Castles In The Sky

“Building Castles

The size of colosseums

30,000 feet up

I swear you gotta see um

Cruising altitude with a foolish attitude

Headed for the moon

Maybe Mars maybe Venus”

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… when you decide it’s time to live

… when you decide it’s time to live.

This is a post by one of my favourite bloggers about one of the most relevant topics in my life today – getting past what others think and getting past the hurts their smallness and inability to understand can place on your soul and REALLY LIVING.  There is a don’t-care element to confidence that I battle to maintain.  It isn’t the ugly defiance of arrogance but the calm and unthinking indifference or polite inattention to the complexes of others.  This poem captures the truth about a few things –

  1. Growth is a personal thing.  You alone determine how much your person grows.
  2. Growth attracts jealousy, resistence, and challenge from unexpected places.
  3. Those unexpected places DO NOT MATTER.  Growth is still priority over them.
  4. There is nothing wrong with cutting loose the anchors that certain friendships place on your growth.

Love it Hank.  Keeping an eye out for more of your poetic inspirations!

Breakup Checklist

Every single woman needs one.  In fact, every single human being needs one.  Because if you are operating in today’s world you will come across false starts.  And they will hurt.

A friend of mine going through a heart-rending divorce shared with me in a facebook conversation some years ago what he calls his Breakup Checklist.  I have asked his permission to share his insights.

THE CHECKLIST

“#1. Pull together your “support team” of family and friends who can help you deal with this crisis. These are the insiders who know you, know your Ex and can talk you through everything.  These are the people who will pick up the phone at all hours of the day to allow you to express your sorrow, remind you of your self worth. Put your team together and get their support.

#2 Find a counselor.  Your friends can be there for you, but they have lives of their own and they are not professionals. Hire a professional who can talk to you about the situation and help you sort things out clinically. Help you to understand yourself, your inner demons, and why the relationship fell apart. They can asses whether you are just sad or clinically “depressed” and in need of temporary medication (nothing wrong with that).  Note: counselors are great! But do your homework. find one that is highly recommended.  Sometimes the most expensive ones are the best. They can afford to charge those prices. The cheaper ones are desperate for clients.

#2b -Face your new reality – Part of the problem with not having these written down is that you forget some things.  Right around the time you are meeting with a counselor, that counselor should be helping you face your new reality. This bad situation is happening! Your worst fear is real. You can’t go back. you can’t change it. You have to face it head on and deal with it.  Stare the dragon in eye and let him know you are not afraid. For me, this was realizing that my wife IS cheating on me. It wasnt a one time thing. She made a conscious decision. There is no going back. It can’t be undone. Why am I hiding the truth from people? In hopes that I can keep it quiet and take her back after she is done with the other guy? Get real. “When someone takes an opportunity to show you who they really are….BELIEVE THEM!!!!!”

#3 Get Busy – Start filling your days with activities that will distract you from what is going on with you. You should “pre-schedule” these events.  Start planning trips, vacations, classes (art, martial arts, athletic related, etc), visits to friends, shopping trips. Fill up your schedule. Consider this the equivalent of a cast on a broken arm.  Distract yourself while your heart is healing.

Take care of YOU!!!! You will heal by LOVING YOURSELF and NOT HATING the other person.

#4 – Have you phoned God? – get your spiritual life together. Maybe all of this happened because God has been trying to get your attention and you haven’t been listening. Start spending more time in church, prayer, and meditation.

#5 – Do some emotional housecleaning. You need to conduct an emotional assessment of where you are. Are you angry? Hurt? Depressed?  There is a time for anger in the healing process, but Anger will only take you so far and it WON’T get you to the finish line. You need to start focusing on more positive emotions – FORGIVENESS, peace, calm, happiness (step #3 activities should bring smiles and happiness into your life). Ask God to help you release your anger. Ask God to help you forgive. You would be surprised how much forgiveness and releasing anger will help YOU feel better. Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die…… (think that will work?).

#6 Start Taking Care of Yourself – Focus on your new life – ALONE. And do what you need to do to move forward. Have you been talking about finding a new job? do it. Thinking about moving to a new country/state? do it.  Do it for yourself.  Treat yourself to the things you like. Spa day. Exercise. (Note: keep it healthy and positive. Don’t soothe yourself with sweets and dessert. You will only hate yourself later when you get fat) That flight to see your friends? Buy yourself an upgrade. Take care of YOU!!!! You will heal by LOVING YOURSELF and NOT HATING the other person.”

How do you handle breakups?  What would you add to this list?

Self-Esteem: What is it?

This is a common sense study.  Not one based on Maslow, nor on Branden or Rosenberg.  But to rubbish the theory as we have committed to doing one must be able to define it.  What is Self-Esteem?  The common sense encyclopedia of our age has this to say:

“Self-esteem is a term in psychology to reflect a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of her or his own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, “I am competent”, “I am worthy”) and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame; some would distinguish how ‘the self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, the positive or negative evaluation of the self, is how we feel about it’. ” ~Wikipedia on Self-Esteem

For me to summarize, Self-Esteem as I see it is the amount of value one places on ones’ self or the amount of love one has for ones’ self.

Read the entire Wiki entry for what a low Self-Esteem looks like and what a high one looks like and we can easily see the theory:  Perfect balance and harmony are found in a high Self-Esteem and the root of all harmful human behaviours lies in a low one.

Enter the NARCISSIST:

Narcissus

Narcissus, who loved the look of his own image so much he drowned in the pool of his own reflection, has so much to teach us on Self-Esteem.  Our same common sense encyclopedia points to narcissism as being an unhealthy self-love, self-absorption, vanity and conceit.

Have you ever been around a conceited person?  Was it much fun?

I went to university with a greek (coincidence, I promise) named Nic.  I am in no danger of him reading this blog and seeing himself in it because 1. it would take away from the quality time spent in his mirror, 2. he could never see himself as a narcissist – that means something negative right? Nah.  Not me – and 3. there are so many Greeks named Nic you could recreate the Great Wall of China if you stood them on each other.  Nic was a narcissist.  Classic.  His body was more perfect than a greek god’s (even if it was a little short), his mind was more brilliant than any human being alive (about as bright as midnight), and anyone who disagreed was simply unenlightened.  He had a healthy self-esteem alright – was the life of the party, didn’t suffer from any doubts, and did not in any way appear to feel the need to over-compensate.

Now, the psychologists will say “Deep down he has an aching need to belong, has many layers hiding his true feelings, and doubts his own value.  He has something to prove.”

Hitler - Perhaps one of the most famous Narcissists in our recent history

Nah.  The guy was obnoxious, but going through Wiki’s list of symptoms of a low Self-Esteem he didn’t match up.  He had no care about what others thought, was no people pleaser, was not hyper-sensitive or hyper-critical of himself, had no guilt or perfectionism (how could you improve on perfect?), and even though he was entirely obnoxious, he had no floating hostility.  He was a complete and perfect descendent of Narcissus.  Along with Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Jim Jones, Stalin, Casanova and Marquis de Sade.

Yet he was capable, like many narcissists, of countless ills.  His conceit was nauseating and entertaining for its shock value all at once.  He was invited to parties and events just to see what he would have the balls to say next.  He was convinced that any woman who wasn’t swept off her feet by his hello was in denial, blind, stupid, and certainly not worth the rest of the conversation.  Yet his Self-Esteem – fed by ingratiating, enabling and wholly entertained friends – was not only intact but thriving.

Looking at the other end of the spectrum…

Someone with a low Self-Esteem isn’t hard to find.  Every tortured artist and troubled celebrity wears their low self-esteem on their shoulder.  There are many who have rocked the world with their goodness despite having something close to hatred for themselves.  Princess Diana is a classic example – not one biography of her life fails to capture her self-doubt, her self harm, depression, bulimia and low Self-Esteem.

Princess Diana, a life testimony to low Self-Esteem not preventing one from doing good

Whitney Houston, the idol of many and valiant champion of love and music also harmed herself, doubted herself, made a masochist of herself.  Did she have the Self-Esteem the match the level of esteem the world had for her?  She certainly did not.  But she is mourned with broken hearts all over the earth today, a few weeks from her death.

There is also the far more balanced sense of self in the vision of Mother Theresa’s humility.  Someone who made herself low, determined she was but a tool for the work of God, cannot necessarily be seen to have had heaping amounts of Self-Esteem.  By her own admission she was always plagued with doubt, feared not being good enough for the ministry she was called to.

And so… in the journey of making rubbish of the theory that high Self-Esteem leads one to perfection and low Self-Esteem is the root of all evil, we have made the first decisive step toward our destination on the Leer Jet of narcissism and the hard Hike of self harm.  But there is something in the smoke of the theory that leads us to another fire altogether.  Keep an eye out for the next leg of our journey – the Train to Identity.

Related links:

3 Steps to conquer Commitment Phobia

1. Admit You Have a Problem

Bushlings has a commitment problem.  I get bored with a single idea.  I get distracted.  There are so many other things I could be doing.  Telling myself “its good for you” or “you really should do this” is never enough to get me to really commit.

There are so many examples of this in my history, to my shame.  I quit playing the clarinet when I was 12.  I was good at it but I got bored with my teacher.  I quit playing the harp when I was 14.  It was a beautiful instrument but I liked piano better.  I broke up with all of my ex boyfriends before we had been together for a year.  I got bored with their flaws, I got bored with their strengths, I got bored with their interests, I got BORED.  I have never been in the same job for more than two years.  Ok… that last one is probably not the best example because the change has always been a promotion or for the better.  But it all amounts to the same thing.  I have no experience with commitment.

Always the first step to solving a problem to is to acknowledge you have a problem.  So here it goes… I have a problem.  I don’t know how to commit.

Step 2 – Take Steps Around Yourself – the GOAL

One thing I have learned in recent months is that people like me need to have a goal.  There needs to be an objective benchmark that we challenge ourselves to reach.

A perfect example of this need for an objective goal is my blog.  This blog has been an experiment.  I (a) set an idea I wanted to commit to – being satisfied and single for a healthy period of time, and (b)  I set the objective benchmark – until my hair reaches my shoulders.  Together they make up my goal.

The Idea: It hasn’t been easy to focus and to say no to dates and to ward off advances (not to sound arrogant) and it has been even harder to not pursue interesting avenues into potential relationships.  I am a romantic at heart and do not naturally have the self-discipline to maintain a state of satisfied singleness.  However I saw and still see the value in taking time out to enjoy singleness and enjoy being right where I am and being satisfied that this is where I was intended to be at this very moment.  But I had to set myself an objective benchmark for me to focus on.  A period of time.  A destination.  On its own the idea leaves me pretty much where I started.

The Benchmark: So it was decided that I need to wait until my hair reaches my shoulders.  It appears to be completely unrelated to the real matter at hand.  It is something that can be measured and followed.  It is unavoidable.  Every morning I wake up and look in the mirror and there it is, my hair.  It is half-way down my neck when I pull the longest curl straight.  I have some way to go before I can allow myself to let go of The Idea.  And that closes the case for the day.

In essence I am taking steps around myself.  Attaching something that I can measure and cannot avoid to what would otherwise be a very vague goal.  If I stuck to the idea alone I could rationalize myself into saying that today I am ready to step into the love world again. However, I cannot deny or rationalize myself around the fact that my hair is short.  The goal is set.

Step 3 – Accountability

Then comes pride.  Sure the goal is there but in your own head what does it do?  You still allow yourself the freedom to abandon it, to give it up, to change your mind.  But what if you’ve told the whole world that you have set the goal?  And what if you ask the world to help you keep to it?  Then pride becomes a good driver.

Accountability is one helluva thing.  I have had so much support in this blog from my friends and from readers I have never met.  And so when I go out for happy hour on a Friday night and am tempted to stray one of them will say “so Bushlings, about your hair…”  And when I write something out of the depths of emotional angst and in response to pre-haircut issues I get a comment from a reader, a new kind of friend, to say “Bushlings this isn’t within your focus.”  Accountability really is making this experiment work.

These are the three steps I have been inspired to share with you today.  Now I need to head for the gym.  Before I do…

… the practical application for today. 

Step 1: I have a problem – I am not at my best weight, my most fit body state.

Step 2: The goal is made up of (a) the idea that I need to eat right and exercise to get to my goal weight and (b) the objective benchmark is to have my wet dream body for Trinidad Carnival 2012.   …I still cannot believe I am doing this.

Step 3:  In creating my accountability I am telling all of you about it.  Kick my backside if you see me slacking off and eating junk.  Yell at me if I miss my workout for the day.  Make me ashamed of myself if I fail in my commitment.