Month: May 2013

11. ELIMINATING REGRET

regrets

In my post “What I Believe”, there is an affirmation that says “I believe in doing the most, what I’ll regret the least.” This philosophy goes hand-in-hand with the statement: “I believe regrets are grudges I hold against myself.” These two ideas are like bookends that keep the direction of my life organized, upright, and on purpose. My past has proven that the presence of regret equals an urge to manufacture excuses. Once I’ve done something I knew wasn’t supposed to, I’d feel compelled to justify why it happened, leading to a defensive posture. As soon as I’ve done something someone else knows I shouldn’t have, and they point it out, I’ve been known to take an offensive stand. Both times I’ve sought to excuse my behavior.

I live my life in two modes, action and reaction, or offensive and defensive. They have their place, but one should not be favored over the other. They compliment with strength and harmony when properly mixed. The people who do this skillfully lead well-adjusted lives. They are easy to pay attention to and quick to listen. A balanced approach attracts, while the unbalanced delivery repels.  No one likes those who are too defensive. Neither do they take kindly to those who are overly offensive. People who play the defender claim to be constantly victimized, and those who play the offender claim to be forever insulted. In either case neither person generates respect or trust from those around them. Each example must come up with constant excuses in order to continue their theatrics, or the behavior will not persist. I should know, I’ve visited the two sides with great frequency over the years.

If the erasure of regret equals the disappearance of excuses, then I say bring it on.  Without regret, I cannot own or operate being either patsy or aggressor. This does not mean I’m not opinionated or that I won’t stand up for what I believe that is right and good. What it does mean is that I’ll move forward with the attitude of doing the most what I’ll regret the least. When I find myself at an intersection, the only question that must be asked is, “what will I regret doing?”  I then avoid moving in those directions. As soon as I choose a lesser way, and create regret, then I begin to hold a grudge against my own actions. Those actions that we hold grudges against, we feel the need to punish. If I do the same to myself, then I’ll inevitably seek out some sort of punishment–mostly unaware I’m even doing it. This is a primary root of self-destructive behavior. ALL self-destructive behavior needs excuses to survive, so it stands to reason that it will consistently choose the lesser of two (or more) destinations in order to perpetuate its existence.

When I feel the impulse to defend, I do my best to use it by helping someone else, especially if they are not present. I’ve noticed people are more willing go into attack mode when there is no chance of retribution from the focus of  their argument. Rarely will I defend a personal agenda. If what’s being threatened is my safety, only then will I not hold back. On the other hand, I’m rarely offended. I’ve chosen a few items over the years I want changed, and these I’ll let offend me. Nothing gets better unless I become dissatisfied with how things are, so this attitude is useful when an action follows that’s designed to improve something. I never do anything that undermines someone else’s quality of life just so mine can get better. Looking at both actions, I will of course avoid doing anything that would lead to a regret.

I think all of us have had episodes of supreme confidence. When I’m in these moments I move forward without complaining or explaining. No excuses, just action. “Don’t complain, don’t explain” is a very famous and useful saying. It helps eliminate other people’s opinions, bad OR good, and keeps me focused on the task at hand. When the thoughts of others are eliminated, then there’s no need to argue (defend) or no need to listen (take a chance on being offended.) There are, of course some people in my life I want feedback from, but there are VERY few.

All I know is, I’m not going to be laying in my death-bed and allow the last words of my life begin with the line “It’s too bad I didn’t…..” A life lived without regret is one of the greatest freedoms we can seek. It’s absence serves to eliminate pain and helps to invite serenity.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

10. MY SECOND FAVORITE PHOTO

rainbow

This is my second favorite photo. Looking south-west from the top of a building in Denver early in the morning. I couldn’t back-off far enough, but there was a third, very faint rainbow even further out. I thought it was fascinating that the sky was so dark above the main arch and so light below it. About one minute after I took this, it disappeared. It’s too bad I didn’t have a better camera with me at the time.

9. THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

blue

A higher standard of living is a wonderful thing. Who doesn’t want better health, a greater income, stronger relationships, better outlooks, and happier moments? This utopian existence isn’t a fantasy. As a matter of fact, it’s not that difficult to manifest. All it usually requires is a shift in patterns of thought.

When I receive anything, it’s by the appearance of only two possible outcomes–I either get what I want, or I don’t.  I’m well aware that my thoughts equal my reality. Everything that surrounds me has appeared because I have desired it. The desk I’m writing upon, the clothing I’m wearing, the music I’m listening to, the health I enjoy, the love I know–all of these are here because I wished them here.  If my reality becomes unsatisfactory, then my thoughts must be in line with whatever has become unwanted. Allow me to clarify this before  it starts sounding a little too weird.

My quality of life equals the quality of my requests. To put it simply, better questions equal better answers. When my world was a garbage dump, it was because I collected nothing but trash. The “why me?” brand of questioning produced all kinds of unwelcome results, and since I had no idea I was doing it, I kept it up. When I asked “why am I fat?, why am I lonely?, why am I poor?, why am I an addict?”, I got a lot of answers.  The answers all served to re-enforce the original idea. In essence, what I kept asking gave me more reasons to keep asking the same questions; since I was repeating myself, the answers would compound. For instance, the question “why am I so fat?” would produce replies that sounded something like this, “you’re so fat because you’re lazy, eat crap, don’t exercise, and have no will power.” When I convinced myself that I had logical reasons to keep up my behavior, I had no leverage to stop it.

Nothing changed until I shifted my questions. The brain is a remarkable machine. Almost any problem conceived will require it to produce some sort of feedback. When I started focusing on the opposite of what I’d been fixating upon, miraculous transformations began taking place. The idea of finding solutions rather than problems was an old idea, but one I had never really given much thought to. This may sound simple, but I assure you, it’s a powerful tool. The opposite of “why am I fat?” wasn’t “how do I lose weight?” This is because the idea of being heavy still persists in the question. It’s true opposite is “how do I get thin?” While this is indeed a higher quality question, it can be energized to force the brain to find the BEST solution. “What’s the healthiest way to get thin and have fun doing it?” Now THERE’ a great question.

The pattern to the elimination of this self-destructive behavior hasn’t failed me yet. These are the steps I take.

  1. If I have results in my life that are opposite of what I really want, I recognize that somewhere a wrong question is being asked.
  2.  I identify the question.
  3. I flip the idea to the highest or most positive outcome I want.
  4.  I take action. This often includes asking for advice or assistance.
  5. I actively appreciate–not just by thanking others, but also by allowing gratitude to be extended to myself.

Please keep in mind that I’m not necessarily talking about the “stuff” in life improving. The material part of my existence has always reflected my mental initiative, so my focus has remained on shifting my attitude. I believe that whatever I expect, I create. One thing’s for sure, I’ve done exactly that so far. All the pain and all the pleasure that has come and gone in my life has either met or exceeded my expectations.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

8. MY FAVORITE BUMPER STICKER

Sunset_2007-1

I had this bumper sticker printed up years ago and handed them out for free to anyone willing to take one. While it still makes me laugh, I also consider it a very important question.  It’s a little like hearing someone complain about whiners. Not only are they joining in with the same crowd they are trying to distance themselves from, now they’re center stage. I think this is why we should “Love thine enemy as thyself.”

If tolerance is what we want to project, are we not obligated to turn this attitude towards those who receive it the least? When mankind experiences pain somewhere in its “body” shouldn’t this demand care and healing? We seem to point towards what isn’t working in our society and do our best to fight it rather than help it. We praise that which is already doing well and insult what isn’t functioning properly. In my opinion this attitude is destructive and immoral.

No one wants to be around a hypocrite. People that do this are fooling themselves into believing that by putting everyone else down, they don’t have to work at doing anything to look good. We witness this unethical “sleight-of-hand” all the time in various incarnations. The “I’m right and everyone else is wrong” syndrome is, unfortunately, very common.  “No one does what I tell them to do” equals “I’m perfect, they’re flawed.” “No one comes up with better solutions than me” equals “I’m brilliant and they’re stupid.” “Others don’t do nearly as much work as me” equals “I’m productive, they’re useless.” “Everyday I fight bad drivers on the way to work” equals “I’m courteous, they’re rude.” All of these are hypocritical attitudes. No one is perfect. This is not a generalized judgment; I simply mean that there is always room for improvement.  The trap of thinking you’re beyond reproach is to invite a lifestyle that will convince itself there’s no need for progress.   Those who try to position themselves into a brighter spotlight by negative promotion lose all credibility. They don’t realize their audience is  instinctively aware that they’re unwilling to become better.

I would love to think I am past this kind of behavior but I’m not. On occasion I catch myself playing the victim. My moments of “poor me” are a lot less pronounced than they used to be, but at least I have the ability to recognize them. This “role” leaves a bitter taste, I assure you.  I’ve learned  there are countermeasures for this habit.

  1. I stop trying to be better than the rest of the crowd, I simply commit to being better than I used to be.
  2. My personal standards are far beyond what others expect of me.
  3. I acknowledge where talent lies. When I’m seen as someone who gives credit where credit is due, I notice people are more eager to work as a team. Everyone wants some sort of recognition for their contributions. Sometimes nothing more than a “Thank You” makes all the difference, especially when it’s done in public. I know it does for me.

I think it’s amazing just how many don’t do this. It’s too bad that the ones who do this stand out so prominently. They are a rare breed; I wish they weren’t.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

7. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF LANGUAGE?

mcdonalds

An obvious answer to the title question may come to mind. Language exists so we can communicate vocally in ways that don’t require grunting, snarling, snorting, and screaming. There’s no doubt these expressions still prevail–especially among men–but there’s a much more profound need to speak. We crave deeper connections to others, not just through our senses, but mentally.

At one time, my speech was quite stoic. It had neither passion nor imagination.  When I attempted to illustrate myself with the limited feelings I had connection to, the descriptions came out clichéd and boring. For years, I uttered the same words in the same tone of voice to the same uninterested people. I never stopped to think about what came out of my mouth. My responses were never astute, and the results were often insulting and insensitive. I’ve tasted my foot more often than I’d like, and my attempts at taking back what’s  just been said  always had a tone of insincerity  when filtered through my toes. Once it was uttered, the original thought prevailed. Whatever came after did little to dispel the impact of  my initial misfortune. Over the years, I’ve consciously developed a slower response time. This, and a better vocabulary, has significantly improved my moments of awkwardness.

My mentor, Joe, sat me down years ago and posed the initial question. It changed my life.

“So, do you know what the purpose of language is?”

“Sure.” I said confidently. “We need to communicate so we can interact with each other.” Joe looked blankly at me, totally unimpressed with my answer.

He kept staring. “What happens when I say something to you and include a word you don’t quite understand?”

“I guess I’d probably ask you what you meant.”

“I doubt it.” He smirked a little and continued. “Let’s try an example and we’ll see what happens. How would you interpret Honor thy Mother and Father?”

I cleared my throat. “Well, according to the ten commandments I suppose we are obligated to love our parents.”

Joe smiled. “Look up the word honor.”

There was always a huge dictionary on the table when we talked. I thought it was there for decoration. I picked it up, flipped to the word, and read the entire definition. No where was mentioned the word “love.”  Joe could see I was speechless, so he continued.

“Here lies our problem. The purpose of language is an attempt of the speaker to take the images, ideas, feelings, and definitions of what they are thinking and  place them into the mind of the listener with as little discrepancy as possible. If each person has a different understanding of the same word, communication will not take place as intended. In cases where we are attempting to learn from those who are offering us information, it’s vital that we bridge the gap.”

I now carry a dictionary with me everywhere. I find myself looking up words with great frequency. More often than not, I still need assistance interpreting my own thoughts, especially when I’m writing. The accessibility of reference material has become quite easy these days with technology where it is. Any excuse I harbored for the unavailability of either a better word or its definition, has vanished. I’m no master of the English language, but I do consider myself at least a student. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I don’t still grunt, snarl, snort, and scream from time to time.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

6. BABY- EXAMPLE OF MY ARTWORK

BABY- EXAMPLE OF MY ARTWORK

For those of you who want to see an example of the kind of art I produce.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/discover-challenges/portraits/

 

5. 12 STEP MEETINGS – BEHIND THE DOORS

people helping

If you are reading this, it’s possible you’ve considered approaching one of these meetings as a way to eliminate whatever it is you seek to remove from your life. There are of course many groups for a variety dependencies. All follow the same basic pattern, and all are excellent choices for beginning a new way of living. Some are held in homes, some in semi-public places, and others in clubs. An on-line search will reveal locations and phone numbers. Here is a link to a nationwide network of groups-   http://www.sobernation.com/list-of-12-step-programs/   Dues are never required, but donations are gently encouraged from those who can afford them. Some groups are “closed”, meaning they are intended only for those directly involved in seeking recovery. Most are “open”, which encourages friends and family members to be welcome in order to support guests. Other subgroups include:  women only, men, Spanish speaking, GLBT, and so on. They exist so attendees can open up in a  more comfortable, less-vulnerable environment. Each meeting usually starts with standard readings from the appropriate literature. Before the period where members speak, you will be asked (along with everyone else in the room) to identify yourself  by first name only and to state your suspected affliction. This is the only time you should be prompted  to say anything publicly, and even then, no one should chastise if you choose to remain silent. When the period for sharing starts, it usually goes to the person who talks first. I have been to meetings where people call randomly upon others to share after they are done. No pressure here; if you don’t want to say anything, simply turn it down. Most meetings will last only one hour. They will be concluded  when the  designated chairperson makes a few announcements and asks some final questions. In the end, all will stand,  join hands, and repeat aloud “The Lord’s Prayer.” This is a condensed version of what will probably happen. There are actually still some meetings where you’re allowed to smoke, and these will identify themselves as such through an official schedule. Coffee, tea, and water is usually available.

If you’re anything like me, there’s some apprehension ahead of passing through those doors. I wondered what kind of people would be waiting. Who would look at me and suspect what I wanted no one else to know?   It felt like I was walking into court. My fears vanished when I realized that any given room may have a doctor, student, housewife, prostitute, cop, teacher, business owner, criminal, grandmother, soldier–I’m sure you get the picture. Basically, there is no stereotype for identifying who might be sitting across from you. What they all will have in common with each other (and you) is that they found themselves in the same place. Although each person’s past will be different, there will be plenty of mutual understanding and support for present circumstances.

In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons the “anonymous” label  exists, is to level the playing field. Here, where privacy is revered, there is no authority–nor are there other titles designed to establish any kind of pecking order. Each individual stands upon their own accomplishments within the program and believe me, that is enough. What is said in confidentiality is promised to be kept at that level. Without this ethic in place, it’s doubtful many would open up far enough to allow any kind of healing to take place.

The 12 steps themselves are a set of declarations, principles, oaths, and actions structured to rebuild a life of health, abundance, and love. They CANNOT be self-interpreted. They must be approached through a trusted and disciplined source. IF you decide to attend and make a commitment to following the curriculum, you will need to seek out a willing sponsor. Success  will not come to fruition without one. As far as I’m concerned, friends are not allowed to be considered. Those you choose must decide to accept you and must be impartial to your goals and feelings. They will tell you the truth, despite how they think you may react. Please read my post “HOW TO KNOW IF YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK”  at this link for further clarification on this subject https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/04/how-to-know-if-you-are-on-the-right-track/

Approaching this environment is not as overwhelming as you might think. The people here are highly motivated if not overjoyed to help you. If you thought you were alone in your pain, that’s the first idea that’s going out the window. Every meeting has in its traditions a statement that reads something like this, “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop.”  That’s it; nothing else will be asked of you.

May you find the peace and happiness that evades so many. I wish you the best that life can offer.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

4. WHAT I BELIEVE

principles

Before getting too far into more ground-floor subjects of self-help, I’d like to share with you some of the ideas that make up my foundation. When I first read other authors, I was curious to know what kind of belief system they stood upon. I wasn’t looking to align with any specific philosophy or spiritual viewpoint; it was simply of interest to me what their convictions were. If a way to refine the information about the sources I’d researched would have been accessible, then perhaps a more efficient path of growth would have been available.

I believe one can be both confident and humble at the same time.

I believe being tough means doing things that are tough to do.

I believe I am connected to everything and attached to nothing.

I believe redemption is never beyond the reach of anyone.

I believe we are all bonded, both in flesh and spirit.

I believe all wishes come true.

I believe regrets are grudges I hold against myself.

I believe that whatever I believe in, the opposite must also be true.

I believe I am responsible for everything in my life.

I believe one voice can be heard among billions.

I believe I am both unique and common.

I believe in the power of intention.

I believe that nothing happens that isn’t supposed to.

I believe that yesterday is no indication of tomorrow.

I believe that optimism is wasted unless it’s tempered with action.

I believe nothing improves unless dissatisfaction precedes it.

I believe the journey is the destination.

I believe life gets better every day.

I believe age has nothing to do with potential.

I believe cleanliness is next to Godliness.

I believe all self destructive behavior is anchored in shame.

I believe that in the house that is love, chiseled into the floor of the basement is the word “forgiveness.”

I believe I could be wrong about everything.

I believe I have both a free will and a destiny.

I believe in doing the most, what I’ll regret the least.

I believe there is beauty in everything.

I believe the inability to release and properly express emotion leads to unexpected and unexplainable behavior.

I believe compassion trumps the golden rule.

I believe letting go is the most powerful force I can choose to align with.

I believe whatever I am, I am not this body.

I believe there is no such thing as luck.

I believe I’ll never lose my wonder for the miracle that is this world.

I believe I can do anything.

I believe I see myself in others.

I believe this world is worth saving.

All of these ideas I really do believe in. My life is a continuing example of their manifestation. Some annoy me, some overjoy me, but all serve me well.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

3. HOW TO KNOW IF YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK

maze-primary

Sometimes, when we look toward that which we desire most, there seems to be an impassable labyrinth of nettle and pitfalls between where we stand and where we want to be. The potential journey seems so overwhelming that we simply never start no matter what  reward awaits us on the other side. Those who have made their way through this obstacle course will always tell you it was worth it. Desperation often equals determination, meaning that those who have nothing to lose will attempt anything to gain something. This does not necessarily mean one must hit bottom before making an attempt at a better life.

If you are willing to step forward into this unknown, there are three things I can tell you to do that will at least let you know you’re moving in the right direction.

First– Follow the voice of someone on the other side.

What this means is that you cannot take navigation from those standing next to you. They don’t know the way any more than you do. Call out for guidance. Someone will always answer, but this doesn’t mean they are somewhere you want to be. These people must have in their lives what you want in yours. The best you are liable to get from them is the best they have to offer. Scrutinize and question, so you can be led by the elite. Once you have set foot on the proper path, your chosen leader will be able to see you, but you won’t be able to see them, so following instruction is critical. Here, where the next step is often obscured, we are not allowed to question the voice. Trust is absolutely necessary or progress will not manifest. If you do step in a direction of your own choosing, your guide will most likely lose sight of you, and starting over is often the only option. This isn’t necessarily the end of the attempt, but if you start over too much, your mentor will likely give up in favor of someone with more determination.  Keep in mind that others are waiting in line behind you for that same voice to lead them through the thicket.

Second– Allow criticism.

We cannot improve by repeating the same patterns of behavior that keep us bound to that which we no longer want. As I stated in the previous step, we must receive direction from those who have a high quality of life. This means we are going to get a lot of instruction on what must be abandoned. Old behaviors and thought patterns will have to be eliminated, while new skills and ideas will be offered. This will come in the form of criticism. There is a way to take it with honor and grace. You must drop the need to defend yourself and realize no one who truly cares for you will say anything that is not based in love. It won’t feel good at the moment, but being open to this is absolutely necessary.

Third– KNOW that you are probably going to get pissed at those who are telling you what to do.

I was blessed with the intuition this was probably going to happen no matter what. It did indeed come in torrents, but when I knew ahead of time that this emotion was a constant  potential, it didn’t feel nearly as bad as I knew it could have. When I first quit drinking I spent an entire year angry. I never let it disable me though.  I always took what was said as the truth, no matter what; which meant I was wrong a lot. Basically, I was mad at myself and this only served to continue renewing my determination to stick to the path.

These three steps can be applied to any area of self-improvement you wish to develop. Look to the skills you already possess. It will become clear this process automatically took place. Everything we learn, from driving a car to pursuing a martial art, will involve asking for and taking guidance while allowing for evaluation of our progress. Keep in mind I am not talking about becoming self-taught at any particular skill; one can go only so far with this attitude. I’m speaking of becoming a master at whatever we choose to focus on.

That’s it. This the best map I can offer on the subject. I know it’s not much, but it’s a heck of a lot better that proceeding with earplugs and a blindfold.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

2. MY FAVORITE JOKE

My Favorite Joke