A very well-known spiritual speaker once said at a lecture:
“We love to get in the cage with the gorilla. We climb right in and try to take care of all the problems and then wonder why our arms and legs are being ripped off.”
I remember laughing at the thought of it and also the reality: I was doing this almost every day at that time.
I was trying to take care of everyone and everything around me, with no thought for my own well-being, and then wondering why my life was in such a total shambles and why every time I looked in the mirror I found a woman who was worn and frazzled.
To be a nurturer, to be caring, compassionate, empathetic is a gift and a characteristic of myself I value greatly. I feel fortunate to have been raised to think of others when they are in need.
However, I must let other people do what they can for themselves, and accept that if I jump in too quickly and try to “save the day” I am robbing them of their own learning lessons and robbing myself of balance.
“Dear God, help me to allow others to grow. Help me to nurture without over-stepping my boundaries.”
Though my divorce was a very painful experience, it taught me a lot about when it was appropriate to react and when it was better to let go. In my marriage, I often reacted immediately… instead of calming my mind and waiting to decide how important the problem really was. I would constantly get worked up about things that wouldn’t even be remembered 24 hours later. I allowed my resentments, my emotions, to constantly rule my words and actions. A good friend, at the time, told me to take just a moment before reacting and say to myself, “How important is it?” before calling someone out. I was amazed at how many times I was being nit picky, judgmental, really just saying something to say it or using my words as a way of holding my illusion of control. I started to see my character flaws appear in each scenario and I didn’t like it. Today, I still sometimes react without thinking but more often than not, I hold my tongue and wait to allow time and clarity to set in before speaking. – “Dear God, help me to let go of the little things and stay focused on more important matters.”
It amazes me how I will struggle so hard and for so long with a particular problem and suddenly, when I least expect it, comes a moment of clarity. It appears in my own “aha!” thought or… in the words of a dear friend or… an image I see on TV… something… anything… that somehow drives me to finally connect the dots. When it happens I always feel like saying to myself, “I can’t believe you didn’t see this sooner” but the truth is… without the journey… there is no moment of clarity. It is a series of events that leads me to that moment and it is my Higher Power that brings me to clarity exactly when I am ready to accept it.
– “Dear God, help me to be aware and in the moment so that when clarity finally arrives… I am willing to move on and away from my past problems.”
In the past, when I became fearful, I would begin to spin a mental tape of every worst case scenario and fret over the fact that I could not control the crisis that was currently playing out in my life. These hours of worry produced nothing more than fatigue and frustration. “What ifs” and “Should haves” will not help to get me through the day. I must keep my focus firmly planted in the present and use the time that I have been given to accomplish real work and not waste my time fearing what “may” happen. I have no control over outcomes. The only control I have is over my own thoughts and actions. – “Dear God, help me to let go of worry and fear. Help me to believe that everything is as it should be and everything will be revealed in time.”
When I was a small child, I would often pray when I was frightened or worried about a particular outcome.
As a young adult… it was usually a plea for help when I knew that I had taken things “too far with my parents.”
And… when I was married, I often prayed for God to give me a happy marriage, a happy husband but…
It wasn’t until I began to pray the Serenity Prayer… that I really truly began to pray.
The Serenity prayer reminded me that I have to accept life on life’s terms.
It reminded me that I cannot control every outcome and that I cannot control what the world will bring to me or for that matter… take away from me.
Today, I hold the words of the Serenity Prayer to my heart, as I move forward in my spiritual footwork, learning that I cannot control another human being through my words, my actions, or even my prayer: their path is their path and my path is mine.
All I can do is pray for my Higher Power’s will as I work to accept what is… and use my wisdom to change what I can… myself.
“God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
In the past, I saw detachment as a form of isolation: a way to create my own island.
I believed if I separated myself from a bad situation, if I stonewalled, if I found a way to keep distance, that I was detaching and becoming spiritually stronger by doing so but…
What I found was that I couldn’t let go, put my personal feelings, my opinions, aside and truly detach.
I was constantly driven to react by every unkind word or action and what I found was no matter how much I “detached” I was still losing my peace of mind… my balance.
Because it wasn’t detachment… I was acting as a martyr… removing myself physically from the situation but mentally choosing to suffer again-and-again and punish others for what I considered their “poor behavior.”
Today, I must let go of my resentments, my regrets, and practice detaching with love.
It isn’t easy.
But I have to learn that another’s words and actions say more about what they are going through than it does about their relationship with me. I must learn to not take everything personally and work on my own well-being while allowing another to work through the issues and struggles on their own spiritual path.
“Dear God, help me to detach with love. Help me to let go of my anger, resentment and pain, and focus on my own spiritual journey.”
During my divorce, I found that I had to check my motives constantly.
Sometimes my words or actions were used to manipulate or control my husband, or the situation, in hopes that I would either be able to wound him, the way I felt I had been wounded, or to fight for the outcome that I so longed for: a reconciliation.
Either way, this type of behavior, this type of motivation did not serve me well.
It kept me firmly attached to my “shadow self” reacting out of fear and despair, anger and frustration.
Today, when I choose to speak up or take action, I must first make sure that I am doing so because it is the right action for me… that my motives are clean.
If I am trying to change someone or get what I want… then maybe I should wait before I take action.
“Dear God, help me to be honest in my motives. Help me to speak and act only when I truly feel it is in my best interest to do so.”