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Don’t be a metaphysical glutton(DW #822)

If you are anything like me, you get very inspired with books and lectures on self-growth, and love to keep making positive changes in your lives.
 
If you come across some wisdom that applies to your life, you are eager to implement it.
 
So far, so good. Small but continuous positive growth is what it is all about.
 
A word of caution, though.
It is a good idea to focus on one area of your life at one time. Pick something to work on and install that before tackling something else.
 
It is a recipe for crashing and burning if you try to address every area of your life all at once (don’t ask me how I know this!)

I love how American philosopher and writer Ken Wilber (often referred to as the "Einstein of consciousness studies") puts it: Don’t be a metaphysical glutton.

In other words: Don’t try to change EVERYTHING AT ONCE.

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Setbacks and relapses(DW #819)

We all have days when we fall short of our standards for ourselves and feel disappointed, even hopeless in our perceived lack of progress.

At least I do.

It is just part of the process. Set backs and relapses into old habits and ways of being do not signal lack of progress because:

GROWTH IS NOT LINEAR.

Growth does not occur in one beautiful, straight line from where you are to where you want to be. Growth looks more like a jagged zig zag line than a straight up-and-to-the-right line.

As George Leonard tells us: As we negotiate our path of mastery and let go of old habits, we need to have a "willingness to take one step back for every two forward, sometimes vice versa."

Sometimes vice versa!! This means that sometimes, on the journey, it will appear that you are taking only one step forward and two or three or four steps backwards.

The trick is to recognize the back slide AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. And get back on track.

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What is your Trimtab?(DW #817)

Do you know what a Trimtab is?

It is a small six-inch wide strip of metal attached by hinges to the trailing edge of a ship’s rudder. As an engine’s hydraulics force the Trimtab into the path of oncoming water, the pressure generated against it assists the rudder in making its turn.

The Trimtab was invented to solve a critical engineering problem at the height of World War II. As the war raged on the high seas,  ever-larger battle ships were needed. As the ships grew in size, their steering mechanisms required more power to turn their rudders than their engines could produce. The tiny Trimtab was able to turn and change the course of gigantic ships with minimal power and effort. The  revolutionary invention of the Trimtab not only solved this crucial military problem, it also created a new paradigm for human greatness.

It has always fascinated me how such a tiny piece on the rudder of the ship can change the direction of the huge ship.

And it seems that...

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Elements of a good apology(DW# 799)

Now that we have a good understanding of why apologies matter so much and how easily they can go wrong, let us explore what a good apology sounds like.
 
Researchers at various universities have found that the most compelling apologies include some or all of these elements:
 
§ An expression of regret
 
§ A statement of empathy for the pain caused
 
§ An explanation of what happened (not as an excuse!)
 
§ An acknowledgment of responsibility
 
§ A declaration of repentance
 
§ An offer of repair
 
§ A request for forgiveness
 
Their results suggest that if you’ve really messed up, you’ll do best if you use as many of these components as possible in your apology. However, the studies clearly showed that some of these components were much more important than others.
 
The researchers found that the single most important part of an apology is an...
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A gift to the relationship(DW# 798)

Relationships experts all agree on one thing: that no matter how evolved we are; we will mess up. Happy relationships are not those devoid of conflict, disagreement or hurt feelings. Even with the best of intentions, we will sometimes fail to live up to our best selves. There will be times that we are tired, stressed and will do and say things that we regret and things that hurt our loved ones.
 
The secret weapon of happy relationships then is not that these things do not happen. It is that people in happy relationships are really good at repairing when they make mistakes. Instead of being defensive, they are humble and recognize that they messed up. They own their mistakes, validate the hurt of their loved ones and learn to apologize effectively.
 
And so, a good apology is a gift to the relationship:
 
Two people can feel secure in the knowledge that if they behave badly, even fight terribly, they can repair the disconnection. We strengthen our relationships...
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The gift of a sincere apology(DW# 796)

We have talked at length about how apologies can easily go wrong and fail to make amends for our slips and mistakes.
 
Now let us look at what does make a good apology and why it matters.
 
Harriet Lerner puts it so well:
 
"I’m sorry" are the two most healing words in the English language. When they are spoken as part of a wholehearted apology, these words are the greatest gift we can give to the person we have offended. Our apology can help free the hurt person from life-draining anger, bitterness, and pain. It validates their sense of reality by affirming that, yes, their feelings make sense, we get it, and we take full responsibility for our words and actions (or our failure to speak or act). A heartfelt apology allows the hurt party the space to explore the possibilities of healing instead of just struggling to make sense of it all.
 
Isn’t that so powerful?
 
It is true that the hurt person has their own journey of forgiveness and...
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Decide how you will manage this relationship(DW# 793)

Once you have had time to process the emotional abuse and taken stock of its cost to you and to your life, you will need to decide what to do about this relationship.

 

Take the time you need to do this. It is not a good idea to hurry the process. It is not a good idea to make significant life decisions or to end/leave relationships when you are at the peak of emotional distress.

 

Some relationships are easier to let go of than others, of course. If gaslighting or emotional abuse is a part of a work relationship or a relatively new friendship, it is easier to walk away than when it is from a close family member or a spouse.

 

Please know that there is no right or wrong answer here. It is up to you whether you choose to continue or end this relationship. Please remind yourself that it is your situation and that your decision is valid even if other people in your life do not agree with it.

 

Before you decide, here are some options to consider:

 

You can walk...
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Surround yourself with people who believe in you(DW# 792)

Being the victim of emotional abuse such as gaslighting takes a toll on your sense of self.

 

The feeling of shame, isolation and sadness can be overwhelming and it can be tempting to hide out and to retreat from others.

 

It is of course helpful to give yourself the time and space to feel your emotions and to do healing work on your own. You can help yourself regain perspective by reminding yourself of times in your life when you have felt capable, grounded, sane, and generally good about yourself.

 

It is also a good idea to set a limit on your isolation and retreat, however, and to reach out to others who may ease the journey of healing.  

 

Friends and other relationships who ease the journey of healing are lifelines which we need to cultivate. When we are at the lowest point, when we lack confidence and strength, it is very important to surround ourselves with friends who believe in us, encourage us and remind us of our strengths...
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Practice self-compassion(DW# 791)

We have been discussing ways to cope and to resource yourself when you are the target of emotional abuse such as gaslighting.
 
For women, who tend to the target of such abuse, it is easy to slip into questioning one’s judgement even more and being hard on yourself for falling for this behaviour. While this is tempting, please know that it will do nothing except make you feel worse. It will NOT help you cope any better, do better or feel better in this situation.
 
What will work to build your resources is the practice of self-compassion.

At times like this, it is really important to practice being kind to yourself and to remind yourself of your humanity, of how you "fell for this" because of your love and trust, both of which are positive feelings which are important aspects of wellbeing.
 
The practice of self-compassion is a widely researched tool in mental and emotional wellbeing. Let us briefly remind ourselves about the three key aspects of self-compassion....
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Find a way to validate your reality(DW# 790)

With someone trying to mess with your sense of reality, it can feel very isolating. When you begin to question your own perceptions, it can be difficult to reach out to others for fear of appearing crazy. But you will need to up your game of self-care and building resources for yourself in order to maintain your mental and emotional wellbeing. You will need to find ways to validate your reality and to sort out truth from distortion.
 
Here are two suggestions:
 
The first is journaling.
 
Write down your conversations with the gaslighter in a journal so you can take an objective look at it. Where is the conversation veering off from reality into the other person’s view? Can you see patterns of responses when you bring up any area of conflict or question their behaviour? Do you recognize any phrases or statements that they consistently use from the ones we have discussed?
 
The second is to develop your own support system.
 
You need other people in...
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