How about this: When experiencing anger and resentment towards someone else, make a list of all of the other person’s faults and all the things they’ve ever done that seem offensive. Then go tell that person all the reasons why they are just wrong.

Sound familiar?

It does to me because that is what I did for years. I held other people responsible for my unhappiness.

Despite my diligence in tracking and noting other people’s faults – I devoted hours of ‘mind-share’ to it daily – my own unhappiness never seemed to get resolved.

I began to understand why, when I came across this:

“-Make a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.

“-Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

“-Continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong promptly admit it.”

Sound familiar?

That’s because these are steps 8, 9, and 10 of the powerful Twelve Step programs.

It was in becoming familiar with the Twelve Steps that I began to see that I had things bass-ackwards.

Instead of inventorying others’ faults and blaming them, I needed to inventory my own faults and ‘fess up.

And because I was prone to depression, I had to learn to become aware of my faults without blaming even myself for them.  Observe, not judge.

This predated the time when I began to really pay attention to and question my own thoughts. This was wonderful, solid groundwork for the thought-questioning process that came later.

Taking responsibility for our own emotions is one of the most powerful things we can do for our Self in one lifetime.

Our emotions are caused by our own thoughts.

My experience is that only through taking responsibility for my own emotions – and the thoughts that create them – am I able to clear my mind of relentless negativity and find respite, peace.

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Posted by: conniecahlil | August 1, 2016

Taking a Break from Social Interactions – from 8Dec2013

Yes, I do understand what you are saying about trying to focus with friends around.

I find it especially difficult when my friends may not understand or support the projects I am working on.

Sometimes I’ll realize that I am making a lot of changes in my thinking, gaining new insights, making what feel like big advances in awareness.  During those times I may withdraw from social interactions to some degree that feels comfortable.

I do this when I really want to be free to explore new ways of seeing things.

Then I get back in touch with friends after the new awareness seeps into consciousness and I am ready for outward expression of what I’ve learned.

16Sep2012

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Posted by: conniecahlil | July 20, 2016

Missing Our Own Life – from 5Nov2014

Recently I sent this out:

“Useless things to think about: Imagining a scary future, rehashing the past, thinking I know what others think, judging myself and others…”

This concept came out of one of many discussions with a friend over the summer, in which he explored my practice of ‘deconstructing my thoughts’. He commented that sometimes he will pay attention to his thoughts and then think, “Oh, I am rehashing the past again”, or, “I am engaging in judgmental commentary again”.

In ‘deconstructing my thoughts’ I’ve tended to focus on the process of deconstructing, aka questioning, thoughts for the purpose of resolving negative emotions. But my friend’s point is useful – there are entire categories of thought that we can recognize as origins of unhappiness and depression.

Imagining a scary future (this could be easy for someone in my situation), rehashing the past, thinking I know what others think, judging my Self and others… these are just a few areas of thought that can lead to depression. Other categories that come to mind are thinking I need someone else’s approval or love, attempting to live someone else’s life for them (i.e. “…she should do this”, “he shouldn’t do that), denying reality (“things shouldn’t be like this”), asserting unquestioned inevitability (“…things always go badly”, or “I can never get it right”).

For example, right now I could sit here and imagine that I am going to die soon, and that the dying process will be drawn-out and painful. In other words, “Oh my god, I’m going to die, it’s horrible!!”

What is the reality? Am I going to die? Yes. But that is true regardless of the cancer, and it is just as true for you and everyone else as it is for me. I notice that most people around me, even though they know that they will in fact die someday, don’t seem to let that knowledge interfere with their daily living. Why should I?

Is dying going to be painful? I cannot know that. I cannot know that there is any truth whatsoever to what I might imagine the pain could be like. I can only know the present reality – which is that so far the pain hasn’t been enough to keep me from enjoying each day.

But if I sit here lost in imagining the pain that maybe, perhaps, I might experience someday, then what am I missing? I would be missing this present moment, when the sun is shining over the beautiful meadow before me as a cooling breeze touches my face. I would be missing the good fortune of having the time, energy, and place to type this right now. I would be missing the joy of knowing so many wonderful people in my life. I would be missing the opportunity to care for my body as well as I can in the present circumstance.

That is a high price to pay, just for living in my own fearful imagination instead of living in the present reality:

I would be missing my own life.

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Posted by: conniecahlil | July 5, 2016

Start a Conversation – from 16Dec2013

Sometime today, start a conversation with someone you don’t know.

It doesn’t need to be a long conversation; just a few sentences back and forth is sufficient.

Be aware of your thoughts.  If any negative thoughts occur about the other person – or about yourself – remember them and later take the time to question those thoughts.

There are multiple reasons for doing this. One is to become comfortable with starting conversations.

Another is to become aware of the thoughts that go through your mind when you interact with people around you, and to question the negative thoughts and judgments.

Notice your thoughts! Question them!

11Dec2012

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Posted by: conniecahlil | June 24, 2016

Peace Is Personal – from 21Nov2014

When I think about having terminal cancer, the amount of time I spend thinking “Why is this happening to me?” is about zero.

I am more likely to think, “Why is that happening to them?” about those who suffer from the horrific actions of other people in conflicts around the world.  At least with that, there are answers:

Why is it happening?  Because there are people so attached to the untrue beliefs of their own Egos that they are capable of doing harm to themselves and to others.  It is the penalty for failure to understand how one’s own mind works.

But telling people “Your beliefs are wrong” is clearly non-productive (especially if it is followed with “…but my beliefs are right.”)

Fighting is also non-productive.

War does not create peace, we have plenty of evidence to teach us that.

Peace is personal; it begins within each of us as we take responsibility for how our own minds work and we question our thoughts and beliefs.

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We’ve talked about the concept that time does not exist, there is only Now.  About how the past and the future exist only in our thoughts.  And how being distracted by negative thoughts about the past and/or worries about imagined futures keeps us from fully living our life Now.

So the question might arise, if I am living in the Now – how will I ever do anything big that takes considerable time to manifest?

Living in the Now does not mean we cannot accomplish big things.  And living in the Now does not mean ‘don’t plan’, or ‘don’t take on long-term projects’.

Quite the contrary, because the mind is clear and we focus on what we are doing Now, we accomplish more than we would if our mind is distracted by anticipating the future and/or worrying about it.

Living in the Now allows our minds to be open to other opportunities and possibilities as they occur unexpectedly.

Living in the Now means that if things change suddenly and an activity is clearly not going to result in the outcome we planned, we are not stressed out by that. We figure out something else to do, and we adapt.

We engage in each moment, whatever it brings.  We focus on what we are doing.  If accomplishing a big project involves 18 different steps, we dive fully into each of those steps and do it to the best of our abilities.

We plan and work towards big things, and our focus and attention are on the part of the project we are working on Now.

The project will either work out, or work out differently than we expected, or it won’t work at all.

But are the odds of success greater if we’ve been distracted and stressed with concern about the outcome during every step of the way – or if we’ve given each step our full attention and effort?

12Jan2013

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Posted by: conniecahlil | June 16, 2016

Getting Things Done – from 2Aug2013

It is good to review how you’ve spent your time recently, not from the viewpoint of thinking “I should have done this” or “I shouldn’t have done that”, but instead from the understanding that when we have days of what feels like ‘missed opportunities’ going by that is what turns into a sense of frustration that we are not accomplishing what we want to accomplish in life.

When that happens, step back and look at the way you move through each day.

Consciously examine the disconnects between what you ‘think’ you want to do, and what you actually do. Because if you have the thought that you want to do something but you do not do it, that just gives your mind plenty of opportunity to think negative thoughts about your Self, to mentally ‘beat yourself up’ – which is entirely unproductive.

If you think that you want to accomplish a particular task, but you do not do it, then that thought is a lie. Question it! Question everything about that thought. Understand what is *really* going on in your mind. This unlocks your potential to actually get things done.

How do we know what we *really* want to do? Take a look at what you are actually doing. That is what you really want to do.

Sometimes it is a great thing to just go with whatever is happening in the moment. Other times it is more meaningful to remain focused on making progress with your objectives.

Either way, it is important to truly understand your thoughts and make the choice consciously.

It is important to recognize that you are even making a choice.

17Sep2012

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Posted by: conniecahlil | May 8, 2016

“Your Mom Is Fat!” – from 26May2014

One day during his pre-school years I picked up my son from child-care and he said to me, “Mom, today one of the other boys was teasing me and he said ‘Your Mom is fat!’”

“What was he talking about??”

OOPS! I forgot to teach my son to be judgmental about weight!

Ah, well, other parents did teach their children, so my son learned about it soon enough from his peers. And from the media.

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Posted by: conniecahlil | May 2, 2016

Your Car Needs Maintenance? – from 28Dec2013

Your car needs maintenance and repair?

So just get into the ‘zen of car repair’ and work on your car.

Being frustrated about doing it is a distraction, question that.

We might feel like we have little choice about doing some activities (though in reality we do but of course there may be consequences).

What we do have a choice about is whether we engage in those activities with a clear, peaceful mind or a distracted, angry, frustrated mind.

15Feb2013

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Posted by: conniecahlil | April 25, 2016

About Ego – from 15Nov2014

A couple months ago a visitor asked where she could find books or writings to help her understand Ego.

I told her that I didn’t know of any books, that the things that I know about Ego are mostly things I discovered for myself through self-inquiry.

So I got a really great laugh at my Self as I was going through my old papers.

More than two decades ago I was part of a women’s group that learned Native American teachings from a Lakota couple. I often took notes as the woman spoke. There in my old files I found all my notes from those sessions, and among them, in my own careful handwriting, was this:

“Ego is the part of the self that keeps the sense of separateness.

“Ego creates a barrier to ‘being one with all things’.

“Ego not only creates the separateness, it also protects it.

“Ego is self-serving.

“Ego differentiates.

“Ego doesn’t allow wholeness.

“Ego creates ‘better than/worse than’.

“Ego is the protector/defender.

“The root of pain is with the Ego.

“It has its proper place.

“What are the rules of society, especially the little rules? Every rule is created to protect the body, in this society.

“Concern about the body keeps us from living in the present.

“Ego was designed to care for the physical body. In a healthy state the Ego is a secondary component of human identity, a second Self.

“Ego is to make sure the body gets enough to eat and to protect the body from doing damage to itself.

“Ego is the steward, caretaker of material-plane fears. It was never meant to provide the primary sense of Self. Ego is by nature a reflection. When the Ego stops trying to do everything and invites the eternal spirit into consciousness, historical illusions evaporate. The field of consciousness around you changes. Instead of your ego dominating your sense of identity and blocking your awareness of the Great Spirit, an eternal sense of Self awakens in you. You know your Self as a projection of the Creator and your Ego becomes your working partner.

“In a healthy state, the Great Spirit is experienced as your primary sense of Self. Your Ego does not have to be repressed, transcended, or die for this to happen. It simply has to assume an appropriate relationship with the Spirit that in truth you are.”

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