Archives for posts with tag: the four agreements

I’m starting the morning in a positive place. I feel well-rested. My coffee is hot and tasty – I assume; I haven’t actually tasted it yet, it’s still too hot. lol There’s the key, though; my assumption is positive. I’m grateful for the coffee I’ve got. Gratitude is a reliably good start to a day. (Cool thing about that? I can choose to start with gratitude, if I’ve the will to undertake it.) I sit awhile, feeling grateful. Grateful for love. Grateful for a great partnership. Grateful for indoor plumbing. Grateful that I’m not in pain this morning (well, mostly not). Grateful for the car in the driveway. Grateful for a great team at work. Grateful that there are mornings like this one.

Sometimes my day doesn’t begin so comfortably, or so easily. 🙂

Gratitude is an excellent way to start a day.

I want to be super clear; I understand feeling angry. There’s a lot in the world truly worth feeling angry about. There’s definitely a fair few things that I feel angry about in life. There are challenges and hurdles and problems in the world that are certainly worthy of raising an angry voice. I feel it, too. It’s when feeling angry becomes being angry that things skew towards “the dark side”. “Angry” is a pretty horrible state of being (and fairly exhausting). We become what we practice. If anger is the only emotional state we embrace, we become damned good at being angry, and less and less able to experience much else. Anger gets a foothold and can begin dominating an emotional experience. Anger is “sticky” and immersive. We can become chronically predisposed toward being angry as a first reaction – to everything. That does not sound good to me, personally. (I’ve even given that a test drive. I found it… unpleasant, and worse.)

…I also found that I was more prone to earnestly needing to “be right”, while living a life infused with anger, and a peculiar tendency towards closed-mindedly thinking that I was right, as a default assumption. (Oh, and… I wasn’t. Not so much, no.) Earnest committed assumptions of one’s own righteousness seem to be most commonly associated with great measures of… wrongness. lol Damn. (Do better, Humans!) I’ll also point out, for folks who “tend to be right most of the time” (I see you out there!) – it doesn’t hurt to avoid the assumption of being right, and to leave room for error. Humble looks good on you. 😉

Sometimes the wiser path is to”let it go”. To refrain from taking things personally. To make a point of assuming positive intent. To appreciate, to build, to encourage – instead of resenting, destroying, or belittling. (I’m not saying it’s easy.) To make willful choices to be the person I most want to be. Before I get a rousing chorus of “I can’t help how I feel!”, I’ll gently observe that indeed, the one thing we have reliable potential to “help” is our own experience, “how we feel” – it’s just not a matter of force or pure will. Force and pure will can certainly change behavior. Over time, emotions may catch up. Emotion needs a bit more subtlety and real care. Emotional resilience and well-being seem most durably built, over time, with commitment, and practice, and slowly becoming the person we most want to be. Through practice. That has lasting power well-beyond the immediate moment. 🙂

This is a season of change, of transformation, and yes, of gratitude. What are you doing with that? Me, personally? I’m sitting here with my coffee and my thoughts, and a smile. 🙂 (It’s enough.)

It can be as simple as this.

The Four Agreements are an old favorite of mine for new beginnings. There are other exceptional ways to seed new thinking, and provoke positive change. What will yours be? (It’s definitely time to begin again. Isn’t it always?)  🙂

What a waste of emotional bandwidth! Getting mired in taking something personally, and becoming frustrated, sorrowful, disappointed, or angry… to what end? It’s rarely “personal”, and even when it is a willfully inflicted slight or insult of some kind… it’s not really personal. Those things say more about the person who delivers the insult than the person it is directed towards. 🙂 I remind myself to let these things go.

I am rereading the Four Agreements; a worthy starting point on any journey of self.

Have you taken time to brush up on The Four Agreements? A compact and worthy read. I come back to it something like once a year or so. 🙂 I reset. I brush up. I begin again. It’s a good starting point.

I sip my coffee, and feel the house fill with lovely pre-dawn breezes. Soon enough it will be time to go to work, begin a new week, and move on to other moments. For now, this moment right here is enough. Lovely, peaceful, quiet. It is a pleasant morning for new beginnings. I smile, and tuck the books I am reading this week into my backpack: The Four Agreements, After The Ecstasy The Laundry, and a selection for the office book club (the title slips my mind because I have no emotional investment in that, just a commitment). I am enjoying how much more time for reading I have, after giving up social media. 😀 I very definitely missed reading, for years, and the sensation of having “no time” was crushing – I love to read. Funny… I don’t miss social media, at all. 🙂

I look at the time… the weekend is definitely over, and it’s time to begin a new work week, and a new moment. 🙂

My view of the meadow, covered by morning mist rising from the marsh, is obscured by condensation on the window, left open during the night. My view is obscured by my perspective. Something to think about, generally.

Low mist on the meadow before sunrise.

Sometimes I have to change my perspective to enjoy the view…

Today my traveling partner [figuratively, metaphorically] becomes my literal traveling partner, headed to a favorite festival. I smile every time I think about him enjoying himself there. I come back to the thought frequently; I enjoy his joy. 🙂

I caught myself getting caught up in the news… the usual horror and tedium, frankly, and fairly dismal. Getting mired in it does no one any good, and doesn’t change things. I can change only those things that are precisely and specifically changeable by me. It’s entirely a worthwhile endeavor to be the best human being I can, without bothering with the day-to-day stress and drama of comparison, or competition. Yeah, life?  It’s so not a competition. What a lie I’d been sold there! When I allow myself to be distracted by how well you are doing, or how well that famous person over there is doing, or how well a motivational speaker suggests I could be doing, or any number of other frankly revenue-generating (for someone) bits of bamboozlement, I lose precious time on my own authentic journey. Sometimes the journey is difficult. It’s mine. Sometimes the journey is a disastrous maze of detours. It’s mine. Sometimes the journey is fraught with confusion, sorrow, or anger. It’s mine. Sometimes the journey is delightful, joyful, and fun. It’s mine. My journey to make on my own terms; I am my own cartographer, having my own experience. Sure – we’re all in this together, and that matters, too. Still my journey, on my terms, in my own time – and similarly, yours belongs to you. We don’t gain much when we try to use someone else’s map… and we lose a lot when we’re sold on someone else’s destination. Just saying. Do you.

The mist begins to lift, the sky to lighten. I hear crows discussing their plan for the morning. I see the earliest hints of autumn in the trees on the far side of the park; shades of yellow and orange beginning to show in the summer green foliage.

Today is a good day to wish the world well, and my traveling partner too; each of us having our own experience. Each of us on our own journey. Today is a good day to be authentic, genuine, and also the very best of who I am able to be. (Each of us doing so would change the world.) 🙂

What do you suppose is the ratio of positive to negative feedback you receive? How about the ratio of encouraging observations, versus critical observations? What about the number of compliments you receive, versus the number of insults or mean remarks? Or the ratio of kind and compassionate interactions versus the number of judgmental ones? Do you feel life’s stings and papercuts more often than love’s kisses? Is the result worthy of the enduring effort? Isn’t “love” an emotion produced by verbs (a whole lot of verbs!) (and chemistry) which results in more of all the good stuff, less of all the rotten bullshit human primates are capable of flinging at one another? So… what are you personally doing to improve the ratio in each and every relationship – or interaction?

Sometimes it’s hard not to just sort of stomp around feeling exceedingly criticized. There is an ever-loving fuck-ton of shit I do not do well, and I quickly find myself overloaded with a “self-improvement list” so long I end up wondering if my existence is holding back world progress. I’m also pretty good at some stuff; generally that seems much less relevant or noteworthy. (That observation gets a sentence now and then, the rest gets a fucking blog all its own.) I remind myself of two very important pieces of understanding that don’t change much, however ‘picked on by life’ I may be feeling:

  1. Criticism is basically just a very poorly worded request.
  2. Agreement #2 of the Four Agreements – Don’t Take Anything Personally

Generally, if I can hold those two understandings in mind when I am feeling particularly criticized and beginning to feel devalued or angry, I can more easily ask a very important question, “what is this person/situation really asking for (what is the unstated need), and how can I reply gently, while best meeting my needs over time?” Remember that bit about ‘an ever-loving fuck-ton of shit I do not do well’? Yep. Here we are; I need more practice. I’m struggling not to take things personally, today. I keep practicing.

To be fair, I woke from a troubled restless sleep this morning to immediate decision-making that went mildly awry. In the moments of disappointment that followed, the nightmare I’d had returned to my thoughts provoking painful emotions, a feeling of inadequacy and unworthiness, that seemed supported by the morning thus far. Not only that, I was in pain. I was in a lot of pain – still am – more so than usual. At this point, I’ve taken all the steps to manage it that I know, and I’m mildly sedated, which doesn’t really improve my experience in a wholesome way; it definitely slows my thinking and dulls my reactivity. I earnestly need to spend some time alone, and spend some time creatively. I’m struggling to figure that out – partly it’s the pain, but partly it is this peculiarly plaguing sense of feeling criticized, and the way that feeling sort of ‘weighs me down’ emotionally, and stifles me creatively. It was even hard to write this morning.

Today I am finding communication difficult. Simple answers to clear questions evade me. I struggle to make sense of the context of questions or observations, resulting in mystifying misunderstandings. Everything sounds too loud… I am tempted to wonder if that’s the pain, or the TBI, or… truth is, it doesn’t actually matter; what matters is learning to comfortably state the simple need in simple terms, gently, safely, as an honest request for support – and sometimes for change. Yeah, I’ll just go right ahead and add that to the very long list of ‘an ever-loving fuck-ton of shit I do not do well’ and I’ll get right on that, too, also, as soon as I can – that’s even sincerely meant. I literally do try my best to actually improve on each and every fucking minute detail of some weirdness or other that doesn’t fit my idea of comfortable emotionally safe socially productive interactions…every moment at risk of being so vigilant of my ‘failings’ that I end up feeling chronically self-conscious and anxious. It’s a delicate balance, and honestly – I mean to treat myself much better than I often do. I am only easily able to treat people dear to me as well as I treat myself… so… it matters greatly to ‘get all this right’. Yeah – that’s a ludicrously high standard to hold oneself, and it is a set up for failure, internal criticism backed up by acceptance of external criticism – real or imagined – with the painful outcome of anxiety, conflict, emotional self-harm, relationship sabotage… blech. Drama and bullshit.

I can do better. I do some days. Today is not a great day for me on a couple of levels. The pain and my sound sensitivity are physically difficult, and drive the emotional volatility and loss of balance. I can’t imagine ‘my happy place’ – and I’m standing in it.

Here’s the thing about improving my emotional ‘golden ratio’ though; it’s not actually about what I hear from other people, or how they see me, or the feedback they give me. It’s very much about whether or not I ‘drink the poison’. It’s about my own choices, and about how I feel about the woman in the mirror. If I am being that hard on me, it’s even more difficult to take care of me when someone else is hard on me, too, or I have to deal with a shitty day, or a lot of pain. There really are some great practices to fall back on. Meditation. Yep. Still works. It does work best to actually do it. Most practices work that way. Getting enough rest is a great practice – and I didn’t. So. Yeah. Mindfulness… ooh, I like that one so much (it’s so hard though…); it helps me stay aware of myself in this moment, and helps me be more compassionate with myself. I really am in that much pain – it makes sense to show myself some kindness. On and on I go. One practice, and then another. One moment to consider some observation that serves me well, or another: perspective, mindfulness, sufficiency, adequacy, worthiness, compassion… I keep at it.

I do hurt… and I’m okay right now.