Finding Strength Within And Without

There were times early in my sobriety when it felt like I was barely holding onto my sanity and I wasn’t sure what to do. I was never very good at facing emotional pain or figuring out why I had it. But thankfully I did hold on.

I needed help from others with these struggles. And it was hard for me to believe in more than just this world on some days. But the result was worth the effort.

I learned that part of becoming a stronger person is to never be afraid to ask for help. And I eventually saw that it was better to try to believe in something than it was to believe in nothing. I also found an inner strength that I didn’t know I had, and peace of mind that I didn’t think possible.

Today I know everything’s going to be all right, even when it’s not. Because I know that I can be all right even when I’m not.

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Being Open Minded About Love

We don’t have to grow spiritually to love ourselves and be happy in life, but it can help us have an open mind. Having an open mind can help us understand ourselves and our behaviors better. When we understand ourselves and why we do some of the negative things we do, we can change those behaviors and grow as a person.

Growing as a person can also help us have an open mind. Having an open mind can help us understand others and their behaviors better. When we understand others and why they do some of the negative things they do, we can have more empathy and compassion for them.

Having empathy and compassion for people can help us grow spiritually. We don’t have to grow spiritually to love ourselves and be happy in life, but it can help us love others and be happy with who we are.

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Setbacks And Plateaus Give Us A Chance To Grow

No matter how positive we try to be in life or what our beliefs are, we can still experience setbacks at times. A setback can be defined as an unanticipated or sudden check in progress; a change from better to worse. Some setbacks that come to mind are ones in our health, our finances, and in our relationships. I added that last one because it can set us back emotionally. We can become resentful toward a loved one who we feel has wronged us in some way, and if we are hurt deeply, it can cause us to remain in a state of anger, resentment, or sadness that’s hard to overcome.

Fortunately, I haven’t had any major health problems in my life. And although, like many people these days, I could certainly use more money, I haven’t had any financial setbacks. I have, however, experienced a few emotional setbacks, one in particular came from being hurt by a family member. But since that time, I’ve learned to look at them more as emotional struggles, and call them spiritual plateaus.

One  definition of plateau is a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress. In other words, even though I have made progress in my spiritual growth over the years, any anger, resentment, or sadness I felt from being hurt by someone, caused me to feel like I stopped growing spiritually. I was eventually able to get over the way I felt, and in the instance where a family member was involved, I came to the understanding that there are some people we don’t need to be around, family or not, and all we can do is to try to forgive from a distance.

Now in order to get over any negative emotions I felt, I had to do a few things like talking to someone about how I was feeling and fighting any temptation I felt to get back at the people involved, and I reminded myself that it was perfectly normal to feel the way I did. Although I’m not religious, I also used prayer to help me. I found that a simple request for help from whatever god there may be, often speeds up the process of forgiveness.

Most of us will never experience major setbacks in our health or finances, but many of us have and will experience problems in our relationships. The important thing to remember is that whether we call them emotional setbacks or spiritual plateaus, we should never be afraid to talk about our emotions, and depending on our beliefs, pray for help.

Doing so has never failed me to once again start making progress in my spiritual growth, and if needed, to help others through my experiences.


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Thoughts I Don’t Like Myself For Thinking

I’ve found that trying to be a better person than I was before helps me to love myself, but there are times when I don’t like myself because of my behaviors or even the thoughts I have about someone.  Although it can seem natural to have angry and vindictive thoughts toward people who are mean or downright nasty to us, it’s not how I want to think.

I believe in trying to grow spiritually and thoughts like that temporarily rob us of any peace and serenity we feel.

Fortunately, there haven’t been any recent incidences where someone has treated me badly, and I can usually find humor in the lesser but ridiculous things people do that I find irritating. However, until I develop more spiritual growth, I’m not ashamed to say I still let people and certain things they do bother me and cause me to have thoughts I don’t like myself for thinking.

Here’s a list, mostly written in humor, of the people I’m referring to.

1. Someone behind me at a stop light who feels the need to blow their horn excessively only nanoseconds after the light turns green.

2. People that answer their phone and proceed to tell you they were sleeping. Are they purposely trying to make you feel bad, and why do they have the phone where it will wake them up in the first place?

3. People who take their good old-time leaving a parking space; knowing the whole time you’re waiting for the spot.

4. People who drive large vehicles but shouldn’t. They can’t seem to turn a corner, go over a bump, or park it in under a half an hour.

5. Excessively noisy people. It doesn’t matter where these types of people are. Even at the beach their voices seem to carry over everyone else’s and even other sounds.

6. Impatient people who can’t wait in line more than a minute without displaying some kind of emotional distress.

7. People who have all but an emotional breakdown when their food order gets messed up.

8. Parents who allow their little ones to do almost anything, anywhere, anytime.

9. People who complain constantly. It can be about their health, the weather, or other people, but in most cases it’s about everything.

10. Anyone who puts down another human being because of that person’s race, color, culture, social standing, economic status, or sexual preference. This is not being spiritual, nor is it displaying any kind of personal growth.

As I said, this was mostly written in fun, but as far as the last thing on my list goes.

Although I can be tolerant and understanding toward people like that, I don’t have to be loving or kind. And even though I may not like myself for the thoughts I have about them, I can say I love myself for not being like them.

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The Greatest Love of All

I was fifteen years old when I first fell in love with a boxer named Muhammad Ali. I know that might sound strange, but I assure you, I’m not the only one that loves the man who was once The Heavyweight Champion of the World.  He has, however, always been much more than just a boxer to me and millions of others, and here’s why. The self-love he showed as a young man changed when he started to grow spiritually and as person, and as a result, he began to show more kindness, understanding, and tolerance toward others, and slowly learned to love people unconditionally.

It’s been over 35 years since I began my love affair with the man who called himself “The Greatest.” And although he may not be the athlete he once was, I know his beliefs allow him to love who he is today. Of course at 52, I’m certainly not the athlete I once was either, but I can also say I love who I am today. It may have taken me awhile to achieve this self-love, but I did it the same way Ali did; through spiritual and personal growth.

When we try to grow on a continual basis, we begin to love ourselves enough to be happy with who we are, and eventually we love ourselves unconditionally. When we love ourselves unconditionally, it holds the promise of some day being able to love others unconditionally as well.

It may have taken Muhammad Ali time to be able to show everyone kindness, understanding, and tolerance. But the type of self-love he eventually possessed, not only allowed him to do those things at a greater level than most, it also allowed him to love “all” people unconditionally. That’s why learning to love ourselves truly is the greatest love of all.

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Spiritual Imperfection

To be perfect is to be entirely free of any flaws, defects, or shortcomings. I know I’m nowhere close to being a perfect person and that I never will be. However, I don’t really worry that much about my imperfections, or for that matter, the spiritual imperfections I also have.

I realize that part of spiritual growth is knowing I will always need to grow and that having imperfections is a part of who I am. I don’t necessarily like having them and I certainly don’t like seeing them in other people. But because I have learned to love myself unconditionally, I am slowly learning to love others unconditionally as well.

It needs to be noted, though, that our imperfections do not give any of us the right to hurt others, nor should they be used as an excuse for when we do. But if we honestly keep striving for personal and spiritual growth, even when we fall far short of being perfect, it’s still possible to love ourselves and be happy with who we are.

An unconditional love for ourselves that holds the promise of loving others in the same way, no matter what their imperfections may be.

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