Thursday, April 30, 2015

To Give May Be "Better" Than to Receive ... But for a Happy, Healthy Life You Need to Balance Both

    
“When I gave – gifts or service – it made me feel really good inside.
When I was on the receiving end of giving,
I often felt uncomfortable, less-than and weak.  ~Guess who?

My parents may have been acting on their early church teaching that giving was better than receiving, or they had simply come up with a handy way to settle the “who-gets-what?” issues among their nine children.  In my child’s mind – I came to believe that I was giving a lot to others without getting much in return.  At any rate, as I grew up, I became a Giver (with a capital G) because I’d learned that my selfless behavior had seemed to endear me to others as the considerate, generous and thoughtful one.  I stuck with this method of living for a very long time, until recently, when I discovered that my lifelong habit of giving-giving-giving was no longer rewarding me with the desired feelings of love and self-esteem and a sense of being a good person.  I had repeated a longtime, annual offer to an event that really matters to me … and the good feelings I always had before simply weren’t there.

Naturally I wondered if the lesson I was to learn from this uncomfortable situation was that I had accepted only half the equation of Giving and Receiving.  I went online and after reading several articles, I discovered that today Giving and Receiving are talked about as two points on the same spectrum, as well as examples of the universal dynamic energy exchanges that take place throughout the Cosmos.  It’s the give and take energy-wise that makes it all work – down to and including on the personal, individual level.  One site likened Giving and Receiving to a flowing river and as long as there were no interruptions or stoppages everything in the river was healthy and all was good.  Hmmm … now that’s an intriguing segue to learning about how healthy Giving and Receiving can improve our lives on a daily basis.

What I realized after probing my heart and mind about the unsatisfying giving experience that triggered this essay, was that the event itself was not the key to my dilemma.  The strong response was obviously meant to get me thinking, which it did.  This time, I had reacted with resistance and resentment, instead of the usual feeling of positive anticipation and joy.  Naturally, I was stunned at first because this specific event was one that I truly enjoyed and had chosen to be personally involved in for years.

As I continued seeking to understand the change in my attitude about giving, I noticed a number of uncomfortable memories popping up that served to recap some aspects of the earlier decades of my life.  The images were of kind and loving individuals who were offering me all forms of assistance or help, and my response was to avoid Receiving it like it was the plague.  Even when I was a single mother of three and needed all the help I could get, I always said, “No thanks, I can handle it,” even when I had no idea of how I could do that.

It seems for some long-forgotten subconscious reason I couldn’t allow myself to say “yes” because I associated receiving help or support with being weak, guilty, ashamed, and less-than.  I didn’t know the source of that directive in my subconscious back then and still don’t know today.

Since this is my fourth essay on this subject it’s obvious that the answer that I’ve been seeking is that I still have something to learn about how to balance Giving and Receiving and how to do it healthfully and continuously.

As I thought long and hard on why I had previously chosen to be a Giver instead of a Receiver, I realized it was a no-brainer.  With Giving there was such a good feeling, especially when the giving came from my heart to someone or a cause that I truly cared about.  This was hands-down so much more comfortable and desirable than the feeling of discomfort I experienced when I was the unaccustomed Receiver.

Today I realize that in all those years when I was so off-balance in my ideas about giving, I wasn’t just hurting myself, but others as well.  I recognized that my modus operandi back then was so filled with emotions that there was no way it could have been healthy giving or receiving.  I felt so bad for the person asking for help, for their humiliation, and for my own memories of how humiliated I felt when others knew I was needy.  During those heavy-duty emotion-packed times, I just wanted to fulfill their request quickly, so we could end the emotionally-charged situation for everyone concerned, especially me.

I never once thought about any repercussions or side effects for either the giver or receiver in such an unhealthy situation.  I realize now that I probably gifted individuals who would have been better off learning a life lesson from their needy situation, and sometimes I contributed to a charitable cause just to boost my self-esteem and feel good about myself. I am human.

Once again I was becoming overwhelmed by not being able to finally get the spiritual lesson from Giving and Receiving, so I called my go-to expert, Irene Amanda Hunter, a longtime friend, mentor and spiritual life coach.  Her book, “The Miracle of Being the Real You,” has helped countless thousands of people, including me, gain insights into our own blockages and get on with clearing them so we are free to fully be who we were born to be.

In this instance, she explained that psychologists have now acknowledged that this almost universal (Giving and Receiving) challenge comes about when as children we are helpless and dependent on having all our needs met by others.  If we were left without having received our share of what we needed, the result would be held as a powerful directive in our subconscious.  These hidden orders concerning feelings of injustice and lack can serve as silent handicaps that can thwart the life we’re meant to live. Our saving grace is to seek help and choose to grow through such challenges instead of just going through them

Now I understand why it was difficult or even impossible at times to fully express (give) my unique life gifts.  It was because I was still stuck on being needy and wanting only to receive what was lacking in childhood.  Obviously this is why I over-compensated and became a super-giver to bolster my sense of self worth. 
Since gaining insights to inner blockages is part of my life purpose, I immediately began Inner Work to release the past and the unknown subconscious directives that were causing this particular challenge.  In doing so, I finally realized that the strong body-mind-soul negative response I experienced was my body’s way of saying “Enough!” It was time to grow through this spiritual lesson and to celebrate the increased conscious awareness.

So I learned that when we feel overwhelmed it’s not time to give up and turn to food, or whatever our crutch of choice is at such times.  Instead it’s time to move forward and celebrate another growth step.  My new awareness is now enabling me to release the need to give, give, give, to prove I am worthy.  I chose faith instead of fear.  I’m also learning to say “No” to shore up my healthy “me first” goal when it’s appropriate; to set boundaries, and schedule time to continue becoming the Real Me I Was Born to Be.

The reason to master Giving and Receiving is simple and huge.  The truth is they’re both the same and you can’t have one without the other.  The desired result for humanity is that when a person is capable of healthy receiving from a healthy giver – with love and gratitude – the energy exchange is complete and perfect.  This means that divine love is expressing through the individuals and voila, we are helping create healthier relationships and a healthier, balanced world that works for everyone.

Suggestions to help us become healthy Givers and Receivers:

Take time to love the wounded child within, and develop a loving, mature adult to guide you.
Give to causes that inspire you.
Take time to learn to master Giving and Receiving healthfully.
Give to where you experience the most joy.
Take time to be Grateful for the Good that’s come to you and for the good that is yet to be.
Give and Receive with Love and Gratitude.
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Copyright© 2015 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s books: “Becoming a Spiritual Warrior of the Heart,“  (April 2013); “Tea with Elisabeth,” recipient of the 2010 Silver Award for Non-fiction; “You Can Live A Balanced Life In An Unbalanced World,” (Nov. 2008); “The Heart Knows the Way …” (Feb. 2008), are available on Amazon.com, other online booksellers, as well as bookstore chains such as Barnes & Noble.




Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Making the Best of the Rest of Your Life


Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible,
and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.”  ~Francis of Assisi

I remember when I was very young hearing my 93-year old great-grandmother repeat that old maxim, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I would have take better care of myself.”  Like most youngsters, I didn’t take my elder’s wisdom to heart.  And, eventually I did recall the conversation, with regret. Because as a much older me, I was suddenly receiving messages from my own body – I had begun to face one challenging aging ailment after another, barely coping with one before another popped up.  I shouldn’t have been so surprised – I had already written another essay based on it seeming like our older bodies might be falling apart, but it could also be our chance to partner with our bodies.  But, of course, we humans are always forgetting and then being reminded again.  The truth is that our bodies are finite, they do wear out, and they do malfunction – especially if we haven’t taken good care of them, and have taken them for granted.

So, what can we do to ensure that our later life is as healthy and productive and happy as we would like it to be?  Well for starters we need to realize the fact that statistics already show that human beings are now living longer than ever.   The trend that’s already obvious is that the 70s are the new 50s and the 90s are the new 70s.  This means (statistically) that we are going to be “old” for much longer periods of time than our parents and grandparents.

That fact automatically shoots taking better care of our bodies up to the top of all lists.  Every day for decades we’ve been inundated with information that encouraged us to eat a life-enhancing and nutritious diet, to exercise, lose weight, run, walk and keep moving so that we can have a fit and healthy body.

As seniors, many of us already had a handy excuse for ignoring the fitness craze that is still sweeping our country, because we thought it had nothing to do with us.  After all we were too busy focusing on what we thought were the last years of our lives.  Yet the truth is: Better late than never.  Thank you, Granny.

While it’s obvious that younger generations will have more time to adjust to living longer lives, we oldsters have already recognized that life itself is an incredible gift, and the opportunity to live to an advanced age can be an even greater blessing.  It’s our responsibility to make the most of it, and to prepare our bodies for a longer lifespan by staying healthy and fit, and we can do it wisely without ripped muscles and six-packs.

We also need to expand our minds and embrace the new concepts of agelessness and youthfulness, as well as life-long learning and goal-setting.  Another self-defeating thing that we foot-dragging oldsters do to stay firmly entrenched in “the old days” is to resist all changes, and particularly technological change.  I’ve heard many of my peers say when they are being chastised by their family members for retreating from the high-tech world we now live in: “Oh well, we’ll be long-gone soon.” 

People who think that way have already started opting OUT to put it bluntly.  The thought being, that we can’t move forward or don’t think we can, or don’t have the urge to do so.  The upshot of that closed and unhealthy mind-set is a fear of learning new ways, and of trying new things.  It can also isolate us from society – and put our lives in a static kind of holding pattern – that says we’re still here, but patiently waiting for the way out.

I remember a quote by bestselling author Richard Bach that fits this situation perfectly:  “If you think your mission on Earth is complete, if you’re alive it isn’t.”

I have to admit that I am still one of those “foot-dragging” seniors.  For example, just like my parents I resist using the drive-in window at my bank, and still write checks to pay my bills.  I don’t even want to talk about how little I know about my one high-tech concession, computers, for if it works that’s great, but if it doesn’t I have no clue as to what to do.  My young grandsons are my tutors.

After I was recently presented with another aging ailment, I began seriously wondering what the final chapter(s) of my life could be like if I changed my outlook and became part of our world’s evolution into a higher conscious awareness.  I knew immediately that not being part of Life and just kind of “hanging in,” wasn’t for me.

Here’s what I did.  I took a week off for a self-imposed retreat (which I call time-out-of-time) to ponder my stage of life and to revisit some of the wise words of my mentors and teachers, as well as famous sages and philosophers who have gone on before us.

This statement from my late friend and mentor Dr. Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross captured my attention
Each and every one of us is a unique, individualized expression of God – the Divine Mind – and we’re here for a reason, and there will never be another me or another you.

I was touched at the core of my being by that quote, and took the time necessary to do two things.  The first was to accept the fact that in order to continue experiencing life on Earth we must have a body and the healthier the better.  Next I took a clear look at my life to figure out what I would need to do (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) to help me make the best of the rest of my life.

Feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the latest ailment I was experiencing I sat down and listed my half-dozen maladies, along with specific dietary do’s or don’ts for each one.  I also added prescribed exercises, meditation, visualization, and embryonic (qigong) breathing as well as homeopathic and holistic healing modalities.

Having focused my thoughts by writing down my concerns and what I could and would do about them, I no longer felt overwhelmed. What I had done was to come up with a simple list of how-to’s that in a very short time (two weeks for me) became a healthful and uplifting habit.

As soon as I started working with my body as a willing partner, I immediately felt supported and empowered by the positive energy that now coursed through my being.  I was no longer a helpless victim just waiting for the next aging ailment to show up, I was consciously partnering with my body to attain and maintain a higher level of energy and well-being to prepare me for whatever life presents.  (This includes a bit of time to have a snit-fit when and if another malady shows up.)

As my great-grandmother also said, “When you have your health, you have everything!”  She was right.  I’m aware and kind of gobsmacked that at the age of 80 I committed to a new vision – with a healthier diet, exercises and taking full responsibility for my body.  My goal is to continue experiencing life on Earth, growing in conscious awareness instead of  just getting older … and making the best of the rest of my life.

I made my decision with a tip of the hat to the late Art Linkletter, who wrote a bestselling book years ago titled – “How to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life – in which he said, You can’t stop the clock, but we can rewind it.” 

I chose to do that.  I finally realized that it’s time to embrace this brave new world instead of resisting it.  Life is change, and the world is changing fast and in ways that will affect every aspect of our lives—and they’ve only just begun.  The good news is that part of living in a time of rapid change also means we can take advantage of new and unparalleled opportunities … and use them to make the best of the rest of our lives.

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Copyright © 2015 Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s books: “Becoming a Spiritual Warrior of the Heart,” (April 2013); “Tea with Elisabeth,” recipient of the 2010 Silver Award for Non-fiction; “You Can Live A Balanced Life In an Unbalanced World,” (Nov. 2008); and “The Heart Knows the Way – How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within,” (Feb. 2008) are available at Amazon.com other online booksellers and bookstore chains such as Barnes & Noble.