“I‘m just a hairstylist.” the woman said to me almost apologetically. “I want to do something big, something important in the world.”
“Do you have any idea how important it is to people to get a good haircut?” I asked.
Maybe we don’t have to do anything different to he of service. We just need to bring an attitude of service to what we already do.
Action: Do one thing each day that serves someone else. with no thought of receiving anything in return. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Call someone; give them encouragement. Or just listen, instead of talking, during a conversation. Wait on someone—bring them a cup of coffee or a glass of water. Take a minute during prayer time and say a prayer for someone else. If you’re in recovery, volunteer to do a practical task, like cleaning up after the meeting. If we can’t change the world, at least we can do our part to keep it going.” via October 20.
Sometimes it helps to understand that we may be receiving a payoff from relationships that cause us distress.
The relationship may be feeding into our helplessness or our martyr role.
Maybe the relationships feeds our need to be needed, enhancing our self-esteem by allowing us to feel in control or morally superior to the other person.
Some of us feel alleviated from financial or other kinds of responsibility by staying in a particular relationship.
“My father sexually abused me when I was a child,” said one woman. “I went on to spend the next twenty years blackmailing him emotionally and financially on this. I could get money from him whenever I wanted, and I never had to take financial responsibility for myself.”
Realizing that we may have gotten a codependent payoff from a relationship is not a cause for shame. It means we are searching out the blocks in ourselves that may be stopping our growth.
We can take responsibility for the part we may have played in keeping ourselves victimized. When we are willing to look honestly and fearlessly at the payoff and let it go, we will find the healing we’ve been seeking. We’ll also be ready to receive the positive, healthy payoffs available in relationships, the payoffs we really want and need.
Today, I will be open to looking at the payoffs I may have received from staying in unhealthy relationships, or from keeping destructive systems operating. I will become ready to let go of my need to stay in unhealthy systems; I am ready to face myself.” via Just For Today Meditations – Maintaining A Life.
And, there are ALWAYS payoffs. They just might not be so obvious…
Melody Beattie writes:
“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.” Basho.
One of the dangers of following a hero is the temptation to emulate them too much instead of walking our own path. John quit his job and started his own company when he was twenty-four years old. Five years later he sold out for millions of dollars. We want to be like John so we try the same thing and go broke. What happened? Is the universe against us? No. We just got confused about the difference between learning from a hero and trying to walk his path. John’s path may have led him to start a company; your path may also lead you on that course, just not at the same time in your life.
We can still learn much from our heroes and the people we admire. Just be aware that their path and time frame may be different from ours.
When the time comes for you to start that business, learn a new skill, enter into a relationship, or whatever you’re hoping to do, the experience will be there. The experience will be ready for you when you’re ready for it. Your timing may be different from everyone else’s.
I know people who got married after knowing each other only two weeks and then stayed mostly happily married for more than thirty years. I know people who date each other for years and still can’t decide if they’re ready to commit. My friend made the transition from living in the Midwest to living in California in months. That transition took me several years.
We each have our own stride and path. And while many of our lessons are similar, each of us is unique. If we spend our time trying to emulate a person rather than an idea, we’ll at best be an inferior version of our teacher and at worst will never discover our own path. Their stride will be too long or too short for us, and we won’t learn the true lesson, which is to trust our inner guide.
Gautama Buddha found enlightenment while sitting under a banyan tree; Milarepa found it while living as a hermit in a Himalayan cave. Gaining enlightenment isn’t an exercise in following a person; it’s an exercise in following your heart.
God, help me let go of any expectations of perfection I may have of myself or others. Help me be aware of the messages you send me, then help me discern my own truth.” via September 22: Find and Respect Your Own Stride.
No, I don’t mean a clogged kitchen sink or a shower stall that empties slowly.
I’m talking about allowing people, places and things to slowly and insidiously creep in and begin sucking the soul, energy, life force – and resources – out of us. No matter how many years ago we learned about not being codependent, it can still happen to us. Again.
Drain Pain occurs so slowly and subtly, we may not see it happening. Following you’ll find a list of symptoms and the remedy for each:
- We leave our bodies – disconnect from ourselves. We’re experts at fleeing the body. We hover around ourselves doing everything except feeling what we feel and valuing ourselves. When this happens, we often feel numb, confused and afraid. We may also feel emotional (generalized) pain. The thoughts that accompany this condition include: I CAN’T STAND THIS ANYMORE. IT, HE, SHE OR THEY IS OR ARE DRIVING ME INSANE. This means it’s boundary-setting time again.
- We complain about the same thing, behavior or person or problem for days, weeks, months or years but nobody hears us. The cure for this means listening to ourselves.
- We know that something’s wrong but we aren’t sure what it is (because we’re not listening to ourselves). When we mention the problem to the Drainer(s) — the people or institutions in the first symptom above — they look at us askance and reassure us that nothing is wrong except us – who we are, how we feel and what we think is going on just isn’t occurring, they insist. Remember the story from the first Language of Letting Go, about the scene in a movie where a wife catches her husband in his pickup truck? He’s parked at the drive-in movie theatre all cuddled up and kissing with another woman. When the wife confronts him about having this affair, he denies it vehemently while the other woman sits there kissing his neck, arm, hand and more. “What are you going to believe?” the infidel asks his wife. “Me or what you think you see?” Crazy as that sounds, it can easily describe us when we’re in codependent mode.
- We feel tired, unfocused and somewhat like a Boxer looks (the dog, not Mohammed Ali) when it’s chasing not a tail, but the remnants of one before the vet clipped or docked it. We’re caught up in trying to do the impossible. It’s time to assess what we can and can’t change and then put energy into assessing and solving the right problem – the real issue that’s going on.
- We feel increasingly angry at the people, places or things in our personalized list in the first symptom above, but as soon as we feel anger we also start to feel guilt. The guilt’s not real. It’s the codependent guilt that’s followed us around for most of our life. The guilt yammers about how there must be something wrong with us because the other person wouldn’t do that — whatever that is. We wonder what’s wrong with us for feeling this angry and then decide that the problem is us. ZZZZZT. Wrong answer. Solution? Look in the mirror and tell ourselves that who we are is okay.
- Of all the signals that someone’s manipulating or lying to us, feeling cruddy and confused after our interactions with this person or institution — if they’ll stand still long enough to talk to us — ranks highest and indicates that it’s time to open our eyes, shake off the denial dust and start a self-care revival.” This is a long post. You can get the rest here: Drain Pain | Melody Beattie.
No matter how long we’ve been recovering, no matter how solid our spiritual ground, we may still feel an overwhelming desire at times to punish, or get even, with another person.
We want revenge.
We want to see the other person hurt the way he or she has hurt us. We want to see life deal that person just rewards. In fact, we would like to help life out.
Those are normal feelings, but we do not have to act on them. These feelings are part of our anger but it’s not our job to deal justice.
We can allow ourselves to feel the anger. It is helpful to go one step deeper and let ourselves feel the other feelings – the hurt, the pain, the anguish. But our goal is to release the feelings, and be finished with them.
We can hold the other person accountable. We can hold the other person responsible. But it is not our responsibility to be judge and jury. Actively seeking revenge will not help us. It will block us and hold us back.
Walk away. Stop playing the game. Unhook. Learn your lesson. Thank the other person for having taught you something valuable. And be finished with it. Put it behind, with the lesson intact.
Acceptance helps. So does forgiveness – not the kind that invites that person to use us again, but a forgiveness that releases the other person and sets him or her free to walk a separate path, while releasing our anger and resentments. That sets us free to walk our own path.
Today, I will be as angry as I need to be, with a goal of finishing my business with others. Once I have released my hurt and anger, I will strive for healthy forgiveness – forgiveness with boundaries. I understand that boundaries, coupled with forgiveness and compassion, will move me forward.” via Just For Today Meditations – Daily Recovery Readings – September 16, 2012.
Melody Beattie writes:
When we are soul searching, be it for the smaller or larger decisions we face during the day, we can learn to ask, is this good for me?… Is this what I really want?… Is this what I need?…Does this direction feel right for me?…or am I succumbing to the control and influence that I sometimes allow others to have over me?
It is not unhealthy selfishness to question if something is good for us. That is an old way of thinking. To ask if something is good for us is a healthy behavior, not to be ashamed of, and will probably work out in the other person’s best interests too.
We shall not wander down a selfish path of self-indulgence by asking if a thing is good for us. We shall not stray from God’s intended plan, God’s highest good, by asking if a thing is good for us. By asking ourselves this simple question, we participate in directing our life toward the highest good and purpose; we own our power to hold ourselves in self-esteem.
Today, I will begin acting in my best interests. I will do this with the understanding that, on occasion, my choices will not please everyone around me. I will do this with the understanding that asking if a thing is good for me will ultimately help me take true responsibility for my life and my choices.” via Just For Today Meditations – Daily Recovery Readings – September 14, 2012.
- Owning Our Power (toddlohenry.com)
- When Things Don’t Work (toddlohenry.com)
- words (saltygoods.com)
- The Magic of NO (omtimes.com)
Melody Beattie writes:
In a relationship, there are those wonderful times when things go smoothly for both people, and neither person needs to focus too heavily on the concept of detachment. But there are those challenging times when one person is in crisis or changing – and we need to detach.
Then there are stressful cycles when both people in a relationship are in the midst of dealing with intense issues. Both are needy and neither has anything to give.
These are times when detachment and taking care of ourselves are difficult.
It is helpful, in these moments, to identify the problem. Both people are in the midst of dealing and healing. Neither has much to give, at least at the moment. And both are feeling particularly needy.
That is the problem.
What’s the solution?
There may not be a perfect solution. Detachment is still the key, but that can be difficult when we need support ourselves. In fact, the other person may be asking for support rather than offering it.
We can still work toward detachment. We can still work through our feelings. We can accept this as a temporary cycle in the relationship, and stop looking to the other person for something he or she cannot give at the moment.
We can stop expecting ourselves to give at the moment as well.
Communication helps. Identifying the problem and talking about it without blame or shame is a start. Figuring out alternative support systems, or ways to get our needs met, helps.
We are still responsible for taking care of ourselves – even when we are in the best of relationships. We can reasonably expect conflicts of need and the clashing of issues to occur in the most loving, healthy relationships.
It is one of the cycles of love, friendship, and family.
If it is a healthy relationship, the crisis will not go on endlessly. We will regain our balance. The other person will too. We can stop making ourselves so crazy by looking for the other person to be balanced when he or she isn’t.
Talk things out. Work things out. Keep our expectations of other people, our relationships, and ourselves healthy and reasonable.
A good relationship will be able to sustain and survive low points. Sometimes we need them, so we can both grow and learn separately.
Sometimes, people who are usually there for us cannot be there for us. We can find another way to take care of ourselves.
Today, I will remember that my best relationships have low points. If the low point is the norm, I may want to consider the desirability of the relationship. If the low point is a temporary cycle, I will practice understanding for myself and the other person. God, help me remember that the help and support I want and need does not come in the form of only one person. Help me be open to healthy options for taking care of myself, if any normal support system is not available.” via Just For Today Meditations – Daily Recovery Readings – September 11, 2012.
- A Better Way (toddlohenry.com)
- Self approval (toddlohenry.com)
- When Things Don’t Work (toddlohenry.com)
- detachment (urdamage.wordpress.com)
- Entanglement and its Antidote, Detachment (thistimethisspace.com)
- Book Review: BackBone Power The Science of Saying No, by Dr. Anne Brown (hilarytopper.com)
- Getting Unstuck By Letting Go (omtimes.com)
- Family Buttons (toddlohenry.com)
- Detachment breaks the bond (toddlohenry.com)
- Discover what works for YOU (toddlohenry.com)
Most of us want to be liked. We want other people to think of us as nice, friendly, kind, and loving. Most of us want the approval of others.
Since childhood, some of us have been trying to get approval, trying to get people to like us and think highly of us. We may be afraid people will leave us if they disapprove of our actions. We may look for approval from people who have none to give. We may not know that we’re lovable now and can learn to approve of ourselves.
In order to live happily, to live consistently with the way our Higher Power wants us to live, and to tap into a way of life that is in harmony with the universe, we need to let go of our extreme need for approval. These unmet needs for approval and love from our past give others control over us today. These needs can prevent us from acting in our best interest and being true to ourselves.
We can approve of ourselves. In the end, that’s the only approval that counts.
Today, I will let go of my need for approval and my need to be liked. I will replace them with a need to like and approve of myself. I will enjoy the surprise I find when I do this. The people who count, including myself, will respect me when I am true to myself.” via Just For Today Meditations – Daily Recovery Reading – September 10, 2012.
Sometimes, problems and challenges come to move us to the next place in our lives. Sometimes, they come to challenge and reinforce what we already know and believe.
Maybe that problem in your life has come along to teach you something new.
Maybe it’s an opportunity to remember and practice what you already know to be true.
Push against the problem. Push your ideals and beliefs against what’s going on. Examine what you think, believe, and feel. Stay open to change. But remember that, sometimes, it’s not about changing what you believe. It’s an opportunity for you to validate yourself and your beliefs.
We’re not always learning something new. Sometimes, the lesson is to remember and trust what we already know.
God, help me to be open to change, help me also to stand fast by my beliefs when they are right.” via Just For Today Meditations » Blog.
“Enroll in this weight loss program and you’ll lose thirty pounds in five days!” “Come to this free seminar and after spending one hundred dollars on books you’ll be a millionaire!”
There is no quick fix, no panacea that will work for every person. Success rarely happens overnight or in five days. Even the Twelve Steps are only suggestions. Although proven to work, the details and decisions about how we apply those Steps in our lives are left to each one of us.
And few things happen overnight, except the beginning of a new day.
Listen to your mentors. Examine what’s been tried and true, and has worked and helped countless others along their paths. The Twelve Steps are one of those approaches. But don’t be taken in by false claims of overnight success and instant enlightenment along your path.
True change takes time and effort, especially when we’re changing and tackling big issues. We can often get exactly the help we need at times from a therapist, book, or seminar– the best things in life really are free and available to each one of us. The Twelve Steps, again, qualify in this area.
Discover what works for you.
Trust that you’ll be guided along your path and receive exactly the help and guidance you need. Then give it time.
There really isn’t an easier, softer way.
God, give me permission to tackle my problems.” via Just For Today Meditations – Daily Recovery Readings – September 9, 2012.