Developing Tolerance For Ourselves and Others

 

Good morning. I find it interesting that, having blogged about judgment, other experiences happened that got me to look at the way I judge things. It’s as if it shows up everywhere as a means to look at my thoughts and judgments, and to heal from them, to ask for help to correct them.

For example, after my last blog, I was on hold on the phone for a long time and there was music playing. I noticed that I was judging it… “this is too chaotic and irritating,” or, “this is mellow and soothing.” It was that continual litany of judgments I referred to in my last post. I do this when I am around people, also. A continual assessment of what I like or dislike. Do you do this?

Practice of Tolerance

At first I was appalled, and then I had to smile, realizing that I can just notice my thoughts and say to myself that I don’t wish to be so judgmental. I have to, actually choose to, look at myself with tolerance. And that is today’s topic… tolerance. Certainly, I am a supporter of being tolerant of others, and especially of their differences, but I wish to focus on tolerance for ourselves.

There has to be a distinction between tolerance for bad behavior, i.e. hurting another or ourselves, and I don’t think we should tolerate that. But we can still look at bad behavior and say to ourselves we no longer wish to do that, and then ask for help from Source to dispel it.

I’m referring to just sitting with our thoughts and tolerating them, bringing ourselves to awareness for having negative thoughts, rather than beating ourselves up. I don’t think that solves anything other than making us feel badly about ourselves.

So the next time you find you are having thoughts or acting in a manner that disturbs you, take a minute to just reflect upon it, and offer yourself tolerance. Not excuses… just tolerance. Then ask for help to change that from the source that guides you, and see what happens.

 

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Absence of Moral Judgment

 

Why do we judge people so harshly for being who they are, if their actions and behaviors feed their spirit and are not harmful to themselves or others? Is it because we are afraid of them and their differences, and/or is it because we’re not feeliing okay about ourselves?

As it turns out, I am grateful to have become an alcoholic, because I was forced to learn how to assess myself pretty honestly. I did not feel good about myself. Lots of assessment and healing later, I began to see how my negative thoughts about others were very morally judgmental, in response to my fear and esteem issues.

It was through the process of self-appraisal that, as I began to feel better about who I was and took responsibility for my thoughts, the less I handed out moral judgment, the less I denigrated their soul. So maybe the more we love ourselves, the less we judge others negatively.

I notice a whole litany of judgments running through my mind at any given moment, always judging another, as well as myself. First, I see myself noticing things about people and then judging them as safe to be around.

That is inate in all of us. It part of the automatic fight or flight mechanism – to continually assess our situation so we keep ourselves safe. We just do this, it just happens. It’s unconscious much of the time.

Yet, for me, the judgment takes on a tone of morality, sometimes indignantly, because I’ve continued my assessment, which includes deciding whether someone is good or bad.

By having these thoughts about someone, do I not set up an energy that they can feel on a soul level and it denigrates them as a person? In sobriety, I decided I wanted to stop denigrating people in my mind.

Initially, it was a conscious thought to go to that place where I said to myself, “Isn’t that interesting what that person thinks or is doing?” and leave it at that.

***** This only applies, of course, when the person is not being harmful to himself or others. That’s a whole other discussion…

Now I more automatically notice when I am judging someone, and this allows me to stop doing it. I find myself really enjoying what that person has to offer.

I have experienced the most beautiful moments with people whom I used to judge as bad. What an awesome discovery that was, and continues to be, as a result of my attempts at learning to lessen and negate my moral judgment.

Wow. What a long way to peace that would go if, once assessing that we’re safe, we stopped with our moral judgment of others. Would it be a world  filled with more happiness and the experience of more wondrous moments?

And if we stopped with the moral judgment of ourselves, would we each experience more happiness within, leading to our inner peace?

 

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The Process of Forgiveness

Thank you, Sherry Gaba, for your wonderful post. We had a lot of veiwers reading it.

Today, I wish to continue with the topics in the book, which brings us to forgiveness. This photo is entitled Tiers of Forgiveness, because, in my experience, forgiving is a process that occurs over time, in layers. It could be referred to as the process of forgiveness.

Sherry’s post is a good lead-in to forgiveness, as the ability to forgive is an ideal end- point when we deal with resentment. When we have identified the object of our resentment and have worked through it, we are ready to gain peace through forgiveness – peace with ourselves and, hopefully, peace with the other person(s). There is great freedom in forgiveness.

So, we have identified the person with whom we have a resentment, and we begin the process of looking at ourselves – our behavior and actions, our words and thoughts, and we accept responsibility for these. By that, I mean we hold ourselves accountable, make any amends necessary, which includes to ourselves, if we have treated ourselves badly. We “own up” to our bad behavior and compliment ourselves on the good.

It has been my experience that when I do such an appraisal, I see that, often, I have done the very thing for which I am angry at another. How can I be angry at someone, when I have done the very thing that brings me anger? I soften, recognizing our humanness, our woundedness, and I feel compassion, both for myself and the person I resented. Suddenly, the resentment has diminished. Done over time, this method is the process of forgiveness and can lead to peace. At least, that is what I have experienced.

Deciding to forgive is is a difficult decision to make. For me, it meant backing down from that stance which allowed me to be self-righteous, and, frankly, to play the victim. I believe I played that role in an effort to hurt and perhaps punish, the person I felt had wronged me. I find that I no longer need that role, and, again, life has been freer, and I have enjoyed a closer relationship with those I forgave.

If you went through the process of forgiveness, what improvements have you seen in your relations with others? Have you experienced peace as a result of forgiveness?

 

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The Key of Willingness

Key of Willingness

Willingness. The key of willingness. It is the key to all else. It allows us to practice humility, openness of heart and mind, as well as honesty. It is how one gives themselves the permission to open up to all that is around and in them.

When I feel willing, I feel it in my body. There is a light, airy feeling at my core. Emotionally, I am excited to hear what another will say. I feel relief at being honest with myself and others around me, so I don’t spend the energy hiding who I am. I feel at home, as my heart opens. All I have to do is make the decision to be willing.

Once I make the decision to be willing, the other things just seem to fall into place. I learned to be willing during the course of becoming sober. Initially, I had to be willing to go to any length to get sober. I was so beaten down, that was not hard to decide to do. After making the decision, I seemed to be graced with the ability to become humble, honest and open. A whole new world of beauty and peace unfolded.

Make the decision to become willing to open your mind and heart to one new thing today. What did you experience when you did this?

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Carolyn CJ Jones is the author and photographer of the book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing. More about the book can be seen above under “The Book,”  or in the videos on the sidebar. “About Me and My Work” above reveals more about her. Carolyn is now offering limited edition professional prints, either as prints, matted, or framed which can be viewed above. February’s limited edition print isVisions of Gratitude.

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Courage to Change

Spaces of Courage

It has been a long week of discouragement, and this morning, I popped awake, filled with hope and energy. I do not know why the change, and I am not questioning it; I am just being grateful and am acting upon it.

In the book, the prose that accompanies this image speaks of how we act with our pain: we repress it, drink it away, or turn to another to make it right. I, for one, did all those things. In sobriety, I learned a different way, a way of finding courage to turn to a higher power. That is what the prose in the book talks about… turning to that power for comfort and relief from emotional pain and turmoil, and finding the courage to do so.

It is this courage of which I wrote to which I turned during my days of discouragement and inability to act. It takes courage to face our emotional pain, to take it out and look at it, to feel it. It takes courage to turn our pain over to a higher power, letting go of it in order that we may be helped to find relief. In these past few days, it is that courage to which I turned, in which I reveled.

Persevering with courage has led me to relief. How do you get relief from emotional pain? Do you call upon courage to change?

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Carolyn CJ Jones is the author and photographer of the book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing. This book chronicles her journey in recovery from the depths of despair to joy and inner peace. The book can be purchased on this website. In addition, Carolyn will soon announce her newest line… limited edition photographs of images from the book, in print, matted print, and matted/framed print form. Watch this site for details.

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Happiness Is A Choice – Part 2

I missed the tomorrow to which I referred in my last post, and now it is today. A good day for explanation.

I wonder if we, after experiencing any situation in which we are the object of abuse or trauma, are relagated to playing the victim for our lifetime. It has been my experience that that is not necessary. What I have found as necessary is taking responsibility for my inner world and that means looking at it -learning about the affects trauma xyz victims experience, and trying to find ways to heal from it all.

What was necessary for me was to heal the wounds of hurt, betrayal, and anger from the original trauma. This was quite difficult to feel, but it became very necessary as part of my becoming sober. I did a lot of reading – Claudia Black was best for me: there’s also John Bradshaw, Alice Miller.

From these people were suggestions about how to recover. I followed their suggestions, continued with my sobriety, and sought counseling. I wrote voraciously about my feelings. It was still all blaming until I looked at how I had treated my ex-husband. Now there’s where I saw that I was repeating behaviors I had endured earlier in life. I was doing the very thing that had been done to me.

Ah, a golden nugget of information. With that information came the realization that I said those things because I felt horrible about myself; perhaps the perpetrators years ago had felt badly about themselves, also. It didn’t excuse the behavior and actions, yet it allowed me to have compassion for them, for us both. From that compassion sprang forgiveness, given more time.

After forgiveness, came the ability to be happy and peaceful within. That has led to great joy for me. And the key was for me to take responsibility for my interior world.

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Do You Have Trouble Accepting What Is?

Path of Acceptance

Accepting what is… do you resist it, fight against it? I did for most of my life. It’s only been in sobriety, and years of it, that I have learned to accept life on life’s terms. And I now accept things peacefully, without angst. My energy is then free to take any action I need to take.

There is a different quality between accepting what is and resigning one’s self to a situation. The latter has the makings of despair, hopelessness, and powerlessness. It is fraught with emotion, while the former allows peace of mind to prevail. It allows one to do some soul-searching, determining one’s part in an affair.

When we accept what is, we are opening ourselves up to grace. We are opening ourselves up to change, perhaps. It can be exciting, bringing opportunity that wouldn’t exist otherwise. When we accept something exactly the way it is, it gives us the power to look at any action that may be needed and it allows us presence of mind to take that action.

We demonstrate trust and faith as we realize things are just as they are intended to be at any given moment. This brings us peace. Only when we accept what is does the way become clear to make change. And, it is less tiring when we accept.

Does acceptance mean we like something? No, not necessarily. We can be vehemently opposed to something, yet, we recognize it as being “what is” in the moment. Then we can work with it.

In what ways do you resist accepting “what is” in your life?

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Author statement: It is my intent in bringing you this blog, to acquaint you with the topics in my book. I present them in the blog in the same order in which they appear in the book. The sequence of topics reflects my own healing journey in sobriety, from deep despair and feeling worthless, to joy and peace. I hope you find in these pages that which you seek.

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Feeling Hopelessness Change to Hope

Ray of Hope

ray of hopeA ray of light across the bars of my being lights my way, instills hope in my heart.”

Hope- An expectation that a desire will be fulfilled. A wish, a dream, a thought, an idea, a creative concept, a prayer, a gratitude for that which has not yet happened. In sobriety, I developed such a habit that delivered me to better understand myself as a new being, unfettered by the chains of continual self-doubt manifested by my drinking. I became a new, positive being that integrated hope in my life as a necessary component…

Hope is faith in Source, or God, the expectation that He exists and cherishes my existence as much as I cherish His. Hope is that which allows me to fulfill the desire to create and allows God to guide my path along the way. Hope is waking up in the morning, stretching to see the dawn of day and having the expectation that God will fulfill the day with His presence around me.

It was not always this way for me. For many years into sobriety, I dealt with despair, sorrow, and hopelessness. It got to the point that I prayed to die, as I could not stand the pain any longer. Then one day, everything changed.

I was talking to a man, sober for 10 years, who was distraught over old childhood issues. He described feelings similar to those with which I had been dealing, feelings for which I had been doing a lot of healing work by reading and undergoing therapy. I relayed to him all that I had learned in my search for peace of mind.

He was so appreciative that he cried. I was humbled that my information had been useful to him. As I left and walked to my car, I was overwhelmed and began to cry. I began to realize that perhaps all of the experiences in my life with which I had struggled have been for the purpose of helping another heal from their wounds.

I began to feel that all the experiences of pain that I had endured were for the purpose of me healing and then for sharing how I have healed with those who approach me. In essence, it became about me telling my story. In an instant, I had hope about my life’s purpose and about myself. There was a reason for my pain. I asked God to ignore my prayers to die. Since that day, I have been telling my story in the hopes that it will be useful to another. That is one of the things which prompted this blog. Since that experience, I have been graced with hope every day.

How do you experience hope in your life? Or, are you dealing with hopelessness. I welcome your thoughts.

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How to Gain Compassion

Fields of Compassion

fields of compassionmeAfter living sober for a while, I was able to develop compassion, both for others and for myself. This compassion eventually led me to forgiveness. There were two things I learned that allowed me to develop compassion.

First, I realized that everyone does the best they can at any given moment with the tools that they have. It softened my heart when I learned this.

Second, I noticed upon inventory of myself that I did the very same things that annoyed me when others did them. I was getting angry about these things. It made me smile when I realized that we’re not so different after all.

After realizing these things, I became able to begin the forgiveness process.

The use of “fields” in relation to compassion in the title made me think of how we need to open our arms wide to embrace fields of humans who are needing our tender compassion.

I am including today the prose that goes with Fields of Compassion in the book. I wrote it one day after experiencing this very thing at a stop light in Denver. I pulled over in my van and just wept. Then I wrote this in my journal. It was 2003, before I had taken the image…

“A man stands on the corner with his sign, Please, could you spare a quarter? Need a job. Our eyes meet. I see hesitancy, uncertainty, beseeching. Does he feel fear, shame, desperation, despair?

His bike sits at the corner, its half-gone seat duct-taped to hold it together. A bedroll lies in a basket, strapped to the handlebars. I feel compassion for his plight.

I do not know how to offer acknowledgment or compassion to this man who, as we all do, struggles to make it through, doing what he can to get by.

I look away and tears begin to flow – for his fragility, for my fragility, for humankind’s fragility. And I cry for the lack of compassion we show one another… and ourselves.

More tears flow for all of us who try, day by day, minute by minute, to survive.”

What has brought you to compassion? Share in a comment.

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Learn to Live with Gentleness

bed of gentle“Bed of Gentleness”

“Oh, could we not treat ourselves with great gentleness as we go through life learning, growing, healing? Would we then be more gentle with others, too?”

I was prompted to write this as a plea to myself and others during the time I was doing my self-searching. I began to notice the harshness of the people around me. At the grocery store, for example,  I noticed parents speaking to their children roughly, with nasty words. No gentleness. I noticed wives, speaking to their husbands with disdain. No gentleness.

Although I was able to identify a lack of gentleness in interactions around me, it took me several years into sobriety to see that I was treating myself the very same way that the parent treated their child in the grocery store – harshly, with nasty words. I was able to see the lack of gentleness “out there,” but not “in here.”

I began to notice that the way I treated myself slowed down my healing and growing processes. If I’m healing from something which wounded me, for example, being harsh with or belittling myself, etc., does not help me as I try to heal from the original wound. That is just heaping more abuse upon the experience, which hinders the healing process.

If I talk to myself gently, however, it promotes the learning and growing. I feel more safe inside myself. I have recently learned to speak gently from within. It took much practice. I had to consciously think about it, remind myself, catch the times I was talking badly to myself. Over time, good self-talk is gradually replacing bad.

Why all this talk of myself? Isn’t that just a bit self-absorbed? Ah, but you see, I have found on my journey that the more gentle I am with myself, the more gentle I am with you. The more I love myself, the more I can love you. Isn’t that what this is all about, after all?

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