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Initially our self image is the result of what others teach us about ourselves. That we are a boy or a girl, blond or black, skinny or chubby. Later on that image of ourselves evolves further, in consequence of what others expect from us and what – in turn – we expect from ourselves, whether it is about our physical appearance, our job, the partner we choose, our education , our car, our house, and so on.
Obviously it is impossible to meet all these expectations and the result is that we start to suffer. This is quite normal, since we do not want to disappoint the people around us and we have convinced ourselves that we have to meet these expectations. If we don’t, we feel guilty, ashamed and we even blame others and ourselves for failing to do so. And let’s not forget that we do the same to other people.
Our unhealthy habits are a result of this impossible and insane situation. We have created a belief system, we have somehow convinced ourselves that we need to entertain these unhealthy habit(s) to cope. Of course, these habits cause even more suffering and problems but we do not see this, or bluntly deny it. We will do anything to maintain the illusion we have created about who – we have convinced ourselves – we are.
This is like convincing ourselves that putting extravagant clothing on a pet is normal. In doing so we are totally ignorant of “who” our beloved animal truly is. And what’s more, if you have ever dressed your dog, like I have for fun from time to time, you will have noticed that the dog does not change its behaviour whatsoever. It mostly tries desperately to shake off the accessories you put on it and it definitely has no effect on its self image, since… dogs do not have a self image. They simply “are”.
It is possible to fix the skewed perception we have of ourselves and others.
In case of the dressed up pet, we would simply undress it. In case of ourselves it means getting rid of everything fake. By taking off of ourselves, all the different masks we wear and by taking off all the labels we have stuck on others.
It is a scary step to take. People will probably be surprised by the authentic you; you may not fit their expectations or the desired image they expect of you, anymore. Relationships may change or end because of it. However, this only means that they were based on an illusion in the first place.
If you are suffering because of someone else’s unhealthy habit it, than take of the mask you wear when this occurs. Acknowledge who you truly are in this situation. And just like that dressed up pet, shake off what is not really you, get rid of what is not naturally you. In return take of the labels you stuck on that person, so you can see who he or she really is. And expect nothing. In doing so, you will find peace and serenity.
You may see this process as the waking up with a sigh relief from a realistic dream. Dreams seem real, but they are not. You are. Dogs do not need Louis Vuitton bags and neither do you.[:en]We are all born naked. We come into this world with nothing and we leave it in the same way. Yet in our lifetime being naked and simply being one’s self seems to be unnatural. Why?
Initially our self image is the result of what others teach us about ourselves. That we are a boy or a girl, blond or black, skinny or chubby. Later on that image of ourselves evolves further, in consequence of what others expect from us and what – in turn – we expect from ourselves, whether it is about our physical appearance, our job, the partner we choose, our education , our car, our house, and so on.Read more
Admitting that we are powerless… Hmmm, at first sight this seems like defeat. Most people like to believe that the people places and things around them are under their control. Especially the addictive behavior of someone we love, or who is dear to us. Powerlessness seems to turn the word into a scary place, filled with unpredictable uncertainties and hurt. And we don’t like that.Read more
[:nl]The dictionary defines the word paradox as: a seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true. In Greek the word literally translates as “conflicting with expectation”. Accepting powerlessness over unhealthy habits and the unmanageability of our lives and the belief that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity, are the essence of recovery in 12 step programs, such as AA, Al-anon, CA, NA, OA, etc.
However, accepting our powerlessness and unmanageability is a hard nut to crack. We do not like to admit we are wrong or that we have “failed”. Basically it means admitting that until now, all the efforts that you have put in changing yourself or someone else were pointless. This a source of frustration to most people.
Secondly, accepting a higher power that can restore us to sanity is also difficult to many. Many people do not believe in a supreme being, a Higher Power, a God.
After all, isn’t this higher power also responsible for the current state of suffering in our lives and in the world? So how on earth can we turn to it for such a positive thing as our recovery.
Overcoming our mental resistance because of this paradox is key to recovery and is simpler that you think.Read more
[:nl]When we blame ourselves, other people, places or things, we can be sure of one thing: we are not happy with reality as it occurs. And the same is true for others, when they blame us. This is undeniably insane, since reality, the now, has already occurred and we cannot change the past.Read more
Do you realize that the moment you are making your resolution, your wish has already come true. Think about it. The moment you make the resolution to stop smoking,to be nice to someone,or to lose weight, it is already so. Right there and then, you have stopped smoking. You are being nice. You are losing weight.Read more
I chose to dedicate most of my time to my mother and father who were both suffering from severe health problems. After 53 years of marriage they were admitted in separate health care facilities 20 miles apart in The Netherlands. On Friday August 24th my father passed away. My mother is still in critical, albeit stable, condition. So “life on life’s terms” seemed to be an appropriate titel to pick up where I left off.Read more