DEAR SAGE: I happen to have the privilege of knowing you personally (which is why I didn’t include my email) and I want to tell those that don’t know you that you are the real deal! I’ve never known anyone to have such a consistent positive attitude (and be no-nonsense when needed) and somehow know - Read More -
DEAR SAGE: I am writing to you from Europe! A mutual friend of ours introduced me to your lovely site and I so enjoy reading your content! Thank you for this gift you share with us all. I love that you speak so much about forgiveness and I’m writing to you because even though I’m 40+, I am still receiving counselling regarding ill feelings about my parents…especially regarding their behaviours during my teenage years. I’m educated with a successful career and know that I should be over this but I can’t seem to work through it. I thought I’d give it a go and message you for your thoughts on how I can forgive them and remove this blockade. Cheers!
DEAR TRYING-TO-FORGIVE-MY-PARENTS: Thank you so much for your support from across the world! I’m delighted to have you as a part of the SelenaSage family and I really appreciate you taking the time to submit such an excellent question! Working through feelings and emotions about parenting really does lie at the heart of so many things. It is an important topic and one that I’m happy to provide my insights! Though, please allow me to say, I have great respect for the counseling and coaching professions and make no attempt here to override any advice you may be receiving. My disclaimer is only to attempt to help you view the situation from a different perspective, but I am in full support of you receiving any kind of care you feel appropriate. With that said, let’s begin!
The first point that I believe must be realized is that there are no perfect parents…and there are no perfect children. Please let that statement sink in for a minute because the implications are huge. (As you may know, this site is dedicated to abused and homeless children, so this in no way gives abusive parents a pass. I believe those situations require immediate intervention for the safety of the child.) What I mean here is that even though there are thousands of books written about parenting, the experience is always individual and bound to be imperfect. Can you say that you did absolutely everything right as a child? And furthermore, that you’ve never made any missteps as an adult? This would be unreasonable to expect! Similarly, parents have a tough job…trying to balance the challenges of everyday life while still caring for, supporting, and nurturing a child. Not everyone is as capable of this as others (not to say that parenting is a competition, but there are many factors which influence success as a parent). We don’t get to choose our parents, so this is just a reality that must be accepted. What matters is how you choose to deal with the reality that is your life.
So, without even going into the details of your parents’ behaviors, I just want to point out that your ill feelings date back to your teenage years and you’ve disclosed that you are 40+. You are clearly educated and intelligent (especially if we share mutual friends!) and have found ways to advance your success in many areas of your life despite whatever happened as a teenager. But whatever you are holding onto from being a fifteen year old (to average the teenage years) is controlling you emotionally over 35 years later!
Therefore, you have one basic choice to make: you can either continue to discuss what happened over and over again and try to figure out why why why…or you can leave the past where it belongs (in the past) and focus all of your energy and attention on the present. This sounds really simple…and that’s because it is. Many therapists would probably disagree with this and supply other strategies, but I believe your reality is created by what you focus on. And even if you figure out the why, will that really make it better? As stated in a recent post, if you keep focusing on that event, you give it energy and attention that can take over your life and creep into your dreams. If you question your own memories and thoughts (please read this post about the inquiry method for healing), and stop believing everything you think you can create a new reality for yourself. You can change your whole frame of mind and take personal responsibility for the person you choose to be right now. You ultimately decide how you want to live your life…and that is up to you, not anyone else. - Read More -
DEAR SAGE: I really appreciate your inspirational posts…and I know that you don’t deal strictly with relationships, but I have a love question. I’m desperately seeking my Prince Charming and the fairy-tale marriage and children but it never seems to work out right! What do I need to do to get it right?! Please help. - Read More -
DEAR SAGE: I love your site! Recently, I’ve been experiencing a near paralyzing fear of making the wrong decisions! I’m worried about how everything I do now will affect my future. Please help! DEAR FUTURE-FEARER: Thank you for your support of the site! Your question is excellent…anxiety or fear of the future and analysis paralysis (as - Read More -
DEAR SAGE: I love your website! Your content is inspiring and I appreciate what you do, but I’m going to be blunt: I hate my life! I want to quit my job, but I’m scared to lose the money and don’t know what else I would do. I want to lose weight, but I’m scared to go to the gym because people may laugh at me. I want a new car because I hate the old one I have now, but I can’t afford it. I want to have a husband, but I don’t think anyone would love me. Should I just take a vacation…will that help me??!!! Help me please!
DEAR UNHAPPY ONE: Thank you for your support of the site (given the complex nature of your question, I’m going to include lots of links to other SelenaSage articles that give extra insight)! I looooove your the honesty of your question (I can bet you that each part of your question will resonate with someone else) and we’re going to see how we can work on this for you! But, first, let’s take a deep breath… With this breath we’re going to try something different…as you’re inhaling through your nose, I want you to breathe in all of the problems of the world…hate, violence, poverty, despair. And as you exhale through your mouth, I want you to breathe out your love, compassion, and kindness. Just think of those things as you breathe, then close your eyes and repeat five times. Just like that, you’ve shared your love with the world!
Now that we have a clean slate and have anchored ourselves in the present, let’s get to your inquiry. I can tell you that the first thing I noticed about your question is the number of times you used, “I” and “want”. Though a discussion of this was probably best summed up in my I WANT… post, I can tell you that your Ego is running the show right now! Your Ego is that part of you that is constantly telling you that what you haven’t isn’t good enough and always wants more. One of my favorite quotes my the Taoist master Lao-tzu is, “Only those who know when enough is enough will ever have enough.” Right now, you are not content…you don’t think that you have enough, so your basis is flawed. Even if you got everything you’re asking for, I can tell you that you still would not be satisfied. How do I know this? It is because everything you now have is something that you once hoped for, but still you are not happy. So let’s break down your list:
You say, “I hate my life!” So let me ask you, what is your “life” to you? By your question, it seems that your life is your job, your car, your body, and your hopes for a husband? Let me first challenge that. For one second, close your eyes and place your hand over your heart. Do you feel your heart beat? When you inhale through your nose, do you feel the air moving into your body? That, my dear, is life. All of those other things are material trappings. They have nothing to do with who you really are. And who are you? You are a child of the Creator of the universe…does your car really matter? If you talk to a bird in nature, does the color of their nest really matter? Everything external can be changed, it is the internal…the spirit that really matters. So if you really hate the divine spirit inside of you, you must practice looking inward much more. I think that once you see your own true glow, you will find this to be the most beautiful thing ever :)
So with this understanding, I hope that the perceived importance of your other questions has paled. However, I want to address them anyway. First, you say you want to quit your job. I have a future post coming about “Comparison versus Contentment”, but because you’re an avid reader, I’m going to give you a sneak peak into the content :) Many would tell you to be happy that you have a job because many people do not…but this is comparison. As long as you have more than someone else, you will be happy…but as soon as you find someone who has more than you, you will no longer be happy. So this is flawed. Contentment comes a sincere appreciation for what you have.
DEAR SAGE: I had a craving for unhealthy, fattening, non nutritious food today. I went to Whole Foods and bought a pint of ice cream, a small kosher pound cake (not that Kosher makes a big difference in calorie count) and a chocolate bar. When I got home, i nearly ate all of it…well, i - Read More -
DEAR SAGE: How do you get your wife to slowdown? My wife has been working 7-day weeks most weeks for a few months. I realize the need to stay on “top of her game,” especially during peak season can create unusual demands; however, I would like her to get more R & R beyond date night dinner, movies, etc. Any suggestions that don’t include exotic vacations?
DEAR ANXIOUS HUSBAND: Thank you for your note! It is lovely to have a husband reach out on behalf of his wife! The simple answer to your question, “How do you get your wife to slowdown,” is you can’t. Now, since I know is probably not the golden advice you were expecting, please allow me to elaborate:
Despite the all of the hours she is currently working, there is an underlying force driving her. She may be doing this to “stay on top of her game” as you say; she could be concerned about her job security; or she could be enjoying herself. Sometimes when a person is in the zone and is able to watch their efforts result in progress, there is a unique thrill that is attached. She may not have a clear understanding of what is causing her to work so hard, so probing is not the solution. Your support and positive feedback is what she really needs. You may share different expectations about what is best for her, so you have to relax your expectations. She must feel free to live her life in a way that feels good to her. If she shares what’s really driving her, you must be prepared to listen compassionately and just provide support. I know it can be difficult for a man to hear his wife speak without offering advice, but often women just want to be heard not advised. Let her know that you are confident she will make the right choice and allow her to work it out on her own. (If she asks for your advice, you then have a green light to proceed.)
DEAR SAGE: There is this girl in my grade and she is so mean to me! She talks behind my back, she laughs at whatever I do! When I saw her at pinkberry a frozen yogurt place she acted so nice because my mom was there. She is so popular so everybody likes her. Now she turned everybody against me. What should I do?
DEAR NICE GIRL: I am sorry to hear this! Unfortunately, this type of situation can happen all throughout life because the girl you describe is probably very unhappy. Because she is not happy with herself, she tries to make you miserable too. You may never understand why she is unhappy and treating you poorly, but that is okay. What you can control is how you react to her.
My advice is that the best thing you can do is to smile when she laughs at you and simply walk away. Don’t let her actions control you! Bullies may have some attention for a while, but eventually, people will want to spend their time with someone who is nicer. So you should focus on being your wonderful self and not worry about this mean girl!
DEAR SAGE: My life has been speeding by and a lot of changes are occurring and I feel like I am losing control. I have recently made a few bad decisions in my love life and I don’t know if I should be honest about my mistakes or live with the guilt I face.
DEAR FLOWER: This is serious. I can feel your anxiety. I received your letter and literally stopped everything because I want to help you find peace. So before we get started, I want you to please pause everything and take a deep breathe with me [long inhale, hold it…then long exhale]. Slow everything down and allow yourself to relax in this moment. Keep breathing slowly and consciously with me while we work through this. Ok, let’s do it!
Sometimes life really does flying by when we lose connection with our purpose and goals. What are you really trying to do? Where are you really trying to go? What is it that you really want? Despite all of the things going on, take a step back and first reflect on these questions. You can either let change control you or control the changes. When we get lost, sometimes it can feel like we are swept up in a wave and tossed in different directions outside of our control. The reality is that when we don’t have a goal, the waves really do determine our direction. If we know where we want to go, we can start swimming in that direction. You are on the right path because you realize you don’t want to keep floating along. So right now, it’s time to swim to shore, my dear. Let’s get you grounded and address your key concern: your love life…