Posts Tagged ‘life’

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Over this past Labor Day weekend, I found myself reading excerpts from distinguished professor of psychology and management Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s (pronounced me-HIGH chick-sent-me-HIGH-ee) seminal book Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People (HarperCollins, 1996).

He writes:

“I have devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work, to make more understandable the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.”

Mihaly describes ten traits often contradictory in nature, that are frequently present in creative people. In Creativity, Mihaly outlines these:

1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest.

They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm.

2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.

“It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of thinking that most creativity tests measure and that most workshops try to enhance.”

3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.

But this playfulness doesn’t go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, and perseverance.

“Despite the carefree air that many creative people affect, most of them work late into the night and persist when less driven individuals would not. Vasari wrote in 1550 that when Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello was working out the laws of visual perspective, he would walk back and forth all night, muttering to himself: “What a beautiful thing is this perspective!” while his wife called him back to bed with no success.”

4.Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality.

Great art and great science involve a leap of imagination into a world that is different from the present.

5. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted.

We’re usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.

6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time.

It is remarkable to meet a famous person who you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead.

7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping.

When tests of masculinity and femininity are given to young people, over and over one finds that creative and talented girls are more dominant and tough than other girls, and creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male peers.

8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative.

It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture. So it’s difficult to see how a person can be creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic.

9.Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.

Without the passion, we soon lose interest in a difficult task. Yet without being objective about it, our work is not very good and lacks credibility. Here is how the historian Natalie Davis puts it:

“I think it is very important to find a way to be detached from what you write, so that you can’t be so identified with your work that you can’t accept criticism and response, and that is the danger of having as much affect as I do. But I am aware of that and of when I think it is particularly important to detach oneself from the work, and that is something where age really does help.”

10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment.

“Perhaps the most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake. Without this trait, poets would give up striving for perfection and would write commercial jingles, economists would work for banks where they would earn at least twice as much as they do at universities, and physicists would stop doing basic research and join industrial laboratories where the conditions are better and the expectations more predictable.”

Paradoxical or not, what I have learned most is that there is no formula for individual creation. As Mihay says, “creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals.” So, more than anything else, what it takes to be creative is resourcefulness and the courage not to give up.

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“Quantum physics tells us that nothing that is observed is unaffected by the observer. That statement, from science, holds an enormous and powerful insight. It means that everyone sees a different truths, because everyone is creating what they see.” ~Neale Donald Walsch

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carrot egg and coffee
A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.
Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft.She then asked her to take an egg and break it.
After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked. “What’s the point,grandmother?”
Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity–boiling water–but each reacted differently.
The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter.
“When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?
Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?

love pic

Yes, love is painful. But as C. S. Lewis suggests, we can respond to any relationship with either a closed, hellish heart, or an open, heavenly heart. If you keep your heart open, that same pain can become a purifying pain, a strengthening pain. If we choose forgiveness over bitterness, that pain can heal instead of hurt. Instead of a pain that divides, it can be a pain that binds

Here is some rules that I came up with using my past life experience…

1. When it arrives, cherish it.

2. Whatever you accept, you will get

3. Understand that love is a mirror—it will show us who we are if we allow it to.

4. Only we can make ourselves happy, it is not the other person’s responsibility.

5. Don’t say words with the intent to hurt.

6. Accept and forgive easily.

7. Don’t be scared to disagree, it is healthy.

8. Never be too busy for each other.

9. Do not punish.

10. Accept honest criticism, it is good for us.

11. Admit when you are wrong, quickly.

12. Support each other when the going gets tough.

13. Live in the moment—be present.

14. Leave the past where it belongs.

15. Leave drama out of it.

16) Don’t try to control

17. Allow a small amount of jealousy.

18. Don’t use comparisons.

19. Celebrate differences.

20. Communicate openly and honestly.

21. Listen very carefully.

22. Don’t judge.

23. Don’t manipulate to get results.

24. Learn and grow.

25. Don’t try to change each other.

26. Don’t condemn each other’s family and friends.

27. Lines, flaws and imperfections are beautiful.

28. Trust your instincts, but don’t be paranoid.

29. Don’t compromise your morals and values and don’t expect them to either.

30. Instead of power, aim for balance.

31. Space is needed to breathe and to grow.

32. Accept that you are both unique—never compare.

33. Have fun, laugh and play—a lot.

34. Be each other’s best friend.

35. Don’t play mind games.

36. Do not carelessly throw away love.

37. Don’t waste energy with negative thoughts.

38. Compliment often.

39. Discover each other.

40. Be attentive and understand what’s not said.

41. Do at least one romantic and thoughtful thing every day.

42. Take picnics and sleep under the stars.

43. Don’t just speak about it, show love.

44. Walk together, cook together, bathe together, read together.

45. Do not be afraid, love requires surrender.

46. Be loyal and faithful.

47. Trust.

48. Be grateful.

49. Fluidity is good, accept change.

50. Don’t sleep on a fight.

51. Don’t cling to it, know when to let go.

52. Discover what turns you both on and explore it.

53. Make love, but also f*ck (regularly).

54. Give and receive without measure.

55. Never gamble with what you can’t afford to lose.

learning what love is

learning what love is

Love feels unsafe.

To the little girl within me, love is unsafe.

To her, love means hurt.

Love means pain, trauma, inconsistency, insanity, and conditions.

Love was fucked up, twisted, and tied so deep into their self-hatred, that it came out wrapped in violence, rather than gentleness and warmth. Bitterness, rather than compassion and understanding. Jealousy and resentment, rather than supportive holding and cheerleading.

The love wasn’t hers, it was theirs—it had the potential to change any moment. And generally, it did. No matter how hard my inner girl or inner teen tried, things stayed the same.

Why—and how—would they be any different, now?

I remember the first time I got told about unconditional love, about years ago:

“You don’t have to do anything for someone to love you?”

I laughed, thinking it was a joke.

When I realized it wasn’t, I felt a sudden sorrow—a deep grief—for myself.

How did I not know this?

My relationship with love had been ‘wrong’ my whole life.

An innately wise part of myself always understood unconditional love existed—as a kid, I remember watching other parents and children, knowing somewhere deep inside that what I experienced at home wasn’t the only way. Somehow I knew, beneath my wounding and fear, that things wouldn’t always be this way.

What I was experiencing was only a chapter, or two, of my Love Story.

As I’ve begun healing my youth and early adulthood, my relationship with love—towards myself and others—is rapidly changing.

I’m learning what love actually is.

But I’m in the messy stage.

My defenses, fears, past hurts, and insecurities, feel more tender and in-my-face, than ever—I can’t step round, look past, or dive through my wounding, anymore.

My need to feel safe, feels more important than any other need I have, so it governs almost everything I do.

I struggle to trust people. To believe or trust the love and time they give me, and that they—or it—won’t disappear, feels terrifying, and almost impossible, even though part of me knows it isn’t, and it won’t.

I worry that love I receive will also disappear when the person really sees me and witnesses my imperfections, so I make sure I only share the imperfections I feel safe sharing. Even though I love others for, and with, theirs, and that mine just make me human.

I notice there’s always a desire to rip apart any love or support given, by finding reasons or supposed ‘proof’ that the love wasn’t really genuine—“they were just saying that…they probably felt like they had to”—even though this habit only brings hurt, and I know it’s generally not true. And even if it is, or they were, it’s not my place to take it on.

alone

I take risks, show myself, and share my needs or vulnerabilities—or my authentic rawness and openness—and then freak-out by reading into people’s every move or every word. I close up, building an imaginary “wall”, or disappear for a few days/weeks, convinced I was ‘too much’. Sometimes I find myself laughing, because the theories my inner critic comes up with in these moments are so well thought out, convincing, and hilarious. Other times I find myself unable to laugh or find solid ground beneath the fear and self-judgment, worrying that what I’m believing, is definitely true.

My fear of abandonment feel so great, and so sensitive, that I avoid situations in which there is potential for abandonment—I end up avoiding and declining a lot. Sometimes the fear, or potential risk, of not feeling safe, is one I want—or feel able to—work with and compassionately notice. Other times it isn’t. This part of my relationship with love and trust and people, breaks my heart the most.

I feel like I stranger to myself and my previous life. I almost constantly feel slightly, or completely, disconnected or alone. Even though I’m not.

I let a friend in, become close, and then freak-out with fear of the close connection, and fear that I will be really seen. Sometimes I stay but keep a certain distance, to ensure I feel safe. Other times, I’ve fled out of fear they wouldn’t love me if they continued to get to know me.

I don’t value my love enough—I don’t value that my love is a gift itself.
Every time someone still shows up despite me not having ‘done’ anything, or regardless of whether I believed I was loveable the last time we hung out, or whether I’d shown my imperfections, or how many other times they’ve showed up before, a little piece of my unconditional love puzzle is put into place.

As I continue to discover just how twisted my Love Story has been until now, I continue to notice how deeply this impacts the way I love myself—the way I parent myself.I’m almost constantly noticing or realizing something different, something new.

Couple months back it suddenly hit me that I was only loving myself when I was doing or achieving things. I hadn’t realized that that part of the relationship I have with being able to be loved by others, was also the relationship I have towards being able to love myself.

I wrote this note to myself and stuck it on the wall, with the desire to love myself regardless of whether I’m doing or not doing.

I can love myself just for being.

I’m trying to trust that as this new kind of love—unconditional love—, as well as the forgiveness and acceptance it brings, begins to ripple inside myself, it’ll begin to ripple through the beliefs I have about others love for me, too—that they can love me for just being, also.

And that the people around me have been loving me this way regardless of whether I’ve been able to see it and believe it, or not.

I often feel frustrated with my process—the way that my fear and wounding has such a strong hold, and it feels like it’s taking so fucking long to ease or shift—because I long to feel able to be connected and held, rather than scared and un-seen.

When I look closely, though, things are so far from where they once were. And in my heart, I know this messiness and my wounding being so vividly here, is the beginning of truly healing.

And that can’t help but excite me and leave my worry gently soothed.

head-vs-heart

Dear Heart,

I have a vein to pick with you, as I’m feeling pretty insecure and unsafe about a few things.

As you know I cut you out of my life for years because your desires were too big for me to handle and I was not strong enough to support and manifest them.

However after a painful game of tug of war, your strength eventually outweighed mine.

I surrendered respectfully and we re-connected. I listened to your every wish and did what you asked, as much as it broke my ego from every direction. I became your servant and your organizer and everyone thought I was mad for the choices I made.

I left my relationship, my career, I moved, I travelled.

I shocked everyone! I felt love again, true passion. I found my creativity, I found myself.

Things have been great. Now you want change again? You’re teasing me with dreams of far away places as I close my eyes to rest. You whisper in my ear as I’m waking up. You want me to uproot and explore again.

Why? Don’t you think about the future? Do you even have a plan?

If you are all about love, then why do you make me do things that hurt?

Why do you draw me towards people and then ask me to let go? Don’t you realize this breaks their heart? And mine too? It breaks you!

Why do you inflict so much pain on yourself?

Heart, sometimes I wish you were content with clothes, cooking and children like the other women. Don’t you realize people think we’re lost, reckless, crazy?

Heart, you’re too wild for me. But I promised I’d always listen to you. Please just tell me everything is going to be okay.

Yours truly,

Head x

***

Darling Head,

I know it seemed like my desires were too much for you to handle, but they were never too big, you just allowed fear to make the final decision every time until we eventually disconnected.

You see Head, all I see from down here are opportunities to experience love and to grow. This requires change, movement. Either we’re moving deeper into something, or moving on from something.

I’m here to push you out of your comfort zone.

The pain is the cracking open as I become vulnerable, expand to my absolute limits of love, learn to accept love in, or let it achingly pour out.

Love is constantly connecting us to and moving us on from people and experiences. Some connections last a lifetime, others last only a moment. It’s painful to accept that some things don’t last forever.

There is beauty in this pain.

Let other people think we are lost. The truth is, their hearts may be just as wild, they just haven’t been brave enough to really listen. The laws of the heart are too divine for us to understand, they are beyond time and space, they exist only in the moment, they don’t need a plan, they are the plan.

If we continue to be fearless and move with the flow of love, I promise you—everything is going to be okay.

Love,

Heart x

(ref. Annalise McLean)

love hug relationship

love hug relationship

In the depths of our souls we all yearn for love and connection with others.

That yearning reflects a basic, even biological, human need. Infants thrive physically only when they feel deeply loved and cherished. As adults, we experience wrenching, soul-level loneliness when we don’t have love and meaningful connection in our lives, yet all too frequently we don’t have these things.

Not with our parents or siblings, not with a mate, not even with a best friend.

We all intuitively know that the highest experience in life is the sharing of love. However, we often confuse the idea of sharing love with the idea of getting love.

We try to get love when we feel empty inside and can share love only when we learn to first fill ourselves with love. We cannot share that which we do not have within. The wounded part of us seeks constantly to get love and avoid pain, resulting in an inability to share love.

The Fears that Underlie the Fears of Intimacy and Commitment

Why are love, connection and intimacy so elusive?

We sit enraptured at movies that depict two people experiencing the delight of falling in love. We thrill at their discovery of each other, their laughter, their uninhibited joy.

We love to read stories about deep friendship, about people committed to truly caring about each other over the long haul.

And we yearn for these experiences in our own lives.

Yet when we have a chance to have love, the story is a little different.

This is because, as much as we want love, we often want to avoid that which we fear even more. We don’t feel safe enough in ourselves to risk loving another.

Two major fears get in our way and undermine our wonderful new connection with someone, or even prevent that connection from ever occurring:

• Fear of rejection: the loss of another’s love through anger, emotional withdrawal, physical withdrawal or death.

• Fear of engulfment: the loss of self through being controlled, consumed, invaded, suffocated, dominated and swallowed up by another.

These fears stem from childhood experiences and from defining our worth externally through others’ approval, rather than internally through spiritual eyes of truth.

We will be unable to share our love to the fullest extent until we heal these fears of loss of others and of loss of self. We will be unable to create the safe relationship space in which to share love and a safe world in which to live until we learn how to create safety within.

Until these fears are healed, we will react defensively whenever they are triggered.

What do you do when your fears of rejection are activated? Do you withdraw, comply, get angry, mean or sarcastic? Do you defend, explain or teach?

Most of us have learned many controlling behaviors to protect ourselves from experiencing our fears. However when we react in our different defensive ways, the result will be the same—our reactive behavior will trigger our partner’s own fears of rejection or engulfment.

Now both of us are acting out of fear.

Together we have created an unsafe relationship space where love and intimacy will gradually erode. And that is why in my opinion so many unhappily married, or later divorced people.

The Unsafe Relationship Space

What do I mean by the term “relationship space”? How is a “relationship space” different from a “relationship”?

A relationship space is the environment in which the relationship is occurring. It is the energy created by the two people involved.

I think of this environment, this relationship space, as an actual entity that both people are responsible for creating.

It can be a safe relationship space, which is open, warm and inviting, or it can be an unsafe relationship space, which is hard, dark, unforgiving and full of fear.

The kind of environment in which our relationship takes place is crucial to its success—or failure.

Many of us have spent much time in unsafe relationship spaces. In fact, some of us have never experienced a safe relationship space because many, if not most of us, have not learned to stay open when our fears of being rejected or controlled are triggered.

If, when these fears are activated, we focus on who is at fault or who started it, we perpetuate an unsafe relationship space. Blaming another for our fears (and for our own reactive, unloving behavior) makes the relationship space more unsafe than ever.

Both people in the relationship end up feeling badly, each of us believing that our pain is the result of the other person’s behavior.

We feel victimized, helpless, stuck and disconnected from our partner. We desperately want the other person to see what they are doing that (we think) is causing our pain.

We think that if the other person only understands this, they will change—and we exhaust ourselves trying to figure out how to make them understand.

Over time, being in an unsafe relationship space creates distance between the people involved. When we have not created a safe space in which to speak our complete, heartfelt truth about ourselves, the joy between us gradually dies.

And the more we hold back our innermost feelings and experiences, the shallower our connection becomes.

Our intimacy crumbles.

In friendships, marriages and work relationships, our joy, aliveness and creativity get lost as we each give up parts of ourselves in an attempt to feel safe.

In romantic relationships, passion dries up. Superficiality, boredom, fighting and apathy take its place.

We try valiantly to figure out what went wrong. But too often we ask, “What am I doing wrong?” or “What are you doing wrong?” rather than inquiring into the health of the relationship space itself.

Only when we look at the relationship space will we see what we are each doing to create the unsafe space. The dual fears of losing the other through rejection and losing ourselves through being swallowed up by the other are the underlying cause of our unloving, reactive behavior.

These fears are deeply rooted. They cannot be healed or overcome by getting someone else’s love.

Creating a Safe Relationship Space

The way out of the unsafe relationship system is for each person to develop a strong loving adult self, capable of handling the fears of rejection and engulfment without protecting. This means learning to not take rejection personally and learning to set loving limits.

The key to doing this is learning how to create a safe inner space where we can work with and overcome our fears of rejection and engulfment. This is a process, not an event—a compassionate process of learning to love ourselves rather than abandon ourselves.

Only when you have achieved inner safety can you create a safe relationship space.

You can gradually learned to stop attacking or withdrawing and take loving care of yourself whenever your fears surface. You can learn to create inner safety when you feel threatened, rather than trying to get others to make you feel safe from your fears.

Any two people who are willing to learn to create their own inner sense of safety can also learn to create a safe relationship space where their intimacy and passion will flourish and their love will endure ❤