Arrogance

I am a confident, sometimes reserved, often assertive and intelligent person. I think that lovely combination often comes across as arrogance, though of course that is not what I want to convey. I have decided that I need to change some habits in order to make sure that people don’t think of me as an arrogant person. There are the big ideas like humility, but I break them down into actual things to do that result in humility. I find that when I have very specific tasks like give credit to others as it is due it is much easier to change my habits than if it is something like be humble.

Here’s the list of things I think will help.

Be Personable

  • Smile
  • Introduce myself
  • Say hi
  • Use their first name when I am speaking with someone
  • Give genuine compliments
  • Listen actively, speak less

 

Be Humble

  • Show gratitude
  • Be accountable for my own errors
  • Admit uncertainty
  • Acknowledge the contribution of others
  • Apologize
  • Keep learning

 

Be Cooperative

  • Share my knowledge
  • Collaborate
  • Be reliable
  • Help others

What would you add to this list?

Plans

One of my favourite things in life is a good epiphany. This morning at work, after talking to a friend about my extensive plans for my life, I came to the realization that I don’t need to learn patience, I need to learn how to let things happen without planning them.

I really want babies. If you follow me on twitter, you know this. If you talk to me in person, you know this. If you are my boyfriend, you know more about babies and how they are born than you ever thought you would. I have always wanted kids, but it became a serious issue just over 2 years ago. I threw all of my energy into learning about babies and how they are born. It was a nice outlet for a year.

A year ago, I started working on my patience. We are going to have kids, but we are not ready yet, so I just have to wait. I’m not a patient person; once I get an idea in my head I do everything I possibly can to make it happen. Since I am in a relationship and this event affects our lives equally, I can only do so much to make it happen. So I have been working very hard on cultivating patience. I’m much better than I used to be.

This morning, I came to the realization that it isn’t patience that will help me, but letting go of PLANS. I love to plan everything. I have the next 5 years planned out. Actually. Like to the month. Everyone constantly tells me, you can’t make plans. Life never goes according to plan. And it’s easy for me to disregard this because there are so many examples of times where plans are good. So I just ignored everyone and left my plans blinders on.

This epiphany led me to understand that planning is good, but I also have to be open to letting things happen without plans. Some things are meant to be and I have to be open to that. There always has to be balance in the world. We have to plan and we have to leave things to the wind. We have to be patient, and we have to work hard to make things happen. We have to be invested and we have to let go.

This is a huge shift in attitude and I think it will help my patience. I already feel a lot more relaxed.

Forgiveness

“A hero’s journey is not from weakness to strength. The real hero’s journey is from strength to weakness.”  – John Green

One of the main things that took me to church was the hope that I would learn how to forgive myself, and get better at forgiving others. Why did I need to forgive? I had a relationship with someone that was eating at me. I hadn’t handled things as I should have, and it had really negative consequences. It ate at me every day and I felt so bad. I tried to apologize, without results. I wanted that person to forgive me. I thought that if they would forgive me I would feel fine, but we never connected again.

Through counselling, I realized that  I had to forgive myself for my actions. When I can’t change my situation, or the people around me, I have learned that I have to change myself. I had to accept that I had done my best at the time, and I would learn from that experience, and handle things differently when a similar situation came along again. That left me with, How do I forgive myself?

When I was little, my brother and I would fight. If I did something bad I would have to go to my room until I was ready to apologize. Then, I had to say “Sorry” to him and he would have to say, “It’s ok,” as an acknowledgement of the apology and a sign of forgiveness, to me in return. This went back and forth as a daily occurrence. When someone said sorry, and meant it, you would have to forgive them. That was the extent of any formal education in forgiveness that I remember.

My counselor was helpful, but couldn’t give me the exact steps and formula that I wanted for forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a popular idea in our culture. We value individuality, forgetting that we are all connected. We work so hard to protect ourselves from negative feelings in our relationships, but those negative situations still happen and we just push them down and ignore them. Pretending everything is ok for appearances is not helpful.

I knew of no secular ways to learn this skill. I thought that if anything would be able to help me, it would be that feeling of being loved that I sometimes got from God. If I were to encourage and develop that within myself, I would know how to forgive, and I would learn how to avoid the situations that would require it later. I also knew that I needed to hear it said to me. I needed to hear the words, “You are forgiven.” (Forgiveness is a perlocutionary speech act, like promising – the utterance of the phrase creates the action.)

So I ended up at church. We think God feels the same way about us as we do about ourselves. This is not true. God loves us unconditionally. God loves us when we make mistakes. God loves us, even when we do not love ourselves. God gives us the grace to love ourselves. I can’t come up with the grace within myself, and so it comes from outside. Maybe after enough practice, it will come easily from within myself, or through God. I don’t know. There are people out there who can remember that they are enough as they are without God, but I am not one of them. I need to hear and feel it from someone else.

I know that my boyfriend and my family and my friends love me. I can tell myself that they just love what they see. There are those parts that I am ashamed to share. I tell myself that they would not love me if they knew, but God knows everything, and still loves me. I am working on being able to share myself wholly with those who I love, and not feel shame for the way I am. I can do this because there is God’s grace in everyone, and I tell myself that they will still love me. I cannot bear to be bare, but that’s what it takes to complete the hero’s journey.

So I just practice being weak, embracing vulnerability, embracing my imperfections. Realizing that it is powerful to be weak and humble.

The only way to get rid of the negative feelings is to lean into them, embrace and deal with them. The fear is worse than what you fear always. Fearing weakness is always worse than being weak.

Forgiveness is hard, but the alternative is harder.

Personification of God

I have a theory that there exists a something in this world that we all experience, but is so incomprehensible that we all explain it differently. I’m talking about God. I’m talking about any kind of Great Spirit, or feeling of being connected to everything around you. I think that it is such a complicated, multi-faceted idea and feeling that we have to personify it in order to share our experience with others.

We want to tell people about this amazing feeling of love and acceptance, but there are no words, and so we do the best we can, using a metaphor. “It’s like there is someone looking down who can see everything and loves me no matter what I do.” But there’s not a someone. There’s not even a something.

Atheists can experience God, but they don’t personify it. They often can’t reconcile it with what they know of the world, so they just ignore it. One must acknowledge these feelings of God in order to be able to talk to others about it. Sometimes that doesn’t happen. I’m speaking from experience. At the same time, there are probably religious people who haven’t experienced God, and just pretend because they wish they could, or they think they should. There’s also no way of knowing if they have experienced God or not. It’s that problem with the words again. No two interpretations are the same.

Before I really started thinking about religion and Christianity in a serious way, I couldn’t understand how anyone could believe in a contradiction. How can God be everywhere? (As a small child I once asked, “Is God in the fridge too?”) How can God love everyone and let terrible things happen? How can there be no evidence and so many people believe?

There is evidence. People believe in God, because they know God within themselves. God isn’t something that needs to be believed in. It just is. It is there, whether you believe it or not. This is why God isn’t a man with a big white beard. God can be that, if that’s what you need. Maybe my God is a big kitty-cat. Maybe your God is a big sassy black woman. Maybe Her God is the trees. Maybe his God is the ocean. I don’t know.

There is no way to know the God of someone else. Our words don’t work that way. Our brains don’t work that way. All we know is what we see and what we feel.