“I think we must surrender the despair of unexpected cruelty and extend the wonder of unexpected kindnesses to ourselves and to each other.”
– Maya Angelou
I think we all find this difficult to do. Especially people who suffer from severe depression and self-image issues. I think people find it easier to be kind to others and not so much kind to themselves.
How do we be kind to ourselves? How do we believe in ourselves? Others can tell us all they want how beautiful we are, how special we are, how wonderful we are — but if you have a severe self-image problem, no amount of words will ever make it better.
I don’t know how to make this all better — how to convince someone to feel better about themselves. Or how to feel better about myself. It’s impossible. If someone has a solution….please let me know!!!
I am ashamed that we are spiritless now
non-existent & non-functional
without our technology, without our phones,
without our laptops, without our tablets.
You don’t need me, do you? You don’t need my presence.
You don’t need my body language. You don’t need my smile.
Why don’t you need my hug? Why don’t you need the touch of my skin?
I long for you to know my anger…my emptiness…my loneliness.
I long for you to forget your phone and not yourself feel empty or anxious or naked.
Don’t forget that I have eyes that behold the beauty of people
and if you would allow me, I would be enchanted with the beauty of you.
If you would let me.
If you would look deeply at me with your eyes.
What would happen if there were no television? Why would this be good? bad?
I don’t even consider this a legitimate debate! I think society would totally be better off
without television. It’s in the same category, in my opinion, as cell phones.
If there were no televisions or cell phones, we’d all get out and rely on each other’s presence for entertainment. We’d go to concerts and plays. We’d hang out — face to face. We’d talk. We’d truly see each other for whom we really are.
We’d eliminate our sedentary lifestyle — we’d go walking more.
Ha! Haven’t we already, metaphorically speaking, already abandoned the planet? We stopped being responsible caretakers and good stewards of our dear beloved home planet a long time ago.
And if you watch The History Channel at all, you know that the aliens have already arrived. They either arrived and stayed, or arrived and then left us. I wonder which it is? In history, the aliens were responsible for all our fabulous architecture (i.e. the Pyramids) or all our early advances in science (i.e. the Antikythera Mechanism). Currently, if they are still here, they are responsible for all conspiracies, all mysterious events, the banks, politics (after all, all politicians are reptiles, which I actually agree with)…
I watched The X-Files with enthusiasm back in the day…I knew it represented something very essential in our American mythological make up. These myths certainly had fish hooks in my brain (to a certain extent).
But back, briefly, to the writing prompt. How would you even choose a spokesperson for all humanity? Who would be willing to be left behind? How would their cryogenic tank be taken care of????? <practical questions with no real answers>
My UU Church is officially a “welcoming church,” something I am enormously proud of. I don’t think I’d ever be a member of any church or congregation that wasn’t a welcoming church. I just roll that way.
But until recently, I think that just meant for us that we accepted gay people and gay relationships. With the addition of a new developmental minister and his ministerial intern, I believe my UU church has broadened its definition and focus regarding transexuality, gender identity, and fluidity.
The ministerial intern is highly active in trans issues — something I immediately noticed when she used the term “cisgender.” Not a term widely known about, but one that I was recently introduced to and was incorporating into my vocabulary. Learning about these issues is very new to me and I am in that awkward phase where I’m still kind of old school about the binary gender identification — I like to categorize people one way or the other — and alternatively understanding and accepting that people can be anywhere on the spectrum. And that spectrum is probably both a choice and a biological issue? (I don’t know — would have to find out! Would welcome someone discussing it with me!)
Any ways, I am on that fulcrum of accepting and embracing people on the spectrum, and yet being befuddled and confused when interacting with people on the spectrum. Because my need to categorize the person kicks in. What pronoun do I use and if I am not sure, is it okay to ask? Is it okay to be confused? How do I be respectful and is there a “one way” to be respectful or do I have to go through a unique process with each person to determine respectful behavior?
My church’s ministerial intern has introduced our congregation to a lot of her friends. I found myself interacting with one of her friends in a way that I am not very proud of. I looked at this person and just blurted out, “I’m so glad you are here, so glad to meet you, but I am getting mixed signals on your gender!!” After saying that, I felt bad! Ashamed and out of sorts with myself. Because perhaps I wasn’t living up to my UU values???? Wasn’t “accepting”? (And does “accepting” mean “not saying anything?” another question for another time perhaps).
So what I did was go “confess my sin” to the ministerial intern. Oh I was so devastated with myself and so hard on myself and so in doubt with myself about my acceptance of people in all their forms and all their fluidity and all their spectrum!!! (This is an example of what I term “UU Guilt” which is probably yet another blog post!!!)
Later the intern had a lovely conversation with me about this and wanted to work with me about how to handle situations that confused me. She was worried about me — but I was not worried at all about myself, I was more worried about her friend. Because my supreme value and trait that I care about most in myself is caring about how the other person feels. I did not wish her friend to be offended, hurt, feel unloved or unwanted, or somehow questioned. Her friend was totally welcome there and my own reaction and confusion was entirely my own.
Further Reading: http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.aspx
Postscript: I just realized that I started off by mentioning what The Bible has to say about gender, and then never pursued it….so maybe a more in depth topic for the next post???
This morning I was thinking about pain and how it makes you grow as a person. How it makes you resilient. Because pain, both physical and emotional, is a great teacher. It shows that you can endure, get through, and survive.
Today, I am thinking about physical pain. In the past 10 years, I have had 3 surgeries and a broken shoulder. I had my gallbladder taken out on an emergency basis after suffering several years of undiagnosed back pain. I broke my shoulder and it went undiagnosed for several months; PT for it was brutal. I had gastric bypass — that involved both physical and psychic pain. Now, I am recovering from a tummy tuck and a breast lift.
What will all this teach me? What will your pain teach you?
I think one of the biggest things I have learned (especially with the bariatric surgery) is that you can fix yourself physically, but it really brings your emotional and mental baggage to the forefront. Changing your body doesn’t change your emotional or psychological make up. You still have to deal with all the things that made you overweight in the first place. 2 years after my gastric bypass, I think that I still work on my emotional life very hard. I still struggle to overcome self-esteem issues. I still have the desire to eat large amounts, even though I have gotten used to not eating that way. I struggle with the boredom that cooking and eating and dining out used to cure. I work daily on coping skills and activities that keep the boredom demon at bay.
Today, I am learning that this process may never end. Pain will always be my teacher. I will always be learning the lessons.
Well just because I like to remind myself of what I believe in, I’ll repeat some belief statements I just made in another conversation here. it is good to have principles and to stand up for them.
1. Any time I can have a civil discussion I’ll try to have one. It is in my nature.
2. I don’t like judging a whole group of people on the actions of a few.
3. I also don’t think my political affiliation has anything to do with my compassionate regard for people [meaning, generalizing along party lines is an awful lot like generalizing along gender lines]
4. It is your right to dislike or like anyone you please. You also have a right to live your life according to your religious principles
5. .But I will also stand up against labeling entire groups of people based on the actions of just a few or a small percentage of them
6. Humanity — all humanity — is important to me. On a personal level I do not separate out segments of humanity that are not deserving of my spiritual compassion and regard. That is where I am coming from, emotionally and spiritually.
7. Many have forgiven, many will forgive, many will transcend what has happened to them and go on to perform great acts of courage, kindness, and compassion
THE COMPASSION EXERCISE
“Just Like Me” by Harry Palmer
Honesty with one’s self leads to compassion for others.
Expected Result:: Increase in understanding and a personal sense of peace.
Instructions: This exercise can be done anywhere that people congregate (airports, events, beaches, etc.). It should be done on strangers, unobtrusively and from some distance. Try to do all five steps on the same person.
- With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is seeking some happiness for (his or her) life.
- With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in (his or her) life.
- With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person has known sadness, suffering, and despair.”
- With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is seeking to fill (his or her) needs.”
- With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is learning about life.”
Variations of the Just Like Me process:
- Done by couples to increase understanding of each other.
- Done on old enemies and antagonists still present in one’s memories.
- Done on alien life forms.
Copyright 1994 by Star’s Edge, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.