Thoughts and Questions About Suicide and Depression: Part 2

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In case you missed Part 1, here it is. 

My response to my friend:

I have finally gotten some time to reply to your last reply. Instead of trying to make excuses about how busy I have been, I’ll spare you the sob story and just dive right into responding.

First, I am so sorry you have to deal with all this. I wish I could take this pain and struggle away from you so you can enjoy your life. I am thankful, though, that you were willing to reach out to me. I feel honored, really, that you chose me to talk to and I sincerely hope our talking makes a difference.

I don’t know how many yet, but I have a few favors to ask of you throughout this process. By favors, I’m mainly going to be asking you to shift your thought patterns ever-so-slightly to see if it makes any difference. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with you—I love you right where you’re at and just the way you are—I’m simply going to offer a different perspective perhaps. By the way, if I make some assumptions about your thought processes and I’m wrong, I apologize. Just disregard what doesn’t suit you and try to use what does.

My first favor to ask of you is this: would it be possible to shift your thinking from judgment to curiosity? My assumption is you have a constant recording playing in your mind on repeat that is full of judgment. Over and over again you’re telling yourself you’re unworthy, not good enough, a failure, etc. This continuous judgment goes on day after day and it comes in many voices (some you may recognize and some you may not).

The reason why this is my number one favor I’m asking of you is because I believe curiosity was the biggest thing that helped me. I’ll explain how: I decided to go on a journey to figure myself out. I obviously had been telling myself a story about my experience up to that point. I carried around so much judgment of myself, of family and friends, of everything really. It wasn’t until I truly was curious that I slowly sensed some relief.

I’ve heard it said we can only connect the dots of our lives by looking backwards. In order to do this, we have to give ourselves permission to be curious and then stubbornly give ourselves self-love throughout the process. I believe that going on a journey of the heart that is full of curiosity and free from judgment takes boatloads of courage. It’s a journey that requires vulnerability because we may have memories we would rather leave in the past.
Here’s a good question to ask yourself often about your thinking: Am I being curious or am I being judgmental?

Just the initial question, “I wonder what that’s about,” instantly shifts your perspective from judgment to curiosity.  Think of it this way; your son throws a temper tantrum and your gut instinct is judgment (“he shouldn’t be acting that way!”). But instead of judgment you try being curious (“I wonder what he’s going through right now? What could he be struggling with?”). Can you see how the two different perspectives make a huge difference? One way is sharp, cold, and dismissive while the other is warm and caring.

I use a child in the example because most times we are dealing with our own inner child. Even though we are all grown up and expected to act like adults, our inner child is the one driving the bus most days of our adult life. Offer your inner child the same amount of curiosity and warmth and I promise you she will start to offer you warmth and kindness back. As much as possible, turn down the volume of your judgment and turn up the volume of your curiosity.

I believe your statement in your short response about feeling very alone and completely irretrievably broken is a wonderful place to start being curious. I think it’s wonderful and beautiful that you’re willing to be open and honest about your story.  And, trust me; your story has so much hope and power behind it. I understand you have been working through real deep matters of shame, abandonment, heartbreak, blame, abuse, forgiveness, resentment, and many more I’m sure.

You may not feel strong, but the reality is you are amazing and strong. You have endured a past that most couldn’t comprehend and yet you’re still here, still trying, still putting one foot in front of the other. Is it easy? No! Is it perfect? No! Is it understandable that you’re struggling? Absolutely!

So please, my number one favor I’m asking of you is that you move away from judgment and move towards curiosity.

Along with being curious, and along the same lines of losing the judgment, I’m wondering if you could increase the dosage of empathy and compassion you give yourself every day. You have done the best you can! You have endured so much and have come so far. Offer yourself the same empathy and compassion you may give to a child who comes to you in need. You may struggle to see your own worth. Give yourself empathy and compassion. I know, I know, easier said than done. But can you see how it all starts with moving away from judgment?

You have done the first hard reality-check. You have taken account of your situation and it’s not a good place to be in. But here’s the thing, at least you can better orient yourself now that you know where you are. You have done the brave thing; you risked being vulnerable and told someone that life isn’t perfect and you’re sick of it. What a beautifully brave thing to do!
I’m not sure why, but there’s something written in our DNA that wants us to be happy and healthy. We are born perfect and whole and then our conditioning and upbringing causes us pain and heartache. We are constantly trying to get back to that place of perfection. You instinctively reached out to me because deep down you know things aren’t right. You also have a tiny glimmer of hope that things can get better. Trust this instinct you have. Stay curious about it. How did it get there? Where does it come from?

One last favor and I’ll leave you alone (for now). Can you please not give up? Can you trust me enough to believe me when I say you ARE worth it?!? I would be a complete fool to try and explain why life allowed the pain you experienced over the years. I don’t have the first clue why these things happen to some and not to others. But the main reason I don’t want you to give up is because I’m eager to understand why you have endured all you have. Only you can find a purpose and a meaning behind your pain. Only you can rewrite the story of your life from one of tragedy to a story of triumph. Only you can share your authentic story with others and create a better world for those who have endured similar heartache as you have. Only you can take away the judgment and shame you hear in your head every day and shift it to genuine curiosity and eventually loving acceptance. Only you can offer all these insights about yourself to me. I am intrigued and I am interested to hear what your curiosity discovers. So please don’t give up and know that even though you may feel alone at times, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!

I’m eager to hear back from you and I hope you have a great rest of your week!

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My friend’s response back to me:

I like what you wrote. I do believe questioning, trying to understand instead of just seeing the surface is MUCH more beneficial.

That being said, the truth is, I don’t blame or judge myself for where I am. And I have asked myself many questions, and it’s actually in finding the answers to those questions that I’ve gotten angry. I’m angry at my past, and I’m angry at the people who have damaged me.

And I ask myself, why did it have to happen to ME?

Why was I born to such a shitty mother?

And why did I have to get a shitty replacement mother?

I know I deserved so much better and there was nothing I did that made that happen. I care deeper, try harder, and understand more clearly than most people in this world, and yet here I am. There are millions and millions of people who have such a better quality life even though they don’t deserve it at all! Even some of the shittiest of the shitty have awesome lives.

I know it doesn’t help me at all to compare, but it’s VERY hard not to notice. And I know it’s because of the shitty people in my life that I struggle so much with depression. If I didn’t have to deal with this god awful depression, I would be so much further in my life. So it ends up making me angry.

But I also know my life could be so much worse. I know I could have been born in a third world country or in a country where women are treated as property, I know I could have been born with a truly severe handicap and so could have my children. And knowing that does help me a little bit…. I guess I’m just mainly frustrated at knowing how much potential I have and yet because of the depression, I haven’t even come close to reaching it. But also knowing I do have potential does give me hope for a better life once the depression subsides. I do have some hope. But it seems like every time I get close to a chance at reaching my potential, depression rears its ugly head once again and flings me back to where I was. It’s extremely frustrating!

I will say though, I am very thankful for my potential. I realize many people really don’t have much, and It’s knowing that I actually do that has kept me from giving up. I know the only thing that has stopped me so far is the depression and I remind myself of that often.
I also try to tell myself that every shitty thing I’ve been through helps me to understand and have compassion for others who struggle and it will eventually help me be stronger which will actually add to my potential.

I know I sound like I’m going back and forth between being angry and being understanding, but I guess that’s exactly what the depression is. It’s my damaged brain arguing with my inner self. I just somehow have to make sure that my inner self keeps winning the argument against my brain!

And then, a half hour later my friend replied again….

If you didn’t notice, the first half of what I wrote was written in anger. The second half was written in realizing that my life really isn’t that bad and it’s because I’m depressed that I think so negatively.

So thank you. Responding to you helped me see that. Actually seeing my thoughts written out helps me make sense of them more. 😀

As our conversation continues to unfold, I hope to add more. I’m so excited for the “aha moment” my friend had.

What a wonderful reminder for us all; by putting our thoughts on paper we can sort through them and make great strides in our self-discovery.

Give it a try!

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If you’re struggling, please reach out to someone! Reaching out can make all the difference.

Peace my Friends!

~Travis

We’re Expecting!!!

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Sometimes while I’m reading a book I’ll have one of those moments when it feels like the author is speaking directly to me. Even if the book was sold to millions of people I can’t help but think the author had me in mind when he wrote it. This happened to me recently while reading about relationships and expectations in How to Live in the World and Still Be Happy by Hugh Prather.

“Whenever you feel a tinge of irritation or disapproval, you can be sure that you have an underlying expectation.”  Hugh Prather

Ouch!

I didn’t believe it; at first I tried denying it. But several days and many tinges of irritation and disapproval later, I finally admitted to myself that Prather was right.

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My expectations of the other person–not the other person’s actions–are the real cause of my frustrations. That’s a tough pill to swallow! That means I am fully responsible for my own emotions. That means the crafty little story my brain comes up with to make the other person a villain and make me the poor helpless victim is completely false.

“An expectation is looking for something rather than looking at something. We anticipate one thing and do not clearly see the other thing that is at hand….. Our expectations are based on the past and are blind to the present.”  Hugh Prather

It seems impossible to live without expectations but how much less dramatic would my life be without the disappointments of unmet expectations? Most of my pain and suffering is self-induced. I hold on to hurt or grudges for years because of unmet expectations.

“An emotional reaction leaves you stuck, unable to move forward until you look more deeply at whatever the emotion is trying to tell you.”  Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. in The Mastery of Self

This leaves me stuck for a very long time. I let years (or even decades) go by because I refuse to look into my emotional reactions. If I could get out of my own way for just a minute I could see the other person as an ally instead of a villain. If their actions cause me irritation or disappointment, that tells me something about me, not them!

And, yet, I feel so justified in making it all about them. I don’t have to do any hard work if I take the position that they are wrong for not meeting my expectations.

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We all do this. Listen for it the next story someone tells you. Any story you hear where someone was upset or disappointed you will be able to trace it back to an underlying expectation. Every time! They won’t say it, but this is what’s behind their words, “I expected this, but they did that instead.”

We’re all doing it every day. We’re expecting one thing and we get another. As a result we’re disappointed.

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I’ve found if I live in the present moment without any expectations life can be full of joy. Looking at each moment as it comes without any stories from my ego is heaven on earth. Of course, it’s easy to slip back into old habits but the minute I turn to awareness any disappointment I had melts away.

Am I alone in any of this?

Do you have any expectations that are causing you frustration?

Instead of looking for, might we all try looking at?

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

3 Questions to Ask Yourself When You’re in an Argument With Someone You Love

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We all have them from time to time. Arguments with someone we love are inevitable and quite honestly just a fact of life.

In the aftermath of a recent argument with my wife (yes, even I argue), I couldn’t help but wonder how we got off track. Initially I replayed the argument over and over in my mind and discovered my ego was quick to point out all the ways she was wrong. Knowing just how clever my ego is, I decided to dig a little deeper and focus only on myself. I wasn’t allowed to entertain any thought about my wife’s involvement in the argument.

What I found was startling. Most times when we argue with the ones we love, there’s so much more going on than what we’re arguing about. As a result, I came up with 3 questions to ask myself in the heat of the moment to help me stay on track and hopefully minimize my portion of adding fuel to the fire. They have been helping so I decided to share in hopes that they will help you as well.

A Special Note to the Men

1. Are you staying in the present moment?

It’s so easy to be anywhere else in the world other than where we are. In the blink of an eye our brain can take us back to a childhood memory of a time when we were wronged. Our brain connects the dots between the past trauma and the current argument and then cues our ego to fight to the death. In an attempt to protect ourselves as adults in a way we were incapable of doing as a child, we see this current argument as a win-at-all-cost endeavor.

Another way we leave the present moment in an argument is by charging into the future. Our brains are so clever! In just a millisecond our brain can give us twenty different catastrophic scenarios that could happen in the future if we lose this argument with the one we love. We go from a simple conversation to the-stakes-are-high in 1.3 seconds.

I wondered if there could be a different approach. Instead of allowing my brain to run wild, what if I corralled my thoughts back to the present moment in the same manner a rancher brings his cattle back to the homestead. Once he gets a few cattle headed in the right direction the rest of the cattle follow suit.

When I’m in an argument with someone I love, if I ask myself, “Are you staying in the present moment?” then I’m able to corral my thoughts and save myself from unnecessary drama.

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2. Are you clear about what you’re mad at?

Most of the time, the ones we love are just our trigger. We can be upset about something that happened at work, worried about an upcoming bill, or mad about something our sibling said. We can already be agitated about anything else in the world, but when the person we love says or does something we don’t like it’s GAME ON.

Aristotle once said, “Anybody can become angry–that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way–that is not easy.”

It’s so instinctual to lash out at the ones I love when I’m upset about something. But in all fairness, that isn’t their fault. Becoming clear about what I’m really upset about saves everyone around me from any unnecessary arguments.

The people we love serve as our mirror and they often times show us parts of ourselves we don’t want to see. Pay attention to what they say because we all have blind spots and sometimes their loving suggestions keep us from looking foolish. As the old saying goes, don’t shoot the messenger.

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3. Am I in my own business?

I recently read in a Byron Katie book that there’s my business, your business, and God’s business. Anytime I’m in your business or God’s business I create hell for myself and those around me. But if I stay in my own business then I’m able to find peace and love for myself.

We don’t say it out loud, but deep down we think we know what’s best for other people–especially the ones we love. Have you noticed we tend to think we’re experts when it comes to everyone else?

When I’m in an argument with someone I love, it’s so easy to leave my own business and worry about their business. Before I know it, the argument balloons into something so much bigger than is necessary. Staying in my own business means my attention and energy stays squarely where it belongs–on myself.

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In conclusion, the person you love won’t say or do everything perfect–not nearly as perfect as you say or do (sarcasm added)–and arguments are unavoidable. Arguments don’t have to be wasted, however. Believe it or not, the person you love is on your side just like you are on their side if they were in a fight with a stranger. Next time you find yourself in an argument with someone you love, ask yourself these 3 simple questions. You may learn something about yourself and you may preserve a precious relationship as a result.

Best of luck to you!

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

 

PS. Feel free to share if someone you know needs to read this. 🙂

Life is Heavy. Life is Sheer Joy.

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“Friends eventually forgive and come back together because people need people more than they need pride.”  Hugh Prather said that and I believe it to be true.

I have realized this in my own life.  I have allowed my pride to keep me from people who were very important to me.  Eventually, I realized my pride (ego) needed to sit in the back seat and my heart needed to take the wheel.

Relationships are messy business.  Sometimes we make mistakes.  Sometimes our friends or loved ones make mistakes.  Sometimes we get wrapped up in the choices and business of our friends and loved ones.  We think we know for certain all the ways they’re doing it all wrong.

Assuming I know what’s best for someone else means I am out of my own business.  And, trust me, keeping my nose squarely in my own business is a full time job.  Interestingly, it always seems easier to focus on other people’s shortcomings than it is to deal with my own shit.  I feel so much smarter when I know exactly the way someone else should live their life.  If I simply focus on my own life, though, I remember that decision making and this-thing-called-life aren’t near as easy when approached genuinely and honestly.  Focusing on my own life means I stay out of your business and stay in my own business.  I trust that you are an expert on you and I stay unattached to the outcome of your life.

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I talk to various people almost daily about the burdens they carry with them.  I have days when I assume I know what’s best for them.  Those are the days my pride sneaks into the driver’s seat when I’m not looking.  When I get my ego out of the soup and put my pride back in check, that’s when I am the most use for my friends and loved ones.

How can I possibly help someone if I already assume I know what’s best for them?

Putting myself in another’s business means I’m out of my own business; and the results certainly won’t be pretty.

I have people close to me who are dealing with some real heavy stuff!  Some of you know a few of the stories I know and you’re aware of just how heavy they are.  I have heard many other stories of heavy stuff that most would never fathom.  People carry burdens that are deeper, darker, heavier, and uglier than we could imagine.

What good does it possibly do to pass judgment on someone else?

It would seem easy to get down on the world with so much pain and heartache around every corner.  Trust me; I get it.  I understand why people get depressed, use drugs, become alcoholics, or escape to their favorite vice.  It’s so much easier to cheer on your favorite team or yell at the politicians on TV that need to get a clue.  Running away from the pain and resigning to the heaviness of life is completely understandable.

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We are all afforded this one opportunity to make the best life possible.  Why do we let our pride get in the way of having a great life?  Why do we allow people to continue to hurt us time and time again without putting a stop to it?

What would it take for you to believe you are completely worthy of the best life possible?

Even though life can be difficult and ugly, it can be simply amazing and beautiful at the same time.  When we can strip away all the negativity and stress of our day-to-day lives, we are able to see the absolute gift that is our lives.

Last week my beautiful niece, Lyla, was brought into the world.  There is NOTHING more precious than the gift of life.  Sometimes it takes looking into the face of an innocent newborn to remind our adult brains that life is nothing short of a miracle and a gift.  When we start to view our life as a miracle, it’s amazing how fast our judgments and problems disappear.

People need people more than they need pride.  I agree!  Don’t you?

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

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Baby Lyla with big brother Jackson   🙂

Love Actually IS All Around

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Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think of the Arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion is starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. Seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy. But it’s always there.
Fathers and sons.
Mothers and daughters.
Husbands and wives.
Boyfriends.
Girlfriends.
Old friends.
When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge. They were messages of love.
If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling that love actually …. IS …. all around.

Love Actually

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It’s Valentine’s Day. The day in February that men and singles have grown to despise. The day when we’re supposed to shower our significant other with gifts and love.

I have held the opinion a long time that holidays are barely any different than any other day of the year. My sometimes grumpy scrooge self says they are all man-made holidays meant to push the economy forward. But the more thought I gave to these holidays, the more I began to see their significance.

We are all creatures of habit. Our brains are hardwired to create—and keep—the same daily habits day after day after day. Eventually we can basically sleepwalk through our lives without even so much as a speedbump until something comes along and jolts us out of our slumber.

Holidays help do exactly that. They help us remember what we so easily forget.

Valentine’s Day is all about love. I can’t imagine anyone having any objections to remembering the love they have in their life. Not just one single love, but ALL the love they are surrounded by.

Sure, our society portrays Valentine’s Day as a “couple’s” holiday. I get that. But to me it’s so much more.

When I am jolted out of sleepwalking through my daily routine, otherwise known as my life, I take a few minutes to reflect about what really matters to me. Instantly, without a doubt my mind turns to my children. Their lives fill my heart with more pride than anything else on this earth. Sure, they’re teenagers and they have different ideas than I do sometimes. But truth be told, I learn just as much from them as they do from me. They each possess so much wisdom and a deep knowing more than they realize.

When I think about Valentine’s Day and when I think about love, there is so much that comes flooding into my mind. I have literally been walking around throughout the day pondering what love is to me.  When I think about love, I think about ……

…… Sharing this adventure of life with my wife. We have both been learning and growing so much over the years. I’m blessed to be married to a partner who isn’t afraid of the growing pains.

…… My parents who just celebrated their 50th Anniversary last August. I could sit and listen to their stories for hours of all the crazy, amazing, funny, sad, silly, emotional events they have been a part of over the years.

…… My friends Owen and Cara. To me, their love and their lives are a perfect example of what love truly is. Sure, their lives are full of many ups and downs. But the one constant that never waivers in their large home is the presence of love. No matter what life throws at them, love actually IS all around them.

…… My amazing Aunt who recently lost her husband. She may not realize it, but she is one of my heroes in life. Her vulnerability and bravery has been something that helped shape the man I am today. Every single time I have visited with her over the years, she quickly bypassed the surface talk and spoke to me straight from her heart. She loves deeply and shares honestly.

…… My friend Joanne who always loves me unconditionally and offers me so much wisdom. Our friendship is full of so much mutual admiration and respect. We love to co-create together and our hearts are always refreshed every chance we have to connect.

…… My nephew and his husband. These two beautiful souls continue to show me year after year that love knows no color or gender. Love is love is love. It’s breathtaking to witness and I’m honored to be a part of their lives.

…… My “extra” siblings I was blessed with since a young age. Bob and Robin have been a constant in my life since I was just a kid. They continue to show me love and support as if I was their relative by blood. And Jenny became the little sister I never had. Even though we haven’t kept in touch as often as we’d like over the miles and the years, we are both deeply affected today by the close bond we have always shared.

…… Several of my close friends who have been enduring different struggles. They are the brave ones. They trusted me with their struggles and were vulnerable about what they were going through. Vulnerability is the soil where genuine love can grow between friends.

…… Myself. You may laugh, but many people struggle with themselves. I am truly blessed to have established a wonderful relationship with myself. I spent several years pushing through an ugly depression (and we all know the high price that depression makes some people pay). Thankfully for me the heavy cloud lifted and now I continue to find ways to amaze myself and live in awe every day.

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So, it’s Valentine’s Day. Whether you have someone to call your valentine or not, I hope today can serve as a reminder to you of all the love you have in your life.

If you have a Valentine, show them your love.  But also ponder on all the other love in your life as well.

If you’re single, think about all the people you’re surrounded by and, if you look, you will see that love actually …. IS …. all around.

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

 

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When Life Beats You Up!

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Sometimes life hits you upside the head and you are left defenseless.  Sometimes life takes your breath away and it’s all you can do to get out of bed in the morning.  Sometimes it seems like life is piling on the trouble and you feel helpless to control anything.  It feels like you can barely make it from your bed to the shower.  The thought of even going to work makes you sick to your stomach.

What do you do when it feels like life punched you in the gut?  What do you do when it feels like you’ve been knocked off center?  What do you do when you can’t seem to regain your composure?

Do you call in sick from work or school?

Do you turn to food and overindulge?

Do you increase the alcohol, caffeine, sugar, or smoking?

Do you become easily irritable and take it out on your loved ones?

Do you turn to religion or a higher power to rescue you?

Or do you put your head down and just charge forward like any other day?

We all handle stress and drama differently.  We all have our own unique way of dealing with the pain life throws our way.  There is no right or wrong way to cope with life’s difficulties.  You deal with it the best way you know how at the time and that works for you.

I used to get stressed out a lot easier than I do now.  I used to let life’s burdens pile up like imaginary weights being added to an imaginary backpack I was carrying around.  I felt powerless to deal with whatever the newest stress was that needed to be dealt with.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very laid back guy on the outside but on the inside I constantly struggled with the newest burden life piled on.

Eventually I came to discover the power of the present moment through authors like Eckhart Tolle, Alan Watts, Erich Fromm, Wayne Dyer, and Byron Katie.  I have been reading authors like these for several years but their message never quite sank in until I applied what Byron Katie had to say to my life.

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I never realized before that life isn’t the problem, the people around me aren’t the problem, my job isn’t the problem, or my car breaking down isn’t the problem.  Once I truly grasped the burden is never life, it’s what I’m thinking and believing about life that causes me stress, then I finally saw with open eyes the role I played in my own drama. My thoughts come and go on their own.  I’m powerless to control the thoughts that enter my mind.  But, I am able to question those thoughts and choose not to believe the ones that aren’t true for me.

I watched several videos on YouTube of Byron Katie helping people question their thoughts.  I began to see how when we let our minds run unchecked and our thoughts and beliefs unquestioned, then we allow suffering and frustration to rule our lives.  I watched in amazement how people questioned their thoughts and then released themselves from their suffering.  Byron Katie’s approach can be found on TheWork.com where she suggests every thought we have can be met with four questions in order to find peace:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react–what happens–when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

Before, I felt helpless to slow the onslaught of negative thoughts once they came rushing in.  Now, as long as I take the time to question my thoughts and beliefs I can usually find my way back to peace in no time.  By peace I mean I can find my way back to the present moment (Reality).

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Anytime my mind leaves the present moment I can expect suffering.  If I go to the future in my thoughts, I can expect fear, anxiety, and worry.  If I go back into the past with my thoughts, I’m sure to be met with regret, shame, and pain.  The only way back to peace is through Reality and the Now.  If I question my thoughts and come back to the present moment, I instantly realize I don’t have any stress or drama.  The stress or drama I thought I did have actually came from my unquestioned thoughts and beliefs.

Byron Katie’s message about Reality made more sense when I came across this quote from Erich Fromm the other day:

“The average person, while he thinks he is awake, actually is half asleep.  By ‘half asleep’ I mean that his contact with reality is a very partial one; most of what he believes to be reality (outside or inside himself) is a set of fictions which his mind constructs.  The average persons’ consciousness is mainly ‘false consciousness,’ consisting of fictions and illusion, while precisely what he is not aware of is reality.”

Why have I never considered this before?  Why have I let my thoughts control my life for so many years when they were mostly fictions and illusions?  I completely related to the “half asleep” reference.  I have spent large portions of my life unaware of the reality that looked me right in the eye.

Now instead of being half asleep, I attempt to live my life fully awake and fully aware.  It has made a difference for my life internally and externally.  Now when it feels like life hits me upside the head and I’m left defenseless, it doesn’t take me near as long to come back to the present moment. I question my thoughts, find out what reality is, regain my composure and focus, then allow peace to flow back into my life.

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Trust me, life still punches me in the gut on occasion, it just doesn’t take my breath away like it used to.

How are you dealing with stress and drama in your life lately?

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

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Four years ago, I wrote a blog post I Have Friends that Have Relationship Issues!  It’s a pretty good one and worth sharing again.  Peace.

Anything

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“Anything,” she says.

That seems to be a popular response these days.  No matter what I ask the results are the same.  For a split second I wonder if I should be frustrated.   I ask a question, I want input, I want a deep conversation, but instead I’m met with a non-committal answer. 

“Anything” is a very interesting response to a question.  I’m left with a choice on how I respond: Do I become frustrated and whine about how I want more input, or do I see the “anything” as an opportunity to create my own beautiful outcome?  I choose the latter and then minutes later while in a good frame of mind I come across this quote by Byron Katie, “Love doesn’t seek anything.”  I laughed out loud, the timing was priceless.

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Then I stumbled across this quote by Prince Ea; “You can never know another person.  All you will ever know is your image of that person.  Love is when you abandon all images, expectations and projections leaving you with the space in every new moment to joyously and compassionately discover who that person truly is.  Love is Freedom.” 

So, in essence, “Anything” really is the most loving response there is.  Any question I ask that is met with “anything” means the other person fully trusts my judgment and is open to any outcome.  The greatest gift of love I can receive is the gift of freedom and “anything” gives me that freedom. 

Life is the perfect teacher.  Each new day brings the opportunity for me to question my thoughts.  Just when I think I have myself figured out, Life throws a new scenario my way and I find out I’m not as far along as I thought.  I realize I still have insecurities, I still have fears, I still have doubts, and my quiet confidence might not be as confident as I would like to think. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so much farther down the path than I was before, but the Hero’s Journey can feel like a lonely road at times.  There are so many different views and beliefs about the world and why we’re here.  I aspire to make a contribution but I have no desire to join into any argument about it.  I would rather be humble like water and flow down the path of least resistance. By not being attached to some specific outcome, I free myself to let the events of Life unfold exactly as they are supposed to. 

“Anything,” she says.

The thoughts that start with “he should, she shouldn’t, or that’s not right” always create hell for me if I choose to believe them.  When I attempt to argue with Reality, I always lose. 

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I have a lot to learn about relationships still.  I feel like I take two steps forward one day then three steps back the next day.  I have also learned that expectations in relationships will steal my joy, but only every single time.  When I put expectations on another person I can be certain they will disappoint me because my expectations are nothing more than my projected image of who I think that person is.  Instead, I need to meet them with Love.  I need to meet them with curiosity as if I’m meeting them for the first time. 

Obviously when you have been with someone or have known someone for a very long time, it’s easy to grow accustomed to their habits.  Their habits create a certain level of expectations for you.  Eventually they will act in a way that goes against your expectations.  The real question is not if they will shatter your expectations, but when

I have also learned—just like in relationships—expectations don’t serve me well in Life either.  Anytime I have expectations that Life will go a certain way and then it doesn’t, I create hell for myself.  But when I choose to be open to anything Life has for me and accept Reality for what it is and remember that “Love doesn’t seek anything” then I create peace and joy in my life no matter what the outcome. 

“Anything,” she says.

I agree!

Peace my friends!

~Travis