Gift of genuine gratitude

You often say, “please” or “thank you,” reflexively. Don’t you?

Such as, “Can you please do something for me,” or “Thank you so much for helping me with this.”

Those three words, when said and felt consciously though, are so full of gratitude it helps keep that feeling active throughout your day.

If you’re like me you’re constantly asking for help, even with little things.

Give yourself and others the gift of genuine, heartfelt, fully present gratitude.

It maybe takes a second longer to pause and make sure you feel it when you say it.

That’ll shift your energy and the person to whom you’re extending your gratitude will feel it.

Try it, see how it feels.

I don’t have to apologize for not being like you

“I don’t care if other people know I have autism and ADHD, they’re part of who I am. Even though they make things really hard sometimes.”

This was what my son declared to me this morning, out of the blue, then he left the room.

When I began this journey of helping families raising children like mine, I believed I needed to equip them to match wits with anyone they might encounter in the course of their adult life after we were gone.

Now I have three sons living with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Challenges. As I look at them, and I look at myself. I realize that I had it all wrong and my son has it right.

🌱 We don’t have to apologize for not being like you.
🌱 We don’t have to overcome every skill gap to spare you the inconvenience of having to do a little work to meet us half way.
🌱 We will commit to increasing our self awareness and educating you about our conditions. Then you can understand better how to relate to us.
🌱 What we ask is that you be teachable and open to the value of diversity.

That’s the key. The energy in this country right now is crying out once and for all to embrace diversity and equality as the norm. That means all differences.

All your benchmarks and averages serve their purposes. They help track “normal” development. But do any of them have anything to do with whether my child is happy, connected or belongs?

I’ve met many academically successful and very depressed, ;onely students. An empty heart isn’t cured by a brain that’s smart.

My sons have very different levels of motivation academically. They also have different visions of success, so I’m needing to learn to be flexible as I guide them.

As a parent I recommend you acknowledge the story you’re telling yourself about who your child needs to be and how they need to show up in the world to be successful.

Our rapidly changing, work from home world is changing what professional looks like and, I hope, allowing more space for the uncontrollably quirky.

Our children need to do more than make a living and keep house. As much as possible they need to have a life, a community (that’s the tough part).

My boys are militant introverts but I keep encouraging them to reach out to others. I hope the world becomes a more welcoming place. One that will make them increasingly more likely to venture out and make an even greater contribution.

Ultimately, my boys are going to learn to love themselves, warts and all. They will be encouraged to measure their success by their goodness rather than goods.

Helping them feel comfortable in their own skin, able to exercise self-compassion and patience when they make mistakes. Your kids can learn to do this too. Especially, when you model it for them.

That’s what I suggest at least. The rest is up to them.

What kind of world would you like to see for your child?

Feeling gratitude on a rare good day

This is one of those days where I inexplicably woke up with little pain and lots of energy. I’m going to start calling it a POWER day.

In the past I used to resent these because it was like being given free tickets to a shopping spree but no way to get there. The next day of course would be back to pain and fatigue.

Today though I had a list of things to catch up on and got them all done. YES!

In recent months I’ve become more accepting of where I am in life. So I’ve been joyful with this POWER day and am grateful for it.

I do miss the days when my body was more able and active. But I also have a purpose to my life now that keeps me plenty occupied.

Learning who to trust again

If your childhood was spent trying to survive you understand why it’s hard to love yourself.
 
When you’re encouraged to love and believe in yourself you have greater confidence, resilience and take more chances to grow.
 
When you love yourself it’s easier to continue to think well of yourself even when things don’t work out. In survival mode, things going wrong is like a glitch in the security system that might allow intruders in.
 
In survival mode the most important thing is safety. Makes sense doesn’t it? You don’t simply switch that off.
 
It’s a gradual stepping from the darkness and into the light.
 
Step one is often the realization that you too are worthy of feeling loved and want to see how it feels. The rub is that you need to trust someone in order to experience it.
 
That’s the fundamental difference between someone raised in survival and someone raised in love – TRUST.
 
How do you decide who to trust?
 
Speaking from experience. You watch people and look for those who are consistently kind to others.
 
Yes, this will involve risk. You approach this person and introduce yourself. Mention how you’ve noticed their kindness and appreciate that there are people like them in the world.
 
Make a habit of this. This will spark conversations with good people who will want to get to know you and will want to hear your story.
 
Don’t look for people who want to bathe you in sympathy as you recount the hard times.
 
You want people who acknowledge your past, the real impact it had on you and believe in your ability to be more than the sum of that past.
 
Those people are out there and you know it, I’m one of them, and you know it.
 
For years I wouldn’t trust anyone because I was convinced people wanted nothing more than to screw me over.
 
That was until I found myself so miserably lonely I couldn’t stand it anymore. I took the chance to trust again and it changed everything.
 
There is so much richness to life you close yourself off to when you close yourself off to the loving parts of yourself. That’s the price of choosing safety at the expense of love.

You can find the silver lining every time…

If there’s a silver lining to a rough childhood, or any difficult life experience for that matter, it’s that it was temporary.

I had a wonderful talk with a new friend this morning and we compared notes on how we endured difficult childhoods.

We both had an inner knowing things would get better one day. That was key to maintaining our perseverance.

As adults, being fed up with feeling miserable and seeing working through as a means to being free of the suffering was important as well.

We didn’t mindlessly repeat the same patterns as parents, pretend like we were without fault. We knew we were negatively impacted by our upbringing and took deliberate steps to address it.

We sought professional guidance to help us navigate this delicate journey.

Even at our age we continue to uncover and unpack some soreness and such. Hidden in emotional shadows.

Years of the wrong kind of attention can be hard to get out of your system.

All it takes to start this journey, is loving yourself enough to realize you deserve to feel better than you do now.

We all do things that aren’t good for us, right?

We all do things that aren’t good for us, right?

There’s no real harm as long as it’s in moderation, right?

It’s really a matter of degree. Is that thing in moderation a Twinkie or a shot of Heroin? Is it volunteering on occasion or codependency?

Self-sabotage is a very human thing to do. It’s part of our protective instinct that mitigates risk taking. It also prevents us from doing things that remind us of our insecurities.

Insecurities based on judgments we learned to make of ourselves long ago. Is it your mom or your dad?

Be careful not to think that you’re condemned to do these self sabotaging habits forever. Your tendencies are not your destiny.

You have things you want to do in life, qualities you want to embody as a human being and habits that stand in the way.

You can absolutely take steps to get them out of your way so you get different results.

The patterns, behavior, attitudes modeled for you by your parents and other adults are expressions of the values they’ve chosen to practice based on how they believe the world works. Call it a worldview.

Not every worldview is created alike, with the same level of flexibility, curiosity, compassion, etc.

My and your parents have their share of fears and insecurities and it shows in their worldview, remember that.

It’s up to you to decide to question the pieces of their perspectives that cause you pain and suffering.

They may serve a purpose in their view of the world but you’re under no obligation to add that piece to your puzzle. Make your world your own.

You are being reborn every moment as you engage life and it helps mold you. The people and experiences bring forth qualities that wouldn’t have come forth otherwise.

It’s difficult for you to enjoy yourself in the moment when you keep comparing yourself to the painful perception planted by the poisonous pill of parental projection.

The negative things you believe to be true about yourself is as real as the smoke from the dragon’s mouth. It soon disperses and you soon stop coughing.

But I suggest you stop seeking approval from the dragon.

Learn to love you.

Every day you need to recommit to the climb

Every day I encourage you to recommit to living your values.

Consciously decide what you’re going to stand for and how you’re going to show up for people. Every day.

You can’t afford to, “just see what happens” or “see what the day throws your way”.

I know, you can’t control everything. You don’t want to leave it all up to chance either.

That’s reactive living. You’re an artist who is born to create.

Your art can be kindness and your canvas is a fellow human beings heart.

“Nothing happens until something moves.” – Albert Einstein

We must do and be for each other.

When you live with chronic pain or other circumstances with the potential of overpowering your mind with negativity, making a daily commitment to living positively is often a necessary tool.

I imagine those who have climbed mountains have stories about how each step was intentional, purposeful.

If you need to live life like that to push through then do it. That level of purpose can help you push through just about anything.

Honesty is the price you pay for self-compassion

Self-compassion is impossible without the willingness to be completely honest with yourself.

The problem is, you aren’t raised to be honest in a loving way.

You were raised by people who cuss, shout, tell tools they’re stupid and insult themselves for making mistakes.

It’s easy for this way of handling frustration to rub off when you grow up watching it.

Equally, the thrill of successes would soon fade and need to be earned again. But that’s not necessarily easy.

This “I’m proud or I’m punishing myself” cycle is self abuse.

You’re always fighting to measure up and can’t quite keep up the demand for constant performance.

However!

When you learn to approach yourself, your life, in a more loving way, the self abuse stops.

Fascination often replaces frustration.

Remember, honesty has two sides.

🌱 The side that objectively describes the facts regarding your actions and their consequences.

🌱 The other side is the one where you remain worthy of loving no matter what.

This is a side of honesty that often resides in the shadows. Especially in your self talk.

But you know it’s in there, you’ve heard it.

Now we need to make it stronger.

Second time is a charm

I had my monthly bloodletting today to treat the polycythemia that puts me at increased risk for blood clots.

Today I worked with a new group of staff, an instructor and two students.

I warned the instructor I was a difficult stick and sometimes required a second stick. She assured me it would be okay.

Guess what happened?

She seemed a little flustered when one arm started to give blood but then stopped (in spite of her efforts).

I assured her it was okay to try the other arm. I’m aware this is always a possibility and accept that fact.

Keep in mind, we’re not talking about the needle they use when taking blood for a test. These needles are almost wide enough to use to drink out of a juice box.

Fortunately, my other arm worked much better.

I did what I always do. I cracked jokes and made it a teachable moment for everyone.

This is one of the few times I get to interact with people outside my home. The least I can do is make it a pleasant experience.

I’m gonna rest now. I feel drained 😉

Do you love yourself?

“Do you love yourself?”
 
I mean truly feel your own worth, regardless of anyone else’s permission.
 
I asked a client this question just now.
 
In fact, I often ask myself this question to see how in touch I am with my own worth. To be honest the answer varies.
 
Sometimes I say, “I really love you, Brian” and it lights me up. Other times I feel a wall come up. That’s my cue to explore what’s behind the “not good enough” of the moment.
 
We were discussing boundaries at the time. What I explained was its difficult to establish and enforce personal boundaries around self-care if you don’t think you’re worth it.
 
Martyrs often glamorize putting the needs of others before their own to cover for their poor sense of self worth. NOTE, I said often NOT always.
 
Of course there are plenty of instances where putting the needs of others first is honorable, but not as an all or nothing way of life. There’s no honor in celebrating the anorexic who died starving themselves to end hunger. Make sense?
 
Being able to love yourself is an act of humility not of selfishness.
 
To love you is to love the you that is simply human. Not special, not better or worse. But you are here, one of the pack. As one of the pack, you deserve to be included and never left behind.
 
But you must value your own worth. You too must eat, sleep, laugh, love, connect and grow. Your human needs don’t get suspended because others demand your attention.
 
Claim your personal duty to love yourself to. Encourage it in those around you as well. You want to teach your children not to be taken advantage of by others?
 
Teach them how to love themselves instead of trying to make everyone else happy.
 
You too can learn to love yourself as part of the Inner Circle https://bit.ly/2Y3uG9q