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I woke up to a typical morning and as I was getting ready for work, I turned over in my mind all the things I needed to do that day—my plans, my needs. What’s wrong with that? It is OK to formulate our day and how we want it to turn out, but something else should always happen first and if you think about it you will understand why.
Before hitching your day to the list of urgent needs, you must try this: Stop for a minute and remember the basics of all basics, that it is the gift of consciousness itself that you take for granted every day. You have a schedule only because you are capable of thinking, remembering, and planning for the future.
Because of the urgency in our lives, we forget that, yes, we are alive and it is amazing! We go through the list, dragged into the future by one appointment or event after the other, just to wake up and do it again in 24 hours. The list is not our life. If we take a moment to be thankful that we even have the opportunity to succeed or fail, to win or lose, then our best plans that direct our lives can be completely transformed
When was the last time you took enough time to be thankful that:
You even woke up this morning?
You had to walk 15 feet to get a drink of cold water instead of having to walk several miles
to drink dirty, warm water out of a ditch?
Your house is not underwater?
You can breathe?
You are alive right now and can think about these things in the first place?
Usually we are too busy getting our ducks in a row. We are too busy to even be thankful that we have any ducks or the ability to line them up. We miss the point, which is: If we are still breathing, then we certainly have a purpose. Since the enormous gift of living is bigger than ourselves and beyond our ability to control, then our task while living is more than just taking care of ourselves. Actually, if we ponder reasons to be grateful, our daily list will change and mature, more toward others and more toward making a difference beyond ourselves. But if we go through life like a shark, mindlessly eating up experiences, then we are slaves to our impulses and reacting to anything put in front of us. If we stay so close to the ground and so driven by our “needs” that we cannot look up, we miss the big picture—every time.
It boils down to this: What is worse, really? 1. Having something bad happen to you, or 2. Having lots of good things happen to you—but never even noticing? Bad things happen to everyone sometime or another, but not noticing and being thankful all the good things than happen every day is the biggest tragedy of all. What are you doing?
When I was in high school I sensed a major change in everyone’s overall attitude that began to filter into the culture. Music changed and attitudes in society began to change. Looking back over many years, I believe this way of thinking is still very much with us. What I am referring to is the idea that how you feel is more important than what you do (how you behave).
Even the sciences were affected by this in that an outdated form of psychotherapy was based on the idea that how you feel is who you are. The term “cult of feelings” described this belief that emotion was more important than just about anything.
I am not sure if it is research or just plain common sense which has weakened this doctrine greatly, even though there are so many who are still suffering from the results of living under its weight. Many still do not know that emotions are simply something that your mind experiences and digests; they are not “you.”
Some forms of mental illness, bad relationships, and all kinds of emotional disability are made worse by misunderstanding emotions, or giving them much more power than they deserve. On the other hand, many in this culture believe that they should avoid, at all costs, any emotional discomfort.
Since we are humans, we will feel all kinds of emotions over time. When we are debilitated by a set of emotions we will probably need help from a counselor who will not try to turn off the feelings, but help us to experience them without fear as part of the process of letting them go. Being heard and carefully listened to is an important part of this process as well as being encouraged to do practical, healthy things that enhance the healing process.
If you feel extremely depressed, irritable, or angry, call your counselor. It does not matter if you can or cannot describe how you feel. He or she will be happy to spend important time with you by listening, teaching you some things or don’t know, and reminding you of important things that your emotions might have helped you to forget. The sooner you call, the faster you might not only feel better, but behave in a way that is better for everyone.
Imagine this – you’ve just taken a pregnancy test and it’s positive. You look at the little pink plus sign and are flooded with this wave of emotions. Thoughts start to flash into your mind “I don’t want a baby” “I can’t take care of this baby” “I’m too young – my parents will kill me” whatever they might be… There are dozens of reasons why you can not keep and raise this baby. All of these points are valid and need to be listened to. But take a step back, breathe, and keep calm.
Obviously, nothing is happening today.
Don’t be guided and lead by fear or the emotion of “I don’t want this” there are many ways to get around this. Service agencies are waiting to help you with this stressful, scary, and maybe even inconvenient time. Many people would lead you to believe that abortion will make the entire “issue” go away and poof – back to normal. But, that’s not true. There are a LOT of pit-falls and dangers – both mentally and spiritually. So, what is a better option all around? Adoption!
So many people know next to nothing about the adoption process. Seriously… Many women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant don’t take the time to research it. They just want the fear to end and the “problem” to go away. But, someone is waiting… Many people cannot have children for various reasons. These people wait YEARS for a child.
If you are weighing the options – think on this. There are agencies who will help support you and guide you through the adoption process. Many adoptive parents are actually even willing to pay for all medical expenses of the expecting mother. So, that you never feel alone, ashamed, or worried that if you have this child you will have no way to pay for the expenses. If you are worried that if you have a child and give it up – you will never see them again – adoption agencies allow the birth mother to choose the amount of openness or involvement they want in their child’s life.
Mothers who give birth are less likely to have the negative side effects that women who have abortions might have. Such as substance abuse infertility, and post-abortions syndrome.
Not to mention that no matter what today’s society would like you to believe that the child forming inside of you is not an actual person – they’re wrong. Two of my very good friends had a huge chance of being aborted themselves. I can’t help but think – what kind of person wouldn’t exist today had their mothers gone through with it?
That tiny person in you has the potential to be a lawyer, doctor, cake baker, anything at all. Watching my friend’s kids grow up and seeing the people they are becoming is amazing. Don’t rob someone else of life. Save the life inside of you. Even if you do not want to raise this child – I promise you that someone does. And there are more ways than abortion.
Through counseling people almost every day who are going through some kind of crisis, certain patterns emerge. Once in a while people are genuinely on the receiving end of something they had no part whatsoever in creating. These folk are haunted by trying to figure out what they could have done, or not done, to avoid a terrible event. Usually though, people have done much to create the outcome, but are frantically trying to make the problem go away when it inevitably occurs.
When a young person gets a new checking account, they are, at first, writing down each check amount and number with great care. After a while though, he begins to wonder, “I am not sure what will really happen if I write a check knowing that I do not have enough money in my account.” When a letter is in the mailbox a few days later telling that not only did that check bounce, but the bank charged $29 for the experiment, the person is feeling many emotions. One is surprise that things work exactly the way he was told. One is a strange sense of calmness, having learned, without question that, well, things work exactly the way he was told. Even something as mundane as a checking account can be easily misused because of this phenomenon.
Now let’s apply it to something infinitely more complex, emotional and important for all of us: People often use the same logic with the sexual health. The only way to find out for sure how many people you have to have sex with to catch an STD is to catch one–now you know. The only way to find out just how risky–in terms of pregnancy–that your sexual activity is to keep doing what you are doing until you are pregnant–now you know. The same person may be curious just what it takes for the ice to give way on a frozen lake and proceeds to walk, skip, or even jump until it is too late. In other words, the only way to find out is to allow what you really do not want. Basic health and common sense should take place to youthful curiosity.
If you are not sure you want to be pregnant, don’t do exactly what it takes to get pregnant because your body might think that is what you want. If you are not sure that sex with this particular person is what you want, decide only to not have sex with that person, but keep out of situations where your decision might be compromised. If you are not sure if abortion is a good idea that you can live with, don’t have one. With important healthy issues, many which are not reversible, begin thinking before you have a problem. Then you may not have to be frantically looking for something to grab onto when you emotionally fall through the ice.
We have all been there. We were simply talking to someone in our lives and, without trying, we find ourselves in the middle of an argument. Suddenly we were in a struggle, squared off in a contest to determine a winner and a loser. We feel anxious and hurtful as the person we care about turns into our adversary after just a few words.
I have been working as a counselor with people for many years and have a basic understanding of how this happens and what to do about it. The basic process is easy to articulate but takes effort and perseverance to carry out.
If you watch people argue, you should notice that the actors are not listening with any empathy. Sometimes they do not listen at all as they interrupt each other, talk over each other, and talk more and more loudly. Does this ever help? Of course, it does not help, never has helped and never will magically begin working.
Not only are people not listening to each other, they are not thinking either. Being in a verbal “fight” is a physiological experience much like a physical fight. The heart beats faster, sending blood to the muscles, preparing the body for “fight or flight”. For all of us, feeling like this negates our ability to listen or think—the very things necessary for communication. As the argument progresses, things just get worse. It only escalates till something happens that is regretted and/or someone leaves, with no progress.
When you find yourself in this situation, the answer is not to talk louder or act upset or threatening in any way, but to intentionally try to relax and focus on what the other person is saying. Listen carefully (no matter how difficult this is) and prove that you are listening by telling them what you are hearing. You will be surprised how being heard can help the other person relax a great deal. This is what you want. Why? Because you want a relaxed, unthreatened person (with their entire brain working) to be able to pay attention to you when it is your chance to speak.
Try this sometime. It is not manipulative. This is simply how communication works. You can follow these guidelines or not, but arguing actually annoys, threatens and exhausts everyone involved. Listening is amazing and it always works to avoid the heartbreak of the “fight.” It is your decision to listen (which works) or turn up the volume (which never works).