Thursday, May 24, 2012

Being Active In Your Own Life

Sunday at church one of the speakers said something that made me pause and think about myself and where I am at in my life.  He said that we can be active in church and active in the gospel, but sometimes we are active in church and not active in the gospel.  Sometimes we are physically active, but not emotionally and spiritually active.  I read the following quote from the book Choices, by Melody Beattie and I felt like it was sending me the same message:
There's a way of being alive where we don't take any risks.  We don't want anything.  We don't try anything.  We've protected ourselves so much we're numb.  We don't have to work that hard at letting go of anything because we haven't allowed ourselves to want anything that much.  We say, whatever, not from a place of compassion and letting go but from a place of resigned callousness.  We think that keeps us safe and gives us a little control.  There's another way to be in the world where we're alive and awake.  We're filled with passion, dreams, hopes and desires.

Am I active in my life, or am I just physically moving?  As I look back on my life I can see the times where I was present in my own life and the many, many times where I wasn't.  I have often written in my journal that I felt like I was just existing, not really living.  So how do we become a part of our own life?  In the book Choices the following story is told:

"Maybe what you need to do first," her friend said, "is have a ceremony and adopt yourself."  Her friend's suggestion made sense.  Carolyn had been looking for people to give her something she hadn't gotten as a child but could now give to herself.  She made another list that spelled out clearly how she could do these things for herself.

I think in an earlier blog entry I shared a dream I had once where I realized that the baby I was supposed to be taking care of had been sitting in the living room not being taken care of at all and in the end of the dream I remember picking her up to take care of her and love her and I hugged her to me and it felt so good.  When I was writing the dream down in my journal I suddenly realized that I was the baby, that I was finally willing to love and take care of myself.  I guess you could say I "adopted" myself and my dream was a confirmation of that.

Being active in your own life when you haven't been is not an easy process.  I started with doing things for myself that I was willing to do for others, but not willing to do for myself.  For example, when my children needed a break, I could see it and give it to them, but I had been unwilling to do the same for myself.  So there was a first step, giving myself permission to rest when I needed to.  Another step was talking kinder to myself.  I would never say the things I said to myself to my children so why was I willing to talk to myself that way?  So I worked on that.  One of the biggest things I have done is to quantify how I felt about myself.  Every day I close my eyes and I think to myself on a scale of 1-100 how much do I love myself, then I write down in my journal the first number that pops into my head.

When I first started the 1-100 process, I literally was at zero.  As I started being kinder to myself, that number began to grow.  Sometimes I would stay at a number for weeks or even months.  I have been doing this now for several years, currently I am at a 47.  What is my goal in this process? Just to get to the tipping point and what is the tipping point? Well, it is 51, just when the scale starts tipping to the other side. I couldn't realistically envision getting to 100, it just seemed to far away and too much of a lie to say that I loved myself at a 100 level.   No my goal is just to get to 51 and I am getting pretty close to the tipping point.

Doing this has helped me participate in my own life, to be active in my own dreams, desires and passions.  When I see where I am at, and know that I need to do something specific to move forward in loving myself, I can make progress, even if it is only a little, it is still progress.

So often in the past I waited quietly in the background of my life hoping that others would notice what I needed and give it to me.  What I didn't realize is that I had to power to give myself what I needed and that I had to notice what I needed.  Noticing my own needs, giving myself what I needed has helped me become both physically and emotionally active in my own life.  And, oh, the joy that brings is immeasurable.

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