Tag Archives: Courage

AWAKENING TO A PEACEFUL HEART

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent.  It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”  E. F. SchumacheR

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A few months ago, my life was so full I felt I was in constant motion.  I was promoting my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholenesswith book signings, and I met a wonderful man and began a relationship with him.  Combined with the usual things one has to take care of in life, I was fairly overwhelmed.  As a result, I stopped going to the spiritual celebration I often attend on Sundays because I needed time for myself.

When We Feel Anger, We Need To Take A Breath

Then one day, I did attend the Sunday celebration, and as I entered the building, I ran into a young man I hardly knew who greeted me.  “Good to see you.  We haven’t seen you in a long time.  You did your presentation and sold your books; then you disappeared.”

Wow! I’m sure my face was red with the anger I felt.  How dare he suggest I just used my community in this way!  I’d been there nearly every Sunday for eight years!  I hardly knew this person and he knew nothing about my personal life.  A dozen angry responses flashed through my mind—but I took a deep breath, decided to be direct, and said, “Well, I was really exhausted after I finished the book.  Then I had to do all the promotional stuff, and I’m now in a relationship.   I just needed time to take care of myself.”

Another person walked up to us and I was able to slip away, thankful that I’d been able to respond with an explanation that would perhaps make him realize his assumption had been wrong.  I was also pleased with the restraint I’d shown.  When I calmed down and thought about what he had said, I realized it reflected some issue he was struggling with.

Two people in a heated argument about religion...

Two people in a heated argument about religion when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University. Click the audio button found above and to the left to listen to them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our Issues Are About The Ego

We all have our issues and when those buttons get punched, it is so easy to act in a way we will regret later.  Inevitably, if we just react emotionally, without taking a deep breath first, we create more of a problem, making the problem “bigger, more complex, and more violent” as Schumacher suggests.  Pausing to take that breath before responding reminds us we are in the moment and need to respond in the moment from the heart, not in response to our injured ego that wants revenge, attention or is responding to our past negative experiences.

In taking that breath, we are also affirming we want peace, and it may allow us to see the source of the discomfort for the other person.  Taking a breath allows us to notice the tone of his voice or the expression on his face and that may guide us to respond in a positive way.  I realized instantly that the young man who spoke to me knew nothing about my personal life, and that being open to him might create a bridge of understanding.

It Takes Courage To Be Peaceful When Others Are Not

I don’t agree with Schumacher that choosing the more peaceful path requires genius.  I think it’s just common sense, but in a world where we’re still fighting wars and most television shows are about violence, it does sometimes take courage to take a different path.  It takes courage in order to go against what those around us believe, especially if they are friends or family.

I taught high school English for years and was often appalled by the hateful things teens said to each other, even to their friends.  When students chose not to engage in that disrespectful behavior, they were often ostracized, so the penalty for nonconformity was huge.

I once had a student ask me if I thought most people were good.  I answered that, yes, I thought most people were basically good.  She responded that she didn’t agree—she thought most people were mean.  With that as the basis of her thinking, it is not surprising that she often responded hatefully to others.  She wanted to hurt them before they hurt her.

Our Responses Reflect Who We Are

In the end, though, it doesn’t matter whether others are good or hateful.  How we respond in every situation is our choice and we have to live with it.  We have to decide who we want to be.  Do we want to be the one who comes back with a more hateful remark or do we want to be the one who creates a bridge or lets the emotional charge from our opponent die because we choose not to feed their negativity with ours?

Courage Comes From The Heart

When we are in doubt about how to respond to a negative situation, it is always wise to take a breath and consult the heart.  Responding out of love and peace is never a bad choice, and it doesn’t mean that we are weak by not confronting the anger or hatefulness in another.  We can still hold to our point of view, but when we do that from a peaceful base, it is more likely to be heard by others.  It may then be possible to turn an argument into a conversation or a misunderstanding into friendship.  Courage is most powerful when it comes from the heart.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                  ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Don’t Run From Anger – Use It to Heal and Evolve, Video: S.T.O.P. – A Conversation with Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra, What’s Your Reaction to Conflict

AWAKENING TO BEFRIEND OURSELVES

“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we will ever do.”  Brene Brown

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Are you as supportive of yourself as your best friend is supportive of you?  Do you have the courage to own your own story even if you don’t like it?  What are you willing to do to empower yourself?

I’m glad April is over because I don’t feel so guilty any more that I didn’t complete a project I promised to complete.  It wasn’t anything terribly important.  It certainly wasn’t earth shattering.  I doubt that anyone cared about it but me.  But I’m a person who values commitments and so I’m rather disappointed in myself.

I had joined the event called NoPoWriMo which meant that I committed to write a poem every day.  It didn’t have to be polished and it could be a first draft.  I only completed six poems.  Why?  Well, the rest of life intervened in ways I couldn’t ignore.

Opportunities to do events or publicize my book and preparation for a Release Your Fear workshop that I gave on Saturday took more time than I expected.  A wonderful new friend came into my life with whom I chose to spend some time.  Everything that pulled me away from writing the poetry was really good and more important.

Being More Conscious of Intuition

My error was apparent from the moment I made the decision to do this event.  My intuition said quite clearly, “This will put more pressure on you.  You don’t need to take on one more thing.  If you feel pressured, you won’t be able to write poetry.  You won’t be in the right frame of mind.”  Clearly, I should have listened, but my sometimes overly optimistic self said, “I’ll find time.  It will be a nice way to relax in the evening.”  Hah!

So, I failed to meet the goal I had created for myself.  Although this wasn’t anything that impacted my life in a negative way, it’s a good example of how I used to have too much of a tendency to over commit.  I would get so involved with so many activities and people that I would be exhausted all the time.  This felt like I was backsliding.  As an introvert, I must have my quiet time each day in order to recharge, but for years, I often didn’t leave enough room for it.

Loving Ourselves to Make Good Choices

The damage I’ve done to myself by pushing too hard or over committing is one of the stories I need to own.  I have a tendency in this area to make bad choices because there are so many interesting things I love to do.  But if I love myself, I have to be willing to say no, not only to myself, but to others as well.  Usually it’s easier to say no to myself; it’s much harder to say it to someone else.

Going Deeper to Awaken

Compared to many stories, my poetry experience is trivial.  For example, feeling we failed at relationships is a much harder one for most of us.  It is important that we take the time to understand why it didn’t work and the part we played.  When we can do that, we can learn to make better decisions and choices the next time.  But then, after the analysis and owning our part of the story, we need to love ourselves enough to forgive ourselves, knowing we did the best we could at the time.

At those moments when we are most disappointed in ourselves, can we give ourselves what our best friends would give us?  Elizabeth Gilbert once said, “Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.”

Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Experiencing Friendship With Yourself

As your friend, you will listen carefully to that voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough, and you will tell yourself about all the ways you are good enough.  You will have compassion for that hurt child within you who sometimes feels powerless to change what makes you unhappy.  You will empathize with your hurt self and reassure that self that things will be better and that you have the courage to seek out the hard answers.  You will remind yourself that you deserve the very best and that what you desire will come to you.

Our best friend

Empowering Ourselves On Our Spiritual Journey

When we hear these things from our best friends, it feels good to know someone cares so much, but when we can say these things to ourselves and believe them, we empower ourselves.  The bravest thing we can ever do is to look inside and openly observe our deepest self.  The next bravest thing we can do is begin the journey to fix what needs repairing.  These journeys may be challenging, but they will be more manageable if we learn to be our own best friend.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Befriending OurselvesThe Art and Craft of Befriending Your ExperienceIs it Realistic to Befriend OurselvesBefriend Yourself 

AWAKENING TO RELATIONSHIPS: COMMITMENT, Part 4

“‘I will always love you,’ means nothing unless the mind is fearlessly aligned with the heart.  It takes the courage of a warrior to make and to keep a vow of love.”    www.lovedovetarot.com

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Have you ever committed to a love relationship, friendship, or profession?  What is at the core of your choice not to commit to something you actually want?  Do you feel that if you commit to someone you will lose your freedom and you value that above all else?

For the last three weeks, I’ve been writing about what I feel are the most important elements in any relationship: empathy, intimacy, integrity, and commitment.  Today, I’m writing about commitment, and although it’s a major issue in love relationships, I believe it’s also very important in many areas of life.

Developing Any Skill Requires Commitment

In my late teens, I realized I wanted to be a modern dancer and knew that the sporadic classes I’d taken were not enough.  At that point, I had to commit to daily classes to develop my skills, and when I had to miss a class, I worked out by myself.

When I moved to Washington, DC, I had to travel into the city and committed to taking daily classes no matter what.  In fact, I even found a high school teaching job where I didn’t start teaching until 11:00 am so that I could take a class every morning.  It was this commitment that made it possible for me to develop the technique and skill to be good enough to eventually dance with a company.

In cases like this or in developing skills, commitment to training allows us to fulfill our goals and desires.  The problem is that this isn’t always easy, and when things get hard, many people give up so that they never feel a sense of accomplishment.  The discipline feels too confining.  However, if we want to feel good about ourselves, we have to be committed to being the persons we want to be and be willing to search for what we need and practice that skill in our lives.

Spiritual Practices Require Commitment to Learn

I grew up in a family that was very emotionally reactive, and so I modeled that behavior for many years.  At some point, though, I realized that behavior wasn’t working well for me, and I thought meditation might help me find a more peaceful way to be.  I was right, but it took some time and commitment to reach a point where I could center myself in the midst of an argument or difficult situation.  Just learning to feel peaceful when I was meditating wasn’t enough.

Meaningful Relationships Require Commitment

Perhaps the most complex situation where we make a commitment is in a relationship because it isn’t about just disciplining ourselves to do something we want to do.  There is another person whose well-being we must consider.  This is also true of friendships because to sustain a long term friendship, we need to practice empathy, integrity, and intimacy.  Parents also have to be committed to their children and help them develop as happy and whole individuals and not abandon them when they are most difficult.

In Loving Relationships We Can Grow and Expand

With a divorce rate at over 50% in this country, it appears commitment between adult partners is quite challenging.  I would venture to guess that all those relationships lack at least one of the elements I consider important.  They are all essential in creating a loving relationship that is healthy and meaningful, and a good relationship can be one of the best places to grow and expand who we are and our ability to love.  That takes time.  No matter how much we think we know someone, when we marry or move in together, the dynamic may change and require adjustments.  That is why being truly committed to make the relationship work is really important.  It takes time to grow together and deepen the love between two people.

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To Love Requires A Fearless Mind

It also takes more than love to create a successful relationship.  “‘I will always love you,’ means nothing unless the mind is fearlessly aligned with the heart.”  I love this quote because it points out that we have to make decisions that come from the heart and release the fears that arise and block our thinking.  When life becomes difficult, we can always find reasons to run away, but if we are committed and mature, we take responsibility for doing what we can to solve problems and move forward in a positive way. We find the courage of the warrior.

When we fear we will lose our freedom by being in a relationship, what we really fear is that we will lose our sense of self if we merge too much with another, and if we don’t love ourselves, we may fear we aren’t capable of being loved.  I was once with a man who loved me very much, but he seemed ashamed of his love because his concept of masculinity was that a man who needed a woman was weak.  In his need to be masculine, he made selfish choices and felt bad about them, but refused to change his behavior.

Good Relationships Grow With Time

But it is possible to be in a relationship where we become more of who we are with someone we love, for love opens and expands us.  I see the beauty of long term commitment in the relationships that some of my married friends have who have been together for 30 years.  They have not been diminished by commitment.  Their love has grown and expanded.  They have had the freedom to be who they are and follow their interests because they love each other for who they truly are.  They have all had to make adjustments and changes, but in the end, it has been worth it to have loving partners who are deeply committed to them to share the joys and sorrows of life.

You have To Know And Love Yourself First

But here’s what I think is the key.  If you know who you are and are confident, freedom isn’t such an issue because knowing who you are gives you great inner freedom and you won’t make choices that violate your integrity.  You have to first trust yourself before you can trust someone else.  Trusting and knowing yourself means you’ll make a better choice in choosing a partner and you won’t settle for less than what you need.  You’ll choose someone with whom you can grow and expand and have mutual respect.

I think Timothy Keller sums it up in this statement:  “To be loved, but not known is comforting but superficial.  To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.  But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, is a lot like being loved by God.  It is what we need more than anything.  It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”  And so it is.

What have been your experiences with commitment?  Please Comment.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                                      ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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