Beliefnet
Lessons from a Recovering Doormat



Albert at Urban Monk invited me to participate in a writing group project about compassion called Spread the Love NOW! created by The Three MonksAlbert at Urban Monk, Wade of The Middle Way, and Kenton of Zen-Inspired Self Development. I love to write about compassion! I’ve found it to be the lubricant for a happy life. Instead of my road being rough with anger and frustration, being compassionate makes the way smoother.

I used to be an angry girl. Whenever someone did me wrong—grrrrrrrr! I complained to anyone who’d listen about what people had done to me. The anger kept me fuming instead of smiling. I saw some people in my life as bad, which in turn, attracted more people to complain about. Then I read a book by the Dalai Lama. It blew me away because his philosophy about compassion made so much sense.

When I read the book I was feeling anger and frustration toward Mike (not his real name!), a guy I’d been dating. We were friends for months before we crossed the line to more than friends. He couldn’t do enough for me. But when he got the flu, with high fever, and I offered to bring him some food (he literally had NONE in his apartment), he fervently refused to let me. I argued that I wanted to help him out. He got angry. And angrier, and then accused me of being a typical nagging woman.

All because I tried to convince him to let me drop off something for him to eat so he could recover and not take Vitamin C on an empty stomach!

He yelled more and more as I reminded him how he insisted on bringing me food and keeping me company after I had oral surgery the week before. Now I wanted to support him. I even offered to leave the food outside his door if he didn’t want to see me. The more I tried to convince him, the more he accused me of fooling him into thinking I was different than many women. In his eyes I was now a nag. It was so irrational.

We talked a few days later. At first it was fine, but I wanted him to understand the difference between a nag and a concerned friend. When I commented that it was a shame he misread my desire to help him, he went off on me again. More irrational accusations about how terrible I was for trying to help him. Yelling. Anger. I knew that Mike’s background included an abusive mother, two bitter divorces and cutting himself off from his whole family. He’d been badly burned by his last girlfriend.

Since I write about relationships I’d been aware that his issues could ruin what we had together. But calling me a nag for being concerned about the health of someone I cared about still seemed ridiculous!

I was furious with Mike for judging me so harshly. I wasn’t nagging, and I tried hard to make him understand that. But he didn’t budge. I was furious about his accusations and meanness. Reading about the Dalai Lama’s philosophy of compassion opened me to a higher level of handling people who push my buttons. He emphasizes seeking peacefulness through compassion to those who hurt you by understanding that people who hurt others are suffering more. They do awful things because of pain they’ve experienced. And they hurt themselves each time they hurt others.

Wow! I already figured that Mike was being so illogical because he was scared of being hurt again. In his effort to do what seemed like self-protection, he hurt me. Past experiences gave him a bad attitude about women so when I didn’t just accept his negating my offer, it felt like the nagging he’d experienced many times from women who’d hurt him. He couldn’t make the distinction between women who’d tried to control him and one who cared. And, he’d never learned to receive.

After I finished the book, I decided to call Mike. I accepted that he’d never see my way and wanted to get closure it in a peaceful way, with the compassion I’d just learned about.

Mike seemed happy to hear from me. I knew he liked me a lot. Maybe he thought we could just ignore his outbursts and move on. But I knew he’d always be a time bomb, waiting to go off if I tried to return his caring. After chatting a bit, I again said I felt bad that he attributed nasty motives to my offer, since there were none. He immediately began to rage. This time I didn’t defend myself or try to convince him. I just gently repeated over and over,

“I know that you’re hurting and can’t help responding like this. I have compassion for your pain.”

Mike didn’t touch that statement. He calmed down a little. I explained that I felt very sorry that he had so much pain from others and needed to inflict it on me. Like a roller coaster he went up and down with other accusations and mean spirited comments, then calmed as I repeated my words, softly. I rode along with my seat belt fastened. He seemed to get spurts of rage about my remaining calm. Mike tried to create drama and I wouldn’t let him. Yet he never—not once—attacked or challenged my compassionate words.

For the first time I was in complete control of anger! He blustered as I smiled and felt incredibly peaceful afterwards, with no anger left.

The compassion I felt made me feel calm. The more he went on irrationally, the more compassion I felt. I barely said anything else but those words. When we hung up, I knew that was it for us. Compassion had taught me acceptance of a sad situation—for how Mike kept hurting himself. I was the best person in his life and he lost me since I couldn’t continue to be close to someone like that. So he suffered more! The next day, I emailed to wish him good luck and expressed my compassion in writing. No reply. I felt good.

Since then, remembering the Dalai Lama’s conception of compassion has helped me to minimize my anger in most situations.

Who provoked you recently? Are they happy? Happy people don’t need to hurt others. Insecure ones criticize and take advantage. People with a positive self-image are less likely to consciously do that. Insecure folks have been bashed themselves. Loving yourself makes it easier to be kind to unhappy so
uls. In situations that rile me, I now realize that what people do or say stems from their own unhappiness. Instead of anger, I feel sorry for them.

Choose to let compassion temper anger. Why allow someone’s dysfunction to debilitate you with complaints and rage?

People who are nasty and mean don’t love themselves. Their pain motivates them to hurt others. When you understand that they’re are hurting themselves more, you can feel sorry for them instead of getting hurt. This philosophy has nurtured my inner peace. I highly recommend it!

My compassion is on an individual basis. I still lose it sometimes. There are people who push my buttons too far and create short-term anger. But, then I look for their source of pain so compassion can take over. It makes sense. Compassion takes nothing from me and anger does no good. That doesn’t mean letting people get away with unfair behavior. I take appropriate action if I’m wronged. But my strong desire to take good care of myself motivates me to replace anger with compassion. I express myself in a nice but firm way and take appropriate action to rectify the situation.

You CAN choose not to absorb someone’s negativity. Practice. It sure feels good!

Don’t give others power to affect you so much! This doesn’t mean you push anger aside because you feel sorry for the person. You can’t swallow anger without getting life indigestion. Have compassion but still express feelings. Get it out gently but get it out. Otherwise, anger multiplies at your expense. I feel so blessed with my life, my positive attitude, and my total faith in God, that I’m generous. But I’ll end negative friendships and do what’s necessary to move on when I must.

Just like forgiveness, compassion doesn’t mean forgetting or letting someone get away with unacceptable behavior. It’s for you! Why make yourself feel worse when you can feel better??!

Be true to your values. Yes, there are unkind or downright evil people. But those who do the dirty on others are not happy. Mean people NEVER have enough money; NEVER have enough power; NEVER feel satisfied. To me THAT is punishment. People may feel perverse pleasure by hurting others; they may be honored for something or become rich and famous. But I truly believe they can’t be happy inside. They step on others to get more of what they’re never satisfied with. I feel blessed with all I have and grateful as heck to be doing what I love.

I love being in a good mood most of the time. When you practice letting angry situations roll off you by showing compassion, you’ll understand why it’s such a blessing! Being generous about giving compassion to others is a gift—to YOU.

Check out the Dalai Lama’s latest book, How to See Yourself As You Really Are (Atria, 2007).

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon. Thanks!

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Happy New Year to you all!

I entered 2008 feeling positive and expecting GREAT things that I KNOW I will get! For my first post of 2008, I have a guest. David M. Bailey is no ordinary one. I got to know David when I interviewed him for a book in 2002. His story inspired me. While I interviewed him as a musician, he is so much more—a troubadour who travels the country spreading hope and faith. You see, David was given no more than 6 months to live when he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

That was in 1996! Every July I’m delighted to get his email celebrating another year of proving the docs wrong!

David pursued his music passion in college, playing extensively in an original acoustic duo, but after graduation, traded his guitar for corporate America. After being told he was going to die, David left his corporate job and returned to his first love—songwriting and performing. Since then, he has cranked out one CD after another, sharing his hope and music with many thousands of fans. All of his CDs reflect his positive attitude about hope and living life. They are wonderful to listen to and make thoughtful gifts for people who might have a personal struggle (and who doesn’t!).

I sent David’s “Faith” CD to a woman I correspond with in Tehran, Iran. She translated one of my books 5 years ago and we’ve had an email friendship ever since. Nasrin loved the CD! She’s been struggling with some issues with her life in Iran and found a lot of hope in David’s words and music. You can hear hear David’s music on his website.

Eleven years, 16 albums, & 44 states later, David continues speaking to audiences with his music and inspirational talks that challenge us all to live passionately and treasure the beauty of each new day!

This morning I got this poem from David and asked if I could share it on my blog. He sends beautiful messages to those of us on his mailing list. It inspired me so I hope it gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling too!

Another year has passed us by
we breathe, we laugh we learn we cry
we wrestle with the great unknown
and struggle not to feel alone
we look around to find the love
and pray for blessings from above
we toss our coins in the fountain of hope
and make our wish that we can cope
with all that waits around the bend
its so hard to comprehend
yet as I try to look ahead
my eyes are turned behind instead
One year ago this very day
I recall the words i tried to say
I am not sure exactly how
But i looked ahead to well, right now.
I wondered if I’d still be here
Alot can happen in a year
And alot did. that’s for sure
Did I mention that I went on tour?
Felt like i went everywhere
But it’s a mighty big world that waits out there.
Bla blah blah that news is old
those episodes have all been told
For all we did there’s more to do
You already know that’s true
that’s not the point i’m trying to make
Here’s the point for goodness’ sake
a year ago i could not have said
what would happen in the year ahead
that year ahead is now behind
A couple things come to mind
It doesn’t matter where you went
What matters is how the time was spent
It doesn’t matter who you met
what matters is who you don’t forget
It doesn’t matter the battles you lost
It matters if you learned the cost
It doesn’t matter the games you played
What matters is the friends you made
It doesn’t matter who you know
What matters is the care you show
It doesn’t matter if you learned to grieve
What matters that you still believe
Believe in faith, hope and love
That’s what this life is all made of
3 simple words are still the reason
we pull ourselves through each new season
So yes, we made it you and I
One more year to dream and try
One more day – 365
It’s beautiful to be alive
these words were quick just off the cuff
And I’ve already said enough
I fear if I take any more time
I’ll just sound like a nursery rhyme
I probably already do
Which should be my final clue
To end this quickly- end it now!
I’m just not sure that I know how
To end it well. oh what the
Hello everybody and happy new year! 🙂

You can find more about David at www.davidmbailey.com. If you or someone you know could use some hope, faith, or just some great music, you can order his CDs at CDBaby.com.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon. Thanks!

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I’m still immersed in my last minute New Year’s cleaning. But I’m also excited for tonight. I love to start the new year well and I will have a special entrance into 2008.

Confession: I’ll be home solo tonight!
Confession: I’m VERY HAPPY that I’ll be home solo tonight!

Women often feel they need to have a date, no matter what or who. Some feel embarrassed to have no plans. Not me! I love me and enjoy spending solo time. It’s a joy, not a sentence.

Confession: A guy I just began dating asked what I’m doing tonight. I said I have a date with me! ? And I do.

Years ago, I was stood up by a guy I was mad for on New Year’s Eve. Long story. I was devastated. The following year, a friend told me her mom always said that the way you enter the new year sets a tone for the rest of your year. She pushed me to go out partying with her and a group of her friends. But I decided if what her mom said was true, I wanted to enter the new year peacefully. So I stayed home with some Chinese food and my favorite cookies. Was peaceful and had a peaceful year. Since then, I only spend that night with a friend I’m very close with or a serious boyfriend.

Otherwise, I’d rather spend it with just me.

Many folks don’t understand it but I’ve been looking forward to tonight. I have some great meditation and motivational CDs. When I finish cleaning, I’ll go out and buy my favorite cookie as a treat. Around 8 I’ll turn off all the lights, light lots of candles and pour a glass of wine. Then I’ll get comfy and listen to the CDs. Some years I write down everything I’m angry about and burn it. This year I don’t feel anger so I can skip that.

After the CDs I’ll say all my blessings out loud—every one I can think of. I’ll say thanks to all the people in my life that I appreciate. Then I’ll affirm out loud how great 2008 is. Then a little more quiet, self time, until I watch the ball fall. I’ll enter the New Year with a bang and a big smile. ?

I hope that you all have a very wonderful, peaceful and hopeful New Years Eve too.

Many blessings to you all!! I’ll talk to you next year! ?

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon. Thanks!

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Welcome to the Carnival of Healing #118
I’m absolutely delighted to be hosting the last for 2007. The Carnival is a weekly round-up of personal blog posts on the topics of holistic health, wellness, spirituality, and self-empowerment. It’s coordinated by About.com’s Guide to Holistic Healing, Phylameana Iila Desy.

Last week’s Carnival of Healing was kindly hosted by The Reiki Digest and next week it will be hosted by Intensive Care for the Nurturer’s Soul.

It’s my first time hosting a blog Carnival! I consider this one important because it has many wonderful articles with constructive suggestions you can take with you into 2008. People often make New Year’s resolutions but lose their resolve fast when they’re not prepared to make lifestyle changes. Last week I addressed why new year’s resolutions can hurt you. There are many articles in this Carnival that can help you make the lifestyle changes that can help make resolutions that stick.

In the spirit of making New Year’s resolutions that can lead to healthy lifestyle changes, I’ll include a resolution I think is valuable with each topic. I find that a more realistic way to get started on a new habit is to declare that “I am willing to try to….” Instead of saying “I’m going to lose weight,” say, “I am willing to try to eat more healthy and do more exercise.” It can make the resoluhtion feel less daunting.

Here goes with all the great advice:

“I am willing to try to become kinder to myself as I make my resolutions.”
Ananga at Ananga Sivyer’s Living by Design Blog gives some great tips for being more realistic and fair when you set and carry out resolutions, in her post, On Goals & Resolutions: Progress with Kindness.

“I am willing to try to become more conscious of whether my actions match my intentions.”
David B. Bohl at Slow Down Fast Today! says, “I’m always amazed at what people say about themselves sometimes, and how that really contrasts with what they do.” So am I. Often our actions contradicts the way we want to be. Awareness: How You Live is Who You Are, emphasizes the importance of being aware of making your deeds reflect the person you want to be.

“I am willing to try to CHOOSE to be happy.”
Happiness is a wonderful state to strive for yet it can feel illusive when life seems to be doing you wrong. Lorraine Cohen at Powerfull Living illustrates how to find reasons to be happy, even when circumstance aren’t going your way in Happiness Tip: Mining For The Gold. Lorraine inspires me with her story!

“I am willing to try to do what it takes to feel better.”
Many people suffer from pain but often resign themselves to living with it instead of being proactive to find a solution. Natural Pain Relief lists 19 Common Barriers to Effective Pain Control.

While you want to trust your doctor, sometimes you must be your own health advocate when the treatment you’re given doesn’t feel like enough. Chris Melton at Shoulder Performance & Rehab posted Shoulder Rehab, with suggestions for finding healing alternatives. It’s written by his business partner, Scott Kay. Scott’s desire to accelerate his rehab from a shoulder injury led him to invent the Rotater, a shoulder rehab and stretching device. It helped him recover so he and Chris offered it for sale and it’s getting support from many medical and sport professionals. He shows what a desire to take care of yourself can accomplish!

“I am willing to try to get more exercise.”
A popular New Year’s resolution is to get into better shape. Yet it’s one that gets passed on from year to year when it doesn’t happen. Often it’s because you see exercise as a tedious chore. Mike Remer at My Path To Fitness Blog has tips for reframing how you view exercise so it becomes an activity you happily choose to do in Wish Exercise Wasn’t so Hard?

“Push ups are one of the most simple and effective home exercises. There are many ways to do them. But there is one that stands out from the rest. With its technique and effects, it is the most “exotic” type of push ups,” says Stanimir Sotirov at All About Your Body And Spirit. His post, Hindu Push Ups includes a video demonstration is included. If you try them, be careful, as they look intense.

“I am willing to try to find more ways to relax.”
EVERYONE should make a resolution to practice relaxing more. Stress affects our well being on many levels. John at Where We Relax shares a ritual he’s found helpful for switching out of work mode into a mindset of play in Rumi For Relaxation.

“I am willing to try to be more open minded.”
Chris at Martial Development says, “According to the teachings of traditional spiritual schools, Subjective Reality theories may actually be holding you back! Learn why here at The Nondual Perspective on Subjective Reality.”

“I am willing to try to tap into the Law of Attraction.”
I live by the Law of Attraction and know personally how changing your thoughts can change your life. Akemi at Gratitude Magic
explains how energy can flow through you to make the Law of Attraction and Thought Energy more effective.

“I am willing to try to claim my power to feel better.”
Matthew Spears at Loving Awareness says, “One of the most fundamental aspects of any growth or spiritual path is the trust in one’s own perception. There is no question it is an incomplete perception; so long as you have a body, you will not see even a minuscule fraction of the totality of the universe, or that of your Self. But it is still your perception. It is your link to your soul. It is the basis for all growth, for if you rely on someone else’s eyes and intuition, you are not living your own life, discovering your own Truth, but are being a guinea pig for other’s experiments with Truth.” He gives details in Trusting Perceptions and Higher Communication.

“I am willing to try to change my thoughts to feel better.”
Aparna at Beauty and Personality Grooming addresses how many people convince themselves they have illnesses that their minds create and how the Internet is helping to feed a generation of cyberchondriacs by giving people too much food for thought in Hypochondriacs over the net.

“I am willing to try to pursue ways to help myself be healthier.”
Abdulrasool Sumar at Mesothelioma Cancer says, In 370 B.C., the father of Modern Medicine, Dr. Hippocrates quoted, ‘Let food be your medicine, and let medicine be your food.’ And he said the best types of foods that protect your body from cancer risk are fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Recent research by scientists has proven that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables through the course of one’s life greatly enhances one’s ability to avoid developing cancer and many other diseases.” Suggestions are give in Good Nutrition Cancer Risk – Importance of Nutrition in Preventing Cancer

Dr. Steven Dell at Keyboard Culture has an interesting series of articles that provide understanding and alternative medicine treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis. It begins with What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Andrew Michaels at Lifecrafting details his quest to repair his vision in Relearning to See: My Plan to Regain My Waning Eyesight and Hurl My Glasses Off A Cliff I relate to his mission. I’ve used good nutrition and eye exercises and amaze people that at my age (well out of my twenties!) I don’t even need reading glasses.

James Chambers at Hyperhidrosis provides insight about the problem of excessive sweating and has links to resources that can help curb the problem naturally in Hyperhidrosis Causes.

Lucynda Riley at Flower, Field, and Forest discusses Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus), a plant she found helpful for healing her cold.

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That’s it for this week’s Carnival of Healing. Remember to check out the one next week at Intensive Care for the Nurturer’s Soul. You can submit to this Carnival with the Carnival Submission Form.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon. Thanks!

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