Saturday, February 17, 2024

Taking Things Personally


How much suffering do you want to take on in this life?  If it’s a lot, then continue to take everything personally.  If it’s not a lot, then consider something very important before you take things personally.  We sometimes get this idea in our heads that just because we would never do or say something like X unless we disrespected someone, doesn’t mean other people think or behave in the same way.  By our very nature, we are born to monitor and look for patterns in our surroundings to keep ourselves safe.  But when we make too many automatic assumptions about others and their intent (which we can’t with 100% certainty ever know), we actually cause our own suffering. 


If someone cuts you off on the highway, and you get angry – you’ve taken things personally.  You have absolutely no idea what’s going on for that person.  They could be on their way to the hospital to say goodbye to a loved one.  They could be on their way to day care to pick up a sick child.  They could have just lost their job or are running late for an interview.  Should they drive carelessly?  No. But you see, when things trigger our emotions and urgency, we do sometimes lose our ability to do things or say things with any amount of normal care.  Are some people just careless as a part of their nature?  Sure.  But none of that is about you is all I’m saying.


A part of our ego sometimes revels in the idea of catching others doing something wrong as if that might lift us in status in some way.  It doesn’t. What you see in others is filtered through what?  Your experience and your own intimate and personal awareness of your own short comings.  But wait, isn’t there a right and wrong here?  Sure, sometimes there is but also, sometimes that realm of right and wrong can differ from person to person and justifiably so given their situation, life experience and also their psychological state at any given moment.


Definitive truths in human interactions is hard to pin down especially when you are sure that your assumptions are facts just because they come from within your own mind.  Your deductions based on the limited information you observe do not equate to definitive truth.  When you understand that, you start to understand situations more, spool up less and your compassion and tolerance grows.  Why would you want that?  Well, intolerance, distrust, accusation, and anger all have their place but if you are living your life with the energy of those thoughts controlling the filter through which you see the world every moment of every day, you could be making yourself and those around you quite miserable.


We assume intention often but you can’t know someone’s intention with certainty so why let your mind take it to that level?  You punish yourself so much when you create a framework where everyone and everything is out to get you or ruin your day. Sometimes bad or rough things happen.  It isn’t necessarily personal, and I’d argue that even when someone attempts to make it personal with intention, you have to realize all the years of potentially detrimental psychology that person has lived with to come to that point where they may take issue with intention with you and your presence at a certain time or place.


I’m all for standing up for yourself and for what you believe in for sure.  But belief, please understand, is provisional truth at best. Belief is a hypothesis.  I’m not talking faith and religion here. That’s a whole other matter I’d prefer not to bring into this discussion at this time. Think more psychology – simpler like the thought process of – my husband didn’t take out the trash, therefore, he doesn’t love me and expects me to do all of the work in this house alone.  He lives here too.  Why should I do all of the work?  The thing is, hubby may be busy with other things.  So, if you want the trash out right this second – do it yourself or ask him again when you can tell he isn’t preoccupied.  Taking the trash out when asked does not prove love to begin with.  Love is bigger than that.  I’m not suggesting we don’t set boundaries on what we will and will not tolerate but understand what love is and isn’t.  If my imaginary situation is one that you have faced or feel, you might want to instead have a talk with your spouse rather than assume lack of love or care.  Assumptions, and we all do it – are part of the problem.


We assume so naturally, but we can’t know 360 degrees of a person or their intentions by assumption alone.  I find dealing in facts keeps me from constantly being disappointed by others.  I also find expressing my needs up front rather than trying to catch someone with proof they don’t love me is time better spent.  In my life, I have faced both intentional and unintentional slights or bad behavior.  Because I value my peace, I choose to see both as not about me.  I have developed a pretty good sense of self and I know that no one on this planet can know me at a 360 degree level.  So, their insult is not something I need to take on board.  If I’m concerned about truth in their words, I can own up to my actions or behavior without that threatening me at the core level of my being.  Most of the time though, I understand that someone who calls me names is telling the world more about the state of their own psychology than they are telling the world about me.


I mean, I am certainly not everyone’s cup of tea but if someone wants to see a monster in me, that’s on them and doesn’t bear out as the definitive truth about me.  If I get caught up in collateral damage by the unthinking actions of others, I’m not always quick to anger and even if I do become angry, I won’t act or react on that anger without first trying my best to see the truth of a situation.  Once I see that my own assumptions cannot be validated about a person or thing – again, since I value my own personal peace, I’m more likely to set the matter on ignore and walk away.  I choose understanding over asserting my ego for its version of right or wrong because I know me and my ego is wholly incapable of doing that accurately.


A few more parting thoughts on the matter…have you ever done something stupid, insensitive, uncaring or even cringy?  We all have as we have made our way through life.  Our mistakes are how we learn.  When someone “transgresses” in my view, I am likely to be compassionate and understanding – meaning, I’m not going to get crazy angry or feel bad about myself to the point I get angry.  I may be disappointed and I may choose to set boundaries so I don’t suffer further unthinking or bad behavior but I will do my level best to maintain my balance and equanimity.  Somethings just hurt in life and that is what it is but “hurting someone back” will never, ever remove the pain or other emotion that you suffered and any attempt at vengeance for a perceived slight whether intentionally or unintentionally committed will never un-mark that pivotal moment in your interaction.  Your energy is better spent understanding the emotion an action evoked in you rather than engaging in further battle.  In life, battle is all some people know and due to psychology, it’s the only way they know how to interact with others and it’s very likely – unhealthy. To continue to engage with some people in a tit-for-tat exchange is truly beneath you, won’t change that person or their behavior and is really not the best use of your energy.


From a bigger picture perspective, those things in life that vex you the most, the things that trigger that feeling of incredulous within you – those are all messages to you from you that you have wounds inside that need your time, attention and great care.  We all carry these.  It’s part of living life on Earth.  But when you strive for understanding both for yourself and another, you can home in on what is best for you in a moment.  Maintaining peace is a beautiful thing.  Engaging in battle often leads to escalation, chaos and worse.  Step back.  Take a breath.  Pause for a moment. See what within you can thoughtfully respond.  Ask yourself if this or that thing is really the thing you want to take personally.  Is there a basis inside of you that is easily triggered?  Do you know that if you figure out what those things are and strive to understand and heal them, no one can ever trigger you to unconsciously take things personally again?  Wow!  That is a powerful thing to possess – healing, the ability to stop, think, and respond to a situation (walking away or not saying a word is also a response).


So yeah, if you value your peace, don’t take things personally.  Things don’t always go the way we think they should. That doesn’t mean that we are bad, wrong or whatever.  It just means this or that interaction isn’t going as planned. So, stop, consider, reset and strive for something different, better or healthy for you.  You matter as does every human on this planet no matter how attractive of repulsive you find certain folks.  We are all part of a whole living here in this giant Earth School at this time.  We need to learn how to de-escalate and honestly, that begins best within and a starting point is not taking things so personally.


I wish you peace, I wish you love, I wish you the greatest understanding, and the deepest compassion.  You’ve got this!


© 2024 Jaie Hart (photo and words)

Friday, February 16, 2024

My Spiritual Journey


Often at times in my life, I’ve had this deep almost visceral feeling that there just has to be more to this life than working, raising kids, eating right and exercise.  For many years, I’d have to say I was on a spiritual quest.  Along the way, I’d have to say that I came across some pretty amazing things, unexplainable things, and things you wouldn’t believe even if I were to explain in great detail.  But, at the end of the day – none of the things that I discovered satisfied that inner feeling that there was something more. 


I’ve had plenty of subtle hints left at perfectly timed and pivotal moments of my life.  But as I sit here today, I feel like all the different shoes I tried on to walk that path, didn’t take me anywhere I didn’t have access to all along within me.  Nothing in the “New Age” or even purported ancient teachings brought me what I was looking for.  There was still that feeling of home, like I’m missing it terribly that sometimes washed over me.  I can’t really explain it well enough to give it proper meaning and in nearly 60 years of this life journey, I’ve not run across anything outside of me that quells that feeling entirely.


However, there were often things that I could do from time to time that satisfied that longing for a time.  It wasn’t teachers, books, classes or chasing knowledge.  It was something by far more simple. Believe it or not, getting up early to have a quiet moment to watch the miracle of the Earth turning into the sun and then again, at the end of the day, seemingly turning away from it while watching a miraculous fiery display of light in every warm color imaginable at sunset did it for me.  Other things too, like noticing the quality of light etching the leaves on trees, a blade of grass or a simple weed, it brought me a sense of that feeling of home.


In quiet meditation, I have found much solace and comfort for that feeling.  Other things impacted it positively as well like holding a new born, stroking a fluffy kitten or playing with a bouncy land-shark puppy or rising above a vexing psychological matter in myself or others – all of these things seemed to quell that longing a bit.


If I’m honest, I’d say my spiritual journey was a grand disappointment on one hand.  It took me down many pathways and rabbit holes.  It had me spending time and money on what equated to snake oil.  At the point I discovered I wasn’t finding what I was looking for, the path disappeared and pointed me right back to myself.  Not a bad thing but an unexpected thing.  Some other things I learned along the way (random truths - at least truths for me):


1.     Everyone holds dark and light within them.  There is no point decrying the darkness in others when we are holding our own darkness either in ignorance or denial. Remember – what you see is because it is within you to understand.

2.      True love is as it has forever been – inside of you and readily available at any time you become willing to dig deep inside and find it.

3.     Whatever seemingly calls to you in the outside world comes from within you – nothing in the outside world will bring you as much as if you explore your own inner depths and seek understanding – your personal whys.

4.     We are One at many levels – we all co-experience this frame, this Earth and each other.  Ego gratification never truly soothes the soul but the Ego isn’t something to be destroyed either.  It’s best understood as a necessary part of us during our travels here on Earth.  It’s best to make friends with it, accept it, and in a way maybe to tame it with love.

5.     Finding self-love enough to stand on your own two feet and make your way through life in confidence and compassion can take you far in terms of understanding the meaning of your life.

6.     While there may be this grand design in life, you will never definitively know it.  You are best served finding within your life -  all of those things that you are truly grateful for, treasuring and appreciating those things and then learning what you can do to give something to this world and Her inhabitants rather than figuring out ways to take things from this world and Her inhabitants.

7.     You are entitled to nothing here in the Earth School. You are given a body.  You are given consciousness.  Everything from there stems from your earnest effort and seeking to understand your life lessons.  Right action, right thinking and right presence is required to succeed (and know that even when you fail, you are learning so – that can still be right for your at parts of your unique journey).

8.     It’s okay to feel however you feel.  You can wallow in darkness for the entirety of your life.  You can find ways to understand and then shatter the darkness that you feel in your life.  You can walk in the light understanding that even when the sun shines unobstructed, you may not feel it – walk any way.  Keep going.  Never give up.  Never quit.  Always have faith in yourself to master your life.

9.     Grief is real here and you must learn to process it.  We come in at different times and we go at different times.  If we fight change too hard, our grief will be protracted.  Learn from your grief and understand that the depth and level of your grieving is very likely equal to your love.  Seek help if you should struggle.  Help is there for you if you seek it.

10.  Never fall into the trap of equating your worth based on what you observe in others. Envy is a trap as is keeping up with the Jone’s.  Your path is uniquely yours.  Find your gifts that are unique to you and appreciate them. Focus inward and what you have to work with and not what you think others are given. Remember, you are entitled to nothing in this life.  But you do have free will.  Use it wisely without circumventing or imposing on the free will of others.


After many years of searching, I’d have to say I willingly stepped off the path.  I came to terms with much uncertainty and worked hard to grow comfortable with change.  As I got older, energy began to wane some, lines and wrinkles appeared as did glorious and sparkly silver strands comprising the covering of my head (I spent so many years dying all manner of shades and still do today just for the fun of it). Change is a constant.  It’s best to make it your friend. View aging not with fear and trepidation but as graduating to the class of Elders on the Earth.  If you make it to this stage in life where age shows in your reflection, you are one of the fortunate.  Aging is a gift not granted to all equally in this frame. If you can, strive to hold gratitude instead of fear.  When your body dies, your consciousness lives on but you transform from the existence you have become accustomed to here.


I love my life today so much.  I don’t have deep, burning, or all-consuming desires to know this or that about life.  I’ve learned in my life that taking time to better understand my inner landscape, learning self-love, full acceptance of self and a lifetime’s worth of action was necessary for happiness.  The more I engaged in self-understanding, the more that feeling of connection to Source returned and the more that sense of longing quieted.  I still have desires and goals and I will succeed in them as I always do.  It’s just that my reason or mission has changed.  I think I’m at a place in my life now where the idea of contributing to life has more meaning than anything.  Lending a voice, an ear or compassionate presence – that totally kills that old greatly diminished now feeling of longing for home.  When I stopped looking for something to fill that longing, I found it.  I am home (as I have always been), I’m comfortable in my skin, I’m happy, satisfied with a life well lived and hopeful for tomorrow despite the chaos of information constantly bombarding me. 


I’d have to say that I do appreciate the spiritual journey I embarked upon and all of the magical and unexplainable things that I have experienced.  I’m really glad that this grounded comforting feeling eventually caught my attention and noticed that it was coming from within after all that searching in the outside world.  Our lives and our journeys here on Earth are intensely personal and uniquely experienced just for ourselves and our growth as souls.  You can’t read your life’s purpose in a book.  You are so unique and precious that no one else’s words, thoughts or ideas can describe you or your purpose. Living your life and doing what you do is what you came her to do.  If your life brings you sadness, that’s okay.  Consider it a message to you from you that you might potentially benefit another way of learning or living along your journey.  If your life brings you comfort, that also is a message that maybe you are on the right path for the moment.  In those moments that you find bliss, that’s a YES from the Universe. 


One of the many phrases I’ve come across in my life that inspired me the most – more than any practice, books, classes or whatever was: The Journey Is The Destination.  It inspires me still.  We are all born in this frame and our bodies die at the end.  If we continually wait for happiness only until this or that happens or we put off relaxing or wait continually to do things until all lights are green, we’re missing the point.  Our destination is ultimately to die after living a life well lived.  So, go and well-live your life.  Find something in the day to day that you like, love, or appreciate in some way. Enjoy your spiritual quest or existential explorations as is your desire but live and appreciate something in your experience that is truly good, light and bright. Respect the darkness for that does truly exist within us all.  Strive to find a place of balance and equanimity.  Know that tough times will come and go and still you will learn and achieve all that you were meant to in life. Relax your judgement of yourself, others, and this world.  Be the amazing you that you are.  That’s what my journey taught me most loudly and most clear.

© 2024 Jaie Hart (photo and words)