Friday, July 15, 2011
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
It is when you are willing to listen to yourself and be fearless that figuring out your next step becomes easy.
Our lives are made up of a complex network of pathways that we can use to move from one phase of life to the next. For some of us, our paths are wide, smooth, and clearly marked. Many people, however, find that they have a difficult time figuring out where they need to go next. Determining which next step will land you on the most direct route to fulfillment and the realization of your life purpose may not seem easy.
There are many ways to discover what the next step on your life path should be. If you are someone who seeks to satisfy your soul, it is vital that you make this inquiry. Often, your inner voice will counsel you that it's time for a change, and it is very important to trust yourself because only you know what is best for you. Personal growth always results when you let yourself expand beyond the farthest borders of what your life has been so far. When figuring out what your next step will be, you may want to review your life experiences. The choices you've made and the dreams you've held onto can give you an idea of what you don't want to do anymore and what you might like to do next. It is also a good idea to think about creative ways you can use your skills and satisfy your passions. Visualizing your perfect future and making a list of ways to manifest that future can help you choose a logical next step that's in harmony with your desires. Meditation, journal writing, ta! king a class, and other creative activities may inspire you and provide insight regarding the next step in life that will bring you the most satisfaction.
It is when you are willing to listen to yourself and be fearless that figuring out your next step becomes easy. Beneath the fear and hesitation and uncertainty lies your inner knowing that always knows which step you need to take next. If you can allow the taking of your next step to be as easy as putting one foot in front of the next, you'll notice that your next step is always the one that is right in front of you. All you have to do is put one foot forward and on the ground.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
We hold onto material objects because we think they make us feel secure, when in reality they are cluttering our lives.
In life, we tend to have an easier time acquiring possessions than we do getting rid of them. Just as we harbor emotional baggage that is difficult to let go of, our lives can tend to be filled with material objects that we may feel compelled to hold on to. Most people are not conscious of how much they own and how many of their possessions are no longer adding value to their life. They fiercely hold on to material objects because this makes them feel secure or comfortable. While itâ€™s true that the ownership of â€śstuffâ€ť can make you feel good for awhile, it seldom satisfies the deep inner longings that nearly everyone has for fulfillment and satisfaction. It is only when we are ready to let go of our baggage and be vulnerable that it becomes possible to recognize the emotional hold that our possessions can have on us.
Itâ€™s not uncommon to hold on to material objects because we are attached to them or fear the empty spaces that will remain if we get rid of them. Giving away the souvenirs from a beloved voyage may feel like we are erasing the memory of that time in our life. We may also worry that our loved ones will feel hurt if we donâ€™t keep the gifts theyâ€™ve given us. Itâ€™s easy to convince ourselves that unused possessions might come in handy someday or that parting with them will cause you emotional pain. However, when your personal space is filled with objects, there is no room for anything new to enter and stay in your life. Your collection of belongings may â€śprotectâ€ť you from the uncertainties of an unknown future while keeping you stuck in the past. Holding on to unnecessary possessions often goes hand in hand with holding on to pain, anger, and resentment, and letting go of your material possessions may help you release emotional baggage.
When you make a conscious decision to fill your personal space with only the objects that you need or bring you joy, your energy level will soar. Clearing your personal space can lead to mental clarity and an improved memory. As you learn to have a more practical and temporary relationship to objects, positive changes will happen, and youâ€™ll have space to create the life that you desire.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
When we honestly ask which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand.â€ť
â€” Henri J.M. Nouwen
The Helping Tic
Are you a compulsive helper?
How does one stop trying to save others, stop being a martyr and start taking care of one's self?
I don't know about you but it seems that I have inherited CHT (chronic helping tic) from my mother. My youngest sister might have a touch of it, too. Honestly, so do at least half the women I know.
But over the course of my 50 years, I've learned the hard way that my gratuitous guidanceâ€”no matter how well intentionedâ€”could just possibly be misconstrued as, well, a tad annoying. I've also learned that when my assistance wasn't met with the response I anticipatedâ€”at least a small thank-you noteâ€”it hurt.
So, several years back I decided that the time had come to cure my CHTâ€”not by helping less, but by becoming more mindfully helpful. I will train myself to think before offering aid, and to provide it only when people really want it.
I devised a challenge: For 30 days, unless I was asked directly (or witnessed someone in need or CPR), I will keep my helpfulness to myself.
On day one, I woke to a text message from a friend whose life falls apart on a semi-regular basis: "My life is falling apart. Again."
Normally I would have called an emergency life-reassembly meeting at a Tim Horton's of her choosing. But I stopped, right there my fingers posed in mid air over my cell and told myself " Wait a minute. You know this really wasn't an emergency.
Real emergencies aren't conveyed via text message. And because my friend's calamities are usually existentially exaggerated in natureâ€”a general sense of ennui, a crisis of faith, a sudden rash of cynicism about free willâ€”there's rarely anything I can do to solve them anyway.
Still, I couldn't help thinking that if she didn't need my help, she wouldn't have texted. I felt my CHT flaring up.
So I tried something new. Instead of helping, I sought help.
Now, whenever I get the urge to help, I should ask myself, If I never receive credit or thanks for this favor, do I still want to grant it?
I confessed to myself that what I really wanted, deep down, was to hear my friend tell me, "I knew you'd say the perfect thing."
Feeling sheepish, I snapped out of the fantasy and texted my friend: "I'm so sorry to hear that. I hope things get better for you soon. xoxo." Then I spent the morning worrying that I was a pitiless porcupine.
Later that day, another friend e-mailed to share the news that the poetry press she'd launched had just gotten its first media attention. My immediate impulse was not to wish her many happy returns, but to shoot her a list of all the other media outlets she should contact. I was halfway through my list before I realized what I was doing. I deleted and started over.
"Congratulations!" I wrote. "I'm so proud of you!"
The prospect of composing a comprehensive public relations plan on the spot had made me so jittery, my pulse was racing. But the sense of calm that followed my decision to write a more appropriate e-mail got me through another 24 hours CHT-free.
By the third week, my helping behavior had become less automatic.
The few favors I did along the way were carefully chosen:
this was the right kind of helping. "It's important to learn the difference between helping out and butting in," she says. "Butting in is often a product of the giver's sense of righteousness or insecurity, and it is neither wanted nor appreciated by the receiver. Helping out is a gift that comes from the heart."
And that was what I wantedâ€”to be driven by my heart, not my emotions. My month of restraint had allowed me to make that shift.
The experiment also paid off in other, unexpected ways.
One night after yoga class, I got into a conversation with my teacher and learned that she was single. I was dying to play Cupid, but I held my tongue. The next day, she sent me an e-mail, asking me to keep her in mind for setups. Now that she'd reached out to me, setting her up would mean doing a favor that she'd requested, as opposed to embarking on a self-appointed mission. I wouldn't feel the usual pressure to prove myself because I had never claimed that I would find her the perfect man in the first place; I had merely agreed to try. I liked the prospect of low-stress helping.
A few weeks after the end of my 30-day trial, my friend of the existential crises called, crying. Love was masochistic, she said. I listened to her list of romantic troubles. I didn't tell her what to do, or even ask leading questions. I didn't fan the flames by mirroring her outrage. I made just enough noise to let her know I was there. And I realized that in the absence of suggesting, solving, and fixing, my listening skills had greatly improved. After ten minutes, my friend took a deep breath and exhaled. "Thank you," she said. "You made me feel so much better."
And so it goes Now instead of "jumping the gun" solely using my emotions to help those who in actuality need to help themselves, are quite capable of helping themselves I've learned to be more the listener and only "step up to the plate" when asked. Still feel the need to help, but doing it more as a life coach is far better than "meddling" Who'd a thunk it.
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