Saturday, 19 September 2020

Making Friends with the Mystery of Ourselves

Who would have thought kindness could be so powerful? A lot of people, actually. A quick Amazon search reveals over 7,000 articles on the topic. Google the phrase random acts of kindness or the word kindness, and it's evident an entire movement on the virtue has evolved. The globally recognized World Kindness Day is celebrated every November, and the Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Foundation has extended that concept to a Random Acts of Kindness week in February. You can find an entire website, KindnessRocks. And then there's the World Gratitude Map, a crowdsourcing project with the mission to share gratitude. Each day, the clock of your life is ticking. The time you waste today is the time you won't have tomorrow to enjoy all the incredible rewards you'll experience from pushing yourself beyond that which you've been. Make not your thoughts your prisons. TEAR DOWN YOUR FENCES You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. You were born with only two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Every other fear is learned. Silly isn't it? Big, strong you, after all these years accepting so little of yourself and being so afraid to do something new or go after your dream. Think about something with me for a moment. She is seen as an inferior person. Her primary job is to carry the shame and anger of the narcissistic parent on her shoulders. She is blamed for everything that goes wrong in the family.

The narcissistic parent is unrelentingly critical, cruel, and abusive to this child. Not only is she unappreciated, she is humiliated in front of other family members, often called crazy, and made to feel unaccepted. Since the scapegoat child is the most truthful, well-meaning, and personally sacrificing member of the family, she is constantly getting hurt. She remains authentic no matter how many times she is used and abused by her parent. The narcissistic parent sees the scapegoat child as having no needs of her own, though she is expected to do all the caring. Her entire childhood is spent trying to live up to the expectations of the parent. That proves futile every time. When I'm trying to get to the root of a desire, I start with the question Why? This monkish approach to intention can be applied to even the worldliest goals. Here's a sample goal I've chosen because it's something we never would have contemplated in the ashram and because the intention behind it isn't obvious: I want to sail solo around the world. Why do you want to sail around the world? It will be fun. I'll get to see lots of places and prove to myself that I'm a great sailor. It sounds like your intention is to gratify yourself, and that you are motivated by desire. But, what if your answer to the question is: It was always my father's dream to sail around the world. I'm doing it for him. It is moving your mind over to this place where I think we should all be, which is to keep our eyes on all that is good, beautiful, and possible in the world, Jacqueline Lewis, one of the project's creators, said in a 2013 LiveScience article on the gratitude project. Lewis, a writer with an interest in human resilience, has a vested interest in the project. When her mother, Joan Zawoiski Lewis, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, all she asked was that people do good deeds in her name.

Her spirits were lifted by the reports of family and friends throughout the world doing just that. Jacqueline was certain that kept her mother alive for nearly twenty months longer than expected. While dying, her focus on these good deeds done by others kept her alive with end-stage pancreatic cancer past all reasonable prognosis, Jacqueline said. The [World Gratitude Map] gives the rest of us a chance to move our eyes in the same direction, perhaps derive the same benefit. My daughter Elizabeth and I weren't aware of any of this when we designed Random Acts of Kindness cards after my grandson Jacob died. All we knew was that his life had been much too short and we were determined his death would have meaning. He'd spent a great deal of his time in the hospital during the nearly three years he'd battled cancer. When you were born, you had every possibility for becoming that which you want to be and doing that which you want to do. A life of unlimited possibility and greatness was yours. Each year as you grew older (only in years), you began listening, believing and accepting without question the limits that your family, friends, co-workers and society placed on you and the future possibilities for your life. These limits became your fences. And each year, you accepted more and more of what these people told you. And as you did, those fences began to surround you and came gradually closer and closer to tightly fencing you in to where now, you can only go forward and backward for a few steps and that's all. And after all these years, you've come to actually believe that these limits and imaginary fences are real for you, even though in reality they never existed except in your mind. Yes, you were born with an ocean of possibilities--unlimited in abundance and impossible to see the end of it--but now the only ocean of possibilities you see for yourself is a small bucket with a little water. It's time to throw the bucket away. The great news for you is that every single one of those dreams you had as a child and that ocean of unlimited possibilities have always been there for you and they're still there right now, waiting for you to push those fences over and enjoy them. No matter what she does she is never good enough. Many of her ideas and achievements are worthy of praise but the parent never gives her the accolades she deserves. Her successes are either attributed to someone else or given no worth at all.

The scapegoat child is the most honest member of the family. Unable to repress the injustices placed upon her, she is the one most likely to argue, act out or rebel. Since she is labeled a troublemaker whether her behavior is good or bad, she has little to risk. This child seeks attention. Whether negative or positive it is still attention. Preferring that the attention is positive, the scapegoat child is tenacious in her efforts to gain admiration from her narcissistic parent. Sadly she never succeeds. In this case, your intention is to honor your father, and you are motivated by duty and love. I'm sailing around the world so I can be free. I won't be accountable to anyone. I can leave all my responsibilities behind. This sailor intends to escape--he is driven by fear. Now let's look at a more common want: My biggest want is money, and here's Jay, probably about to tell me to become kind and compassionate. That's not going to help. Wanting to be rich for the sake of being rich is fine. It's firmly in the category of material gratification, so you can't expect it to give an internal sense of fulfillment. A dedicated band of Child Life Committee volunteers at the University of Iowa Hospital visited his room, bringing toys and involving him in activities designed to entertain young patients. Jacob, who sorely missed his siblings while he and his mom were in the hospital, would save the cupcakes he made with the volunteers to share with siblings back home. He'd raid his own piggy bank to purchase gifts for his big sister Becca at the hospital gift shop.

And during a brief period of remission, he collected toys to take to other children in the hospital. On his deathbed, when he heard his mother complain about stiffness from sleeping on the floor next to him, his thin arm reached out from underneath the blanket to rub her back. The best way we could honor such a precious child was to be more like him, to become better people because of him. To be kinder. We designed cards that included his name and the Jacob's Ladder Facearticle article and began doing random acts of kindness in memory of Jacob. All over the country there were people following his cancer journey who vowed to do the same. Medical bills were paid off anonymously, groceries purchased for needy families, and acts of kindness shared on the Facearticle article. When it comes to having the kind of incredible life you want, it's never too early or too late to go for it. Who cares what others think. For years, you've cared too much of what others thought, and look at how it's made you feel. You were meant to have the kind of life you've always dreamed of. Those dreams were placed inside you for a reason. It's time to tear down your fences. Every time a person admits to himself--usually much later--that he has made a fool of himself, he can trace it to a lack of patience; SAY WHAT YOU WANT Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better. You can be whatever you tell yourself you want to be, so why is it that you keep telling yourself what you are and what you don't want? She is forever deemed an underachiever or loser. The scapegoat child actualizes these self-destructive labels and the defining mindset follows her throughout life. The scapegoat child ultimately has more freedom than the golden child does, so in that aspect, she fares a little better in life.

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