Coffee before talkie. My choice of coffee mug this morning sums up my preferred way to start my day: with some quiet alone time. As a sensitive introvert, I appreciate the early morning hours when the house is totally quiet. I start my coffee brewing and while I wait, I stroll through my indoor garden, which helps bring my focus into the present, and provides a boost of beauty, appreciation, and gratefulness.
I then sip my coffee while I write in my journal. I reflect on the events of the previous day, as well as my thoughts and feelings relating to those events. I notice what triggered me and left me feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or agitated. If something left me feeling sad or angry, I write it out so I can explore my reactions and understand myself better. Why did the event or situation leave me feeling that way? How did I react?
By cultivating this ongoing practice of focused self-reflection and looking at my own behavior and choices, I've taken my self-awareness journey to a whole new level. Through regular review of my life experiences, it becomes easier to see the lessons I'm meant to learn. I can better see how and when my behavior and choices are out of alignment with my intentions, priorities, and values. We don't always choose what happens around or to us, but we are always in control of how we choose to respond to what happens. Are we choosing a response or path that is authentic to who we really are and that aligns to our values and intentions? Do our choices and behavior strengthen the connection with ourself, *and* our connection with others?
My morning ritual is one of the most important parts of my day and helps me start from a place of groundedness, feeling connected and centered. What contributes to your morning centeredness?
The universe is always sending us signs about our callings and our path. We are being invited to grow beyond our limits and evolve into our highest potential. The messages and clues can show up anywhere. But do we notice them?
I love being surprised by the discovery of hearts where I least expect them. Whenever I find one, such as on this painted rock lying along the sidewalk, it reminds me that my purpose in this life involves learning to truly love. My journey has taken me through some challenging experiences to show me all the ways I have been blocking love from flowing into and through my life.
I'm a sensitive introvert, so I spend a lot of time in my head, telling myself stories about how unlovable I am. I'm also a recovering over-achiever and people pleaser because I believed the only way to receive love was to prove how good I was, and that I deserved it.
Through my life experiences, it's been made very clear to me that I've not been good about loving myself. And because I'm not good about loving myself, I'm also not good at loving others, or accepting love from others. The past few years, I've been learning and practicing the art of self-love.
It's not been easy practice for me. There are a lot of old wounds that have needed to be healed. I have been learning how to forgive myself for all the wrongs I have done. I have been learning self-compassion and how to stop beating myself up for every mistake. I have been learning to make self-care a priority and caring for all aspects of my wellbeing. I have been exploring the old beliefs and stories about my lovability, and I'm still working to rewrite them. None of these lessons have been easy.
But as difficult as it's been, it's been equally rewarding. Because breaking my heart open to expose all the hurt and wounds and brokenness inside has allowed my heart to finally begin the healing process, which is creating space for love to flow in. 💜
Most of us have a desire to help other people in some capacity or another. The challenge that many of us face is learning how to find some sort of balance between meeting the needs of other people, while not neglecting our own needs. When we say yes too often to requests of our time and energy, we may find that we’ve over-committed and that we are unable to do anything well. It’s important to look at the motivations behind our desire to help. Perhaps we value achievement and have a tendency to take on too much at any given time. Maybe we have a deep need to please people, to be liked, or to be appreciated for what we do. Or maybe we have a fear of what will happen if we say no. I’ve experienced most of these motivations at some time or another.
No matter what our motivations for serving are today, what if we ground our desire to serve in love and compassion? When we serve and give in love, we cast our eyes on meeting the needs of other people, AND we make sure that we have the capacity to do the giving. Serving in love shifts our perspective away from our need to please the other person to a desire to help the other person from the goodness of our heart. We commit only to what is ours to do and what we have enough time and energy to follow through on.
We are honest about our limitations in fulfilling the need and when we are unable to help, we verbalize this with kindness and compassion. If possible, we might offer to help at a later time, or in a different way than they requested. If, however, we know that we are not the right person to help for any reason, we say “no” with love. Serving from the heart removes the discomfort and eliminates the feeling that we should help just because they asked and creates a better situation for everyone involved.
We spend much of our life trying to force everything into discrete categories. Am I an introvert or an extrovert? Do I want to be successful at work or do I want to be satisfied at home? Do I focus on my self-care needs, or do I give unselfishly to others? Do I follow the rules or break them? Am I living in fear or acting in courage?
In Falling Upward, Richard Rohr wrote that the dualistic mind compares, competes, conflicts, conspires, condemns, cancels out contrary evidence, and crucifies with impunity. With comparison comes judgment and condemnation naturally follows. Dualistic thinking leads to a decision that one thing is good and the other is bad. Rather than seeing the whole picture, we see only a part of the story - that which affirms our view of the world and the story we have told. Forcing discrete choices with dualistic thinking is not helpful in most of life’s situations and may create turmoil in our relationships.
Non-dualistic thinking, on the other hand, involves wholeness. We move away from either-or in favor of both-and.
Non-duality is incredibly important when we are in times of change or deep personal growth. Real, lasting behavior change takes time; it does not happen overnight or over the course of a few weeks. When we get trapped into non-dualistic thinking, we see ourselves only as passing or failing, changing or not changing. In reality, sometimes we are going to be the person we want to be and act the way we want to act, and other times, we are not. We’re going to slip. We’re going to take two or ten steps backward. We are going to make mistakes.
But failing does not make us a failure. We are imperfect human beings, who throughout the day are subjected to any number of external situations and environmental issues that impact our behavior and the choices we make. As we learn to practice present moment awareness, we’ll notice more quickly when we are getting off track so we can try again. Rather than scoring ourselves pass or fail, we see that we are doing the best we can given the situation and grade ourselves an “A” for our best effort.
A common definition of compassion is having a desire to help someone who is suffering, which includes pain, distress, and hardship. We all experience suffering at some point in our lives. When people are hurting on the inside, we may see it in their behavior. When we encounter an “unloving” or “unkind” person, our natural impulse may be to respond in kind. But if we see them as someone who is suffering in some way and we feel moved by their pain, a natural desire to help emerges. Choose to extend them compassion and love instead of adding to their suffering. The people who act the most unloving may be the ones who most need to receive love.
Transforming our relationships begins with us. Through compassion, we are practicing presence, acceptance and forgiveness and we leave people feeling noticed, accepted, and embraced. This is where the miracle occurs. As we extend compassion to others, we may notice a shift within ourselves; we may feel more connected, more loving, and more joyful. Another miracle occurs. Our offerings of grace, love, and kindness may be mighty or they may be small. But even the smallest offerings can have a big impact on the people in our lives, and we may never know how our small acts of caring changes the trajectory of someone’s day.
What small offering can you make today to help another feel loved?