Daily Spirituality

SCENARIO

Is your daily routine so fast paced that you get caught up in doing and lose the art of being? It can feel like you’re losing your connection with your spirituality or forgetting who you really are heart and soul. At times you may even catch yourself, especially at work, going against your personal values in order to do what you believe is best for your work.

CONSIDER THIS

VICKI:
It’s so easy to get lost in the everyday, especially at work. The most important thing we can do is to let our personal values, spiritual or otherwise, lead the way in our work life as well. It’s the difference between doing and being; most of us grew up being taught to do rather than be.

Take time during the day to just be; here are a few suggestions:
1. Meditate for two or three minutes. It clears your mind and can help you refocus on a busy day.
2. Say an affirmation hourly if possible. It should be a statement of intention for yourself and your day. You may choose to use the same affirmation hourly or change it to go with the flow of your day.
3. Keep a reminder of your values in a place where you can see it through your busy day. It may be a book that sits on your desk, a sticky note with a quote on your computer, or the old rubber band around your wrist – anything that has meaning to you.

JILL:
There is no doubt that when Monday morning comes around our busy lives can find us losing touch with ourselves spiritually. On the weekends it is easier to find the time that you need for a spiritual connection.
Be more aware of your weekly schedule and where your time is being spent. Are you doing something that you don’t have to do or don’t want to do? Can you instead use that time for yourself?

If a pocket of time cannot be found you may have to look for it in smaller increments.
Here are a few suggestions to help reframe your day:

1. Utilize unused time; get up earlier in the morning, 15 minutes at lunch or before going to sleep.
2. You can bookmark websites that have daily inspirational messages. I googled ‘daily spirituality’ and some helpful websites came up. Here are two –
New Spirituality Network
Belief net
3. Have a spiritual book, book on tape or meaningful music with you during your day. One of these is perfect while you are waiting for an appointment, on a coffee or lunch break or in a traffic jam.
4. After finishing your work try to take a few minutes to sit quietly.
5. Practice spiritual consciousness in your daily routine. Speak to people that you might not otherwise talk with, see opportunities for small acts of kindness & courtesy and be more aware of your imprint on the world.

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Pressure To Have Children

SCENARIO

You and your partner have decided not have children; you’re happy with your life as it is. However Mom, Aunt Sally and your best friend just aren’t listening and are pressuring you to start that family. How do you tell them to mind their own business without hurting their feelings?

CONSIDER THIS

JILL:
Life decisions such as not to have children come from a deep and private place. I want to emphasize ‘private’. You have to make a decision that is right for you and your partner and at the end of the day that is all that matters.

One of the quickest ways to bring this to an end would be to have the family together for dinner. You need to tell them ‘we know that you love us and want the best for us but we have made a decision to not have children. We are asking you to respect this by not pressuring us anymore. Now we want to get on with our lives.” The words will come to you.
While it feels a little overwhelming to do this en masse, having to deal with each person one on one is difficult and besides you want to get on with your lives. For those that didn’t come to the dinner the words that you used there will work with them. Confront these people together where possible, it will help.
For the really persistent use the ultimate words ‘this is really none of your business.” If certain people still don’t get it and respect your choice then they are a negative voice and you have to decide if you really want them in your lives as you move forward.

VICKI:
Believe it or not most people don’t realize that their probing is either uncomfortable or hurtful. It really isn’t their intention to be that way, they may actually believe that they’re helping because if you listen to them they believe you’ll be happier. It can be a big case of misguided love.

Respond by letting them know how their comments honestly make you feel. An example would be: “My husband and I have decided not to have children, please don’t ask me again as it makes feel very uncomfortable and judged.” When they understand they are upsetting you they will be more apt to stop.

Vacation Plans: Hers vs His

QUESTION

My boy friend and I are trying to plan our first summer vacation together. He wants to go whitewater rafting. Not only does the thought of that really scare me but I don’t consider that a vacation; I’m a lay on the beach and do nothing sort of girl. Should I just go along with him or tell him how I really feel?

ANSWER

VICKI:
Stop, cease and desist! If it’s your first summer vacation together then you’re in a fairly new relationship. I can’t think of a worse way to start then to hide your truth. How is your boyfriend supposed to get to know the real you?

If you start putting aside your desires to please a man in the beginning of a relationship what will you be giving up of what you want in three years time? Remember something really important – relationships are not about giving yourself they’re about sharing yourself. You can give the person you love everything and still have shared nothing with him; that’s because in sharing you give part of yourself which includes your likes and dislikes.

Look at your boyfriend as a soul partner; all souls are on equal ground with no one being more important than the other.

JILL:

I would tell him how you feel and then suggest a trip that is a compromise.

1. Vacation in a place where you both get something. You relax on the beach or by a pool, while your boyfriend is out doing water sports or other physical activities that may appeal to him.
2. Plan a vacation doing something completely different for both of you such as a horse back riding or bike riding vacation, tour a wine area or travel through a country, state or province that appeals to you both.

If you just ‘go along with him’ you will both end up having a miserable time.

Talking To Elderly Parents

QUESTION

My sister and I are trying to get our elderly parents to sit down and discuss their future. They’re presently in their eighties and can’t keep up with their large house. Mom no longer cooks proper meals for them. Dad is diabetic and we’re not sure if he’s taking his medication regularly. We also don’t think that Dad should have a driver’s license. How can we get them to talk about these things without hurting their feelings?

ANSWER

JILL:
Judging by some of your concerns, you are no longer and the point of ‘if’ you should have a conversation with them but it is more of ‘when’. Take heart though, there are ways of doing it so that feelings are not hurt.
At this stage in their life your parents are probably experiencing many emotions such as fear, sadness, anger even depression. You need to lay the groundwork to help elevate some of these feelings, so I suggest that you both meet to discuss the best plan before talking to your parents. Write down the issues that are concerning you both, and then look for ways to work though those problems. Research what is available in your community, talk to their doctors and find resources on the internet. If you go to your parents with some suggestions they will not be as fearful.

When you have everything organized ask to meet with them at their home; that will feel like a safe place for them. Make it the four of you so that there are no distractions and you have some privacy. Speak honestly and with love, treat them with respect and listen to their concerns. Stay in the here and now & avoid laying blame.

Time is important but they will need to process your suggestions. Let them know when you want to meet again to set things in motion.

This is a difficult and emotional time for all of you so take it step by step. Get them the help that they need by creating a support team; experts such as doctors, home care professionals, financial planners, and pharmacists are available to help you at this time.

VICKI:

It’s really about the way you approach your parents. Please keep in mind that there isn’t a person on this planet that wants to hear that their family no longer feels they can take care of themselves. It can leave them feeling vulnerable and without dignity.

If you were thinking they should go into a retirement home and tell them that you will most likely get resistance, especially if they’ve been in their home long term. Since many of these retirement facilities are quite expensive it may be more economical and feel safer to your parents if they had help come to their home.

Get together a list (with prices) of services that could help them such as a cleaning service or a out of house companion that comes daily and does the driving.

Then approach your parents offering help so they can live a more leisurely lifestyle. At their age leisure sounds much better than dependence. Should your parents refuse you have no choice but to listen to their wishes.

Letting Go Of Blame

QUESTION

Eight months ago I lost my son; I am slowly getting through the pain. The problem is that it happened while my husband was supposed to be watching him, he drowned in our pool. I keep telling myself that it was not his fault but I still blame him, how can I stop being so angry at him?

ANSWER

VICKI:

You have my heartfelt condolences on your loss.

This is something that really needs to be worked on with a grief counselor and possibly a marriage counselor. This is a time when you and your husband need each other most. It is possible to get through this and it has to be together.

If you have a religious affiliation this would also be a good time to seek clerical advice and support. Faith can help people move through extreme tragedy. Do whatever you can to get the help you need – your son would want that for the parents he loves.

I’m wondering if you are saying things to yourself like, “If only I had been there” or “I was the one who was supposed to be watching him at that time” or any “I should have” statement pertaining to yourself? The reason that I’m asking is that if you are then you are feeling responsible and are angry with yourself, this means you feel guilty feeling you did not do everything you could. Be gentle on yourself.

Forgiving yourself first will open the doors for you to take the blame off your husband. You know in your heart and mind that your husband didn’t do anything on purpose. He feels the same pain as you and considerable guilt I am sure.

JILL:
Grief is a deeply personal process, there is no set formula or advice that can be given to someone.

Vicki’s answer was through, so I only have a couple of things to add. It is important that you give yourself permission to feel the anger. If you do see a grief counselor go by yourself first so that you can work through that anger and blame. This will then allow you to process the other stages of your grief and to hopefully reach out to your husband for the love and support that you both need at this time.

Another safe place for your feelings is a support group. I realize that initially that seems like revealing yourself to strangers however the fact that you brought together by a common loss removes the normal barriers. Sometimes it is in that very anonimity that we find the understanding and support that we need.

Without being able to work with you one on one I hope that this advice helps in some small way and I too send you my condolences.

Law Of Attraction Not Working

QUESTION

I’ve watched The Secret and read as much as I can about the Law Of Attraction. I keep trying to make it work for me but the problem is I can’t stop negative thoughts from coming up all the time and it feels like I’ll never be able to attract what I want. It seems to be working for so many people, what’s wrong with me? I feel like a complete failure and I know beating myself up isn’t going to help it’ll just make it worse. What can I do?

ANSWER

VICKI:
I have unfortunately heard this too many times from too many people. Having a negative thought is not the enemy. Looking at your thoughts without emotion can help you to understand what it is in your belief system that you need to tackle.

There isn’t anyone on earth who can rid themselves of all negative thought. I realize that it appears that the speakers of The Secret only have positive thoughts however that’s not that true.

When you have a negative thought acknowledge it, as you have no control over the thought, and then choose again. By choosing again I mean make a positive affirmation of what it is that you positively intend.

There’s a great new book out by Neale Donald Walsch called “Happier Than God”. It explains how the Law Of Attraction works – you can call it the secret behind The Secret. It covers everything in great detail. This book is an absolute treasure and a gift that you should give yourself.

JILL:
Maybe you are trying too hard. Take a deep breath and relax a bit. You obviously get the concept and how to put it into your life, obsessing and worrying about it is actually counter productive because that is what you are putting out there. So you are actually attracting what you are thinking “It seems to be working for so many people, what’s wrong with me? Therefore based on the Law of Attraction what you are getting back is – it isn’t working for you.

All self-help advice such as The Secret is only a tool intended to help you build a better life. They are presented as one size fits all when in fact you have to figure out how to make them work for you because everyone’s life is unique.

People Pleasing & Healthy Boundaries

QUESTION

I have what Oprah calls the need to please, why do I always say ‘yes’ whenever someone asks me to do something? I just volunteered to drive my daughter and some kids around Saturday morning for a bottle drive to raise money for a school trip. I have a hundred other things to do on Saturday why didn’t I just say that I was too busy?

ANSWER

VICKI:
The majority of people pleasers will tell you that they didn’t want to let someone down, yet that is only the surface answer. Disappointing another is about how you will be viewed by that person and yourself. It can be really debilitating to live for other people’s impressions or opinions of you. It can be totally devastating if you judge yourself as a good or bad person based on the need to do or prove something to others. The bottom line is this is a boundary issue. You need to learn to set healthy boundaries.

People, yourself included, can only do what they have within themselves to do. Frequently the person who says yes to everything has little to give because their sense of obligation leave them feeling resentful, which leaves no room to give from the heart.

The next time you are asked to do something for someone else don’t respond immediately. Just stop. Ask yourself if you have the time and if you want to do this. If the answer is negative just say no – people pleasing is like a bad drug.

There is a book called “Where To Draw The Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Everyday” by Anne Katherine. You may find this book very helpful.

JILL:
You need to look at what is behind your inability to say “I’m too busy”.
Are you trying to be supermom?
Are you subconsciously saying ‘look at how much I do’?
Do you want people to not think badly of you?
In fact, not being able to set boundaries does not make you likeable, strong or perfect.

Here are some ways to beat the urge:
Pause before answering: Train yourself that no one has the right to demand an answer right away. It may be their moment of panic but that doesn’t make it yours.

Just say NO:
Ask yourself what is going to happen? The world does not come to an end. You are merely saying “Sorry, I am too busy”’ they will find someone else.

Don’t over explain: That makes you seem defensive and gives them an opportunity to change your mind.

Visual record of your busyness: One thing that helps is when you can see how busy you are. Never answer until you have checked your day timer. Have a schedule by your home phone that shows what is happening on each day and at what time. If someone requests your time when you are out again check your day timer or blackberry before answering.

Middle of the road: If it a request that you would like to help with but time is a factor. Find the mid-way point “I can sew the costumes, bake the cookies but someone else will have to pick them up. If that doesn’t work don’t agree to it, you offered a compromise that is enough.