Why So Damn Critical?


The world, the people in the world, maybe even you have become so damn critical about everyone and everything. All day long it’s what you don’t like, who gets on your nerves, who did you wrong, what you didn’t get, what drives you nuts, what makes your blood boil and on and on and on. It seems the world as we know it has officially gone crazy. That criticism; that ever-present fault finding doesn’t come from nowhere, it comes from you. It is developed within the confines of your own mind and the things you are saying to yourself. Criticism towards others always begins with criticism towards yourself. Why so damn critical? Take a look within…

I think that people being critical of themselves has been around for as long as people have been around. But, it seems someone has added an accelerant; something is fueling the fire. Never before have people had so much access to information. There’s a YouTube video for everything. You can self-diagnose, self-administer, self-study and self-start. You can literally learn anything you want to learn simply by owning a computer and having access to the Internet. However, there is another dark side to the information machine. The same system that offers you help also offers you standards, artificial standards about how you should look, how successful you should be, where you should live, what toys you should own, what credentials you should possess and how popular you should be. The system measures your likes, your comments and defines your level of acceptance in the world. But, like Hollywood it is ultimately an illusion. It’s a false portrayal of life. All day and night you are being fed images of successful people without any real problems or challenges, living a life of luxury, planning trips, having plastic surgeries, being made beautiful and slim and sexy. They are called influencers who influence your life, not to enhance it, but rather to carefully and subtly point out what is wrong with you, what you lack, what you need to be happy, what you need to purchase to achieve your life dreams. Buy the makeup. Buy the weight loss package. Buy the skin cream. Buy the hair restorer. Buy the medicine. Buy something damn it and buy it now. Ultimately it is all a carefully crafted lie.

There is nothing wrong with you! Your life is not defined by how slim you can become. You are not failing at life because you are not yet rich! (Have you ever noticed how we equate a successful life with how much money a person has, despite whatever else they have going on.) You are not weird, odd, a failure, incompetent or dumb. You are not falling behind. (Behind what?) You are allowing the world, the media, other people, to define who you are and what you should be. How could someone else possibly define what your life should be? You are uniquely you! What is important to you may not be important to me. How insane it becomes to try to live your life according to another person’s priorities. How much money you need should be how much money helps you to be happy. I’ve often said that if you had about $50,000 in your checking account (not millions) you would feel like you were rich. Good Lord, how much stuff do you want to buy? Seriously! And, all of this absolute madness concerning being slim. How slim do you have to be? And, what is all the slimness going to get you? What nirvana state accompanies being slim? Look, at the end of the day there is nothing wrong with getting healthy and there is nothing wrong with being wealthy. But, if getting something important to you means sacrificing your own well-being and happiness, it’s not worth it! If the goal you seek does nothing but make you perpetually down on yourself or causes you to  insult yourself in the bathroom mirror, something is amiss. People ultimately do the things that are most important to them. Maybe that goal you never seem to reach really isn’t that important to you after all.

If you really think about it, what happened to you that led to you being so critical concerning yourself? You only have one self with which to live. As far as you are concerned, you are it! What dastardly treachery convinced you not to like your very own self. What evil, rotten being talked you into being in a battle against your own self; your own best interests? Who convinced you that you are not worth anything; that you cannot trust your own judgments; your own opinions? Indeed who? The things you say to yourself that no-one else can hear, ghastly! How quickly and easily you are thrown off center, shook up, full of doubt. Someone doesn’t like your shirt or your shoes and you never wear them again. Someone dismisses your great idea and you cast it aside like a dirty diaper. Can’t you see what is going on? You are being led astray. You are getting perpetually talked out of who you are and what you have to offer the world. You worship and harbor and cleave to your shortcomings and failures like religious relics instead of focusing on all of your excellent parts! You don’t think the people you admire have their share of shortcomings? I can assure you that they have just as many as you do, the only difference being in their refusal to allow them to hold such a place of high esteem!

Do you want to really help the world? Do you want to have a positive impact on people? Do you want to win at life? Then get off your own back! Decide today that you are going to stop saying negative things about yourself to yourself and to other people (even if cloaked in jest). Be kind to yourself. Nurture yourself. Give yourself a break. Learn to love and respect yourself again and see how differently you will feel about other people. People need your love, not a lecture. People need someone who believes in them until they can believe in themselves. Don’t be so damn critical. Be kind and it starts with you…

Just some good thoughts…

Do You Love Yourself, Flaws and All?


The other day I was listening to a teaching from my good buddy Mark Wallace. He told a story about an experiment where people were asked to describe themselves to a criminal sketch artist. Then, those same folks were also described to the sketch artist by their friends. Amazingly, the friends’ description of the person looked much more like the person than their own description! Why, you ask? Because when people described themselves they overly focused on their perceived flaws, resulting in an image not even close to how they really looked. So the question that begs is, do you love yourself, flaws and all?

People tend to be brutal in their own estimation of themselves. They have been caught up in a culture that falsely represents who people are and as such have been talked into focusing on everything they are not instead of everything they truly are. They have forgone any recognition of all that makes them unique and wonderful in favor of an obsession with having to be something the world deems acceptable or beautiful or admirable. They magnify their “wrong behaviors” out of all proportion in comparison to their “right behaviors.”  In short, they have believed lies and accusations concerning themselves; failed to recognize them as such, and landed at a place where they don’t even like themselves much less love themselves.

The root of this dilemma stems back as far as there have been people to trip up. The enemy of mankind knows that if you can divide people against themselves, they become weak and easy to defeat. If you can progress deep enough into their psyche they eventually become their own worst enemy hurling internal insults at their own selves and perpetually shaming themselves, the end point of which is self-loathing and a complete loss of self-respect. Oh no-one is going to tell you this, much less admit it to themselves. But, it is a distinct reality of the human condition. There’s so little love in the world because people don’t even love themselves. Or worse, love does not prevail because people have a distorted view of what love is. They think love and self-respect accompany financial success or having a “perfect” body, marrying the right person or getting into the right school. They wrongly assign love worthy acts as something they must do or be in order to be worthy of love. And, in never being able to fully realize those love worthy acts or become, by their good behavior, love worthy people, they eek out love to themselves as if it was a scarce commodity.

Loving yourself is a decision you make about yourself in the same way it is a decision you make about other people. When you have a new baby, no-one has to remind you to love them. When you meet a potential life partner, though you hardly recognize it, you have made a conscious decision to love that person. You didn’t “fall” in love, you chose love based upon certain criteria you already decided. In the same way, you make a decision to love yourself! You cannot say, as some falsely report, that you choose love as long as the behaviors are right or the conditions are right or the time is right. Love, real love, exists above behaviors. It is not fleeting, flitting around based on whether or not the sun is out or the vibe feels good or if that certain someone says the right things. Love is so much bigger and so much more important than that! Love is the most necessary ingredient of the human condition and you need it more than anything else you could ever need!

Do you know where I learned this? I learned it from God. God loves me unconditionally, past, present and future. He loved me into finally loving myself. He continues to love me despite me and for that I am forever grateful. He taught me that love isn’t something you reserve for good behavior, but rather something you decide to do no matter what. Love does not change and alter itself according to the ebb and flow of life. It is not dependent upon conditions. It is persistent and determined and never ending. It is to be freely and liberally shared with others. In so doing, it finally persuades your stubborn heart to apply it to yourself; to love yourself!

You must learn to love yourself, not in a conceited or inflated way, but in the true depths of your being. You decide to love yourself, not because you are so good or so righteous or somehow have achieved perfection, but rather because you are imperfect and not always good and maybe seldom of your own works, righteous. You love yourself despite your frail humanity and weakness. You love yourself even when you falter and fail. You love yourself because your Father in heaven loves you and wants nothing less for you…ever!

You would be surprised to find that the weird stuff you do and think is the exact same weird stuff we all do and think. We are all in this thing together. Your secret sins are no worse than my secret sins. Your propensity towards error is no greater than my propensity towards error. We are all people, wonderfully flawed and unique, seeking in unending revolutions, endless expressions of love. Be yourself! Express yourself. Love yourself, not because you deserve it but rather because you need it. No-one is worthy of love as love chooses its object first and not after.

Decide today to stop entertaining the accusations about everything you are not. Stop focusing in on what isn’t right about you or what things you foolishly have concluded need revision. Instead embrace who you are; who God made YOU to be and give every bit of that loveliness to a love starved and dying world. You are a wonderful, unique masterpiece formed, made and created by God to help other people love themselves too!

Oh my friends, God is love…

Just some good thoughts…

 

Are You For or Against Yourself? (That is the question…)


Okay so you have one life, one shot, one go round, one opportunity to live your life. Your life here on earth has an expiration date and each day that passes brings you that much closer to your end date. Once you reach the final paragraph of your story only one question remains. Were you for or against yourself? Did you vote for you or did you vote with the public opinion? Did you consistently think the best of yourself despite your foibles and absurdities or did you regularly draw the wrong conclusions and come up short because of those conclusions? Who you think you are in the depths of your heart is who you are whether you choose correctly or not. Your limitations, your failures, your struggles are largely self imposed, not because of fate or God or life, but because you failed to recognize a vast array of assumptions you have been making about yourself. Are you for or against yourself?

It is incredulous to me, amidst the same weaknesses and foolishness I likewise entertain, how easy it is to think poorly of yourself. Something your dad told you a hundred years ago frightfully maintains the power to live on in your thoughts long after your father has departed. Some early failure or difficulty somehow casts a spell on your future existence forever etching in your mind what you can and cannot do. Once you were labeled insecure or shy or weak or dumb or average, persists despite a thousand pieces of evidence to the contrary! In that I submit to you that those things continue only because you allow them to continue. You have failed to challenge the false beliefs and as such drawn disastrous conclusions about who you are and worse what you can accomplish with your life.

Us humans are thinking machines, running a myriad of things through our heads every day. Much of what goes on in our minds is pure nonsense heavily influenced by the things we see and experience around us. And like sheep that have gone astray, we sort of fall in line with the story. We blindly accept our thoughts as if they contain some type of magical truth serum from which we cannot escape. It’s no wonder we think this way as we have long heard erroneous idioms preaching the heart knows all, implying truth preexists in our hearts. That could not be further from the truth! Your heart knows only what you have been feeding it and if you’ve been feeding it lies about yourself, that becomes your truth. And though it be miles from the truth, it still becomes your truth…

Your defeat and mine comes from a failure to recognize the hundred-fold falsehoods assaulting our minds from sun up to sun down. Our human conclusions are completely devoid of logic. Stealing some item once or twice does not make you a thief any more so than making a good play on the sports field makes you a premier athlete. If you could add up the time encompassing your life, you would see that your mistakes; your lapses in judgment make up a fraction of your total life. Yet, we can spend a lifetime assigning ourself future misery for errors that occurred in milliseconds by comparison. And, we are quick to breeze past our successes though they took many years to produce. Any scientist would quickly point out the illogic of those conclusions. This alone should reveal to you that there is something behind our thoughts, ever working to bring us down to some fate or shame.

Your responsibility (and mine) is to recognize and confront those wrong beliefs. In other words, when you hear the tape playing that says you will never overcome that weakness or will never have any money because all your relatives are poor, or you will never amount to much or you cannot maintain a good relationship, or what the hell ever else, challenge those erroneous assumptions! It doesn’t matter if you have been failing in that area for 50 years, it’s your job to rewrite the tape! It’s not who you are for God’s sake, it’s what you have been believing and you can always change what you believe, that is unless you’ve assigned yourself some harsh fate and refuse to stop voting against yourself!

In the final analysis, you have only one life with which to succeed or fail. You have only one heart, one mind, one shot at this thing! Make the decision; one of the best potential decisions of your life, to cease from being your own worst enemy! Stop telling yourself and rehearsing all that stupid, awful shit! Stop dredging up the “long-dead” past! Stop allowing the terrible things people have said about you, even the people you love and respect, to define you or forever entomb you in negative self-judgment. Some sad people have been carrying around some dreadful thing someone said about them 25 years ago. Back then you may have been a complete jackass. You may have been selfish and self-centered and even caused a tremendous amount of pain, but you don’t have to be that person today! You are not defined by your past, you are defined by what you think about today…

I’m certainly not casting judgment on you or implying I’ve got it all figured out. Like you, I can get caught up in mountains of self-doubt and insecurity, but I thank God for the days when I can see it all so clearly. I thank God for patiently teaching me and shining the light so brightly that I can finally recognize what I’ve been saying to myself and to stop it in that very moment. That same God will do likewise for you if you want it and trust me, you want it!

It’s not selfish or self-centered to vote for yourself! It is simply acknowledging that God gave you the same privilege to control your thinking as He gave to everyone else. Think and say things to yourself that you would say to someone you deeply love because after all, before you can love others you have to love yourself! Love yourself… Vote for yourself!

I love you…

Just some good thoughts…

Make Yourself a Priority…


make-priorityI know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking here comes another admonition to make yourself number one in a culture already deluged in narcissism and love of self above all else. Forget about other people and their needs because it’s all about you! Yeah those people do exist, but I don’t think they are a majority. In fact, I think most of us are the exact opposite. Recently I had the most unusual insight concerning our personal happiness and incredibly it involved making yourself a priority.

I know it sounds selfish and swims uphill against all we’ve been taught about sublimating our needs for others. It definitely challenges our well-worn “Christian” virtues suggesting we always place ourselves last in line. But, I think there’s some honesty to it we may not have considered before, mainly because of what we have been taught. And, while selfishness is naturally frowned upon, making your own needs a priority isn’t really selfish at all.

You my friend are the only you, you have got. You’ve got one you. There’s no two you’s requiring that you share you. When it comes to you there is just you. When you do things that make you unhappy, you are doing it to “you” alone. When you make choices based on what other people think and what other people say that disagree with what you think and what you say, you are lying to “you.” When you endeavor to live up to other’s expectations for you while not honoring your own expectations for you, you are not taking care of you. When you try so hard not to hurt other people’s feelings and to protect other’s feelings, while running roughshod against your own feelings or worse denying your own feelings, you are only hurting you. You are the only you, you have been given and you have a sacred responsibility to so love and care for you, that you will naturally and willingly love and care for others.

When it comes to serving God I think people have gotten it all wrong. God does not require that we give until it hurts or that we burn ourselves out in service for other people. Nor does He expect us to sacrifice ourselves and our own happiness to make sure others are happy. Religion may have told you that, but God never did. Instead the natural order is that God blesses us and in proportion to that blessing, we bless others. The happier and more well taken care of I am, the more likely I am to help you. Oh sure, I can help you when I have needs too, but the real joy and love behind it will be missing. Think about it in terms of giving. The more I have, the more I have to give. Yes, I can give when I have little but when I have been abundantly blessed, I want to give abundantly. The same principle applies to speaking God’s Word. The proportion of how blessed I am will directly correlate to how much I want to tell other people about God. You don’t have to tell super blessed and joyful people to go out and witness for the Lord. Their joy already got them out there. But, unhappy, unblessed folks will need to be prodded and goaded before they will they go. Do you see it? Get yourself blessed first and stop acting like it’s an imposition on God or something and something you dare not believe for in your life. It’s not selfish, you are the only you, you have got!

Making yourself a priority is about slowing down from your busy and frenetic pace and daring to get back in touch with yourself. (See, even that sounded selfish…) Deep down who are you and what do you need to be happy? What things in life paint a smile on your face and add energy to your steps? In your interactions with others are you with people you genuinely love and care about or are you “making it work” with drinks and fake smiles, playing the role until they go away? What goes through your mind on your way to work? What sadness or frustration have you been ignoring for years? What life flashes through your mind on those rare occasions and why can’t you live that life now? What drastic change or revolution might occur in your existence if you stopped being afraid to allow yourself to matter at least as much as you make everyone else matter?

The difference between being selfish and making yourself a priority is that you are not the only vote, but your vote counts as much as everyone else’s does. It’s not giving and loving and kind to get to the place where your vote doesn’t count. With God everyone wins. They matter and you matter. Their happiness is important and you do all you can to ensure it, but your happiness matters just as much. If you can supply their needs, whatever those needs are, you do it. But, you also have needs and they do not rank any less in priority. Every mother knows that although her infant is helpless without her, she will offer no help if she doesn’t get what she needs to thrive as well. You don’t always have to occupy first place in the line, but you don’t need to step out of the line completely.

Maybe it’s time you rethink your worn-out ideas about service usually imposed upon you by people who needed some work done, and recognize that you are the only you, you have got and if you fail to care for you, you won’t be taken care of. God will always supply your needs but only if you are willing to believe for them for yourself! Life is short my friends. Don’t spend your whole life trying to live someone else’s dream. You matter. Your needs matter. Make yourself a priority.

I love you!

Just some good thoughts…

 

Love the One You Is…


Some time ago I read a fantastic book called, “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero. It’s one of those books that just gets you and you’re just not sure why. But, alas, she is the inspiration for this blog. Actually she is the inspiration for anyone suffering from an incessant need for outward approval, though the reasons be myriad. This is really a story about you and how you feel about yourself when no-one is watching.

Something tragic has happened to you. You don’t know it’s a tragedy because you’re stuck in the middle of it. You cannot see it or you would stop it immediately. You’re pretty sure you feel good about yourself and there’s nothing specific you can point at to know that something is wrong, but wrong it is. You, like the rest of us, live in a world that very narrowly defines who we should be; how we should look and what we should have achieved, by now. The messages come so often and with such frequency that we can’t even keep track of what’s happening. All we know for sure is that we are too fat, we don’t have enough money, we aren’t successful enough(?), in short that our real self comes up short (pun intended). The unsolvable problem is that we are foolishly measuring our self-worth by a standard set by the world, for the world, falsely promising us fulfillment in that same world.

Your self value has absolutely nothing to do with anything outside of yourself. It is your self value for God’s sake. The one determining your value was always you, is always you and will always be you! It’s not based on a standard set by someone else, how could it be? You are unique in the highest sense of the word. There is no-one the same as you, despite the similarities. What you have to offer and what you bring to the world cannot be offered or brought by anyone but you. But, instead of bringing you and betting on the cards you are holding, you fold before the game gets going. The world, huffing and puffing, looking confident and smiling smugly, quickly talks you out of playing your own hand.  The moment you begin to feel yourself and start making some choices regarding your own direction, you entertain the naysayers and revert to being someone you are not.

As a long-standing member of the “approval seeking” club, I know what you are going through. You’ve learned, like I learned,  that instead of being your real self, it is far easier to be who the people want you to be. You become a master of playing the role and you become loathe to disappoint. But, let me ask you a question. Aren’t you wrongly concluding that the person you are isn’t desirable and opting instead for a safe, approved version. Who can define success for you, but you? Are you happy? Are you content? Do you have value in your own estimation? Your opinion of yourself is the one that matters the most in this world.

What kind of cosmic hoodwinking could convince us to be at odds with our own self, our only self? What kind of trickery and treachery gets a person to think poorly of themselves and to measure themselves by any other factor than themselves? Can you even see the insanity of thinking that way? If you, my friend, are not actually for you, who the hell ever will be? If you aren’t voting for you in the contest, how can you win? How can you achieve or succeed or find happiness or become fulfilled if you aren’t even choosing yourself? I mean, man oh man, you can’t even choose yourself? What happened to you that you could be so opposed to your own self?

The root of this self-destructive behavior can always be tracked back to guilt, shame, condemnation and generally feeling not so good about yourself. But again, the behavior is self-destructive meaning you, yourself are cooperating with the destruction. You bought in. You agreed. Somewhere along the line something or someone convinced you that your mistakes, your humanity; your susceptibility to error wasn’t based on something outside of you, but rather pointed to something wrong with you internally. In accepting that fallacy, you started to become your own worst enemy. Instead of leaving error and evil and bad influence with its originator, you bought into the lie that you originated the troubles, yourself. And for that, you are being wickedly deceived. None of us would knowingly choose pain or difficulty or trouble. Instead we get pulled or pushed off track. We’re human for goodness sakes and we all make mistakes. Once you have veered off course and made the mistake, it’s in the books. You cannot change it or alter it or influence it. It’s done and it’s over with. It only lives on in your mind and even that requires your cooperation. In a sense, you cooperated with wrong by doing whatever you did and you continue to cooperate with wrong by harboring your mistakes in your mind. Any professional athlete knows that in order to remain a professional, you must move immediately to the next moment. Athletic catastrophe follows any memory of errors made.

You may not be a professional athlete, but you are a professional of your own life. Well, you should be! Somewhere along the line, you have to choose you. You have to cast your all important vote for yourself if your ever going to approach the life you want to live. How much time do you have on this earth? How many chances do you get? You owe it to yourself to get on your own side. Stop playing a role and just be. Vote for yourself. Have confidence in yourself. Be 100% for yourself. If you can get there or even close to there, you will, for the first time in your life, find out something incredible and amazing. You’ll find out that you do have something to offer and that you are indispensable. You’ll discover that the thing you bring, no-one else can bring and bring it you will. As you bring it, you’ll reinforce who you are and feel fulfillment in epic proportions. This is authentic living. This the truth!

Love yourself, trust yourself, believe in yourself.

Love the one you is…

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

 

 

Making Your Mind a Friend…


Different emotionsYears ago I wrote a book called, “Making Your Mind a Friend.” It was an amateurish project at best, but at the time I penned it, it helped save me from a world of suffering; suffering mostly self-imposed by wrong thought with a heavy, heavy dose of religious bondage. Somehow, in some imperceptible way, I had morphed (or had been morphed) into everything I hated in life. I became sickly religious and when you get religious enough, everything you do or say or feel will be wrong. It’s wrong because you have set up for yourself an impossible standard. And, before you know it, your worst, most pervasive enemy will be your very own mind. Thus, making your mind a friend isn’t about splitting yourself into two separate entities and having positive dialogue with each part. It’s about learning to extend kindness and forgiveness and friendliness to your own self in the same way you might extend it to your friend.

I remember years ago when my brother had agreed to watch our boys. When we picked them up he explained incredulously, that one of them was throwing rocks in the road and when he told him to stop, he threw another one! He couldn’t understand how that could happen. Of course, he didn’t have his own children yet. He now knows that disobedience happens but it is the parent’s job to correct it. So here’s a thought. Disobedience happens with adults also. But, just like when you correct a child, no matter how satisfying the chastisement feels, all a parent is really after is an acknowledgement from the child that they did something wrong. There’s rarely much to say after the apology occurs.

How many of you have spent years and years chastising yourself for some event that has long since expired? It’s gone from life and is in the books. It only shows up again when you re-read the book. Stop re-reading the book! The things you do wrong and have done wrong were committed to the history book just as quickly as they happened. They are no longer a part of your life unless you allow them to be. The egregious errors, the scarring hurts, the bruising slights all have vanished from the present reality. You make your mind a friend by not subjecting your friend to the same old, tired story. Like your friend who might tell you it’s time to get over it, it’s time to get over it. You don’t magically transform bad behaviors by punishing yourself, you know that! You transform yourself the same way your child transforms, by receiving your forgiveness. And don’t you think for a second that God is bringing it up. God forgave you the FIRST time you were sorry. You have to “accept” His forgiveness also. Beyond that it’s all a bunch of egotism and you can take that to the bank!

Once I heard a father say how dumb his kid was and that he didn’t think his elevator went all the way to the top. How sad is that? To think that a father would say that about his own flesh and blood, astounded me. All I could think was, he’s your own kid! What the eff is the matter with you? Your child will be about as smart and talented and good as you can teach him he can be. You, horrible father, are outrageously defining his limit. Now as bad as I guess that made you feel, how about the things you say to yourself? Would you so easily tell your good friend that he was an idiot? Would you be so quick to focus on and point out his every weakness and fault? Oh sure you would see both, but out of love you wouldn’t bring them up, would you? Do you know anyone on earth that gets better at something after repeatedly being told he sucks at it? Weakness is never overcome by focusing on the weakness. You win at life by focusing on your strengths; what you can do the best! Strength is built from strength! All you accomplish by acquiescing to an endless stream of negative chatter about yourself is to weaken and severely limit your true capabilities. And, the worst part? You are saying those things to yourself! You aren’t just being honest! You are treating yourself like an enemy and not a friend. If you don’t love you, who does? Well, God does and He disagrees with your estimation of yourself. Again, beyond that, it’s all just a bunch of egotism…and your insistence on self harm.

Making your mind a friend is about choosing what you will and will not think about and choosing what you will and will not say to yourself. Your mind is your mind and you may use it in whatever fashion you see fit. You may say, “I can’t stop thinking about it!” But, oh yes you can! Like a lifelong smoker, the longer you’ve been engaged in the habit, the harder it is going to be to stop. The new non-smoker has to say ‘no’ to himself one hundred times a day at first, but the next day may only require seventy-five. Eventually the thought comes up ever so rarely. The same with negative talk and condemnation, once you break the habit, it happens less and less. And like the smoker that quit, you brighten your prospects for a long, happy, successful life.

At the end of the day, you my dear friend, are the only you, you’ve got! And, like your heart would seek in earnest to console your sad, defeated child, you must learn to be good to yourself. You aren’t serving God by behaving that way, no matter what some preacher may have told you, you are serving your enemy by your refusal to believe what God has already said. You aren’t the evil one, but you just may have been listening to him. Be kind with yourself. Be forgiving with yourself. Learn to accept your imperfections and just be. It’s okay. God knows all about you and loves you anyway!

Just some good thoughts…

 

You are where you are…


o-START-WHERE-YOU-ARE-570In a flash of inspiration today it occurred to me that I am where I am. In the world of self-development and positivity, you can get tripped up from time to time. Tripped up because all self-development is a growth process and if you’re going to grow you have to start somewhere. You can smile a lot; say positive things; do your mantras and set your intentions, but you cannot lose track of the reality that today you are where you are.

This may surprise you, but I believe one of the greatest obstacles to your personal growth is in your failure to fully acknowledge who and what you are. You can get so swept away in speaking only of the person you want to be and blow right past the things that give you trouble. You know you have blind spots right? You know there are things that topple your castle with little more than a slight puff of air, right? Well, that’s part of who you are and why make that a bad thing? This where your personal honesty enters the picture. A whole interconnected system of things made you the person that you are and villainizing those sore spots serves only to talk you into not addressing them. Look, you are who you are. That doesn’t mean you are all that you can be, it just means you are at a place and time in your growth and you have to embrace that person before you can morph into a new person. What if instead of hating yourself for your absurdities, you decided they aren’t really the best you, but instead are learning opportunities to help bring out the best you? What if you had the audacity to love all of you, not just the good stuff? Imagine how much easier your life would be if you stopped devoting half your life to being mad at you for being you! Imagine…

My revelation today, amidst a very happy life I might add, is that I’m at a place in life where I know many things but also don’t know many things. It is infinitely easier to admit that I don’t know than to pretend I know; to guess, or analyze myself into oblivion. How much time have I devoted to a pain or a difficulty or a weak spot and have not moved one inch forward toward a solution? That is the clarity and the answer. I don’t have to know and neither do you. For goodness sakes, if you do not know, you do not know. This where my graciously Heavenly Father shows up. He knows and you don’t know. And, if you can stop condemning yourself for a minute and accept what is your reality, you can finally move to a place where change is actually possible. That is true humility, my friends. Humility isn’t just the absence of bragging, it’s acceptance regarding who you are and a willingness to learn something new. It’s the starting line of a race that lasts many years. How silly it would be to start a race in the middle and pretend you had a good start. You have to start somewhere and somewhere is exactly where you are today. What if I’m a bad person? Well, what if you are a good person with some bad parts? What if your bad parts came pre-packaged in your DNA and you had nothing to do with it? What if God knows your DNA and loves you anyway? What if God engineered a plan where your DNA is no longer even a factor?

There’s a tremendous freedom that comes with no longer having to know everything. The true design of life was that you would learn about your God and then He would be responsible to take care of you. That is the life that God envisioned. You were never supposed to be the “be all, end all” of knowledge. Let’s be honest, you couldn’t fix a cut finger by your own efforts. Oh, you could wash the wound and put a band-aid on it, but the real work happens outside of you. All of life works this way. Sure, you have stuff you have to do. Yes, you must work at things and apply your own best efforts! But in the end, someone, somewhere is helping you get where you want to go and He does it whether you believe in Him or not. His heart aches to supply your missing information. He longs to tell you and enlighten you and teach you. He just needs for you to admit you do not know and reach out towards Him, because He does know. He isn’t mad at you because He sees you for who you really are! He looks on your heart; that same heart that is reading this blog; the same heart that knows what I’m telling you is true…

You will be amazed at the transformation your life will take once you finally decide to relieve yourself of the burden of having to already know in exchange for accepting that you don’t know. Deep down you know you don’t know and pretending that you know is exhausting. Acting like you already are something you are not is also exhausting. Conversely, there are many wonderful things you already are, that you also haven’t discovered yet. There is a life waiting for you that encompasses all that you could ever imagine or hope for. You won’t discover it all at once, but that first taste is enough to keep you motivated for a lifetime of discovery!

You are where you are and you are who you are, today but, the promise of tomorrow awaits you! Embrace who you are, the good and the bad, and above all stop trying to know it all. Instead get to know the One who does…

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

You, the Unique, Wonderful You!


Bok-Festival-AzaleasI found myself gazing incredulously at God’s creation as the low light of an early spring evening glimmered softly upon the plant foliage, making the early blooms more vivid and more true. From innumerable shades of green contrasted against the deepest purples, richest reds and sparkling yellows, to the willow tree, bent over, chock full of the weight of a million, delicate white and pink blooms, all seemed to speak to my heart and encourage my soul. They adjured me to observe the Master’s hand, impregnated with a uniqueness carried out over a million iterations. And as I paused in quiet revelry, I understood. Everything that God has made is singularly, unique and in that unsurpassed majesty, is wonderful beyond comprehension. That, my dear friends, is the uniqueness that is you, the wonderful, unrivaled, unparalleled you!

You are a miracle of all miracles in that there is no-one just like you on the entire earth. Imagine for a moment the exquisite combination of genes, environment and upbringing that brought you into play. You couldn’t replicate it if you tried. There’s none that thinks like you; processes information like you or comes to the exact conclusions that you do. You are a one of kind model from a factory where all are of one kind. Your heart, your fears, your love, your tastes and your aversions combined have no match. You are on this earth to bring forth all that you truly are and you alone have been assigned your role. The world doesn’t need another Ghandi or Martin Luther or Mother Theresa, it needs you. They have already done their own work and for that the world is grateful. What remains only is the work that you must do.

You know, most people abhor their uniqueness in a futile quest to be just like everyone else. Their scarlet hair is an affront to them and instead of rejoicing in their rarity, they seek dyes and colors approved by the majority. A slightly lower ear, a cowlick, or a different color eye becomes a hinderance to happiness and fulfillment. And age exacerbates the process as millions cleave to the fleeting look of youth never once considering the mighty oak, scarred from the storms, battered, yet standing firm and proud in its place. People want to fit in and blend and follow plans someone else has made. They want to walk in paths well defined; fall in love as movie stars do; work for businesses whose owners are already rich; falling in line with all the rest, in perpetual pursuit of someone else’s life. And as they acquiesce and settle, they never once consider the place where they sit as master, living a life of their own making; offering all that they and they alone can bring.

Immediately dismiss the notion that all should be famous or adored or worshipped. Your prize isn’t fame or notoriety, nor does your contribution have to have altered the course of the world. Your gift is the gift of who you are and what you bring to the table that no-one else can offer. Your unique abilities not only bless the creation but they bring back to you joy unspeakable. And as you dare to stand as who you are, unashamed and adamant, you will find yourself immersed in situations and people and environments that need you the most. You never have to find them for they will always find you.

Thus it’s time to let the real you back out again. Be true to yourself. Love what you love and despise what you despise. Don’t hide your tastes or try to downplay your aversions. If you disagree, say so. If something touches your soul, don’t be shy. When others mock you for being true to yourself, their derision is a testimony to their own hidden self, still scared, laying low, clutching the bed covers. How could someone laugh or scorn you for being you. It would be more frightening if you were them!

You see, the systems of the world are pushing everyone on to the same course; a trail that leads nowhere and takes a lifetime to arrive. And the prize for having finished is hundreds of regrets in thousands of wasted days. Meanwhile that song; that dream; that ideal lays buried in your heart ever seeking expression but never having been given opportunity. And we wonder why people are so unfulfilled nowadays… True fulfillment can only come from the real you, expressing yourself in real ways, to a world submerged in illusion.

So, where do you begin? Begin by deciding today that you will never again utter a negative word about yourself. Choose to evaluate situations and circumstances and to eliminate endless self-evaluation. Don’t spend another moment in negative consideration of your own heart or motives or desires. Stop saying no to the things from which your heart says yes. Let your interest be your interest even if completely solitary in scope. Read books that speak to you and you alone. Be yourself unreservedly, immensely, unabashedly. And above it all, love yourself like you used to, without judgment and criticism and complaint. Love your flaws and your frailties and your foolishnesses. Love your quirks, your eclectic whims and even your absurdities. When is the last time you just loved yourself for who you are without apology? That is who you are after…

As the sun started to set and as the gentle, lowering light began to dissipate; as the foliage lost its radiance and the flower colors dimmed to shades of gray and black, and as the beckoning willow hid it’s tender blossoms for the night ahead, I couldn’t help but remember that our uniqueness is something that will never change and the world deserves to see it in the light of day…

Just some good thoughts…

Be Good to Yourself…


imagesHave you ever had the experience where you think you are doing something the right way only to find out later that you’re not? We humans get so caught up in our systems about how things work and it seems to get worse as we get older. We already know, ya know? It’s like we stumble into a methodology that worked a couple of times and start replicating it out over a thousand situations. That’s all gravy if you got it right, but if you didn’t…life gets crappy in a hurry.

One such system, well rehearsed and approved as right, is the universally accepted notion that one can improve on his weaknesses and faults by analyzing himself. While ‘thinking’ is always encouraged (another forgotten aspect – smile), I’m talking about that dreadful analysis that only leads to one thing…the conclusion that you are not okay!

To understand this better, you need to understand certain realities. Everything that man does and is, is flawed. Not by design, but by some things you can read about in your Bible sometime. The more closely you inspect man’s accomplishments, even masterpieces, the more imperfection you will discover. In stark contrast, everything that God does is perfect. You can put it under the highest power microscope on Earth and the intricacy and perfection just multiplies. But, I don’t have to tell you that, right? It is literally (and beautifully) all around you!

So, how does this have anything to do with you and what you are doing to yourself? Well, almost everything really. In life you cannot really progress beyond what you think about yourself. If your opinion of yourself is poor, your results in life will be poor. Conversely, if you think highly of yourself and respect yourself, your results will be off the charts. So, what is one of the chief components that faithfully and regularly holds people back? Not being good to one’s self!

You are by your very nature an imperfect being. You were born into this world with imperfection in your blood. You get it? You started out that way! You didn’t start out all rosy and brilliant only later to botch it up with all of your misdeeds. No! You began imperfect and you will remain imperfect until some future day when God sets it all back in order again. This is so vitally important for you to understand. The great Apostle Paul said (by revelation) that he knew that in himself (his physical nature or his body and mind) dwelled no good thing. Nothing, nada, zip! So let me ask you another question. When you dwell on yourself and analyze yourself and deeply probe yourself to learn why you behave the way you do, what are you going to find? No good thing! You are only going to discover your imperfection again and again and again! The old familiar end will be that you are going to conclude that you are not so good; not deserving of good things and basically woe is you. You cannot reach any other conclusion. That old trick has been whooping mankind’s behind since the beginning of time. But, and get this my friends, it is always a trick!

The only way out of your messes is to stop dwelling on your messes! You want to teach a child how to be successful? You cannot persist in his mistakes, but instead capitalize on his accomplishments. Seek out what he does well and laud it to the heavens. Build him up, build him up, build him up until he finally starts to believe he is worth something. Once that’s in him, he is off to the races for success in life. If that works with children, (and believe me it does) then how about with adults? How about using that principle when you are dealing with you? Does that harsh taskmaster referred to as yourself, ever lead you anywhere good? You know it doesn’t! It just makes you feel like sh*t and then you are ripe for the next set of errors.

Getting you to deeply analyze your faults and your failings is the oldest trick in the book. It’s a rabbit hole with no rabbits inside. It’s a black hole of epic proportions that leads surreptitiously to more and more darkness. And, dwelling on the darkness won’t bring forth the light, as I love to say again and again! Now, lest you get all righteous on me here, of course doing “bad” things is wrong. There’s no free pass for hurting and damaging things. But logically, unless you’re planning on doing some evil, I’m assuming your failings are in the past tense. They done already been done and done already got did! So, to stay in that dark place is categorically insane if you’re trying to get to the light.

God’s simple solution to help you out of your “no good thing” state is by giving you an opportunity to get His “every good thing” spirit on the inside. You don’t have to work for it or change for it or become “good” for it. You simply believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9-10) and you get it. Probably one of the greatest things God ever did! So profoundly simple, yet missed a lifetime by people. Once you get His spirit on the inside, He makes you every good thing. He does it! His son paid the price for every ‘effed’ up thing you ever did and ever will do. It’s over, you win, you will live forever!

Make up your mind not to spend another millisecond analyzing your imperfections because as long as you have a body, your imperfections will always be right there. Instead, focus on what is the best about you. Focus on who God says you are and not what your old worn out mind says you are! There’s a new road for you to travel on if you decide you want it.

Be good to yourself. Love yourself. Accept yourself. Respect yourself. Focus on all that’s good in you knowing that in your flesh or anyone else’s flesh for that matter, dwells no good thing! Life is too short and fraught with too many dangers for your own mind to be your personal enemy. Become real good to yourself because it is the only way…

Just some “good” thoughts…

Controlling Your Way to Happiness…


controlButton“Control” is generally considered a negative word. No-one wants to be controlled and when other people are controlling, it drives us nuts. But, what about controlling yourself? Can controlling yourself make you happy? To the human mind, less control seems to promote freedom, doesn’t it? Or does just the opposite occur?

Recently I started a diet that requires eating 500 calories a day. (You know the one…) And, as you might expect, it requires a considerable amount of discipline. After a few days of determined effort, I discovered something spectacular. I felt fantastic.  3.5 ounces of chicken, 4 ounces of spinach and I’m on cloud nine. The same guy that gorged himself on steak and rice, washed down with copious amounts of wine, is suddenly standing a little taller and feeling a lot better. So, I asked myself why? Why would such apparent deprivation lead to such elation?

As I thought more about my life I realized I was a slave to comfort. And, by the age of 54 I had pretty much mastered it. My comforts consisted of eating what I enjoyed most, sitting inordinate amounts of time, and drinking as much as my heart desired. And, all of those things made me feel great, at least as far as I could tell. But, my lack of control was taking a larger toll on me than I realized. Not just in terms of added weight and lethargy, but mentally in how I felt about myself. Then, the light shined in, “Humans were designed to control themselves…”

If you think about your life, you have certain habits or behaviors that you don’t like. We all do. But, have you ever considered the value of deciding to stop doing that “one” thing? Sure, it seems inconsequential in the grand scheme of life, but what you don’t control ends up controlling you. Just letting loose seems so natural, but it doesn’t really make you happy. Of course, I’m not advocating the pseudo-misery life where everything is bad and wrong and harmful. Instead I’m suggesting that you figure out those areas where you have lost control and get busy controlling them again. The Bible says everything in moderation, not don’t touch this or taste that. Denial for denial’s sake is seldom rewarding. But, insert a little control and notice what happens to you. I think deep down we all know what we should do, but actually doing it is a whole “nother” story.

So, take some time to think about your life. Consider those areas that drive you crazy. Contemplate that problem you have that has become so chronic that you accept it, and decide to simply stop it. I often think our greatest life suckers aren’t found in the big important things, but in the small stuff to which we seldom pay attention. What thing do you do everyday that you wish you didn’t do? What haunts you? What is plaguing you? That’s the thing. That is the chink in your armor. The adversary knows that the best way to beat your opponent is to get him to beat himself. Not controlling yourself makes you hurt yourself.

Honestly, I didn’t start a diet because I wanted to discipline myself. I started the diet because that belly in my bathroom mirror was driving me nucking futs! The belly that grew out of days without end in comfort was my motivation. Then, just three days in  of exercising serious determination and finally telling myself “no,” something wonderful took place. The same will happen for you, believe me. Being able to tell yourself “no” at times is the essence of control. Say no to too much! Say no to just laying there! Say no to just one more! Say no to the endless stream of distractions directed at your noggin and get busy doing the stuff you really want to do! Imagine what you could accomplish if your mind wasn’t glazed over from excess booze and nachos. Imagine how much precious time you would find by getting serious and determined. Imagine…

Life is funny in that sometimes you learn the strangest lessons quite by mistake. Or maybe it isn’t a mistake… (;-) Pay attention to the signals and hints that run across your mind. Something glorious and wonderful wants you to find that elusive happiness you’ve been working so hard to get. And ironically, many times the lesson reveals the solution in the exact opposite manner than you formerly thought. Funny.

I’m excited to see a fit stomach in my mirror, but even more psyched about the new things I can learn and control in the process.

Just some good thoughts…