Archives for posts with tag: character defect

Ripples

Image courtesy of winnond/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Back in the day, I would thought that title referred to a cheap bottle of wine that was being passed around a circle of friends who were engaging in a bit of “social drug use.”  Today it has a totally different meaning for me. One of the Facebook  “posters” I shared this morning (accessed 1/1/2014 at PreventDisease.com) urged people to spread happiness as a candle shares light. A wise friend replied to my posting with this comment: ” It [happiness] just spreads like ripples from a thrown pebble.” That left me wondering, how can I live my life so that I create at least one positive ripple a day? Today’s blog will be focused on trying to answer that question for myself.

I hope what I write and share with others in these blogs and on my church Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Christ-Episcopal-Church-Cape-Girardeau-MO) will be able to create a positive ripple here and there. It is harder for me to spreading happiness with my actions—-by what I say and do. Since I am a “professional communicator” I sometimes prefer introverted solitude when I am not focused on helping others. Granted, I need a certain amount of that for “self-maintenance.” But,  when does self-maintenance turn into selfishness?

Obviously, I need to take  a quick inventory of actions I’ve taken in the past few days that have had the potential to block or create positive ripples. First of all, on the “negative” side of this inventory are the actions I took that isolated me from others even after I had sufficient time to “re-energize” myself. There were calls to friends I did not make because I did not want to let them know I was feeling just a bit depressed after this last trip home.  Although I did not drink, I found solace in  eating pistachios alone in my self-imposed fortress and rationalized the entire time  I was eating them that they were full of healthy antioxidants and fats. Some would say my refusal to do laundry, clean house, or wash dishes  were expressions of negative energy that blocks “positive ripples.” Others would say I was demonstrating signs and symptoms of a mild depression.

On the positive side of this inventory are the twelve step meetings I’ve attended and in which my presence and comments actively supported recovery—-as did everyone’s there. Giving my phone number to a new comer, offering  long distance solace via telephone conversation to friends experiencing emotional anguish, meeting a friend for lunch and “catching up” on our friendship, writing these blogs, and, finally, calling a friend this morning and admitting I am depressed—-all of these actions were related to positive ripples/outcomes…..probably more for myself than anyone else.

Looking at this inventory, it is obvious to me that I spread more “positive ripples” when I socially interact with others and less when I indulge in my character defect of isolation. One important insight this “exercise” has given me is the knowledge that meeting face-to-face with others allows their “positive ripples” to have a positive effect on me.  Granted, interacting with my four dogs can have that effect to a certain extent, but not to the extent talking to another human being face to face can.

I abhor New Year resolutions. I prefer  relating to one day at a time outcomes. So, today, I accept that I need to seek the company of my fellow two-leggeds on a regular basis even when I feel a very strong urge to isolate. I need to do this every day, one day at a time or my retirement will become, as it does for many, a descent into isolated depression. Yes, I will be attending a sixth step discussion group tonight.  Happiness is a choice, and if I want to continue traveling a spiritual path, I need to do what it takes to support that choice. For me,  that means besides seeking the company of others and continuing to take my anti-depressant medication as prescribed.

Thanks for letting me do a little “self-therapy” in regards to this “spread happiness” idea. May God bless and keep you.

Why

Image courtesy of  Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Asking Why

“Don’t let your will roar when your power only whispers.”

—– Thomas Fuller

(accessed on 12/5/13 at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/thomasfull151926.html)

That quote brought an uneasy chuckle to my lips and had me shaking my head more than once. I hate it when some quote hits me between the eyes like this one did. It means I need to listen. I need to pay attention.

This one made me think about all the times I’ve wasted in my life being willful and repeatedly trying to do or fix something  all by myself when I actually had no power to do so. I’d like to think I’ve “grown out” of this character defect, but the truth is I still can get caught up in my own stubborn self-will more often than I like to admit.

In two meetings I’ve participated in this past week, the topic of “asking why” was a topic of discussion. I often enjoy asking why and trying to figure out what makes something do what it is doing. And, yes, I can use asking why as a smoke screen to keep myself from focusing on what I’m going to do about a problem rather than wasting my time analyzing it to death.

Somehow understanding something gives me a sense of control, of being “safe,” if you will. If I understand the answer to why, maybe I can avoid encountering the same problem or situation again in the future. This line of reasoning, comes from my upbringing because I always wanted to know why I was getting in trouble and why what I was doing was wrong. I was scolded for “talking back” when I would ask why, so now, being the emancipated elder adult that I am—–I still love having the freedom to ask why. Actually, when I was a small child, my “why question” may have been the safest way for me to disagree or rebel. So when I ask why in the present sometimes I can get caught up in asking why because of my allergy to authority.

That last sentence brings me back to today’s quote—–when I feel my power is threatened  (especially by an “authority” outside myself) I often  explode in “self will run riot”. My response is very much like whistling in the dark with my “roaring will” to cover up and/or hide from myself the fact that I am feeling powerless threatened. I know in my soul God uses my feeling powerless to make me teachable and right-sized. It can force acceptance and initiate healing.  But knowing this can, for me,  be far removed from actually letting God do His magic. I have to focus on “feeding my willingness” to surrender, let go, and let God. One of the ways I do this is by reminding myself of something I’ve been telling clients for years—-“knowing why is not as important as figuring out what you are going to do about it.” Real wisdom comes with the realization that “what I’m going to do about it” is turn it over to God so he and I can work on it together.

I am slowly learning to trust God rather than getting bogged down in intellectualizing, asking why, and otherwise rebelling. I am learning to trust what God is creating in me when I am willing to release a character defect—-which, in this case, is my willingness to stop rebelling against my lack of control/power, to willingly ask God for help, and to accept that help. I am learning to trust that when I give up something has always been one of my problematic ways of reacting to life God will create something better to take its place. When I can practice surrender and acceptance rather than rebellion, worry, and fear it is amazing how much more easy and peaceful my life is!

I hope all these meandering words will make sense to my readers. I hope some of you will comment about the role “asking why” plays in your life. May God bless and keep you.