Falling in Love With My Authentic Self…

Every year, I find myself evaluating my life’s journey as my birthday approaches. This year will be the last year in my thirties. I don’t think 40 is that old, now that I’m sitting so terribly close to it. I look at all the things I have experienced over the last 300+ days of my 38th year and try to evaluate all the ways I could have been a better person, while quietly celebrating the times I am sure I did my very best.

Looking back I see the mountains I have had to overcome.

Dissolving the lens I once used to look at myself, helped to initiate a sudden series of revelations. Removing this lens allowed an opportunity to meet my true self. At first, I began to see who I had always been. The innocence that I thought I had lost, resurfaced, reminding me that it had never left. The curiosity, I used when exploring my world as a child, gained intensity. The biggest inner transformation occurred when I decided to accept all of my mistakes.

Mistakes are allowed!

I mean all of my mistakes, the big ones, the small ones, the consistent mistakes, and my future mistakes. I forgave myself with the most simple of intentions. I recognized that I was already forgiven, the only living soul without sin, the man with a flawless record, had not only forgiven me, he painfully & selflessly sacrificed his body without deserving any of it. He took my lashings, he bled for me. He wept for me. He died for me.

Worthy of this kind of love & sacrifice.

If he could forgive me, then it would be a “perfect” thing for me to also forgive my past transgressions as well as any future transgressions. I thought deeply about his physical sacrifice, the pain he endured on my behalf. All so that I could be saved, and instead of choosing to live within this gift of eternal blessings, I was choosing to live in the physical pain of sin. He knew long before you & I were ever born that ALL humans would need this absolute forgiveness. I started chipping away the deception I had lived in most of my life. The idea that I wasn’t enough. A lie! The idea that I was not created with a purpose. A lie! The idea that I was set to live out the path my mother had cleared for me. A lie! The idea that I couldn’t be a messenger for God because of my sins. A lie! The idea that my soul was lost or confused. A lie! I began to rebuke the lies. I began to tell myself the truth. I began to love myself, not in a selfish way, but in the way I could finally see my soul as not being perfect, but as a soul that was formed and yet still worthy of His only son’s sacrifice. You are worthy of forgiveness and that was why such a huge sacrifice was necessary, a perfect sacrifice for a multitude of sins.

Covering a multitude of sin…

With a large dose of truth & pure light I began to forgive myself… I noticed that I was no longer just a blossom, but a beautiful bouquet of self-love.

I will write my own story.

This past year has awakened me in more ways than I ever thought possible. Each day bringing new & welcomed challenges, as well as a new level of self-awareness. Becoming self-aware unlocked some deeply buried potential. This higher-level of awareness began to absolve the negative lens I had used to view my life. Looking back now, I can clearly see that this had been the singular lens in which I had been looking through while trying to find purpose in my life. It is difficult to find your truth and your purpose when the view is covered in lies (the negative lens).

Vision blurred by deception.

I became acutely aware of boundaries I had permitted to be crossed and broken, I became aware of my detachment from the meaningful parts of life, and learned of the places in which to apply necessary boundaries. I searched myself for all the pain and injury from my past that I had allowed to reside in my spirit, and began to write eviction notices. I had carried them all for far too long. Childhood trauma, you can leave! You are evicted. I don’t need you. I can take care of myself now, as well as I take care of my own children. (This required a lot of forgiveness and a huge release of carried resentment that I felt as it physically detached from my spirit.) I grieved each time I evicted past injuries. I had to intentionally set aside time to forgive the people that I felt had taken advantage of my kindness, my innocence, my goodness! I had found that I had subconsciously held onto this pain for most of my adult life as justification for my own errors. I had been living life like some sort of weary traveler, loaded down with negative feelings, thoughts and emotions.

In moments of despair, remember you are already saved!

I now have a greater understanding of myself & that there will always be things that I encounter that I will try to hold onto, and I can at times be better served by just relenting my control. If you are like me, you may try to control most things in your life, so to release this control can be very challenging. Learning to let things go can be a painful exercise, understanding that we are unable to direct specific or certain outcomes can be comparable to cutting off one’s own leg. I had to figure out where my ability to change things began/ended. The moment I became aware of myself and the parameters of my influence. I began to better understand and give proper respect to the outermost boundaries of my influence. This helped me relinquish the control I once held onto so tightly. A firm grip is not long lasting. My firm grip would soon lead to the loss of any type of grip allowing moments for everything to spiral out of control. I’d find myself completely exhausted, waking among the aftermath of the storm, I had created.

Aftermath…

I didn’t know how to find me, and instead of broadening my search, I kept looking in the same old places. I kept looking for me in other people. No one knew what I was looking for or that I had felt I had been a missing person. It was easier not to explain my search… not to ask who they thought I was? Secretly, I would search my surroundings and people I had been around to find what I alone had been hiding. Who am I? What did I want? What was my purpose?

🦋🦄

For the longest time I couldn’t distinguish between the things I’d done to please others versus what I actually wanted. I know I’ve made decisions in the past prescribing to a life that is better for everyone. These decisions however wise, left me feeling proud and yet confused. Some passing moments or events would cause me to question my motives. It was only when I would seek the stillness and the quiet that I could realize my purpose. I’d realize my heart. Some memories swirl tirelessly there. Kept guarded internally, so I can keep them safe. The heart/soul, is a vast container of all that is good, it holds everything that is dear, it also contains and provides love.

My mind can often be confused by the sacrificing of self, (My flesh). It is only when we have removed the flesh can we discover our spirit. My soul will seek to understand His will, my self will seek to understand my own will. When I relinquish control now I do so confidently knowing that my purpose is to fulfill His will and not my own. Remarkably, with this understanding you realize nothing brings greater spiritual fruit. My own happiness grows through acknowledging my spiritual purpose. Love Abides in me and I am in Love with who “I Am”!

🥳 39 years young!

Praying for peace during these uncertain times! Remember, you belong, you have a purpose and know that you are loved! Thanks for reading!

A N G E R

Responding like a stoic…

Is anger a good thing or a bad thing? Anger, when first recognized, is actually just simply a warning. A signal from your amygdala blasting throughout your brain, sounding an alarm via chemicals, that warns your body that something is not right. Message received as, “there is a present threat and there is a possibility to fight, flight, or freeze.” Anger can therefore be seen as a natural response to external stimuli. It is a response that was designed in humans to help protect us in perceived dangerous situations. After reading what Seneca wrote on Anger, I concluded that he deduced that anger wasn’t natural, that reasoning was natural. The truth is, it requires more brain function to engage the logical areas of the brain. Leaving me to believe, emotion is more natural than thought.

The emotional response happens automatically. This emotional part of our brains (amygdala) is so much more developed than the logical part of our brain, which is known as the prefrontal cortex. The emotional part of our brain has kept us alive, reacting to the world without much thought to consequences, other than one that is primal, “Stay alive!” While this much developed area of my brain has kept me alive, it has also assumed for far too long that it is in charge. I have now learned that the prefrontal cortex can be trained/stimulated so that it can show the amygdala whose boss. Seneca was then saying that allowing our emotional brain to just run rampant in our lives wouldn’t be natural. The natural thing, the “good thing” is to have what we call In DBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, your wise mind always aware of what your amygdala and prefrontal cortex are doing. After studying stoicism and understanding that Cognitive Behavior Therapy was designed using stoicism. I can see how it’s philosophy is also helpful in The therapy I am currently receiving now. That this higher order thinking, being cognitively aware is the practice of stoicism. “through Stoic training, Aurelius was able to master his perceptions and see each obstacle as an opportunity to improve”(dailystoic.com) mastering our perceptions, added with the knowledge of how our minds naturally respond will help most manage anger.



You can find some exercises for the prefrontal cortex below…

https://heartmindonline.org/resources/10-exercises-for-your-prefrontal-cortex


If you have read any of my previous posts or know anything of Borderline Personality Disorder, becoming a stoic is changing the natural way in which my BPD brain will more than likely over respond to the difficult to digest external stimuli. Like black is to white, BPD is to stoicism. The way in which one chooses to respond to this automatic alarm system is what I believe answers our question today. When anger is triggered inside the mind, it is neither good nor bad. It is not decided until we respond.

Anger, shows duality, with the possibility of being both good and bad. Stoics believe that there is no good with anger. They were told to see that there is no good, because of all the “evil” it created. They want every stoic to believe that there is no good to be found in anger. I see the justifications of their message. A calm and sound mind, not writhing with “passions” can be controlled. One drowning in anger or other “passions” cannot. So then, if looking at it from this perspective, serenity isn’t the final goal, but rather control. Or does control get us to the place of serenity? I have had moments, in which I have given into passions of anger and it has kept me alive. So isn’t it necessary to be alive in order to be serene? Can we have one without the other?

I absolutely want to be a stoic sage someday, using this higher-order thinking to get through the most complicated of situations with clarity and peace of mind… I’m left perplexed at this particular question. While I understand what the stoic philosophers were trying to convey to their followers in those times, teaching people to seek serenity. Being calm and collected leads to logical thinking and sound decisions. I have also experienced anger on several levels. Ultimately, anger has ensured my existence during some pretty tough times. More recently, I find that I am just angry at myself and my mistakes and this anger has propelled me to find better ways to manage myself, my disorder, and my life. Has it been pretty? No, fighting my way to this point hasn’t been pretty. I feel that’s why we are all built in this way. There is no way to determine which human will be placed in prime conditions and which will be placed in tough conditions. The emotional tools we are equipped with may not be dispersed equally, but we were all equipped with the ability to learn. I choose now as I am on the verge of entering my forties, to learn this higher order thinking. Working a portion of the brain more and more, so that my logical mind becomes stronger every day. My ultimate goal being serenity in this deeply maddening world.

I had a discussion with my students the other day about anger. One student said, “as a kid, my counselor told me not to show my anger, but to keep my anger to myself.” I felt that wasn’t a very healthy way to teach a young person to deal with such an intense emotion. I asked him, “How has that advice worked out for you?” My student responded with, “I’m still trying to find a useful method to control my anger.”

I then asked, “what if we started looking at anger differently?” A lot of puzzled stares looking back at me. I then said, “what if we started looking at the positive ways in which anger can be of use to us? Can anger be of use to us? Can we manage it? Or do we let that emotion manage us?”

What if we started looking at the positive ways in which anger can be of use to us?

What are positive ways anger has helped you?

Can anger be of use to us?

Can we manage anger, or do we let anger manage us?

Emotions indicate so many things for an individual, learning to understand our emotions and why we choose to respond in certain ways, increases not only our emotional intelligence but the control we possess over ourselves. Why then should anyone just ignore this emotion, anger? Especially, when anger is often the first emotion we go to when life gets confusing, or when we are afraid, when we feel threatened or rejected.

“Anger is temporary madness: the Stoics knew how to curb it” By: Massimo Pigliucci, here he states 10 ways to curb anger! Maybe one of these can help…

  • Engage in preemptive meditation: think about what situations trigger your anger, and decide ahead of time how to deal with them.
  • Check anger as soon as you feel its symptoms. Don’t wait, or it will get out of control.
  • Associate with serene people, as much as possible; avoid irritable or angry ones. Moods are infective.
  • Play a musical instrument, or purposefully engage in whatever activity relaxes your mind. A relaxed mind does not get angry.
  • Seek environments with pleasing, not irritating, colours. Manipulating external circumstances actually has an effect on our moods.
  • Don’t engage in discussions when you are tired, you will be more prone to irritation, which can then escalate into anger.
  • Don’t start discussions when you are thirsty or hungry, for the same reason.
  • Deploy self-deprecating humour, our main weapon against the unpredictability of the Universe, and the predictable nastiness of some of our fellow human beings.
  • Practice cognitive distancing – what Seneca calls ‘delaying’ your response – by going for a walk, or retire to the bathroom, anything that will allow you a breather from a tense situation.
  • Change your body to change your mind: deliberately slow down your steps, lower the tone of your voice, impose on your body the demeanour of a calm person.

My Conclusion: I thought about anger for an entire week. Oddly enough it kept me from getting angry. While I may not have answered the question for everyone here, my answer is… Anger, like all other emotions is necessary. It is neither a good or bad thing. To let it get out of control is bad. To see what it can do for us when we need it to survive, is good.

Have a great day! The end! 🙂

A game that could help improve logic… Chess

**Wanted to include a huge thanks to @dailystoic and @stoiccoffeebreak for wonderful podcasts! Thanks for stirring good thoughts and inspiring and motivating me to change the things I can control. Check out their podcasts if you are learning on the stoic philosophy.

The Paralyzing Aspect of Anxiety… (Self-Help Saturday)

Anxiety…

The article above explains why repeated exposure to places, or events may help us manage our intense and anxiety-ridden feelings about those situations in a more confident manner.  This article supports the idea that allowing something to become habitual makes it a less stressful event.  The thing that most people do when met with a situation that creates a feeling of anxiousness or fear is to avoid it, so the feeling of vulnerability doesn’t overwhelm their senses.  Science says that one way to beat it, is to expose yourself to it, repeatedly.

I can remember being an elementary student that feared speaking at all, much less speaking in front of a classroom full of kids… I believed that this role took a very courageous individual.  I felt like all of my teachers must have been superheroes.  To be so confident, all were able to speak so freely and with so much authority.

ross teaching

I felt at that age, I would never be able to speak in front of people; however, I grew up. I had to take speech, sing in choir, and do some news anchor intern stuff for a college class.

old teacherEventually, after some time, I was the person standing in front of the classroom speaking to all of those  kids.  The crazy thing here is… I still feel like that elementary student at times when I am asked to speak in front of the same amount of adults.  I know where this fear stems from and I also know that I have the ability to overcome this fear.  I will overcome this fear with more exposure.  Just remember ANXIETY is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.  We control so many other feelings, why do we let anxiety control us? Consider this anxious feeling I have about public speaking being comparable to paralyzing stage fright.

stage fright

There are several things that we may be asked to do throughout our day that could awaken overwhelming anxiety.  After all, anxiety is an emotion.  We can handle the emotions that bring about good feelings, and in life we learn to avoid those that bring about bad feelings.  The trick here is to learn what causes theses overwhelming emotions, be present when you are feeling them, and if need be take your mental focus to something in the situation externally that is more pleasant than what you are feeling internally.

I know that being bitten by a poisonous snake is something I have always feared.  I don’t imagine I will go handle snakes over and over until I am milking a viper.

viper milk

This fear doesn’t halt my everyday existence.  I know that each time I take a hike up a mountain or through high grass in a field someplace there is a chance that I will come into contact with a snake.  It doesn’t control my actions, I have a healthy fear of snakes.  There are those that are controlled by the emotional leash of anxiety.  This emotional leash of anxiety is one you can choose on how you would like to respond. It shouldn’t stop you from living.  Don’t become the pet on the end of the leash of anxiety.  We should remind ourselves that we are the owner.  The one in charge.  Thoughts and emotions shouldn’t paralyze us, ever.  Everything is always so much more aesthetic in theory and so much easier to say than to act on.  As I write this, I know how hard it will be to practice.  One step at a time, I don’t plan on jumping into a pit of snakes anytime soon.

Use your time to practice controlling that emotion.  If we can release the control it has over us by exposing ourselves to the things that limit our everyday existence.  Imagine all of the confidence gained from growing through the intense emotional control.  Be over anxiety, by allowing the feeling to pass.  Practice this and very little will be able to stop you.

Do you struggle with anxiety?  What are things that has halted you in your steps?  Have you ever tried to immerse yourself into that feeling to see how long it took for the feeling to go away?  I am asking for a friend.

Have a great day!