What’s the toughest part of loving someone well?

April 29, 2009 at 7:18 pm | Posted in Truthtelling | 6 Comments
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As a recovering “good girl” (one who works overtime to protect herself by trying to be perfect, keeping others happy, and avoiding conflict at all costs), certainly the toughest part of loving someone well is telling the truth about who I am.

And yet, learning to step out of fear and self-protection, and expressing my truth in as caring a way as possible is the essential element in living authentically.

I would hazard a guess that for many of you, like me — whether you’ve spent much of your life hiding your true self behind being “good” or “tough” or “focused on fun” — truth-telling in your meaningful relationships can feel terrifying. Because you may have experienced a long time ago that when you honestly shared your feelings and needs, you were minimized or ignored or abused or abandoned. (For more details on key styles of relating, see Dan Allender’s The Wounded Heart, even if sexual abuse is not a part of your story.)

What could be more important than engaging with a process that supports you in trusting and loving yourself, so you can love others well?

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How do you practice gratitude?

April 20, 2009 at 10:31 pm | Posted in Gratitude | 1 Comment
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I’m not one to stick my head in the sand or cop a Pollyanna attitude, but I purposely limit my exposure to TV, radio, print and internet news. Somehow I manage to stay in touch with current events without inundating myself with crisis-based stories that can send my spirits nosediving.

It’s important to stay informed, but in my experience it’s far more essential to care for myself so that I can effectively care for others. My number-one, daily self-care intention is practicing gratitude, usually first thing in the morning for 10-15 minutes. For me, this generally means reading a page or 2 of something by one of my favorite authors (i.e., Parker Palmer, Sue Monk Kidd, Henri Nouwen, John O’Donohue, Frederick Buechner), then meditating and/or journaling about what I’ve read.

I let myself sit in silence for a bit and simply listen, which gradually flows into more mediation or prayer about specific issues in my life, in the lives of people I love, in our world. And this is where gratitude comes in.

I ask for the fearlessness to accept whatever’s going on around and within me, to see it as a gift. Of course, it’s easier to embrace the “fun” stuff, like starting a new client or taking a trip to Tuscany, than it is to be thankful for my aging uncle’s illness or a friend’s shattered marriage. The main thing I know is that when I release my resistance to what is and receive the change with gratitude — just as Eckhart Tolle writes about in The Power of Now — a very elemental shift can happen.

I rarely understand the shift in an intellectual way; it’s an internal process that I sense. And the shift doesn’t always happen. When it does, though, my spirit becomes tender. I stop fighting. I’m no longer afraid of what or who might come my way. I’m at peace with who I am and in knowing I’m right where I need to be to do what I’m called to do.

How do you practice gratitude?

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