How to Practice Honesty

Hello, all, and welcome to another day. May it hold peace and goodness for each of you. The search term I was drawn to is “practicing honesty.” There is a misconception about what it means to be honest, and I’d like to address that.

In fact, I have a very recent experience to illustrate my own lack of honesty in a situation that led to being the recipient of verbal abuse. I live in a mobile home park, and my neighbor is currently having her place resided. One evening, I came home, pulled into my carport, and found her 10-foot x 1-foot wooden planter box at the front of my carport.

I was upset that my property was being used as the storage and overflow for her belongings, and especially without even asking me first. Also, I happen to think the planter box is ugly, along with the scrubby plants it contains. So, I called my neighbor to ask why the box had appeared in my carport. She had been unaware of it.

After establishing that it must have been the workers who moved it there, she asked if I wanted it moved. Here is where I was dishonest.  The truth was, I wanted it gone, but I was remembering all the times she has watched my cat when I travel, and so decided to cut some slack and allow it to remain.

What I told her was that I guessed it’d be okay to stay for a while while the work was being done. What I needed to have said to practice honesty was that I did mind and could she please have it moved the next day. Because I did not practice honesty… I was not honest… it led to a show-down when I asked her to move it a week-and-a-half later because I just could not look at it any longer every time I drove in. She pelted me with a barrage of verbal abuse, and now our relationship is less-than-ideal, to say the least.

My whole point here is, we often are not honest, don’t practice honesty, and mean one thing while we say another. We do this, perhaps, to avoid a scene or to avoid the wrath of another. In that process, we are not true to ourselves – not true to our beliefs and desires. And, in the end, the wrath may come anyway, as it did in my case.

Honesty can be passed along with gentleness; it doesn’t have to be brutal. We need to practice honesty by saying what we really are thinking or feeling. This keeps us in integrity.

In what way(s) can you practice honesty in your life, but don’t? Leave a comment and let us know.

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The Effects of Sobriety

Good morning to you all. Today I am going to address the effects of sobriety. I actually started this yesterday and the day got away from me…

What I will write here is an accounting of the effects I have gained from my sobriety. There is no guarantee you will experience all of these things, but chances are high that you will, if you maintain your sobriety and continue to make improvements in your life and with yourself.

The first and foremost effect of sobriety was the lack of hangovers. For seven years, I had experienced such horrific hangovers that the next day, I could not function till 3 or 4 pm. I did that every day for seven years… So, to awaken without a hangover was glorious and only improved over time as more and more alcohol was cleared from my system.

Then, the next effect of my sobriety was the disappearance of the sharp, stabbing pain I had been feeling in the area of my liver for 1-2 years. Later blood work revealed I did not have liver damage, so I am fortunate.

With sobriety came the feeling of feelings I had numbed for 26 years, and that was painful. Even though they were extremely difficult at times, the benefits of that were numerous. I was in so much pain that I had to journal every day which got my feelings out more quickly than anything I could have done. Also, by journaling with my non-dominant hand, even deeper feelings surfaced. Try it; it works!

Another benefit from the emotional pain was I was hurting so badly, I accepted help from a psychiatrist and a therapist. They diagnosed me with major clinical depression, PTSD, and panic disorder, and recommended I take medication, which I agreed to do. That has made my world manageable and put me at the same level emotionally that someone without those diagnoses enjoys.

Also, accepting help from the therapist helped me get through the pain more quickly, as she knew where to guide me. I looked for someone well-versed in the issues faced by an alcoholic, as well as with issues faced by children of alcoholic and abusive parents (ACA). We have a specific set of obstacles to overcome, you see, accessible by getting involved in a group that deals with ACA issues.

Over time in sobriety, my relationships improved immensely. I learned not to look to others to make me happy, which took the burden off of them. I learned to look at my own behavior instead of blaming others when things did not go the way I wanted or needed.

This is the biggest, single-most reason for my peace and freedom, in addition to learning how to forgive my parents for my upbringing. It’s huge, in fact, learning to look at our behavior, our actions, the ways in which we treat others and what’s behind that treatment or behavior, goes a long, long way to improve relations with others. Finally, I learned in sobriety to apologize for my bad behavior, to be humble instead of ashamed.

All of these things are the effects, the rewards, of my sobriety. I hope, if you elect the course of living sober, that you, too, experience them. May you discover in sobriety the great peace and freedom that I have discovered.

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What Is Honesty?

Good morning, all, and may this be a day of great peace for you. The search term that I am going to write about today is honesty, what is honesty. When practiced, honesty brings peace and freedom to us.

Webster defines honesty as that which will not lie, cheat, or steal. That’s how I used to define honesty. Then, when I got sober, I learned an expanded version of it, which is included in Webster’s definition as free from deceit, being genuine and pure.

It is the latter that I wish to expound upon today. You see, we can be dishonest about who we are as a person, how we present ourselves to others. That’s what I did all my life… be deceitful in the sense that I pretended to be what I was not. I pretended that all was okay, for example, that I liked something, for example, when I didn’t.

Honesty pertains to portraying to people what we really are inside, letting people see our tender and vulnerable side. It also means looking with honesty at our actions, our behaviors. Let me talk a little more about this.

Most of us don’t like to admit our foibles, our faults, our poor behavior and actions. Yet, we all have these, all do these at one time or another because we are human and that’s just what we do. Honesty means admitting to ourselves and to others when we have poor or bad behavior, when we have done something to hurt another.

But when we admit to our wrong-doings, the freedom we feel is incredible, and then the peace comes. First we must admit to ourselves our poor behavior. I, for example, have a love of Haagen-Dazs chocolate and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

One day, as I was slowly savoring some chocolate, I remembered how my ex-husband used to also love it, the chocolate, and I refused for it to be in the house because it was too expensive, even though we could have afforded it. Wow, what a realization. I felt somewhat ashamed to have placed that restraint on him and his likes, how I curtained a simple joy of his. As I do not have contact with him anymore, I could not bring that up to him, acknowledge it, and apologize.

Instead, I began to see how my selfishness at the time kicked into play, how it curtailed him some joy in life. I shook my head in sadness for him, for me, for all the times my selfishness hurt another, and was glad I can realize my self-centeredness today, so I can keep it in check.

That is an example of practicing honesty with myself. I had to admit to myself something I was ashamed I had done, realized why, and now can resolve to watch for that in my further dealings with others. I am willing to admit it to him also, if I had contact with him. So, not only do we look with honesty at our actions and behavior, we want to admit it to the one upon whom we have displayed our not-so-hot behavior. That is where the freedom and peace lie.

How do you practice honesty in your life? Do you admit to yourself your poor and bad behavior, taking responsibility for it by first admitting it to yourself and then to the other involved person? This is a good question to answer in a writing exercise.

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What Does Willingness Look Like?

Good morning, everyone! I has dawned a bright and sunny day here in the north San Francisco Bay Area, and I hope your day is bright and sunny from the inside out. I think someone stuffed the ballot box with the search term “what does willingness look like,” (lol) and I will address that today.

I believe willingness is the key to all change, all improvement, and all feeling better about ourselves and others.

Webster defines willingness as the act of being willing, which is acting or giving readily and cheerfully, gladly or voluntarily. In my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, I say that all it takes to unlock the gates of our heart is a little opening the size of a key hole. Then the door opens wider…

When we practice willingness, we are open to whatever the Universe has to bring our way. We are open to differences in others, open to seeing new things for ourselves. It is a feeling of expansiveness, of expanding light.

Yes, willingness is a lightness of being. There is a mysterious quality about it, as we await new experiences, new feelings, “new” in all areas of our life. There is a deep knowingness when we are practicing willingness, a deep feeling that all is well. We look eagerly to what the Universe has to offer us.

When we are demonstrating willingness, others see an openness about us, experience less judgment from us. They see our lightness, our eagerness for newness. They see a person who is more at peace with themselves, with others. Yes, willingness is the key to happiness and peace.

How do you feel when you are experiencing willingness? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Overcoming Hopelessness and Despair

Good morning. May this be a pleasant and productive day for you all. Today, there were numerous searches for issues related to hopelessness and despair, so that is what I will address today.

There are no two things that are so emotionally draining as hopelessness and despair. And once we are feeling these, we feel physically drained as well. We are chronically depressed, and have no energy or desire to do anything. At least, that is how it was for me.

For me, there was a feeling that things could not and would not get better. That hopelessness and despair touched everything I tried to do, and I seemed to just keep failing. Soon, I gave up. I started praying to die because I was too afraid to kill myself. The biggest thing I was despairing about was my background, the abuse, and feeling it was for no purpose in my life other than to make me miserable.

Then one day, something happened which took away the hopeless and despair in an instant. I was at a meeting where a man shared about his continued difficulties with his childhood issues. Hmmm, he sounded like he had a similar background as mine, so I went to talk to him after the meeting.

After I asked if he wanted to hear what I had to say, I relayed my story a little bit, and then started telling him about the things I was doing to try and get past the effects of the abuse. I told him about my therapist who was versed in 12-step programs as well as Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) issues.  He asked how to reach her and I told him.

Then I started talking about books I had read which had been very helpful in putting the puzzle together about my hopelessness and despair. John Bradshaw, Alice Miller, and the most helpful, Claudia Black. He was so grateful for this information he almost started crying.

As I walked to my car, I started crying as I realized there was a purpose for my abusive upbringiing. It was to have experienced it so I could relate to others and the hopelessness and despair they felt because of it, and then so I could relay how I was healing from it. And doing this was useful and helpful to others who were suffering from hopelessness and despair. Suddenly, the feelings went away, and I felt refreshed, lightened, alive.

To get past your feelings of hopelessness and despair, I suggest you consider all the things you have done that have helped you, even a tiny bit, to feel better. Then, seek out others who are dealing with what you are dealing with, and relay to them what has been working for you in your journey.

In other words, use your successes to build up someone else. Use your experiences to be of service to another who is suffering from hopelessness and despair. When you do this, your own hopelessness and despair will lessen.

Let us know if this has been helpful for you to be of service to another by leaving a comment. Thank you.

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The Side Effects of Sobriety

Good morning, all! I chose “the side effects of sobriety” today because there have been so many for me, that I want to share about them.

The first effect of sobriety is the absence of hangovers. If you’re like me and experienced terrific hangovers every day, keeping you down until about 2 or 3 pm, then you will love this benefit of sobriety. Waking up clear is a true delight.

The second side effect of sobriety is healing of emotional wounds. For me, this took a bit of time, but the effort and wait were very much worth it. By remaining sober, the deep feelings I had numbed for years, had avoided for years, were brought forth for me to examine. At first it was very difficult, but over time, they softened and even got better as I did the emotional work to heal.

What do I mean when I talk about doing the emotional work to heal? I’m referring first to being present for the feelings that arise, allowing them to “be” within, without running, without numbing. Then there is the work with an outside, objective person to help dispel the ill-effects of various feelings gained along the way.

For example, as I grew up, I gained the feeling that I was worthless. This feeling stuck with me in adulthood and shadowed everything I did or tried to do. With external support and encouragement, I was able to realize that the words repeatedly said by my father, “you are worthless,” were a lie, not said about me. I learned that I was a very worthwhile person.

Another side effect of sobriety is the ability to look at the world around me in great detail. Everything is clearer, more noticeable to me.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of sobriety is the improvement I have had in my relations with others. I am able to come at a relationship with true caring and concern for the other, with true respect and tolerance. My vision of what they are saying to me is no longer skewed by the effects of alcohol, and I am not nearly as hostile or argumentative.

I can see others as spirited beings in sobriety, and this is something totally new for me. I delight in my dealings with others.

What are some of the side effects you have experienced in sobriety? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Being Judged by Others, Even Though They’re Flawed

Good morning! So sorry I missed yesterday. My computer would not allow me to access the back end of the blog, so I couldn’t write the blog. Today, it is cooperating… The search phrase I picked out is being judged by others, even though they’re imperfect themselves, even though they are displaying negative behavior.

It is my belief that we are being judged by others when they feel insecure and unsure about themselves. They are blowing out our light to make their light shine brighter. They feel “less than,” and putting us down builds them up – in their mind. The thing is, if we’re wise to them and their method, they don’t have to be built up. In fact, if we realize they’re putting us down to build themselves up, we can stop their behavior in its tracks.

We can bring to the attention of others that they are judging us negatively and to stop that behavior. Of course, this will most likely bring on a confrontation. None-the-less, speaking up against the verbal abuse is an option. When we are being judged by others, we can also just ignore what they say, knowing the reason behind their judgment. This is known as turning the other cheek.

So, we have a choice here and it depends upon the situation. If we are likely to enrage the other person who is judging us negatively, putting us in a dangerous situation, we may wish to just know deep within that what they are saying is not true. If, on the other hand, they are rational, and a conversation can be had in which we can bring up their judgment of us, then we will want to do so in the hopes that they can see their behavior and alter it.

In any event, know that when we are being judged by others, they are actually reflecting how they feel about themselves, and we would do well to not take it personally. If we do take it personally, we will likely develop anger and resentment toward the other person. I did this with my father when I was growing up, for the verbal abuse he slung my way. It took me 54 years to get past that to an understanding of his pain, and to get to forgiveness.

How do you treat others when you are feeling less than and insecure about who you are? Do you judge them harshly?

In closing, I have two points: First, I will be hosting the radio show W4CY.com every Monday afternoon at 3 pm PST. The name of the show is Transform Into Forgiveness. I imagine we will have discussions about how to get past being judged by others.

Second, I am starting two support groups called Opening the Gates of Your Heart. These groups will be in the San Francisco Bay Area in Marin and will focus on getting through grief and past resentment to forgiveness. Group one will meet every 2nd and 4th Monday from 10-11 am PST, starting February 11th. The second group will meet every 2nd and 4th Thursday from 1:30-2:30 pm, also PST, starting February 14th.

Both groups will run for 3 months and cost is $35 per month. Both groups will meet at the Wells Fargo Bank in San Rafael, 1203 4th Street, 2nd Floor, 94901. There is parking in the rear of the building, and you would go through the double doors in the rear. Take the elevator to the 2nd floor. For more information and to register, call me at 415-883-8325, or email me at carolyncjjones@yahoo.com.  

 

 

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How to Show Compassion

Good morning, everyone! May this day bring you peace. May it also bring you the gift of showing compassion to those in your life. The search term I have chosen today is “how to show compassion (to your husband).” I have dropped off the “to your husband,” in the hopes that we can learn how to show compassion to anyone.

Fields of Compassion

Compassion is defined as the ability to show sympathy for another’s plight, to have empathy, coupled with a strong desire to help. In the process of getting to compassion, we will end up clearing out our anger, our resentment, toward the other person. That means we need to look at our anger.

To do that, first look at what is behind your anger. Usually, it is hurt, betrayal. Allow yourself to acknowledge and feel those feelings. Remember, what we resist, persists, so we want to shine light on our anger, our resentment. Next, we always want to so a self-appraisal to see if we did anything to start the dispute, the situation about which we are angry.

If we find we did do or say something to which the other person is reacting like any normal person would, then we need to take responsibility for that and apologize, at the same time letting go of the anger. We need to own our behavior, honestly and completely.

If we didn’t do something to provoke the other person, then we need to look with the eyes of compassion. So, how do we do that? We acknowledge the difficulty the other person is experiencing, or has experienced in their life that leads them to behave as they do, and we have sympathy, empathy, for them. To do this, we think of what we would feel like if we had experienced what the other did or does experience.

Once we have compassion for another, we can move toward forgiveness. As we forgive, it is easier and easier to expand our compassion toward them, and we are able to forgive more and more completely. The depth of the hurt will dictate the length of time this process takes, with more hurt leading to more time needing to forgive.

This is all a process and we would do well to have compassion for ourselves as we move through it all.

In what way do you try to show your compassion toward another or yourself? Leave a comment and let us know.

I’d like to let you know that, if you like what I blog about, then you may be interested in a support group I am starting. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to find peace-of-mind, want to find a way through any emotional turmoil, then I invite you to join me. There are two groups. One meets every 2nd and 4th Monday from 10 am to 11 am in San Rafael, in Marin. The second group meets every 2nd and 4th Thursday from 1:30 to 2: 30 pm, also in SanRafael. Both groups will run for three months.

We will cover how to identify the gates of your heart, learn the keys to unlock these gates, and understand how to push the gates open. In month one, we will deal with how to do a self-appraisal. Month two will be spent on getting through grief, and month three will deal with forgiveness so we can find peace.

If you are interested, call me to get more information or to register. The groups will start in February, 2013. Space is limited to twelve people per group. 415-883-8325. 

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How to Develop Tolerance

Good morning, all! Once again, the morning got away from me yesterday and I had to leave for work for the day before I blogged. I really don’t like people coming to my site to find my blogs and not finding a new each day. Yet, there is a wealth of information to keep visitors busy. 🙂

How to develop tolerance was searched for three times yesterday and today, so I thought I’d write my thoughts on that. The definition in Webster that fits my belief of tolerance is to recognize and respect another’s ideas or beliefs without sharing them. The definition goes on to say, to bear or put up with something that is not especially liked.

I suppose tolerance boils down to one saying that is a good motto to follow, and that is, “live and let live.” If we pay attention to our own affairs, and allow others to pay attention to theirs, we are that much closer to practicing tolerance. This assumes, of course, that the other is not being a harm to themselves or others. When they are being harmful, we do not tolerate that behavior or action.

If we dislike what someone believes in or is saying, then we can remove ourselves from the situation. What if we can’t? For example, I disliked the verbal abuse I was enduring as handed out by my now ex-husband. I couldn’t leave at the time. I wasn’t strong enough emotionally. Yet, it was a choice to stay in the marriage. And, I tolerated the abuse.

In retrospect, I see that I could have made good on my threat to leave much sooner than I did. I also could have employed lots of self-talk while being verbally put down, by building myself up, telling myself what he was saying were lies, that what he was saying was a reflection of his insecurities. Much easier said than done!

In the end, when we have the strength to do so, we can remove ourselves from the vicinity of someone whose opinion and actions we do not like and thus, tolerate them, while still taking care of ourselves. We allow them to be themselves while, at the same time, we respect and tolerate our own views and opinions.

Tolerance has to do with ourselves, also. We need to learn to tolerate our foibles and failings, accept them, and then move forward to correct them. We have the power to change ourselves and our behaviors, actions, and beliefs, and we can exercise that power.

When we act in such a manner, we end up finding peace-of-mind. How do you tolerate those people in your life that you find disagreeable? Have you tried any of the things I’ve suggested here? How did it work for you? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Fear of Emotional Sobriety

Good morning, all. I hope this day is a productive one for each of you. I actually started this two days ago, and the days got away from me, so I’ll try again…

I liked it that “fear of sobriety” was searched for twice, as I had been thinking of writing about whether sobriety was for you. Fear of sobriety fits quite nicely into that question. Before we dive into it though, I want to redefine the way I will now be looking at sobriety, which is what led me to add “emotional” to “sobriety.”

Sobriety refers to more than just abstaining from substances. It also refers to behaviors, and this is what I wish to focus on from here on in when I blog. I would like to define it as the act of developing more awareness – of self, others, and surroundings – as well as becoming more enlightened spiritually. It is about going through the gates of your heart, the gates of your life.

Webs of Fear

Using this definition, let’s look at fear now. Like a fly or some other insect, we each can get stuck in the webs of fear. My fear was not only about leaving behind the substances, it was also about changing my thoughts and behaviors as well. In fact, I didn’t even know that if I became more aware of myself and others, I would find peace-of-mind. And isn’t peace our goal? Don’t we all wish for peace-of-mind?

I was slow to wake up to self-awareness and especially awareness of others, as I was so emotionally damaged. It took doing a lot of work on myself to even identify what I was feeling! I was afraid to look at myself… fearful that I would find a nobody, a worthless person with no merit.

What I have found instead over the years is a highly compassionate and caring person with lots of gifts and talents. I discovered many strengths and character traits that I didn’t even know I had! Today, I can recognize and celebrate these.

It works that way when we do our emotional work, when we take a look at who we are at our core. It is scary, and the reward is immense peace that is gained. It grows on us. We become more self-aware, and thus, develop more sobriety. Also, as we become more self-aware, we become able to be more aware of others… their needs, their desires, and we become able to treat others with respect, kindness, and tolerance.

Said another way, when we become more self-aware, we are able to show more love to ourselves and to others. We also become enlightened in spiritual principles, such as gratitude and compassion. The end result of all of this? Sobriety in our behavior and more peace-of-mind.

Will you walk through the gates of your heart to more self-awareness, awareness of others, and the ability to practice spiritual principles? Or, will you continue to allow the fear of looking at yourself keep you from emotional sobriety? The choice is yours. Which will you make? Leave a comment and let us know. : )

 

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