So far I have addressed the reality that we are not emotionally healthy all the time, it’s simply not possible to be perfectly consistent. I encouraged you to seek out healthy relationships to help heal your attachment deficits. Now, we’ll delve into the value of spiritual connection to our emotional health. One caveat here is that not all spiritual practices are the same, even within the same branch of spirituality. I am referring to practices that promote the well being of individuals in body, spirit, and mind not to practices that promote hate or preservation of the self without regard for how one’s behavior negatively affects others who have different beliefs.
A spiritual practice can help a practitioner tolerate uncomfortable feelings by connecting to the benefits of conflict and struggle as being important to our development as a person of faith. When we connect to the larger purpose of challenges, we shift our view from, “This is awful!” to “What can I learn about myself from this?” or “How can I use this experience to draw me closer to the source of my spiritual practice?” “This is awful!” can be a necessary step in the process, as honoring our actual experience is critical to our emotional health, but staying in that space will not lead to growth.
We connect to the global community instead of isolating ourselves. Healthy spiritual practices promote the good of all, regardless of other’s beliefs. There is a consideration for how our actions will either help or hurt others. This tie to the collective good can ease our sense of isolation in day to day life. When we are connected to others, we can develop or grow our emotional health.
Many spiritual practices encourage prayer or meditation. These can help calm the mind and relax the body which promotes healing and releases stress and tension. Relaxed muscles promote healthy blood flow throughout the body. Blood carries nutrients as well as aides in the process of removing toxins. Think of a river dammed up by debris. It reduces the flow of water downstream and causes flooding upstream. Our bodies don’t do as well when flow is decreased and many spiritual practices have the capacity to relax a person. When we are physically healthier we can be emotionally healthier and connect with others from a grounded, relaxed place versus a stagnant and tense place.
So what are you doing with your spiritual practice? Do you have one? I’ve listed just a few benefits. There are many more. Consider how you can use a spiritual practice to increase your enjoyment while you are on this planet, including increasing your emotional health.
Some might disagree with my title. That’s OK. I believe no matter what is happening to or around us, we can choose how we will respond. As we enter into a Presidential election here in the States, it’s easy to allow other’s words or actions dictate our words and actions. You have more power than that.
I like to start with breathing. Slow your breathing down. Let your exhale be longer than your inhale for a few breath cycles. Begin to notice what you are feeling emotionally and physically. Notice your thoughts. Allow the situation to just “be” without having to judge the situation or act on it. Just pause, breathe, and notice.
After a few minutes, consider if there is any action you still want to take. Standing up for something you believe in is healthy but not if it is meant to be intentionally hurtful to another. That’s retaliation. I generally don’t think retaliation comes from a centered, grounded place inside. I think of it as a reactionary way to hurt another because you believe they hurt you. If it’s retaliatory, go back through the breathing, non-judgmental, non-reactive, just be with it place. Give it some time. Perhaps you will change your mind and find a healthier step you choose to take.
We’ve been dealing with this pandemic for about five months. I wonder how you are doing? Are you enlisting self care? Are you giving space for your emotional experience?
When all of this first started it was scary for many of us. Our way of functioning was suddenly changed. We had to first deal with the shock of it. At this point in the journey I’m thinking you have found some stability within this unpredictable time. If you haven’t it might help to talk with a friend or mental health professional.
It might sound odd for me to put those two together: friend or mental health professional. I think our best support is found in stable friends. While I see my profession as valuable, I know friends are sometimes the best support. They are usually accessible 24/7. They don’t drain our bank account. They know us deeply (if we let them). Perhaps they have also walked similar roads and may know first hand the twists, turns and potholes along the way.
Sometimes we need the counsel of a professional. Our friends can guide us in that direction if the material we are dealing with is beyond their capability. Whatever you choose, be good to yourself and reach out to others to help you navigate this challenging road.
My heart is grieved. I see so much hate being thrown around on social media and in the news from Black Lives Matter to Anti-Mask protests and beyond. I’m pretty sure people on all sides of the issues are not stupid, wicked people. I think, for the most part, we are all scared and hurting in some way. Some fear the loss of control, “If I give in to the demand to wear a mask you’re going to just keep taking away my rights.” Some fear culpability, “If I say black lives matter, then I have to admit there is something inside of me that thought they didn’t or perhaps I am some how complicit in their oppression.” Some fear the loss of protection, “If you don’t wear a mask you might infect me.”
I think our hate for those on the other side of an issue comes from fear, anger or sadness. I think the fear, anger or sadness come from wounds from our distant or not so distant past. We were hurt in some way and now we let that hurt spew out on others. We were oppressed by another, we experienced hurt at the intentional or unintentional words or actions of another, we felt misunderstood, unheard, or not good enough to another. Something happened and the hate toward others started to take root and grow into something dark and hurtful inside. Left unhealed, we just repeat what was done to us, only we think we are justified some how. We’re not. We’re just as guilty as the person who hurt us. We are repeating the cycle.
We have this wonderful aspect to our humanity that enables us to change. We can look at ourselves, learn about the hurtful parts of us, heal the pain, and function in a kind, understanding way toward ourselves and others. This takes work. It takes humility and it’s worth it. I don’t say this from an “I’m all that” place but rather from knowing what it’s like to be the one hurting others, doing the hard work with others by my side to delve into the why, and find healing. I’m not always good at it but I try to see the other side. I try to understand where the other is coming from rather than demand I’m right and you’re wrong. It’s freeing, really it is. It feels so much better to put down my arsenal of attacks and listen instead. I don’t have to agree with you to listen and understand your view. Listening to you helps me soften. We might not end the conversation in agreement, but we will still be friends. Try it, you might find freedom if you do. 🙂
I posted this in 2017 and it’s time to bring it back.
“The challenge is to always do what is right and good and true, even if others don’t appreciate it. Making the world a better place can’t depend on applause. You have to keep striving, no matter what, because if you don’t, many of the things that need to be done in our world will never get done.” ~ Kent M. Keith, author of Anyway – The Paradoxical Commandments
The Paradoxical Commandments by Keith M. Kent:
- People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
- If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
- If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
- The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
- Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
- The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
- People favor underdogs but follow top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
- What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
- People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
- Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.
I resonate with Kent Keith’s ideas. Our job is to leave a positive mark on this planet through our actions and words. Our ripples may be small or large. The size isn’t the point. The healthiest approach is to detach from the outcome or reach of the good we do and do good anyway! 🙂
Are those around you starting to drive you bananas? When we are stuck together for awhile it tends to bring out the worst in others…and us. If you’re frustrated with another, you might not need to look very far to find the root of the problem. It might be you!
Shocking, huh? We are so quick to assign blame to others but often we are the culprit. Take a look at what’s going on in your relationships. Before you start to assume someone else needs to do the changing, take a look at what you might be doing, saying, not doing or not saying that is contributing.
You know the saying, it takes two to Tango? You’re on a relational dance floor and unless you are dealing with a person who has a personality disorder (which only accounts for about 10% of the population) you are likely engaging in as many steps or more than your dance partner. We don’t like that. We like to believe we’re right and the other person has serious problems. The flaw in this is you will then spend so much time looking at the other person’s faults you will completely miss your own.
People have ended relationships erroneously believing it was the other person’s fault. If they had just taken the time to do some serious self-reflecting and stop placing the all blame on the other, they might be in a healthy relationship and avoid repeating the same pattern again and again.
Next time you are in a disagreement, step back and find out what’s your part.
Deep down we all want to be seen. We want to know we matter, that who we are at our core, all messy and wonderful, is accepted. Do you have that experience at home, with family, with friends, at work, anywhere? For some, your answer is, “No where and with no one”. You keep who you are at the deepest levels hidden. It feels safer that way. But it has a price. It’s isolating and it’s limiting your capacity to do, to be, to excel.
I know something about both sides of this. I know what it is to hold my cards very close, not to let you see the real me. I also know the freeing experience of being seen, truly seen, at-the-core-of-who-I-am seen and it is a powerful place to be. I invite you to join me there. To surround yourself with people who see you, know you, and love you in the midst of the beauty and the mess. They also let you see them in their beauty and mess.
It’s in being seen and loved that we heal. The pain of our past is tenderly bandaged and we begin to move beyond the limits the injuries created. We find connection in our relationships and new found exhilaration in our work. We find our stride and bring to this planet more light and love and creativity. Our world desperately needs this…you desperately need this. Come join me and find it!
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Sometimes we must unravel so we can be properly knit back together, the way we were meant to be. Prior to going through therapy, I was generally an easy going person, at least on the outside. As a child I learned to appear “perfect” so others would like me. It wasn’t a sustainable approach and by my late 30’s I completely imploded, shattering the perfect image I unconsciously worked my whole life to maintain. When I embarked on my healing journey, I noticed I wasn’t so agreeable anymore. If someone offended me, I would speak up in a blundering hurtful way. I didn’t know how to have a productive, healthy voice. I was practicing skills I had not used before. In my “perfect” state I brushed away offenses, “No problem, I ‘m fine.” But I wasn’t. I was just shoving all that hurt deep inside for the sake of being liked. Practicing speaking up was hard at first, then it got easier and more productive.
Now, I’m noticing a new development. I don’t always desire to say anything. It takes more to offend me. I’m noticing that times when I used to be easily hurt I am now not so bothered. I’m not shoving the hurt away, it’s just not there. I have an increased capacity to stop and understand this other person is not likely trying to hurt me. That perhaps their sharp edges are unhealthy ways of protecting their tender parts and they don’t know another way yet to deal with that.
I am certainly not saying this like, “Oh, look at me! I’ve got it all together.” Oh heck no! Anyone close to me knows all to well that I still have work to do. I am not tooting my own horn but rather the horn of the power of dealing with your inner garbage. I’m noticing as I go through this healing journey a sense of becoming who I was meant to be. The me I thought I was supposed to be was a very messy and hurtful product. 39 years worth of knitting together was unravelled to begin anew. 15 years later I am still seeing the benefits of the journey. I have a long way to go. I am not fixed, just well into the process. I am so grateful we can change. I am grateful we can unravel and be reknit into the creation we were meant to be. Healing is possible. Wounds from the past do not have to dictate who we are forever.
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Come and join me on this wonderful Journey Forward!