Monthly Archives: July 2015

How Do We Resist the False Comfort of Self-Pity?

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Oh, the seductive croon. It has that way of cradling us with darkness, and slyly sinking us further downward and downward, singing of things that resonate with our pain, needs, sadness… seeming to commiserate and somehow help, when in reality what it truly succeeds in doing is pulling us into a place that can cage us with our utmost fears, suffering, loneliness, shame…. guilt. Part of the appeal is that it can seem like a form of self-love (somehow addressing and patting our hurts when the rest of the world is oblivious), and can also be perceived as a form of self-protection. It is so easy, so tempting… and like a siren, it has a way of lulling us too deep, and into places that can be hard to climb out of. Self-pity.

Life is hard. Love can break us. People can be cruel. It is normal to hurt, and want comfort….and self-pity is something that has a way of masquerading as comfort. Pity whispers to us, convincing us that our pain is greater than that of others, and that our suffering is unlike anything anyone else would understand or ever experience. It can become almost like a deceptive trophy of sad achievement that serves to validate our belief that our pain is mountainous, and thus we are justified in the self-sorrow that we continue to dwell in, as well as other behaviors that may cause harm to ourselves….and sometimes to others as well. It can become almost addictive to reach for that wound, that place… and pick at it, dig into it etc…which not only keeps the wound open, but even can make it fester and grow beyond the original wound and misery.

No one likes to admit that they indulge in feeling sorry for their own selves… and yet we all do it at some point, and sometimes so excessively that the truth can get distorted. It can become hard to think clearly, or see the world in any other way. Dark-tinted glasses obscure everything, and an automatic mental habit of sorts can form. This of course is a personal issue that I often see with clients, and there tends to be one of two contrasting trends that appears—-either the person wants to direct all the blame for their problems at others, and feel sorry for themselves because others have ruined their lives in some way…..or, it is the opposite….they absorb all of the blame onto their own selves. Oddly enough, with the first, they tend to often be a big part of the cause of their own situation (such as blaming their actions and choices on others to avoid responsibility, or blaming the results on others for not fixing it for them etc… ), and often those who are quick to batter their own selves feel that is an easier solution than looking truthfully at others, and often can be desperate for a way to gain a sense of control in situations where it otherwise is missing. “If I am to blame, I can aim everything at myself, and have a sense that it is something within me that I can eventually control and change, even though really this pain was created by someone else who doesn’t care to set the wrongs they did right.” Despite being different forms of perspective, both angles have similar results—they trap people into mindsets that can be restrictive to seeing the truth, and finding genuine solutions.

Self-pity can at times develop into a form of being selfish—especially when it involves being completely centered on your own self, and possibly seeing/ putting your needs, hurts, experiences etc.. at being of greater importance than that of other people. However, it is also important to recognize when it becomes more than that… when a loved one is so deep into it that they can see no way out, and reject anything else for their own selves. That is when it can become not just a debilitating habit, but rather something that should require attention and aid.

So, the most common things that I see people say? “I do everything wrong, nothing will ever work out for me, no one will ever love me. Its not fair that others get everything so easy. Its not fair that everyone else gets to have what they want, and its just handed to them. I might as well not try, hope, reach etc… because it all will be the same. No one has ever hurt like I have, no one has ever suffered in the way that I have…” Its important to not allow yourself to get swept into mindsets that compare everything to others—-everyone has their own trials and suffering, and it is not our place to make assumptions, or put ourselves in a form of higher status or priority of sorts based on those assumptions.

Another destructive result of self-pity is that our fears and mistakes can gain control over us. That crooning song tells us that anything we do or touch will be demolished, and that nothing will ever be good, or right for us. Fear-based mindsets restrict our ability to grow, learn from our mistakes in productive ways, discover better/healthier solutions…. and ironically, because it limits a person’s view and ability to truly try different options, and to trust their own selves/judgment… they often end-up reaching for familar/ similar choices and methods….and when the results once again result in failure and pain, it serves as more confirmation that good things are not meant for them ( without being able to see that they are continuing in the same patterns). It is basically, sadly, leading one’s own self blindly onto the same path again, and fulfilling a self-prophesy of sorts that places one right back into what they fear most will happen. Sometimes what I see are situations where people lock-up, and miss-out on good opportunities because they tell themselves it will go badly…. however, when that familiar situation appears….they manage to convince themselves when they see reasons that it will not work that it is just their fears speaking again, and that they need to ignore, and push past them. An analogy I once used with someone who would frequently run from the good situations, and yet dive right into the ones that they truly should have heeded their initial inner voice on…is that essentially its akin to having a clear, open path ahead of you, obvious good things heading in the right direction…. and yet you stop the car in the middle of the street, and do not proceed because your fears convince you that there could be something bad down the end of the road. However, when you are heading down a street that is blocked with obvious obstacles (when there are obvious legit reasons from the start that make it so you cannot reach a real destination—such as getting involved with someone who is not available etc…) that is not the time to tell yourself that your doubts are just your fears speaking again, and then slam your foot on the gas. You will eventually hit those obstacles head-on. So that is essentially something to think about when you want to determine whether it is your fears speaking, or truly your gut/ logic/ the spirit. There is a difference between genuinely recognizing why/when something is not the right direction to go, and when it is just your fears causing you to slam on the breaks on what is otherwise a clear, good path.

So, how do we plug our ears to that croon, and find healthier ways for dealing with our pain, and caring for ourselves? The first key is to look outward, not within. Forward, not back. Now, it is important to be able to look at situations (and ourselves) to become honestly aware of the causes behind things ( be it mistakes we our own selves made, or people who may be harmful to us despite what our hearts want to believe), but there is a big difference between productive, honest examination… and just wallowing in the hurt and self-deceptions to further swell the magnitude of things. Our thoughts and perceptions are what mold us, and have the most power in determining our choices, and how we view our own selves and our potential. It essentially is Dumbo’s feather in reverse ( and this is a phrase I have said many times over the years through my efforts in helping others). What we believe, we become. What we tell ourselves is possible, impossible etc.. to achieve– we fulfill. I have done study (as well as self-application) on the Law of Attraction, and do truly believe in/ have experienced the benefits of positive manifestation ….which essentially is striving to change our patterns of thinking in order to lift our restrictions, and open doors of positive possibilities for our own selves. When we are positive, believe in ourselves, and see potential for ourselves….once again, that feather comes into play, and seems to help us to fly.

Now, I will take this more into a spiritual, and personal direction.

Hebrews 4:16

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need

Psalm 73:23-26

Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.

Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Jeremiah 29 11-13

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

John 8:12

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

 

Okay, its obvious were I am now going with this, but I will try to refrain myself from citing a number of additional scriptures that essentially reflect the same guidance. Ultimately, so much comes down to our faith, and the ability to trust and place our worries, struggles, fears, and…pain…. into the hands of Heavenly Father. It is so easy to let ourselves drown, and lose sight of not only our own selves and ultimate goals, hopes etc…. but despair sometimes has the affect of depleting us spiritually, and leading us away from God—be it through wrong choices influenced by the negative factors and desperation within us, or even a sense of abandonment. It can be helpful to remember that fundamentally we are here to learn, grow, and make choices that determine so much in regard to who we become, and where we place priorities…and none of that would be possible without facing trials and heartbreak. If everything went our way, if everyone loved us, if everything we wanted could easily be obtained…how would we grow? How would we be able to truly appreciate things/ people/ blessings, and even be able to discover who we truly are, and what we are capable of if we never faced challenges, or experienced loss? It is through our struggles and mistakes that we gain understanding, compassion, appreciation, and yes, we can even achieve deeper faith when we remember which direction we should turn.

Personally, I have been there. Many times. Like everyone else… I have known cruelty. I have had my heart broken. I have been emotionally isolated from the support and love of others. Many times I have slipped into that tempting abyss, but even when I was a scared, hurting child… there was always comfort to be found through prayer, and the knowledge that I was not really alone, and that I was loved by the one who truly mattered. As an adult, the same belief and faith that served me when I was a child often was (is) what held the key to lifting me out of deep places….through prayer I no longer was silent and invisible, and through trust and faith… truly giving my burdens over….light finally broke through the darkness, and even has frequently resulted in the gift of understanding that I do not think I would have gained in any other way. Often it is through our deepest suffering that we can truly learn about what is important, become strong, discover that light and beauty can always be found…. and gain compassion, awareness, and understanding for the struggles that others face. Often I have felt that my experiences may have been so that I could learn things that will be of aid and comfort to others…and to me, that is one of the greatest blessings that I can think of—not only to help ease the trials and pains that others experience, but because it is often through service, and loving those beyond ourselves that we can discover our own wounds have quietly healed ( typically when we were not even “looking”), and that we have risen out of our own personal depths. A very real cure to feeling pity for ourselves literally exists in doing the exact opposite—caring for others.

Resisting the temptation of self-pity is not easy, and for most people is not something that can just be done with a casual snap of the fingers. Obviating misery’s song often requires a form of mental training and discipline—just as is needed with any bad habit, or thing we would like to change about ourselves. I would be lying to say that all my sadness has been erased, but the difference for me now is that the sadness and pain does not rule me—my fears and past are no longer hidden things in a closet that can pounce at any moment and pull me into the dark. Do I still have longing for things that are not exactly available to me? Yes, but again, I have learned to recognize/ accept that those inner needs are there, but at the same time do not allow them to have primary focus, and thus drown-out the blessings that I do have before me. Sometimes it reminds me a little of what happens when you fast for an extended time—at first, hunger seems to dominate and control everything, but after a couple days it diminishes, and you become free of the constant, demanding pounding… it may still be there, but you learn how to be selective about what you choose to focus on, and thus gain freedom and control. It truly is about self-control, perspective, and the ability/clarity to make better choices for yourself. Additionally, acceptance is something that can be a crucial element in healing and moving forward. Sometimes we simply have to be able to address and face the things that have harmed us, and even accept that the pain and scars may not fully go away, but that it does not mean they need to be given the power to dictate our future potential, or forever hold us back. Lastly, forgiveness. Forgiving ourselves and others is something that frees us, and severs the ropes that lead to those anchors in the dark depths…. through forgiveness we are able to start anew, move forward, and once again… not give focus and power to the things that will only lead us backwards into self-destruction. We have been gifted with renewing grace, and its important that we also remember to grant it to our own selves.

So, essentially… have faith, direct your thoughts in positive directions, service to others…and….Be happy. 🙂

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When We Seek Answers Through Prayer… Are We Truly Open to Receive?

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The absolute most common issue those in my profession see? Clients who only want to hear… what they want to hear. Sometimes it can be very perplexing as to why they are even bothering coming to me for answers and guidance when they already have the answers that they want scripted and ingrained within their heads. It doesn’t matter what I say, they will either reject it and replace it with what they want, or twist it into what they want the result to be. Sometimes I can spend a great deal of time going over everything, carefully detailing the reasons why it will not result in what they are hoping for…. and right when I think I have gotten through to them, they will ask, “So, its going to work-out, right?” Cue Delaney planting her head into her keyboard. Often they ignore blaring signs that the situation is not going to result in what they desire… down to being directly told by the person of desire that they no-longer want to interact, that they won’t leave their spouse ( sigh…don’t get me started), and various other elements and obstacles that just do not line things-up in the way that is needed for healthy, lasting, positive results. Its akin to skipping down a street with signs everywhere warning of danger, “Turn around! Dead End! Bottomless Sink hole ahead! He will break your heart and run-off with your best friend Fred!” Nevertheless, I do my best to be compassionate and patient, and try to find ways to help the person to understand, and possibly even steer their focus in better directions…because I understand full-well what it is like to be in love, and to hope for the impossible.

Everyone just wants to be loved (especially by those that they themselves love), and it can be shattering not to obtain it. However, I have found myself in situations with clients where I finally had to drop my hands, and tell them outright that the answers will not change—especially when a great deal of time has passed, and over and over they have rejected the answer in front of them, and continue to act baffled that it does not ultimately result in what they want. I give it a final effort to explain to them that unless they are willing to listen to what I have been saying, and open themselves to considering other possibilities/ the truth of the situation….there is nothing more that I can do for them….nothing more that I can say. They are free to believe what they want to, and continue to follow that path and act on it, but I no-longer will be able to assist them since they do not truly listen to, or accept my guidance—they will be on their own, and have to deal with the results. It is always hard for me to have to step-back, and it makes me feel horrible, and worried for the person and what heartbreak I know waits for them…..but sometimes I have no choice but to let them discover it for their own selves since they were not willing to accept anything other than what they wanted to believe/hear. Then, often… eventually they do re-appear, finally having discovered the truth for themselves in some devastating way that could have been avoided had they been willing to open themselves previously…..and then we start the tedious work of rebuilding and moving forward. That is, assuming that they do not turn right back down that road to see if someone has filled-in the sink hole.

The reason I am mentioning this is because an odd thought/correlation occurred to me this morning. Often when we pray we ask for answers and guidance—to know if the path we are on is correct. However, how often do we truly listen? How often do we want to believe the answer is what we desperately want it to be, and thus let our own voice, desires, desperation etc… drown-out the true answer? Do we ignore the obvious indications that it is not the right choice, and convince ourselves that it is the right one via telling ourselves that we got the answer that it is so? Hold it up as validation? What of when it involves out-right making justifications to ourselves to over-look the blatant obstacles, and maybe even things we know are wrong….but want to ignore, twist-around, brush aside etc… just to set our eyes on what is hoped for?

James 4:3
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

 

Essentially, it means that you ask, but do not receive/hear the answer because you ask with the wrong intentions—because you want the result to be for your own gain, pleasure, joy, rewards etc.. ( fill in the blank). Thus, it basically is praying for an answer, when really you are not open to hearing anything other than the answer that you want to receive….the answer that fits your motives and desires. I imagine it can work a bit in reverse too ( meaning when you let fears drown-out the answer because it is something that you are afraid to accept, face, or do).

I know that hearing what I want to hear is a mistake that I have made many times, and will make again….its so hard not to muddle things sometimes. Even as a dreamer, though the dreams themselves are almost always true, I tend to have the human failing of interpreting things incorrectly to favor what I want the meaning to be…. and then later find myself dumbfounded when I put the pieces together and discover what the true meaning was that I either previously missed, or twisted. If I can do that even when things are basically spelled-out, then how much harder is it to separate our own inner “wanting” voice from that of the spirit? The more we want something, the louder and more driven our inner voice is…. and thus, the harder it can be to truly hear the answer over our own pounding commotion.

I cannot help but think about how I feel when I watch these kind of situations unfold with those I try to help. I care for, and invest myself into my clients, and want the best for them… and to see them happy and fulfilled. I often become greatly distressed and worried when I cannot get through to them, and can see that they are heading down a path that is anything but a daisy-lined yellow-brick road….but ultimately it is their choice. Sometimes there is nothing left save dropping my hands, and having to tell myself that I have done, and said all that I could… that the only option left is to step-back and let them discover it on their own, even if it means harm will happen, and a rock-bottom being hit Even so, it is agonizing to have to do. I am sure parents can also relate when it comes to sometimes just having to let children discover things for themselves. So, if it pains little mortal me to have to watch people blind and deafen themselves to answers, and suffer painful results….. how much must it pain Heavenly Father ( whose love for us is absolute and beyond our comprehension of love) to see us be closed to the true answers, and go in the directions that lead to painful lessons and loss?

So how do we solve it? How do we truly open ourselves to receive answers, and not just get pulled-along by the demanding voice of our desires? How can we tell when an answer is real, or when it is just what we want the answer to be? There likely is not a perfect answer to that, but I can share insights from what I have both seen with others, and from personal experiences. Firstly, I almost always know very quickly when a client is one who will only accept the answers that they want to hear. They often phrase their questions in ways to prompt the answers that they want, without even leaving room for the response to be something else ( such as “when will it ..” instead of “will it”). Typically, they do not want to address the complications and reasons that it will not work….they brush it aside, treat those things as not existing, tell themselves that those factors do not matter because love will rule-out, their desires are pure, noble…whatever… they just truly lock themselves down. In worst cases they can even be argumentative, and lash-out on me even when they know what I have said is true. I also even get glimpses from people that reveal that deep down they do know, but they just do not want to accept it, or even let themselves consider it for long before sliding back into the comfort of seeking the image they are holding within their mind. On the flip-side? Its almost like I feel this huge inner sigh of relief when I encounter someone who truly is open…. someone who, even though they may have hope for a particular outcome, is still open, and willing to look at all the elements involved, consider other possibilities, and are able to listen with open minds and hearts—even if it is not always pleasant. It makes my job so much easier because I can truly be honest, and address the issues without having to tip-toe around extreme sensitivity or denial, and do not have to figure-out methods to spoon-feed things to people in ways that might help them to grasp things without tempestuous reactions. It also gives me hope that the person can avoid greater pain and loss when they are willing to accept the truth behind things.

So, how does the above correlate to being receptive to true answers when we pray? We have to approach it with both a calm, open mind, and heart….and not from a place of desperation, excitement, or floating stars and rainbows etc…that can taint and interfere with the true answers. We have to be willing to truly look at, and consider other possibilities, and even the negative factors and obstacles that are in the way. If we find that we struggle with being open-minded and honest with ourselves even when not praying/ seeking for answers….that is not a very good sign that we will be open, and willing to hear anything but what we want to hear (especially if the real answer touches on the things we are not wanting to look at/accept). So perhaps taking the time to calmly, truly face things, and look at all angles etc…prior to asking/praying, can at least put us in a more balanced, and open mind-set that could help us to be more receptive to the truth that is sent to us. Additionally, we have to be mindful of any justifications or excuses that we make in situations (especially if they go against what we know to be right/true)…because usually that is indication of something we do not want to admit to, or want to twist in some way to convince our selves that it it is good/ leading to the right place….and thus, is most likely to be something generated by our own selves and desires. Lastly, be wary of any “answers” that lead you astray of your beliefs, integrity, morals etc… and most importantly, leads you in a direction away from God. It may feel great, wonderful, happy-floaty….but if that path is leading in the opposite direction of where you should be….well, then it should be reason enough to at least pause to ask yourself if it is possible that you are just hearing the answers that you want to hear.

Myself, I try to do the above when I have important choices and issues that I want to seek guidance through prayer for. I do my best to calm my inner self, set my personal longings aside (though that is easier said than done), and sometimes even fast and meditate prior to help put myself into a “cleaner” state physically, mentally, and spiritually. Is it fool proof? No, but I find that it does help, and it is worth the time and investment to take those steps. It is when I am “open” that I am most likely to have prayers that are followed by dreams ( which I realize will sound bonkers to some who are reading, but those dreams have often provided much needed insights, and been out-right life saving at times, so I personally know to trust, and take heed when those kind of dreams come—even when they show things that are painful, or against what I personally want. I don’t know why I receive them, I just sometimes do, and have since I was a young child).

So, essentially, awareness is the first step, and most important factor when it comes to being able to consider the possibility that our own longings can interfere with receiving personal revelation/ answers. The best any of us can do is try to be truly open when we seek, and willing to accept what it is that we hear…even if it is a small voice that can easily be drowned-out or brushed aside.