Tag Archives: self-control

Please listen to your flight attendant….

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Before every plane ride, the cramped individuals of the cabin are always treated to the preflight safety instructions.  They’re always the same; the flight attendant walks us through what to do and where to go in case of an emergency.  If you’ve flown more than once, it’s more likely you will be fumbling with your tiny airplane pillow or an electronic device, rather than listening to this standard briefing.  But I’ve chosen it as a blog topic for good reason.  There is actually a really great bit of advice to be found, metaphorically, within the mundane instruction.

Included in preflight safety instructions is what to do if cabin pressure changes.  When cabin pressure changes on an airline, it triggers the emergency oxygen masks to drop from overhead each passenger.  The instructions given for what to do when the masks dropped always perplexed me when I was younger.  The flight attendant tells the passengers that they must ‘first secure their own mask, before placing a mask on their child’.

I always used to think that seemed a bit selfish.  I mean, isn’t the first instinct of a parent to run to the aid of their child, without regard for themselves?  That seems right…save the child first.

Then, I had children.  And now I see the wisdom in the words.  I think it’s natural, especially for women, to forget your own needs.  We get good at putting ourselves on the back burner for others.  Anything else seems selfish.  After all, taking time for yourself is frowned on, because the perception is that by making time for yourself, you are taking it away from someone else.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reason the flight attendant insists on putting your mask on first is so you can take care of your child.  Without that mask, and the oxygen it provides, you will lose consciousness while trying to help your child.  The result is a child left without a parent to care for them, without protection, and in grave danger.  The metaphor is pretty powerful; if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot possibly hope to be present to truly provide the care those you love really need.

This week, the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of drug overdose in his New York City apartment.  Alone.  On the bathroom floor.  I can think of few, more sadly preventable ways to die.  Police found 40 bags of heroine in his apartment, and he was found only because he failed to pick up his three young children as promised that day.  Please don’t interpret any anger on my part as being aimed at Mr. Hoffman.  I hate addiction, not the addicted.  Mr. Hoffman, a beautiful, talented human being, filled with the same potentiality for life that every human being possesses, chose in a moment of emptiness to believe the lie of addiction.  It is a lie which says that something other than living and being ever-present in your life is somehow better in a given moment.  It says there is no truth in human pain and suffering, nothing to be learned.  It insists pain simply be eradicated, even if only as a temporary reprieve.  But in truth, addiction is pain.  It is a thief that robs life and replaces it with more and more hollow emptiness.  Numbness replaces presence.  Game over…

Addiction allows us to play the victim.  It hides the ability and free will of the human spirit which empower all good practice and positive thought.  Addiction is the lie, because we are not victims to anything but our own minds.  We live our choices.  No one chooses to be an addict, but we do choose to do the things that set addiction in motion.  Life is a powerful experience that merits responsibility for identifying what is best and discerning what is good and right in our lives.  Life is precious and fragile…so respect the journey.

So please, listen to your flight attendant.  Take care of yourself first.  Feed yourself full to the top with good things, so you can be ready and able to be there for all those other human beings you love so much  🙂

*image provided by: http://williamtollefsonvalues.blogspot.com/2013/07/addiction-recovery-southwest-florida.html

Examine the Alternatives…

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The word ‘alternative’ has two wonderful synonyms:  ‘option’ and ‘choice’.

And of course, a synonym is defined as ‘a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language’.

So, ‘examine the alternatives’ simply means ‘consider all the options’ and ‘consider your choices’.

In every action or reaction, we should examine our alternatives.  The important key word in that statement is ‘examine’, because it should prompt one to contemplate what they are examining their options or choices for, but also why there is a need to examine them.Blog 18 Image

Do we make our choices blindly?  No.  Choices are made based on their perceived merit.  Merit should regard how our choices impact others through their potential to enhance and uplift life.  Trouble is, sometimes merit can stem from individual unhealthy needs or desires.  For example, if we choose to give our time and effort to another, but with the ultimate desire that our efforts be acknowledged somehow, say with simple appreciation (seems harmless enough…most people expect a little appreciation for doing good things).  But in such cases, we have given of ourselves with an expectation to receive.  Giving with the expectation to receive is not true giving…it is the result of a cost/benefit analysis conducted under the umbrella of a ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality.

And we are all guilty of it…so no harsh judgments here…

However, it can become a dangerous process….a habitual viewpoint of the self as victim to the world and circumstance.  It is paramount to get real in the examination of our motivations.  Truth is health, and truth is not always easy.  Ask yourself (and be honest) about any hopes, desires, or expectations you might be attaching to your choices and why you really need them.  Are motivations borne from loneliness, envy, unhappiness, or anger?  If our options and choices are rooted in these motivations, there is serious work to be done…inside.  Eventually, once the hard work is done and truth is achieved, loving and giving comes simply and clearly from the desire only to love and give, without the expectation for anything else.

NOTE:  This endeavor is part of the perpetual classroom of life; a renewable ideal, a process and lesson which needs constant gardening to reveal its infinite ability to improve with every season  🙂

blog image courtesy of:  http://www.alternatives.org/impact.html

Love Letter to the World (A Wish)…

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I love it when you smile… when you look upon others without judgment, with a kind heart…

And I love the look on your face when you receive kindness from others…
I love it when you make your children your #1 priority in life and the way they, in turn, make the world a better place for others, because of your efforts…
I love it when you’re not selfish; because you recognize that being self-absorbed means you fail to see the potential in others or contribute to anyone besides yourself…
I love when you give without expectation of reciprocity or praise…
I love when you consider the needs of others above your own feelings; because you understand your feelings aren’t always the most important thing in the world…you understand others have needs that may outweigh your feelings, feelings which may actually be very self-serving…
I love that you know happiness comes from the inside, not outside, so you don’t spend time forcing others to do things just to ‘make you happy’…
I love that you fulfill yourself and strive to be a better person, not just because it makes you better, but because you know you are contributing something positive to the world through your existence…
I love that you never hurt people, lie, or try to make others feel guilty…
I love when you choose to lift people up, rather than gossip or look down your nose at them…
I love how you always endeavor to find the good in things…
I love the way you support the goals of others, rather than tear them down, even when they don’t agree with what you think…
I love your humility, work ethic, and honesty…especially during tough situations…
I love your generosity of spirit and your humanity…
But most of all, I love the way you love me back 🙂

Fear SUCKS…

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If we sit around waiting for ‘others to change’ or ‘things to change’, or ‘a sign’, the end result will be inactivity and regret. This type of personal dialogue shares a single commonality, fear. And fear is the absolute opposite of faith.
Fear on its own is not always a bad thing. Some fear is even helpful, such as pulling your hand back from a hot stove or avoiding a suspicious looking snake. But more importantly, fears are learned behaviors. Likely, we learned not to touch a hot stove by being burned, or not to mess with snakes because someone taught us they were dangerous. Through our natural aversion to pain, we learn to avoid things that hurt us, as well as those we believe possess the potential to hurt us. This is a key point, because anything learned has the potential to be unlearned. It is important to consider this when examining the difference between fear and faith, in relationship to action.
If we are afraid to make a decision (to act), it is because we know we cannot predict its outcome or consequence. They are ‘unknowns’. Now consider for a moment that fear of an unknown is irrational, because it possesses equal potential for good and bad. Therefore, it is irrational to fear what is not known, because that fear stems from a fabricated rationale, the result of our own construction.
When we are presented with something we haven’t previously encountered, we draw conclusions through comparison. In the case of fear, we draw conclusions based on comparing unknown things to things we know to be harmful or potentially harmful, thereby allowing the unknown to be relabeled as ‘known’, or the irrational, as ‘rational’. By this process, we ‘know’ and we can realize the ‘benefits’ of rationalization to justify our fear and inaction, so we don’t have to risk the unknown… the gamble… which works great…until we begin to regret. Regret follows fear-based inaction, because fear prevents us from living fully by imprisoning and paralyzing us from accepting possibility, potential, and growth to enter our lives. Fear is stagnating…it is death. Faith, in contrast, is informed, but willing. Alive with potentiality that opens us to all possibility by denying fear the power to compel irrational, unfounded decisions.
Fearful living does not prevent bad things from happening to us. We cannot absolutely control, predict, manipulate, or will things into being. Unfortunately, we keep trying, because every now and then we have some success with the predictions, our manipulations. Those little ‘successes’ only serve to support our delusions and lend credence to our belief that our fears are warranted. This in turn, prompts us to apply them to every other situation causing a similar fear response.
The good news is as previously stated; learned can be unlearned. A propensity to fear is not easily conquered, but absolutely possible. Past does not have to dictate future. Let every new, unknown situation present itself as a challenge…a curiosity…a chance to choose faithfulness over fear 🙂

The Best Kind of Panties….

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**“She made me angry…” ** “That ruined my day…” ** “I just can’t get past it…”**

Are any of these statements really true?  Do others possess the capability to make us something we don’t wish to be?  Is it true to say someone, or something else ruined our entire day?

No…statements like these are fundamentally untrue…

We control ourselves… This is a true statement.

Seriously consider the power of such a statement over the others listed above.  The conclusion states we have the last word about what kind of day we have and how we are ultimately going to feel.  We are the harbinger of our own misery or happiness.  We are the ‘keeper of the mood’.

We understand it, in theory.  In practice, it gains difficulty.  That guy that cut you off in traffic, the boss who ‘just doesn’t get it’, or the person who treats you poorly and ‘gets away with it’; each tests our mettle and seems to bring on us (from the outside) anger, frustration, and misery.

However, it is the expectations we place on outside influences that are the source of our own anger and disappointment.  We expect things to go a certain way, or expect to be treated right, or expect people to behave well.  And when things don’t go as expected, we get disappointed or angry.  This is absurd, since we lack control over anything but ourselves.    If we account for the sum total of individual expectation for 7+ billion people on the planet, it isn’t hard to see how anger and frustration is manufactured on a daily basis.

Consider the power of change.  It is possible to enact positive change in our life, and it is through the mere decision to do so.  That is power that does not bend to outside influence.  That is power which dwells inside, produced by sheer will.  Your thoughts run you…

The very position of your will inside means it is protected from outside forces which will against it.  We are each a sturdy vessel.  We are our very own harbor in a storm.  We are each a force…

And because we possess such control, we are not victims…

It is necessary to own our mood and outlook.  It is necessary to be responsible for what we put out in the world.  If we are having a bad day, it is because we are choosing to do so…and that’s completely on us.  We are not a victim of someone or something else; we are choosing to victimize ourselves. 

So don’t do it….Put on those big kid panties and get on with living  🙂

 

*Image courtesy of:  http://aubenoire.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/no-expectations2.jpg*