Living in Gratitude

Good morning, all! Today I would like to talk about gratitude – how to live with it every day, how it benefits us to do so. One of my images from my book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing is Visions of Gratitude, as seen here on the right.

Visions of Gratitude

The verse that accompanies this image is: “When I look with eyes that appreciate, everything around and within me is more pleasing, more beautiful.”

This has been my experience. The more I look around and appreciate all that I have, all that is in my life, the more pleasing life is in general. The more pleasant it is. The more grumbling I do about things, the more anger and dissatisfaction I feel. It’s my choice, and I like to feel good, so I choose looking with appreciation at all that I have.

We can all practice looking for the good in our lives, looking for things about which we are grateful. It starts from the moment we wake up… we can be grateful simply for waking up to have another day to live to our fullest, to experience life and all it presents.

Even if we are in the middle of hard times, we can be grateful that 1), we can feel the pain, because when we feel pain, we also feel joy when the pain clears, and 2), we can be grateful that from the difficult time, we will grow our spirit, our character.

When we express gratitude for all that we have, our demeanor is one of cheerfulness, of happiness. We are a joy and a pleasure to be around. We set a good example for others to show their gratitude.

Today, I am grateful for my home, my warmth, my kitty who is my companion, my health, my job… I am especially grateful to be an alcoholic because it led me to recovery and that led to healing that has occurred in my sobriety. Recovery has led to all the peace and happiness I have searched for all my life.

What are you grateful for today in your world? Leave a comment and share with us your joy and gratitude.

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The Benefits of Compassion

Good morning to you all! It is the wee hours of the morning and I just popped awake, so I got up. I’m armed with a cup of coffee in me, and am ready to write. : ) This morning’s search term I chose is compassion. Let’s see where that takes us.

Webster defines compassion as sorrow for the troubles of another coupled with the desire to help. It also defines it as having pity, and here I disagree. Pity is also defined as sorrow for another’s misfortunes, and goes on to say it implies a slight contempt because the object is regarded as weak or ignorant. I don’t think people want pity, especially because it implies ignorance or weakness, yet I believe compassion is desired by others when they are suffering.

It is possible to feel compassion for someone who is ill or experiencing difficult times. For example, I am currently care-taking a woman who is unable to be independent in her life, and I show her compassion. I think, “What if this were me? How would I like to be treated?” So I show her a mixture of kindness, gentleness, and patience – all components of compassion.

The benefit is a feeling that I have done something good for another, and that feels satisfying emotionally. It feeds my spirit, my soul. The benefit to the other person is that they feel nurtured, cared for and about.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of compassion is that it leads to forgiveness – of others and of ourselves. Let me explain how I discovered this. I spent 38 years angry and bitter about my up-bringing and the damage it did to my psyche. Then, through the process of my recovery in sobriety, I was lookinig at the relationship I had with my parents at the time, and I began to think about what they had endured in their lives.

What I realized is that they were abused themselves in harmful ways, and they were just repeating that behavior with me. When seen in this light, I began to feel sorrow for their troubles, their experiences, knowing how difficult the after-effects of abuse are. And they never learned to examine the feelings associated with their misfortunes. I began to feel compassion for them.

I re-visited that space of compassion many times, as I thought about the effect their up-bringing had on mine, and I found my anger and bitterness melting slowly away. Eventually, I realized I was feeling forgiveness for their behavior, knowing they knew no other way. That did not condone their actions and behaviors, of course, but forgiveness does not mean you condone anything that happened, it just means you pardon it.

In a similar fashion, we can feel compassion for ourselves over our difficulties, our misfortunes, and even our bad behavior. After-all, we knew no better or we would have done differently at that time. We were most likely wounded people ourselves. Instead of feeling pity or remorse, however, we can allow ourselves to feel compassion for our ignorance, our woundedness that led us to poor behavior.

We can feel compassion for the damaged person that we perhaps became through our experiences in life. Yet, that is not grounds for excuses over our behavior or actions. We feel compassion for ourselves, learn the lesson, and move forward in our life, resolving to not repeat what led us to compassion in the first place.

So, there you have what I believe to be the benefits of compassion, with forgiveness of others and ourselves high on the list. In what way do you show compassion to others, to yourself? Leave a comment and let us know.

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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.

 

 

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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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Do Your Resentments Serve A Positive Purpose?

Guest Post By: Sherry Gaba, Recovery Coach & Author

Please welcome Sherry Gaba, who has written the dynamite book, The Law of Sobriety.

Revenge, negativity, hatred, scorn are just a few of the emotions that an individual can be carrying around with them without even being aware of the impact they have on their day-to-day lives. Every person on the planet has had experiences that are less than pleasant, some experiences that could even be described as horrific and traumatic. A question that you need to ask yourself is what are you doing with these emotions that you are carrying around like chronic baggage?

Have You Faced Your Resentments?

When facing your resentments, have you ever taken the time to evaluate the exact purpose those resentments have in your life? Are your resentments living in your head rent-free? This is a popular saying in the program and it makes a great deal of sense. Every human being is given 24 hours in each day, no more and no less. Time is the one resource that we cannot get more of.  Are you investing emotional energy in things that will benefit you or are you investing emotional energy by carrying around negative resentments? When you take the time to evaluate your resentments you may see how your choices aided in the outcome of situations that resulted with resentments.

Take Responsibility

The Law of Sobriety tells us that we need to take responsibility for the choices that we made in the past and the choices we will make in the future. When examining specific resentments, maybe towards a past romantic partner, a parent, an old friend, you will see where choices you made create a level of accountability. This is not to say that horrific things that happened to you are your fault, but it does reinforce that you no longer need to live in the land of victim. There are tools that you can use to help examine specific resentments with the desire of moving past that negative emotion that doesn’t serve you.

A Tool For Healing

Journaling is a great way to document your journey of recovery and can be used to let go of resentments. In your journal write a letter to the individual that caused you to have resentment. In this letter write down how you experienced the situation, what you felt and how this experience affected you. Use as many specific and detailed descriptions as possible to paint a very clear picture. While writing this letter try to express your accountability for your actions during this experience. Close the letter with a sentiment of forgiveness, even if you don’t believe it at the time.

The act of writing this letter and reading it out loud if desired begins the process of letting that negative energy go, releasing it into the universe. Continue to read the letter over time and you will find that you begin to believe the words of forgiveness and it is at this point when the universe knows that you have finally released that negative resentment that was taking up space in your mind and in your heart. Remember that if you are experiencing emotions that are negative, these emotions don’t serve you in a positive way. If something doesn’t serve you in a positive manner, you must learn to release those negative emotions to make room for emotions that will serve you.

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Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Life and Recovery Coach on Celebrity Rehab on VH1 and author of The Law of Sobriety which uses the law of attraction to recover from any addictions. Sherry can be reached at sherry@sgabatherapy.com for coaching packages, therapy, teleseminars, workshops, or speaking engagements. www.thelawofsobriety.com or www.sgabatherapy.com.

 

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What Are Your Morals, Truth, and Integrity?

“Perhaps, rather than thinking I must make my morals, truth, and integrity match another’s, I can determine what resonates with my own heart. When it does, I have the strength of a pillar.”

What resonates with your heart, your soul? Do you have difficulty standing up for your morals, truths, and integrity?  If you are able to stand up for those things in yourself, I applaud you. Sometimes, it is not easy.

Sometimes, when we’re so unsure of ourselves, or have been so beaten down, we take on another’s truths and morals. For me, I did that because I was afraid to speak my own truths. Heck, for many years, I did not even know my own truths. It took me many years into sobriety to begin to know them.

We can know deep within what our truths are. Then, speaking up can be gentle and quiet, with knowingness on our part. We don’t have to flaunt them; we can just know that we stand strong within ourselves.

How do we learn what our truths and morals are? Sitting down with paper and pen is effective as one approach. Write down everything about yourself, all the things that you believe about yourself to be true. Be honest and don’t be afraid to give due recognition to those lovely and delightful things you do. With your list, review your points until you begin to recognize them in yourself, until they become second nature to you. You will identify those things that resonate in your heart. When you do this, you will be that much closer to peace within.

What are your morals, truth, and integrity? Do you know what they are?

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Life Is A Journey – Join The Journey of Life

What does it mean to join the journey of life? What is the journey anyway? I use that term to include the series of events and experiences that occur in our life as we go about living it, from day to day. In that definition is the inclusion of living a spiritually-based life, believing in some force greater than yourself that keeps the “ball” rolling.

For me, it also includes committing to a journey of sobriety, of living life according to principles of living without drinking, living a better life in my head, being a better person in the world. It involves adopting ways of treating myself and others, such as with tolerance, respect, and love. It embraces a life filled with behaviors such as forgiveness and compassion.

When I say join the journey of life, I refer to taking on the challenge to be involved in our lives… the leaves that have fallen, the leaves that are grown, and the buds yet to form. Life is a journey – climb the stairs and join it.

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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 is Visions of Gratitude.

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How To Show Compassion

Fields of Compassion

Each topic I discuss in my blog relates to the topics as they appear in my book. The prose for this image talks about seeing a homeless man on the corner and not knowing how to show compassion for his plight without giving money. Instead, I wanted to simply acknowledge him and show compassion because he is a fellow human being who is struggling.

“All it would take is a look, a smile, to let this man know that I care about him, feel his plight, want to help. I can offer a fellow human being a smile, a hand, and fill a vacant field with compassion.”

Compassion, defined as sorrow for the sufferings of another accompanied with a desire to help, seems all too often  lacking sometimes in today’s society. We are moving so fast that in our dealings with others, we don’t take the time to pay attention to those around us. We are largely “self” driven, looking out for ourselves and not considering others.

What does it mean to have compassion and how do we develop it? For me, I was two years into my sobriety and doing a self-appraisal as part of the process of recovery. In looking at my behavior when I was drunk, I realized I used to scream at my mate the exact same derogatory words that my father had yelled at me, wounding my soul. I knew how I was feeling when I said those things, knew I didn’t really mean them, and I realized this could have been true for my father as well.

Suddenly, I felt compassion for him. I felt badly for him, suspecting he was not feeling good about himself and his life when he said those words. I could identify with his pain. This led me to forgiveness of a long-time hurt and resentment. In fact, I discovered that many of the resentments I held were against others who had done the very same things I did in the course of being a human being. My heart softened to these people with this discovery and I was able to feel compassion.

It is important to state that, while compassion for others is desirable, so is compassion toward ourselves. Don’t forget to show compassion to yourself. This leads to a forgiveness of self for all our actual and perceived wrongs that we commit as part of beiing human. It allows us to cut ourselves some slack. This is not said, however, to excuse our bad behavior and the need to fix it.

How does one show compassion? It can be as simple as offering a smile of understanding, wishing that homeless person a good day even if we cannot help with money. It occurs with the words, “How can I help?” It happens when we get out of ourselves and consider others and their plight. It is the show of sincere sympathy and understanding.

How do you show compassion in your life?

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Welds of Honesty

Welds of Honesty“I look at the ways in which I treat myself and others. Can I allow myself and others to see what I find, to see who I truly am?

Perhaps, if I let go of the parts that do not serve me, I can weld my being with honesty. I can weld a secure and solid structure of great strength, on which I can build my Self.”

This is the prose which appears in the book with this image, Welds of Honesty. I wrote these words in my journal a few years before I saw this gate in Taos, New Mexico. I took the picture, only because I thought it had great character. It wasn’t like I was searching for a gate with welds… Later, the words and image just came together.

In my life, I have learned to be honest, to not steal, to own up to a mistake I’ve made. I have prided myself on my level of honesty. It was not until I entered recovery, however, that other forms of honesty were presented to me…. being honest with myself about who I am and being honest with others about who I am.

Boy, these concepts of honesty were foreign to me. The thought of looking at who I am was intimidating and scary, made me uncomfortable. I had spent the better part of my life trying to hide who I was, to be invisible. I certainly didn’t let you see who was inside, for fear of rejection or ridicule. I would please you at all cost to myself and, perhaps, even to you. Now I was being asked to look at honesty from a new perspective. I had to become willing…

What I have found on my journey, is that being honest about who I am is difficult. It has meant getting in touch with all the negative things I say to myself about myself. That evoked a lot of feelings I needed to examine. Then, it involved giving up those negative self-comments, the beliefs that I was a failure, not worthy. These thoughts are not honest about who I am.

Yet, even though detrimental to me, I have continued over the years with this thought process because it was familiar. Again, it has taken willingness to change my behavior, my thoughts. And it has involved a great deal of prayer. The reward is a sense of peace inside, an acceptance of myself and all my points, including the good ones, as well as the bad.

Once comfortable with who I am, I can be open with you about who I am. It’s been magic for me the way that works…

In what ways are you dishonest about who you are? How do you achieve a level of honesty?

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