Monday, March 29, 2010

Relapse, Remorse & Respect

This weekend, I got sleepy, sloppy, and comfortable and as a result acted foolishly, arrogantly and disrespectfully.  Very embarrassing.  Proof that the moment I start to think I have something down, I'm probably messing it up in that same breath.

Due to recent events in my own attitude, today I'm skipping to chapter 12, "R-E-S-P-E-C-T".  This is a concept that to begin with seemed foreign and almost made up to me when first presented, but has proven to be a pivotal need in my relationships, especially my marriage.   As a female, respect always registered as a synonym for something else like love or kindness.  It took me a while to really get that it consisted of attitudes and actions (even down to a few word changes) that could fill my husbands needs and ultimately give me what I'm needing as well - really change our whole life together!

-How do you register on his respect meter? One of the most eye opening experiences is to ask, "do you ever feel disrespected by me?" and then "what are the things I do that disrespects you?" Intentions count for very little in this department, I found out.  Regardless of what you intended or even thought you were doing, certain things can still be disrespectful and sabotage good things you're trying to do.

-Accepting him for who he is - This acceptance can feed an open spirit towards you, rather than shutting him down and pushing him away for who/how he is.  This is one of those things that I thought I did  (accept him) but really wasn't. Everything from being more like a girl, more like me to just being what I wanted, not what was best or even wise, I found myself expecting or demanding, none out of respect for him and all making him feel as though openness with me was pointless.

-Respecting your personality differences - Similar to the previous one, but it focuses more on taking those differences and allowing them to enhance your relationship. Those differences are part of what attracted you in the first place. Why do we suppress that?

-Choosing words wisely - As women, we can take the words men say and boil it down to meanings they didn't really intend. "It's okay" suddenly turns into "I hate it and think you are dumb for even suggesting it".  Well, turns out, much to my surprise, guys aren't much different. Certain phrases or questions can be triggers that send them into a despair of sorts, not that different than us.  The phrases and triggers are just different. The best example that I've seen in myself and Randy is this: I say, "Why are you doing it that way? This way makes more sense!" In my mind I'm just trying to help and share my 'experience and wisdom'.  But he hears, "You're stupid, certainly not as smart as me and can't do anything right on your own!"  This is especially where asking him what makes me feel disrespected is helpful because, if you're like me, you might be really surprised at the seemingly 'little' things that totally set them off.

It's kind of a heavy day for me.  I hate it when things get out of control, I feel like the ground I gained just slips away from me and feel no better than years before.  But I guess there is much to be thankful for in second (and fortieth and 100th) chances.  It is a beautiful new SPRING week that can hold many wonderful things. Hope we can find them all!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Emotional Escalators

Since I haven't been feeling well lately, Randy has been very gallant in picking up the slack, especially regarding dinner.  Last night was no exception and after we'd finished eating, his return to the kitchen kind of overwhelmed him.  All the food was out, nothing had be pre-cleaned as I've better about in the last few months, it was just all sitting their waiting on us (him).  So he dove in and started cleaning up, but clearly frustrated with the situation as a whole. He told me what the problem was when I asked, but it didn't seem to help either of us.  He was not happy and let me know it.  I told him I could manage the rest and sent him off to shower.  He didn't shower, but picked up his guitar and played for the next 45 minutes or so.  Why am I telling you this?  This little minor situation could have been a ridiculous fight not that long ago.  I most likely would have done 3 of the 4 things the next chapter talks about NOT doing.  I would have absorbed his stress and obsessed about how I felt (sweating the small stuff), ignored/scoffed at his need to relieve stress through taking some time to play the guitar (letting his quirks drive you crazy), and gotten my feelings hurt b/c he was expressing frustration in the general vicinity of me (taking things too personally).  It is amazing how much holding my tongue can be the best thing I could ever do.  Anyway, the point is 'Riding Emotional Escalators', the name of chapter 7, is the fuel to almost every fight we ever have.

-Sweating the small stuff : Sometimes things don't go as planned. At these moments, it is common to let our emotions escalate into anger, frustration, resentment or deep depression often AT our spouse, which usually just makes matters worse.

-Letting his quirks drive you crazy: How often do you find yourself reacting negatively to your husband because of some quirk (bad with directions, takes weeks to make a decision, any number of things that just gets on your nerves)?  All quirks can have a good/valuable side, we just have to be willing to accept/love our spouse, quirks and all, instead of griping, nagging, belittling and alienating them b/c of them.

-Refusing no as an answer: For me, this one his HUGE.  I never learned respect in any real sense and so accepting anyone's no has never been a pleasing option to me. In the book, she relays a couple of situations where accepting her husband's no, first time, actually turned into a yes, b/c of how moved he was with her respect and courtesy.  In trying to accept Randy's decisions without argument, I haven't always gotten my yes anyway, but it helped me love him better and he in turn appreciated me more.  It takes a lot of effort and discipline sometimes, but this alone does more for both of us than just about anything.

-Taking things too personally: Her overall advice on this is to take your husband's words literally rather than taking them personally. Sometimes a sigh is just a sigh. If he says he's not thinking anything, believe him and move on.  The reactions we give into are usually a sign of needs of our own that would be better met if discussed outright rather than taking unrelated comments personally.  This relates well back to the game playing and manipulation we can find ourselves in.

I'm telling you every time I read from the book, write or talk about it, I become so convicted.  There is so much garbage that I can create in our life just out of emotional reactions.  I am just so thankful that I've been given the opportunity to see it for what it is and that Randy has been patient with me.  I know some people think I'm crazy, but I love learning and love actually learning to be better at life.  Hope is a great thing!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Games We Play

Movies, books and pop culture has talked about the games we play between men and women.  Everyone has an opinion too.  'Never play games'  'The only way to get them to like you is to...' 'If you don't'll never get what you want'   I'm not going to speak for guys but I think as girls we have grown up in a society that teaches us to manipulate in order to survive.  If you want to be in control (which we all ache for daily) then you have to work the system(your husband, kids, job).  Coming into my marriage, I didn't consciously think like that - "I have to manipulate Randy to have the life I want" but that was ultimately how I acted.

In chapter 6 "games women play" (of Every Woman's Marriage by S & G Ethridge), she discusses 4 games we commonly find ourselves in that sabotage the good we might think we're doing.

-The Mommy-Child Game: The mothering instinct goes into overdrive and we treat them like a child, going beyond simply helping them, but caring for them as though they could not ever for themselves. Men will find it humiliating, especially in public.  They need a wife, not a mother. (I'm paraphrasing her)

-The Spoiled Child-Sugar Daddy Game: Acting like a spoiled child way into adulthood, throwing fits until getting your way, with such phrases like "Am I not worth it?" "I've given him my whole life, the least he can do is buy me ______" "Why don't you splurge on me like you did when we were dating?"  Money being an issue in almost every marriage, manipulating your husband to squeeze more out of him is never healthy.

-The Holy Spirit-Wretched Sinner Game: The assumption many women make is that they are more spiritual than their husbands and as such, males should default to their moral decisions and judgements.  This reminds us that as women we can only model the abundant Christian life, not force them to live and experience it the way we see best.

-The Patient-Psychotherapist Game: Even though the task is enormous, we often expect our spouse to be our therapist.  A good listener, loving advice - yeah, but sometimes if there are deep issues, it is unreasonable to expect one (untrained, emotionally involved) person to be responsible for your emotional turmoil.

And wouldn't you know, I've played all 4? A lot of this is behavior that we mimic with consciousness of it, which makes it some of the most dangerous.  I have smothered Randy with my mothering insults, demanded physical manifestations of his love, claimed I had more spiritual knowledge or a better barometer, and demanded he help me deal with any or all of my issues!  The reality is, habitually acting in any one of these ways will complicate any relationship and never bring out the real fruit we are after.  It takes a long time I think to undo the habits.  For me, I have to remind myself what is manipulating, taking personal inventory to see if what I'm saying is really what is happening or if I'm ultimately trying to prearrange the end result.  What I wonder is if there are some other games we play, especially in girl/friend relationships.  Any thoughts?

Monday, March 22, 2010

That Broken Road

When Randy and I first got married, I had no clue what I was doing.  No clue.  I wouldn't have admitted it then, but, safely in the future, I freely admit it now.  We both have had a hand in creating exactly what God didn't intend in a marriage, but I honestly believe if I had known some things and practiced them from the beginning, it would have made a huge difference.  The cool part to this laborsome confession is that I recently found a book that pretty much itemized every mistake I've made in the last 3 and half years.  As with anything, reading a list of dos and don'ts won't grow you a perfect marriage overnight but I think if I had read, taken to heart and tried to practice some of the attitudes this book talks about, our relationship would have been different from the get-go.

So, this week I'm going to try to do an extended (loose) book review of "Every Woman's Marriage" by Shannon & Greg Ethridge.  The point for me is to stay accountable and conscious of the bad attitudes and ideas I can so easily slip into if I'm not careful.  Writing about them helps that a lot for me.

I'll start on the book tomorrow but today I have to build a context.  As we've talked about before pride is such a silent poison that if you don't point it out, label it and keep on the lookout for it, it'll get you every time!  Pride is the thing I brought into marriage that has prompted some of the ugliest moments in my relationship with Randy.  Dwelling on what I deserve, offended at what I didn't deserve, expecting everything but putting in very little, assuming him (and the rest of the world) is just like me, or at least they should be - all of these things sprung up because of the pride problem.  All of it comes back to how worthy I feel like I am and then demanding appropriate behavior.  And when I say demand, I also mean beg, nag, reprimand, throw a fit, mean-spirited, etc. Ultimately, getting my way and what I thought was right, important, best, whatever, was what it always came down to.  Learning to swallow my words regardless of how deserving I thought I might be, is the best peace and unity seeking tool I've ever discovered.  

Anyway, I say all of that to let you know how royally messed up I can be and am from time to time.  On the other hand, I am really happy (blessed, content, whatever word you prefer) in my marriage.  Haven't always been, but over the past several months I have been more and more.  Not because I'm great. Not because Randy is perfect. But because God is good and merciful in allowing me to learn to be better.  I hope you are happy and if you are - share with me some of your secrets!  Maybe it's all in my head, but a lot of people don't seem happy.  And everyone has burdens that I'm sure I can't begin to understand, but through some major mess ups and a nice summary in this book, I'm trying to learn how to make life, full of worry and pain, not a burden at all because of who is standing next to me.  And if it can help you or prevent you from making some of the same mistakes as me, yay for you!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Peanut Butter & Syrup!

I guess you could call this my version of 'What Works For Me', because this is something that I love and works well for me!  Counting calories has never been anything I desired to do or was ever ANY good at.  Still, at the first of this year I was super motivated and more or less have consistently counted since then.  Included in my 'diet' of sorts has been to cut out all manner of refined sugars, white flour, etc. We've been getting Smucker's natural peanut butter
and some kind of sprouted bread for a while.  At the health food store I have tried out different kinds and narrowed down what we like the best. A few weeks into my counting calories, 
I had a piece of Alvarado St. Flax Bread
  as toast, smeared a tablespoon of peanut butter on it and drizzled 100% REAL maple syrup on it. Delicious if you ask me! But I had indulged and was fearful of how I would have to pay for it (in calories).  I cannot express to you my excitement when I discovered that for TWO pieces of that bread, it was not only 100 calories but only 6 grams of carbs!! Plus, it's flax so it has good fats and good source of roughage! If you don't pay attention to this kind of stuff, I'm sure you think I'm nuts, but trust me, it's very exciting.  Anyway, that little concoction is my idea of a great dessert substitute when you're trying to be really good. Plus, maple syrup (the REAL kind) is much gentler on your blood sugar - easier to assimilate or something.

Anybody got any healthy snacks that feel like they shouldn't be good for you? :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hodge Podge

Weekly pride update:

After contemplating the subject all last week, the most significant effect has been a significant decrease in automatic judgements.  The option of judging still presents itself from time to time, but more often than not, I've been able to ignore it.  Hallelujah!  Still, the natural thing for me, once I've tried to 'deal' with an issue is to get comfortable, thinking I've got it all under control.  And that, my friends, is exactly when it'll all creep back in and attack.  So, perhaps updating on the issue will help to refocus my attention.  We'll see.

And now for a plug on writing (publicly or privately):

As Calvin illustrates as only he can, most of us feel like writing, especially writing about our life, has to be full of grand adventures, meaningful experiences and what not.  Sure, if you've lived an exciting life, it'd be good to write it down. But writing can serve a much greater purpose in your life and, if you choose, other people's lives as well.  Have you ever had someone sit down and say "hey, do you need to talk?" and your response is "No, I'm fine." But then as you get to talking, the words start to come out wave by wave? The more you talk the more you realize you need to talk more?  Maybe it's largely a female thing, but writing is one of the BEST tools for sorting yourself out or keeping yourself on track/in tune/centered.  When I go for too long without writing of some kind, it's like my soul gets backed up and the irrationality starts to take over.  Randy journals off and on and I can always tell a difference when he's kept it up for several days.  He's more insightful with what's going on inside of him, he's more patient with me and overall happier.  Whether it is something that you would want to bound for  your grandchildren, the world or burn at the end of the year, I believe it is a healthy and productive practice. :)

Gratitude is in order:

Since I decided to write regularly, several people have commented and even more have read this blog regularly.  Thank you for it all.  I know you don't have to and it most likely will not change your life, but I appreciate your presence and, especially, your kind words and feedback.  Sometimes I stink at being a people person and even more often I stink at adequately expressing myself in person.  This venue makes it much easier for me and your reading and comments are like a big hug to me.  Reminds me that I'm not alone and that, on occasion, others have struggled where I am.  

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Control, Are You With Me?

Control is one of my favorite things, in case you didn't know it.  Being in control of things, circumstances, feelings, or even everything is something that I thrive with.  That, I think, is at least partially a human attribute so I expect most people feel that way some days.  And being in control - self-control - is healthy, good thing.  But, sometimes you lose it, through circumstances beyond your control.  Like this morning.  Evidently this morning I slept through our 5:30 alarm and Randy decided we needed to sleep instead of going on our morning walk.  That fact, no matter how much I might have needed to sleep or appreciate Randy's mercy on the issue, puts me behind and a little less 'under control'.

Of course that is a minor setback, I know.   What if you were injured, a family member is sick, you are sick (or pregnant like EVERYONE these days) and whatever the reason cannot perform certain duties on time, in the same way or maybe at all.  For us control loving people, that can push you over the edge!  In major or minor situations, you really have two options for reactions.  You can get frustrated, upset and resist the reality - which has been my knee-jerk reaction and gets you nowhere but further behind - or you can accept the reality and shift where necessary.  At 5:30 am, it is still dark anyway so we agreed to walk tonight after work, even though it will be dark.  I'm reminded of those who experience strokes or debilitating accidents where they have to relearn how to speak and do simple tasks.  Resisting and sulking only pushes success further back, no matter who you are and what your situation is.

I guess growing involves shifting.  If we're unwilling to shift when we need to, ultimately we're unwilling to grow.  Here's to a growing day!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The BIG Picture

Another weekend in the books.  For those interested, John Mayer was impressive, as always. His interaction with the crowd seemed less or maybe a little stiffer than last time, but considering his media attention as of late, it's understandable.  We had a great time!    Here's a video from last night of his final song, Gravity.  Yes, it is 9 minutes long but it's worth the time, if you have it.

I read an article this morning on finding God's will that was excellent! She used Micah 6:8, which says:
I won't repeat the entire article because it is well worth your time to read, but the point is that if we are searching for this huge will of God, often times we end up ignoring what He is saying, in hopes of something bigger and louder.  I like to make big changes or at least I get excited at the thought of huge overhauls to parts of my life.  What I've found is that it's usually in the little things that I need to be different.  I changed majors and 'career paths' more times than I can count.  A lot of my problem was fear but, as I've mentioned on here before, it was also a lack of patience and willingness to do the little stuff that I thought didn't matter or shouldn't have to do for life to be different.  With school, I always ended up blaming my restlessness on just not finding the right 'thing'.  I rationalized that I probably just hadn't found my thing.  I think I didn't bother to listen to anybody, least of all myself.  I was looking for the perfect fit where I would be a natural and change the world! Now, if I had it all to do over again, I would would still major in music but just study piano pedagogy.  I knew how to play and enjoyed it.  The problem was that I didn't want to do the little things, like practicing.  I wanted to be good out of the box. My patience was low and tolerance for baby steps non-existent.  The thing is, I can play the piano. I know that.  Can I be better? Couldn't we all be a little bit better at anything with a little more attention and practice? Anyway, the point was I didn't need to go jumping around, overhauling 7 times. I started right where I needed to be, I just refused to listen and do the work.

When most of us "look" for God's will it's easy to look for a huge role, change or direction.  We want to be in the middle of something big going down.  And maybe you are.  But, what I'm learning is that I can't look for the big stuff, especially when I refuse to do the little stuff. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God.  Once I'm doing all of that well, then I might be able to ask God for something 'big' but I think this is enough to keep me busy for now.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Keep Me Where The Light Is

It is Friday and a beautiful morning already! I've never been so happy to see hints of spring! I also have a spring in my step because Randy and I have the pleasure of seeing John Mayer tonight! I know some might snarl at any of his indiscretions, but the good that I have witnessed in his music writing, personality on stage and blues guitar skills has produced a genuine fan in Randy and I.  Can. not. wait!  If you're unfamiliar with him and at all curious, here are a couple of videos, though they alone don't do him justice.

This is one of my favorites.

This one highlights a little of his sweet guitar skills. :)

Anyway, as a ending to this week thinking heavily about my pride, I have a request.  I understand that you may decline and that's fine, but if you ever feel inclined, please go right ahead.  If you ever witness prideful words, attitudes, anything coming out of me, whether to you or to anyone else, would you bring it to my attention? Throughout this week I've experienced moments when I remained humble and silent and also moments when I vomited up prideful everything.  I really like and feel blessed by the humble moments.  I like how they impact my relationships with others and my attitude towards God. Therefore, #1 it is a worthy goal for me and #2 I suspect maintaining it will be much harder than I realize.  

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Any advice on maintaining humility and keeping pride out?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

And it's self for the block!

The other day Hannah mentioned that having pride in your life will undoubtedly hinder or block any real growth.  Makes me think of playing Connect 4 and not being very good at it.  Everything you go to do your opponent hijacks it and you just want to quit.

And if you think about it, isn't that what a lot of not growing is all about?  Why don't we grow, why don't we get better at living this life we've been given?  The number one answer, I suspect, would be that "I just can't"  or "It is impossible", but what does that really mean? Doesn't it really mean we don't want to or think we shouldn't have to work that hard to make us/circumstances/lifestyles different?  Somehow we deserve an easier way or a faster answer.  Isn't that just pride at the bottom of it? Maybe I'm giving pride too much power but hopefully you see the point.

With my analytical brain comes the observation of weaknesses or improvements needed (I'm now convinced I should've been a quality control person somewhere) and as long as I'm just concerned with myself I can probably be safe.  But most of my life it has rarely stayed confined to just myself.  So, here I am, walking around full of ideas and observations (even a few answers I think are good) ready to help the world!  The deal is either nobody told me or I thought I knew better that people don't like being told #1 what's potentially wrong in their life and #2 how some person (ME!) thinks they should fix it.  So what, you say?  Well, so what I thought was a strength (because it came so easy to me) was actually wrapped up in one of my great weaknesses.  I guess I've moved on from trying to convict myself of the sin of pride and now trying to relearn how to live my specific life in humility.  Since so much of my nature involves these analyzing, dissecting, improving patterns, I'm having a hard time knowing what to trust, what is born of pride and what is good.  Anyway, that's where I'm at today.

On a happy note, I got a glimpse of several bulbs coming up in my yard yesterday!! I never used to understand gardener's 'spring fever' but I've never been so excited to start gardening in my life!  Yay for a warm week full of sunshine!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

If You Love Me, Agree With Me!

When I was about 12 I remember having all of these very 'monumental' thoughts about who I was and who I wanted to be.  I felt completely alone in the task set before me of determining what my personality was, how others would think of me, my likes and dislikes.  I secretly felt as though no one else really thought about these things, certainly not at 12! Little did I know that I was as normal as you could get in all that.  What is so heart-wrenching is that so much of our entire identities is determined from 12-18.  The course of our life can be set in motion with hormones raging, insecurities blasting and a partially-formed brain.  That is definitely one of the topics I'd like to see covered at the "What You Always Wanted to Ask God" conference in heaven.  Why? Why send us through acres of land mines with no eyes? :)  Anyway, this identity that we form often stays very close throughout adulthood.  Sure, life changes, but I've found in myself that the way, the people and the things I identified myself with haven't changed all that much.  And sometimes this is a very bad thing.

One of the triggers I mentioned yesterday was encountering people and situations where we don't agree and approaching it as an attack on my very identity.  I was thinking about WHY disagreements register as an identity attack with me and I came to a couple of conclusions.  First of all, the way I developed my own identity growing up (I think) is looking for someone who I liked or felt good about - and this almost always meant that I agreed with them on some important things (or  better, they agreed with me).  If the opposite were present (we didn't agree), I wouldn't like much about them and discount any identity building aspect as not good.  That sounds a little confusing already but not sure how else to say it.  Isn't that part of human nature a little bit? Those that we like we start to identify with and those we feel similar to/identify with we like more?  So that is normal, but living as though everyone who sees the world a little different than you is attacking your very identity and you cannot be friends/colleagues/alright with each other in any way unless you completely agree is dumb.  I live that way even in my marriage sometimes and I admit it - it is dumb.  Randy has helped me see it more clearly by often saying that just because we are disagreeing doesn't mean I stop loving you.  The idea that I can be loved and disagreed with at the same time felt odd to hear out loud. It was  then that I realized how much of my life was functioning as though agreement was mandatory for maximum love.

Especially in regards to my walk down pride path, there is a second issue that arises.  This need for agreement to validate identity often results in me throwing around guilt like it's nothing.  If you aren't acting, thinking, being how I see the world, then #1 I feel attacked and #2 in order to protect my attacked feelings I attempt to guilt you into seeing the world my way.  Another way of saying it is throwing around guilt is my way of (trying to) controlling the situation.  And of course, all of it points directly back to pride, specifically a protective pride.

I guess the one thing I can take from all of this 'disagreement discussion' is to slow way down every time I encounter a disagreement and think long and hard before any action occurs because a chain reactive pride is undoubtedly loitering in the wings waiting to jump out and dance out of my control! (Thanks Shannon for the visual inspiration!)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Red Alert! Danger!

As kids learn the piano, there is a very clear (planned) shift from playing notes to reading music. Within just a couple of weeks they progress a great deal in their skill by making that one shift.  The funny thing is, the kids usually don't realize how big of a deal it is.  Take an adult with no prior music reading skill and try to do the same thing and typically it is more difficult and overwhelming.  On occasion, an adult student will trust the teacher enough to just go with the process ( assigned pieces, practice, etc.) with the faith that by following through on all of it, the skills will come in the appropriate time.  But adults seem to be much less trusting than children and, as a result, have a harder time progressing with ease. It seems to me that this a good example of 'becoming like little children' and some admonition for myself in how I approach change in myself.  In my desire to eliminate pride and arrogance from my heart and mouth, I've been looking for a trick or a method to 'fix' it.  It occurs to me that if I was aggressively and proactively pursuing God's will for a follower of Him - the fruits of the spirit, etc. -   and trusting him, like a child would, to bless the process, my situation might be much different.

Nonetheless, there are a few indications I've thought of that should raise some flags in my mind that pride is near.

-Evaluating/Comparing: My brain is pretty analytical (about things I know or like, ex. people, relationships, circumstantial ethics, etc.) and with every breath, I can find myself evaluating something.  While that isn't inherently wrong or necessarily an indication of pride in myself, it can result in it.  Evaluating often leads to comparison.  Comparison will either result in thinking myself better than someone else or thinking myself less of someone, which will result in building myself up further to compensate.  No matter what, the temptation to feed my prideful ego can be very heavy.

-Speaking quickly, rashly or very emotionally: Again not always bad, but it does increase the risk.  When I speak quickly, it could be that I've not thought about it OR my emotions are so big on the issue that I wanted to jump fast.  Either way, when my emotions or lack of thinking are present, I often make an assumption that everything I say will be right.  There's no checks or balances on anything so pride can be sky high before there is any clue.

-Interacting with people who differ from me: Whether it is a spiritual opposition, personal preference or complete lifestyle difference, I have the tendency to put up a large defense that is very destructive in my life.  Somewhere I got the idea that a difference of opinion is automatically a challenge to my very self and principle values.  Especially when you write it out, isn't that silly? There is an entire world who does and thinks at least 1 thing different than I. That in no way means the entire world is out to challenge and destroy everything I think is important. Yet, that is a very tempting way to react, which then leads me to justify and build up everything I think, again placing it higher than everyone else.

I heard Dave Ramsey quote someone yesterday on the radio, saying (something to this effect) that IQ is not a good indicator for a person's expected (financial) success in life, but rather a person's level/habit of self-discipline.  Verbalizing and itemizing some of these triggers I can tell is already helping me but I won't change unless I commit and DO something about it.  If you are looking for someone to pray for today, I would be very thankful for remembering me in this desire to change.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Ugly Truth

It looks like this week will be slightly warmer here in Oklahoma and that alone is reason to celebrate! As thankful as I am for the tiny fact, I am faced with a less than celebratory topic to tackle this week most importantly because I need it.  This week I'm going to look at humility and pride.  First and foremost I have a problem with acting and displaying prideful feelings and attitudes, often without being fully aware of it.  Now, my lack of awareness isn't some sneaky way of saying I should be excused or slightly justified because "I just didn't know".  It's actually an indication of how long I've been like this and learned this behavior, so long until it was completely unconscious.  So, it is my intention and hope to be able to recognize it in myself more readily, isolate the causes and triggers, and hopefully find some ways to minimize and extinguish it completely.  That's my desire, anyway.

As this quote clearly illustrates, to turn this into a "how humble I can be" discussion would be missing the point.  Instead, let's start with why we get prideful in the first place.  It's easy to dismiss yourself from having an issue with pride because I think we understand it a little differently than what it is sometimes.  I used to think pride was high self-esteem, publicly loving yourself or boasting about how great you are. While any of those could be prideful, they aren't the only expressions of it.  In myself, pride finds it's way in self-preservation and trying to know the answer to everything.  The self-preservation is a coping mechanism I think but it results in raising my everything (needs, thoughts, opinions, emotions) higher than anyone else's.  Somewhere along in my life, I felt compelled, as though I was supposed to, to have a ready answer for anyone's question.  Not at all sure why, but it has resulted in me answering whether I have a good reason to or not AND it has fed into me feeling like my answer is probably the best, no matter what! Self-esteem has never been my strong suit and thus it was assumed that of course I wouldn't be prideful, because I struggled with taking pride in myself.  But having low self-esteem, seems to have resulted in a raising up of the self higher because it felt lower.  Seems confusing and silly  when you say it.  It doesn't feel like pride and arrogance when it happens but viewing it through this lens makes it shameful, hard to swallow and worthy of expulsion! 

So there it is, the big ugly truth.  One step at a time, I guess.  So, now I'm looking for triggers or clues that can tip me off that I'm about to jump into the pride pool.    Any suggestions?