The truth must be told in a way it can be heard

I have a little confession to make. I always made fun of people talking about affirmations and little poems about spiritual empowerment. I used to classify it as “corny, hippie nonsense for weak losers that smoke too many joints and don’t have the guts to make something of their lives by themselves.” It became a real trend and at some point many of my friends were talking about it. When I turned 35, my best friend even dared to give me this book with daily affirmations for spiritual growth and peace of mind.

At first I was a bit offended and I could have imagined a better birthday present. Because of course, ‘I do not need any spiritual growth. I am realistic and down to earth, I know myself, and because I am an experienced and grown woman who has learned from her mistakes I am already complete and balanced. I don’t need daily mantras, pffff.’
So I thanked my dear friend politely and put the book away, solemnly promising to myself I would not read that crap. Sounds harsh… I know…. One day my mid 30 crisis hit me and I realized I was not the self-composed, balanced person I always thought I was. I seriously needed to change some things in my life. I guess I was finally ready for the confrontation with my own shortcomings and how to deal with them. A good self-help book felt like the best remedy for the mood I was in. I wanted a book that could do two things: either I could get some wisdom and interesting food for thought out of it. Or I could mock it’s content and get a good laugh. And I remembered having the perfect book to fit those requirements.

Looking back I have to admit I was completely lost at that moment. Lucky me for having a best friend that sees clearly through my ‘look how tough I am’ attitude. Two years have past since I first opened ‘The Book’ and I can’t get enough of it. OK, some parts I still find a bit corny but really…. It makes me think. It is inspiring and very helpful when I feel down.
It gives a little passage for each day of the month. At the end of each day’s passage a current way of thinking is presented. This is the ‘Until Today’ statement that represents sentiments, resentments, beliefs, decisions, judgments and ideas up to now. Then you are presented with the ‘Just For Today’ statement, for a new approach and a new way of thinking. I love it! Every day I read my daily affirmation and try to do something with it. So today I present to you the new me: “hi everybody: my name is Petra and I am addicted to my daily affirmations for spiritual growth and peace of mind.” And because I find it very appropriate I will share with you today’s passage about truth….

How the truth is told is the issue. A sweet, gentle, smiling razor blade is still a razor blade that cuts and causes bleeding. Most people are open to hearing the truth when it is said in a way so they can hear it. People cannot hear you when you attack their weakness or when you make yourself better then they are. If you want to ensure that people will listen to you when you talk about difficult or uncomfortable situations, speak to them from your heart. See them as the part of yourself that does not like to be wrong, does not like to be criticized, does not like to be cut to shreds in the process of learning. Until today you may have told the truth in a cutting way that meant people could not hear you. Just for today, practice telling yourself some truth about yourself that is difficult for you to hear. When you master the art of telling yourself the truth lovingly, use what you have learned when you talk to other people. (Iyanla Vanzant)

Today I am devoted to learning how to tell the truth in a gentle, compassionate and loving manner. You are next!

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Who do you trust?

To me trust is a very powerful word. Probably even more powerful than the word “love”. It’s so easy to say “I love you”. But trust goes beyond love. With trust you put your deepest emotions, fears and secrets in the palm of another person’s hand. And you are sure that it will be handled with care. Trust takes years to build and can be destroyed in a single second. And after that nothing is the same anymore. So for me the words “I trust you” are a bigger compliment than “I love you”.
But ask yourself this question. When you are with your back against the wall, when push comes to shove.
Who can you trust?

Do we ever know who we can trust? The people you love and are closest to can betray you, break your heart and destroy you. Total strangers can come to your rescue. Maybe that’s why many people decide to only trust themselves. Maybe that is not a bad idea. After all: there is a voice inside of you for a reason. But can that voice be trusted? Will we ever know the answer to this question?

And what about the love that did not make it? The lies, bruises, cuts and broken promises. The fake smiles, constant insults, screaming and a horrifying past. The broken hearts, the lost loves and the “trust me” that didn’t last. All those people that finally come face to face with God. Will they ask him to show his ID card? Or is that something that only the most sceptic mortals will ask?

The movie ‘The Italian Job’ has this fantastic quote that I completely agree with and identify myself with. It goes like this:
“It’s not that I don’t trust people; it’s the devil inside them I don’t trust.”

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Muted

 Watching TV today I was playing with the remote control. I hit the “mute” button and instantly there was silence.
I could hear a bird singing outside. A neighbour vacuuming. Distant voices, music and laughter. Traffic passing, honking their horns impatiently. A baby crying. People shouting.
A shame there is no remote control for real life that mutes irritating or high-pitched noise. I would become a professional “muter”. Hearing whining or complaining, I would hit “mute”. Hearing stupid remarks. People crying, shouting, screaming….I would mute like crazy.
All noise would be reduced to a comfortable level, like when you are constipated or when it snows.

But what if the muter becomes the muted?
What if all of a sudden nobody hears your voice? Your mouth would move like a fish gasping for air on dry land and nobody would understand. Total silence. No interaction or communication. No words that can be turned into deeds. Nobody would know if you need advice or help. You would be alone with your own thoughts. What a nightmare…

So I will only mute when I listen to music or watch tv. I mute so I can hear the noise around me. So I can hear if the shouting, crying or honking requires an action from my side. To attend the phone call of a friend who wants to talk.
And if anyone tells me to shut up….  I will ask: “why?” Give me a good reason and I will listen. And I will respond. If you don’t want to hear it… I will write it.  But I will react.
You are next!

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25 November 2010: not just another day and number

What day is it today? Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.  I live in Spain and here it is called: Día Internacional de la Eliminación de la Violencia contra la Mujer (DIEVCM)

On this date Spain counts 63 deadly victims of gender violence. Already more than the number of deadly victims in 2009. And this year’s number is only growing.

Gender violence is a complicated topic and creates a lot of emotion. Fear, shame, anger, sadness. The government invests a lot of money in campaigns and education. There are various professional organizations that support victims. There are many discussions about changing the legal system, harsher punishment, more protection, etc.

But what about you? As a citizen of the world you see the daily horrifying stories in the media. Every day another number, another story. But does it change your daily routine? Will you cancel your meetings to prevent the number of victims from growing?  You probably only will when it really happens to you.

But what if it does happen to you? What will go through your head if you are exposed to gender violence? What will you see if you pick the brain of someone who is about to take the life of a loved one? What would you do if you see or hear it happen around you? Because let’s face it: it can happen to anyone. It can be a member of your family. It can be your best friend. Your neighbour. Your colleague from work. It can be you!

A month ago I was in my favorite bar with my best friend. We were discussing trivial things like work, relationships, what cocktail to drink. And then my friend took a newspaper out of her bag. “Did you read this article?” she asked. I had. After a short silence we both agreed: “we must do something… Now!”. So we started the project ¡La Próxima Eres Tu!

A foto expo that demonstrates strength and hope. Maybe we don’t decrease the number of deadly victims. But we are doing something to create more social awareness. I will cancel some of my meetings to achieve this. I will keep you posted on our progress. You are next!

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