Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Problem of Mattering

The one thing I had wondered, since I was very little...maybe 7 or so, is why anything matters. My religious upbringing gave me the first signs that something was amiss.

Guess what, people. The only thing that matters- is whatever you think matters. Unfortunately, the Universe, God, whatever you call the divine larger power in your life, didn't impress tattoos regarding the meaning of your life on your forehead at birth.

My (adopted) mother made me feel very bad about life from an early age. She was not there for us in any real sense of the word. She herself was very insecure, an alcoholic, and emotionally abusive. She would yell at me for sitting with the family reading a book or doing homework, and not breaking up fights between my siblings that happened in front of me- saying "The only thing that matters to you is whatever YOU are doing. Why don't you look around you and take care of something besides yourself!" This was usually followed by admonitions regarding my "laziness" or lack of effort. All this yelling at ME for not doing HER job of mothering.

So in my tiny little 8, 10, 12, 14 year old heart...I took her word for it. I withdrew into myself and became very introverted. I started thinking passively about suicide- "What if our car just goes off the road into the river? That would be convenient."And then I started thinking that nothing matters at all. If what I wanted didn't matter to my parents, how could it matter to me? As a child, I had no power to manifest what mattered, except in my daydreams.

As an adult, these thoughts continued. I felt powerless to get what I wanted in life. I started to suppress the questions about what I wanted. It became difficult to ask for things that I wanted- even if it were a simple request, such as what restaurant to go to, what to do on a Saturday afternoon. God bless my husband for putting up with me during my completely wishy-washy phase of development.

So here it is- the problem of mattering. If something matters to you, it means you want it.

If wanting things is difficult for you, because things happened in your past to create blocks against you believing in things, it can be difficult to bust through those blocks.

Here are questions I had about things that mattered to me-

What If I Care?
What if I Try?

Those what if's are all completely fear-based.

If I care about this, it will be taken away from me, die, leave, or betray me.
If I try to do this, it won't be good enough.

My fears about caring had to do with the fact that my birth-mother left me at 8 months old...my adopted mother abused me, both of them died before my 18th birthday, my father betrayed me by not protecting me. My mother would dangle things I wanted in front of me like a carrot, and snatch them away at the last moment as a form of bizarre punishment. For example, if I were invited to a birthday party, I would be dressed and ready, holding a wrapped present, and she would tell me that I didn't clean the bathroom properly the night before and therefore would not be going to the party. When I did things, she would tell me they would have been better if I had tried harder...my 2 hours of piano practice daily would become 4 the next day if I didn't practice "enough..." She told me throughout my piano career of 8 years of weekly lessons, 2 hours of practice a day- you'll never make any money as a musician. Better think of something else.

It sounds like she was "Mommy Dearest," doesn't it? But she had her own problems that made her this way. She grew up in a very abusive household. My two uncles are totally screwed up as well, and now I don't even know them anymore. I relate this to you, dear reader, so we can empathize and feel compassion for each other. I think everyone's parents mess them up, at least a little, because none of us are perfect.

So where to go from there, when your upbringing does not validate your needs and wants, the things that matter to you most? How do you go from thinking about it (rumination) to moving forward, a brightly Illuminated soul? The answer lies in a lot of forgiveness, and making new choices.

For me it was simple, it came all at once, after long hours of study and meditation that allowed me to open up and bring new beliefs into my life. It is very important if you want to change something integral to yourself that you first examine your belief system and figure out which beliefs are yours, and which were taught to you and support negativity. If a belief you hold from childhood only brings negativity into your life, you need to break it apart and rebuild it to support your positive growth as a person. But that's another post :)

Simply this: can you say this, hold it in your heart, and begin to believe it?

If nothing matters, then everything does.

Everything I do...

Everything I say...

Everything I believe...

Everything I experience.

So go forward, and BE what matters to you. Others will see you for what you really are, and you will be able to love yourself fully and share that love outward.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

From Rumination to Illumination

Rumination is usually defined as repetitively focusing on the symptoms of distress, and on its possible causes and consequences. Extensive research on the effects of rumination, or the tendency to self-reflect, shows that the negative form of rumination interferes with people’s ability to focus on problem-solving and results in dwelling on negative thoughts about past failures.

I just had the best experience in a long time- I got to Skype chat with Marney Makridakis, the founder of Artellaland.com. I've been following the site for years now. Can I just say that Marney is VERY smart? And a generous soul who gave me an hour of her time, free. In that hour, I was able to realize what my heart has been telling me about my life mission, and therefore I changed the title of my blog and now will change my focus as well. It's always been there, I just haven't been able to listen to the quiet, deep part of my soul that is telling me what my REAL, true wish is as a helping professional.

I am a teacher- through and through. I've taught others my whole life, and dedicated myself to lifelong learning. 

I've read several pieces of literature which suggest that teachers are people who have not had a healthy upbringing- rather they have had struggles to deal with, in some cases, all their lives. This makes this special group of people highly empathetic. Many become psychologists, counselors, or therapists of some kind or another. Many get specialized training to do these things, and I believe that in many cases it's because they want to practice in a medical field that they are forced to get this training. But it doesn't take "letters" after your name or a Master's degree to make someone a teacher or counselor. It's a gift.

Somewhere in my early 30's, I realized that I spent a lot of time in Rumination. That is to say, that I could identify the causes and effects of the negative parts of my rearing and psyche. I could think about them to no end, pick them apart, and wallow in them (which, as the definition above suggests, is what rumination often leads to.) But I was getting no where in this endless cycle of negative thinking. I was still depressed, passively suicidal (wishing your airplane will crash when upon takeoff is a terrible thing to live through) and wondering about the meaning of life. Questions I had since age 8 or so. I realized that I had to let the light in, and let my light out. My focus then became finding the light. I did some reading, meditation, study and therapy. I still have a ways to go, and my teachers assure me that I will probably spend the rest of my life "perfecting" my own approach to happiness, fulfillment, and contentment- three states of mind that sometimes coexist, sometimes not.

My gift is this- I now understand how to shine. I know the path, and I want to share it. I believe that creativity and positive thinking can lead you there. As humans, we all share the power to create, and the power to think- to make new life, to make art and build things, to tell stories, to imagine things that weren't there before. Creativity and Positivity is our gift. I'm not just talking about art making, although that tends to be my primary expression. I do like to write as well :)