Sometimes the hardest thing to do is ask for help. When we ask, we run the risk of being told, “no,” having our needs dismissed or invalidated. As a result, we may become fiercely independent, determined to do it all ourselves. Or we may become bossy and demanding, hiding our vulnerability by voicing our needs as demands. Either way, if it doesn’t feel safe to ask for what we need, we can’t be close to our partners, and ultimately, that’s what we really want.
If you find yourself in one of these two roles, it may be time to try something new – something like, “Sweetheart, I’m feeling overwhelmed (or tired or unmotivated…), and I need your help with something.” If this approach feels scary, it may be useful to sit with a therapist who can help you get the words out and help your partner practice listening so that it really IS safe to ask for what you need.
It may also help to preface the conversation, preparing your partner that you’re about to do something hard, and need him/her to be kind. Maybe even showing him/her this posting as a way of introducing the topic. Though it may be uncomfortable for both of you at first, knowing that you can ask for what you need and that your partner will listen without judgment can make you both feel closer and more connected.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
There once was a man in a boat enjoying the serenity of the river at dusk. He sees another boat coming his way and is glad that someone else is sharing his pleasure. Then he realizes the other boat is heading toward him. He starts yelling to the boatman to turn aside, but the vessel just keeps coming faster and faster. By this time he’s standing up in his boat, screaming and shaking his fist, and then the boat smashes right into him. He sees that it’s an empty boat.
This is the classic story of our whole life situation. There are a lot of empty boats out there.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror, for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace. The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest… perfect peace.
Which picture do you think won the prize? The King chose the second picture. “Because,” explained the King, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
A stream, from a far-off mountain, passed down through the countryside, until it at last reached the sands of the desert. Just as it had crossed every other barrier, the stream tried to cross the desert, but the stream found that as fast as it ran into the sand, its waters disappeared.
It was stuck and had no choice but to cross this desert. Yet there was no way the water cold flow over the hot sand. Now a hidden voice, coming from the desert itself, whispered: “The wind crosses the desert, and so can the stream.”
The stream was dashing itself against the sand, and only getting absorbed. Then the stream thought, “sure it easy for the wind. The wind can fly, and that’s why it can cross a desert. But I have always been on the ground and streams don’t fly.” The desert voice continued, “By moving in your own accustomed way you cannot get across. You will either disappear or become a marsh. You must allow the wind to carry you over, to your destination.”
The stream replied, “But how could this happen?“ “By allowing yourself to trust in the wind”, the voice responded. This was not acceptable to the stream. After all, it never had to give up control over its direction before. It did not want to lose its independence. And once having lost it, how could the stream be sure that it could ever be regained?
“The wind, “said the voice, “performs this function. It takes up water, carries it over the desert, and then lets it fall again. Falling as rain, the water again becomes a river.”" How can I know that this is true?” thought the stream. “It is so, and if you do not believe it, you cannot become more than a swamp, and even that could take many, many years. And it certainly is not the same as a stream.”
“But if I trust the wind and am carried over the desert, I will not remain the same stream that I am today.” The stream replied. “This is true in both cases, either way you cannot go back to what you once were,” the whisper said. “Your essential part is carried away and forms a stream again. You are called what you are even today because you do not know which part of you is the essential one.”
When the stream heard this, certain echoes began to arise in its memory. Dimly it remembered a state in which it or some part of it, had been held in the arms of a wind. And the stream raised its vapor into the welcoming arms of the wind, which gently and easily bore it upwards and along, letting it fall softly as soon as they reached the roof of a mountain, many, many miles away. And because it had its doubts, the stream was able to remember and record more strongly in its mind the details of the experience. It reflected, “Yes, now I have learned my true identity.”
The flowing stream speaks to us about the journey of life. The seemingly insignificant trickle leading to the world’s mightiest rivers, each drop of water becomes part of an uncontrollable flow that feeds it forward. An individual drop of water cannot flow by itself, its needs other drops of water to join in on its journey. Fed by rain that fall from the sky, it gains strength, contributing to its growth. It cannot reach its destination without receiving from others, but it also gives. Giving life to animals, people, and plants. It picks up the soil and deposits it to enrich the land. No stream flows without obstacles, no stream moves straight to the sea, it faces impediments that hold it back, and its mood alters with its circumstances, rushing down a narrow channel or spreading into a tide pool. With each barrier the stream finds a new solution.
The stream joyful to dance over rocks and pebbles. If a tree falls across its path it has new options. Does it wash the trunk away, does it find a new path, does it lie still and stagnant, doe sit dam up until the weight causes pressure and flows over? Its pace slows as it reaches the ocean. And the oceans become one with all the waters on the planet. The warmth of the sun evaporates the ocean water and it gathers in clouds. And the journey begins again. The stream flows with such urgency fighting with itself, caught up in the destruction, swirling, and clashing energy full of both respect and power. There is a sense of timeless eternity in this experience, for the stream is something that will outlive us all. Still the river is constantly flowing, forever changing and adapting.
Like the stream, we may change, but our identity endures. This means the acts may change with time but the actor is what remains constant. Our choices, lifestyle, appearance all change. It is our very nature. If we do not let ourselves be transformed by the winds of life, we become stagnant. So, with great fear and yet great courage, we let life lift us, shape us, purify us, help us become who we really are. We change every day, sometimes in big ways, sometimes in very small ways, but our essential humanity remains constant. One day we are children, the next it seems we are adults, we are lovers, we are parents and friends and grandparents. Yet no matter what the form of our days may be, our essence is steady. You are always just yourself. You may be a mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife, son, daughter, friends, employee, neighbor or customer but you are always just you. That is the core of your identity. You are the one who has all these experiences and you are the same person who was a small child riding a bicycle and playing hide n seek. That is what really matters. That is your true identity.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared; he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.
Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If nature allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We also must learn the valuable lesson of letting others make their own way in life and let them make their own mistakes and try not to interfere with what we believe may be best for them.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Jim paused and looked up as Margery walked out of the office. ‘Go home sometime!’ she called at him. She worked hard enough herself, but Jim was in a class of his own. I’ll be off in a minute, he thought. Just doing this bit of email. The security system clicked in and the lights dimmed. Damn, he thought. I’ll be in trouble. He grabbed his bag and left the computer chugging away. It’ll be done by morning.
‘Sorry, love. Urgent work again,’ he mumbled as he hurried in, kissing his wife, who look more concerned than cross. ‘Is there any dinner left?’ Jennifer was already in bed, of course. He crept up and felt that wonderful glow as he looked down at the innocent sleeping there, all curls and cutsie. It was all for her, really. I’ll try and get some time this weekend. They sat down together to watch the late film, Jim on the floor leaning back into Laura’s smooth legs that flowed down from her tired body. She did look tired. We’re both tired, I guess. During the adverts, he skipped out to check voicemail.
The next day he was in early, as usual. Brian’s car was there, too. Strange. His manager usually came in around eight. ‘Jim. Uh.’ Brian looked oddly at him. ‘I knew I’d catch you now. Could we talk?’ He knew. It didn’t take a genius. Things had been tough recently, and even though he’d upped his already full workload, he’d guessed it would only be a matter of time. Grateful for many years of dedication. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Even though he was ready for it, he wasn’t. He thanked Brian. Said he understood how difficult it was for him. Walked out with a frozen smile. Not kidding anyone, really. But the alternative was worse. He met Margery going the other way in the car park. She took one look and her mouth fell open. Obvious, I suppose. ‘Not now, Margery,’ he said, as he hurried to his car.
The house was empty. He made a cup of tea and sat at the kitchen table, not drinking it. He went into the study and looked stupidly at the piles of papers. He went upstairs and sat on the bed. He went outside and sat in the garden. It didn’t change anything. Staring into nothing, the hopeful future gone. Poof. Just like that. After ages, Laura came back. He’d been dreading it, but there was no way he’d be one of those sad fools who pretended and still went out in the morning. She was, predictably, both shocked and determinedly supportive. What a woman. He didn’t deserve her. We’ll get by, she said. I’m earning enough to pay the basic bills.
Jim grew angry, “But that’s not right. I’m the provider. It’s what I do. I work hard and get paid well. There’ll even be a good pension if I can stay the course. Or not.” He noticed his own breathing. Short, tense and rapid. Laura, in a calm voice, said, “You’ll be alright. You’ll get another job. Maybe not as good. But something. Anything. And hey, you’ll get the time this weekend after all.”
Laura went out to get Jennifer from school. When they came back, he was still sitting on the sofa in the gathering gloom. Jennifer came over to him, climbed up and stood on his lap, looking seriously into his face with those deep blue eyes. Without a word she put her arms around his neck and hugged him. He held her tightly. As they sat there, clinging, he felt the ice inside begin to melt. Jim paused and allowed himself to enjoy the reality of the moment. The tender hug from his daughter gave Jim a needed wake up call. This sudden switch in perspective, allowed him to reconsider his priorities. What was important was what he had, not what was lost.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
One day a fisherman was lying on a beautiful beach, with his fishing pole propped up in the sand and his solitary line cast out into the sparkling blue surf. He was enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sun and the prospect of catching a fish. About that time, a businessman came walking down the beach, trying to relieve some of the stress of his workday. He noticed the fisherman sitting on the beach and decided to find out why this fisherman was fishing instead of working harder to make a living for himself and his family. “You aren’t going to catch many fish that way,” said the businessman to the fisherman. “You should be working rather than lying on the beach!”
The fisherman looked up at the businessman, smiled and replied, “And what will my reward be?” “Well, you can get bigger nets and catch more fish!” was the businessman’s answer. “And then what will my reward be?” asked the fisherman, still smiling. The businessman replied, “You will make money and you’ll be able to buy a boat, which will then result in larger catches of fish!” “And then what will my reward be?” asked the fisherman again. The businessman was beginning to get a little irritated with the fisherman’s questions. “You can buy a bigger boat, and hire some people to work for you!” he said.
“And then what will my reward be?” repeated the fisherman. The businessman was getting angry. “Don’t you understand? You can build up a fleet of fishing boats, sail all over the world, and let all your employees catch fish for you!” Once again the fisherman asked, “And then what will my reward be?” The businessman was red with rage and shouted at the fisherman, “Don’t you understand that you can become so rich that you will never have to work for your living again! You can spend all the rest of your days sitting on this beach, looking at the sunset. You won’t have a care in the world!” The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “And what do you think I’m doing right now?”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
One day a farmer was inspecting his property, and as he walked, he came upon eagle that had been shot. With caution and hesitation, the farmer climbed the tree and saw a there was a nest with a single egg. He carefully carried it down the tree, back to the barn and slide it under one of the hens. The eagle hatched along with the other eggs and was raised along with the other chicks. It spent its time scratching the ground for seeds, searching for worms and clucking senselessly.
One day a dark and ominous shadow fell across the barnyard. In terror, the eagle fled for shelter with his companions. Looking up, the eagle saw the outstretched wings of a huge bird, effortlessly gliding through the air. Captivated by the graceful power of this sight, the eagle asked, “What is that?”
His companion said, “That is the eagle, the king of the birds. Its realm is the sky. It controls the air. But we are chicken and we belong to the ground.” The eagle looked up at the bird and saw their similarities. It looked at the chickens. And for the first time, he saw how different he was from them. The eagle now had a choice. It could live and die as a chicken in this backyard coop or it could with some effort, spread its wings and soar into the air.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed, looked forward to those one-hour periods. Each day, for that one hour his world would be enlarge and extend to all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing on the street below. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band, he could see it clearly as the old fellow by the window portrayed its every detail with the most descriptive words.
Days and weeks passed. The afternoon peeks into the outside world continued. Bright, sunny days, but rainy days too. Dark clouds rolling in and intense lightning bolts descending on the park. Pedestrians running for cover as the rain came in sheets, blown by a howling wind. It would soon be winter, they said, as they speculated as to whether or not the pond would freeze hard enough for skaters. Maybe there would be a Christmas tree on the frozen lake, and carolers too. They wondered how much snow they might get this year.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.
It faced a completely blank brick wall.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
One day a wise and respected king decided to humble his son, whom he saw as arrogant and unfit to take over the thrown. The kind said to his son the prince, “My son, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for my birthday, which gives you six months to find it.” “If it exists anywhere on earth, father, I will find it and bring it to you, but what makes the ring so special?” asked the prince. “It has magic powers,” answered the king. “If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.” The king knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his son a little taste of humility.
Spring passed and then summer, and still the prince had no idea where he could find the ring. On the night before his father’s birthday, the prince decided to take a walk in one of he poorest quarters of the kingdom. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day’s wares on a shabby carpet. “Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?” asked the prince. The prince watched the old man take a plain gold ring from his sack and engrave something on it. When the prince read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile.
That night the entire kingdom celebrated the king’s birthday with great festivity. “Well, my son,” said the king, “Have you found what I sent you after? Have you found a ring that will make a sad person happy, and a happy person sad?” the king inquired with confidence. All the ministers laughed and the king smiled. But, to everyone’s surprise, the prince held up a small gold ring and declared, “Here it is, father!” As soon as the king read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written four words on the gold band: “This too shall pass.” At that moment, the king realized that all his fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust. And that perhaps his son, the prince had the wisdom to rule the kingdom .
The lesson in this story is that everything changes. Change is not only a fact of life; change is life. Change is what makes life possible. Not only is it correct to say there is no life without change, it is also correct to say there would be no life without change. Everything changes. Your body is not the same as it was. A change in your body, over the span of many years, is obvious. But even over a few years, changes in the body are noticeable. Photographs from only a few years ago are sometimes a surprise because of how different you may appear. And the large changes that occur over many years are the accumulation of all the small changes that have happened.
There isn’t a cell in your body today that was there seven years ago. It isn’t exactly pleasant to point it out, but your body is changing even as you’re sitting there reading this sentence. Your skin is shedding dead cells and growing new ones. Your breath, in and out, changes the amount of oxygen in your cells. Blood cells are growing and cells are dying. The organs are processing nutrition, creating energy, and filtering wastes. Your hair, fingernails and toenails have grown imperceptibly since you sat down a half an hour ago. And the room around you is changing. Dust that was in the air has now settled onto to the chairs and the floor. The electric lights have grown a few minutes nearer to burning out. The hands on the clock have moved. Everything changes.
I don’t think it’s a particularly profound observation to notice that everything constantly changes. You can’t live a day without noticing changes. But what I want to convey is the magnitude of that change. Change is happening not only in ways you notice, but in ways you don’t notice as well. In this book, I want you to understand how completely everything changes, and how every permanent thing you see is only an illusion of permanency masking a reality of change. There are some things in your life that seem to have a degree of permanency. Everything in our lives that we think of as permanent is actually changing. Most things that you think of as stabile actually require a lot of effort to keep them the way they are. Relationships require work to stay strong and lasting. And though a relationship may last several decades, it has changed. Some people, objects and relationships seem to have stability. You grow to count on their presence. And you also work to counteract the effects of change by constantly making an effort to put things back the way they were before. There’s nothing wrong or unhealthy about stability. In fact working to keep at least portions of your life relatively stable, is probably necessary to function effectively.
Some of my clients have said they’re afraid of change. Some people dread change because they don’t want to give up their stability. They grow accustomed to patterns or habits, or “The way we’ve always done things.” But everything is always changing. Though you may have been partnered with the same man or woman for fifty years, your relationship has changed. And with any change, comes a loss for how things used to be. And you may begin to fear of what may occur as a consequence of that change. Your attempts to return bits of the world to their former state, like washing a shirts, doesn’t recreate it to what is once was. That shirt I loved in the store is not the same and has changed after I’ve worn it and washed it a few times. Time only moves in one direction and as time passes you are faced with countless losses. Perhaps, you should be constantly mourning and grieving what you have lost. Grieving, even if your relationship is thriving, because you have lost the original relationship you had with that person. To say nothing of friends who have died, but even if your friends are still alive, you’ve lost the friends they were at the time you met. You love your adult children, but they are not the infant they once were. The child they used to be is gone. Whatever happiness you have now, will be lost forever and become the happiness you used to have.
I think people are actually much better than they realize, at coping with change. You may arrange your life in such a way, that you don’t realize how adept you are at dealing with change. Every day new experiences and stories are added to the relationship that effect the bonds positively or negatively and your not even aware of it. I think it is important to give yourself credit for how well you do deal with change. You are not a victim of change. You are an active participant in it. By acknowledging this ability to cope, you will more skillfully and confidently deal with those instances of change forcing itself on you. When the big changes occur: a death, a move, a break up, a lay off, it’s not true that you must suddenly develop new skills to coping with this change. The big changes don’t require new skills, they only require more application of a skill that you already have and use constantly.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
« Previous Entries