Treating Ourselves with Gentleness

As we move forward in the book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, our next topic is gentleness. Remember, we are trying to stay sober and are working our way to inner peace. Gentleness is very important as we work toward these goals.

Bed of Gentleness

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?”

What do I mean by gentleness? I mean we do not beat ourselves up or reproach ourselves for what we find when we do our self performance appraisal. Instead, we see ourselves as human beings who are fallible, who have a dark side.

Gentleness is not an excuse to pardon our hurtful words and actions, however, and, as discussed yesterday, we make amends to those we have hurt. That includes making amends to ourselves.

Instead, we talk gently to ourselves, with kind and understanding words. Once we are able to do this, our gentleness will spill over into our dealings with others, and we will be gentle with them as well.

When we are gentle, we will find ourselves able to look at our emotional pain in a different light. We will be less inclined to blame ourselves or others, perhaps, because we are looking with eyes that are not as harsh.

Take some time today and reflect upon how you speak to yourself and others. Ask yourself if your words and actions are filled with gentleness. If they are not, then try to adopt that task for the day. I think you will find it easier to look at yourself when you are gentle.


Have You Found Inner Peace?

Promise of Peace brings us to the conclusion of the book. And I quietly wonder if you have found inner peace, any at all, by going through the book with me this last 42 or so days. I really hope you have…

Promise of Peace

Promise of Peace

Peace. How do you know peace when it finds you? For me, it is the all-inclusion of everything we have been talking about into my senses, seeing with the eyes of my heart, and feeling a great deal of love for all beings on this Earth.

It is promised to us, if we go through the process that is defined in my book, because in doing so, we learn to love deeply. There is no desire to be in conflict with others.  When really in-tune, that includes inner conflict as well.

Does that mean we go through life in this glow? Hardly. That doesn’t happen because we’re human beings and, as such, are a caring and feeling species. Given the ever-constant changes in our lives from day-to-day, and the fact that we react with feelings and emotions, we slip temporarily from that space of centeredness and peace. 

So, what is there to do when this happens? Lament the loss of our peaceful existence. even if it was only for five minutes? No, we merely start in by looking at the situation, feeling our feelings, examining our response to situations that have arisen.

Case in point, I am in the middle of something which has the potential to affect how I conduct my life in the future, and I was stunned to realize I was playing the victim role! Wow! I thought I was past that, but it showed up very subtly. So, I am in the process of doing more self-appraising to see what is going on with me that puts me in that mindset.

At the same time, I am feeding myself positive affirmations. These tasks equate to ” taking action,” as we discussed in previous posts. Slowly, I am becoming able to see glimpses of my terror over how this new information could affect my future. How much will I get out from behind that terror to affect my own future? That is the key.

We can affect our own future by the actions we take today, in this moment. What do we do with the fear? We can recognize and feel it, acknowledge that it exists,  then walk away from it and take action, and, as needed, allow a glimpse of it again later.

We repeat this again and again until our fear subsides. I believe these issues get raised for us, so that we can take a look at core beliefs, and to heal from the destructive ones. While we do this, we remember to be gentle, kind, and tolerant with ourselves and the others around us.  And the result is, we find our center again. We find that peace again.

We even can go to it among the turmoil by distracting ourselves with a favored and cherished activity, one in which you get lost. Your peace will return as a reprieve for what you will again visit to sort out. That’s how it works for me. Maybe it will work for you, too.


Improving Your Communication Skills

“If we as individuals cannot speak to each other, how, then, can we as nations achieve peace?”

Such is the verse for our topic today, improving your communication skills.

Let me be clear about the fact that I am not a communications expert, but I do observe people and their communication, and I do know what prevents me from communicating with others.

What I observe is a lot of bickering, bullying, and putting others down. Why do we do that to each other? Why can we not speak with gentleness and kindness to others?

I think of the reasons that I do not communicate well to another and it is usually when I am feeling low, or “less than” about myself, or when I am very shy. I retreat inside, unable to come out and participate in dialogue.

I am talking about the kind of dialogue where each party is free to express their feelings or thoughts without fear of ridicule or belittlement. How can we, as listeners, be active participants?

First of all, we can show respect for another as they are talking to us, remembering that each person is unique and worthy of our respect. Remember, we are focusing on cultivating differences between us and others.

Secondly, we can show tolerance for that person, allowing them to have their own opinion, even if it differs from ours. Remember, just because they say something of worth, it does not detract from our value.

Third, we can show kindness and gentleness as we set about talking to others. Remember, we each just want to be acknowledged for who and what we are, so we can pay attention to those around us.

Fourth, have compassion for another as they trudge with purpose through their life. Remember, show ourselves compassion also, for the frightened people we may be when it comes to approaching others and talking.

With respect, tolerance, kindness, gentleness, and compassion, we can engage in dialogue with others, allowing ourselves to show that tender side of ourselves. When we practice these things, we can also listen well, which is the other part of communication. Remember, listen to what others are saying and hear with your heart.

How do you engage in communication with others? Do you need a brush-up on your communication skills? Do you do all the talking, or do you allow room for others to talk? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.



Is Your Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

This morning, I had the opportunity to reflect upon whether my glass is half empty or half full. Here’s what happened. Oh. First, let me explain that I am deviating from the topics in the book for my second post yesterday and today’s post… I will resume the book topics tomorrow.

Yesterday’s second post was an exercise in a blogging class I was taking, and this morning’s is something that came to mind. I was sitting on my enclosed-in porch, as is my wont to do in the morning, drinking coffee and watching the sun rise, playing shadows of bushes upon the house next to mine.

I was taking the opportunity to reflect upon the blogging class I took this past weekend. Specifically, I was thinking about how I rated the class with a thumbs-up of 8, instead of a full thumbs-up of 10. When asked by the presenters why that rating and not a 10, I replied that I already knew much of the information that was presented.

Glass Half Empty of Half FullIt’s interesting I responded in that way, as a lot of what I DID learn was new to me, and very valuable. I was rudely awakened to the fact that I looked at the experience as my glass half empty, instead of half full. Embarrassing to admit, but a valuable lesson for me to examine further, so I thought it beneficial to share it with you.

I was modeled the attitude of judgment about everything and everyone when I was growing up, and the judgment was always negative. I don’t say this to give an excuse, but to allow you to see where my default mode came from. It’s simply a fact.

So, when asked about my thoughts about the class, they automatically went to my glass being half empty, rather then half full. Darn! And I thought I had outgrown that! I certainly have worked on changing that perception over the years.

I believe this experience came up to show me how I still need to work on this issue of the glass half empty or half full. It gives me an opportunity to treat myself with gentleness and tolerance, rather than beat myself up about where I initially went… to the glass half empty.

Additionally, I get the chance to practice perseverance in changing my default to the glass half full.  Life is all about practice, after all… We can turn the other way and become defensive or intimidating about the way in which we see the world as half empty, or we can gently examine ourselves, ferreting out our negative responses when a positive one is just as easy to do.

How do you view the world? Is your glass half empty or half full? Do you have to remind yourself of this, or is your glass always half full? Do you view the world with a positive outlook?



Offer Acknowledgment to Others and Bring Peace to You Both

Perhaps the biggest service you can provide is to offer acknowledgment to others, and to yourself.

Acknowledgement of others

Acknowledgment of Others

“It is a never-ending circle of acknowledgment – of each other, and of ourselves.”

“We go within so we can reach out to others and we reach out to others so we can go within.”

We just need to be seen, to be noticed by those around us. We need to matter to each other, and to ourselves.”

“We do not need to do this alone. We need to help each other.”

Such is the verse that goes with this photograph. The photo shows how it’s never-ending, always repeating. Our backs are curled away from another, so we can reach within to gather strength to give to others.

Then, we are curled toward another, so we can offer acknowledgment to the other, letting them know that we see their value as a human being. In so doing, we feel good inside, feel good about ourselves.

Acknowledgment to another is as simple as you offering a smile, a nod of the head. We all just want to be noticed by you, as the verse says. It is so simple, so easy, and when you do it, it promotes peace in the world around you. It makes you feel good inside.

To offer acknowledgment to ourselves, to yourself, is more difficult sometimes. For example, you may not give acknowledgment to your feelings, especially ones of hurt. You tell yourself to “get over it,” instead of holding yourself tenderly and gently, showing yourself compassion.

When you do these things for yourself, that’s when you really get over it, because your soul is comforted and it can heal from hurts. To acknowledge your hurts is to show your soul that you, too, matter as a human being.

Perhaps it is fear which prevents you from acknowledging another. Or guilt. In the case of a homeless person on the corner, you may not wish to offer money. So you look away, you avoid eye contact. But that says to them that they are not of value to you.

Perhaps they are not, and yet, they are a fellow human being, just trying to make it through. A smile will brighten up their day. When you offer that acknowledgment to them, you will feel your heart swell with goodness.

In similar fashion, when you offer acknowledgment to your feelings, your heart swells with goodness. You feel you matter to yourself, that you are important. 

Go into your day and offer acknowledgment to others and to yourself, and feel the peace it brings you. Feel that goodness in your heart. Then, go within yourself to gather strength and gentleness to do it again, for the next person that you encounter. Tell me, doesn’t doing these things feel good inside; don’t you feel peace? 




Inspirational Quotes About Life and Gentleness

Today I am going to give you what I hope to be inspirational quotes about life that you can use when it comes to being gentle. It is from the book and gentleness is the next topic.

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 believe one of the best things you can do for yourself while you are changing and traveling on your journey is to be gentle with yourself. It does no good to beat yourself up and it affects your spirit and soul adversely.

I used to say to myself “I should…” a lot. I should have done this, I should have done that. Over time, I have discovered that “should” is a shaming word and makes me feel ashamed of myself every time I say it. When I say it to someone else, it only shames them.

Instead, I have consciously, over time, replaced the word “should” with “could,” or “would.” I could have done this, I wish I would have done that… See the difference and how you feel it in your gut?

This is one major way you can be more gentle with yourself. Another way is to see yourself with compassion for your actions and desires to have done something differently. After all, you do the best that you know how at each given moment. If you would have known a better way, you would have done it differently.

I think when you talk to yourself with gentleness, it flows out into the world and you begin to talk to others and treat them with more gentleness, also. Encourage yourself, praise yourself for a job well done, do anything but beat yourself up. Remember, you can always apologize for something you did that was hurtful to another.

Try treating yourself with more gentleness and see how that feels for you. Learn to stop using the “should” word, and see if you feel more gentleness for yourself.

I hope this post presented some inspirational quotes about life and gentleness that you can use to your benefit. Have a good day.




How to Find Peace with an Open Heart

As we move along in the book, one topic at a time, we come to how to find peace with an open heart. In the book, it’s called Openness of Heart.

Openness of Heart

The verse talks about how we go through life with a heart that is closed to life’s pains to protect our heart. The verse continues with, “If we allow our hearts to open, we will see things in a different light.”

“We will grow through the barriers of our heart and be able to fully experience the richness of life.” And we – you – find peace.

Along with an open heart comes an open mind. You must develop an open heart and an open mind to find peace.

How does this work? How do you come to have an open heart and mind?

You make a choice and you decide to see things in a different light. You decide to see the world and the people around you with more kindness, gentleness, and tolerance.

You begin to delight in people and their differences by opening your heart to them. Perfect example… Last weekend I was in a holiday craft show at the mobile home park where I live. The woman across the aisle from me had a table with lots of stuffed bears, around which she had placed small scarves she had knitted. There were other objects, as well.

Now, I’m not much iinto stuffed bears and the like, but I decided to look upon the wares at her table, and to notice her and them with an open heart. What I had the gift to observe was this woman, lovingly placing these scarves around the bears’ necks, then arranging and rearranging the bears and other items on her table.

The expression on her face was one of pure focus, pure love, and I was able to be a witness to that, simply by opening my heart to her and her product. It was priceless to watch her… My heart soared.

When you close your heart and mind to others, you miss out on priceless moments such as these. In fact, you miss out on peace in your soul. So, how do you find peace with an open heart and mind?

As I said, you make the decision to see with eyes of gentleness. You consciously decide you will be open-minded about what you encounter, that you will delight in someone’s differences. You consciously decide to not be fearful of their differences. Then, you view another with the eyes of the soul, viewing them as another child of the Universe, just like you.

You allow them to be different and praise the differences in them, knowing that the differences you witness add great richness to your life. You recognize that, to some, you and your expression of who you are will seem strange, and you smile at yourself when you think this, allowing you to be yourself with your strange habits. When you can do these things, you will experience peace of mind and openness of heart.

How do you open your heart, your mind, or, do you go about life with your heart and mind closed? Wouldn’t you like to experience seeing life with the eyes of your soul, being more gentle, kind, and tolerant? Try it. You’ll enjoy the feeling.





Inspirational Sayings About Overcoming Insecurity and Low Self-Esteem

Overcoming insecurity and low-self esteem is a process. It takes conscious, focused, and consistent attention, especially if we have an extra-low esteem or very high insecurity. I believe the answer lies in learning to accept ourselves, just as we are. Hence, the title of the photo on the right, which is Acceptance of Self.

First, we need to be aware of how we currently see ourselves. We can ask ourselves questions about our esteem, our confidence. If we think of ourselves as “less than” others, then we are dealing with a low self-esteem and insecurity. We accept that and give compassion and soothing to ourselves. We treat ourselves with gentleness as we explore these feelings.

We understand that we are human and we embrace that. Not as an excuse for poor behavior, actions, or thoughts, but, instead, to allow ourselves to make mistakes, to be human, to have failings.

When we have erred, we can examine the situation and our part in it. Then we can apologize to the other, or ourselves, and we change our behavior. This action is our responsibility and, when performed, helps us feel better about ourselves, merely because we are being responsible for things we did that we didn’t like.

Another way to boost our esteem and lessen our insecurities is to do things for others. Sometimes, that’s as simple as smiling at someone as we pass, saying hello. It could be offering help to one in need, whether a stranger or someone we know. We take responsibility for being useful to others. This works well to increase esteem. It is said that if you want esteem, do esteem-able acts.

These are the things I have done that have allowed me to better my self-image and esteem, both of which were shattered when I came to sobriety. It has taken years, and I committed to the process which I have outlined. The result was tested last week in Allen, Texas, while at a signing event for my book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing.

I was well-received and people were giving me compliments right and left. In days before I felt comfortable with myself and who I am, I would have pushed away those words, discounted them, with sarcastic or humorous responses to another’s compliment. Now that I feel positive regard for myself, I was able to humbly accept what was coming my way, taking it in with gratitude and joy, knowiing that my message of hope had been heard. That made me feel good about myself, which, in turn, lowered my insecurity.

If you are dealing with overcoming insecurity and low self-esteem, try what I have described. You may find it helpful. Just remember that it is a process, one which takes time and persistence. I wish you well.




Can You Look at Yourself with Gentleness

Todays’ topic is gentleness, which is reflected in this photo titled  Bed of Gentleness, as in bed of ivy. This appears in the book right after Search of Self for a very specific reason.

It has been my experience that when we look at ourselves, do a personal inventory, we often then turn around and beat ourselves up for who we are, for what we said or did, or for mistakes we have made.

That response is incompatible with and defeats what we find when we do that self-appraisal. For example, we identify the areas which could use some improvement. If we are doing a comprehensive inventory, we will have also uncovered many good things about ourselves as well. So, when we beat ourselves up or have remorse about ourselves, our behaviors, we are negating our positive side.

Rather, we might  look upon ourselves with some tender and gentle thoughts. In my experience, when I do this, it leads me to compassion because I recognize my humanness. When we see with compassion, we can smile and soothe ourselves. And, it just automatically translates into gentleness. Once we are gentle with ourselves as we learn, grow, and heal, we can be gentle with others, and isn’t that the name of the game?


Carolyn CJ Jones is the author, photographer, and publisher of the book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing. Using photographs of wrought-iron gates and uplifting prose, this book chronicles Carolyn’s own personal healing journey that occurred in sobriety, from the depths of despair and praying to die, to joy and inner peace. The book is available on this site, or through Amazon. Additionally, the bookstores which carry the book are listed on this site.

Also on this site is one selected image each month to be printed as a limited edition. This can be ordered as a print, a matted print, or matted and framed.




How to Deal With Self-Doubt

Shadows of Doubt

I am mired again in the shadows of my dount, my fear.

I circle and circle and circle around the stones of my heart, caged, unable to pass through to the place where my heart is bathed in light.

When we doubt ourselves, our actions, and our beliefs about who we are, we erode our self-esteem, our self-confidence, and our very soul. If we know that doubting ourselves leads to these things, why do we do it?

Perhaps it is a reflection, an indicator, of our state of self-worth, our value to self and to the world. With low esteem and confidence levels, we are not stable enough, not strong enough, in who we are to ward off self-doubt. It erodes our very being even further. We question everything we do, perhaps always looking to others for validation rather than to ourselves, or to a power greater than ourselves.

How do we conquer this, this insidious doubt?  Perhaps it begins with a self-appraisal in which we identity the ways in which we doubt ourselves. If we can identify that, we then have a change to correct or change it. In doing the self-searching, it is necessary to be really honest with ourselves, to admit that the way we fell about ourselves is not honest. For if we were honest, we would see that we are delightful beings, fine just the way we are. We are enough as we are.

If, however, we see that we are doubting ourselves inappropriately, we can make the choice to change our beliefs. How do we do this? By recognizing and admitting each time we doubt, and examining if it is true. When we admit the doubt is false, then we consciously make the choice to change that doubt into a positive statement or affirmation about ourselves. Over time, with diligence, we begin to see our doubts diminish and our esteem and confidence rise. We begin to accept ourselves as we are, making changes when we feel it’s necessary. In this process, it is important to be kind, gentle, and compassionate with ourselves.

How do you deal with doubt when it arises? Do you see this method as being useful?