was never spoken directly to me about my situation. It was something that would take a lot of time to digest. 

If I didn’t play the part assigned there would have been no relationship.In order to break free of the cycle, I had to find peace inside me and know that change was possible. I saw examples in my relationships with my mom and dad. They both did a lot of healing, and their lives both changed for the better. They both developed healthy relationships with themselves and their new partners. I knew, I had to be strong enough to apply it to my relationship with my significant other. 

When I was ready, things started to change. It was as simple as that. The changes didn’t happen as quick as I would have liked while I was in it, but looking back the timing was perfect. I learned everything I needed to learn in order to grow.

As I am preparing to layout my first book, so many memories of my process of recovery are coming to the surface. I have been reading my past writings and all I want to to is share my path to freedom from my own personal prison. Realizing that I had the key all along is what set me free. 

I used to be scared to leave. What would happen to me? What would happen to my kids? I would be completely alone. No one was going to want a single woman with two small children. I was a pre-school teacher who worked part-time. I didn’t have the means of supporting two kids on my own. I was a failure in my mind; trapped! 

I lived that way for too long. I didn’t even realize how long I was in my own prison until years after I was out of it. Being able to look back, I see how the process went. I see the seeds that were given to me and the ones I planted. 

One of the seeds came from reading Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Mastery of Love. I’m actually re-reading the book now for the second part of my series “Learning from Don Miguel Ruiz”. 

“You are no longer a child, and if you have an abusive relationship, it is because you accept that abuse, because you believe you deserve it.”

Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love p. 41

In order to stop the abuse, I had to know from the core of my being that I deserved better. Not better of him, better of me. I started taking actions to find peace within me. I found friends, Al-Anon, and a spiritual base. When I started doing the next right thing to take care of me, the Universe opened up and miracles started happening all over the place. Some of them were disguised in struggle, but I get tears in my eyes thinking about how it all worked out so much better than I could have ever imagined. 

The trick was not to focus on the fear. When I focused on the fears it kept leading me to take more fearful actions. When I focused on self-care and love…

My life changed! 

  • My living situation presented itself in a way I would not have considered before. 
  • The time to leave revealed itself without me trying to force it. 
  • I went to college and got my degree. 
  • My kids are in a safe and positive environment. 
  • We go on lots of adventures.
  • We have an amazing community of support around us.
  • I am mentally,spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthier than I have ever been.
  • My kids are surrounded by examples of what true love all around them. People communicating without name-calling, be-littling, or shaming. People who support each other’s dreams and don’t tear each other down. 

I was lucky enough to see early on change is possible. That seed has helped me in so many situations. When I chose to water it and let it grow, it became like the Ficus tree; forever growing and changing. Sometimes the branches need to be thinned out so it has the energy to spread and lay down more roots.

I’m getting excited to see what the Universe has in store for me now. I hope you come on the journey with me! 

With Love and Graitude, 

Rachael Wolff

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Photo credit: Rachael Wolff

3 Powerful Lessons I learned about the Law of Attraction

Along the road of self-discovery, I have stumbled across 3 jewels in understanding the law of attraction. I had to go through some very hard lessons to find them, but under all the muck and gruel, there they were; little diamonds. When I first learned about the Law of Attraction, I didn’t understand the POWER my the choices, emotions, thinking, and  all the patterns that came with them.

1. Power of Prayers

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Each prayer attracts lessons and/or blessings. How we pray is important to what we will attract. Every inner conversation has the same power as a prayer. Be careful of the energy that is being put in. If we pray from a place of “not enough”, we will create a life that is not enough, and/or be exposed to lessons that give us the opportunity to see that we are enough; life is enough; the world is enough. The lessons will give us the opportunity to change or submit to the messages we are telling ourselves. When we enter prayer with loving energy, we are blessed in some way. The key is we have to stay present to spot the blessings. If we do that, more and more will be brought to us.

When we pray for the people who hurt us, we are sending a love into the darkness. The more loving energy we can send out, the more we invite into our lives. This shows up by noticing that the negative people start to fade away, and they take a back row seat in our lives. When we wish no evil on anyone, no evil energy can penetrate us. When we wish evil and feel hate we are apart of the same energy we are fighting against. It is counterproductive. When we pray with compassion, we are helping to heal the world.

When prayer is out of desperation, because we are in physical, mental, and/or emotional pain it is VERY IMPORTANT to watch our prayers. We are in the midst of a powerful lesson; how we pray matters. We have challenges to overcome. We may ask to be healed, but the healing may be in a different way than we thought about. Part of our purpose might be that we have a physical ailment, emotional and/or mental challenge, or a disease. Our purpose may be about spreading awareness, finding a cure, or overcoming mental anguish around our ailment. We have NO idea! This is where I learned to change my prayers. I started asking for help:

  • Fulfilling my purpose
  • Understanding the lesson
  • Healing my thoughts
  • Doing the next right thing
  • Focusing on things to be grateful for
  • Finding reasons to love myself and others

Changing my prayers in these simple ways has transformed my prayers and the power behind them. Now they are focused on what I truly want to attract to my life.

2. Being Aware of Inner/Outer Dialog

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The Power of Can’t

I laugh at myself every time I say can’t.  Don’t want to try and/or don’t want to do it is more accurate. Can’t is attracting energy in two different ways:

  • Using the word and language of can’t establishes limitations on what we CAN do. It sets up an invisible force field on what we will allow and/or attract to our lives. It gives us an excuse not to focus our energy on how to bring the possibility to our lives.
  • Focusing on the energy of can’t may bring some challenging lessons in what we can do. When people use phrases such as, “I can’t survive this”, “I can’t make this work”, and “I can’t live without…” it also may be asking the Universe to give us a lesson in showing us exactly what we are capable of doing and/or handling. These hurt to go through, but they have been my greatest gifts when I am ready to look at them from a loving perspective. These lessons are about what we want in the bigger picture. If we are asking to be stronger, braver, wiser, and in service to humanity, we need these lessons to show us how.

Avoiding the Thought of Never

When we put out the energy of Never it WILL have a lesson, because we are focusing on a negative energy. When we say, I will never be with a cruel, unhealthy, negative or abusive person, we are focusing on the energy that will bring them to our lives. She/he may present his/herself in a different kind of relationship than they did before, but the relationship will show up if we don’t change the dialog.

Focusing on What We Don’t Want

It is extremely important to focus on what we DO want. If we find ourselves saying, I don’t want… I don’t want him/her to do… I don’t need this in my life. Oh boy, watch out; get ready for a very bumpy road ahead. Sometimes we need to be challenged in order to see what we do want. Be grateful for the lesson, forgive them and yourself, and move on. If we choose to stay in the negative energy, we will repeat the same patterns and lessons until we get it. This can last a lifetime for some people. It is up to us how long we want the same lesson to last. Breaking patterns and attracting loving energy takes practice and a lot of work. Depending on how long we have been embedded in the negative energy, we may feel out of our element for some time, but keep the faith. Every time we hear ourselves saying or focusing on what we don’t want, we have an opportunity to look at it in a new way. We have to find the words and mantras that give power to what we do want.

3. Investing Time in the Right Places

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When presented with life’s challenges, we have a choice. We can put our time into the problem or the solution. If we truly want to learn from our circumstances and transform the energy into something better, we HAVE to invest our time wisely. If we are obsessing about the wrongs of others and ourselves, we are not helping anyone. We are attracting more of that energy to our lives.

If we know, we don’t want an abusive person or something negative in our lives, question what that looks like. What does a healthy person like? What do healthy people do? How do they treat others? How do they talk to their parents, friends, co-workers, and family? Really dive in and figure it out. Research healthy relationships if you don’t know what they look like. How do healthy people communicate? How do they express feelings? What love language do they speak? There are plenty of resources out there. This will transform you into becoming a person that another healthy person would be attracted to. We will always attract the energy we are putting out.

We need to invest our time in the energy we want to be attracting to our lives. Here are a few ways I have taken the initiative and invested my time and energy into the blessings I want to attract to my life.

  1. Gratitude lists
  2. A Can collage: This is a jar or can, focusing on the energy of what I CAN do. I cut out words from magazines that described the person I want to be and what I want to contribute to the world. I glued them all over the can inside and out. Then I write myself notes: I need to work on… I am proud of myself for… I want to learn about… I am doing ________ in order to reach my goals.
  3. Vision Board: If we are visual learners it is important to see what our vision is. I cut out pictures of the lifestyle I want to attract. My inner dialog must match my vision if I will be successful in attracting outer goals.
  4. Read, watch, and focus on the subjects that will help me focus on the life I want. I love audiobooks, books, blogs, and positive messages to keep me focused on the energy I want to attract. It would be really easy right now with the bombings, politics, educational systems, prejudices, and hate to focus on the problems, but it doesn’t fix the energy that is creating the problems. I have to face those things with love or I’m contributing to the what I don’t want. Focusing on the negative energy will only create more. I try to figure out how to focus on love to come up with solutions to spread a more loving energy. I only can give what I have inside. I need to make it count!
  5. Lists: I make list of what I want and make sure everything is in the affirmative. If all I know is what I don’t  want, I think about what the opposite looks like. The lists help me figure out what healthier choices and thoughts look like and they help me to shift my language and behaviors.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

Please check out other articles on FromAlovingPlace.com , and join me on facebook.com/fromalovingplace (click on the red words to get to the sites mentioned). Let’s focus on meeting life’s lessons from a loving place!  I hope you will join me on this adventure. Please feel free to like the page on Facebook and send me a message. I would love to hear from you!

 

5 Lessons in Personal Growth

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On the journey of self discovery there are some key elements we learn on the way, but we don’t always read about them in books. We all have our own journey and our own landscape to develop. We have our own personal taste to account for. Not everyone’s garden looks the same. We each have our own ideas on what looks right together and how we want it to flow. It is not our business to judge other’s journeys. Enjoy the landscape you create and let others have room to develop their own. You will have plenty of opportunities to give people seeds, it is up to them if they want to use them. A few things seem to be the same for all personal growth. After many attempts in breaking old patterns and developing new ones, here is what I have learned:

1. Personal Growth is a Process

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When we are ready to change, we tend to jump in with both feet and expect drastic results in a short period of time. This is NOT how it works. Personal growth is much like the process of planting a seed. First, you have to obtain the seed, then you have to find good soil to plant it in, then it takes a combination of care techniques to get it to grow properly. Some plants and/or trees need direct sun, and others need indirect sun. Every plant needs water, but some require less than others. We are as unique as the varieties of plants and trees that grow in the Earth. The process takes time. Just like any other type of life form, when we are sick, it takes us time to heal. We have to allow ourselves the time to form healthier habits and break old patterns. Some of the patterns have been embedded for generations. That requires a lot of undoing and changing of patterns. Give yourself time, be patient, and understand the process is different for everybody. Different methods will work for different people. The best way to know which way will help is to sample many different ways of learning. The ones that feel right will work for as long as they are supposed to, then it will be time to try something else. Some, like water for a plant, will remain essential, others will be able to fade away and change.

Doing too much at once is never a good idea. We tend to burn out and the seed can’t be brought to life. It takes awhile for unhealthy patterns to take hold, and it takes awhile to grow into healthier patterns, routines and habits. The process may seem slow, but think about the amount of time it takes to grow a garden from scratch or how long it takes for a tree to stand tall. Allow yourself the time to break one unhealthy pattern at a time while strengthening  the positive attributes you already have within you. Stay present in the process, it is the greatest gift of the journey.

2. Everything We Read, See, and Hear is a Seed

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We are given tons of seeds throughout the day. We choose which ones to keep and which ones to toss out. The longer we hold onto them, the more eager we are to collect more that will grow with the ones we already have. When we are given seeds of hate agendas, we can choose to plant them or throw them out. The most important thing to know, it’s our choice! We don’t have to plant every seed that is given to us, the stronger we become on this journey, the less we will plant. We will discover over time that we are in control of how things affect our lives. Be watchful about what seeds you are holding onto. When we put too much energy into them, they will begin to grow.

3. Everything We Say, Write, Think, and Do is Planting the Seed

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This is an important lesson, and one not to be taken lightly. We are the only ones who have control over which seeds are planted and which ones grow. We can choose loving ones or fearful ones at any moment. No actions come without benefits and consequences. We need to take responsibility for the seeds we plant. That includes the ones that were given to us by abusers, racists, narcissists, and overall miserable people. We can choose to believe and feed the hate and lies or we can rise above. Some people thrive on feeding us seeds of hate. Industries make fortunes on it, some want us to hate ourselves and others want us to hate others. Our reaction is we get the choice to plant it or throw it away. When we can see the person with compassion and forgiveness, we are throwing hateful seeds away and planting loving ones. When we are reacting in fear and hate we are holding onto it; we are planting that seed. The stories we tell our friends and family, is planting our seeds and giving seeds to them. What seeds do you want to give to your loved ones?

4. The Energy We Put Into Upkeep Determines the Health of Our Garden

IMG_2897Self-talk is the key! It all starts with the messages we are feeding ourselves. It will determine if we are going to grow seeds from love or fear. Our internal hate messages can grow some ugly gardens, filled with weeds, strangling plants, and poisons. If we are hurtful on the inside we are giving the people around us the seeds from our personal gardens. We are blaming, shaming, and overall spreading pain. We all have combinations of species both healthy for the life in our garden and/or destructive. Which one has the majority in your mind? The more we can treat ourselves with love, the more seeds of love we have to give out. We all know what spreading hate looks like, but do we truly understand how much power we give it by engaging in it?

Healthy seeds become flowers, food, healing remedies, shade, and oxygen. We can feed the world with our choices. We can also hurt more than we can even imagine. When we learn to have love and compassion for those around us and learn to forgive, not for the other person but for our own garden’s growth, miracles are born and flourish with the seeds of hope.

5. We Can Pull Weeds, Trim Trees, and Get Rid of Dead Weight at ANY Time

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No one has a perfect garden, if we were perfect, our journey here would be done. That is how we learn. We need to give ourselves a break. The most wonderful part of it all is that we can change the look of our landscape at any time. It is all about the work we are willing to put in. If we chop down an unhealthy tree without digging up the roots, it can still poison the foundation for new seeds to grow. Undoing the old patterns takes time to unearth. Understand, you are not perfect and everything that happens to us offers us great lessons. Sometimes it’s about how we will use it to help others. Other times we are exposed to things we need to see in order to break unhealthy patterns. We get what we need, trust the process. Your pain does not have to be in vain. It can give the world beautiful gifts of hope.

You may need to re-visit unhealthy roots that you thought you got rid of. They may reappear, so that you can dig deeper. In the end, it will be a gift, but it can feel more painful than you ever thought you could handle. Once it has all passed, look back; you survived! You are strong! Just keep pulling those weeds, tearing up the roots, and re-building a healthier space.

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If you are interested in planting more seeds of hope and love, follow From A Loving Place on Facebook and join me on my journey here. Find voices that ring true for you. Life can be an amazing adventure when we feel through the pain into awareness. Trust the process and be kind to yourself. Now, go create the garden of your dreams!

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

**Every photo except the orchid picture was taken on 3/18/2016 at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida by Rachael Wolff. The orchid picture was taken a few weeks back.

Bring On 40

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“Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research.”

-Carl G. Jung

Today, I’m 40. I have been looking forward to this day for many reasons. First, I made it!!!! Yes, I had some sketchy years that made me question if I was going to make it to 40, but I did it. I survived it all! In my darkest hours, when I begged God to take me, I was left here. I questioned, what did I do to deserve this? Why me? Why does God hate me? Will this life get any better? Why am I doomed to be miserable?  I spent my teenage years hating myself so much that I didn’t believe I deserved a place on this planet.

I had no idea I was being carried through those years. Now I see the gifts I received to get me through. The people, the AMAZING people, who entered my life at that time. It is overwhelming to think about them now. I was given SO many growth opportunities; SO fast. I didn’t know my own strength, but I got through, and I survived. I had an army of support. I just didn’t know it. I was so wrapped up in feeling alone, you couldn’t convince me otherwise.

Throughout most of my 20’s, I was career focused. I found a place as a sales trainer on stage and traveling; the two things I loved most. From the outside, I was living the life. The problem was, I relied on everyone else telling me how great I was. Their opinions are what mattered. If I spoke in a room with 1,000 people and five didn’t like me, those were the five I based my value on. I studied drama in high school. I knew how to become a different character without any problem. When I was on stage, I was on. When I was off stage and the curtains were drawn, I was a mess. I was one sick puppy. I was addicted to a horrible type of power and control. My intimate relationships were a direct reflection of how I treated myself. It got so bad, one bled into the other. I sabotaged my career and went on a five year downward spiral. This is where I learned humility. I lost my identity and became the labels of wife and mom, but there was no me in sight. November 2008, I was sent an Earth Angel.   A woman entered my life as an answered prayer. That was the beginning of me discovering who I was buried underneath all the layers.

More AMAZING miracles came into my life, they were disguised as incredible and strong women. These amazing examples gave me the courage to look at myself, and say YOU ARE WORTH IT! March 9, 2009 was my 33rd birthday. I was so sick of my situation. I was done blaming everyone else, it was time for me to take back my life.  That was the day, I walked into Al-Anon. It was there, I began to look at the unhealthy patterns in my life and started getting the tools to undo the mess I created. I kept being led to read books that would have profound effects on my life. I worked hard, and I was determined.

A month after turning 35, I left my old life behind. I moved, became a single mother, and  began school that fall. These last five years have been full of learning. Only this time, in a much healthier and less traumatic way. I have learned a lot about myself on this journey. Now, I get to share what I have learned with you.

Today, on my 40th birthday, I am me. I know and love the person I have become. It has been a long road, but well worth it. I am grateful for EVERY piece of my journey, because without each and every lesson, I wouldn’t be me. It was through my struggles, I learned to be compassionate towards others. It is through my pain, I found my inspiration. It is through all my tears (which is A LOT) from joy and/or sadness, I found my passion. So, I say bring on 40!

Thank you for sharing this journey with me. I feel truly blessed.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

 

Letting Go of Happily Ever After

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I stopped trying to find “happily ever after”. I learned to understand that it belongs in those one to two hour fairytales that I watch on screen. I realized, I didn’t see the person in front of me when I was focused on the unpredictable forever. I would create a story of how a partner should be. He should react this way, when I do this. He should buy me flowers. He should choose me over fill in the blank. Why can’t he be more like that? Just writing this ties my stomach in knots. I should-ed these poor men to death.  I have no idea how they could say I was needy…choke, choke, choke. My expectations were completely out of whack with reality.

I didn’t know any of them. I knew who I wanted them to be, to fit into what my fantasy of “happily ever after”. I didn’t want any of them for who they actually were. You wouldn’t blame me if you knew some of them, but I wanted to be in that fairytale where the woman saves the man (hold on a minute, laugh break). I had no idea how ugly this tale turns out in reality. Even though, I have plenty of examples of healthy relationships around me, it took me years to break free from the toxic formula of my mom and dad’s relationship. They both went on to have healthy, beautiful, and different kinds of relationships.

My dad and my “other mother”, were together for 21 years until his death. I remember being in my teens or early 20’s when they explained to me that they were happy now and they enjoyed each other’s company, but if it ever came to place where they didn’t, they would set the other one free. They didn’t want a piece of paper telling them they were tied together, their souls told them that. They exchanged rings and committed to each other, but not legally. I have never been against marriage; I know many wonderful, healthy married couples. This touched me, because it fit them perfectly. What I realized, they didn’t focus on the fairytale; they focused on the moment in front of them.

My mom stayed single for a very long time. She spent a lot of time working on herself to ensure she wouldn’t repeat the old and unhealthy patterns of her previous relationships. When she met my stepdad, she was perfectly happy and content living the way she was. She wasn’t missing anything. They were two whole people. I am fortunate to see them on a daily basis and watch how they communicate with love after 18 years. Do they have their disagreements? Of course, but they don’t use the past as a weapon. They stay present, and work their way forward together.  They maintain their own individual identities. They are just as strong together as they are when they are apart.

Seeing the three different relationships of my mom and dad, dad and “other mother”, and mom and stepdad helped me to see relationships operate in different ways. It helped me to not judge other people’s relationships and compare them to mine. Each relationship comes with its own lessons meant for the couple in the relationship. Two people come together for different reasons. I realized that two people could make a toxic couple, but can go off to have healthy relationships. Sometimes, it is the toxic relationships that help us appreciate the healthy ones.  I know I had to go through all my relationships to learn who I was and what was right for me. It took quite a few, but I am grateful for every one of them. Each one allowed me to dig a little deeper and learn a lot more about the person I was, and the person I wanted to be.

For a long time, I hid from my own challenges by finding partners I viewed as sicker than I was. We would both be on a path of bettering ourselves, but I would feel like I was ahead of them (BIG LAUGH). I had no idea, I was as sick as they were. I would stay in a relationship until, I was truly in a place that didn’t match their energy. When I gave up “happily ever after” and started focusing on what was in front of me, I naturally had a healthy relationship come into my life. I have slipped into brief periods of letting other people’s fantasies of our relationship get into my head, including my children’s. When I do that, it doesn’t feel right, and I stop focusing on what is right for us. I’m happy, I’m aware enough to catch myself in other people’s stories of who they think we should be. I know it is not ill intentioned, I know they speak from a place of love and what feels right for them. It doesn’t mean I have to attach to it. If I get angry, insecure, sad, excited, I’m attaching to it, and it means I need to look at what truly feels right for me. Some elements may stick and others may not.

The relationship I have now, is right here and right now. That is what works for us. We are happy and we enjoy each other’s company. In the almost two years we’ve been together, we haven’t called each other a name out of anger, and we communicate when things aren’t sitting right in our heads. We give each other space to be individuals and support each other’s dreams. We definitely don’t agree with everything, and we are very different in the way we do things. The difference, we respect each other’s differences and laugh about them a lot. To me, it is so much better than a “happily ever after” illusion. I see him, and I love him. He is not expected to be anyone else in my head. Do I know if this love story will last forever? No, and that’s ok. I know it is here now. I know, I’m happy now. I know, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Today, I let flowers bloom. I know they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing, without any expectation to be something different than what they are. Appreciate the differences in others, learn from them, and figure out what is right for you. When two flowers are meant to bloom alongside each other, they will. Notice,  in nature each has their own space to grow separately, each needs a healthy root system, if not, they smother each other. Then, neither flower/plant/tree has space to grow, and they both struggle to survive.

The energy we give our own roots is important to how we will share space with others.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

 

 

People Act Differently Based on the Strength of Their Inner-Worth

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People act differently based on the strength of their inner-worth. If we are reacting to someone else’s negatively, it means it is time to work on building up our own. Treat yourself kindly; you are your greatest strength.

Our lives shine when we can:

  • Look at people’s actions from different perspectives- Love is kind. If someone is not acting from kindness, what is going on? Are they really mad, hurt, sad, or confused by me or by what’s going on inside them? If I reacted to their actions from a loving place, how would that look? How would I feel?
  • Question how we are choosing to see things- Are you looking at the situation from a love or a fear based angle? How are some other ways I can see this?
  • Check-in with ourselves when we react to other people’s behaviors- Why am I feeling this way? How does their behavior reflect on me?
  • Look at what is happening to us from different perspectives- Lose a job, relationship, or suffer an injury: Maybe there is a lesson that will lead you to a life greater than you ever imagined. Open yourself up to learn from it and see what happens.
  • Love ourselves wholeheartedly!

With love, peace, and gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

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

 

 

Give Yourself the Love You Deserve

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“Thoughts are like data programmed into a computer, registered on the screen of your life. If you don’t like what you see on the screen, there’s no point in going up to the screen and trying to erase it. Thought is Cause; experience is Effect. If you don’t like the effects in your life,  you have to change the nature of your thinking.

Love in your mind produces love in your life.”

-Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love p. 24

I was scanning Facebook, and I kept seeing articles and memes about love and relationships. I saw very few on being in-love with ourselves. No relationship will cure a lack within us. Believe me, I have tried. It always ended the same way, and I kept repeating the same cycle for a long time.

If we have an expectation of someone else, it is usually because we are not giving ourselves what we need.

When we don’t take care of ourselves spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, we start taking it out on those around us. We expect them to do what we are not doing for our own well being. If we respect ourselves, the people we are with will have no other choice than to respect us too. Why? We won’t allow otherwise. Our boundaries of how we will let someone treat us will become crystal clear, and it will not be done with force.

If we find ourselves having to use force, we still have work to do. Something inside us is still feeling insecure. Our energies will only attract like energies. If we keep attracting wonderful people to our lives, it is because our energy is aligned with theirs.

If we keep attracting people who we feel hurt by, it is because we are somehow hurting ourselves. How do we change this? How do we make our already good relationships even better? How do start attracting the relationships with family, friends, and significant others that we want?

We have to nurture our relationship with ourself. Yes! Be the very person we want to see in someone else. This is not just a throw-a-way line. Many people think that if we are nice to others, we should EXPECT that in return. NO! We can’t expect others to do anything, but what we can do is EXPECT that of the way we treat ourselves.

Self-love creates healthy boundaries for all relationships. We put out an energy that tells people how to treat us. We will not accept people being cruel to us. We will be able to walk away from the situation in a loving way. This doesn’t mean we will walk away from a person just because they are having a bad day. It means that their behavior won’t eat at our foundation. We will not let their thoughts about the world alter our loving core. If they are hurting we will be able to give them love, because we will know that their hurt is their journey.

We won’t even attract cruelty anymore. There is a energy force field that surrounds loving energy and it only grows and expands. Will we have bad days? Yes! Will we slip into old behavior patterns? Yes! Will we be given new lessons that we didn’t even know we had coming? OH YES! The kinder we are to ourselves during our slips tells us how far we have come and how much farther we have to go.

If we can’t treat ourselves as special as we want someone else to treat us, there is a problem. It will keep coming up until the lesson is learned. Taking the plunge with ourself doesn’t ensure that we will all the sudden meet our life long partner, but it does mean, we can enjoy the relationships that are presented to us. The lessons will be softer and recovery time will be shorter.

I have been amazed what a year of truly being committed to myself did for me. When I started treating myself right, I was able to give more of myself to others. The best part, I don’t hold it against them. If you want to read my personal journey about this please read my post, “Discovering the Meaning of Love”. All I know is that when I invested the time in myself, my world changed.

For those of you who want a more substantial love life, I invite you to have a love affair with yourself. Do something nice for yourself. Treat yourself as good as you are willing to treat the people around you.  Make it special! If you can put the effort into someone else, you can definitely put the effort into you. Visit me on Facebook and tell me what you are doing for yourself. Enjoy the love affair. This is a relationship worth investing in!

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.