Life is Like … an uprooted tree

Uprooted treeD.H.Lawrence described humanity as being like an uprooted tree with its roots in the air.

“We are perishing for lack of fulfillment of our greater needs.

We are cut off from the great sources of our inward nourishment and renewal.

We must plant ourselves again in the universe.”

tree for life

I think many people feel like uprooted trees in today’s world.

When we make the decision to plant ourselves once more we become nourished, rooted and interconnected.

Each of us can do this for ourselves and support others in finding inner nourishment, renewal and connection to our life source and Spirit.

I call it Findng Your Middle Ground.

Namaste

The 4 A’s for Fulfillment

I hope you enjoy this inspiring re-post today.

ooOoo

Photo by Philip Justin Mamelic on Pexels.com

The 4 A’s for fulfillment are some basic needs that we all have as human beings. I like to think of them as essential elements for the wellspring of life.

They are:

~ Attention ~

~ Appreciation ~

~ Affection ~

~ Acceptance ~

Take a moment to reflect on how you feel when someone offers you these things:

When someone pays attention to you, listens and is truly present with you…

When you feel appreciated for who you are, and someone thanks you…

When you are given affection and feel loved…

When you are accepted for just the way you are, despite not being perfect…

I know of a parent who intentionally punished their child by withdrawing her attention and ignoring her. She stone walled and turned her back in order to show her displeasure if the child didn’t do as she was told.
Can you imagine how this child felt, being rejected like this? Its no surprise that as an adult, her life became totally absorbed with filling the void within her. She craved attention and desperately needed to be appreciated. She was hungry for signs of affection, and yearned to be accepted by others.

Knowing the 4 A’s for fulfillment can help us understand our own motivations and support our healing from times in the past when these essential needs were not met. When we were small, we didn’t have the ability or insight to know what was happening, but we deeply felt the consequences.
Now it can be a gift to ourselves, to become more kind and compassionate to the small wounded child within us.

It can also be a powerful gift for us to give to others. It builds relationships and connection. It makes people feel good about themselves.

Notice if you find this difficult, neutral or easy.
If it’s difficult for you to give to others, then it might reflect your own need to give more to yourself. Fill your own wellspring so you can share with others.

Release the Need to Save People from their Problems

Release the Need to Save People by Sanaya Roman*

”You can dissolve obstacles to love by releasing the need to save people from their problems. You can love others as your soul does by allowing them to be responsible for their own lives.

Taking care of others, worrying about their lives, and solving their problems can occupy so much of your attention and emotions that you have no energy left to put into your own life and spiritual path.
When you stop saving others, you can release any resentment you might feel for all the time and energy you spent on them.

When you save others, you can become a victim when they do not use your help in the way you would like, when they continue to create similar problems, or when they expect and demand that you continue to save them.

Learn to recognize when you are helping others because you feel that they do not have the strength or ability to solve their own problems.
When you feel an urge to help people in a way that will “save” them or take away their lessons, stop!
You may find that your desire to help others really comes from your own need to feel better and to have less concern and worry about their problems.

Assume that people have the ability to solve their own problems, even if you can’t see how they will. While your soul is interested in assisting people, it does not interfere with their lives. It allows people to have their own ideas, to live in whatever way they choose, to learn from their mistakes and to achieve their own successes.”

“Sometimes pain and suffering are necessary. No one can grow for us.” ~ Author unknown

This has been a profound lesson for me on my spiritual journey. When we recognize that we have a need to rescue others, or need other people to need us, we don’t allow them to have their own experience and to grow as human beings. It also diminishes our ability to connect at an authentic soul to soul level with others.

The aim of Yoga is to bring the mind to a state where we can see clearly without distortion of the truth

In Yoga, aparigraha or non attachment is one if the most difficult observances on our path to enlightenment. As a practice, it is usually focused on letting go of material objects and not being greedy or grasping. However, it can also apply to our thinking and in relationship to others. With self inquiry we can start to explore the motivations and thinking behind our actions and interactions in the world. Some questions to ponder are:

Am I grasping for attention … recognition … appreciation… to make me feel better about myself?
Am I interfering or trying to fix other people in an effort to fix myself?
In preventing them from feeling pain or being challenged, am I keeping them from growing?

While we are compassionate towards others and support them on their journey, it’s important to honor them and their experience, and allow them to grow through their own self inquiry.
The need to save others can keep us attached and prevents us, and them, from becoming truly free.

*Soul to Soul (p. 114). Monkfish Book Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The Power of Empathy

Enjoy this re-post about the power of empathy, especially in difficult relationships.

oooOooo

One of our fundamental needs as human beings is to be heard and to be accepted as we are. Take a moment to recall a time where you were going through a hard time and someone empathized with you. How did it feel? Pretty good I expect…

When someone empathizes with us we don’t feel judged; we no longer feel alone; we feel understood; we become calmer; we usually feel better and are more able to handle a difficult  situation.

empathy babies

Empathy is a powerful tool for connecting to another person in an open loving way.  It feels good to us, yet how often do we intentionally empathize with someone else … especially when someone is angry or frustrated?
Marshall Rosenberg writes in his book “Non Violent Communication; a Language of Life“ how it can be especially difficult to empathize with those who appear to possess more power, status or resources and those who are closest to us.
One of my favorite take aways is:

“Empathize, rather than put your “but” in the face of an angry person.”

When we want to help we tend to jump in with a “but” and a “fix” for the other person. Yet empathy is more powerful and empowering.

He writes: “I continue to be amazed by the healing power of empathy. Time and again I have witnessed people transcending psychological pain when they have contact with someone who hears them with empathy.”

Why not increase your ability to empathize with this exercise:

Over the next few days see if you can empathize more with those people who are closest to you, colleagues at work and even your boss.frustrated man at work

Really tune in to what they might be feeling and reflect back what you are sensing they are going through.

Here are some examples of reflecting feelings statements:

It sounds like you are really frustrated about this

I can see that this is tough for you

I can’t imagine all that you are going through. It must be so hard

I’m sensing that this is scary for you

I hear that you are concerned

It sounds like this is a real challenge for you

 but in your faceIt sounds so simple, yet can be hard to do in that moment. So instead of putting your “but” and point of view in the other person’s face, empathize with their situation and reflect what they might be feeling.

Give the gift of feeling heard and understood.

 

Living the Way a River Flows – or Not

river flows

“I’d love to live the way a river flows carried by the surprise of its own unfolding”

~ John O’Donohue

Me too John. Me too.

When we are healthy and whole, our mind and body is able to adapt and adjust to what daily life brings.

However, sometimes things happen in our past that really shake us up and we feel we have little or no control. For people who have experienced trauma, the body and mind are forever alert, and often keep re-living the experience.

Trauma stays with us. Our bodies becomes sensitive to potential dangers and can be triggered into a fight, flight or freeze response. Our bodies are the holder of the memories that our minds cannot face.

For trauma survivors, the river is a downright scary and dangerous place and they need to find a way to have some control again. They are being blown off course and need help to stay feeling safe.

I am not a therapist, but as a life coach and yoga teacher, I work with some wonderful people who have experienced trauma in their lives. The key is to find their middle ground and center of being. For them, life really is like a pendulum moving from one extreme to an other. Learning to slow down and breathe, pause and reflect, is a powerful and empowering practice.

Thank you to my dear clients for inspiring me to create this blog and to help others find their own middle ground. 💛

Namaste.

* Hyper critical

mother daughter conflict

Are you being hyper critical right now in relationship to one or more people?
Take a moment and consider… Are others consistently irritating you and annoying you?

When we become hyper critical it is usually because we are repressing a feeling … which is usually of resentment towards someone.

Are you resenting someone’s behavior towards you?

Has his or her behavior triggered you and touched a tender place where you don’t feel appreciated or loved? Perhaps there is an unmet need for respect and appreciation.

As human beings we all have basic needs: to feel safe, express ourselves, belong, feel loved and appreciated.

Perhaps you are playing the “martyr” game, a tactic of pretending that something is all right with you while subtly signaling that it is not, and possibly trying to make others feel guilty for their behavior.

Most of us are unconscious of this … its not something our ego is likely to acknowledge.

Taking time right now to acknowledge that this may be the case, will open up compassion for yourself.

See beyond the resentment and anger to the hurt and longing to be seen and loved for who you are. You are worthy of love and respect.

It takes courage to say what you really mean and put your feelings on the line.
Yet this is the only way to heal and move past the struggle.

 

* Needs and Kindness

“May we all recognize our own needs and have compassion for ourselves.

May we all see beyond our own needs and have compassion for the needs of others.”

isolation

These words came to me this morning.  As human beings we all need acceptance of who we are, to belong and feel loved, and to express ourselves in the world.

When these basic needs aren’t being met, we tend to become self protective, withdrawn and critical of others. It can show up as defensiveness, aggression and selfishness. We become judgers of a world that isn’t going our way.

We are so focused on ourselves that we forget that others also have needs and the same longings. In this place we are stuck in our own self centered world. We feel disconnected and separate from others.

When we pause, and bring our attention inwards, most of us will sense that something is off balance and we feel lousy. We may also recognize that we are not being kind to ourselves.

This is when we have a choice. To punish ourselves and judge ourselves for being like this. To continue to blame circumstances or other people for “making us feel this way” … or to accept that the feelings are ours, no one else’s.

It really is up to us to own our feelings. To acknowledge them and to see them for what they are. And then find compassion for the state we are in.

Behind every judgment are feelings and needs … and a longing for something that is missing.

As we resent or resist the feelings that come up, we lose connection with what is missing for us and our fundamental needs as human beings.

We lose connection with ourselves and others.

When we take time to pause and reflect on the needs that are not being met, and recognize our own longing for acceptance, connection and expression, a shift takes place inside us.

And we, and our world, become kinder once more.

needs and kindness

* Life is Like … an uprooted tree

D.H. Lawrence describes humanity as being like an uprooted tree with its roots in the air.

Uprooted tree

“We are perishing for lack of fulfillment of our greater needs.

We are cut off from the great sources of our inward nourishment and renewal.

We must plant ourselves again in the universe.”

tree for life

I think many people feel like uprooted trees in today’s world.

When we plant ourselves once more we become nourished, rooted and interconnected.

Each of us can do this for ourselves and support others in finding inner nourishment, renewal and connection to our life source and Spirit.

I call it Findng Your Middle Ground.

Namaste

 

* 4 Questions to Ask When We Get Annoyed

Recently, there has been some discussion going on between myself, Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way and Don at Candid Impressions. Its about what goes on when we  are triggered and get annoyed. I thought I would share my perspective and 4 questions that can throw some light on might be going on.

Judging shadow

When we experience discomfort, our basic human response is to look outside to see who is “doing it to us”.  It is a part of being human. We react and make a judgment about the other person. We may blame them, ridicule them,  put them down or attack them. We have labeled them “wrong” in our own minds. They are the “enemy”.

I believe that this is our ego’s instinctual way to defend itself and to maintain its vision of itself. The ego thrives in making itself look good to itself… and others.

Our ego’s role is to survive. Deflection and attack preserve the way things are. Preservation drives the ego. It’s always more comfortable being “right” than vulnerable!

When we react or feel triggered it isn’t really about the other person.

The actions or words of the other person have triggered something already inside of us.

If we want to grow and evolve, then we must take responsibility for our own feelings and become curious about what is going on within us.

It is our reaction. These are our feelings to explore.

Child looking at flower

I believe that if we ask ourselves the following questions, then we can get closer to our inner truth.

Taking a moment to pause and center yourself. Finding your middle ground and being present with what is alive in you, is the door to inner transformation.

Here is an example we can use to explore the 4 questions: You are in a group of people and you get triggered when someone hijacks the conversation and makes hurtful “humorous” remarks that puts an other person down.

1. How am I that?

This is the hardest and boldest question … as it makes us look honestly at ourselves. Is there a part of yourself that does this? Is this a blind spot you are unwilling to face?

Your ego may be shouting NEVER! I have never been critical or put others down! I have never grabbed attention! I would never use humor to bully someone else! I could never be like this! I am not that kind of person!

Is this really so…. With the wisdom of your years and perspectives on life … is this so…

Rather than denying this aspect of ourselves, be prepared to meet it. In doing so it’s hold on us will diminish. There may be real transformation, acceptance and freedom here.

2. How have I been hurt by that?

Have you been at the receiving end of this type of behavior. Perhaps you weren’t able to stand up for yourself back then. But you still feel the pain and injustice. If this painful experience is still alive in you, then give yourself empathy and compassion. Imagine you are like a loving grandmother comforting the young and vulnerable part of you. There may be some healing to be done.

3. What is the unmet need behind these judgments and feelings? What is missing for me?

When you react to this person, you wouldn’t want to be a person like that … but underneath it may reveal an unmet need that you have. Perhaps a part of you that isn’t being fully expressed. What could be missing for you? For example, an inability to speak up or assert yourself. Or a need for authentic expression. Or a need to be recognized by others?… There may be a valuable need of yours that yearns for attention.

4. How does this violate a core belief of mine?

You are witnessing something you wouldn’t tolerate within yourself. It goes against your own values and beliefs.

A word of caution here …. Note that option 4 is what your ego will always prefer. It stokes it and makes it feel good. It wants to be the champion and hero. Watch out for this one as a deflection strategy to protect itself from being vulnerable.

On the other hand, if it is a belief that comes from your inner heart and soul. Coming from love rather than fear. A core value that you live by every day. Then you are indeed seeing an injustice. Recognize it and choose what to do.

How can you channel this anger in a positive way? Transform it into powerful compassion. Use this emotion to make a difference and bring about what you deeply believe in.

So be mindful with all 4 questions … and listen to your inner wisdom and heart.

Be compassionate rather than righteous.

Be open rather than closed.

Namaste

 

 

 

* Water Those Roots

Here we go … with more gardening metaphors for life. Lets face it,  you can’t keep a grateful gardener down 🙂

water those rootsAs I watered my pots yesterday I realized that we take the blooms for granted and sometimes forget that its important to pay attention and water those roots. Plants need their roots watered so they can be their best. The strongest trees and the best flowers come from the strongest roots.

Just like our plants, we have needs that have to to be taken care of first if we are to grow strong and be our best selves.
Once our basic survival needs* are met, we have higher needs that are important for us to grow into being our best. These needs can take the shape of feeling loved in our closest relationships. Being counted on by our dearest ones. Being respected by colleagues. Being recognized at work. Being encouraged by friends. Belonging to a great community.  Being free to make our own choices. Making time for rest and relaxation. Being able to express our thoughts and share our talents.

We rarely stop and look at our needs. There is a bit of a stigma there. After all … we don’t want to be seen as needy … right?

We may also judge others who are needy. Which often reflects on how out of touch we are with our own needs….

It can be a touchy subject, as acknowledging our needs makes us feel vulnerable.

Human needsBut needs are at our very roots. From the basic needs to survive with food and water, to feeling loved, to expressing our authentic voice in the world. We all have needs. They are part of being human.
We need these roots watered in order to grow and bloom fully. When those roots aren’t being watered, we become driven by the needs that aren’t being met. Just like plants, we can become weak and over extended…. or invasive into others’ space to take what we need from them.

Needs are part of a human condition. When we get them met, we can embrace our humanity and be fully authentic in the world. We can relax and get on with living fully 🙂

So take a moment here and consider how you can water those roots of yours.

I’ll be exploring more about our needs and getting them met in future posts.

 

* Survival needs include air, water, food, shelter, sleep and security.

* Is Your Soul Yearning for Less Drama?

snow white charactersAre you tired of all the drama and want it to end?  Most of us get to a point where enough is enough and we yearn for peace.

This is a long post today. If you are longing for the drama to end in the highs and lows of your life, then I hope you will find some helpful insights here.

Drama is so fascinating to me. We seem to be bombarded with it in the media and the blogging world, we see it around us at work and on the playing field, and we live it out in our own relationships. I was brought up to minimize drama … and later on found a whole new appreciation of drama when I married into an Italian American family….lol

Drama arises from conflict.

Conflict is a fact of everyday life, whether we like it or not. Its simply a condition in which people’s concerns appear to be incompatible with with an other’s. How we deal with it is an other story.

In fact it IS often a story!once upon a time

As human beings this happens … and what we do about it, is to create our own stories. We learn about this conflict drama early on in life in stories and fairy tales we are told. 

In classic tales, we encounter three types of characters: the victim (often portrayed as a damsel in distress or an innocent youth); the villain (a witch, giant or dragon); and the hero (the white knight or prince). Because we experience our own conflicts as stories, we unconsciously adopt these roles. Most often we see ourselves as the victim – innocent and powerless. The central character in the drama. Sometimes we play the hero in order to right a wrong. And occasionally we may slip into the role of the villain, venting our anger or frustration on another person. Together, these roles form a Drama Triangle”.

I think most of us can all relate to this … can you?

Of course, each person in the conflict has their own story. And this is where it starts to get complicated!

Our adversaries will see us as the villain and paint themselves as the victim, we in turn will defend ourselves and see ourselves as the hero. The drama will continue until a time when we can step back and observe what is going on. As long as we are in the drama, we will keep the conflict and going.

As the Victim

princess leia star warsWe experience conflict as an attack on our esteem or persona. We may see our values threatened or fear someone will take something from us and we feel victimized. When we feel victimized we need a villain to blame.

The victim role includes a sense of powerlessness. We may withdraw and wait for something to change or for someone to rescue us. Some of us will suffer in silence, while others with vent our frustration and blame.

The reward of victimhood is a significant amount of attention in the form of sympathy. We may also be lucky in attracting a hero to “right the wrong” for us.

Alternatively we can play the guilt card and hope that the other person starts to feel bad at inflicting pain on us and behaves differently. In this feeling of powerlessness, we also absolve ourselves of responsibility. We justify inaction by saying it isn’t our fault and the other person has to change. Powerlessness erodes our self esteem and leads to more resentment and frustration. By playing the victim we trade personal power for sympathy and ironically increase the stress and negativity we seek to avoid.

On a more positive note, the victim role reflects our goodness, sensitivity and compassion. The victim/princess rarely seeks revenge and facilitates reconciliation. These qualities are essential to escape the drama and adopt a cooperative approach.

As the Herofairy tale hero and dragon

Although we initially experience conflict as a victim, we often shift to hero mode to protect ourselves, defend our interests, and even the score.

The role represents courage and action, taking a stand and risking discomfort or judgment.

There is a darker side to the hero role however. That is the fine line between righteousness and self-righteousness. What we may see as clever, others may see as manipulative. What we see as taking charge, others may experience as controlling.

We can justify our own aggressive behavior by saying “they had it coming.” Based on actions alone, the hero is simply a self righteous villain. Some of us may appoint ourselves as heroes in the conflict of others. Though our intentions may be noble, this approach reinforces the helplessness of the victim and further entrenches the other person in the villain role.

As the Villain

rebecca as victim

Wait a minute, none of us want to be the villain! Right? We have labeled the villain as “bad”….. However, most villains come from a fear filled place. They will do anything not to become a victim again! We see villains in other people, but it is much harder to recognize how we take on this role ourselves. Most villains want to see themselves as a victim or hero in the story.

Villains traditionally capture and control the victim for their own purposes. This role can also represent the shadow or dark side of us that is mean spirited and vindictive. This dark side also includes the part of us that is mistrustful, controlling and manipulative. The villain acts aggressively, attacking and hurting others to get what they want. When we experience someone controlling us, we quickly cast them as the villain in our conflict story.

The behaviors of the villain are similar to those of the hero, distinguished only by how we judge them.

Internationally – and from US history – the same acts of violence against an existing power are seen by other ideologies as the selfless acts of freedom fighters. It depends on whose side you are on. One person’s justice is the another’s revenge. The villain gets a bad rap, but some qualities include patience, creativity and ingenuity (though we would probably call that behavior manipulative or sneaky).

Our conflicts become populated by a constantly changing cast of victims, villains and heroes:

  • The 3 characters in this story form a drama triangle.
  • There cannot be a victim without a villain.
  • Before we can become heroes we must have a wrong to right, and a foe to vanquish.
  • A hero needs someone to rescue (and that someone might be ourselves.)
  • If you see yourself as a victim or a hero, then you automatically create a villain and conflict.
  • When you see someone as a villain, they in turn will feel victimized by you – and see you as the villain.
  • Behaviors you see as self defense become attacks in their minds. And the walls of judgment and justification are buttressed on both sides.

Beyond the Drama

To eliminate villains from our conflict, we must be prepared to give up being a victim, and the sympathy and security this role appears to give us.

We also need to relinquish the mantel of being a hero, and the self righteousness that comes with that role.

We must also be prepared to see how we may have hurt others and have become unintentional villains!

The Drama Triangle produces a winner or loser approach, and we will battle ferociously to avoid defeat and claim the moral high ground (of the victim and hero). However, in the Drama Triangle there is no real winner. To end the conflict, we need to shift our perspective and our approach.

For the drama to end, we must recognize the role we have been playing, address the real issue and step out of the drama.

When we recognize the Drama Triangle we have choices:

1. To continue in our role and not take responsibly to do what we can to  work towards resolution.

2. To shift our perspective to one of  listening to understand what is really going on. Becoming the observer of the drama rather than a player.

3. To embrace that we are all human beings who want to be recognized, accepted and loved. What are the fundamental needs of each player? How do they each see the situation? How can we help them in getting their needs met?

4. Even if we have been cast the villain of this particular drama, then we can apply our patience and creativity to find strategies to solve the problem, rather than to blame and exact revenge.

5. If we are the victim, we need to let go of the sympathy from others and to no longer expect someone else to rescue us. Its time to turn our attention to what we can do for ourselves to get the help and resources we need.

Drama lives in our every day “ego” and media driven lives. Its a place of “me” “mine” and “I’. It’s a way of living that is about  “me” versus “them”. “Them” versus “us”. When we come to an understanding that we are human beings who share fundamental needs and values, that we are connected, rather than separated … then we can let go of  the drama and conflict.

Living in our own drama triangles prevent us from connecting with ourselves and living from our Middle Ground.

Take a moment to ask yourself if you are having difficulty finding your Middle Ground and being present – and consider if  you are engaged in a drama triangle in your own life …..

Where there is drama there cannot be true peace.

* Finding your Middle Ground – What Gets in the Way?

I write about finding that place of connection, contentment and peace in the highs and lows of life. I call it your Middle Ground. When you can spend time in this space and connect inwards,  life comes into balance.   My journey, and this blog, is to explore finding how to come from this place all the time….. This morning I woke up asking myself “What gets in the way?”.

negative emotionsThere are several things that come to mind – the busyness and speed of our lives; how we are caught up in external expectations and the stress from work, economic circumstances and family relationships…..all the things we have no control over but we feel are controlling us.

However, the bottom line is that it is our mind and our thoughts that gets in the way. Our thinking creates our reality. Its how we interpret what is happening that makes us feel stressed and anxious.

Just because we aren’t in control, or aren’t getting what we want, it doesn’t make it bad.

What if everything was neutral?

Right now its snowing heavily – this is the umpteenth snow storm this winter! I could make a judgement here and start ranting about how unfair it is. How the roads aren’t cleared quickly enough. I could complain about the number of snow days at school and how children are going to be left behind. I could moan about the driveway that we will need to clear if we are going to be able to get out. I could start to panic about global warming!

I could post this and ask people to join in with how awful this …. and create more judgments, negativity and charged emotions.

Our thinking creates our reality, and it impacts others too, especially when we tap into our human fears and basic needs to be in control, be heard and belong.

Do we want to contribute to peace and good will in the world or encourage the opposite? Our thinking, our words and our actions will determine this.

The neutral fact is that it is snowing.Teddy in snow

I could also create positive feelings and energy around it, by saying how beautiful it looks. Its a fairy wonderland out there. How often do we get to simply be with mother nature in her winter finest? Its a lesson on letting go and enjoying having no place to go. Its the opportunity to open a good book and snuggle in. The pups adore going out in it. They play and burrow and try to catch the snow flakes. Children are excited because this is the perfect snowman making kind of snow. Each snow flake is huge and wondrous!

When we are able to step back and be the observer rather than the judge, we are able to create our own reality … and in doing so impact those around us, and the world….

Its time to start shoveling. I recognize that I am pretty neutral about it now!