7 Traits of Spiritual Maturity

To write of spiritual maturity, let me begin by offering my definition of this term. Spiritual maturity is the willingness to be the student, a disciple to higher spiritual awareness (consciousness) and growth. It is the willingness and openness to explore the higher realms of the self and the universe.

Over 2000 years ago a famous spiritual master and teacher named Jesus said: Be in this world, but not of this world. I believe these words mean, while you temporarily live in this world (on earth), realize there is so much more to you and the universe, that is a part of you, and you are a part of. To illustrate this point, science now knows that 96% of the universe is invisible to the human senses. The way I take this, what we think is real and all there is, is only a fraction of what we and the universe are all about.  

We are spiritual beings, having a human experience. Which means, within and beyond our temporary physical body, we are eternal formless fields of energy, that we call a soul. Spiritual maturity is the remembrance of our soul and the yearning and desire to rediscover the soul and our divinity within it. It is to move in body and mind from the limited, to the unlimited of ourselves and the universe.

The following are 7 traits of spiritual growth and maturity:

1. Search for Higher Truth: Living here on earth, you can begin to yearn and feel for something more. That there is more to this life than what’s learned from family, traditional school, religious systems, government, etc. Shaking the old, what was once made true in order to discover the truth.

What’s true, will not surpass the test of time. What’s true will change over time. A truth will always surpass the test of time. The truth will not change over time, its eternal.

The Sufi teacher and spiritual leader, Hazart Inayat Klan has said this about truth: “When a person looks at the ocean, he can only see that part of it which comes within his range of vision; so it is with the truth.”

Spiritual maturity is about questioning and challenging the status quo. On an individual and collective level, many people struggle with change; we want safety, steadiness, certainty and predictability. This is adhering to the primitive part of our brain. That is all about survival and keeping safe.

We struggle with the unknown and uncertainty. However, there is no higher understanding and growth in the status quo.

The person on the spiritual path is often not going so much with the mainstream society. For they realize the truth won’t be found at Walmart or watching the Fox network.

2. Concerned about what’s Going on Inside of You: On the spiritual path, you begin to realize the importance of doing your inner work, to reconcile, release and re-frame what has been blocking your true happiness, potential and spiritual growth. You pay greater attention to your feelings, emotions and beliefs and how they trigger unproductive behaviors and outcomes.

One understands you cannot heal what you do not feel.  Engaging in your feelings, emotions and beliefs is the higher road, to better understand yourself in relation to your life experiences, and how you have learned to show up in life.

You are aware and accept, that what comes up for you within difficult experiences and people in your life are your teacher and opportunity to higher learning and growth. As a result, you are not as easily caught up in the victim and/or conflict or drama energies, and there destructive thinking and behavior patterns. You respond more than react to life situations and people around you.

In addition, you’re not as distracted by mundane aspects of life, which only seek to interfere with your growth. Therefore, your focus, is on connecting back to your soul and seek to understand why you have come to earth in this life time, what is it, you are to experience and resolve in this life journey?

Your experiences and people in your life create a student and teacher dynamic in order to experience and learn life lessons. You ask soul searching and life affirming questions like: What’s my purpose for being? Who am I? Most importantly, you go after the answers.

You begin to have different priorities in life and your values can shift as to what’s important vs. what’s no longer needed in your personal and/or professional life. Consequently, there’s a desire and willingness to listen more to your soul and heart, what I call the soul-heart, its pulse and nudging from deep within.

This soul pulse and nudging often wants you to step out of your status quo and comfort zone. So it creates fear and uncertainty. Many don’t say “Yes” to the call. They just go about their life. Than 5 or 10 years later they have regrets of not going with that calling of the soul pulse, as it seems more clearly now, where the soul was intending to lead you.

3. A Prayerful and Mindful Person: A spiritually growing person has heightened awareness of the value and practice of prayer throughout the day, as a way to commune with the higher power, whatever name you may call this.

They also practice meditation as a way to listen to their higher self and divine source for guidance and direction. They value what I call the 4 I’s of: Innocence, Intuition, Imagination and Inspiration to assist them on their spiritual journey. They listen to, and follow. the soft still voice of their intuition/higher self; more then the loud and self defeating voice of their inner critic i.e. lower, ego self.

4. Practice the Actions of Acceptance, Compassion and Forgiveness: The spiritually mature person understands the importance of Acceptance, Compassion and Forgiveness. They realize these are acts of love to the self and others. These loving actions, generate inner freedom, peace and gracefulness in life. 

With the practice of acceptance, compassion and forgiveness, one is sensitive to both their own needs and the needs of others; while setting healthy boundaries.

The spiritually mature person, lives as much from their heart, intuitive and emotional part, as from their head and logic side.

5. A Peace Maker and of Service: True spiritual masters are peace makers, and value peace over conflict. They seek to do no harm, thus understand and practice patience and tolerance, to achieve this end. In their communication they speak their truth with words of peace. 

Those growing spiritually, humbly seek to serve others, for the betterment of others and society as a whole. They receive as they serve, because their mindset is on loving kindness and willingness, not sacrifice.

6. Full of Love, Passion and Joy for Life: You remember you come from love, so you are love. Embracing this love, allows for passion with life, and a joyful heart. You freely spread this love, passion and joy to others. Having childlike qualities, you love to laugh and be playful, not taking yourself in life too seriously. You understand and see the lesson and meaning to life experiences, both the joyful and difficult ones.

7. Awareness of Being Connected to All That Is: The spiritually mature person understands that everything is made of energy, with a vibration. That everything in the universe is connected and interdependent with each other. So the idea of separation has been reconciled. You see the wonder, the miracle and beauty of all things. You accept the impermanence of life‒things change.

There is an understanding, that darkness and destruction are a part of the divine process and cycle of life. There is life – transition ‒ rebirth. You accept that creation/birth comes from the darkness, the void, and that renewal comes from destruction.

In conclusion, becoming spiritually mature is a conscious choice and a process. Which can be sparked by a crisis, loss, or a yearning for something more in life. It involves acceptance, willingness and determination to begin a deeper exploration of our soul in relation to our human experience.

Through spiritual surrender, the spiritually mature person embarks on working the task of transcending the ego’s will and ways of being, to the will of the divine.

The 7 traits listed, are part of a spiritual practice, process and inner discipline one chooses on the road to spiritual maturity. Once you begin this journey of deeper exploration and higher consciousness. You realize what’s been missing in your life, and you won’t want or need to go back to the old ways of living and being.

Out of love, this opportunity is always there for us to embrace. Having free will, however, the choice is always ours, to go deeper into this journey or not. 

 

Do you desire to discover a higher purpose and meaning to your life?  Are you struggling with embracing your spiritual path or staying on it? Please contact David Schroeder if you would like assistance with your spiritual issues and how to work through them. David offers life transition and spiritual growth counseling and coaching session’s in-person, by phone or Skype. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and move life transitions.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed and spiritual social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com or through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

 

4 Steps to Changing your Attention and Focus

There is a universal law called the Law of Attraction, which simply says: What you think about, you bring about. In other words what we think about is where our attention and focus will be, this creates a form of energy; thus our experience in that moment. 

In today’s world there is much discontent. Many people are struggling with holding a loving, unconditional and peaceful focus and attention, due to much frustration, resentment and anger, with their personal/family relationships, workplace, government, etc. 

Many people want others to change to their own way of thinking and being. So our attention and focus is on those outside of us. Believing if others change – conform to our liking; this will make me feel safe, loved and happy.   

This way of thinking and being creates a dependence on others for our circumstances and happiness. Making others responsible for our lives, we are either in victim (poor me/I hate myself) energy or fighter/conflict energy (I hate you).

With both of these energies and mind-sets our attention and focus is more in a dis-empowering and negative direction, i.e.in the long run, these ways of thinking, believing and behaving, will create more negative destructive experiences and outcomes, than constructive and positive experiences.

Where your thoughts and attention goes, is where your energy will flow toward. This will be your created experience. 

Much of our degree of happiness, level of consciousness and success in life; has to do with our ability to focus and be attentive to the things that truly matter.

Ask yourself: What would truly contribute toward the growth and life enhancement of myself and others? Your answer to this question, is where your attention and focus is going. Creating the degree of happiness and inner peace you are experiencing.

This quote by the Spanish philosopher, Jose Ortega y Gasset speaks volumes to the power and influence attention and focus has in our life. “Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.”

Attention is your focus, so like I said with the law of attraction, where your attention goes is who you believe yourself to be, and thus what you will attract in your life.

If you are unhappy and unfulfilled with your experiences and their outcomes, keep reading I offer you these 4 steps to improve attention and focus:

1. Gain awareness of what your attention is focused on. This will begin to show you why you are experiencing the things and circumstances you are. This will also lead you to your core self-belief about yourself, and how you may be unconsciously reinforcing – feeding your core negative belief through your attention and behaviors. This awareness offers you clarity, to what needs to change within you.

2. With this awareness and clarity, change your attention and focus to what you truly desire. If your attention is more on what you don’t want, than you will create what you don’t want, because this is what you are communicating and thus broadcasting to yourself and the universe. The universe will always provide the experience you consciously, and especially unconsciously broadcast ‒ ask for.

3. Be clear and specific with what you pay attention to.
Be mindful, that a part of you wants to take your attention to the negative and self-defeating. This is the fearful and undeserving part of you, wanting to get the best of you and keep you in what you don’t want or deserve.

Become conscious of this defeating aspect of you. Gently counter this with self-love, worthiness and value. With this, shift your focus and attention, back to the good and wholesome things you desire in life.

4. Visualize yourself having these positive and worthy desires.
Like a GPS, despite the wrong turns and barriers that get in the way, the GPS, never loses focus or sight on the destination that it’s programmed to go to. Your heart, as much as your mind is your internal GPS, so allow it to keep your attention, focus and process on what you desire and truly deserve.

With positive attention and focus on what you desire you create awareness and clarity of your process ‒ the steps toward this desire. You create a “Can Do Belief” and mind-set. What you focus on becomes your belief.  What you believe – is what you can achieve. You create the energy, actions and motivation to achieve.

The power of a “Can Do” belief sets the mind and body toward that belief. This offers you the inspiration, focus, discipline, and the determination to achieve.

 

What are your thoughts on this article?  Please leave a comment.

Do you struggle with attention and staying focused on your goals? David Schroeder, can help you reclaim the love and goodness you are. If you would like assistance with learning to stay true to your desire and achieving them, David is here to assist you with his life transition coaching and counseling sessions. He offers in-person, by phone or Skype sessions. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and love yourself again.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com or JustBeLove  Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

 

Navigating Change and Transition: From Struggle to Opportunity

As a therapist and life transition coach, most people seek my services, because they are experiencing a life change and are struggling with the transition of this change. An aspect of love is the willingness and ability to move through the transition change creates.

Change comes in a variety of ways. Such as: getting married, birth of a child, a death of a loved one, a partner’s affair, a divorce, job loss or transfer, or a grown child going to college. Some transitions can seem positive on one hand, yet create change and adjustment from our norm. So you may struggle for a time, adapting to “what is” now.

There is a difference between change and transition in the following ways.    

  • Change happens first and transition occurs due to the change.
  • Change can be seen as a shift from a norm, transition is the process of moving from one norm/way of being to another. Transition is the adjustment and adaptations we make from the change.
  • Change is usually an external experience, where transition is more of an internal process.
  • Change is often more sudden, more visible and tangible. Transition is a slower process, less visible, more intangible.

Change for people can be difficult to accept and move through, both physically and especially emotionally. It’s natural to want the situation and/or person back to how it was (old way).  Many people need certainty and to know the outcome, within what has now changed (new way).

The resistance to change, the need for certainty and the need to know, in the mist of the unknown, are often what causes many people to struggle with change. The need for certainty and control, leads to fear and resistance; creating racing thoughts, and self-created perceptions of negative outcomes.

This will lead to distributive sleep pattern, drained energy, and little motivation to move forward. The end result can be depression and/or anxiety. We become stuck in the mud of a self-defeated mindset. The process of transition has now become more difficult and overwhelming.

For a time, some of this is all normal and part of our process transitioning through change.  It’s important, however, not to get stuck emotionally and physically for too long.

The longer we chose to stay in the emotional and physical fear, avoidance and resistance, the more unhealthy and unproductive power and control we give to the resistance and uncertainty of transition; this does little to change our perception, process and reality to the change.

Human nature is such that when things change, we tend to focuses more on what we believe we will lose or need to give up. Healthy transition through change, one should focus more on what will be the benefits and gains of this process.

These two key Steps begin the process of transition through change: Moving you from struggle to opportunity.

  1. Accept the things I cannot change: This is the first part of the Serenity Prayer from Alcohol Anonymous aa.org. This prayer or principle I believe, applies to all of us when we experience a change in life. There are many experiences in your life you cannot change, and you may feel and believe you are powerless and helpless because of this. You feel like choices/options have been taken away.

    The second part of the prayer says: The courage to change the things I can. The reality is, in life situations, the only thing you can really change is yourself. You change, by changing your perception, thoughts, belief and attitude. It takes acceptance, courage and willingness to change from within.

    The good news and opportunity of this is ‒ there is much inner power and transformation that takes place with the act of acceptance. Acceptance is extremely difficult for many people, yet its incredibility liberating when you allow it to happen within you. Acceptance helps you to focus on the benefits of transition through change, not what you believe will need to be given up or lost in the process.

    To have the willingness and ability to accept what you cannot change, and change what you can; is the fundamental way to begin to change, and reclaim your inner power and determination to move forward. Acceptance is an act of self-love, and a moving forward energy. It acknowledges and accepts “what is.”

    The process of acceptance, doesn’t mean you like what’s changed, rather you recognize that resisting the change only creates more struggle and pain. With acceptance you create an opening to begin to change from within, with regard to what’s change in your life.

    This process helps you begin to gain power in a different way. You see it was your own misguided perception and belief around the difficult situation, which really gave your power away. It wasn’t actually the situation/experience itself. True power and moving through transitions happens when we change from the inside-out.  Acceptance is the beginning of changing from the inside-out.

  2. See the experience and the required process of transition as an Opportunity: If you are resisting the change, you’re likely seeing the change as a threat and the enemy. It’s something to deny, blame, and escape from. These are the mindsets and ways of our fragile and wounded self. This part of us wants to numb the pain and have someone else make it better/or back the way it was.

    It’s important to see and ask yourself: How are my perceptions and beliefs helping me move through this change? What is my pain and resistance reinforcing in me, that keeps me in this state of suffering?  Often in difficult times of change we become our worst critic and enemy, rather than a best friend and ally.

    When you are ready and able, it’s important to see the change, as the teacher and opportunity. Yes, transitions through difficult times, offer you the opportunity for learning and growth. The process of creation, birth and growth begins in the darkness and the struggle.

    The natural world teaches us the importance of the struggle. Take for example, of how the caterpillar transforms into the butterfly, from the struggle within the cocoon. For without the struggle, how would you learn, find a higher meaning to your experience, and grow?

Life is not meant to be easy, it’s meant to be meaningful. When you change your view of the situation, you create the higher meaning of your circumstance, and this allows for the opportunity to transition and transform yourself in empowering ways.

When you alter your thoughts and view of the change, you reduce your fear, your resistance and struggle around the uncertainty. Dr. Wayne Dyer said: “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

Change and the process of transition, calls us to be open and willing to reframe our belief and choices around the situation; this is how we learn and grow from the difficult and painful experience.

Although change can seem scary and threatening, the true intent of life experiences, especially the difficult and painful ones, is to help us heal, grow wiser, and become more accepting and loving human beings, both to ourselves and with others. Accepting that life is impermanent, that things change, helps you realize, life is about change, and learning to transition‒ adjust and adapt.

Being Honest, Open and Willing, especially with yourself, is part of the HOW to accept the unacceptable, and begin the journey of transitioning from what was‒to what can be.

Want to learn more about love and transition check out my book: Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. www.justbelove1.com, www.amazon.com, www.barnes & noble.com

Are you struggling with moving through a change in your life? Please contact David Schroeder, if you would like assistance with moving through a life change and how to work the process of transition. David offers life transition counseling and coaching session’s in-person, by phone or Skype. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself transition through change.

To Improve Your Relationship: Understand this Gender Difference

There are several differences between men and women, some are obvious, some are subtle. Realizing, accepting and working with this particular gender difference can make a positive difference in the way you relate to each other.

Conflict and frustration in relationships often occurs simply because, we don’t understand why our partner thinks and acts a certain way. When it comes to thoughts, feelings and emotions there will typically be a difference in the way  men or women go about relating with you.

This gender difference impacts our ways of communicating, problem-solving and over-all interactions with each other. It stems from the way we perceive and relate to our thoughts, feelings and emotions; and the need we have with our partner in relation to our thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Men and women have thoughts, feelings and emotions; and these are important and not to be denied or discounted. Having acknowledged this, due to biological factors and social conditioning, one gender is typically more connected and concerned with thoughts, while the other gender is more connected and concerned with feelings and emotions.  Here’s the basic difference:

In general, the feminine aspect, typically (women) is more likely concerned with having their Feelings and Emotions respected.  The masculine aspect, (men) is likely more interested in having their Thoughts respected.

It should be noted, that some women may have more of the masculine aspect; and have a stronger desire for their thoughts to be respect. Some men might have more of the feminine aspect; and have a stronger need for their feelings and emotions to be respected. 

Women in general, come from their right brain, the intuitive and emotional side. They also come more from their heart center. So they are more concerned and value their relationships. Because of this, women in life and in their relationships will more naturally relate to and from their feelings and emotions.

On the other hand, most men are in their logic and thinking state, come from their left brain. So they relate to thoughts, in logic oriented ways of being in life and in their relationships. As a way of connecting, men relate more to their occupation and status (position).

For example: In social settings, women will typically, talk more about family and friends, social concerns (relationships/heart). Men generally, will converse more about their occupation, sports, objects i.e. cars, boats, women, money (logic/head).   

It’s not about who is right or wrong, with this way of being and relating. It is the way the genders are wired and conditioned to be in the world, and relate to each other.

It’s not about needing the other person to think, feel and be how I am. This is control and creates a love relationship that is conditional.

It’s about seeking to understand the other person as best I can, learning to accept this difference. Being willing to learn how best to relate and interact with this difference. This is unconditional love. 

A part of you, wants your partner or friend to be like you are. However, life is about contrast, in order to know one, we need to experience its opposite. That’s why we have male and female, light and dark, sorrow and joy.  Neither is really right or wrong it just is “the nature of things.”

It’s about accepting and honoring our differences, and working with them.

Gentlemen, out of love seek to understand, step out of your comfort zone. Take time and effort to connect more with your partner’s feelings and her deeper emotions, even if it doesn’t seem natural or logical to you. Connect your heart to her heart.

Ladies, out of love, get into your man’s world, honor his thoughts and work at seeing his logic as best you can, even if it doesn’t make sense or seem natural to you.       Don’t wait for your partner to make the first move. Authentic love, asks us to take the initiative, to seek to understand the other. If you both work at seeking to understand the other, you find the common ground within the differences.

Unconditional Love seeks the common ground, to accept, honor, and learn to interact within the differences, and enhance the similarities.  

What are your thoughts or feelings on these gender differences?  Feel free to comment below.

 

Are you struggling with understanding and working gender differences? David Schroeder, can help you reclaim the love and goodness you are. If you would like assistance with reclaiming this love and goodness David is here to assist you with his life transition coaching and counseling sessions. He offers in-person, by phone or Skype sessions. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and love yourself again.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com or JustBeLove  Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

The Healing Power of Laughter

Over the years, working with people with emotional struggles and resistance to life changes; I’ve come to appreciate, two of the biggest barriers to happiness are: fear of foolishness & taking oneself too seriously.

Life is a serious adventure, yet the key is to take one self lightly within it. 

When you were growing up, did you ever find something funny and you started to giggle or laugh. Than a parent, grandparent, or a teacher said… Don’t laugh, that’s not funny? Yet, deep down inside you, your funny bone was tickled.

Many people learned growing up, that in order to be mature, you have to be serious. That if you are having fun, you are not being good and you are not doing your job.  We get conditioned to shut down our imagination and our childlike self.

Childlike vs. Childish:

We learned to shut down the part of us that is unconditional, accepting, spontaneous, playful and curious. Creative, patient, flexible, fearless, adventurous and joyful. The result, we become more fearful, doubtful, more controlling and rigid in mind and body.

We give up the childlike innocence and wonder, and as a result, we develop more childish behaviors being: conditional, inpatient, and controlling, demanding, whinny, selfish and unhappy. Or maybe we’ve become timid, doubtful, fearful, and anxious to take risk and step out of our comfort zone.

We learned being vulnerable is risky and painful. You will be judged as wrong and not enough. So you take both life and yourself too seriously, creating increase stress, wear and tear on your body, mind and spirit. 

Life is already full of stress, with our fast paced society, being full of expectations, judgment, the need for instant gratification, the overloaded of information, and obsession/addiction to technology and social media.

Research says that 90% of office visits to primary care doctors today are for stress related problems. Some researcher’s concluded that due our fast pace and information society, that we experience more stress (fight or flight response in different ways) in one year, than our ancestors did in an entire lifetime.

Many people hold their stress in by avoiding, resisting or being critical of self and/or others. This creates toxins in the body and creates distortions in thinking, belief and behaviors, which leads to dis-ease in body and/or mind.

There are only two times during the day that I’m under stress… day and night. Yes, the stress and pressures of life are increasing and getting more intense. The key is too not lose ourselves in it, and not take ourselves too seriously within it.  

The most frequently asked question on earth is. “Where’s the bathroom?” The   most disappointing question we ask when we pass on to the afterlife is … “Why did I take life and myself so seriously?”

Do you know why angles can fly?  They take themselves lightly.

The word humor means to be fluid, to flow.

A child laughs around 300 times a day; many adults laugh only a handful of times a day.

How laughter helps the Mind – Body:

If you laugh 100 times a day, that’s equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine. Laughter is a wonderful physical and aerobic workout.

When you frown you use 62 muscles just in your face alone. When you smile and laugh you’re only using  24 facial muscles. Point is, it takes more energy and effort to be unhappy than happy. 

Laughter releases a brain chemical called endorphin’s, which is our natural feel good chemical. 

We have cells in our body called T-Cells, that is connected to our immune system. One of the ways this cell is ignited is by laughter, so laughter and joy helps boost our immune system.

In terms of relaxing and re-framing thoughts, a 10 minute laugh is equal to 30 minutes of meditation.

Laughter is a form of mindfulness, it brings you to the present moment. Life and love are experienced in the present.

We need at least 12 laughs and 5 hugs daily to stay healthy.

Both laughter and crying are innate healing tools, and forms of healthy emotional expression and release through the physical body. We laugh so hard we start to cry, and we cry so hard we begin to laugh. One emotion naturally leads to the other.

Think of laughter as your internal Tranquilizer with no side effects.

In our humanness, we have embarrassing moments; we do foolish things, make mistakes and wrong decisions. The key is to do them with enthusiasm. I believe in the positive power of insanity, it’s the only thing that keeps me sane. There are no mistakes… only opportunities for learning and growth.

We all have embarrassing moments, and when you share your embarrassing moment with others, many can often relate to having a similar embarrassing experience as well. You are really not alone in that embarrassment; it just seemed that way at the time.

The loneliness factor is becoming a major illness throughout the world. We can communicate and connect with people easier and faster than ever; yet, because some people can be so judgmental, critical and demanding, we avoid interactions.

Many of us become more isolated to protect or insulate ourselves from the judgment. Others can become verbally or physically aggressive, as a way to protect and defend themselves. Either extreme on this continuum leads to the perception of being judged misunderstood, so we become lonely and unhappy.

Laughter is a great way to connect with people. For humor and laughter, helps break down barriers and builds rapport. Laughter is contagious; when we start laughing people around us often start laughing with us. 

It’s not about using humor and laughter at the expense of someone. The true and divine intent of humor and laughter is to relax us, connect us and help us relate to each other. It’s a way to honor the similarities of each other, and accept our differences.

Humor and laughter helps us put life situations into perspective, to view difficult circumstances in a different light and way. When you change your thoughts and perspective, you change your world. 

Dr. Bruce Lipton said: “The moment you change your perception, is the moment you change the chemistry in your body.”

People often ask me. Does the divine creator have a sense of humor? I say, “oh yes, it loves to laugh and play, the divine has a wondrous playground that the earth is a part of, it’s called the universe.”

In scripture Jesus said: if you want to enter the kingdom be as a child.

What’s love and laughter got to do with healing?

Laughter and being childlike are expressions of love to the self and others. They promote constructive problem-solving and positive ways toward reconciliation and healing. Being childlike, takes you out of the resentment or victim role; moving you toward a healthier and joyful way of living and being.

 

Feel free to leave a comment below.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. My practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. My book Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

 

 

Forgiveness: Moving Beyond the Injustice

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful healing tools we have for reconciling and moving beyond from the hurts and wounds of life. It’s also a profound act of love and acceptance, especially self-love. For when we forgive another person or ourselves for a wrong doing, we set ourselves free and we benefit the most from the forgiveness. Despite the healing and liberating power of forgiveness; for many of us, the act of forgiveness is one of the most resisted and thus difficult acts we can offer to others or ourselves.

I’ve come to appreciate the only reason we have forgiveness, is because we make something matter. When we make something matter, we create an intense emotional charge within us. So an unjust “cause” done to us creates a strong “effect”, often having lasting emotional, physical, social and spiritual “effects” on us. The act of forgiveness helps to lower the emotional charge and intensity within us and helps liberate us from the painful experience.

Forgiveness is not about excusing the offense or saying/believing it didn’t happen. Forgiveness is not really about the offender, it’s about the one who is affected by the cause, the one holding on to the anger, resentment, grief. Being trapped in resentment, anger, depression, grief; waiting for the offender to take responsibility and ownership of the hurt toward us, is giving away our own power, inner peace and freedom. The more we can take charge of our own healing without an expectation that the offender needs to say something to us, or do something for us, the more empowered and liberated we can be. The quote by Lewis Smedes speaks volumes about the importance of forgiveness: “To forgive is to set the prisoner free and to discover that that prisoner was you.”

Forgiveness is an act of love, and love is freedom. To forgive is to be free and a way to love. Forgiveness means to go beyond our wounded ego self, in order to free the self. The willingness to go beyond the wounded self is to rise as love, to let go of what no longer serves us, so in time we can be restored to wholeness. 

Perhaps you’re not willing and/or ready to forgive someone. That’s okay and where you are currently at. Forgiveness is not something to be forced upon or to do out of guilt, if you are not ready. One should be open, willing and accepting in order to truly forgive. Human nature is such that, we are all at different stages of willingness and readiness. If this be the case, at least consider the importance of reconciling within yourself how hanging on to negative perceptions, create toxic emotions of anger and resentment leading to paralyzing beliefs and resulting self-defeating behaviors. How all this can affect many areas of your life in ways that are not helpful to you.   

I offer you the possibility and opportunity of considering a process I call “inner reconciliation.” Inner reconciliation is a way of reorienting our perceptions and beliefs about the experience and ourselves within the fact that our life has been disrupted either mildly or severely by a wrongful act toward us. Our ego defenses and beliefs often says: “They wronged us/hurt us and so let’s stay mad, bitter resentful, etc, that way we have a sense of power and control; since we didn’t have power and control during the offending experience.” Our anger, resentment and such, become a lens through which we see ourselves and the wrong doing. Its destructive thinking, beliefs and behaviors we create as a way to keep feeding our hurt and pain, in order to keep it alive and justify it. This is only hurting ourselves now, within the fact that we were hurt by someone in the past. This is unfortunately how victim energy and behaviors begin to take root, and if not tamed and reconciled can become our way of life.

Like grief, forgiveness is a process and takes time, willingness and commitment toward moving beyond what has hurt us and seemed unfair. When we can change our perception and belief about the experience, we begin to change our world and the way we interact in it. The process of forgiveness, like moving through any change we experience in our life, is an inside job. The job and empowerment of moving through what I call the 4 R’s: Recognize: who and how I am being with my current perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, feelings/emotions and behaviors. We can’t change or move beyond something unless we acknowledge it and tell the true to ourselves about ourselves. Reconcile: The willingness to resolve the inner pain and torment. Release: To let go of what no longer serves and benefits us. This offers space for healthier and more empowering possibilities to enter into your reality. Reframe: Is to now choose to see the painful experience, yourself and the offender, in a different and more constructive way. To see the glass more full than empty. This creates the willingness and courage to construct a more positive and affirming belief about yourself, within the unfortunate experience.  

In my own life, I’ve had many opportunities to practice forgiveness in what seemed at first, an unjust cause. I offer two experiences. One, was my wife of twelve years wanting a divorce, at the time it didn’t seem fair and not my choice. I was hurt, angry and frustrated. In time, I came to a place accepting her choice and let go of making her responsible for my feelings and behaviors within the stress and change. She made her choice out of self-love and what was best for her. I also had a choice of how I would move through it and who I wanted to be within a difficult situation. The choice of hanging on to anger, sadness and resentment and such, would only take me down a self-destructive and unfulfilling path. Through accepting the things I could not change, forgiving her and myself, and empowering myself to change what I could, which was only myself, this allowed me to change my situation from the inside out and move on in my life, and be a better version of myself and a father. Years later my ex-wife and I are friends and get along well on behalf of our sons and grand children. 

Several years ago, while driving my car I was hit head on, by a driver who was attempting to pass the car in front of him. The driver of this car was ticketed for failure to yield the right of way and his insurance company settled with me. Several months after the settlement, this man decided to sue me for mental harm. It was amazing that it ended up in a jury trial. I was in disbelief and just dumbfounded how I could be setting in a courtroom on trial for something I didn’t cause. Fear, anger, and uncertainty filled my days waiting for the court appearance and the verdict. I was found not guilty. A part of me with its voice inside me, understandably wanted to turn around and sue this guy, and many people suggested this. But another voice inside said, let it go, just let him be, he’s an old unhappy man, no need to put more fuel in the fire. I had compassion for this man and his struggle with needing revenge and justice, while not acknowledging and accepting he was in the wrong. He taught me, you never win a war – with war. So I forgave the error. In his need to get back at me, he was unaware of what his anger and resentment was doing to himself. I was at peace and moving on with life.

This man was after all, another teacher and opportunity for me through this difficult life experience. Through his actions, he was offering me the opportunity of learning and practicing the gift of moving beyond the injustice and my wounded self, toward acceptance, compassion and forgiveness.

You see, when you realize we have choices within difficult, painful and unjust experiences to see the offender as the threat and the enemy or the teacher and the opportunity. Depending on how you view it and think about it, is how you will experience it. What we think about we bring about.  When we can accept and understand that our experiences are really our teachers and opportunities to practice acts such as: acceptance, compassion and forgiveness, we take the high road with love, creating the willingness and commitment to move beyond the hurt, and learn the lesson for soul growth and self-mastery. Is this an easy task to get too? No. Is forgiveness a liberating and life changing act to engage in, that offers higher meaning? Yes, for sure. Life isn’t meant to be easy, it’s meant to be meaningful.

Questions to consider: Why might you struggle with forgiveness?  What would be the benefits of forgiveness for you?  How does acceptance and willingness aid the forgiveness process?  Feel free to leave a comment, share your answers to above questions, and/or share your experience with forgiveness.

 

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. My practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

Is your Heart Open or Closed To Love?

In my book, Just Be Love, I write about the importance of the heart as the seat of love in the human body and its experiences. The heart is one of the most important sensory organs in the human body. In the fetus, the heart starts beating before the brain is totally formed. The heart has its own neurons, as many, if not more than the brain. The heart may well be the true brain of the human body, since it is sending as much information to the brain in our head as this brain is sending to the heart. The human heart’s electromagnetic field is five thousand times more powerful than that of the mind. 

The heart holds the energy and expression of love. Imagine there is a doorway to love within the human body, and this door is through the heart. For many people, due to difficult and painful life experiences, love can seem to have gone wrong or broken apart. The heart can become guarded, even closed to protect the wounded self. When the heart is emotionally closed so is the door, and we can become fearful and cautious. So we’re not free and happy within the chambers in our heart. Then the mind follows the path of the heart, through fear, avoidance, resistance and non-acceptance of “what is.”  A closed heart contributes to a person becoming resentful, bitter, isolated and depressed. It’s like a dark prison, which we ordered ourselves to be confined to. Our inner judge; for various reasons saw fit to impose this self inflicted sentence, as a way to make sense of something that perhaps makes no sense or seems so unfair to us. We experience such inner torment and pain, which this prison seems to offer safety and security, as only a distorted illusion can do. Research has shown, we can become sick even die, from a closed, sad and lonely heart.

When the heart is open, we are free and vibrant, love flows within and through us, as a free flowing energy exchange called, giving and receiving.  An open heart is an including heart. Love is inclusion, fear is exclusion. An open heart is one that has found acceptance in “what is.” Acceptance is often the pivotal step toward freedom from the grips of grief, resentment, depression, anxiety, addiction, you name it. To put it simply an open heart is a free and loving heart, and is a way to expand the mind in possibilities. An open heart values the importance of expressing gratitude and appreciation. It allows for compassion, reconciliation or forgiveness to be. An open heart is the key to unlock us from the self-imposed prison we may be confined to.   

I offer 3 tips to open your heart to love and goodness. These can help alter your life in heartfelt and liberating ways.

  1. Be in Appreciation, Gratitude and Care, Toward Yourself and Others: This creates heart coherence i.e. balance, peace and harmony within the heart center; which will transfer to a calmer, more positive impulses, responses and behaviors from our brain.
  2. Do Your Inner Work, to Reconcile, the wound and/or grief of your past. Your heart does not create coherence i.e. openness, balance, peace and harmony, if it’s closed, bitter or sad. 
  3. Be Love: Allow yourself to accept you are love. In this gift of acceptance, give yourself permission to do acts of loving kindness to yourself and others, without conditions or expectations.

 

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love, is available through my websites:transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com