A happy wife, a happy life. Happiness is a choice.

Choose Happiness - Pink Roses photographed by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely. Roy T. Bennet

We’ve all heard a happy wife makes a happy life. Is this true? If it is true doesn’t that put a huge burden on us women?

Only happy people can have happy relationships. Is it true? Then if we want a happy marriage, relationship, family, work place we will have to start with us. We sometimes think we are unhappy because of what is going on around us, but often we can be happy in our relationships if we are happy, positive, energized. We need to get that spark back.

A relationship coach Laura Doyle says she was great wife material until she actually got married. She tried to tell her husband he needed to be more romantic, more ambitious, and tidier. When she started talking to women who had what she wanted in their marriages and practiced what they practiced the magic returned.

She has written numerous books on the subject. It all starts with us. If we want to be happy, we need to be happy. We need to find the joy in life. We need to be grateful for what we have. She tells us we need to do three things every day that bring joy and happiness to our life. Not for our husband, kids, or relationship for us.

My husband and I discussed a sore spot in our relationship yesterday morning. He went off to his appointment in a less than happy mood, and I was in a less than happy mood. I was looking on the internet and up came Laura Doyle. I thought about her suggestion of three things I could do to make myself happy. I’d already written my blog so that was number one. It was a beautiful day so I took Lulu for a walk around the pond and took some pictures. When I got back I had some cashew ice-cream. I called mom but she wasn’t home.

By the time my husband got back he said he was hungry so we went out for coffee. As we sat there he said “there’s a big change in you since this morning. I like it when you’re happy.”

This is exactly what Laura Doyle is saying. She doesn’t have high regard for marriage counseling. She believes it doesn’t work because it isn’t focused on making the marriage better; it is more focused on who is at fault. She is a relationship coach and she only works with women. I only came across her yesterday but this is what I’ve been telling my husband about a lot of what is on YouTube. Many of the videos are about someone blaming someone for their life, not fixing their own life.

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness. Bertrand Russell

Laura Doyle believes as I do that relationships are dynamic, when we change, they change. The problem a lot of us have is we don’t want to be the one that changes because the other person is the problem. We can only change our self. It might not sound like a lot, but it is everything.

In Al-anon where people with some of the worst relationships go, they find help because they are taught to change their own life. They are taught to quit trying to control someone else. If we can manage our own life it is a big enough job. What someone else chooses to do with theirs is out of our control.

We can live with them and like it, we can live with them and hate it, or we can leave, but we can’t do what we want to do and change them. This is our choice every day. The thing is when we change our self, everything changes.

We aren’t victims in the sense that we can’t make our life better without someone else changing. We can change, we can become happy. Is every relationship salvageable because we choose to be happy? Every person has to make this decision for them self.

My challenge is to find three things every day that make me happy. Oprah told us years ago to write down three things we were grateful for every day. Gratitude and happiness go hand in hand.

They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world; someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. Tom Bodett

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The Empowered Wife: Six Surprising Secrets for Attracting Your Husband’s Time, Attention, and AffectionPaperback – Mar 28 2017


 

 

 

 

In search of “good enough”.

Good Enough - Photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas of Two Day Lilies

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. Oprah Winfrey

We can’t be perfect but we can be “good enough”. We can build everything with the attitude that “good enough” is worthy and doable. We can’t expect anyone to be perfect, but we can expect everyone in our society to be “good enough”.

We built a society, it isn’t the perfect society, but it’s a good society. Perhaps that is one of our problems; we need to be okay with “good enough”. All areas of our life will thrive. Our children thrive with “good enough” parenting. Our marriages survive and thrive when they are “good enough”. We thrive when we accept ourselves and strive to be “good enough”.

Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough. Brene Brown

Renowned marriage therapist John Gottman tells us we should settle for nothing less than the “good enough” relationship. This relationship requires trust and commitment as the base for happiness.

Trust in our relationship means our partner has our best interests at heart, and we have their best interests at heart. Commitment means really cherishing each other how we are, and not resenting what we are not. In the “good enough” relationship we get treated with respect, love and affection. A “good enough” relationship is not one where we are psychologically or physically abused.

We will have conflicts. They are inevitable and how we deal with those conflicts is important. If we deal with conflict openly, honestly without criticism or contempt we build our relationship. If we criticize we tear down our relationship. When we make statements about our partner’s character, personality, background, childhood, family, etc. we are criticizing them. Criticism leads to contempt. Contempt kills love, ruins relationships and our health.

The “good enough” relationship does not tear us down; it is a soft place to fall. Where friendship is strong, affection and respect are strong and we can cope with conflict. We build a life together with shared meaning and purpose built on trust and commitment.

The “good enough” relationship will lead to the “good enough” family where we get most of our needs met, most of the time. In the “good enough” family we will have “good enough” children. By freeing ourselves from the crippling pursuit of perfection and from false notions of what our marriage, family, child should be we can build loving, supporting, realistic relationships and our children can grow to their potential.

“Good enough” is about embracing our imperfections. The search for the ideal is the enemy of the achievable and realizable. Once we let go of the image of the perfect partner, marriage, family, child and accept our self and others for who we are, we will become the best spouse, parent, and citizen. We embrace our and others imperfections and in doing that embrace delicious reality.

Our lives as “good enough” may not be postcards for the perfect family, child, or marriage. The reality of living in an authentic marriage, family with a child loved and accepted for who they are and not who we think they should be is the prize. We all want acceptance, love, security and we get it by loving what is, and working hard to make all areas of our life “good enough”.

Thinking good thoughts is not enough, doing good deeds is not enough, seeing others follow your good example is enough. Douglas Horton

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The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships Paperback – Jun 25 2002


 

The only way is through. Accepting what is.

Accepting What Is - Belynda Wilson Thomas photo of three petunias

If you try to teach before you learn, or leave before you stay, you lose your ability to try. Unknown

We know the problem in our relationship is him or her. We know it isn’t us because we are the good person. If only they would change life would be perfect.

We know on some level we can only change our self. What good is that, when we aren’t the one that needs changing?  We can pat ourselves on the back and look at other people with their problems, congratulating ourselves we don’t have problems like that.

How often do we agree to go along? Someone is counseling we should always compromise. This means if your husband wants to go one restaurant and you want a different one you agree on a restaurant neither of you want as a compromise. How does that make anyone happy? Better I think to go to the restaurant he wants this time and your pick next time. At least this way one of us is happy and we can be happy that they are happy. The other way neither of us is happy both times.

We need to let the other person know what would make us happy. Too often what would you like to do, turns into, I don’t know what would you like to do? This happens a lot as we decide where to go for lunch. We go out every day for lunch usually Tim Horton’s. I love coffee or tea out; it gives us a break from our home office. When we don’t go out we really miss it.

Lunch out can be a big budget breaker but not enjoying life can be a relationship breaker. We have to find the balance; we have to communicate so each person in a couple is happy with the life we build, where the money gets spent.

We need to own our own thoughts, desires, aspirations, goals, weaknesses, flaws. We need to own the parts of us we are proud of and the parts we aren’t so proud of. Learning to love our self warts and all is our job. We become authentic by being our self, and letting other people know who we are, what we want, what we like.

We often live our lives with thick layers of delusion and rationalization. We try and fit in, it is hard for us to believe we have worth and value as we are, we keep thinking when I get to there, then I’ll feel worthy. There is no there that makes us feel worthy. This is what we have to work on. We are good enough now; we are all we’ll ever be. More money, plastic surgery, weight loss, better fitness, our own business, acknowledgement of our talents will not change how we feel about our self until we accept our self how we are.

If evil be said of thee, and it be true, correct thyself; if it be a lie, laugh at it. Epictetus

If we don’t have self worth and make it as a big success, is when we feel like fakes. It’s an inside job. The loud, bombastic, sure of themselves people I’ve envied. Thinking they have something I don’t. They cover up their insecurities as we cover up ours. We need to deal with our insecurities, we need to define what is right and good for us and stand in the truth of authenticity.

In the end our authentic life is all we have. Facing the truth of who we are who we’ve built our life with and being the best we can be so they can be the best they can be is the way forward. We need to take the plank out of our own eye, before we try to take the speck out of someone else’s.

We enable people in our life and this means we empower individuals or we encourage negative behavior. Al-Anon teaches us when marriages are held together by a bond of love, mutual respect, and a desire to please and comfort, communication naturally falls into patterns that express these feelings and give both partners confidence in each other and a sense of mutual dependence. When a relationship is unbalanced by dependence, suspicion, hostility, excessive demands, and expectations, these flaws reveal themselves in the way the couple communicates with each other.

We need to have hard conversations with each other. Not having the hard conversations leads to the elephant in the room. When we have these hard conversations we need to dig deep and say what we mean, and mean what we say. We need to confront our partners with the straight truth, and be able to receive the straight truth when they confront us.

When we take a good clear eyed look at our life and relationships we need to be honest with ourselves, and honest with our partner. Through honesty, compassion and humor we can work through what can be changed, and let go of what can’t.

If you think dealing with issues like worthiness and authenticity and vulnerability are not worthwhile because there are more pressing issues, like the bottom line or attendance or standardized test scores, you are sadly mistaken. It underpins everything. Brene Brown

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Toxic relationships are critical and full of contempt. Gratitude is the antidote.

Toxic thoughts - photo of orange flower by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t’ get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die: so let us all be thankful. Buddha

We’ve heard about toxic relationships, do we know what that means? I don’t think I really got it until yesterday when I listened to the Gottman’s speak on Youtube. They talk about the four horsemen of relationships, criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling.

Contempt is the emotional reaction the Gottman’s considers the most damaging. They say they can predict how many illnesses a partner will have by the amount of contempt in the relationship. We do not realize how thoughts affect our body. Uplifting thoughts allow us to elevate our consciousness and awareness; non-inspiring thoughts tend to drag us down.

In Bodily Maps of Emotions Finnish scientists mapped areas of the body activated according to each emotion (happiness, sadness, anger, etc.) The researchers proposed that emotions represented in the somatosensory system are culturally universally categorical somatotopic maps. Perception of these emotion-triggered bodily changes may play a key role in generating consciously felt emotions. We have been taught to believe that external factors and disease treatments are what can help control our pain and suffering. What if we become aware of the importance and power of our thoughts? What if we learn to control them? What if we consciously removed negative thoughts from our mind? Would that make a difference to our life? There are many books telling us this is so.

After the falling in love phase of relationships are over we move into the next phase and the big question becomes “can I trust you?” Falling in love is easy; staying in love can be our big challenge.

We have to feel our partner has our best interests at heart and they have to feel we have their best interests at heart.

Even before there is an actual betrayal we can start sowing the seeds of betrayal by acting in ways that create betrayal. Those actions involve comparing what we are getting with what we think we could get. If we get in the habit of thinking we could do better, the negative comparisons lead us to nurture resentment about what is not there. The seeds are planted for eventual discord, distrust and betrayal.

Gottman say we can act in a way that creates loyalty. Loyalty is about nurturing gratitude for what we have. The key is cherishing our partner. This involves both partners making a conscious decision to minimize in their mind their partner’s negative qualities and maximize the positive qualities.

It’s the”very small moments” that are most important. We should devote some time every day to find little moments of connection.

We should find time to express appreciation and affection. If we do this every day cherishing becomes a ritual of connection in our relationship.

When we have doubts and fears we should bring them up. This is positive complaining leading to action. Tell them what we need, make it about us not about them and what they didn’t do, didn’t give us, or aren’t enough of. We need to talk and resolve issues as they come up. Don’t let them become the elephant in the room.

Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose. Lyndon B. Johnson

Reframe our negative thoughts about our partner. Where might he or she be coming from? If they get a little controlling it might help to remember, they are also supportive, encouraging and our biggest ally.

When we bring up an issue with our mate or they with us we should be open to working on it. This will build more trust. This is an active process both mentally and emotionally, and we need to keep in mind how lucky we are to have each other.

Disease is the absence of health … darkness is the absence of light. Health is not the absence of disease. Light is not the absence of darkness.  Contempt is the absence of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike. To not show contempt for a person is either be neutral and show no feelings, or show respect and liking or love for that person.

Contempt is “I’m better than you, and you are lesser than me.” The antidote to contempt is to describe our feelings and needs. On any given issue we can avoid “you” statements which make our partner feel blamed and attacked.  We also need to avoid the facial expressions that are contemptuous, eye rolling, sneering, etc. To resolve the situation we need to have our needs, wants, etc addressed, this will not happen by attacking our partner with you never, you always, you should. Perhaps they can be resolved with I feel, I need. If our partner knows what we need, want, expect, desire, they have something to work with. When we know what they need, want, desire, expect, we have something to work with. Working together to meet each other’s wants, expectations, desires, and needs we build a healthy, nurturing, happy relationship.

Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results. Willie Nelson

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Complaining, criticism and communication.

Complaining Can Be Positive photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Your words have the power to hurt, to heal, open minds, open hearts and change the world. Never forget the responsibility you have over the words you speak. Steven Aitchison

Complaining is good for your marriage. If we don’t complain how will we deal with the issues that arise? The issues if not dealt with become the elephant in the room.

I’m not a fan of complaining or complainers but I am reading that complaining is good for our marriage. When we tell our spouse how we feel when whatever happens, and there are a lot of whatever’s that happen in marriage, this opens the lines of communication. We have sensitivities, insecurities, likes, dislikes, wants, needs, and more. If we are sensitive in our complaining by giving our spouse something that we or they need to deal with, it can be constructive.

If we instead of complaining criticize our partner by saying, “I should have known I couldn’t trust you, instead of “when you do that you make me feel.” It is criticism, and unlike complaining is not positive, it does not give us something to make better, or fix. It comes across as an attack, implies betrayal, uses works like always, never, only, expresses pent-up frustrations and anger, attacks our partners personality or character.

Some people mistakenly feel if they don’t criticize people then bad behavior or wrong doing will continue. The truth is the more we highlight negativity the more it grows. One of the things we are taught as parents is to focus on the good things our children do. Catch them doing something good and reward them. The same is said about training dogs.

Many people do not see the difference in complaining about something and being critical.

A minister on Youtube was describing the difference between complaining and criticism.  Complaints are not happy and positive. They are direct about how you feel on what is really happening or happened. It is easy to turn a complaint into poisonous criticism by bringing you into it. Don’t you love me? What’s the matter with you? In marriages, all criticism is destructive and a deadly poison. Every relationship has areas to complain about but when we turn that into criticism we risk damaging the relationship beyond compare. Criticism is a destructive attack on a person’s personality, childhood, history, or character. The marriage research at John Gottman points to criticism as one of the basic relationship poisons that breed contempt, also known as hatred. A High level of contempt for your partner is the number one predictor of unhappiness and divorce. It is at this simple but powerful crossroad of criticism and complaint that the actual life or death of a marriage lies.

Contempt kills happiness in a relationship. Then it kills the relationship, dead. Then it kills your feeling heart. My mother says, “there is nothing as dead as old cold love.” Feeling contempt for a person is like picking up a red-hot piece of iron to throw at somebody. You not only hurt your partner but also yourself with your criticism and contempt. Contempt tells the other person they are not worth dealing with, are worthless. This is the message you are sending when you criticize.

Never say mean words out of anger. Your anger will pass. But your mean words can scar a person for life. So use kind words or be silent. Unknown

If we can learn to complain by saying  I feel, I want, I wish, I thought, instead of all you ever, you are so, why don’t you, you never, etc.

We can deal with a complaint. Complaints are aimed at a specific behavior, It is specific it is actionable. Criticism attacks a person’ character. Criticisms are judgmental and often the result of pent-up-frustrations and unresolved anger leading to universal and overwhelming barrages.

Criticism

Is global. Attacks a partner’s character or personality. Is judgmental, often expressed with “should.” Implies betrayal – “I should have known I couldn’t count on you.” Expressed in global terms – always, never, only. Expression of pent-up frustrations and unresolved anger. Often begins with you.

Complaint

Is aimed at a specific behavior and is situation specific. Can be stated without blame. No more why, you, never, always, only. Lots more “I”.

If we can learn the difference between complaining so change can occur and criticism which hurts our spouse, child, employee, co-worker, friend, neighbor or family members spirit we can turn relationships around. We can hold our self accountable and take the necessary steps to make relationships better, rectify situations and improve our lives.

A critical spirit destroys our life, destroys our relationships and leads to poverty.

I need to take a good look at my life and with truth and honesty discern where I am complaining about things that can change and should change, and where I am being critical and hurting my husband’s, children’s and other’s spirits.

God please teach me to speak the right words at the right time with the right tone, so I can live in peace and happiness. Unknown

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Critical Spirit: Confronting the Heart of a Critic (Hope for the Heart) by [Hunt, June]
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Critical Spirit: Confronting the Heart of a Critic (Hope for the Heart) Kindle Edition

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Other peoples stories. Uplifted by truth.

Tell Your Stories - Photo of Butterfly by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Once you start recognizing the truth of your story, finish the story. It happened but you’re still here, you’re still capable, powerful, you’re not your circumstance. It happened and you made it through. You’re still fully equipped with every single tool you need to fulfill your purpose. Steve Maraboli

Last night at Toastmasters we had four speakers who gave personal stories. Each story was different, each story was authentic, each story had something to teach us.

When we hear what others experience it may resonate with us on many levels. We wish we could have the exciting adventure of deep sea diving with sharks, or we shudder at the thought of meeting a hammerhead shark up close.  We wish we could be as touched by watching a sport as they are, that the World Cup meant something to us, or we understand because it meant the same to us. The humor of the newly married Mrs. everything in its place living with Mr. wherever it lands makes us laugh. A father shares the determination and perseverance his family faced living with a diagnosis that would bring us to our knees.

Some nights are better at Toastmasters than others. There are stories which resonate with us long after they are told. Some stories take such courage to tell we are impressed with the courage to tell them as well as the courage to deal with what is.

They say telling our stories make us stronger. We want to forget, ignore and push away our stories. We wish we hadn’t made mistakes that fill us with guilt, regret, shame. Some of these things were beyond our control some of them we chose. We feel if people knew everything about us they would think we were defective in some way. The truth is when we don’t embrace our own story, we don’t embrace our self.

To live is to write a story. If you are a strong person, your life story will mostly be written by you; if you are a weak person, mostly others will write your life story. Mehmet Mural ildan

As we accept our own story, embrace it and share it with others our story becomes more powerful and bigger than us because now it can help other people. This is probably the process that heals. When we accept our story, we accept our self.

At Toastmasters we speak our stories. In the Writers Group we write our stories. In spoken word we almost act out our stories. With songs we sing our stories. In art we paint, draw, carve, or photograph our stories. We meet over coffee and tell our story. Hair dressers are the audience of many stories people have no one else to tell.

We think to our self, who would want to hear my story? There is no great adventure, no epiphanies of great worth, no lofty goals attained. Those are not what make the story great; we all have a story, the sum total of all we’ve experienced, all that we are. We have stories that last a lifetime because they are our lifetime. Some people like my sister in law can make us fall off the chair when she recounts a trip to Canadian Tire.

It doesn’t matter what medium you find to tell your story. You will benefit, the audience will benefit if you tell it. Find your voice, your medium. You might be surprised the more you write, paint, photograph, sing, speak, the more you have to say, not less. Many of us are bursting at the seams for a way to express our self. When we start expressing our self more bubbles to the surface or sometimes erupt like a volcano. All that pent up emotion and experience just waiting to get out.

We want to reject parts of our story, but only in looking at all of it do we see the patterns of progress. The parts we overcome are what help us grow into the people we become.

One of the reasons Alcoholics Anonymous and all the other Anonymous groups are successful is because people tell their stories and through telling their stories see themselves, accept themselves, help other people, and heal.

Some people believe we talk too much. I believe we mostly talk too little about the important stuff.  By pretending to be better than we are, we don’t accept our self. Every one putting on a show may look good, but underneath is a seething bunch of insecurities and people feeling like a fake. We think you wouldn’t like me if you knew me. Telling out stories lets people get to know us. Through telling our stories we to get to know our self.

Older people are often willing to tell their stories. They’ve come to accept themselves, they quit pretending and realize their life was their life and they learned a lot living it. Lessons they can pass on to the next generation they try to pass on. If we don’t know what else to talk about to parents or grandparents we can ask them to tell us a story about… We don’t need to be old to share our stories.

You don’t inspire others by being perfect. You inspire them by how you deal with your imperfections. Unknown

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Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives Paperback – March 17, 2000


Friends and laughter. Laughter is the best medicine.

Friends - photo of garden by Errol Thomas

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. Helen Keller

Last night we had our book club meeting. We usually meet at a coffee shop. We started doing that years ago because no one has to spend the day cleaning, no family members have to find something to do while we laugh and giggle, and it is so much easier to watch what we eat.

One of our members broke her ankle this summer, she just got the plate and screws taken out yesterday and thought it would be easier if she didn’t have to take herself to the coffee shop. We laughed over pumpkin pie, German cookies and English tea. She had wine but we all drove so we did the responsible thing and declined. We didn’t need wine, only togetherness.

We read books we would never read if we weren’t in a book club. The book pick is a birthday gift from a daughter who works in a book store and loves books as much as her Mom.

Another members is going through family stuff and said she can’t read, can’t concentrate maybe we should do a movie night. We are all up for that. When she heard the book recommendation she thought she might be able to read it. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. We are all intrigued by the title; after all we enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey.

We are able to talk about everything in our book club. If we can’t make sense of nonsense at least we get a few perspectives on it. Life is complicated, everyone is going through something. We help each other by being the listening ear; we see things from different views. Because we aren’t knee deep in each other’s lives it is easier to talk about some stuff.

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship. Thomas Aquinas

I was listening to a talk on YouTube and the commentator was saying we used to get from a village what we now expect from our spouse. It is too much to expect our spouse to meet all our needs. Widening our circle of friends is especially important as we age, when our circle could easily be shrinking instead of expanding.

It seems that after age sixty five friends make a bigger difference in our lives than when we were younger. Strong family ties are linked to happiness, but their importance stayed about the same over our life time.

Valuing our immediate family is good for our health and happiness at any age. The older we become the more important it is to have strong friendships. We are happier and healthier when our friends are happy, and we are more likely to be sick when we don’t value friendships or our friendships are in trouble. Friendship quality, often predicts health more than any of our other relationships.

Joining groups is a good place to meet likeminded people who become friends. Investing in friendships that inspire us to stay healthy gives us a better chance of being healthy. We often have the same habits our friends have. Healthy friends, with healthy habits mean we are more likely to be healthy with healthy habits.

I see this in my mother and her friends. She walks with a friend almost every morning. They met when they bought houses side by side. Mom at ninety three would not be as healthy without the walks or the friendship. If the last new friend we made was years ago maybe we should rethink. We can widen our circle at any age, as we get older it is more important than ever.

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. Khalil Girbran

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Truth and honesty. The courage to be honest and truthful.

Honesty -Chrysanthemum photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you. J. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Last night I read Jordon Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life chapter on Tell The Truth or at Least Don’t Lie. He tells us in paradise everyone speaks the truth, that’s why it’s paradise.

I believe his assertion that we make our life heaven or hell. He tells us the family that fights in the ruins of their home is much less likely to rebuild than the family made strong by mutual trust and devotion. Any natural weakness or existential challenge, no matter how minor, can be magnified into a serious crisis with enough deceit in the individual, family or culture.

He asserts that with honesty we can accept the limitations of our self, our life, our health, accept help when needed and come together in a supporting and sustaining manner no matter the challenge. With love, encouragement and character intact, a human being can be resilient beyond imagining.

My daughter told me last night one of her coworkers said she changed her fiancé. I told my daughter I don’t believe we change anyone but our self. What she probably did is believe in him, this gave him the courage to be the man he wanted to be and the man she believed he could be or maybe already was, deep down.

It is a great thing when we see people as better than they are and they rise to the occasion. Isn’t this what we all hope for in marriage, to bring out the best in someone and have them bring out the best in us?

The only way we can be our best self is to be honest with our self, our spouse, our children, and the world. We aren’t perfect and this is where honesty gets hard, acknowledging to our self and others our imperfections, where we have missed the mark. If we don’t acknowledge these imperfections and missing the mark, where do we go?

The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home. Confucius

This is where half truths, errors of omission, and rationalities come in; we hate to think we didn’t tell someone everything to make our self look better. We can’t even remember exactly what we told them, and they can’t remember exactly what we said. Once we decide to be as honest as we can be on a certain subject we know the pertinent details we include every time. The first time we told the story maybe we weren’t as clear. Maybe we should have thought about what we’d say before we made the phone call.

It is hard to have our every word scrutinized. We see it in reality shows where someone says “I didn’t say that,” but when the tape is played back they did say it or something very close to it. In real life we don’t have a tape to play back, so both people can feel they are right. He said, she said miscommunication is a big thing. Men and women don’t see things exactly the same way; maybe we don’t hear things the same way. Maybe we don’t process things the same way.

Yesterday I said to my husband, “I deserved better.” Where his mind went with that simple statement and what I meant were totally different. He thought I meant I deserved a better, different man. I meant I deserved more consideration from him on a certain subject.

If that simple statement can create such a huge gap in understanding and meaning no wonder we feel at odds as we deal with situations that rear their head in our marriage. We can’t have a relationship of any depth or longevity without issues rearing their head. Dealing with challenges with truth and honesty can be hard when what we said and what they heard have such different meanings.

We sit across from each other while we work. We have all day to communicate. This is a luxury many couples do not have. It isn’t a luxury that is appreciated every day, but we do appreciate it most of the time. It takes time to talk things out, to understand each other’s point of view. The only way any of us can keep our relationships good is through honest, open communication.

There are issues couples fight about, money, sex, boundaries with the opposite sex, values especially around raising children. We need to work through these and find common ground. We might not need to account for every cent we spend but we have to make the budget work. It may be easier to pay the credit card than question why it is higher than we thought it would be. Over time not dealing with the overspending issue of one or both partners will become a big deal. We need to deal with the things that bother us when they arise. They aren’t going away; they become the elephant in the living room. Twenty years ago putting an extra five hundred dollars a month on visa was a relatively small thing. Over twenty years that is one hundred and twenty thousand dollars.

Often we see issues we need to deal with but when we don’t find the courage to deal with them now, they become bigger problems. My mother said to me one day, “it’s always the little things.” She’s right; no matter the situation most of our problems were little at one point. With courage we deal with them when they occur, they are small, manageable, when we don’t deal with them they snowball into situations we can hardly manage, they sometimes become deal breakers.

The difference in long term marriages that work and those that don’t work is probably how they dealt with problems. Couples in marriages that work had courage and dealt with what came up. Couples in marriages that don’t work didn’t have the courage to deal with what came up and pretended they didn’t have problems until they are so large they engulf the whole relationship.

We pay a huge price when we aren’t honest with our self, each other, our children, our parents. If we make it our goal to be as honest as we can in all areas of our life and have the courage to confront dishonesty in our self and other people we create a better life. We may have more disagreements, but those disagreements clear the air and create understanding that not dealing with issues does not.

Maya Angelou said courage is the most important virtue. I think she’s right, with courage we can speak our truth, and hear someone else’s truth and deal with what is.

Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity. W. Clement Stone

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Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth Paperback – March 29, 2005


 

Books are our window on the world.

The Magic of Books photo of bookshelf by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one. George R.R. Martin

This is my 100th post. It seems today I should say something profound. This is one of the problems with what we think are big events, milestones. The magnitude of the situation makes us not be our self.

We over think, we worry, we can’t be our self, we have to be better than our self. This is our first mistake, we are who we are, we can only be who we are. We can be our best self, or our worst self, or somewhere in between but we are always our self. We are enough.

I’m happy in July with my son’s help this blog was created. There are many things I don’t know how to do on my website yet. It’s a learn as I go process. Waiting until things are perfect is how we don’t get done what we want to do. It made sense to wait to start the blog until after my daughter’s wedding. I’m glad I started it before; it was fun to write about the preparations.

What do we get out of the things we do? We feed our soul. Writing for me is how I understand the world, relationships, things that happen. Reading is where we find new worlds, experiences, relationships and answers. Questions we can’t articulate find resolution in books. We experience situations similar to our own through reading giving us an understanding of things we feel, want, or have worried about. We find we aren’t alone in our questions, longings, dreams, fears, and weakness.

Books have been my window into the world. As a child I walked to the town Library at lunch with my arm full of books to exchange for more books. Going to the Library was the highlight of my week. I love libraries, bookstores, and second hand stores that carry books. I love to look at what others have read. There are gems in used book stores we would never find anywhere else. Looking at someone’s bookshelf is like lifting the veil on their inner self. Every book on that shelf is there for a reason. What would people think if they looked at mine?

The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library. Albert Einstein

When I have had questions about relationships, life, health, creativity, I’ve turned to books. Sometimes there are no answers only other people’s questions but they are helpful too. It is comforting to know others have struggled with what we struggle with. Knowing they muddled through can be comfort enough.

At the book store I sometimes look at people and watch what books they pick up, what isle they are in. What brought them to the books on health, relationships, or tarot cards?

We understand people and their struggles in books. We know them more intimately than real people. In books we learn their thoughts. In real life we only think we know what someone is thinking. Part of miscommunication is the distance between what we think they are thinking and what they are really thinking. Books are simplified, only the important is included and we finally see things we have been unable to understand or verbalize. The author simplifies what we find too subtle, complex, or vague to understand. Simplification renders life in a way we can understand it and apply it to our own life and relationships.

Authors cut through the common core of experiences and we have ah ha moments. We come away with more understanding of the struggles, cruelty, injustice and magic of the world. We can reach the highs and lows of emotions as we read, helping us look at the real world with more empathy, hope, and understanding.

Not all books will resonate with us. Even books that everyone else reads and love may not be the book for us. When we find the book that speaks to us our minds become less clouded, our hearts become more open.

If we read widely, deeply, often, we will find books that resonate with us. They speak to us, they change us, they help us feel and understand the human experience. We are truly immersed in another world, time, and experience. We become richer, deeper, and thoughtful as we are able to understand what others experience. The more we read the more we are able to process what we are experiencing. We become more compassionate, empathetic human beings, we can see more than our point of view.

Things we could not experience we can experience in a book. We can understand oppression; we can even understand the oppressor. How one thing led to somewhere no one wanted it to go becomes apparent. We can use what we read as a cautionary tale and apply it to our own lives.

We can recommend or give a book to someone we think will help them when we don’t have words. Books change lives. If we have nothing else to offer someone, sometimes a book is the best thing. We can’t make them read it, but we never know when they will pull it off their shelf or pick it up off their night table and open it to a passage that speaks right to the heart of their problem. Maybe it will never help them, maybe picking it out spoke to the heart of our problem.

Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere. Jean Rhys

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You’ve GOT to Read This Book!: 55 People Tell the Story of the Book That Changed Their LifePaperback – September 4, 2007


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honesty and openness. Listen without being defensive.

Christianity Made the Modern World - photo of pink rose taken by Belynda Wilson Thomas

You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time. M. Scott Peck

Am I the only one that gets asked how are you feeling and don’t know what to say. “Okay I guess.”

I look online and this is the one question being recommended to create a better relationship.

As I sit here thinking does my husband ask me how I’m feeling, or am I okay? It doesn’t really matter I never know what to say, but I do realize he’s making an effort.

The important thing in relationships is we make an effort. When we quit making the effort to communicate, to connect, to have fun, to experience new things, to talk, to laugh, the relationship has nowhere to go. However awkward the attempts we should accept them as gifts, as what they are, an attempt to connect with us.

How are you feeling, how can I help you, what would you like to do, where would you like to go, what do you want? The who, what, where, why, when of our relationships is what we have to build on. If we are with someone, we have the who.

Those of us in relationships sometimes don’t realize how big of a thing it is to have a “WHO”. As we go through life and have arguments, disagreements, disappointments, misunderstandings, we can begin to turn our “Prince” into a frog. If we look too closely at every encounter, every action, every response, we can find fault.

They didn’t respond quickly enough when we asked them a question. They are upset over seemingly ridiculous things “to us.” Each person is affected by what they are affected by. It may seem like a big deal over a seemingly small thing. Even a small thing that doesn’t mean what they think it means, can trigger insecurities and fears. It doesn’t mean their fears aren’t warranted. They are their fears. We have to deal with what is.

When we are hurt we can say hurtful things. We may innocently trigger insecurities, and questions surrounding our relationship may come. We feel hurt, we didn’t do anything really wrong, but the insecurities have been raised. Those insecurities bring questions to our loved ones mind they don’t know how to deal with. It is hard not to get defensive when we feel things are blown out of proportion.

It is hard to understand how someone feels about what we did, but it is something we have to help them deal with even when we don’t think what we did should create such a strong reaction.

We need to understand there isn’t a right or wrong way to feel. We feel what we feel, we have a right to feel what we feel. We need to work through what we feel to get to a better place. If we are to help our partner get through their feelings we can’t get defensive when they try to work through it.

You can have the perfect message, but it may fall on deaf ears when the listener is not prepared or open to listening. Susan C. Young

We often interrupt with “that wasn’t my intention, you’re misunderstanding,” before our partner is done speaking. Listening without getting defensive is a hard skill to master. We as listeners learn to self soothe ourselves by finding a way to not take our partners speech personally. We may tell our self. “In this relationship we do not ignore one another’s pain. I have to understand this hurt.”

Conflict is a catalyst for understanding. It is also a vehicle for personal growth. Oysters don’t intend to make pearls, pearls are the by product of the oyster reducing irritation caused by grains of sand.

We can build our relationship by dealing with conflict, not avoiding it. By dealing with conflict as nondefensively as we are capable we turn our conflicts into conversations that eventually heal the breach. There will always be conflict in relationships. We will always have an opportunity to grow through conflict to a stronger, better relationship if we are willing to work through the hurt, misunderstandings, and miscommunications.

When you talk you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new. Dalai Lama

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Taking the War Out of Our Words

Dec 1, 2016

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