Yes or No, then move on: Part II

Brain Plasticity

At the extreme reaches of brain plasticity, half of a young girl’s brain was removed due to a bad accident. Doctors told her mother the child would never walk again as the parts of the brain that control motor function had been cut out. Yet somehow the brain compensated, using what remained. It rewired itself. Functions made impossible by the removal of one part of the brain were taken over by others. She walked out of the hospital, a medical miracle.

By now you should be getting the idea that you can start over, by rewiring your brain for Happiness. Love. Peace. Serenity.

It is hard to love when you don't feel safe. Safety is a primal need. So, a necessary first step is to learn to feel safe within yourself.

Yes or No, then move on

Learn to feel safe within yourself

Viktor Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist who ended up in a concentration camp during World War II. He survived to write about his harrowing experience. Prior to his internment, he was given an opportunity to flee to America. But because his family could not accompany him, he refused to leave. The consequence of his decision was years of huge disrespect.

After returning to a fairly normal life, and in writing about his experiences, he explained that his captors could take away his Liberties, but they could not take away his freedom unless he let them. They could remove his clothes, but they could not remove his dignity. They could not have his soul unless he gave them permission.

One thing you can give yourself—and everyone has this ability—is dignity. You do not need others to approve of you. Give yourself permission to be who you are.

A client once asked me to help her find self respect. Respect is defined as “a deep for someone or something elicited by abilities, qualities, or achievements.”

Respect for others is conditional. “I respect you because…”  …you have letters after your name… …You have a position… It comes to you by regard of position, fame or wealth. Such respect is impermanent, temporary; it is lost when the status is lost.
Or “I respect you because…”  …you have been kind to me… Such respect arises from virtues like honesty, kindness, commitment, patience and a genuine smile. Yet, this too can be lost if current behaviors begin to contradict those virtues.

Self respect is unconditional. You do not have to receive it from anywhere or anyone. It is yours. You can claim it or not claim it. It is still there.

Self respect is a sense of knowing who you are. No matter what people say, you retain a sense of self.

This kind of respect no one can take away. It is from inside. The more you call on these virtues, the more self-respect you have.

On the other hand, if you get attached to your own virtue, you can start to look down on others, which makes virtue squishy. Therefore, to maintain the highest level of self respect, practice non-attachment to your virtues.

Self-respect vs. Ego

Often people confuse ego with self-esteem. Ego needs other people for comparison. The bigger your ego, the more you are scared what people will think of you. Self-esteem is simply confidence in oneself.

For example, if someone claims to be good at math and geography, that is self esteem. To say “I know better than you,” that is ego.

But it is often more subtle than that. If you get upset about what other people think of you, it means you are holding yourself up to some sort of standard, and that is where the competition is. Ego is an indication that you lack respect for yourself. The more ego you have, the less respect you have for yourself.

This also holds true for self-important yackers, people with a need to dominate conversations and group decisions. Lack of self-respect causes them to impose their thoughts and opinions regardless of others. Truly confident people do not have that need. So, whether it is too much self-importance, or a total lack of self-importance, it is an ego issue.

Ego upsets you. Self-esteem is immune to getting upset by external factors. You know who you are. “It is okay if you like me. It is okay if you do not like me. I know who I am. I happen to like me whether you like me or not.”

“I choose how I feel. My feelings are mine and mine alone. Nobody can make me feel.”
Nobody can make you angry. You choose to be angry.

In self-respect, everything is a gain; Winning and losing has no meaning. Every step is joy. Every move is celebration.

Stop betraying yourself

Sometimes you feel bad because you have betrayed yourself. You betray yourself if you do not trust yourself. You betray your self when you say yes but you want to say no.
Consider how many times, and in how many ways, you betray yourself.

Imagine you need medical attention but claim you cannot afford it. It sounds like a financial reality, but in reality you have made a choice. Unless you are completely destitute, you have some money. And you spend it on choices you deem more important than taking care of yourself.

As long as you are alive, as long as you are breathing, everything you do is a choice, conscience or otherwise.

Choice is the boon and bane of humanity. You have the ability to make decisions for yourself. But you ignore it. You lie to yourself. You create excuses.

“I can't afford this.” Does that mean there really is no money? Or is it, “I cannot afford to care for myself because someone else in my life has a need and I am choosing to take care of that first.”

“But I love my babies.”  How many children do you have? Three. That means you have 3 enormous excuses not to live your own life, not to be who you are. Then you blame your children for the lies you tell yourself,

It is not that you should allow others to suffer needlessly; but you need to include your own needs in determining priorities. After all, a sick mom is very ineffective and a dead one is quite useless.

Take care of yourself first

If you do not take care of yourself first, you are useless to anybody else. If you lie to yourself, and betray yourself, then everything you do in life is a lie.

When you are totally honest with yourself, you speak up. You say what you feel, at the time you feel it, to the person who needs to hear it. That is better than waiting until someone is dead, then you go spit in his face in the coffin.

I tell people, if you want to buy me flowers, buy me flowers now; don't wait until I am dead. I do not need flowers at my funeral.

Until you choose to take charge of your life, until you choose to stand up for yourself, everyone will treat you like a doormat. Until you stand up for yourself, you will remain a doormat; and people will wipe their dirty feet on you.

Be a leader in your life and home

Consider the sign I see in some kitchens; “If mama’s not happy, no one is happy.” As mother, you set the tone for your family; so you have a responsibility to take leadership in your household. Your children look up to you.

If you are a mom, you have to be a leader. Take the lead in your life or someone else will lead it for you. That your children do not listen to you does not make them bad at following, it means you are ineffective at leading.

If you do not like your life up to this moment, you have to change it for you, but also for your children. Then teach your children how to change their own life if they don't like it.

Teenagers are a tough age to deal with. And there are tough things you have to do; such as setting boundaries. It is their will against yours. They have to be held accountable for their behaviors.

I hate to hear children yelling at their parents. It is disrespectful. Peace begins with you. Respect begins with you. If you do not respect yourself, how do you expect your children to respect you?

How do you behave in ways that other people can see you respect yourself?

Teach your children the appropriate way to address you, and hold them accountable to it. With children, point out what they do right. Too many times in teaching and parenting we harp at kids, telling them what they did wrong; but then neglect to teach them the right thing.

Too many times, you may suggest a consequence you are unwilling to hold child accountable to because it makes you look like an irresponsible parent. For example, you tell the child, “If you are not ready to leave the house for school by 7:15, I will take you in whatever you are wearing. That includes pajamas.” If that is the consequence, you have to follow through on it, otherwise you lose credibility, you lose respect. It's easy to make such warnings, but harder to follow through; because when you drop the child off at school in his pajamas, you worry about how it makes you look as a parent. That is your problem. If the consequence is effective, the child will not make that choice again. If the consequences not effective; i.e., he doesn't mind going to school in his pajamas; then it is not a consequence that really holds him accountable in the first place. By the way, your willingness to follow through on the consequence says more about you, and how you respect yourself, then it does about the child.

If the child is not listening, it is not the child's fault. There are no stupid children. There are only stupid parents. That applies to teachers as well. And therapists.

The challenge is to find the sweet spot between wimp and drill sergeant. You want to discipline children with love. They need guidance. But, again, start with yourself. How disciplined are you? How much self-respect do you have? How much self-respect do you command?

Respect usually begins with a sense of admiration. What do you admire about yourself?

Start with loving yourself. When you love someone else, how do you show it? When you love yourself, you make a decision; yes or no; than you move on, regardless of the consequences, accepting that you are doing the best you can, and learning to do better with each decision you make.

To forgive requires that you own your suffering, only then can you give it away.

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