“What area(s) of your spiritual/emotional life have you decided to change and why?”
I came to realize that happiness comes from within… in other words, its not dependent on what is happening in your life (from marriage, a job, to having children, or more). This was a particularly difficult lesson to learn as I went through two divorces years ago. Finally, after much work, I was able to find emotional autonomy:
Nature and self help books were not enough to cure my inner self anymore. I started getting help from a counselor who brought me to realize that happiness is a state of being; it’s a decision to become responsible to take care of your needs…all of them! You don’t rely on external conditions anymore to provide yourself with care, love, food etc. Unfortunately, we’re shown the opposite most of the time in movies and on television series where people are perfect, rich, fusional, always have make up even when they get out of bed in the morning! I call it the Snow White syndrome. The consumerism preaches, “You are what you possess, your status in society, your job, your body, your beauty!”
One of the things I realized during this spiritual and emotional growth is that I do not help myself by thinking in “black and white,” instead of seeing the shades of gray that exist in life. I finally started to see that my own thoughts were chipping away at my potential for happiness. As I stated:
The sole permanent thing in life is the energy that keeps us alive, not the events of life. I often say, ‘you don’t have all the choices about what life brings you, but you have choices on how you will act on what’s there‘ Will you be helpful? Will you pick yourself up and be understanding, encouraging like you would do for others? If not, realize that you feed self-destructing ways of thinking; this is the absence of love…not love!
“What strategies have you implemented to change, who inspired you, person or organization, book, etc.?”
I think that part of what me inspired me to change was merely the fact of some difficult life circumstances and learning how to grow as a result. My motto is “You are what you think, so be aware of what feeds your brain on a daily basis.”
Spirituality cannot be dictated. Each person must find what feed their own soul, whether spending time outdoors, painting, photography, or making music. Sometimes, a healthy escape into a book or a funny movie can change your perspective.
In order to keep track of my inner state, I spend time in silence everyday. I practice awareness. Being spiritual to me is awakening more and more and putting to practice what I read and meditate. I use writing if I’m facing challenges, I confess to my journal, read it back and use the logic of love to welcome my inner child or immature ego who has misconceptions about life and itself.
I find that it always helps to talk. Find a trusted friend, a spouse, or even a paid professional. Pray. Write in a journal. Above all else, remember that you are not alone.
“How have the changes benefited your overall life, happiness up to this point?”
I have to say that this question tapped into a huge turning point for me. When I realized that I alone am responsible for my own happiness and meeting my needs, it was undoubtedly a watershed moment, and very empowering!
One by one, all the situations of the past that used to make me upset or anxious or apparently fighting with life went through an awareness process. Do I still want to treat myself like this? Is my way of looking at this situation helping me, or destroying me? Am I realistic in my expectations toward others? Could my parents have done differently really?
“What message do you have for others who are struggling or embarking on a similar journey?”
Wow – there is so much to share! The most important thing I believe is that you are not alone. Yet, it is critical to remember that happiness (or any emotional state) comes from within and is not a result of your external circumstances. Consider this:
The good news is that you’re not your past, your lost spouse, job, and sickness. Your capacity to love in the now is apparently locked by fear, deception that is part of a survival mechanism. This is normal. As a kid, you had to find ways to evolve in the absence of love and approval at times. So we all develop strategies to survive. For example: “I’m stupid that’s why my father treats me like that, that’s my fault.”
If you want to move on from a hurtful past, you must grieve the child you were – the child you still are! Embrace that person and then become a parent to him or her. This is how you can start emotional healing. Love yourself in the way that you have always desired. In short, I believe that “success relies on unconditional acceptance of what life brings you”.
Here is a collection of books and films I keep on using to feed my soul with positive energies and good influences:
1. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
2. Naomi’s Breakthrough Guide: 20 Choices to Transform Your Life by Naomi Judd
3. Don’t Stop At Green Lights; Every Woman’s Guide to Taking Charge of Her Life and Fulfilling Her Dreams by Peter A. Wish
4. What the Bleep Do We Know!?