Archive for September, 2015

WHEN IS LIFE GOOD?

September 28, 2015

I often hear people talk about the wonderful things that are happening in their lives and while they’re describing the vacations, job promotions, financial gains, good checkups, etc. they often add the words, “Life is good.” I have said the same thing…because when things are going well, life IS good!

The last time I heard myself say those words, I began to wonder why I only say them when things are going my way. Life is a gift and it is good no matter what happens! The problem is that sometimes we can’t see the beauty of our existence through eyes that are focused on everything that’s wrong. It is difficult to feel joyful when we are hurting, for ourselves or for others who are suffering. It’s not always easy to see any beauty in some of the events of the world. The important thing to remember is that lousy situations don’t make a lousy life. It’s the situation that is lousy!

So I set about trying to figure out how to appreciate my life and feel joy in times of difficulty. I made an effort to look for ways to change the way I was thinking. I started to make lists of things for which I was grateful. I tried to recall how often I had gone through tough times that I thought would devastate me…but they didn’t. I wrote down how many times I had been able to turn negatives into positives and learn from the experience. I made a point to laugh every chance I got and to create an environment which would remind me of how good my life is no matter what’s going on at the time, because the problems, negative situations and hurt that is a part of living does NOT define who I am. I can be a person with a challenge, but I don’t have to be a challenge with a person attached!

Life is like a roller coaster. During the down times, we have to hang on so we don’t fling off and go spinning out of control. The upswing always comes, sooner or later. At this time, things in my life are somewhat in a state of upheaval. Some important decisions need to be made and there are some stressful situations with which I am dealing. Things aren’t exactly the way I would like them to be, but I am still here and you know what? Life is good!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker, trainer and coach who encourages people to embrace joy. visit her website at www.lindahenley-smith.com

Holding Onto Grudges Can make Your Arms Tired

September 25, 2015

The world can sometimes be an angry place.  Well, at least some of the people in the world seem to be angrier than usual.  I can actually understand that because, as a recent victim of credit card theft, I have been feeling a little cranky myself lately.  I always prefer to think that people basically want to help each other and show compassion. Sadly, some people’s milk of human kindness seems to be skim milk!

Years ago, Randy Newman wrote a song describing the confused state of a world in which people still have the core desire to help and forgive others, yet are afraid that they will lose part of themselves if they give too much, so they hold on to anger and fear. One of the verses goes like this:

“Bright before me, signs implore me to help the needy and show them the way.  Human kindness is overflowing….but I think it’s going to rain today.”

I have had to remind myself that while I might be justified in feeling ticked off in certain situations (did I mention credit card theft?) there is only one letter difference between Anger and Danger. Danger comes when anger runs amok.

There is an old movie, “The Portrait of Dorian Gray.” In that film, Dorian Gray was an angry, bitter man who couldn’t let go of his anger and he treated people badly.  In his attic, there was a painting of Dorian, which began taking on the manifestations of his negativity. Every time Dorian’s anger got away from him, and he hurt someone; an ugly gash or scar or horrible expression would appear on his likeness.  Dorian, himself, never changed; but his portrait became a hideous image of the monster he had become.

I think that’s what happens to us when we allow negativity, anger and an unforgiving spirit to dominate our lives. Our souls become our portraits and bear the scars of our anger. Eventually, all of that poison makes us sick and the weight of the grudges we are holding crush us.  Lest you think that it might be nice to remain young and unlined while your picture takes all of the beating; the rest of the story is that Dorian’s anger finally caught up with him and he turned into dust. Bummer.

Anger can be productive, if you are standing up for something that is important to you and it gives you the incentive to change something that needs to be changed. But that is a result of healthy and controlled anger…not the kind that stays inside and makes you into a hissy, snarky troll. So, before your anger turns into danger, try to channel that energy into something productive. Do it before you turn into dust!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and coach who helps people find their funny bones and put things into perspective. Check out her website at  www.lindahenley-smith.com

Boomerang Anger

September 18, 2015

Throwing boomerang with a blue sky in a background

It has recently occurred to me that much of the unkindness that rears its head in the world is the result of how people feel about themselves. I have come to believe that sometimes when we adamantly dislike someone, the person with whom we really have an issue is living in our own bodies! At the core of hatred are feelings of fear and insecurity.

Think about it. If you feel secure and confident about your own choices, beliefs and behavior, why would you really have any reason to angrily judge anyone else’s? With the exception of causing physical harm, another person’s ideas should not intimidate you. Also, there is no need for jealousy or animosity toward another if you have a healthy self-image. When we blatantly harbor prejudice or dislike for someone, that hatred could stem from a fear that somehow we are being threatened.

I have learned that when I find myself being critical of someone, I need to step back and wonder why. Usually, I find that I am judging someone for behavior that I, myself, exhibit or characteristics that I possess. And sometimes, I have to admit that another person’s success reminds me of a lack of fulfillment in myself. Almost always, it has to do with some kind of fear. My anger directed at someone else, usually comes right back to me! I call it Boomerang Anger.

We are human and therefore, flawed. We are full of self-doubt and insecurities which often color how we see other people. Our own fears and disappointments are the lens through which we see and therefore, judge. The way we treat others can be a reflection of how we feel about who we really are. I could write much more about this, but someone else has written a poem which describes what our personal fears can do. She writes about it so insightfully; when I first read her words, it took my breath away. The poet is my sixteen-year-old granddaughter and I am very proud of her depth and wisdom. She is one of my “sheroes!”

There is a girl I always see

Standing right in front of me

She has long hair and hazel eyes;

A color I have grown to despise

For a long time I didn’t know

That her huge smile was just a show

Behind the happy expression

Was a girl with frequent depression.

This girl always wore a mask

And I made it my personal task

To expose the little liar

In emotion hot as fire,

I quickly drew nearer

And ran into a mirror.

——Amanda Isabelle Phillips

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker, coach and proud grandmother. Visit her website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

 

What I Learned While I Was Invisible

September 9, 2015

In the Broadway show Chicago, there is a song about feeling unimportant and invisible. A man sings that Mr. Cellophane should have been his name because people walk right by him, see right through him and never even know he’s there.

Although it sounds pitiful, I think that many of us have experienced that feeling at some point in life. You may have wondered if anyone really cared about what you thought or if anyone really even saw you. It can be a pretty lonely feeling, but it’s important to understand that feeling invisible comes from within you and not from other people.

Sometimes it happens when you have long defined yourself by your relationship with another person or perhaps by a job, and that role ends or becomes less prominent. Many people retire from longtime careers and suddenly feel as if they no longer have a purpose. I have known some who worried as they aged, that people would no longer look AT them, but would look THROUGH them. And sometimes people lack self-esteem and believe that whatever they have to say or offer is not worth anything. They convince themselves that nobody would care about their opinion. They feel invisible because rather than defining their own essence, they leave it up to other people! When you feel invisible to yourself, it’s no wonder that you feel invisible to others!

I know these things because I have felt invisible. It happened at a time when everything in my life fell apart and I was catapulted into a world of confusion. I felt lost, betrayed and rather non-existent. Fortunately, I finally realized that I was creating my own cloaking device and eventually worked through it. Here is what I learned during my self-imposed invisibility.

  • I realized that my feelings of invisibility were a result of me abandoning myself!
  • I had to believe that even though my life had drastically changed and I was no longer in the same position as before, I was still a person of worth. Things were different, but I still had a lot to offer.
  • I came to understand that there are those who will only acknowledge people when they need something from them. I chose not to be affected by those people because their opinions had nothing to do with who I really was.
  • I learned that I needed to love and be visible to myself rather than to worry about being adored and praised by anyone else. My feelings of self-worth needed to come from within me rather than to depend on outside validation.
  • I no longer defined myself by what I owned, who I knew, what position I held or how I looked.
  • I took time to reassess my life and my goals. I realized that my faith had to be greater than my fear.
  • I began to understand that other people’s feelings and opinions were not more valuable than mine and I learned that acknowledging my feelings is very important. If I ignore and discount them, others will not deem them important either. Feelings are a kind of inner guidance and they shouldn’t be ignored.
  • I stopped giving situations, circumstances and other people the power to define me. I started to create my own experiences by engaging with others and participating in life! I realized I didn’t have to wait for someone else to make the first move; I was capable of introducing myself and starting conversations!
  • I started to appreciate who I was and where I was at that time. I allowed myself to heal with the knowledge that my wounded self was carrying a sense of rejection which really didn’t really exist.

Now I know that people are only invisible if they allow themselves to be. Mr. Cellophane felt invisible because he apologized for his existence. No one should ever do that! Our lives are fluid and they will change…often many times. Sometimes we’ll be on the top and sometimes we won’t. There will be times when we may not measure up to someone else’s standard of beauty or intelligence or wit, but that doesn’t matter. We are all worthy, loveable and very visible beings. Just remember that visibility begins with the love you show yourself!

Linda Henley-Smith is no longer invisible. Visit her website at

www.lindahenley-smith.com