Cultivating Gratitude: Beyond Narcissism and Toward Connection

 

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gratitude“No doubt, our parents worked tirelessly to get us to say “thank you” when someone offered a gift or did us a favor. Most likely, they succeeded in getting us to mouth these words. But while we internalized proper etiquette, did we understand the purpose behind uttering thanks? To what extent did we develop an inner sense of feeling and conveying genuine gratitude?

Gratitude is a corrective to our sense of entitlement. One aspect of narcissism is the belief that we deserve to get without having to give. We feel that we’re entitled to fulfill our needs without being troubled by perceiving another’s world and responding to others’ needs. Our attention is fully absorbed within a limited and narrow sense of self.

The capacity to experience gratitude means that we’re extending attention beyond ourselves to perceive what someone has given us or done for us. During a moment of gratitude, our eyes open to the existence of the other. Simultaneously, we register how their eyes opened to recognize our existence as separate from their own.

They did something positive for us or with us. During that moment, they saw us, appreciated us, cared about us — and perhaps even loved us. Rather than take these precious gifts for granted, gratitude signals an appreciation for their generously extending attention beyond themselves and into our world.

As explained in Dancing with Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships:

When someone offers a compliment, expresses gratitude, or reaches out to touch us, do we allow it to seep deeply into our body and being? Are we mindful of how we are touched by it? Perhaps our stomach relaxes or we notice a warmth in our heart. Can we permit ourselves to savor that precious moment?

Sadly, we often permit these precious moments to zoom by. We don’t pause long enough to let them enter a tender place in our heart. We may remain armored, cut off, and disconnected from ourselves and the other person.

How often do we let potential moments of connection evaporate because we’re not mindful of their precious nature? Does this lack of recognition contribute to our loneliness, our sense of disconnection and isolation? Feeling and conveying gratitude allows us to hold these moments a little longer as we receive more consciously, deeply, and intimately.

This movement beyond self delivers us to a deeper sense of connectedness with our world. It might be gratitude for an old-fashioned birthday card or a phone call from a friend who asks how we’re doing. Or, it might be as simple as being more mindful when someone holds a door open for us, pausing a moment until we reach the door.

We might think it’s just a basic courtesy that’s expected. And perhaps their main motivation was to avoid the embarrassment of seeming to be self-centered. On the other hand, maybe they looked back at us, making friendly eye contact, while offering a warm smile.

If so, we’re being offered more than the gesture of an open door. We’re getting a little bit of their heart as well. Do we notice this? Do we let it in? Do we notice appreciation for their kind attention? If so, perhaps this adds some delightful zest to our expression of thanks.

Oftentimes, our rote “thank you” is limited to the realm above our neck rather than infuse our entire being. What needs to happen to actually experience the gratitude and appreciation that would inject a richer meaning into our words of thanks?

The next time someone offers a gift or a word or gesture of recognition, notice how you feel in your body. Take a deep breath and allow the good feeling to register not just in your head, but throughout your entire being. Notice if a sense of gratitude and appreciation wells up inside you — and experiment with allowing words of gratitude to bubble up from this deeper wellspring of your being.”

 

Cultivating Gratitude: Beyond Narcissism and Toward Connection | World of Psychology.

Why do people seek therapy?

Every thing you wanted to know about therapy but were afraid to askcouch

You’re bound to have the wrong idea about therapy if you’ve never been. And you’re not alone. But for starters, it’s not about being sick, being crazy, weak, or self-obsessed.

Therapy helps with the problems of living through  collaboration with a trained professional.

People pursue therapy for a variety of reasons, but typically  for the common everyday issues  of living that are causing distress – things they haven’t found answers for through other means. Psychotherapy  may come in the form of support, information, guidance, self-understanding, or a safe place to learn and practice new skills.

Many people believe that the support of a good friend can substitute for therapy. While social support is important for everyone, therapy is very different from relationships with friends and family.  For one thing, therapists are highly trained professionals who’ve spent years learning and practicing how to  treat cognitive, emotional, behavioral and relationship issues.

Secondly, social relationships are reciprocal – friends go back and forth discussing each other’s issues. Also,with friends you’re more likely to censor yourself, either because you don’t want to hurt their feelings or portray yourself or others in a bad light.

And, lastly, therapy is confidential. Therapists are legally mandated secret-keepers.And finally, when you’re in therapy, you can share that same issue in a safe environment, uncensored, where the focus is entirely on you.

People seek therapy for:

Self-Exploration: Some people come to therapy to gain a deeper understanding of self. They want to know why they do what they do, why they feel what they feel and determine how much control they have over those areas.

Support in Coping: Loss is a common reason for people to seek therapy. Therapy can provide a safe, supportive place for people to talk about grief, the end of a relationship or job, abuse issues, or any change in life circumstances that cause distress.

Help alleviating anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion.

Learning new coping skills like better communication for dealing with conflict and frustration, managing emotions, or mindfulness.

Learning a process for overcoming pain, working through loss, and adding meaning to your life.

 

If you would like to change your life, therapy is a good way to do it. Get suggestions from friends, or do some on-line research!

 

Next topic -  Questions to ask a therapy-candidate before you go.

The Work of Byron Katie

The Work by Byron Katie (we call her Katie).

Read what she says about Then, and Now:

Katie on: "How I Learned To Stop Suffering"</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>When I was in my early forties, I slept with a loaded gun under my bed. I'd become severely depressed in my thirties, and for almost a decade I spiraled down into paranoia, rage, self-loathing, and thoughts of suicide. I weighed more than two hundred pounds (I'm 5'5"), and for the last two years I was often unable to leave my bedroom. Then, one morning in February 1986, out of nowhere, I experienced a realization. In an instant, I discovered that when I believed my stressful thoughts, I suffered, but when I questioned them, I didn't suffer. I also discovered a simple way of questioning stressful thoughts. I call it "The Work." I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>Suffering is optional. The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with reality. When the mind is perfectly clear, what is is what we want.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>If you want reality to be different than it is right now, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try, and in the end the cat will look up at you and say, "Meow." You can spend the rest of your life trying to teach a cat to bark.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>If you pay attention, you'll notice that you're continually trying to teach cats to bark. "People should be kinder." "My children should be better behaved." "My husband (or wife) should agree with me." "I should be thinner (or prettier or more successful)." These thoughts are ways of wanting reality to be different than it is. If you think that sounds depressing, you're right.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>People new to The Work often say to me, "But it would be disempowering to stop my argument with reality. If I simply accept reality, I'll become passive. I may even lose the desire to act." I answer them with a question: "Can you really know that that's true?" Which is more empowering, "I wish I hadn't lost my job" or "I lost my job; what can I do now?"</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>The Work reveals that what you think shouldn't have happened, should have happened. It should have happened because it did, and no thinking in the world can change it. This doesn't mean that you condone it or approve of it. It just means that you can see things without resistance and without the confusion of your inner struggle.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>No one wants their children to get sick, no one wants to be in a car accident; but when these things happen, how can it be helpful to argue with them and think of ourselves as victims of reality? We know better than to do that, yet we do it, because we don't know how to stop.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>I don't ever want anything to happen except what's happening. For example, my ninety-year-old mother was dying of pancreatic cancer. I was taking care of her, cooking and cleaning for her, sleeping beside her, living in her apartment twenty-three hours a day. (My husband took me out for a walk every morning.) It was as if her breath was the pulse of my life. I bathed her, I washed her in the most personal places, I medicated her, and I felt such intimacy with her. There was no separation. That's me over there, dying of cancer, spending my last few days sleeping and watching TV and talking, medicated with the most marvelous painkilling drugs. I am amazed at the beauty and intricacies of her body, my body. And on the last day of her life, as I sat by her bedside, a shift took place in her breathing, and I know: it's only a matter of minutes now. Our eyes locked, and a few moments later she was gone. I looked more deeply into the eyes that the mind had vacated, the mindless eyes, the eyes of the no-mind, and because I can no longer believe thoughts like "Death is a bad thing" or "I've lost her," I feel only love and gratitude for her. There's not a trace of sorrow. And in the three years since her death, I'm still waiting for sorrow to happen.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>A man sticks a pistol into my stomach, pulls the hammer back, and says, "I'm going to kill you." I am shocked that he is taking his thoughts so seriously. He doesn't understand that the thought of killing causes guilt, which can lead to a life of suffering, so I ask him, as kindly as I can, not to do it. I don't tell him that it's his suffering I'm thinking of. He says that he has to do it, and I understand; I remember believing that I had to do things in my old life. I thank him for doing the best he can, and I notice that I'm fascinated. Is this how she dies? Is this how the story ends? As the joy continues to fill me, I find it miraculous that the story is still going on. You can never know the ending, even as it ends. I am very moved at the sight of sky, clouds, and moonlit trees. I love that I don't miss one moment, one breath, of this amazing life. I wait. And wait. And in the end, he doesn't pull the trigger. He doesn't do that to himself.
Katie on: “How I Learned To Stop Suffering”
When I was in my early forties, I slept with a loaded gun under my bed. I’d become severely depressed in my thirties, and for almost a decade I spiraled down into paranoia, rage, self-loathing, and thoughts of suicide. I weighed more than two hundred pounds (I’m 5’5″), and for the last two years I was often unable to leave my bedroom.
Then, one morning in February 1986, out of nowhere, I experienced a realization. In an instant, I discovered that when I believed my stressful thoughts, I suffered, but when I questioned them, I didn’t suffer. I also discovered a simple way of questioning stressful thoughts. I call it “The Work.” I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.
Suffering is optional. The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with reality. When the mind is perfectly clear, what is, is what we want. If you want reality to be different than it is right now, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try, and in the end the cat will look up at you and say, “Meow.” You can spend the rest of your life trying to teach a cat to bark.
If you pay attention, you’ll notice that you’re continually trying to teach cats to bark. “People should be kinder.” “My children should be better behaved.” “My husband (or wife) should agree with me.” “I should be thinner (or prettier or more successful).” These thoughts are ways of wanting reality to be different than it is. If you think that sounds depressing, you’re right.
more-byron-katie-quotes-52016-740x348
People new to The Work often say to me, “But it would be disempowering to stop my argument with reality. If I simply accept reality, I’ll become passive. I may even lose the desire to act.” I answer them with a question: “Can you really know that that’s true?” Which is more empowering, “I wish I hadn’t lost my job” or “I lost my job; what can I do now?”
The Work reveals that what you think shouldn’t have happened, should have happened. It should have happened because it did, and no thinking in the world can change it. This doesn’t mean that you condone it or approve of it. It just means that you can see things without resistance and without the confusion of your inner struggle. No one wants their children to get sick, no one wants to be in a car accident; but when these things happen, how can it be helpful to argue with them and think of ourselves as victims of reality? We know better than to do that, yet we do it, because we don’t know how to stop.
I don’t ever want anything to happen except what’s happening. For example, my ninety-year-old mother was dying of pancreatic cancer. I was taking care of her, cooking and cleaning for her, sleeping beside her, living in her apartment twenty-three hours a day. (My husband took me out for a walk every morning.) It was as if her breath was the pulse of my life. I bathed her, I washed her in the most personal places, I medicated her, and I felt such intimacy with her. There was no separation. That’s me over there, dying of cancer, spending my last few days sleeping and watching TV and talking, medicated with the most marvelous painkilling drugs. I am amazed at the beauty and intricacies of her body, my body. And on the last day of her life, as I sat by her bedside, a shift took place in her breathing, and I know: it’s only a matter of minutes now. Our eyes locked, and a few moments later she was gone. I looked more deeply into the eyes that the mind had vacated, the mindless eyes, the eyes of the no-mind, and because I can no longer believe thoughts like “Death is a bad thing” or “I’ve lost her,” I feel only love and gratitude for her. There’s not a trace of sorrow. And in the three years since her death, I’m still waiting for sorrow to happen.
A man sticks a pistol into my stomach, pulls the hammer back, and says, “I’m going to kill you.” I am shocked that he is taking his thoughts so seriously. He doesn’t understand that the thought of killing causes guilt, which can lead to a life of suffering, so I ask him, as kindly as I can, not to do it. I don’t tell him that it’s his suffering I’m thinking of. He says that he has to do it, and I understand; I remember believing that I had to do things in my old life. I thank him for doing the best he can, and I notice that I’m fascinated. Is this how she dies? Is this how the story ends? As the joy continues to fill me, I find it miraculous that the story is still going on. You can never know the ending, even as it ends. I am very moved at the sight of sky, clouds, and moonlit trees. I love that I don’t miss one moment, one breath, of this amazing life. I wait. And wait. And in the end, he doesn’t pull the trigger. He doesn’t do that to himself.
______________________________________
For more on  “The Work” of Byron Katie, go to http://thework.com.
You can also click on the images below.
The Work sheet -
Judge Your Neighbour Worksheet
Suggestions to answer Question 3 – How do you react when you believe that thought?
3.How do you react when you believe that thought?
Suggested responses to Question 4 – Who would you be without that thought?4.Who would you be without that thought?

What Is Life?

What is Life

In the BBC series, “The Wonders of Life”,  Professor Brian Cox considers what it is about our world that has made it a home and asks what ingredients are necessary to turn a tiny spec of rock in space into a living, vibrant planet.

The quote above was a profound conclusion: We are all made from the same stuff, and its apparently an inevitable result of the creation of our Universe.

Personally, I see no conflict with scientists’ conclusions and a spiritual existence. We were meant to be here:


You are a child of the universe.
No less than the trees and the stars.
You have a right to be here and whether 
or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe 
is unfolding as it should.

~Max Ehrmann

Judgement call

Darkness Carl Jung, a psychoanalyst I’ve long admired, called this shadow work. He said we never see others. Instead we see only aspects of ourselves that fall over them. Shadows. Projections. Our associations. ToLove If we can see and accept those aspects of Self that we would rather cast out – the parts we don’t like – we will find ourselves more understanding, forgiving, caring and loving toward others.

If you want a glimpse  your darker side, try this little mind trick : judge others’ unabashedly on paper (for your eyes only!). Now, find the ways that quality speaks about you.

For example,

I don’t like people who think they’re superior to other people“. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Hobby Lobby In ACA Contraception Case

True about me? Lets see… Have I ever thought I was better than others?

• When I get annoyed that the driver in front of me is “too” slow. (i.e., My way of driving is better than theirs)

• When I think I’m smarter than the support staff or employees at PetSmart (ouch)

• When I think others’ are superior to me. (I’m not smart enough, in good enough shape, creative enough, fun enough, young enough, or successful enough)

As I make my list, it is sinking in… I know the next time I see another as “thinking they’re superior to others“, I will probably realize I do not know the one I am judging, and I may feel more compassion for those I imagine are not being understood.