Thursday, March 03, 2011

Random Thoughts Volume XXI

I was awakened at 7:15 AM last Saturday by a little girl who was standing next to my bed. Her Dad had to work so guess who was dropped off at Paw Paw's house? Last Saturday was also my youngest son's 29th birthday so we went out for a family dinner. It was Sunday afternoon before my son, Mike, picked up Chloe and my other son, Nick, went back to the seminary. When the house was empty and quiet, it was nap time for Paw Paw. When I finally got to bed on Sunday night claps of thunder woke me several times during the night and a drenching rain was falling when I got out of bed the next morning. Needless to say, Paw Paw was dragging all day at work on Monday.

Whether we realize it or not, most of us have been told our entire lives that we aren't good enough. Our life has been filled with messages telling us that we are inadequate and imperfect. Most of the messages were unintentional but real never the less. They have been from our parents, our teachers, our spouses or significant others, our children, our relatives, our friends, and our employers. We don't measure up, we disappoint, or we don't meet someone else's standards. I, too, have heard these messages my entire life. Sadly, I have sometimes spoken them to others. A friend recommended a book to me that I am only now reading. I would have read it sooner but, of course, I am lazy and a procrastinator so I am just now getting to it. As you can now see we often give ourselves these negative messages too. They don't always come from others. Our biggest critic is often ourselves. Anyway.....the name of the book is "Regardless of What You Were Taught to Believe.....There is Nothing Wrong With You" by Cheri Huber. It is sub-titled "Going Beyond Self-Hate, A Compassionate Process for Learning to Accept Yourself Exactly as You Are". The book begins with a list of all the messages we all heard in our early childhoods. I was amazed how many I had heard, how many I had spoken to my own children, and how many I have even said to my granddaughter who I love more than anything in the world. According to psychologists the effects of these messages are set in concrete before we reach age seven. I know this may all sound terribly negative but it is not meant to be. Consider it an eye opener and a wake up call stop listening to the voices around you. Today is the day to start loving yourself. Quit trying to improve yourself. Quit thinking you're inadequate. Quit thinking you're imperfect. You're perfect the way you are.

Whenever I am stressed, bored, tired, overwhelmed, feeling the blues, or all of the above at the same time, one of the best cures for me is a solitary walk outside, especially on a cool day. I was very focused on completing a task earlier this week and by early afternoon that day I needed a break. We've had a lot of rain recently and I knew the river was flooding it's banks so I decided to take a walk in the park along the river and see how it looked. The Great Lawn was partially flooded and along the shore it was driftwood heaven for those looking for potential firewood but it would be dangerous to attempt collecting it. The real point is that whether you have a solitary nature like mine or not, it is still a good thing to spend some time with yourself and your own thoughts. I've talked a little about the importance of loving yourself. Part of loving yourself in a healthy way is to be comfortable with your own company. Everyone should be their own best friend. The more you like yourself the more others will like you. As far as being alone with yourself, if you've never made a retreat where you get away from your normal life I highly recommend it. It is very refreshing and restful. Making an occasional retreat is mandatory for my mental health. It's one of the reasons I go to the monastery and I am long overdue for a weekend visit there.

Life is hard. I am reminded of this every time my alarm clock goes off in the morning, everyday I have to work, all the times I have to do stuff I don't want to do, every time I don't feel good, every time I am disappointed, and on many other occasions in my life. It's a challenge to go through life and not be discouraged. Life often feels burdensome and overwhelming. This why it is so important to do whatever it takes to have some perspective on it all. You cannot allow yourself to be overwhelmed with the demands of life. You must find ways to deal with the demands of life by filling in all the empty spaces with people, things, and activities that give you some peace, joy, happiness, and contentment. Basically you have to take care of your own needs. Most of us spend a great deal of our lives taking care of the needs of others. It is not selfish to take care of yourself, too. I am taking care of myself by taking a much needed Mental Health Day on Friday.

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