Evolving to Resolve Ourselves

There is nothing more thoughtless than a life unexamined. Make some time in your day to confront your existence. By Madeline Johnson

Three simple ways to have a more interesting and enriching life.

Tell the truth.

Say what you mean.

Don’t do things you hate.

2

 

Thoughts about turning your

resentment into resilience.

A recipe for becoming a self-reliant, immovable force.

We all want to feel strong, empowered, confident and ready to take the world head on, but more often than not, we are a mixed bag of worry and concern about our day-to-day existence.  It’s time to make some time.

solitude

There is nothing more thoughtless than a life unexamined. Make some time in your day to confront your existence. Think about the people and problems in your life that you believe are holding you back, weighing you down and making you miserable.

3

Step 1

Separate fact from fiction. Think objectively about why you are feeling burdened. If you are bitter, angry or believe that life should be treating you better, examine that.  If your heart is hardening and you are disenfranchised with the world, proceed with intelligent caution.  Strive to understand that part of the problem might be you. Maybe you just need to grow up, mature a little.  Perhaps you are whining about your resentment towards someone, instead of truly owning and accepting your part. How can you be better, stronger, smarter about this problem? Stand up for your better self.

Step 2

Humbly face your enemies and your problems in a brave new way. Once you have sorted out the part you are playing in the anger game and you are ready to own that bit of it, you must know what you want and need and have the courage to ask for it.   You cannot move forward without first forgiving yourself and making a pact with your soul never to betray yourself again.  Next. Do the thing that most of us never want to do. Pick the right place and the right time and humbly open up and confront those who aren’t respecting you. So often we play out conversations in our heads, but we don’t actually have them. We aren’t brave enough to actually speak the words. It’s time to learn how to do just that. Let others know what you need and specifically what would make the situation better.

Step 3

Then put it down. Shed those past grievances. Release your clenching grip of control. Practice and proceed with intelligent caution. Start fresh and move forward with realistic optimism about your future.

3ebc17de7eed41781b8a9c974ddb0b36

4

 

 

 

Featured Artwork

Welderwings

 

 

What We Learn Along the Way

Life happens. Life teaches. 
Some of the most important things I have learned along the way. By Madeline Johnson

Life happens. Life teaches. We live and we learn.

Some of the most important things I have learned along the way.

Life can be unpredictable. The weather can get dark and stormy.  Clouds roll in. No matter what happens, be prepared and stay centered. Don’t let every little thing that happens throw you off balance.  You get to decide what rocks your boat, what drives you crazy.

storms

Pay attention to the details. Sloppy and fast requires do overs. You don’t want to have to redo what you didn’t want to tackle in the first place.

attention

Sometimes that thing we don’t want to do – what must be done. Do your best and move on. 

We don’t listen deeply enough to each other. Communicate clearly and elegantly. Get your point across. When it’s your turn to listen, listen with all of your senses. 

2.png

Most of us want bad situations to be over as soon as possible. We will do anything to escape confrontation. We just want to move on. Sometimes they take time to work out. Patience really is a virtue.

When bad things happen, it’s even more important to take extra good care of yourself. Provision yourself well –  to ride out the storm. 

Think long and hard before you say yes to commitments. Especially long term commitments.

Don’t rush into relationships or situations. Weigh your decisions carefully. Uncover the truth, then take smart, calculated risks.

Always remain grateful, even when all you have is just a little.

3.png

You don’t know what you or someone else is capable of doing until they’re really desperate.

Pay attention to your life. Don’t be lazy. Do what needs to be done now.

We are never really blind-sided. Heed the warning signs. Examine the red flags. Listen to the small pains that can become big headaches. Don’t wait. Act now.

Focus on the good that is happening in your life, even when times are dark and bleak.

We all lie. We lie to ourselves. Big lies, small lies, white lies, dark lies. We deceive each other. We do this because we don’t want to hurt ourselves or others. Face the truth. The truth will set you free. Seek what is fact, not fiction in life.

lying

Most of us see situations the way we want them to be, instead of how they truly are – stay in reality.  Reality may be harsh, but it is your friend

Know that when someone is lashing out in anger, they are usually very sad and frightened. 

anger-is-really-disappointed-hope-quote-1

Featured Art

Anna Tsvell Anna’s surreal portraits are full of bohemian melancholy mood. She paints women of almost alien appearance which makes her portraits extremely recognizable and attractive for the art collectors all over the world.
Long curved necks ,chaotically combined parts of the face and body (since summer 2018) are the main distinctive features of Anna’s remarkable style .

 

 

Your Courageous Heart

I think it would amazing if we all came with operating instructions. A dashboard or a manual for our hearts by Madeline Johnson

You have to have a pretty strong, tough, courageous heart to love another person deeply. To commit your being to another. Oh and then to have it smashed and broken by them and to be brave enough to fall in love again.

Humans, they’re tricky.  We all are.  What is this fickle falling in and out of love thing we do?

1.png

I think it would be amazing if we all came with operating instructions. A dashboard or a manual for our hearts. Something that could show our significant other that deep down, we all need the essentials – to feel love, appreciated and accepted.

bryant-h-mcgill-to-have-our-needs-met-to-love-quote-on-storemypic-0776c

Read Simple Reminders

So what happens when we don’t feel loved? When we don’t feel like we are getting the love we need? The respect we want?

We feel threatened and we feel vulnerable. We fear being abandoned, rejected, thrown away. Discarded.

threat

The more vulnerable we feel, the more we want to run.  Sometimes in the heat of an argument, we lash out.

We say such harmful words when we are angry. Words we don’t really mean.

Why?

Because words are powerful and we think they will protect our hearts, they will shield us from heartache and protect our need to feel loved and accepted.

Why we think it works.

Because it does. Temporarily.  Until it doesn’t.

3.png

Think about it. What’s more powerful than telling someone that you are done with them, you are leaving?  It’s over. I’m out of here.

Look at how powerful you look when you say or do that threaten to leave thing you do out of fear. You were the one to say it first. You won. You protected your heart.

Now they can’t hurt you. Momentary relief and then comes regret. You didn’t really mean that.

What you really wanted to say . . .

You mean so much to me. I am scared you will leave me. I am afraid you won’t love me.  I don’t want you to manipulate me. I need you to accept me. Why won’t you work this out with me? Don’t you really love me?

So why do we rage at the ones we love? Threaten to leave. Break up?

Because we are terrified.

Where did you learn such behavior?

These poor coping skills were learned from watching others. From past relationships.

This lack of self-awareness and emotional maturity creates disasters. Disasters that keep failing forward into relationships all over the world.

A Better Way to Protect Your Heart

It begins with understanding yourself better. Knowing what you are afraid of and facing that fear head on. The second step. Showing the world that vulnerability.

real

Perhaps you have had your heart broken. Maybe you were hurt badly by someone in the past. Anyone – your mom, your dad, your uncle, sister, brother, friend. . . .

Perhaps you were abandoned.

You made a sworn promise to yourself – that will never happen again. I will be loved, accepted and cherished for who I am. I will never be left alone again.

When you are threatened you have a choice. You can try to scream your feelings from the roof tops and curse your way into a frightening rage to be heard or you can softly surrender and open your vulnerable heart to another.

fe8ca3ff282886d9578eb49f4009c9be

Read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

daring.png

Flip side: What you need to know if you are really being manipulated.

Featured Art

Tomoki Hayasaka is a self-taught artist and designer from Sendai Japan. He makes surreal-conceptual art and design.

Close Encounters of the Real Kind

Such a refreshing thought – to actually meet someone who is genuinely real and speaking the truth.  Now that is some rare shit.

zero-dark-thirty-quotes-23

Sometimes the very people we are closest to become unreal to us. We might easily assume we know what life is like for them and forget that, like us, they are always changing, their experience is always new. We lose sight of how fully they too are living with hurts and fears, how hard life can be on the inside. – excerpt from Radical Acceptance 

miracle.jpg

Now I’ve been accused of being too tough on my family.  My tone too harsh . . . .coming in too hot. . . way too aggressive, they cry.   I’m not soft enough, gentle enough, kind enough.  I don’t give them enough room to be human.

I have also been described by my family as angry, enraged, and demanding and someone who can never be pleased.  This in turn has made me a lightening rod for blame.

It’s a terribly messy situation and it has also alienated me quite a bit.

sleep_paralysis_by_gloom82-dbwlyhp

Recognizing Our Humanmess & Pulling Our Emotional Weight 

I had to ask myself, am I really that emotionally insensitive? or . . . .am I perhaps emotionally exhausted, with very little patience to have the “tell me what I want to hear conversations“. You know how they go.  The one you where you are trying to give some good sensible advice and it sucks all of your time and energy. . .and the troubled one cries, moans and complains and then goes on to make even bigger, unavoidable mistakes.

lame

Now having a mentally-ill ex who uses the children as weapons does nothing to elevate the family dynamics one bit.  He is sick, he is weak and the weak grasp onto anything they can to stay afloat. It’s truly painful and pitiful and annoying as hell.

never

Growing up with a bullet-proof, hard-headed immigrant family I have been trained to do one thing and one thing only. When we have a problem we fix it. Simple as that. No added drama and delusional ego defense tactics. We simply make the repairs. . . . we change our behavior, our environment, our thinking, whatever it is we need to do, including removing ourselves from the messes left behind.

I was taught to humbly take complete ownership for myself, my life and my actions.

Darling-Just-fucking-own-it.jpg

Yet I do believe it is okay to ruminate for a solution and to sometimes overthink things – -but it’s not okay to go around thinking badly or poorly. The world is not out to get us. The real problem is you, it is very, very rarely what happens to you.

This lack of desire to sit with another and hold space for them for a very long time, when they do nothing to face their challenges – is the issue.

You see when I think about their complaints about me, I realize its not just my tone that they don’t like.  It’s how they interpret the tone.  When I am firm, they hear you’re not good enough, you’re a mess, you are just terrible and you really don’t have it together” and there in lies the suffering – the sever in the relationship.

couple-cartoon-fighting-300x300

Stuck, it’s my lack of desire and willingness to placate them. To sit with their suffering. To buy into their woe is me helplessness.

For this I have been pegged as emotionally unaware, arrested in my growth and a non-compassionate person. Which is the farthest thing from the truth. I am wildly compassionate and loving but also a huge fan of the being absolutely honest with ourselves.

So, I do two things at once. I call bullshit on their desire to expect me to sit and stir the pot of sadness and sorrow that they decided to make for dinner and eat for left overs.

But, more importantly, I apply a bit of compassion to their pain and suffering by asking myself two questions before we begin –

What does she need right now?

What does this person fear right now?

These two questions help bring us closer together as humans.

guests_by_gloom82-dbyzysm

 

Slow is Strong & Stillness Your Superpower

Stillness has power. By being still, you gain the power to think your thoughts more clearly. You gain the power to separate the right thoughts from the wrong ones. And this gives you the power to do the right action, and say the right words.

Be still

Be still your head and allow your senses to become heightened.

still 2

 

Artwork

Sebastian Ospina

Everything

How to Get Those Haters to Help You Grow

Madeline Johnson discussing the benefits of listening to your inner critic to help you grow.

We all have a voice in our head that is critical, judgmental, and disapproving of ourselves. Rarely does it ever champion you onward or applaud you for good work. Typically it sounds like the voice of one of your biggest haters.
camus
Now, that voice can be soft and it can be loud and sometimes we choose not to listen.  We may hear it in specific situations (triggers) or with specific people. Sometimes, however, that inner voice is constantly giving us unsolicited commentary and incessant chatter, becoming part of what Buddhists would call our Monkey Mind.
C85SKpEWAAEV0hS
When you begin to listen to your inner critic what you will hear is a voice with messages composed of ideas, beliefs, emotions, and thoughts that try to manage your experience by telling you when we’re doing something right or wrong.
But this morning, I had an idea. It was inspired by a book that I am reading, Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul.
2
The inner critic is acquired and internalized as young children and as we grow, and it continues to develop throughout our lives. Read more on GoodTherapy.org.
My idea involved listening to my inner critic because I wondered if she has some valuable things to share. Not everything, but maybe some pearls of wisdom to help me grow.
For example –
Voice of my inner critic (sometimes my mother, father or grandmother):
You are rushing and your work is so sloppy.
My interpretation:    Maybe I should slow down and pay attention to the details?
My inner critic (my daughter Aja):
Your voice is so annoying. You sound so bossy and bitchy.
Translate to:     Why don’t I slow my speech and soften my tone a bit so others are more responsive?
Inner Critic (my bat-shit crazy ex): You’re too serious and intense for people. You’re no fun.
Well, how about I lighten up a bit and stop trying to control everything around me?
Listening doesn’t mean agreeing with what the critic says all the time. Accepting it doesn’t mean taking on its criticism. Embracing it doesn’t mean believing that its judgments are fair or accurate.
grow
Art by @brookeshaden

Using Your Anger to Illuminate the Fundamental Truth of Your Self-nature

Most people – “the good vibes only” people in particular – tend to shy away from and may even passive-aggresively shame people who come to the party of life angry.  No drama here. No conflict. No, no, no. . .they will have none of it.  Confrontation just freaks them out.

flow

I’ve come to know anger on a very intimate level. We’re like BFF’s and believe me you, more recently in my life, my anger has served me well.  It has acted like a guiding light, helping free myself from the pain, guilt and shame I’ve been lugging around for years.

demons

One of my first really angry memories involved being bitten bloody on the arm by my raging cousin Ralph. Oh what a misfit he was. A terror. It hurt like hell. A big imprint of his huge buck teeth piercing the broken skin on my upper arm. It was a typical Sunday dinner at nanny’s house. Steaming plates of pasta and a big loud Italian family, all talking on top of one another, no one listening, ignoring the children, the women complaining and the men, oh the bravado and machismo. A scene out of . . .

giphy-1.gif

I was so enraged that I ran up to the dining room table and decided to let all of the adults at the table about what happened. I yelled at the top of my lungs, “YOUR SON JUST TOOK A BITE OUT OF MY ARM, HE IS AN ANIMAL.”  And in less than a split second everyone at the table began to laugh out loud at me. The table was rolling with laughter. I was astonished.

girl

Ignoring anger, any type of anger, whether it is yours or someone else’s, is not a strategy, period.

Pretending your not angry, “working out” your rage at the gym, downward dogging that dreaded pain and/or massaging your mind with positive affirmations will only create a deeper harbor for anger to anchor itself in your subconscious, and those are some deep and dark waters my friend.

I have been accused of being angry most of my life. I have damaged friendships, relationships and have gotten shunned by almost every member of my family for being angry. We are all good now, but it took a lot of deep digging to find out why I was a rage-full mad woman.

angry face

I have come to learn that anger needs some proper investigation on a regular basis because it is a sure sign that something in your life is out of alignment with what you value and an indication that you are in need of some loving care.

Fear

 

It’s a red flag that your needs are not being met. And damn we have to meet those needs. Anger actually is a powerful emotion that protects us from feeling hurt and hopeless. Maybe even powerless. Feeling powerless is about as low as  you can go.

hurt me

Anger can be a very necessary emotion which will let you know without a doubt when you are feeling threatened and vulnerable.  When we approach anger with curiosity, when we ask ourselves “why the hell is this making me so angry?” when we take a peak at what is behind the anger curtain, the root of the problem, we find that we may be feeling hurt, betrayed, disappointed and disillusioned.

mess

It is to this place we must go, to the pain behind anger, with open arms, where we feel ourselves turned inside out, where we feel raw, bloody and wounded- that is what is underneath the anger. If you really want to become less angry, this is the bleeding wound that must be healed.  And you can’t rely on others to rub in the ointment and wrap the bandages. Oh no, this is an inside job.

self love

So if you struggle with a low tolerance for frustration or someone tells you that you need anger management therapy, try a bit of self-care.  Investigate that anger. Get up close and personal with the pain.

From Uprooting the Seeds of Anger

We might explore this possibility by asking ourselves about where our anger really comes from. What is the other side of anger? Fear. We can’t free ourselves until we work through both our anger and our fear. And what is the cause of fear? Ultimately, it is the fear of nonexistence, death, the fear of losing ourselves and being forgotten. But a fear of death translates into a fear of living, because impermanence is itself a fundamental condition of our lives. In this fear lie the seeds of anger.

So now, how do I deal with angry people? I realize that hurt people hurt. I approach them with curiosity. What is behind that big, bad bark? 

For myself, now when I get angry, I know how to soothe myself (a very good thing to learn how to do by the way). I take to the waters and I meditate.

salt water

Now I know. . .

calm.jpg