Midlife love

Robert Mirabal and the power of intention

“You never know what the spirit of intention can do.”  –Robert Mirabal

fort franciscoWe spent a marvelous morning on Saturday at the Native American Celebration at Fort Francisco in La Veta. 

First of all the Fort is a beautiful example of 1800s adobe construction.  Their exhibits are also a wonderful collection of memorabilia from the past century, like a a walk through the homes of the early 1900s.  Old furniture, clothes, and my favorite, photos of people from our past.

Then we enjoyed a dance performance by three girls from the Jicarilla Apache Nation.  The highlight was a performance by Robert Mirabal of Taos Pueblo.  Yes, his music is a wonder, but I also found great wisdom in his words.

Robert MirabalRobert shared with this mostly European-American crowd the history of this area and what it meant to Native Americans.  He explained why his ancestors came up here from the south and kept the trails alive and fresh for others. He spoke of intention in our daily life.

When Robert plays his flutes and sings, it sounds like he is channeling the life and  stories of his ancestors, bringing up vivid imagery of our Native American past.

And in a way, isn’t that what we all do each day, channel our ancestors?  So much of who we are is determined by choices made by our parents and grandparents.

I am honored to be now living on this land where the buffalo roamed, the place where my grandfather hoped to retire.  I feel closer to the land than I have in decades, and I intent to protect this land and its heritage.

Creating real change in your life

self-responsibility ownershipIt may be tempting to think that reading the right books or finding the right therapist will change you.

Although it is essential that you choose carefully and trust your inner wisdom in selecting the proper guides to assist you in this deep, emotional process, you are the only one who can create real change in your life.

You must take full responsibility for changing your life and your perspective on love, and be willing to do the hard work necessary to create deep personal change.

Spiritual work is not something you can copy from someone else and expect the same results. The spiritual work needed by each of us is quite unique to our own spiritual needs, determined by where we have been harmed in our individual pasts.

It’s like attending a new exercise class.  Others may be doing the same or similar moves, but if you aren’t sensitive to your own needs, you won’t gain the benefits you seek.

Too many of us think we can simply purchase the right book and change our perspective.  That’s probably why we buy so many self-help books.  Read a book and change your life!

Although I applaud the fact that you are aware enough to know you need to change, let me reemphasize the fact that real personal change only comes about through some serious emotional heavy lifting, what I like to call soul surgery.

What is that?    It is spending time alone taking a hard look at yourself, at how you have treated yourself and others, and at how you have brought yourself to this difficult point in your life.  Then it requires taking full self-responsibility from here on out.

Taking 100% self-responsibility is one of the most important first steps towards genuine self-love and self-respect.  When we take less than 100% self-responsibility, we operate from the victim role. (Take care of me, I’m inadequate.)

When we try to take more than 100% responsibility for those around us, we are playing the rescuer role, but most of us do not have the power to rescue anyone else.  This is simply a distraction from focusing on our own needs.

My advice?  Save yourself, the only one you truly have the power to save.

Self-responsibility is best taken as a celebration rather than as a burden.  It is a freeing act. Taking responsibility for ourselves takes back power over our own happiness.

Childhood is over.  We can only take action in this moment.  Instead of focusing on what somebody did to you in the past, you must now focus on what you want to create in your future.  No more blaming or shaming others.

Here are some helpful affirmations for taking full self-responsibility:

  • I am completely responsible for all my own feelings and actions.

  • I am completely responsible for my own health and welfare.

  • I give others complete responsibility for their feelings and actions.

  • I take complete responsibility for making and keeping agreements, no excuses!

  • I take responsibility for expressing my true essence in the world in positive and loving ways.

This article is an excerpt from my book: How To Believe In Love Again: Opening to Forgiveness, Trust, and Your Own Inner Wisdom.

 

Negative thoughts are bad for your brain

I just discovered a new show on TNT called ‘Perception.‘  Have your seen it yet?  Very interesting!

Last night the main character, a neuroscientist played by Eric McCormack from Will & Grace, discussed an essential fact to know about how our brains work.  Scientists have shown that when it comes to our brains, what we focus on does GROW!

Every time you access a certain memory in your brain, your neurons create more connections to that thought making it ever more accessible the next time.

Here’s how that’s important to your mental health when you break up with somebody.  Nobody wants to focus on sad thoughts from your past, but it happens.  Like in that great song Someone That I Used To Know:

Gotye band“You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness…   like resignation to the end, always the end.”

How does this work?  You seek some sort of resolution to the feelings of abandonment and pain, but by focusing so strongly on rejection, you build up more and more connections to negative thoughts.  Not good for your mental health!

The best solution?  Seek out a good therapist who can help you focus completely on those thoughts until you find a way past your past trauma.  Sometimes the solution is Gestalt or some other method which pushes you through the whole experience to the other side with a nice jolt of insight and catharsis.

Whatever you do, don’t ruminate on past, negative thoughts forever.  It’s a nasty trap which can ruin your life, causing you to never believe in love again.  Don’t let one bad relationship ruin you life!

To learn more about getting past your past, don’t miss my new book: How To Believe In Love Again: Opening to Forgiveness, Trust and Your Own Inner Wisdom.

Love and acceptance within the relationship

I have to say, I am very impressed with the emotional intelligence of this young writer in her 20s.  This list: “20 Things You Need to Accept About Your 20s” is quite useful for those of all ages.

And when it comes to love, truer words were never spoken!

“The first time you fall in love probably won’t be the last.  There are different kinds of love and people that will come into your life for different reasons.”

How useful to know this for certain at age 20, instead of trying to “make” everything last.

But my favorite love truth is this:

“When you do find your person, they aren’t going to be perfect. Your relationship or marriage will be hard sometimes.  It isn’t about thinking someone is perfect; it’s about knowing that they are perfect for you. You need to marry your best friend, not your “dream” man or woman. 

Whenever my husband and I disagree, which has been often since we decided to remodel, sell our home, move and build a new home elsewhere, the stress of all this change has taken its toll on our relationship.  At times like these it is so important to remember that no one is always correct or ‘perfect’ but they may be ‘perfect for you.’

How do I know Mike is perfect for me?  Because he is someone who totally values what we share together.  Therefore he makes it clear that he cares deeply about both of our needs and feelings.  This makes it possible for us to get to the other side of an argument feeling good about our decision AND our relationship.

And if you don’t understand the value of that, you have a lot to learn about love!

Taking care of everyone but yourself

Contrary to anything you might have learned in your upbringing, especially in your religious training, you are not a saint sent here to save the world.  Your first step is to save yourself from your deeply indoctrinated need to ‘make yourself useful,’ to always be helpful with others.

Where does this need come from?  

When we feel like we must help others to “earn” their love or friendship, deep inside we fear we are simply not good enough.  We fear that if we are our authentic selves, no one will ever love us.  So we continually make ourselves “useful” to family and friends.  We feel we must constantly earn their love and affection.

There is a deep, dark loneliness and self-hatred attached to any need to convince others to love us.  If others decide to love us, they love us simply for who we are, and not for what we can do for them today or tomorrow.  Love is not a business arrangement, it’s a simple but deep human feeling.

“You can’t have love when you’re keeping score.”   – Bonnie Raitt

Beware of love that is based on conditions

Love that is based on you acting a certain way or providing certain services is not love at all!  It is manipulation pure and simple.

Beware of friends who only “like” you when you’re lonely and needy.  Some I have met through the years, came through beautifully when I had major problems.  They saved the day for me and I greatly appreciated their assistance and showed my appreciation in many ways.

Then when I got back on my feet and started feeling good about myself, they were nowhere to be found, or else they were mad at me, accusing me of betraying them by feeling better.  It seems they could only be friends when the relationship “power” balance was all theirs.  They were not up to the task of friendship with a person with a healthy sense of self-esteem.

The Practice of Self-Compassion

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”                       —  The Dalai Lama

And for most of us, this is much easier said than done…            What is the process of finding compassion for yourself?             How does that work?   For me it took hitting rock bottom.

self-respectI had always prided myself in figuring out life.  For better or worse, I made my way through life halfway successfully, meaning I kept a job, had relationships and survived.

Then, at age 49, my very survival was threatened.  My way of simply ‘getting by’ no longer worked for me.  I was absolutely not satisfied with my present, or the future I saw before me.

Good enough was no longer good enough!  That is when most of us decide to change.  The main difference between each of us is how bad life has to get before we make some major changes. 

At 49, I felt like I had nothing of what I had originally wanted out of life.  And what meant the most to me, after some in depth analysis, was to experience one genuine love relationship in this lifetime, love that survived all of the inevitable ups and downs of life.

Then I began observing the relationship I had with myself, assuming that the way I treat myself is probably the way I treat others in my life.  I am so naturally hard on myself, calling myself stupid all the time.  This was the mountain I would need to move BEFORE I brought a loved one into my life.

I am the first to admit this is a lifetime process and practice.  I practice everyday by carefully observing how I speak to myself.  Do I speak with acceptance, appreciation, affection?  Or do I get frustrated and angry with my obvious imperfections?

Rasta Mike and Laura FB smallFortunately, my small and fully accepting puppy Rasta is a great teacher in this regard… talk about unconditional love and acceptance.  Who knew such a small pup could spread so much compassion and love?

I must also mention my loving and ever compassionate husband Mike, whom I found on my own road to self-acceptance.  I found what I was looking for in life by simply stopping long enough to consider what was missing, and then go in search of the life I really wanted.