Friday, February 26, 2016

Lost in the forest

In densely populated areas there is usually not a forest that is big enough for us to truly get lost. We may not take the right path right away, but pretty soon we will get where we set out on going.
Wilderness areas are of course a whole different matter! Those usually are plenty big enough to get lost in; sometimes even to the point of not being found after something has happened to us.

Nowadays we also have to navigate the ‘urban jungle’. And while there are Apps and other tools to help us find our way, they are not always a guarantee that we actually get there without some considerable frustration.

But perhaps the most difficult area to find our way is life itself.

From a very young age we find markers on our path that send us in the ‘right direction’. However, what is the right direction?

One might argue that the right direction is the one that leads us to be upstanding citizens. Trustworthy, even loyal human beings who will ~ when it comes down to it ~ do ‘the right thing’.
Yet who will determine what ‘the right thing’ is?

For some that may mean to step in our father’s footsteps and lead the family business. For others that can lead to a lifetime of taking care of everybody around us. ‘The right thing’ can be a path that guides us to wealth, to security, and to a lifetime of being very reasonable people.

And then one day we may wake up to find that the comfortable framework we have build our lives around is tumbling. That even though it was structured and acceptable, it never was set in concrete. We may find that being a reasonable person may have felt right, however, it may also have lured us into the security of being average. Tolerable.

It can be an awakening that leaves us lost in the forest.
We know that there is no going back.
We know that what we had considered ‘the right thing’ may be the right thing for other people, but we require something different. We need a new direction!

At that point there are many paths, many roads that open up for us. We may see many markers, pointing us in all kinds of different ways. Markers that are put up by others who claim to know what is best. Others who declare they know where we should go…

Chances are that they don’t know us, that they don’t know where we desire to go, and that they have no way of knowing what the best way for us to proceed is…
Chances are that even though we feel lost in the forest, now is the time for us to find our own way, our own path.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Looking back

Looking back, whether it is on a period in our lives, on certain events that have happened, or rather on our lives in general usually bring us two kinds of reactions. On one hand it is easy to find ourselves dropping into a mode of ‘would have, could have, should have’… While on the other hand the distance that time itself gives us also creates clarity. Details that were hard to distinguish while events were still unfolding, now are absolutely clear; and while as things were happening there didn’t seem to be any rhyme nor reason to how things came together ~ or failed to come together ~ suddenly are seen with the proverbial 20/20-hindsight. A certain brand of crystal clarity that can put all things in a perspective in a way we were unable to reach before…

And while it we should be careful not to start beating ourselves up over the things that could have been done differently, things we should have seen as they happened, and so on, it is a good idea to look back at our lives every so often.
To gain clarity and new perspectives. And to see ~ and acknowledge to ourselves ~ all the things we have done, the details we did see; and how, overall, we have done a stellar job!

Even if we come to the conclusion as we are looking back that our thoughts and actions left quite a bit to be desired, the fact that we take time to honestly look at it and allowing ourselves to come to that conclusion means that we have learned and grown from whatever has occurred in ways that we never thought possible!

After all, if we take the spiritual perspectives that everything that happens in our lives happens for a reason, and that therefore we create those things in our lives that can help us gain the wisdom from ‘lessons learned’, (spiritual) growth, and the greatest personal unfoldment we can achieve ~ then it is not about whether something turned out the way we envisioned it, the way we desired it to go, or even the ‘best way’ whatever that might have been.
It is all about what it has brought us in experience, in wisdom.
It is all about the things we have discovered about ourselves; some of which we may want to change, while others may surprise us as we never thought we had it in ourselves.

Either way, the realization of new aspects of ourselves is a tremendously valuable gift.
And looking back permits us to see them with the crystal clear vision of 20/20 sight!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Life and death decisions

‘Life and death’ decisions most often are split second decisions. We encounter a situation and need to decide our very next step that very second; and whichever way we choose will have great consequences. Perhaps even be the difference between life and death. Our own, or that of someone else.
Perhaps most commonly, decisions like that are encountered in traffic. We see something happening right in front of us and need to decide and act right that moment in order to avoid an accident ~ or worse. But in everybody’s life there are those moments in which we have an opportunity to make that decision in an instant that will allow us to keep living life as we have known it up to that moment. Or not.

This may mean that we confront our demise and embark upon the journey into that other realm…

More often though, it turns out that in that second we have made a choice that will change our lives forever. For good or bad; for better or for worse…

Observing other people going through a process like that ~ the spilt second decision, and the life altering consequences that follow ~ it sometimes seems that neither the decision, nor the consequences are all that life-shattering.
This suggests that those ‘life and death decisions’ are intensely personal and connected to our life lessons and our unique, individual path through life.

For instance in the TV program ‘Shark Tank’.
People who are daring enough to partake in the program and pitch their product, almost every time are confronted with the chance to make that choice right there and then between the offers to finance their business such that they can reach the next step ~ whatever that next step is.
And at that very moment, it is almost as if their eyes turn vacant; their minds turn blank…
Any offer they would accept will change their (business) life forever, and yet they cannot quite see into which direction it will ultimately end up going. But there is no turning back…

One might say that these are not truly ‘life and death decisions’.
After all, in these type of decisions there is hardly ever any mortal danger to be encountered.

This is true. However, how much does our life have to change own order for it to give us that ‘before and after’ feeling?
How much does it take for us to realize that our lives will never be the same again?
How often have we said: “But I was a different person, back then”?

What we are saying is that we have put to rest part of our ‘previous’ lives so that we could embark upon our next adventure on our personal path. And more often than not, the decision that got us there was in a sense a ‘life and death decision’!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Am I the only one who…

We may all feel like we are the only one on this entire earth who is experiencing something, or find ourselves in a certain situation at some points in our lives. It may prompt us to as ourselves, am I the only one who is experiencing, doing, feeling, thinking this?

Right of the bat, I would say no. We are not the only one.
Out of 7.4 billion people who are currently inhabiting the earth, it is very unlikely we are the only person on this earth who is experiencing this ‘thing’; who finds themselves in that situation we don’t want to be in.
Chances are other people have been there, and know exactly what we are going through.

From a more spiritual perspective the number of areas in which we may find ourselves encountering problematic or weird situations in, are limited. Home, family, relationships, jobs (or the work that we are doing), and travel are said to be the handful of areas where the ‘biggies’ in our lives take place. And each of those ‘biggies’ are ~ again from a spiritual perspective ~ a life-lesson we are here to learn.

This means that it is not as much what we encounter in life that sets us apart, it is our own, unique way in which handle things when we encounter them on our path.

It is our choice to either say nobody understands me and the situation I am in, and therefore nobody can help me handling it. Or to say; many people have experienced similar situations and learning form their experience I can handle it more effectively than I would be able to, left to my own devices.

But even if it is not about great, big, loge-changing events in our lives; how we handle our day-to-day stuff, not only makes us the unique individual we are, it also gives feedback to ourselves and the Universe as to how much of that particular lesson we have learned.
For instance, when someone ‘wrongs us’, do we set out to ‘get back at them’? Do we get angry, or frustrated? Do we act on feelings of ‘righteous indignation’? Or do we take a deep breath, bless them and us, and continue on our own personal path ~ be that going grocery shopping, or our path in a more spiritual sense.
When we are triggered in old behaviors, attitudes or habits, do we blame everybody around us? Or do we say ‘Oops, guess there is still something I want to change?’

Things like that happen to all of us, and depending on mood, on how well we slept the night before, on whether we are in a hurry or not, and on a thousand other variables, we act one way or another.

There is no chance whatsoever that we would be the only person having that experience.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Being strong

Not that long ago, being strong meant to grit our teeth and just power through any tough situation we might encounter in life. Crying was for the weak, and by the way, wouldn’t get you anywhere to start with anyway. So pick up and get on!

Then there is ‘strong’ in the physical sense. Being able to do things that require great physical strength. And again, up to fairly recently, that would be mostly in a job-environment.

Nowadays both perspectives on being strong have changed.
Jobs are mostly regulated so that ~ sometimes excessive ~ strength is no longer needed. Although a display of great physical strength is still looked upon with awe and admiration, it now takes place in sports, and as such is a choice whether we want to ‘be strong’ in that particular setting.
We also have discovered that by keeping everything within ourselves ~ by gritting our teeth ~ we are not necessarily strong. In this point in time, being strong is measured by opening up, by talking about it, sharing how we feel about things. And when we cry, the tears are seen as part of our individual healing process.

The interesting thing to me is how we have reversed our opinion on ‘being strong’ almost completely. From feeling it is ‘normal’ that we have jobs that require great physical strength, to sometimes even refusing to do a job when great physical strength is involved.
From a perspective that ‘crying is for the weak’, to recognizing that crying is a part of the flow of our inner healing process. Gaining the understanding that showing our emotions is a good thing that makes us stronger.

This new perception seems to have come with the idea that any emotional outburst is okay. Because putting it out there is part of ‘my process’.

The question that comes up is whether this is true. If saying anything we want to say, doing anything we want to do ~ or perhaps not doing the things we don’t want to do because they require (physical) strength ~ and feeling it is a good thing to have emotional outbursts; be it an angry outburst, or laughter.
In other words, have we become stronger people as a result of the reversal of our perception of what ‘being strong’ means?

Or are we using it as an excuse to be loud, and inconsiderate. Just looking at what we want when we want it, without taking responsibility for our actions.
Because that is not ‘being strong’; that is ‘being a Bully’.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Pointing fingers

It is easy to point fingers when something goes wrong. And often we are indeed quick to point out what went wrong, why it happened, and most of all who we feel is responsible. On numerous occasions we tend to place that responsibility outside of ourselves.

So, we are not cut off in traffic because we are multitasking, or even because we ourselves are in a hurry, but it is plain and clear the other person’s fault ~ and by the way, how dare they! When we are late, it is our companion’s doing as he/she always takes so much time to get ready. And on and on…

Somehow we feel that things are easier when we can look upon ourselves as being a good person, and when everything that doesn’t go as planned is done to us by others. When we are in no way responsible for it. When we can point fingers.

While there is some appeal in not being at fault ~ after all, if we are not at fault we don’t have to start looking at how we behave, act, react; in short live our lives. Consequently we don’t have to make changes in our attitudes, or in the way we handle the situations we encounter.
On the other hand, when we feel that everything that doesn’t go as we planned it ~ or even things that hurt us ~ are done to us out of the meanness of those around us, we could say we would be living in a pretty lousy world. And when it is entirely the other people who are at fault, then we would have no power to change any aspect of what is happening.

From that perspective one might say that as soon as we start pointing fingers, we are giving our power ~ our empowerment ~ away in the worst way! As soon as we point fingers we assume the role of being a victim without having a way out.

The more spiritual perspective says that we are responsible for our own path through life, and what ever situations or events we encounter on our path are there for us to gain experience, to learn and to grow from.
And while we may not always have chosen ~ or even be part of ~ the actual event, there is always something we can learn from it. Ultimately, how we handle it inside ourselves ~ where our attitudes and beliefs are concerned ~ will either show us the easy way out, or give us another opportunity to learn that particular lesson.

This does make the statement: “When we are pointing one finger at another, we are pointing three fingers at ourselves” food for thought…

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Seeking approval

In one way or another, we are all seeking approval. When we are very young we look for the approval of our parents. When we grow up we act to gain the approval of our peers. In interaction with others, we all too often measure our (self)worth by the amount of approval they are extending to us.
And perhaps the best, and from a certain perspective safest ways to feel validated and approved of, are ‘social media’.

Social media play into our want for instant gratification, and it gives this to us in a nice, concise form: the ‘like’. When we share (parts of) our lives on for instance Facebook, the number of friends our post reaches and the number of likes our post receives seem to not only show how well other people actually like that particular post, but also makes us feel good about ourselves. In other words, we feel like our (Facebook) friends are approving of what we are doing.
As we can post pretty much from anywhere, at any time; reactions to our post may start to come in immediately. Instant approval.

What we share usually is our own little niche.
Some people share the wonderful food that is just being served to them in their favorite restaurant, while others show their friends their healthy cooking skills. Some make social media their platform to protest politics, while others try and make the world a better place through thoughtful quotes, cute videos, and beautiful pictures.
In doing so, we not only seek approval from outside of ourselves, we direct precisely what we would like to be approved for…

And yet, in reality we are so much more than our presence on our preferred social medium!

It does bring up a couple of important questions.
Why are we looking outside of ourselves for validation? Why do we measure how well we are doing by what others think of the tiny tidbits of who we are that we share with them?
Wouldn’t it make more sense to evaluate how well we measure up to our own standards?

As long as we keep looking at (what we think) other people think of us as our approval rating or the measure of our success, we are denying ourselves the opportunity to be who we truly are.
When the things we say and how we say it are dictated by how well we think we are going to be accepted by those around us, we may not say what we think, but rather say what is socially acceptable in that particular situation.

In other words, as long as we choose to think, speak and act based on what what those around us do or say, we do not permit our true self to shine; we do not claim the empowerment we deserve.