Archives for posts with tag: we become what we practice

It’s a good morning. It was a lovely weekend. There’s not much else to say about either of those things. πŸ™‚ I miss my Traveling Partner so much this morning; the weekend was delightful, romantic, connected, and satisfying. I sit here smiling to have a partnership with someone of such heart, intelligence, compassion, and competence… who loves me in return. Pretty splendid. πŸ™‚

We didn’t just fall into this Love, of course; we built it. We built it on choices, using values, and verbs, and good communication. We treat each other well. We support each other. We set and manage our boundaries, each of us, and we each respect the other’s. We take delight in each other’s joy – even when we aren’t sharing it, even when it isn’t about us, even when we “don’t get it”; it matters most that the other person feels something so beautiful. We recognize they are having their own experience, and value each other’s agency as individuals. We nurture each other, and support each other’s goals, and each other’s work. Authenticity. Real respect. Reciprocity. Consideration. Compassion. Openness.

My “Big 5” values became most clear to me as I learned to understand what makes this particular relationship so profoundly good compared to others I’ve had. Respect, reciprocity, consideration, compassion, and openness are my Big 5 relationship values. I (now) build all of my relationships on a foundation that rests on these values. Why not? They are strong and steady, and foster solidly good relationships. Notice that “trust” isn’t there? Yeah… I am not convinced that “trust” is a strong value on which to build human relationships, personally. Honesty, sure, “trust? Not so much. I often hear tales of hurt, deceit, and woe, in which lost trust, or misplaced trust, or a lack of trust is a feature, and people somehow manage to feel fairly terrible that something they could have seen coming caught them by surprise. I’d prefer to know people, to see them as honestly as I can as who they actually are, based on behavior they actually provide, every day, as sample material. I don’t find it helpful to require people to affirm they are something other than they are; it only sets me up to be surprised and injured, when they turn out to be the person they have been all along. Better to see them clearly, accept them as they are, risks and flaws and all – and work to mitigate the potential harms in other ways, or walk on. For example: a friend known to gossip? Yeah… don’t share information or secrets with that person (and if they are doing you harm, are they a friend, in fact?). That’s a very simplified example, but it works with all sorts of character flaws.

Asking people to be someone they are not, however well-intended, then staying around to bear the consequences every time they disappoint us, or treat us badly, is one of the stupidest relationship models ever, of always (or so it seems to me). Choosing relationships with people who don’t share your values is fraught with complications and predictable painful moments. Sure, you can ask for change, demand it, even expect it; but the change is theirs to choose or to make. We make better choices when we are honest with ourselves about the people around us. Seeing them honestly, and recognizing who they are for real, without talking ourselves into anything, is a great beginning. I value authenticity… and real is still real if someone is really out of step with my values, but I don’t choose them for a partnership, or, maybe, any association at all, so there is real value in seeing people as they are as much as possible. If, for example, I know someone builds their life on deceit – why would I ever choose to become entangled with them romantically, however pretty they are, or funny, or willing to say nice words to me? Me, personally, I would not. It just doesn’t make sense to do that. I get the fuck out of there, fast, if it seems I have become involved with someone who’s relationship values, themselves, are so out of step with mine as to hold potential for emotional or physical injury. At least… I do now. It took practice, and a lot of self-reflection, and there were verbs involved.Β  πŸ™‚

The weekend with my Traveling Partner contrasted sharply with goings on in other lives, shared with me while catching up with this friend, or that one. Other People’s Drama. I listen. I can’t say I “understand”, exactly; I choose differently. I mean… I “get it”. I’ve been there. I’ve been the one hurt by lost trust… in the context of a relationship in which “trust” was a soap-bubble built on a fantasy that existed only in my head, in a relationship wherein a simple honest look around me would have told me the truth about all the lies. lol Yeah. I’m laughing. I’m laughing because crying about it is unproductive. Don’t like being lied to? Don’t make relationships with people willing to lie to you. Begging for their honesty and offering them your trust is… well, it’s what they’re counting on, because they are likely gonna lie to you, if that’s their way. Just saying. That’s how character works; people are who they are, based on the values they hold, themselves. Only. What they say to other people about their values is not relevant to the values they actually hold. The honesty I know I need to be able to “trust” most is my own. πŸ˜€

Not my circus, not my monkey. πŸ™‚

This weekend, particularly, was super low drama; my partner and I enjoyed each other. Drama stayed outside our small world with each other. although there was plenty out there. It was a lovely break to share. Weekends do end, though… and… look at the time! It’s already time to begin again…

…You can too. You have choices. There are verbs involved. You can start again now – or any time. You’ll probably need practice; your results may vary. Choose wisely – you matter. πŸ˜‰

 

I’m sipping my coffee thinking about challenges, struggles, and practices. Thinking about the discomfort of listening to one friend or another, in one moment or another, going through changes and the frustration of hearing them beef about how hard it all is… and make no mistake, it’s not easy, but… yeah. Do something, though. Just pissing and moaning about how hard life is to sympathetic friends doesn’t have much power to change anything.

Small changes are enough, and over time they make bigger changes. We become what we practice.

Hate all the drama in your life? Choose different relationships (or choose differently in the ones you’ve got). Practice being low drama. Create a drama free zone that is a sacred space for you. Set clear boundaries – and respect them yourself. Hell no, it’s not “easy” – what is? Practice. Then practice some more. We become what we practice.

Hate “who you’ve become”? Well… shit… become someone different than who you are now. I mean… yeah. It is actually “that simple”, although it isn’t “easy”, really, at all. It takes practice. Decisions about who we each are, are not enough – it’s the behavior that creates change in our thinking (although changing our thinking can definitely change our behavior – and you can mix and match).

While we’re on about it – maybe stop “hating” stuff? It’s a poor practice. It allows you to become good at hate. We become what we practice.

So… what are you practicing?

Today is a good day to begin again. Today is a good day to practice being the person you most want to be. ❀

I woke early this morning. Like… really awake. Rested. Alerted. Not sleeping. Inconveniently enough, at 2:17 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I wandered around the house in the darkness for a few minutes. Finally decided to go ahead and just be up and retrieved my glasses from the nightstand. I am up too early to take my morning medication. I make an iced coffee, black. I set a reminder about the medication.

I scroll through my “news feed” on Facebook and wonder if maybe Facebook should stop calling it that? I close the app, done with it, and committed to avoiding the old practice of just… endlessly scrolling. There’s nothing new to be gained in doing so, and much time to be lost. I sip my coffee. Cold, refreshing, served in a wine glass.

3:00 a.m.Β It has its own feel, doesn’t it? It does for me. The “quietest point in the night”. Stillness. Darkness. It’s rare to live with people who are awake at 3:00 am. I often am. I knew someone once who referred to it as “the bottom of the night”. I don’t remember who.

Other people feel differently about “the strange hour” of morning. Is it night? Is it morning? Should I be wakeful? Oh no, I’m not sleeping! I used to find maximum anxiety sleepless at 3:00 am… that was rather a while ago. Maybe a long time. These days… if I’m awake, I’m awake. I’ll sleep another time. Clearly not now. I sip my coffee in the studio and look over the work I have laid out, work in progress, the open sketchbook on the extended work surface created by storage cabinets filled with paintings. I smirk at my artistic productivity and feel a moment of sympathy for whoever has to deal with that when I’m gone. I make a note to keep better notes, to archive more meticulously, to practice better practices as an artist, not just as a human being. I am awake, being me, at 3:00 am. Who else would I be?

My open inbox on an alternate browser tab sits ready in case my Traveling Partner is also awake. It is undisturbed except for the trickle of spam emails from businesses and whatnot, arriving one by one during the wee hours. As they come in, conveniently one at a time, I unsubscribe. It seems too much effort when faced with a full inbox at 5:00 am on a week day. 3:00 am on a Saturday morning, one at a time? Ideal for unsubscribing (your results may vary).Β  (Turns out my Traveling Partner is awake, and he pings me back cute loving emoji; he’s working the trailing end of a Friday night gig, too busy for more, even at 3:00 a.m.)

This delicious quiet time took years to develop; it exists beyond the anxiety about sleeplessness, beyond the anxiety about “why am I awake?”, beyond the anxiety about “how will I go on?” and beyond the anxiety about all the things that plague a tired mind struggling to sleep at 3:00 am. This delicious gentle peaceful quiet time only exists because I created it for myself. Yep. You get to create this experience – choose it, build it, enjoy it – if you want it. Or, alternatively, you can also choose to dwell in anxiety in the wee hours. πŸ˜‰ Not my call to make for you.

There are other versions of 3:00 a.m., of course. The Party People know what I’m talking about. The performers know. Ravers. DJs. Bands. The graveyard workers know too. The breakfast cooks and bakers getting the day started before the dawn, they know. So many versions of 3:00 a.m. Sitting in the quiet darkness of suburbia, windows dark in the neighborhood, and only the eerie light of occasional streetlights glowing, marking the way for the stray early morning traveler, all I hear is quiet. The busy street at the end of my driveway is silent. It won’t last. The Saturday adventurers headed for fishing, hiking, camping or road trips, will begin to make their way up the road around 4:00 am. The community will slowly wake, a bit at a time, as the dawn unfolds. But right now? The stillness wraps me, effortlessly. I linger in it, luxuriously.

Coffee #1 for the day is almost gone. Coffee #2 is only a daydream, a hint of a plan, a thought that perhaps a lovely hot mug of coffee out on the deck, in the chill of pre-dawn darkness, listening to peeping frogs and early birds waking, would be a nice start to the Saturday. I laugh, realizing I started Saturday some time ago. Before 3:00 am. I hear the traffic begin and notice the time – 3:56 a.m.

It’s time to begin again. πŸ˜‰ It’s 4 in the morning.

Ready for it? Here it comes… The next opportunity to make a profound change, or improve something, or embrace something (someone?), or “make that next move”… coming up any second now… Watch for it…

Oh. Wait. I don’t mean to be a let down, or to mislead you… but… that’s literally every single moment, ever, and right now. Seriously. Don’t like your life? Make some different choices than you have been making. They don’t even have to be huge choices. I’m not talking about “leave-your-mate-quite-your-job-move-across-the-world” changes, here, although those exist, too; it’s the small every day changes. Does your quality of life leave something to be desired? Let’s just start there, with something small.

Look around you right now (I’ll wait).

Okay. Based on what you see, from your vantage point right now, what could you be doing differently that may improve the quality of your life? Just that. No need to overwhelm yourself, just some small thing. Maybe “there’s clothes all over my floor” becomes “I’ll stop dropping my clothes on the floor”, followed by “Oh, hey, I’ll just pick these up right now, too”? Small stuff. Not all of everything all at once. Just… something. Practice it until it becomes “natural” – and by “natural” I mean that it will, over time, become something that is just part of who you are, you just do it, and it doesn’t really occur to you not to. That’s a thing, and it really happens.

By the way – it already has. Take another look around you, and hold that thought; you practiced everything you do that results in the life you live, over time, until it became who you are. Yep. Dishes in the sink? Clothes on the floor? Books you never read? A job you hate? Even things like screaming tantrums and hormonal rages. Chronically shitty attitude about life? Yeah, you can practice a mood or state of mind, too, and omg that can feel so hard to change – I mean, aren’t you “just who you are”? Nope. Not a thing. We are a product of our choices over time, our environment, our genes – lots of things – but we can definitely change a lot of it. It’s our choices that make that possible. We’re highly adaptable. We become what we practice, even if that wasn’t who we were when we started our journey.

So… today? Today my devices don’t control what I’m doing with my time, and aren’t permitted to pull my focus from “real life”. I use them, they don’t use me. I’m not a life support system for a fucking phone. πŸ˜‰ That’s my change today – it’s actually pretty huge. I did okay with it yesterday. My notifications are off, and my ringer turned off during the work day, and when I’m driving (really anytime I don’t care to be interrupted by it). I don’t “need” Facebook, either, really, and the day went just fine setting firm limits with myself. I look at my phone when I need something from it. It’s not a tether that requires me to interact with the world on other people’s terms or timing. More practice today. πŸ™‚ Every day. All of the minutes. Nothing but practice. I expect to fail some. That’s okay. I’ll just start over. Endless new beginnings, and we definitely become what we practice. πŸ˜€

Language matters too; put the past in the past tense. Put the person you want most to be in the present tense – then be that. (It does still take practice.) Don’t be tempted to let others define you. Definitely “use your words”. πŸ˜‰

Time to begin again.

This morning, I got up, did some yoga, showered, dressed, made coffee, and sat down to write. Half an hour later, I found myself watching this video. Omg – I laughed and laughed. Then I made a frowny face at myself, because I’d been noodling around mindlessly on the internet for half an hour before video content provoked me to take yet another still closer look at what I am doing with my time.

Well, shit. Fuck you, Internet. We’ve got to come to an understanding. I have shit to do, and Adam Conover is right. Thanks, Adam. Clearly, I needed another reminder.

It’s not really the Internet that’s to blame, though. We’ve begun carrying a computer literally everywhere (so handy!) and rely on it for all sorts of communication and task management. Super useful, no doubt, but… I don’t know about you, but I do literally rely on my device these days. Perhaps “too much” (that’s pretty subjective). There are things about connectivity that I really appreciate, cherish, enjoy, and which enhance my quality of life… then there’s the time drain of mindless scrolling, checking, and clicking. That’s where the problem lies, for me. Content providers know it, too, and since their purpose is to engage me (repeatedly) and keep me engaged (as nearly continuously as possible) for profit (or data)… well… it’s on. I’ve got to take my time back.

Shit. More practices. More practicing. lol

I already do some things to limit mindless internet time-losses, but clearly not enough. It’s not the Internet that is “at fault” and the content providers are not “to blame” for my lack of attention span these days; it’s the mindlessness.

Here’s a question; is mindful internet use a thing? Can I learn to do that? I don’t have an answer to that question (yet), but it seems one worth asking. I’d certainly like to have my time, attention, and focus, back. I’d like to more skillfully curate the content that seeps into my brain through my faces holes. (Fuck, how much less angry would we all be if we a) didn’t continuously pump outrageous stimulus into our consciousness and b) gave our fucking brains a real rest now and then?)

My job is “connected”; much of what I do during a work day requires both basic connectivity and also browser-based tools. I’m skillful at remaining focused on work-tasks (and tools) on the clock. That’s a start. Discipline. Practice. Boundaries. Okay, I can do this, right? But… do what exactly? First I guess I need to have a clearer picture of which specific behaviors, moments, or circumstances are problematic, and address those quite directly…

Today I head back to the office with a question in my head. A purposeful undercurrent in my thinking that has the potential to offer me vast improvements in quality of life and available time for the things that matter most. By itself, this energizes me and fills me with purpose. These are feelings I enjoy. I pause to appreciate them, because savoring this moments is a worthy way to enjoy my time. (Far more so than scrolling through Facebook yet again!)

I’m concerned that “the damage is already done”, but aware that we become what we practice. This isn’t a hopeless scenario. I can craft so much of my consciousness – with practice, and incremental change over time. Today, I’ll go to work and return home, and make a point of being very mindful about my internet use – just today, very specifically seeking to understand more clearly the magnitude of the challenge ahead. πŸ™‚ Every journey needs a starting point. This path looks promising…

It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚