Shrink the Critic

I was eating in a Phoenix cafe at an open window. A very good-looking family of five walked past the window: mother, father, three small children. The father, dressed in expensive athletic wear (his shoes alone must have cost at least $300), stopped and pointed at a man across the street.

He gestured at a homeless man who was walking and muttering to himself. The wife nodded in agreement to whatever her husband said to her and they laughed as they went on their way.

The young father was judging a man who was clearly struggling by society’s standards. Why? Because the father’s ego was projecting a defense mechanism. Somewhere along the way, this man suffered an emotional injury. He hasn’t worked to defuse his pain (and accompanying anger) and is now spewing his garbage onto his family.

According to Mindful.com, the cure for the critic is to sit and examine your judgmental thoughts. Be aware of your thoughts. Take responsibility for them. Get to the heart of the matter. Defuse your pain and focus on gratitude. You’ll be happier and your loved ones will, too.

 

 

Parenting Breakthrough

 

I’ve discussed my trials and tribulations parenting teenagers here and here and…everywhere.

I had a breakthrough today. If you’re reading this and you’re a perfect parent, well, you won’t be impressed in the least. Maybe I’m a slow learner. But this is a true story.

I was walking today and listening Eckhart Tolle.  I know some of you think it’s all self-help crap and I’m a lost soul…but I have become a better person for it. Anyway, in this particular recording, Tolled talked about the importance of of “space” and “non-reaction.”

The goal, he says, is to feel at peace. At all times.

Just then, my daughter texted me. “—— can drive me to you.”

“Great,” I respond.

“I need to go home and change and do my makeup and then I need to be back at school by 6:15,” she texts.

“Can —– drive you home?” My boss had a retirement party this afternoon. It’d be quite challenging to drive back and forth.

Tolle continues to talk about the importance of space and non-reaction. If you can, create space between yourself and the angry person.

She calls me. I answer. Good, texting is dumb, anyway.

She talks to me in an angry voice. I can hear a bunch of teenagers trying to talk to her. She gets angry at me because I can’t understand her – she’s talking to me, she’s talking to them…I’m confused.

I ask her (again) if —- can drive her home.

She responds with sarcasm and anger. She sighs heavily, as if it’s so hard to have me as a mom. She talks to me as if I’m stupid. Her words become staccato with anger. I. told. you.

I hang up.

She texts me with more anger. Her answers include expletives. How dare I hang up on her!

I text back with: “If you think you’re going to talk to me that way, you’re out of luck.”

I’m proud of my lack of emotion. I feel the anger, but I refuse to react. Eckhart has my back.

Tolle continues, “Someone may even yell at you and you want to yell back, but don’t.” It’s as if he’s walking with me!

So I don’t. I don’t react. I want to, believe me. I want to remind her whose the mom…but I’ve been down that road before and it never works.

It never pays to engage with her rage.

Long story short, she tried to involve me in an argument. She wanted to place blame. She wanted to excuse her horrible behavior and blame me. I stop her. I re-direct her to make a plan. We make the plan. We execute.

Later, she apologizes. She has not apologized in a very long time…months, even.

We hug.

I see many painful moments in her future. She will have to learn the hard way, she always has. But that’s OK. I’ll be here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My “Space” Experiment

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Octavian Rosca

We are all so busy with life: our work, family, and hobbies. My job is very noisy. I’m a teacher in an elementary/middle school and the hallways are filled with children yelling and laughing from very early morning until late afternoon. My students and I have lively discussions and then there are meetings after school. My fellow teacher (and friend!) and I are also sponsoring the school talent show – another boisterous endeavor.

When I get home, my husband and I discuss our day, my kids practice violin and tell us about their day. It’s all good, but…it’s challenging – to say the least – to get some quiet time. And I LOVE, love, love quiet time.

 

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Kristina Flour

In addition to walking my dog after work and walking in middle of the day, I have started mini-meditations. In mini-meditation, I focus on my breathing. This might last 60 seconds or three minutes. I also meditate for 8 minutes in the morning right after waking.

Eckhart Tolle suggests the mini-meditations throughout the day in order to incorporate it as part of your “real” life and not as a compartmentalized portion of one’s life.

It makes sense.

I’ve noticed that since I’ve started this practice of incorporating space into my day, I am experiencing spontanenous moments of peace within chaos. Where I used to feel anxious or stressed, I feel calm and centered.

 

 

Life Is Messy

 

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I was getting uptight again. My husband cut his hair in the bathroom and left little bits of hair everywhere. Little bits of hair lined the tub, the counter top and some hairs made it into my contact lens case.

My frustration felt old and tired. I wanted a change.

The present moment. I’m in the present moment! I am here. But it’s not just being here that’s important. It’s enjoying the present. I decided to like what I see… the hairs belong to my husband. He left a mess. So what?

Life is a series of problems and messes. Living successfully means handling them mindfully. Getting upset over the same thing repeatedly is a waste of time. If you can’t change it, you can accept it and choose to see it differently.

 

 

 

The Non-Judgment Experiment

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Photo from Sebastian Spindler

 

Animals and Zen masters are the most peaceful living creatures. They don’t judge.

 

I’ve noticed that I’m a lot more judgmental than I’d like to be. And this tendency is a formidable block to inner peace.

I’m on a self-imposed challenge: stop judging people. First, I must be aware of when I judge. It’s strongest when I’m driving. Wow! Do I have very negative thoughts! The good news is that it’s completely impersonal. I don’t know these people.  But still…

Will you join me? Next time you’re in the company of one or more other people, notice your thoughts. Are you judging? Be aware. And then let it go. Don’t try to fight it. Just let it go. Just say to yourself, isn’t that interesting? My mind is judging. 

As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.

Gandhi

 

When you change, your world will change.

 

Abundance

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You don’t have to own anything material to feel life is abundant.

I walked my dog this afternoon. Cacti were blooming fire orange flowers. Wildflowers of purple and yellow were sprayed everywhere. Insects and birds were busy working.

If you can find joy in wildflowers and nature around you, then no one can take that feeling of abundance from you.