Why Finding the “Why” Is Crucial

I wish I’d known why choosing the best “why” for a goal made such a difference. I could have saved years of chasing an improbable intention.

Not knowing, I quit my job. Why did I do that? In a fit of frenzy, I knew it was time to paint again, and I wanted to paint full time. 

So why was I having such a hard time painting? It’s not as if the paintings I was doing were bad. They were good, but they don’t have a heart.

This was not how I had always painted. Twenty years earlier, when I decided, “I am an artist”, I loved the challenge of expressing what I was feeling. I was excited to see what would emerge from a fertile mind. And through an open heart, I touched many people’s hearts.

I was having fun. Work felt like play. 

I didn’t have to worry about making money from my art. I was in a flow of creating better and better pieces and getting acknowledgment I was a very talented artist.

Money flowed into my already abundant life. Everything I dreamed for my life as an artist came to fruition. I won first place prizes in prestigious art competitions. I took part in group shows all over the country, and the coup de grâce (drum roll, please), I had a one-woman art show in a gallery in New York.

This time was different. I needed to make money from my art but it seemed as if everything I tried was conspiring to fail. Why couldn’t I replicate the success I had before? What was I doing wrong?

This was my quandary several years ago. Perplexed how to solve this dilemma, I finally stumbled upon the answer. The problem I was having had everything to do with “why” I was doing what I wanted to do.

Before, when I became a successful artist, I was painting because that’s what I loved to do. Now I was painting to make money. I thought I had to create something a majority of people would want. 

My “why” was to make a living off the sales of my paintings.

It wasn’t until many years later, after experiencing meager sales of my paintings, when I was finally free to do whatever I wanted, I let go of worry and finally asked myself, “Why do I really want to paint?”

My answer hinged on a memory of how much I loved the challenge when I first painted. I wanted to experience growth. “Why do I want to grow?”, I asked myself, “I want to feel immersed in new insights”, I answered. 

I continued this line of questioning until I got to the seventh question. By then I had tapped into my spiritual needs. I discovered that the pull to paint was because, sometimes, while I painted, I felt Source Energy leading me. I felt expanded. Limitless. More than I could have imagined I could be.

I also remembered how good it felt to share what I had learned with other people, how grateful I was to be doing something that could help people to believe in themselves.

This “why” inspired me to paint more boldly, to follow my intuition more and resulted in some of the best work I have done.

You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching. William W. Purkey 

According to Sebastian Klein, co-founder of Blinklist, a Berlin-based startup that feeds curious minds key insights from non-fiction books, “Find your mission, or ‘why’ and allow the ‘what’ and ‘how’ to flow from there.”

In his book, Drive, Daniel Pink references an experiment in which psychologists asked university students about their aims in life. Some named extrinsic profit targets, like wealth, while others specified more intrinsic goals, such as personal development or helping others. Years later, the students with profit goals were no closer to contentment, but those with intrinsic goals were happier.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  Steve Jobs

I’ve found that to be true. Since following a goal of something more meaningful, I’ve been happier and more productive.

In a 2003 study from the University of Rochester, researchers asked 147 recent college grads to report their aspirations in life and their happiness or unhappiness. The intrinsic aspirations included close relationships, community involvement, personal growth.

Extrinsic aspirations included money, fame, and having an appealing image.

The results: The folks who realized their intrinsic goals had high levels of happiness, but the people who attained their extrinsic goals didn’t have an improvement in their subjective well-being. The authors theorize that they might feel momentarily satisfied after reaching such a goal, but it doesn’t last.

As Nils Salzgeber says in “Are You Pursuing the WRONG Goals? (Intrinsic VS. Extrinsic Goals)” on the blog, NJlifehacks, “Intrinsic goals will actually lead to MORE money, fame, power, validation, and approval than extrinsic goals. It’s true. People who pursue intrinsic goals–people who just do stuff because they enjoy it and because it fulfills them–become more extrinsically successful than the people who are actually trying to become extrinsically successful”.

Some of the most “successful” people in the world were motivated intrinsically, Think Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They all did what they did because they loved doing it. 

If the only reward for an intrinsic goal turns out to be happiness, I would opt for that. That’s because if succeeding and being rich doesn’t bring happiness for any length of time, why go after that?  

“Happiness is where we find it, but very rarely where we seek it.” J. Petit Senn

Truth: How Sweeping it Under the Rug Hurts You.

 

“Let’s sweep it under the rug,” This is what my mother would say whenever I wanted to know a truth she didn’t want to deal with. I can’t recall the exact instances causing this response, but I do remember that whatever subject we were discussing always involved a complication or conflict she didn’t want to address.

My mother’s steely demeanor and hasty dismissal indicated the conversation was over. She wasn’t going to deal with the information, and so, I let it go. Sweeping seemed to work.

Another target she arranged to sweep away were negative feelings. Whenever I felt sorry for myself, angry with my brother, or humiliated by my friends, my mother would cart me off to one of the charitable agencies she volunteered to work at. Impressing me with how much better off I was than many other children did get me in touch with how giving to others seemed to ameliorate the pain, but I never learned how to deal with the pain in a healthy way.

For example, at the age of twelve, I was taken to New York City to have an operation to correct a birth defect. Two nerves on the lid of my left eye were crossed and caused my eyelid to go up and down every time I moved my jaw. The condition is called Marcus Gunn, and because it is such a rare disorder, and because this was a teaching hospital, several rounds of doctors, residents, and students would come to my bedside each day to gape and gawk at the eye.

I felt vulnerable and defenseless. All that mattered to those men was my eye. I was no different than the goldfish in the bowl I stared at on the counter of the nurses’ station. Like the goldfish, I was being exposed to whoever saw me without having anywhere to hide.

Feeling sorry for myself, my mother dealt with my remorse the same way she always had. She offered a man with both eyes bandaged to have me read to him. This time, though, her way of helping me feel better didn’t. It only caused me to want to avoid any circumstance that would expose me to the truth that I was vulnerable.

Unfortunately, an infection after the operation caused my left lid, the one that used to go up and down when I moved my jaw, to freeze in a stay-open position. I could close it with mental effort, but the eye now looked much larger than the other one.

I found a way to emotionally deal with a “bad eye”. I became the observer. I would watch other people’s reactions to my eye while feeling separate from the experience. That allowed me to not have to be the one being judged and to not have to feel vulnerable. I had found a way to feel a sense of power instead of being a victim.

However, as I grew older, complications from having swept away circumstances and feelings began to crop up. The more I tried to stay safe from feeling vulnerable, the more complex they became.

If you keep sweeping things under the rug, you’ll trip over it and fall flat on your face. Don’t ignore problems, fix them!   

Tony Gaskins

Not sharing my emotions kept me from ever being authentic. I lived in a constant state of acting, pretending, and doing anything that would obscure the fact that I was different. And when my actions failed to keep me safe, I suffered.

Because I had become motivated to be a person others wanted to be with—my way of coping with a defect—I began doing and being what I thought would impress others instead of feeling free to be me. This tactic kept me from ever being able to express my truths, further burying them from sight. Relationships failed due to my holding myself back. I became depressed, not knowing why.

If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, Addiction, Rage, Blame, Resentment, and Inexplicable Grief.

Brene Brown

Then I became rebellious at the age of forty-three. Rather than feel guilty for not having the strength and courage to face the truth that I had a “bad eye”, I began blaming and judging those people I had previously tried to make like me. Separating myself from them, they had now become my reason for my unhappiness.

I moved away and began to see a Jungian psychotherapist who specialized in dream therapy. That was when I had a dream that changed everything.

In the dream, I am walking down a long hall towards a banquet room. Judging from the long wooden tables adorned with table settings of metal, and the dress of the other guests at the banquet, I guess the time we’re in to be the period of King Arthur’s court. A lot of noise and laughter is resounding in the huge room as I find a place at the table to sit. Not long after getting settled, I notice someone approaching the dining hall. It’s someone I don’t want to see me, so I duck down under the table to hide. Feeling bored, I  fidget with a rug underneath the table. Rolling the rug from the end, my curiosity is leading me to examine what is underneath.  Suddenly, all kinds of stuff begin spewing out from under the rug. All shapes and sizes of things, the mass and vast array of so many objects startles me.

How could so much stuff hide for so long in such a small space?

I had an Aha! moment. This was all my stuff! This was the stuff I’d swept under the carpet during my whole lifetime.

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”

C. JoyBell C.

I knew I had no recourse but to finally face whatever I was scared of seeing. This sign wasn’t some random event. It clearly was a warning to me.

Digging through a giant mound of unwanted, crammed, disposed-of stuff is a daunting task. It requires taking one step forward, only to find that you can’t move forward until the next step is taken. It necessitates that you discover the truth, what caused this part of the stuff to be swept away. It can’t be done in a day, so you distract yourself towards more fun, rewarding things to do. But the pull to grow becomes stronger.

There’s a saying, “Out of sight, out of mind”.  That’s why bringing buried fears to the light is so hard. You have to trust and allow for life to bring you the circumstances or relationships to trigger each one. If you are dedicated to being a better you, and if you are persistant, that motivation will bring you the happiness you desire.

“Be your authentic self. Your authentic self is who you are when you have no fear of judgment, or before the world starts pushing you around and telling you who you’re supposed to be. Your fictional self is who you are when you have a social mask on to please everyone else. Give yourself permission to be your authentic self.”

Dr. Phil

I wanted to finally feel the freedom I’d suppressed more than I feared what the truth was. It took me years to uncover most of the stuff I’d buried. Each time I succeeded, I did feel lighter and that inspired me to dig deeper. Now that I feel freer, I am having fun being me. I love who I am, and that love attracts more love to me.

Don’t be afraid of the truth. Remember, “The truth will set you free.”

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’

Eleanor Roosevelt

For a related article, go to:  https://wordpress.com/post/dorettab.com/2077

 

Who Am I? Change is Easier With an Honest Answer.

 

Let’s suppose you want to change your life. You might want to change your job, your routine, or some bothersome habits, but you don’t know where to start. So you ask yourself, “Who am I?” “Who would I prefer to be?” “What do I really want to do?”

Change is frightening and the temptation to resist it is powerful. However, the rewards of change – the opportunity to learn new things, to rethink tired processes, and to improve the way we see ourselves – is worth the effort.

Change is a process. It takes effort on your part. And the fear of losing what you have depended on for your identity or the fear of failing can feel very intense.

Things do not change; we change.

Henry David Thoreau

We can only change our circumstances from the inside out. As Wayne Dyer says,

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

I was watching the movie, “Starry Night”, on Amazon recently. Although the movie is a fantasy of Vincent Van Gogh coming back to vindicate the wrongs done him in his life, toward the end of the movie, there are several true excerpts from letters Van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo.

One of them shines a brilliant light on Van Gogh’s beliefs about himself and his art.  He says,

What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then—even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart.”

When Van Gogh was alive, his work wasn’t appreciated. But that doesn’t mean his work didn’t have tremendous value.

To live mindfully, according to Thích Nhất Hạnh in his book, The Art of Power, ”the most important thing is to have confidence in your work, to make sure that your work embodies your best in terms of understanding and compassion.”

Van Gogh’s art contains insight, understanding, and compassion, all the attributes of a masterpiece. Van Gogh tells Theo in the letter he sent to him that he wants to make sure that his work embodies all the beauty that he is not personally thought to be.

So, what does this story have anything to do with why your sense of self is important?

Despite the suffering of his soul, unable to attain success through his work, Van Gogh was able to let go while painting to find a deep well of satisfaction and a sense of merit. He couldn’t have painted the beauty in his work without having let go of his sense of self. When he painted he was able to let go and “get in the flow” of painting. 

Then why was only one of his paintings sold during his lifetime?

John Kehoe, pioneer in the field of Mind Power, says your subconscious mind is a second, hidden mind that exists within you. It’s a reflection of what you believe you deserve. The subconscious acts upon the predominating thoughts that reside within your conscious mind.

You know more about your conscious mind. It’s the mind that exists to take care of and protect us. It’s our thinking mind. But the thoughts flitting through our mind can be, and often are, full of fear.

Fear generates judgments, blame and, ultimately, beliefs based on fears we’ve harbored for many years. Experts say these fears are mostly generated from birth to age seven. Perhaps these beliefs served us well when we were younger, but they have now become the negativity that is preventing us from all we want in our lives.

The subconscious attracts circumstances and situations that match the images in your mind. When we pay attention to the concepts conjured by our past negative thoughts the way Van Gogh did with his evaluation of his worthiness, the subconscious delivers what it believes to be the truth, but not what we really want.

By believing himself to be the “lowest of the low”, Van Gogh was telling his subconscious that he wasn’t worthy. Since the subconscious delivers us a match to our predominating thoughts, attracting success would have been hard for him, if not impossible.

When we’re closing ourselves off from the Universe’s abundance and unlimitedness, we can only receive that which we believe we deserve.

Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.

Willie Nelson

This brings us back to the beginning of this blog. When we know that we’re the reason we’re not receiving what we want, that it isn’t fate or anything else outside of us, we can begin the process of discovering the thoughts, fears, and beliefs that prevent us from receiving what we want.

You may be able to do this for yourself. Many have. But if you’re like me, you’ll need motivation. Here are some inspirational quotes you might need to get over even your hardest obstacles.

  • “Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same.” — Unknown
  • “Don’t make a change too complicated, just begin.” — Unknown
  • “Small changes eventually add up to huge results.” — Unknown
  • “Action is the key to all success.” — Pablo Picasso
  • “Don’t expect to see a change if you don’t make one.” — Unknown
  • “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

I’m in the process of changing who I am for the umpteenth time. It doesn’t get easier-there seem to be new blocks every time I strive to have more for my life – but it does get more rewarding each time I change. That’s because I’ve found that digging deeper and admitting the truth goes a long way to manifest all that I want to be and have.

For more on “Who Am I?”, go to this link, https://dorettab.com/answering-big-questions-life/

 

Self-Compassion: Why bother?

 

Why has the subject of self-compassion become so trendy over the last few years? Why are psychotherapists, mindfulness teachers and life coaches touting its benefits today?

Self-compassion, a Buddhist belief, became a mainstream and popular idea when psychologist Kristen D. Neff of the University of Texas became interested in the subject. After reading Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg’s book, Lovingkindness in 2003, Neff wrote a paper on the subject and it was that paper instigated a snowball of interest,

Neff tells us that self-compassion is based on the premise that showing kindness to oneself is essential for showing love towards others.

Three indispensable elements of self-compassion she found from her reading were:

  • Self-kindness vs. Self-judgment
  • Common humanity vs. Isolation
  • Mindfulness vs. Over-Identification

Since Ness’ paper, research has found that self-compassion has many positive rewards. You are less prone to anxiety and depression. Self-compassion bolsters confidence. Being kind to yourself can make it safe to fail, which encourages you to try again. You are more than likely to sustain stronger relationships with others. And psychologists have found that there are links between self-compassion and health-promoting behaviors related to eating, exercise, sleep and stress management.

My first encounter with the concept of self-compassion took place around 1980, way before all the hoop-la. I was driving back home from shopping with my daughter, who had just graduated college. Upset with myself over a mistake I’d made at a store with the money in my wallet, I was overcome with shame and guilt,

“I’m so stupid!” I told my daughter. “I can’t believe I did that! It was so careless. If I had just paid attention instead of talking so much, I wouldn’t have been so negligent with my money. I can’t imagine how I managed to pull a hundred-dollar bill out and lose it.”

“Mom, why are you being so hard on yourself,” my daughter asked? “You never speak to other people like that.”

That moment was an Aha! moment. Where had that negative self-talk come from? What my daughter told me was true. I had never scolded my children or criticized others like I just had done to myself.

A simple conversation, my daughter’s response ended up changing my life. I became aware I didn’t know my mind. There had to be a great deal more going on inside my head if I had been ignorant of what triggered my scolding myself.

Unfortunately, at that time, in the 80’s, no one was sharing advice with how to deal with self-judgment, much less self-compassion. It took a long time, and experiencing many clues, to finally learn how to deal with my negativity. But I never gave up wanting to know more.

All the self-help books I read didn’t approach the subject. It seemed like almost everyone around me was also judging themselves in one way or another. Most everyone believed our thoughts of judging and negative beliefs were true, part of being human.

Finally the first clue came from a book about forgiveness around 2009. Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping was written to help overcome anger and blame, however forgiving others also helped me to perceive gifts that I would never have received without those difficult encounters. Forgiveness served to give me a sense of peace.

Besides opening myself to a sense of compassion for the person I was angry with, I found myself able to forgive myself for my part in those broken relationships.

I also realized, through forgiving others, a stronger sense of commonality with all those I had judged and felt anger toward. But even though I felt compassion for others the voices in my mind persisted. They became more annoying now that I had felt that sense of peace.

Then I picked up Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul. I finally had a way to put an end to frustrating, habitual thoughts plaguing me. Singer suggests that, instead of fighting with them, by allowing them, not judging them, and by backing away from any connection with them, seeing them as the lies they were, they didn’t bother me anymore. I could even laugh at them.

I really thought that I had become enlightened, but that cocky attitude crumbled as anxiety and stress crept in again. I quit procrastinating, and began to meditate again. This time, instead of feeling more anxiety while I meditated, I enjoyed a deep peace.

Now I know what self-compassion is and what it’s done for me:

By doing all I could do to stop judging myself, I learned how important being kind to myself was.  I laughed more, felt lighter, and loved myself more.

With forgiveness, I healed relationships. My anger had caused me to feel isolated from that person, and now a sense of our common humanity existed in its place.

With meditation, I became more mindful. Writing and painting are easier now that I can focus.

So, why bother doing all you need to do to become self-compassionate?

You’ll be kinder to yourself, you’ll enjoy being with yourself more, and you’ll feel more peace, love, and compassion.

You’ll be surprised with how much easier and better you have become at what you do. You’ll have more fun and work will feel like play. And a whole lot more!

It took me a long time to finally feel compassion for myself, but now with support all over the internet, such as Kristen Neff’s website, with everything you need to know about self-compassion, you can get the help to  feel so much better about yourself.

Use It or Lose It: How Fear Warps Your Perspective

dancing on tile - 1

Your perspective sometimes lies. You think you’re being self-aware but you’re buying into an excuse to relieve your doubts and fears.

I thought I had my life in control.  I thought I had been doing the right thing by discarding the unessential to focus on what was necessary.  The trouble is that I was counting on my perspective to be the reality.

My routine of walking every day for exercise had dwindled to only walking when I absolutely had to get somewhere. I had a great idea for a painting, and got lost in doing what I love do. Busy with more important things than have to take the time to exercise, my rationalization to skip my exercise seemed reasonable.

I would only take the required steps from my car to the grocery store. The closest parking space became my priority.

My son came to visit. He noticed how sedentary I had become.

Use it or lose it,” he entreated.

After that I couldn’t help but recognize how much l would talk myself out of doing something that’s good for me because I felt lazy. I wanted to take better care of myself, but found ways to legitimize any excuse. “I’m too tired”, “I’ll definitely get to this tomorrow”, “I’m on a roll and I don’t want to disrupt the creative flow” were just a few of the justifications that passed my test for validation.

But it wasn’t just exercise that I stopped doing. When I was unable to continue some action I had faithfully taken in the past, after an interval of inaction, I had a hard time getting back in the routine of doing it again. I would procrastinate and ended up doing nothing at all.

We are creatures of habit. It doesn’t matter if the activity is something we love to do or if it’s something we do out of necessity. If the habit is broken, it’s like having to start again. And it doesn’t seem to matter if we have to or not. We still put up resistances making it harder to commit to the change.

Recently I had the flu that lasted for a month. I was sick and had no energy, so I didn’t write on my blog. I tried, but finally had to accept that I wasn’t going to be able to. Better to rest and to take care of myself, I thought. When I finally regained my energy and I felt better, you might think I would take action, but I didn’t.

I found every reason imaginable to excuse myself for becoming so inactive. It’s hard to think of something to write when you haven’t written for a long while, it’ll be easy to get back to it when some really good idea comes to me, and I deserve a little rest after having to endure being sick, were valid excuses, I thought.

I’d find other projects to keep me busy. I accepted invitations I wouldn’t normally accept when I was committed to posting on my blog every week. I began to prepare more fancy dishes because I just had to try that recipe making the rounds on Facebook.

Finally, one day I had to face the truth. I was procrastinating. I had allowed myself to become a victim again. Full of fear, doubt and worry, I became anxious. I began to itch all over.

Looking up itching in one of my favorite books -Heal Your Body by Louise L. Hay-the probable cause for itching read, “Desires that go against the grain. Unsatisfied. Remorse. Itching to get out or get away.”

Our bodies tell us the truth, I’ve found.

That sounded right. I’d been reacting to my fears and not to my consciousness. My perspective had been clouded because of not wanting to  have to stand up for myself and control my situation. It was as if I had become another person, someone who I didn’t recognize. I had always been eager to do what I love.

Once I woke up to the fact that my doubts, anxiety and fear were causing me to cower, I was able to easily reclaim my power. I knew now that I would write whenever I decided I would.

But just to make sure that I’d follow through, I made a commitment to write every day for a month. A month is a long time and enough time to reclaim a habit.

This is the first of my 500 words writing sessions, and I’m looking forward to what will come up next.

And the icing on the cake is that after writing this blog post, going back to painting was just as easy. If you work through any hesitancy toward change in one area of your life, you’ve worked through every other obstacle you’ve talked yourself into.

Who Am I? Answering the Big Questions of Life

cropped-burning-bush-1.jpg

The bigger questions of life, such as, “Who am I“,  come up when we’re dissatisfied with our lives, unhappy with the choices we’ve made, or maybe overwhelmed with working and not getting ahead. We thought that what we wanted would make us happy, but it isn’t. We’re bored with our lives, or we’re tired of pretending to be something we aren’t.

Man, Know Thyself.

– Socrates

You probably have seen this quote. I had read this many times, but earlier in my life, I judged it. I thought only a self-indulgent, narcissistic and pompous, a pedantic person would contemplate questioning, “Who am I”. I mean, we’ve lived with ourselves and already know all our idiosyncrasies, our faults, and our strengths.

Then I found myself being asked the question. I was feeling depressed in my thirties and not sure what was wrong with me. I had been sure of myself before that, having success as an artist, and I was loving my life. Now I was feeling worthless and unlovable. Nothing about my life was fulfilling anymore.

 My husband and I joined a group led by a psychologist. The group was an extension of a Parent Effectiveness Training class we had taken.

I find it ironic that after learning how to deal with our children more effectively, we ended up having to deal with ourselves.

Here we were, in a group playing like children in the class. We played games which our reactions-I realized later-would possibly trigger negative experiences.

In one of the games we played, a group of eight of us sat in a circle. Our psychologist instructed us to tell everyone else ten things we were when it was our turn.

I thought this would be easy.  “I know what I am. I am a mother, a wife, an artist, a good cook, a contributing member of our community, a woman, a teacher, a docent, a traveler, a fair skier, and a better tennis player.”

But, when my turn came to answer, “I’m nothing” was all I heard as I rattled off the list of things I had mentally prepared to say.

My reaction to the question “Who are you?” startled me, upset me even more than my inability to feel happy had before. Now it had become official. There was definitely something devastatingly wrong with me.

I can laugh at myself now that know better. I don’t see that reaction I had in the group as tragic today. If I were to face a similar encounter now, I would respond differently. I would celebrate.

I would see it as a chance to start with a new, clean slate, a blank canvas on which I could create the woman I wanted to be. But at that time I wasn’t aware of what I know now.

The realization that I believed we are what we achieve, convinced me that so I had become the woman I was because I was seeking approval and respect. I did it out of fear of being rejected.

The sad part to me now was not that I realized what I’d become was nothing, it was that I didn’t know who I really was.

Through counseling, I discovered that I didn’t really know what I liked. I had been so eager to please others that I didn’t have a clue what I’d prefer eating, which movie I’d rather watch, or what songs were my favorite.

I didn’t know that my thoughts were the reason I had become so unhappy; that and the belief that I was the victim of life’s circumstances. I hadn’t been able to see I had choices.

I have this quote on my refrigerator:

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

Unknown

I did end up having to find myself (aka: Know thyself) before I was able to create myself as I preferred to be. This is also what creatives need to do. An artist has to develop the skills to paint what they wanted to share, and a writer needs to write a lot before they can be aware and adept enough to know what they really wanted to express.

We have to do the same in our lives. We have to have the skills and know-how to be able to discover what is in the way of our being happy.

I bought the quote for my refrigerator as inspiration while I created a new me, and through the process, I realized I didn’t want to create myself as anyone who needs to impress for approval and respect anymore. I had come farther than that. What I wanted now is my self-respect, sense of worth, and the confidence I was lacking.

What I’ve found since then is that creating ourselves isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a never-ending journey.

Because of circumstances and events that are thrust in our lives, the changes we face force us to change, too. The woman I was is not the woman I am now. And future versions of myself will evolve from one moment to another depending on the realizations I’ve made.

Sometimes we make awarenesses that will enhance who we’re being.

Now I’m certain I don’t have to remain stagnant. I can change any time I want to be happy.

Who am I? I’m nothing like I’m going to be.

For more on Self-Awareness go to https://wp.me/p9td7w-w3

Faith: Why Sometimes What You Want Doesn’t Come the Way You Want It

poppies - 1I know, it’s frustrating. We want something and then take the action to do whatever we think it will take to receive it. We pray or we follow the “experts” guidelines to manifest our dreams, and many times we receive what we’ve focused on, but many times we don’t. Losing faith and bewildered, we haphazardly try every other way we come across or think will work to receive what we are wanting.

Or we give up wanting anymore.

Why does this happen? Why are we able to receive something we deeply desire sometimes and not at other times? I’m sharing the following story of a time I desperately wanted to get pregnant, finally did, and then had to face my worst fear. I chose this story because I want to show how when you get what you wanted, but it comes in way that that leaves you with more pain than you could have imagined, that in the end, if you develop faith, the experience brings you the most magnificent, wonderful gift you could have ever fathomed.

I tried to get pregnant for two agonizing years. My husband and I were tested for any reason that we couldn’t, but there wasn’t any reason. Finally, three years after marriage, I gave birth to a baby girl.

Fearful of losing my hard-won treasure, my new baby, I became exceedingly over-protective.

What mother agonizes over all the ways that she might kill her baby every time she has to drive with her child in her car? Even though she’s had a hard time conceiving? Or panics when her daughter is a little older and slides down a kiddie slide? Or worse, when her daughter does finally get her first boo-boo, she worries that the scar has maimed her daughter for life.

I was that mother. I knew I was being irrational. No other mother I knew worried like I did about their first child. It wasn’t until a friend of mine offered to pick my daughter up one day from nursery school that I finally confronted the reality of what I’d been doing .

When my friend came to my house with my daughter, Carrie, she told me that the teacher had asked her “Can’t this child do anything for herself?

It was as if a bright light had switched on. A flash of reality bursting forth! The truth was out. I’d been hurting my daughter more than I had admitted to myself.

What I’m doing to protect Carrie is worse than all the accidents she’ll have if I give her the freedom to learn from her own mistakes.

I convinced myself that if I were to have more children, I wouldn’t have the time to keep tormenting myself with these disturbing thoughts. However, it wasn’t any easier to have another child than when I was trying to get pregnant with Carrie. Desperate, I begged my husband to agree to adopt a second child. He was adamant. The answer was “No.”.

Finally, two years later I gave birth to a second daughter. My husband and I brought Samantha home to her big sister, and Carrie was delighted with this new bundle of joy sitting on her lap. I finally had all that I so desperately wanted now.

One month later, I drove the baby to her doctor’s office for a one month checkup. As the doctor had his stethoscope upon Samantha’s heart, I wondered about his concentrated intensity as he fixated on the sounds coming through his stethoscope for what seemed a long time. But I relaxed when his mood lightened after discarding the instrument to check Sandy’s throat and eyes.

Two hours after I had gotten home, I picked up the phone.

“Doretta, I heard a murmur in Samantha’s heart this morning in my office,” the doctor told me. “I’ve made an appointment for her with a ventricular pediatric specialist. It may be nothing but I think it’s prudent to get it checked out.”

Nervously sitting in the waiting room of the specialist’s office while he tested Samantha’s heart, I tried to think about anything but what I was afraid of. Finally the nurse came to tell my husband and I that the heart specialist would give us the results in his office. Unfeeling and cold, seemingly reciting a prognosis he’d delivered thousands of times, he told us that Samantha had a ventricular septal defect. I could hear words I didn’t want to hear as I, half-awake, in a stupor, told us “if she gets pneumonia or needs dental surgery she needs to have antibiotics”, “we normally don’t do surgery for this defect until she is at least seven years old”, and at that time, the ‘60’s, he told us, “most children with this defect don’t live past the age of eighteen”.

My husband and I walked out of the doctor’s office, stunned, heavy-laden, with no idea how to cope with the news. We made an appointment with a another heart specialist to confirm this doctor’s diagnosis. The specialist we saw was a friend of ours, and because he was so regretful to have to confirm that Samantha’s life was at risk, he expressed his concern in a very disheartening way. “I’m so sorry,” he kept repeating. This was, in a peculiar way, a lot harder to hear than the bare facts laid out by Samantha’s doctor

When we got home, I talked to God.

One thing I have to confess is that the only other times I had spoken to God were times when the turbulence of an airplane shook me to the core, and I feared for my life. But now I had another, better reason to speak to God. My new baby might die.

The incongruous nature of my request forced an even more inappropriate way for me to approach God. “What is this?” I asked. “Some kind of joke?”

I asked you for another child so I would stop worrying all the time that something would happen to Carrie. So now you give me another child, but this child has a real, tangible, even worse reason to worry?”

My husband and I went to the mountains to get away and heal from such a devastating blow. We wanted to be able to get our feet on the ground again. Samantha’s fate was out of our hands. How would each of us cope living with the knowledge that this hole in Samantha’s heart might mean she won’t be with us long?

In the mountains my husband and I took long walks, our feet crunching fallen leaves that autumn. The only sounds were the rustle the wind made as it passed through the trees. Here in nature, with the stillness, we were able to let go of the fear and open our hearts to love.

When we arrived home, I made up mind that even though I didn’t have control of the Samantha’s condition, I did have control over how I would handle it. I could turn over Samantha’s fate to God. I could and did imagine a gigantic bubble of light around Samantha and sent the bubble into the Universe to keep her safe.

Several years ago I learned a way to perceive an experience I didn’t ask for and didn’t know the reason it had come into my life. The advice I received was to embrace any experience that you didn’t expect, don’t really want, wish it hadn’t happened, by realizing it’s come into your life for a reason you can’t know now. The best way to perceive it is to assure yourself that even though you don’t know why this happening, there has to be something better coming or else it wouldn’t be in your life. This approach has helped me enormously to get through some very hard experiences.

And then recently I understood the reason why I had to experience having to face my worst fear when Samantha was born. The reason is that when we ask for something we’re having trouble manifesting, and something we didn’t want comes to us instead, is that we have unknown, deep-rooted blocks and fears preventing us from attaining that which we want. It’s as if God, hearing we want what we’re incapable of receiving, lovingly brings the lessons we have to learn in order to have what’s been evading us. Once we break through the obstacles by being honest with ourselves, being patient and opening ourselves to love, we are in a position to receive what we wanted.

We’ve learned that the barrier preventing us from having what we want isn’t outside of us.  It’s our fear misrepresenting whatever truth we could learn from to create our dreams.

That’s exactly what I learned from the lessons I received after praying for another child. I thought I wanted another child to stop worrying so much, but the opposite was true. I had been so focused on my needing to safeguard and protect my first child, I had to learn how to have faith in a Higher Power to do that job.

When I took Samantha to Houston, to the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston to have her 7 year old evaluation with Dr. Michael DeBakey, he told me it was a miracle. The hole between the two valves of Samanths’s heart had healed sufficiently to warrant forgoing the operation.

The miracle was not just that Samantha’s heart had healed, but that the experience had held another gift for me. I had been forced to make peace with Samantha’s future. I had accepted that she may die, and synchronously, I developed faith and a deep gratitude for the gift of being with her and loving her. Her heart problem had opened up my heart to allowing God to take care of her. I had learned to Trust.

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