Live Respectfully! While you cannot arrange to always feel loving toward your partner, you can make a commitment to never treat anyone, including yourself, with less than respect and to never allow others’ behavior towards you to drop below the level of respect. For instance, consider the difference between saying “That’s not true!” and “I see that differently from you.” The first respects only my point of view. The second recognizes that people who see the world differently are not necessarily right or wrong. They may be only different. Living with respect means respecting both yourself and the other. It means holding a position of valuing each person’s thoughts, feelings, needs, wants and unique experience of the world, even when these are in conflict.
The question arises, “Who defines what is respectful and what is not?” Most of us know intuitively what constitutes respect or disrespect for us. However, it is also important that you and your partner share with each other your own definitions of respectful or disrespectful behavior. To a great extent, respect is in the eye of the beholder. Respecting each other’s sensitivities around what feels disrespectful, even if you do not perceive it the same way, is a powerful move that puts your relationship on a firm foundation of respectful living.
However, you may find that you and your partner have some intense conflicts over what constitutes “disrespect.” For instance, if your partner grew up in a proper New England family where voices and energy are always kept low and calm, they may feel disrespected when you, who grew up in a boisterous Italian family, raises your voice and energy in a “discussion.” On the other hand, you, as the more high energy partner, may feel disrespected because when your partner refuses to engage with you at this level. So now what?
This is an excellent time to practice respect! Both of you can let go of defining your way as “the respectful way” and work to value the merits of the other’s style. You can work together to find a “middle ground” that incorporates both the “peace and quiet” of the “New England” style and the energy and engagement of the “Italian” style. Develop “our” style – one that fits for both of you.
There are a couple of other important points about living respectfully.
Blatantly disrespectful behavior, e.g. lying, cheating, screaming, name-calling, disregarding agreements, poisons your relationship in several ways. First of all, in behaving in these ways, you move to a position of disregard, even contempt, for your partner. From this position, there can be no love or connection. Secondly, when you treat your partner in these ways, they will inevitably build up resentment at being regarded as unworthy of respect. There also can be no love or connection when one is filled with resentment. So, your chance for loving connection takes a double hit.
Lastly, behaving respectfully towards your partner is a critical piece of maintaining your own self-respect. When you allow yourself to be blatantly disrespectful of your partner and/or your relationship, you cannot feel good about yourself. So, refraining from such behaviors is a great way to support your own sense of being a good human being.
I woke up this morning with more aches than a porcupine has quills! My knee, back and shoulder were all seeing who could scream the loudest for my brain’s distracted attention.
Aging and Elderhood, encroaching personal entropy and joyful evolving consciousness!
What a juxtaposition!
While I am extremely grateful for entering conscious Elderhood, I am very aware that my body is slowly running down. I was talking to a friend about running recently and he said, “the older I get, the faster I was.” So true. I was reading recently that the best hope for the world was that more and more people worldwide were living past 50. However, it has also been noted that civilization often advances one death at a time. Enough already – I’m confusing me!
I think it is no longer enough to just get older, even though it’s true that old age is not for sissies! We also can choose to become Elders, and our journey to Elderhood begins in adulthood. I have written about Signs of Elderhood in an earlier post. If you want to become an elder, you have to begin to wake up, grow up and clean up in adulthood. Briefly, cleaning up, in addition to eating healthier and exercising more, usually involves embracing some form of depth work in psychotherapy to heal wounds from the past. Waking up means realizing you need to move beyond religious dogma and become a seeker of what IS and your true nature. Growing up means a willingness to recognize and move through actual developmental stages that we have become aware of in the last hundred years. This work may be very challenging as you transcend and include the mainstays of your culture. All of this is necessary to be able to show up as an Elder and not just an old person.
Gratefully, when you choose to enter conscious Elderhood, there is more to life than aches and pains.
By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
It is very understandable and very tempting to want to prolong adulthood as long as possible. After all, adulthood is the “prime of life!”
Who wouldn’t want to remain in the prime of life as long as possible?
Who wants to look forward to growing older and older and then old age and death?
Given our modern sensibilities and enculturation this makes perfect sense. Without a vision and understanding of the meaning and value of Elderhood, and especially our place or home in this evolving space, the future can look bleak indeed.
Adulthood and all that goes with it IS the prime of life. Prime is from the Latin “primus” or first. For many reasons and for most people in the world, there has been no “secundus, no gracious, zestful second, no Elderhood,” a stage of life that for all of its challenges is even better! This, on the surface, is an outrageous statement to many people. Because as it becomes clearer, Elderhood transcends and includes the arguably best of Adulthood (the growing up, waking up, and cleaning up that is the important work of adulthood), and allows us to become wiser, more loving and more compassionate for ourselves and for all others, who in Elderhood by the way, are no longer “others.” They are us, all of us.
By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
In these disturbing times, what is most calming to me is to thank You for EVERYTHING.
Who is this You I am thanking? The Divinity, evolution, Spirit- in – Action? You go by many names. And thank You for everything? Really? Everything? The total picture of all there is?
Try it. “Thank You for everything.”
All of the good and all of the bad?
Thank You for the total picture of all that is. Can I trust You that much? Do I have to thank you for Trump? Thank you for everything. Don’t make me do it! Thank You for everything. For the horrors of war? For the suffering of children? For my ability to reason, will, feel and act? For our ability together to make things better for everyone?
Thank you for everything, all of the “good” and all of the “bad.” EVERYTHING.
By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
My mostly unconscious prayer all these years has been spare me.
Spare me from the knowledge of who I really am. Because at some deep level it terrifies me. Who am I? Face the fear, the terror. I am that I am. Why am I afraid? Why am I afraid of unity consciousness? Part of me wants it more than anything. I think Jesus must have been terrified at times. I know Martin Luther King was: “Lord spare me from paralyzing fear” was his prayer. Let that be my new prayer rather than spare me from the knowledge of who I am. He didn’t ask to be spared from fear. He asked to be spared from paralyzing fear. Everyone is afraid at times. I believe he asked to be spared from the fear that would stop him in his tracks from doing what he needed to do.
How is this related to the fear of knowing who I really am?
I think it’s because knowing who I really am is inseparable from doing what I need to do. Is doing the way into being, or is being the way into doing: chicken or egg? No matter. It’s back to doing and being inseparable at unity consciousness. No wonder I am scared in this time of Trump. But spare me from paralyzing fear, that I may embrace what I need to do as that becomes more and more apparent in the fierce, unsparing light of deeper and deeper love.
By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Here are seven signs that you have reached Elderhood:
Welcome to Elderhood!
We never outgrow our need to feel loved by the people with whom we are in a relationship. The best way to grow a committed loving relationship is by working to help your partner feel loved by you. Love is the grease that allows the wheel of life to rotate smoothly.
Being a loving partner takes intention and skill. Intention involves the internal commitment to yourself to be kind, considerate and respectful in all of your actions and communication. Skill means that you have been willing to break old self-defeating habits and have learned some new ways to demonstrate the loving side of your nature.
Here are some skills you can practice:
1. Give your partner a verbal appreciation every day! Remind yourself of your partner’s best traits and behaviors and tell your partner how much you appreciate that aspect of his/her personhood. Be explicit and be concrete. “You are a good Mom” is a nice start. “I really admire the way you took the time to calm Jimmy down before you put him in that time out” is more concrete, specific and personal. If you want to learn how to make your appreciations even more powerful, practice telling your partner how you interpreted his/her excellent behaviors. For example, “I really admire the way you took the time to calm Jimmy down before you put him in that time out. When I saw you do that I realized how you are teaching him self-soothing skills even as you are giving him a consequence for his bad behavior. What a great move!”
2. Give your gifts from your heart. Gifts that have strings attached are likely to blow up in your face. When your partner senses that you are being nice because you want something in return, an alarm goes off in your partner’s survival brain that says, “Danger! Danger!” Instead of closeness, you get distance and wariness. And you wonder, “What did I do wrong?” Gifts, (i.e. both verbal appreciations and material presents) must be given freely with loving kindness and without expectations.
3. Use the Platinum Rule. The Golden Rule says, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” This is an excellent principal for treating others with consideration and respect. It is often referred to as the ethic of reciprocity. However, it can backfire in relationships. If you use your behavior in the relationship to attempt to signal to your partner what you secretly want given back to you, miscommunication often results. Take, for example, the anniversary where the husband (who wants more touching in the relationship) gives his wife a fancy electric massage machine. At the same time, the wife (who privately wishes they would spend intimate time reading aloud to each other) gives her husband a book of love poems. They pretend to appreciate what they received from the partner, but secretly feel disappointed and misunderstood.
In place of the Golden Rule, we suggest an updated version for love relationships. Harville Hendrix has called this the Platinum Rule. The Platinum Rule says, “Do unto your partner as your partner would have you do unto them.” Take the time to learn and to remember what your partner likes to receive. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, can help you and your partner understand each other’s primary and secondary love receptors. To become the best lover you can be, you need to give your partner what they most long for, not what you think they ought to appreciate.
Well, folks, evolution has just taken an interesting turn! Interesting in the sense of the Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times!” Many of our clients, and we ourselves, are experiencing deep grief about what seems about to happen to our country and to our world. While we must allow ourselves, and each other, to feel all the intense emotions that come with grief – shock and denial, sadness, anger, fear, depression (despair?) – we also must look for ways to move gradually toward acceptance and going forward with love and strength.
We must remember, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, the arc of evolution is long – and it bends toward beauty, truth and goodness. We also can remind ourselves that periods of devolution are intrinsic to evolution. Cynthia Bourgeault, an Anglican priest and evolutionary teacher, tells us, “Events which, viewed at the wrong scale (i.e. too close up), look like devastating upheavals may actually prove to be relatively minor systemic adjustments.” There is a story about Henry Kissinger asking Chou En Lai what he thought of the French Revolution. His reply was, “Too soon to tell!”
Nonetheless, people can hardly be faulted if, at this time, they view this election as something akin to Armageddon! We want to share with you some perspectives that have been helpful to us in finding some balance and hope in this time.
First, we offer you a brief video with the possibly shocking title: “Why I Am Happy Trump Won!” We hope you find it as enlightening and encouraging as we have.
In addition, we want to suggest to you some thoughts as to how we might respond to this election from the perspective of Evolutionary Spirituality.
Cultural Evolution – Evolutionary Spirituality
Over the next months, as we discover more resources for finding balance and hope, we will post them on our blog. Check it out!
For those who are wondering, “But what can I DO right now?” we recommend the ideas for contributing to the evolution of our world that we shared in our last issue.
We also invite you to join our monthly Salon meetings where we will focus on how an evolutionary perspective on current affairs can help us meet the challenges of these difficult times.
In conclusion, we offer this from Rev. Bourgeault:
“… it is our calling to use our heads and hearts … to look at what is needed now and how we might collaborate (in) creating new possibilities in our world … Let us go forward. There is work to be done: prayer, joy, courage, and strength are deeply needed. And we do know the way there. This is Wisdom’s hour.”
Learn the art of loving yourself at no one else’s expense. This skill is not as easy as it might sound. It means that you hold yourself in warm regard without feeling that you are better than others. And, that you can acknowledge your faults and imperfections without feeling that you are less than others.
One of the most destructive things to self-esteem (and relationships) is the subconscious belief that your personal worth is negotiable or that some people have more intrinsic worth than others. While it is true that people have different levels of wealth, ability, intelligence, motivation, beauty, and so on, you need to avoid the trap of believing that these surface differences determine your core value as a human being.
No matter how much money, ability or friends you have or don’t have, your spiritual value remains the same. All of the surface characteristics can change. Who you are remains the same and that is your value.
Our culture, unfortunately, teaches us that everything is comparative and competitive, including the intrinsic worth of persons. Those with more ability, wealth, achievements, beauty, etc. are looked up to as superior human beings. It tells us that, if you are born a member of a privileged group, you are entitled to more respect than those in less favored groups.
This cultural myth is toxic to everyone’s well-being. Those who, by some accident of birth, have less of the attributes considered valuable, or are members of a less valued group, most often struggle to feel worthy. Those who are born with more tend to base their sense of their worth on these things that are not intrinsic to their humanity and often lose touch with the things that give humans their core value.
If you really want to build your sense of your own intrinsic value you can do this by focusing on developing the qualities that make us truly human.
Love. Take time daily to contact the love you feel for others.
Appreciate beauty. Pause frequently to appreciate scenes of natural, and/or humanly created beauty…. i.e. things that awe and inspire you.
Connect with the spiritual. Regularly bring to mind whatever it is that connects you the spiritual in life.
Cultivate compassion. Take time to reflect with compassion on all those who are suffering or struggling in their lives.
Practice kindness. Regularly make a point of doing small acts of kindness.
Value relationships. Work on improving all your relationships by following the suggestions in this booklet.
These qualities or activities are what are unique to us as human beings. They make us most human. And only we are in control of whether we possess them. We can forget them or lose connection with them but no one can take them away from us.
“To err is human.” We all make mistakes. However our personalities are programmed by our early life experiences so be overly critical and harsh on ourselves. You must learn, as an adult, to practice forgiveness and compassion within yourself. When you fail or behave badly, you practice self-esteem by holding yourself in warm regard while acknowledging what you have done that didn’t work well. When you realize that you have hurt someone, you regret your behavior and decide what you will do differently in the future. You refrain from beating yourself up and indulging in feeling like a loser.
Develop and use a personal mantra to remind yourself of your essential value as a human being. Repeat it in your thoughts throughout the day until it becomes a basic stone in the foundation of your thinking. You might read a book on affirmations to explore how to create a personal version that is individually constructed for your life at this moment in time.
Some examples of personal uplifting sayings other people have used are: “I am a blessed child of God!” “I am no better or worse than anyone else!” “I deserve love and happiness.” “I’m enough and I matter.” Repeat your personal message to yourself twelve to twenty times a day. When you do this you are actually building new neural pathways in your brain. You are re-programing your inner mind to believe in those parts of you that are human, decent, compassionate, humble and virtuous.
Ken Wilber is probably the best known and most prolific writer about the Integral/Evolutionary Worldview. In his latest book, he talks about how we can, in small but powerful ways, contribute to the process of evolution. We found the thoughts below quite inspiring and hope you will also.
… every time your pulse quickens with the thought of a more beautiful, more truthful, more ethical world tomorrow;
… every time you dream the dream of a more inclusive tomorrow, the dream of a more harmonious future, the dream of a more balanced and cherished Earth;
… every time you reach out for a future that is even just a little more Whole than the one today;
… every time you look into the eyes of a young child, perhaps even your own, and wish for them a future of greater love and compassion and concern, and see them smile in the radiant halo of that embracing tomorrow;
… every time you make a choice that is in favor of the betterment of humankind and all living beings in their entirety;
Every time, every single time, you do anything like any of those, you are yourself directly, immediately, and irrevocably … helping to develop a new, more expanded level of consciousness (what we call the Integral or Evolutionary Worldview) and contributing to the further evolution of the Universe.