Reshuffling the Villains

“Before diagnosing yourself with depression or some other vague psychological condition, check to make sure you aren’t in fact surrounded by assholes” – A mild variation of the popular saying.

 It is a now a known fact that there are some people who have the ability to convince people that they are crazy, neurotic, sensitive and other descriptions that reroute the acrimonious blame from themselves.

The thing is though, as individuals we all have widely varying perceptions, opinions and feelings about the same events. This puts us in danger of mislabelling victims and villains in our minds (our universe). It has also been said that there are no absolute truths.

We do know that what is normal to the spider is chaos to the fly.

Imagine with me for a moment, our food having human like characteristics (feelings, empathy, family, attachments). That would mean that every meal you have in order to stay alive ( for survival) is actually a funeral for a small family. Imagine the carrots left behind, mourning tearfully as you slip a few glazed slices in your mouth.

However, would the same rules apply across species? It might be wrong to feed a chicken some left over KFC, but how about the corn he usually eats. Is there a yellow-cobbed family left behind saying sorrowful things about the lost kernels.

My point for this albeit ridiculous example is this: Are villains simply just fulfilling a need. How do we decide what the basic needs are? Maybe those needs can be as individual  as choice of clothes or place of residence. Are large, dis proportioned butts and hip hop spouses a Kardashian family need? How can we say it is not? How can we declare it ridiculous simply because those would not be our personal choices?

Narcissists need attention and external validation like non-narcisssists need oxygen. This is why they do anything to get it, even destroying another human being. Before you judge my rationalization, a chicken somewhere lost his life so you could have your meal today. How is that any different?

Vegan? So happy for you. A field of lettuce lost a family member today so you could feel fed (and superior).

There is no proof they feel pain? Well, if a human being was numb from the waist down, would it then be okay to chop off that limb? We know that plants grow toward their needs. They move towards the light in order to photosynthesize. If I was the Plant King, I would think humans  to be very narcissistic.

There is no proof of affection and empathy among plants? Hmm, well if I was all alone and unloved, would it be okay to sell me to a far away country to be a slave (human trafficking). By the way, this is the rationale of the persons who harvest organs from homeless people, Mr. Vegan. We have no proof that the things we eat don’t feel loss, pain and grief in their own way.

We are driven by our own needs. Does that make us villains?

We are all tiny universes within the universe. This is how the law of attraction works; the baseline principle. As universes, we make up our own laws about what is wrong and right (opposite of herd mentality) based on individual urges. If one universe has a stronger magnetic force than another, clearly he will be more effective than a lesser magnetic universe. He will be less ordered and less able to achieve his goals.

Dear vegans, please quit the animal empathy story. You are vegan because it is in your best interest and there is nothing wrong with that. Plants are a healthier choice; your body functions better both mentally and physically and a host of other documented benefits. Those with faltering self esteem also find another step to stand on to feel a little taller. I will not take that sentence back.

I think our focus should shift from labelling villains, blame and punishment to needs assessment and finding healthy (less destructive) ways of fulfilling unique needs. In the same way that we give a young child a punching bag to hit instead of other children on the playground.

Just an idea.

In reflection of the initial quote. Those assholes who make you depressed are merely fulfilling their own needs. To be right all the time, to dominate, to feel superior. They may have found an easy target. You can change this.

Move the target.

You are not a tree. Move.

Or increase the magnetic frequency of your universe by fighting back. Fulfil your fucking needs for a change!

 

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You’re not in Mental Slavery. You are Mentally lazy

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. E

Ouch!

I went by the house one night. It was late. It was dark. But I didn’t mind.

Something had angered me. I’m not sure what.

All I know is that I needed some space so I went home, where even though there was no power and no food, I would have privacy and time to think; time to reflect.

When I woke up the following morning, I felt renewed and refreshed. I had gotten a full night’s sleep in my own bed, in my own room with no noise, no disturbing lights (heck, no lights at all) and it felt great.

There was no fan. It was hot but it was bearable. I managed.

Then it hit me. I can live here. I can move back here. How many years have humans been surviving without electric power and running water? Why on earth do we consider these things to be necessary to survival?

How lazy had we become?

It was particularly interesting because I had just seen an article entitled:

You Work for other people because you are lazy. The end.

I would have been offended by this a few months ago but I could certainly see the writer’s point.

There are so many things that as humans we used to do for ourselves, which have now been automated and offered to us for a price in the name of making life easier.

Advancement.

Civilization.

I once thought I couldn’t live without a steady income from the family business. Well. Look at me, all living and sh*t!

The Wild Boar

There was a time when we used to have to fight, life or death for dinner – every single day.

It was a daily war between man and wild boar.

If you lost that war it meant, not just hunger for your family but quite possibly, death.

Entrepreneurship is a lot like that. You have to go out and hunt for your clients every single day. You research new leads and dream up new markets. You are constantly inspired by everything around you to come up with new ways to bring in more income.

In a job you simply craft a begging speech for a raise pay. Which, by the way, may very well get shot down.

Entrepreneurship requires guts and real work – hard work.

The reward?

To the winner goes the spoils.

What you win, you eat. What you win is solely yours, not some faceless corporations who then decides to chuck 10% at you (average sales commission). What you earn you keep and this keeps you eager to earn more.

You never get a chance to become lazy.

When you follow instructions for a salary :

  • You lose your desire to hunt; to catch.
  • You lose the pride of holding up the catch you know will feed your family.
  • You become dependent on another human being to cast scraps at you in exchange for squished creativity and initiative, self expression.
  • You are no longer required to think.

At the apartment, there was no water in the pipe (At first I thought this was gone too. It wasn’t). I caught water in a bucket from an outside pipe and cleaned my house. I set the phone to charge in the car and washed some clothes, made some tea and relaxed in my clean apartment.

I spent a wonderful day at a home I had fled simply because my light was disconnected. I also got inspiration to write this article and came up with a few new leads for my EBook: Repainting the Wheel – Infusing your brain with the wild idea of success in a way that leaves no room for any other possible outcome.

 I realized I had simply become lazy and made preparations to move back the following week.

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How to complain less

Whatever you give your energy and attention to, you are attracting

With droves of articles and shelves of books written on the benefits of ‘positivity’, we still somehow miss the mark. How many of us can honestly say we have been through an entire day without complaining? You may be thinking, “Well, it was going well until…” or “C’mon, I had every right to complain about such and such…” The strange paradox about not complaining is, we think our tendency to do so, lies in the actions of other persons.

After all, if someone does something to offend us, we HAVE to react, right?

Wrong

Unfortunately, it requires us to painfully be the bigger person (kind of like forgiveness) and recognize that the justified reaction to an offense can hurt us more than the offending party. It calls upon inner strength and resilience to be the mature person but also it calls upon a little selfishness. Hmm.. selfishness? How? Well, if I decide that my peace of mind will not be moved by your petty offense, then I am thinking about my own well being.

I am putting me first; my state of mind, my happiness, my joy, my peace, my blessings.

If we could see the amazing, tangible benefits of remaining positive even in the face of catastrophes, we would consider it a selfish decision not to complain. Here are just a few of those benefits:

  • Increased creativity
  • Improved circulation
  • Improved resistance to disease
  • Improved problem solving skills
  • Improved resilience when facing of stressful situations
  • Increased lifespan
  • Better athletic performance
  • More friends

These are just a few. The next time you start to complain, ask yourself if you are willing to give this all up just for one minute of venting.  

What Actually Happens – The ‘Sciency’ Stuff

According to the psychological principle of cognitive dissonance, our thoughts must line up with our actions to prevent mental discomfort. So, every time you utter a negative comment (complain), the section of your brain involved in finding creative solutions, shuts down. We, in effect, send a message to our brain that there is no solution, so the brain agrees and doesn’t even attempt to look for one.

Wow! Now, not only have we closed off our possibility of escape from the situation but we are still stuck in it AND in a bad mood as well. Complaining solves nothing. I haven’t even begun to touch on the principle of the law of attraction. Whereby, the words that you speak act as magnets and attract more of the same negative situations each time you complain.

Also, when you complain you are being ungrateful for what you do have and are setting yourself up for losing the blessings you already have.

The Alternative

Try to see the positive side of each situation. We can’t control everything that happens to us but we are in complete control of how we react. That is the most empowering thing we could come to terms with. In every moment of every day, we have a choice. We can be negative and complain or try to find humour and/or the positive side of the situation and trust that everything does indeed happen for a reason.

Take a deep breath… Distract yourself… Be grateful – The antidote of negativity. Once we are focusing on the things in our lives that ARE going well, the negative things tend to fade away in the grand scheme of things. A mental shift occurs and we maintain our peace of mind. So, this is your challenge for this week: Think of something to be grateful for whenever the urge to be negative arises.

Start by trying to go through one whole day without complaining. You will feel the amazing benefits immediately. Thank me later!

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Minor rant on why I should be okay single…

“Single” is an opportunity to live life on your own terms and not apologize.” ― Mandy Hale

Among the endless pieces written concerning singledom, I knew I had to find out; to make sure it wasn’t all in my head. Ensure that it wasn’t just some bitter rant to justify being alone. I had to know for sure if I was inherently okay alone and not currently meant for traditional ‘coupledom’. I admit it would be fun to find a kindred spirit. Oh, the adventures we would have but I am not and will never be a settler, so if he doesn’t magically show up, I prefer my own company thank you very much…


It is Magic that she wants, yes Magic. “I am fabulous yet the best parts of me are unseen” 

I’ve just been toying around with the notion that maybe I was meant to be single and maybe, just maybe, that was okay. How I arrived at this? An article (of course) that listed some amazing stuff about not being tied to another human being. Here are my exaggerated and personalized items from the list that really hit it off with me:

  1. I am not very good at compromise. Sure I can pretend to be okay with how you do it, but my OCD will eat away at me on the inside until I HAVE to fix it my way. I am very particular about little things. Especially things pertaining to my bathroom and kitchen and any other hygienic requiring surface in my home – Yes, I’m Virgo.
  2. I hate the act of sleeping with another person. My bed is my bed and I am barely tolerating Oth (my son) as it is – hence the recent move of his bed into my room so he can relocate there nocturnally. Like the average woman, I suppose the act of cuddling isn’t completely offensive – especially if it leads to great sex but… all night?… aaaalll night, in my bed – sweatily snoring or dead weight of a limb – umm, not cool – very particular about space.
  3. My space should be arranged and decorated just how I want it and I find it difficult to tolerate mess that’s not mine – selfish sure, but that’s just me. Funny, as I write this I can recall everything that annoyed me from being coupled. Why would I want that again? Because society has convinced me it is sought after and esteemed or do I inherently want one partner for the rest of my life? Hashtag. OCD. Problems.
  4. I enjoy my own creative company and mostly I crave the presence of a significant other for practical reasons not romantic ones – tired of forgetting to service my car, making huge decisions (leave the job or nah), fixing a light or even calling the electrician – guy stuff. Taking out garbage, de-clogging the drain. All things that need to be done right this minute, actually. Feeling safe. That’s a huge one. My longings are usually practical. Having someone to trust with my financial pursuits due to having a vested interest.
  5. I hate using the bathroom right after someone else has used it or hurrying to get out because someone else needs it. I will not cook if I don’t feel like it and as a Jamaican woman that’s like an unspoken requirement of coupledom. In fact I hate doing anything I don’t feel like – sex, cuddling, cleaning…. Just about anything out of obligation.
  6. OH!!! Probably my biggest – I hate obligations to in-laws. Some magical guy would have to have a family I really click with – hard to find with my peculiarities. Ugh. Just too much work. I sound mean, I know but maybe some people really are not meant for this major adjusting, compromising, and pretending aspect of permanent relationships.

I’d have hoped that as every other aspect of our existence evolves, that comitted relationships would have caught up. Sigh

Anything that steals my creative space and freedom and my way of expressing myself to the universe through sharing love and compassion is a no-no in my book and until our ideas of committed relationships evolve, I believe I am better off single. I am not comfortable with the idea of being a possession. That irks me. Maybe a long distance, on again, off again open relationship would be more my thing.

This article at some point sounded a tad self centered, but no less clingy and desperate than an article on why I should have a boyfriend; which I’m sure may or may not be written at some point. For now, I’m completely comfortable being happily unhinged.

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Gratitude: Things I do have…

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A pretty laid back life with interesting moments when I want it. A spacious apartment that provides cleanliness and health for my kid and I.

My room has a view of a great big tree that dances in the wind ever so often. It is magical to watch. I love the space and the natural light especially from the double doors downstairs that give the place a ‘villa’ appearance. I love seeing Othneil slide down the banister and think to myself that he’s having a naturally healthy childhood. I love being able to provide private school education for him. It fills me with a sense of accomplishment as I have in earlier years intended this for him.

He passed his neurology test with flying colors after surviving several febrile seizures. For this I am extremely grateful. He expresses himself beautifully, is very intelligent and asks probing Aquarian-like (stellium in Aquarius) questions. I appreciate him as a person and very grateful for him being in my life.

Today, I’m grateful just for being able to see beautiful things. We went to Montego Bay and came home safely; incident free. I am grateful for that. I’m grateful for friends.

Thank you.

I learn a lot each day, now that I have stepped out of my comfort zone. I’ve lost material things but I have gained priceless things. Learned that my obsession with self reliance is unhealthy. My drive for perfectionism is killing me. That it’s OK to make mistakes, to fumble, to be wrong about something, to not know, to regret, to misjudge. Its OK to be human.

It is human to fall in love,sometimes with a Mr. Wrong, to get hurt, to cry on the floor of your bathroom at 2 am when his Facebook timeline reveals that he has a girlfriend. Okay.. That’s maybe not so normal but *clears throat*, moving on…

It is OK to be scared, to be worried about people you love, to feel lonely, sad, indecisive. It is all a part of the experience- things I would usually resist experiencing out of trying to be strong and untouchable. It OK to be touchable (just not physically, by just anyone). I can break, down, way down until I need the help of others to lift me back up.

Optimism doesn’t ensure success but it protects inner peace in the midst of whatever is happening and helps me focus on what I do have.

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Sitting Frogs: My unequal femininity

Every now and then I have a ‘smash-the-phone-in-the-wall’ moment.

I like my Smartphone.

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It’s a Blackberry curve 4, I think or 5. It may not be as up to date as an iPhone (frankly I don’t get what the hype is all about), but it allows me to indulge in my obsessive streak by offering me information in the form of Google at my finger tips. If it could not make calls, I would still be very happy with my phone. The browser on my phone is the most used app. 🙂

A thought, idea or theory pops in my head and I’m off googling it, looking for confirmation or supportive evidence. This blog is based largely on stray thoughts that have presented themselves to my brain that just won’t quit, grokked by my soul [Read: Your soul DOES whisper] and ultimately backed up by Google. The process is not scientific to say the least, but what I’m looking for isn’t something calculated by the head or probed by the ‘experts’…. just a glimmer as to whether or not there is another human being out there who has shared my musings..

Anyway…

Phone smashing moments..

Occasionally, I happen upon some universe-tilting evidence that knocks the air out of me, leaves me that much wiser but sadder because of its nature. One such moment was when I discovered via an Internet article, that there is a long list of mental health issues that result from spiritual abuse. I had already suspected this, but the confirmation made me so angry, I had the immediate urge to slam my phone to bits in fury! I had been experiencing severe symptoms without even knowing it. I had a similar experience when I read the list of sexual abuse adult symptoms. [Read BPD and Sexual Abuse.]

My latest phone smashing moment is: When I read an article online explaining how the risk/severity of PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder) increases with each ‘hormonal event’ in a woman’s life. Hormonal events include: menarche, birth control (hormonal forms such as the pill, injection, etc.), pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth and menopause.

The words blurred and my entire physical being struggled against the emotional urge to hurl my phone into the nearest solid object in outrage!! My rational mind (along with visualizations of the $30k receipt) overcame the urge and I sat shivering, still visibly upset.  A whirlwind of thoughts swam around in my mind. None of them could find any footing to logically express themselves so they died down. By the time I located Notepad Memo on my phone, most curse epithets had been filtered from the expressed idea. Whew! I’ve resisted cursing on WordPress so far and I hope to continue in the spirit of self control.

It was like I was thoughtlessly going along with my narrow culture (as usual), and suddenly had an epiphany of choice and equality and what they really meant and I think it is perfectly conveyed in the picture below.

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As a black woman, I am heavily aware of racism. I was taught the slavery history in school, went through the shock, anger, bitterness then acceptance that; ignorance can cause great disasters and so can greed. As I got older, and freer to form my own opinions, I have filled up the chip on my dark shoulder, accepted it as history.. a history that has shaped prejudices that still exist, but a history nevertheless. All that remains in my opinion is to gently teach those who are still bound by traditional thought and ‘un-enlightenment’, that hey, I am in no way inferior to others because of my skin tone. That was something however, that I had to first believe and act upon as an individual.

Ever get the feeling that life is a bag of insecurities firmly implanted in one way or another and the journey is about stripping off the labels that make us feel inferior? Just wondering…hmm. But on this journey there are some who instead of stripping decide to point out characters of others in order to make themselves feel superior. The ultimate goal being a sense of value – feeling “good enough”

Anyway, after my struggle with absorbing the black and white (and all other shades in between), I came across another perceived issue:

I am female.

Somehow this presented itself as another chip to become acquainted with and to absorb and process *sigh*

My dad owns a supermarket, a branch of which I currently assist my sister in managing. I asked him one day ‘Daddy, why are male employees seen as more valuable than female employees?’ Without skipping a beat, his first response was: Because men can’t get pregnant. They never require maternity leave or time to bond with a newborn etc.  After that he mentioned physical capabilities, menstrual limitations at the time of the month and other gender specific biological quirks. I had accepted this, like a sitting frog. I accepted my inferior sex based on his logical answer at the time. I couldn’t argue with it.

Then I went to church and because this wonderful place had accepted me, forgiven me and showered me with love (little did I know it was conditional – love bombing), I in turn accepted without question everything they said. I submitted to my husband, I tried not to question authority in the church, which was all male.

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Othneil @ a couple of weeks old 🙂

After being a sitting frog for almost 28 years, I finally felt the heat. The full flame of what it means to be female finally hit me square between the eyes. My maiden name is my father’s last name. When I got married, I took on my husband’s name and I have come to understand that even when the divorce is final, I will retain that name unless I can fork up an unspeakable amount of money. (Kinda like the slave who dons the massa’s Plantation name). Since birth, I have experienced the excruciating pain of menses and the trauma of losing life fluid every month – not to mention the chaotic hormones (which I never asked for, mind you). Then I got pregnant. Happiness! – only no one tells you that it is so disgustingly dangerous in a developing country, even in these modern times. A Public Health course exposed me to  figures and charts of Maternal Mortality in Jamaica and trust me, we are still far behind international standards. No one tells u about the possibility of postpartum depression or that having a child contributes to higher risk of PMDD. Now, I love Othneil with all my heart. Would I have done anything differently? No! Well, maybe I would have tried to have him delivered in a first world country. In short, I was not adequately prepared for my birth experience.

The dangers of having a child are not borne equally by both sexes.

Since a man can never know what it feels like to have a womb or the biological necessities and hormonal packages that come along with owning one, he has no right to determine a woman’s reproductive activities or birth control choices.

We have fought for centuries for equal rights and opportunities. But I do not think women are equal to men. The capabilities with which we are born with are beyond miraculous. I do not think that a human who can carry, nurture and bring forth life should be considered less than a male employee because she requires time to carry out said duties.

I do not think menstruation is dirty (I do not care how many versions of the bible says it). Without menstruation, none of the ignorant bigoted ancient fools who penned the book would have been born. I do not think women are weaker than men. A bb contact had up as his status: ‘Never trust anything that bleeds for five days and does not die’. It took a great amount of DBT skills not to respond to him….It took the whole manual to find skill not to respond. We have the abusive man who makes a woman cry, blames her for being too emotional, forgetting that anger is also an emotion. We have people like my dad who forget the sacrifices his own mother made to provide the education that has placed him as proprietor of that business today.

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And who on earth put a bunch of men in charge of policies that decide what happens in a woman’s body? That one is a no-brainer, really.

Women are no way lesser than men, yet our history has shown that we have been perceived that way. Not only as lesser but also blamed for all the evils of the world. The derogatory name for our genitals is used as the highest form of insult anyone could receive. Even when insulting a man, the female gender are somehow the focal point: ‘Son of a bitch!’ Why has this become ok? How did we become sitting frogs in this bubbling heat, accepting the way things are and not recognizing that something is way off here. Every human being came from a woman, yet women are treated as inferior and in many places in the world still seen as a liability. When we do take things (our hormonal/reproductive activities) into our own hands, we are called witches and burnt at the stake for having the audacity to decide what happens in our own bodies.

For the record, I am not a feminist, neither do I hate men or women. I love myself very much. I love my body’s curves and its feminine features. I have always however been an equalist! Until, my latest smash phone moment when I realized that equality is not enough. It is like asking everyone to pay the same price and same taxes despite the income earned. Or giving everyone same amount of tanning time in the machine even though they all have different skin tones.. That is equality, but it doesn’t seem fair does it – neither does it make much sense? Justice, however implies that the unique features and limitation as well as capabilities be taken into consideration for every human being.

The unique capabilities of women are unending, not just biologically but in every way. Women and men are not equal. Neither is superior to the other. We are too different. But if I could hazard a guess, I would say the gender that has the hefty portion of the reproduction responsibilities… just kidding, just kidding. Back off men!! 😀

However, prejudice and discrimination  against women due to our reproductive capabilities is like a species shooting itself in the foot. I jumped out of the boiling pot, deciding to no longer be a sitting frog; I am in no way inferior to any man.

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Self Love for Fear of Abandonment – Spending time with me

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Fear of abandonment

I was just about to freak out that Shane had just left abruptly, tempting to ruin my sombre Sunday afternoon. I kicked into Wise mind and thought: Seriously, Steph, no feature of the house has changed since he left. No midnight monster has appeared since he locked the grill behind him. I also used opposite action, resisting the urge to hide even further under my blankie. Instead I jumped up, put on the kettle for a warm bath. In the meantime, I lit my Glade vanilla scented candle- Oooh… self soothe. Immediately, I started to enjoy the solace of being alone.

I can remember having symptoms of Fear of Abandonment ever since adolescence… I remember the young insecure unsure teenager who did things just to avoid being alone. I remember her and look back on her with compassion, empathy and love.

Everybody is doing the best they can with the tools they have and level of understanding they have at any moment in their lives (including you) – Anon

When I first downloaded a DBT manual, I excitedly scrolled through looking expectedly for some magical psychological trick that would ‘fix’ me. The first page had a definition for emotions along with exercises that differentiated between event, behaviour and emotion. I quickly skipped those pages thinking: When do I get to the good stuff? But on and on the manual just shared skills which I thought were ridiculously simple and so obvious. Yet I had not learned them. Slowly it dawned on me. These are skills I should have learned as a child but didn’t. Urge Management, Effective Interpersonal Skills, Self Soothing…. Amazing. There was nothing magical in there, just basic human skills that I lacked and would have to work hard at learning.

I really am loving myself more each day. So much that I manage not to self sabotage as often as before. I also identify and put an end to sabotaging thoughts before they have a chance to grow wild in my mind. DBT yay! Some small positives about me that I have focussed on: I see the good in people, I’m always a defender of the underdog. I’ve never hated anyone in my life. Not even my abusers. I don’t know how to hate. I love my passion and thirst for knowledge and the evolution thereof – my determination to find and be true to myself and my natural aptitude for helping people in emotional crises. I like my flexible brain. Hehe. Bpd probably gave me that. 😉 Oh well.

I  now respect myself. I no longer feel the need to do things so others will like me or to do things just to avoid being alone. I’m very happy for this particular improvement. I actually look in the mirror and think Wow! I love this girl. She’s something else. This is a new feeling for me. It makes me want to take care of myself.

The curious paradox is: even though I’m taking better care of me, I’m less influenced by my perceived physical appearance. I’ve realized so much worth within, so much immovable worth that age or size or a bump or spot can never take away. I also feel more secure in personal relationships, knowing that my identity will not leave with the person. So, I feel free to just enjoy the experience. Is this the freedom they have spoken of?!

When feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness threaten to creep in I refer to my handy Grateful Buk list!

 Look out for more 30 days of positivity updates!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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These Middle Men though…

How to become a legalist

How to become a legalist

It has taken me some time to be able to articulate this in order to have it come across in a way that doesn’t seem spiteful or bitter or sounds like some form of revenge. Now I know I can never sound as vengeful as Naked Pastor 😀 . He’s awesome, check out his site here!

After having had my own personal experiences with religion – in depth experiences, I might add. Not only was I an ‘obedient to mommy and attend Sunday school go-er’, but I spent four years in an institution whose parent church is listed in the United States as a cult. See source here (United Pentecostal Church International by Rick Ross). For my writing purposes I will refer to it at legalistic. ‘Cult’ is pretty harsh and also I’m an advocate of the anti-stigma movement, so I do not condone labelling.

I found it necessary for closure, personal satisfaction at being able to share my beliefs as well as an opportunity to express myself. Here it is -my take on church, God and all things spiritual. Keep in mind my experiences were personal and so are my opinions.

There is nothing wrong with people per se as a species.

There is nothing wrong with God per se as a divine being (in whatever form you may perceive him to be)

It is the “middle man” who creates all the confusion. His name is religion.

Middle Men,  Argh!

I was accompanied by a friend to check out some apartments on the North Coast. We went by Greenwich Acres, a gated community near Drax Hall, St. Ann. The realtor, who lived just next door, showed us around and quoted a price of $40,000 per month.

Errrkkks!! That put the brakes on our tour. My friend however had a relative living next door so we stopped to say hi.

Her advice: These apartments aren’t more than 25,000 per month. The key is to get in touch with the owner, who lives abroad. The agents stack up the rent so they can pocket the difference, without the owner’s permission.

The middle man always adds his bit…

My sister was desirous of purchasing a used SUV, Suzuki Vitara 2001. First quote she received –930,000. The salesperson assured her that that’s the best he could do but because he liked her he could go to 910,000 but not a cent lower.

By chance, she bumped into the owner who worked at the American embassy. He informed her that he was migrating and was asking $780,000 for the van and that figure was negotiable!!

With legalistic religion, it is not that you won’t find God or the relationship and fellowship that you desire to have, BUT (and that’s a big one), you will be asked to make unnecessary sacrifices to gratify the ‘middle man’.

Religious institutions will always have fallacies. So, if you are looking for perfection, you are at the wrong place. *warm smile*

However, if you are looking for a place that accepts and openly discusses and invites questions relating to said fallacies, you are still at the wrong place. *sad smile*The saddest claim of every religion is that they are 100% correct and above questioning.

This is where the trouble usually starts. Defending the perfection of an imperfect system shows denial, inability to see objectively or zealous insanity. The pretty package they present under the guise of evangelism and the intense sweeping under the rug they do to maintain image are things that irk and keep away the skeptics. Instead of: We have all the solutions and answers maybe they should say: We don’t have it all together but let’s work on it together. My opinion cannot be a law since I am a fallible human being.

If you find you have an overwhelming need to control someone else or a group of people, um… get checked out, please, for everybody’s sake. What you are doing is abusive.  Read here for facts on spiritual abuse.

On Good Friday morning, I received a broadcast on my Blackberry smartphone. As annoying as those usually are, I was drawn in by the top line of the text.. I have come to accept and even expect messages like this: Some persons on my bb who on every day of the year especially weekends, have up a dp (display picture) of themselves either scantily clad or imbibing copious amounts of alcohol or taking in a ‘spliff’ complete with a status including curse words or what the haters can stuff where. BUT! On a traditional Christian holiday or even on an unassuming Sunday morning, their dp’s and statuses shift quite curiously to either a line or two of a worship song, a biblical scripture or a picture of Jesus holding their hand. Read this post for another example of religious inconsistencies  in Jamaican culture.

Anyhoo, the subject of this broadcast read: “There is no tax to his Grace..” Now, I found this statement very interesting because that is exactly what legalistic religion does; it adds tax on the requirements of having a relationship with a divine being. It’s like a group of salesmen vying for clients to boost their status or to prove that they and they alone are ordained to ‘win souls for God’.

Now I am aware that the debates surrounding the many properties of organized religion have been exhausted, and understanding and that the psychology behind cults requires the mere click on a Google search page, however…

You Gotta Believe Something…

I propose… hehe… this is my religion although it doesn’t quite add up to the definition since I am most willing and open to a. criticisms, b. adjustments. As I grow and have new experiences I acknowledge that my beliefs will also evolve. As people grow and evolve at different stages and rates I also accept that I cannot force anyone to agree with me or deem them lesser than me in some way if they do not see my points.

If a person is truly alive, then one characteristic they must display is growth (Biology 101). Perceptions, opinions and beliefs evolve because people’s experiences change and differ – some on a daily basis. To set up shop and force someone to belief your private interpretation of life events or record of such events and to conform to standards you are comfortable with is seriously abusive (and mildly narcissistic).

In the same way that what you wear or like should have no bearing on what I choose to wear or the kind of music I’m drawn to; my beliefs should be just as individualistic and an authentic reflection of who I am – the sum of my experiences, perceptions and inspirations. The obvious connection between religion and culture should have been a huge indication that people’s beliefs are shaped by their environment and experiences and subsequent interpretations thereof.

Your ‘truth can never be my ‘truth’ if we have wide and varying experiences.

Accept and embrace the diversity that living organisms display. If you really believe in a supreme God, then why cant you accept his creations as they are? Legalism is damaging and has far reaching negative effects even when (particularly when) persons are removed from the environment. They are overwhelmed with the sudden responsibility of making their own decisions and charting their own life course. Some persons after acknowledging the severity of the deception and realizing that their best years were consumed by a lie, end up with Post traumatic stress disorder and require professional intervention to move on. These are the dark dangers of what most would see as a innocent affiliation with a religious organization.

Suspect that your religious institution might be legalistic? Not quite sure? Read here or here for signs that your unease may not just be in your mind. You can even go ahead and take the legalistic quiz here and see how you score 🙂

My examples were drawn from legalistic Christianity which is where I had my experiences. I had a friend who was married to a zealous Muslim and experienced religious atrocities at his hand. When I shared my experience of legalism with her, she exclaimed: “Stephanie, you are just like me!” This was a major turning point in my decision to leave the organisation. Legalism occurs in all major religions and there are no laws to protect people from this kind of abuse.

You can work out your own salvation or keep paying the middle man.

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Gratitude vs. Anxiety/Fear

In childhood I developed a fear of lizards.

I believe it was just two clicks away from a phobia, really. We would go for a walk in the yard or garden and I would immediately zoom in on all the lizards that no else saw. My aunt used to say: “You see them because you are looking for them”. The thing is, I looked for them because I was terrified of them. Does that make any sense at all though? I figured I had to enter a room and immediately spot out the enemy in case they decided to attack. The only time I would not notice the lizards is when I was distracted by something else or if another emotion overwhelmed my fear… say a birthday party outside(excitement)  or taking a new doll for a walk in the garden(joy).. hehe.

I’m beginning to think that my anxiety has helped to tuned me in to all that is negative around me and so I focus on bad possibilities/outcomes in a vain attempt to circumvent them. What really happens is, all I see is the blackness. I barely notice or acknowledge when good things are happening in my life and therefore find it that more difficult to be grateful. I would mumble and complain about all that could go wrong and glaze over the positives.

This has to stop.

Anxiety disorder has given me a tilted view of the world. Even as a child I remember seeing it as a dark shady place with people who hurt and trick other people. When asked to describe myself as a child, my mom said: “You just had these huge terrified eyes like you thought the world was a scary place”. This feeling still creeps up on me every now and then.

‘Grateful buk’

 One day (must have been a desperate ‘bottom of the barrel’ moment) I actually wrote a list of things I felt grateful for. Then I started a trend on Twitter hashtag: #Grateful buk. I surprised myself by the long list of things I had going for me. I couldn’t stop writing! Grateful buk is something I have shared among my friends. Persons even wanted me to write a list for them. This is something we each have to do ourselves. Some items on the list were simple such as experiences (summers in New York City), accomplishments (formal education) and more precious achievements ( a wonderful son).

I could have written that I froze my butt off and couldn’t get a job or that I haven’t used my degree in years or that Othneil is a major contributor to my worries (over protective mom). I chose instead to focus on the good stuff about each happening on my grateful buk list.

Anxiety isn’t just a physiological condition. I may be disadvantaged by it in thinking positively but certainly not prevented completely. I do have the choice of how I look at each situation. Even though I am accustomed to searching for the lizards, I can train my mind to refocus on the other characteristics of the garden. The breeze, fresh grass, flowers, the feel of my bare feet digging in the rich red soil (gotta scrub those before going in mommy’s tub), the huge rock I sat on with my sister and ate the tangerines we picked, the puppies wondering around, a new kite, taking the dollies for a walk, playing ‘dutty pot’. There are so many aspects to any given situation. We have a choice and an obligation to our health to put a positive spin on it.

 I can look for all the lizards in the garden or enjoy the flowers.

 Image

Buk: extreme/pinnacle can go no higher, further Eg. “Turn up the radio until it buk!

Dutty pot: A game common in rural Jamaica, played outside using an old pot, mixing water, stones and various grasses and flowers to create a ‘soup’.

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Thirty Days of Positivity and Self- Care

They say love is not a feeling. It is an action, a verb. This is how we choose to love someone. We choose to take part in actions that show how we feel about them.

 

Today, I choose to really love myself. The words will have no effect unless my actions match up. I choose to take care of myself – from getting enough rest to maintaining healthy boundaries. This is my 30 plan to wellness and complete health through positivity and self care. I choose today to be happy, healthy, loved and to accept into my body, mind and spirit only that which I deserve.

I have no more blame to cast on my abusers, naysayers or misfortune-wishers. Today I give them no power over me, my state of mind, my health and well being. I take that responsibility fully into my hands so that I can do something about it. So, I can steer my life in a purposeful direction.

Today I take a good look at my personal and professional goals. I shed the expectations of my parents and override the validations of their abusive actions. Today, I take control.

30 day challenge

Body

Exercise: yoga (stretching), cardio, weights

Diet: Protein and vegetables, fruits, nuts- heavy, but not exclusive, healthy carbs (whole wheat crackers, sweet potato). Yogurt for healthy digestive system

Beverages: green tea, water

Supplements: multivitamins, omega 3

Mind/Spirit

Meditation

Books: The Secret. Positive blogs, articles, FB accounts, twitter accounts etc

Daily affirmations (at night), songs

Breath Work

Journaling

Positive blogging

Practice replacing negative thoughts with positive ones

Comedy movies!

Self – soothing items

Scented candles

Books

Scented lotions

Avoid:

Negative persons (attitudes plus behaviors)

Negative conversations

Negative accounts

Accounts and articles about mental illnesses

Refined sugar

Yeast products

Alcohol

Nail/finger biting

I didn’t get to this point overnight. I can identify a cause for almost every ‘issue’ in my life at this point and even the ones that stem back to childhood were created by some form of negativity. My 30 day challenge is to immerse myself in positivity, following the principles of “The Secret” ,(Law of Attraction), in order to reverse the effects of the negative events that occurred. I’m going to be kind and compassionate to myself and others. I will not allow any negative energy to dwell within me. Negative emotions will be handled skillfully, using DBT techniques, but during this time, my blogs will not contain the words ‘abuse’ “mental illness” “bpd”, “pstd” or “pmdd”.

 I am a person, not a label.

I am shifting my focus from how I now perceive things to be to how I would like them to be. Health, wellness, peace of mind and happiness will be my new themes. I will not allow woundology to keep me in a state of mind of hate, blame and constant victim mode. I will not talk about mental illnesses, symptoms, causes and or cures. I will however mention DBT which I believe to be a life skill that would benefit anyone practicing it. I am healed. I am happy. I am whole. The past has been faced, dealt with and placed where it belongs – behind me.

Somehow, this positivity trend crept up on me. I figured: If I can stop drinking soda, cut out sweets, train my body to crave healthy foods and to feel averse to sweet/oily/fatty foods, then why not my mind?

I’ve always believed that the universe works in mysterious ways to our benefit once we decide with certainty what it is that we really want. In that moment I decided to: put my mistakes of the last six years behind me, look forward, focus on the positive things in my life. Healthy thoughts = healthy mind.

This is my 30 days of pure positivity and self care challenge.

 Look out for updates. Thanks for reading.

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