Thursday, October 7, 2010

Are your problems self-generated?

(c) 2010 Joan M. Newcomb

I was listening to Eckhardt Tolle this morning, and he asked the question, "are your problems self-generated, or generated by the world"?

"Well, it certainly feels like it's the world generating my problems!"  You say.  "I would never do this to myself!"

It's so easy to point the finger at anything outside yourself, at the government, at your spouse, your kids, your boss.  They are all doing this to me.  If they would only be different, I could be happy.

"If I were generating my problems, then all of this would be my fault!" You protest.  "Why would I give my dog cancer?  Why would I create my boss to be an asshole?"

Well, blaming yourself instead of blaming others just generates more problems, doesn't it?

Problems are self-generated because they're seen as problems.  When you view the world as problematic, then it is.

We make life harder for ourselves that way. 

I've been spending most of October with my 84 year old mother.  When I first got here, I had jet lag, and was just going with the flow.  Not resisting it, or resisting anything.  After a while I realized that I wasn't paying attention to how my mother was doing.  My whole reason for being here is to help improve her quality of life, get some things done that need doing, and hopefully get her some help.

It really wasn't that I was not paying attention, I just wasn't evaluating (=judging) her behavior.  It was kind of nice.  But after I'd been here a while, I started noticing her memory lapses and adding story to them.  Is this early Alzheimer's?  What if these are pre-stroke symptoms?  These kinds of thoughts really don't help me help her.  They just provoke me to spring into action mode and try to force her to do things according to my (not accurate) agenda.

She had a physical just before I came, with a doctor that's been seeing her for the last ten years.  If a medical professional examining her didn't detect anything, then I with my absolute zero medical knowledge don't need to diagnose her, either.

I can respond instead of react.  One response is to just be in the moment with her, helping with whatever I can.  Another is to encourage her to connect with an elder care service, which can assist her after I'm gone.
She's been wanting a housecleaner for several years now, and could use someone to drive her places outside of her 5 mile range from home.

Responding opens up possibilities.  Reacting batters against what I think is happening (which isn't).

There are many things I can't do anything about.  It's not useful for me to focus on them, it takes energy from things I can change.  I can't change my mother, I can't reverse the aging process (okay, I think she needs to exercise and stop eating ice cream after dinner, but I can't make her do those things).

I can change my perspective.  I can change the lens through which I view things.  I can step back and look at the bigger picture.  If I'm overly emotional, I can wait before I respond.  You can wait 24 hours before taking action on pretty much any major decision.

This week, if you choose, notice your "problems".  What would they be like if they weren't problems?  Is it true that they even *are* problems?  What's another way to look at them?  Ask yourself, 'if this weren't a problem, how would I be (or handle) it?

Try this whenever things come up over the next 7 days, and see what happens!

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