"The man who views the world
at 50 the same as he did at 20
has wasted 30 years of his life."
Me Making Progress...
The Non-Athletic One Scaling What Felt Like Mt. Everest!
Ah, the wisdom of Ali always astounds me. How frequently we
get stuck in our own mindsets, old beliefs, perceptions of the
way things are or the tenor of the world! I can be a "poster
child" for this myself. Ali's quote reminds me to examine how
far I have come since I was 20, if anywhere at all!
I have read many spiritual books that say how our thoughts
create our reality. Of course, for many years, that didn't sit
well with me. I always thought that there were many things in
my life and my circumstances that were out of my control.
Which I still believe.
But I did notice that I was often repeating the same patterns
in my life - some great and some not so good at all. I knew
there was something in this when I found out that a boyfriend
in my 20s and then one in my 50s were born on the same day
and shared some of the best of qualities and some of the
Coincidence? I think not. The patterns in my relationships
with these two guys were almost identical.
Now, don't get me wrong. I have been the recipient of many
blessings in my life and have witnessed many miracles. But
some of that takes work and I have found that the more I am
aware of a negative pattern, the more I am able to
consciously eliminate it. Also, I have come to love the adage:
"change your thinking; change your life." I believe this with all
A case in point: I have always been a very positive person and
I love people (on the most part!), finding them infinitely
fascinating. But years ago, I saw a hidden part of myself and a
certain negativlity around my life and the people who
After I first started my spiritual studies, my sister and I were
walking along the beach in Sanibel. I thought it might be fun
and enlightening to try an interesting exercise I read about in
Whenever you had a negative thought, you were to say "OUT!"
to that thought. The premise was to do this in your head but I
thought it might be revealing to use the same approach in the
conversation my sister and I were having as we were just
walking along. Whenever one of us said something negative,
the other one would say "OUT!"
Guess what happened? We said a lot of OUTS on that walk! It
was business as usual...we were joking and gossiping about
others and ourselves with lots of judgments, assumptions and
pettiness going on. After about 20 minutes of this, my sister
didn't want to play the game anymore. I can't say as I blame
her. We were both shocked at the tenor of our conversation -
not all negative but certainly
not all positive either.
Now don't get me wrong... when I seriously started examining
my thoughts and trying to shift them, I never had any
aspirations to turn into a "goody two shoes" or Pollyanna. After
all, I come from an Irish family where much of our humor is
founded on making fun of ourselves and poking fun at others.
Not only is that firmly embedded in me, I happen to like this
kind of humor and am not
about to change it.
But I do want to change any thoughts that are interfering with
my positive experience of life or that can create the same
unpleasant experiences over and over.
How do I know when I'm making progress?
I find it often the little things. Small examples: I don't
experience road rage when a driver cuts me off; I don't find
myself quite so impatient when a bank teller is slow and the
line is long; I don't condemn the person who is getting on my
nerves at work. I have started assuming maybe each one of
these "annoying people"
had a bad day. So it's time to cut that person some slack.
And I believe these small things are the best indication I have
of my mental and spiritual progress. I certainly don't
remember to make that shift all the time, but at least I have
developed the habit of questioning my thoughts when they are
negative or judgmental.
And guess what? This mind shift always makes me more at
peace, more in love with life and more respectful of the
people around me.
The Dali Lhama once said that his religion was kindness.
How great is that?!
Another way this negative thought business operates is when I
start condemning myself for those things that my positive
thinking have not overcome. When that happens, I try to
consider when and
where these thoughts and patterns of behavior have started.
Usually it goes back to my childhood. (Big surprise there!)
But I have found that the "blame game" about our families
doesn't work either. Someone said:
"When it comes time to do your own life, you either
perpetuate your childhood or you stand on it and
finally kick it out from under."
On the other hand, I believe when it comes to your past
experiences, you can't change your own dysfunctional patterns
(and everybody has them) if you are denying them or hiding
them from yourself. I may be less advanced than others in my
psychological and spiritual insights.
But I do know that as Plato was purported to say,
"The unexamined life is not worth living."
For most of us, I think the pattern we most need to examine
and work on is the critic in our head that says things like: "I
screwed up big time here and I'm going to feel guilty about it
the rest of my life" or "I can never forgive myself for that."
When we fall into this kind of emotional hole, let's remember
that a great definition of God is "Mercy and Compassion." As
spiritual beings having a human experience, our lessons are
of the most difficult kind. So if God can forgive us
and expect us to move on, who are we not to use the same
mercy and compassion towards ourselves?
So watch those thoughts and try to stay on the sunny side of
the street. And, remember that the "Big Boss in the Sky" has
already forgiven you for anything you have done...
can you do the same for yourself?
THAT IS REAL PROGRESS!
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Who is Kathleen Pasley?
Kathleen has a life that encompasses numerous
areas of endeavor: writing, fundraising, marketing
Two things help define her: she has been on
a serious spiritual path for 35 years and has
known serious depressive episodes.
She is committed to speaking from the heart
on spiritual issues and sharing honestly
and openly about mental illness.