I am an expert time waster.
It’s a gift really.
You give me a block of time, even an entire day, and I can accomplish next to nothing through all of it.
Oh, I’ll look busy. I’ll sit at the computer and keep typing. I’ll keep moving about the house as if there are several projects I’m working on at once.
But it can all be an act. A one man show if you will.
Perhaps I should take it on the road. Charge admission. Put on several shows a week. Nah, that sounds like too much work.
You’re may be reading this wondering, where does this gift come from because – I’ve got it too.
In fact, you may think you are even more expert at this gift than I. I’d challenge you to a time wasting duel but that would be a colossal waste of time.
An interesting idea. Where exactly did the idea come from? And how did it rise to such importance in our life?
Think about it. How much of life is centered around time?
Alarm clocks start us off each day. Schedules dictate how quickly we must leave the house. We go through the day from one appointment to the next. Checking things off along the way.
We eat according to time. Travel according to time. Sleep according to time. It’s everywhere!
Take a moment and look around you, how many things that tell time do you see? 2, 3, more?
Time runs our life. When asked what you would like more of, you probably will answer, time. Many couples have expressed that one area they would like to improve is quality time in their relationship.
Have you ever spent a week or more away from the tyranny of time? Where schedules and meals were determined by the sun and your body’s natural rhythms? That’s one of the main reasons I love backpacking. You head off into the woods for several days with no time constraints. Life becomes slower. The body’s natural rhythms take over. The important things in life come to the surface.
What if you could live this way all the time every day?
The interesting thing about being time-crunched, whatever is important to you, you still make time for. You can plan around the start time for your favorite show. You still get 18 holes of golf in a busy week.
What if we replaced time focus with energy. Instead of looking at the day as a block of time, look at it as a finite amount of energy.
Then ask yourself, where do you spend your energy?
Do you find that you come home too exhausted to enjoy your family at the end of the day? Work performance may be your priority. Have you racked up huge amounts of debt recently? Keeping up appearances to others may be your priority.
You only have so much energy each day for the things in life. By spreading yourself too thin and being involved in too many things, your energy is dispersed and is of little real use to you or your loved ones. Think back to the times in life when you’ve been in the flow. Focused. All your energy devoted to one thing. What was that like? Cool, huh.
When you live life more in line with your core values, more energy for life is harnessed. If you displace energy on the immediate concerns rather than core priorities, life can be very chaotic and scattered.
In order to reclaim some of your energy, try this:
We live in a world full of noise and distraction.
So much so, it can be difficult at times to live a simple life – and keep “first things first.”
But, how much of the distraction is created by ourselves?
Specifically, how much do we get in our own way?
And, how often do we speak simply to distract ourselves from ourselves?
This may sound a bit odd, but I believe it’s true.
Don’t believe me?
Pick any normal day and try not to say anything.
That’s your assignment.
Look ahead in your calendar, pick a normal day, then on that day from the moment you wake up til the next morning, say nothing.
This will bring in to focus your view of communication, the words you choose, your motivations for speaking and the role talking plays in your life and relationships.
I realize that it’s very likely you will have to speak at some point during the day, it is difficult to make it through an entire day without speaking at all. But when you do have to speak, immediately go back to silence. Find space to dwell on the words you chose and the motivations behind them.
This can be the greatest learning opportunity of this experiment.
After speaking and returning to silence, reflect on the words you chose, the attitude in your speech, and the internal motivation behind it. Or if you don’t speak but really want to, seek to discover why you wanted to speak in each situation.
Look at the many ways we use our words:
“No matter what we talk about, we are talking about ourselves.” ~Hugh Prather
In a world addicted to noise, idle chatter, and meaningless words, silence can be very uncomfortable. But there is great life found in solitude — if only we’ll give it opportunity.
To conduct a 24-hour experiment of silence on your own, here are a few helpful tips from Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist:
Speaking is an important part of our life and relationships, but it can also be used to hide and distract. What’s behind your words?
Try this and see what you find.
Going on a date with your spouse can be the highlight of any week.
Getting ready for the date or, anticipating it, can be just as fun. It’s all part of the experience to creating a great date.
With that in mind, here are 6 ways to build the anticipation for your next wonderful date before it even happens.
#1 – Leave Notes
During the build up to the actual date, leave little notes for each other. It can be something as simple as a post it note or more romantic like lipstick on the mirror.
It can be a quick message like, “I’m really excited for our date this Friday” or “This is going to be the best date ever!” Be as cheesy or as romantic as you want.
#2 – Make it a Mystery
If it’s your turn to plan the date, make it a mystery and really milk it! Leave little clues throughout the house or office during the week. Send text messages or puzzling photos to keep your partner guessing.
If you know it’s something your partner will really enjoy, even better! Just be sure not to give away too many clues that they actually guess it. Or, maybe that’s the goal. Either way, it’s a win!
#3 – Make Preparations
Spend time during the week making whatever preparations you need to. This might mean making reservations or buying tickets. It might mean shopping for some new clothes or getting a new haircut. This might mean getting a babysitter or getting the in-laws to come stay with the kids.
Do all of the preparations you need to ahead of time so that the day, evening, or weekend of your date is perfect.
#4 – Do Something New
The goal here is to get excited about something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time but never have. By planning to finally do the activity, you’ll both get excited and look forward to your date more.
Maybe this means trying that new expensive restaurant in town. Maybe it’s driving to the coast. Maybe it’s staying in a little Bed and Breakfast in another town.
#5 – Do Your Partner’s Favorite Activity
It’s just good dating in general to do your spouse’s favorite thing. The goal here is to tell him or her that it’s what you’ll be doing. This lets them get excited by imagining actually getting to go out and do it together.
#6 – Research
If you’re going to a play, read about it or watch YouTube videos. If you’re checking out a new restaurant, pull up your favorite review app and read what other people are saying.
If you’re going to see some place new, get out the ‘ol map (I know, this probably means just pulling up the map on your phone or tablet).
Whatever it is you’re doing, research it! This will add to the actual date experience and really helps to build the level of excitement before you get there.
By following some of these ideas and coming up with your own, you’ll be able to really pump up the anticipation for your next date!
This is part two of our conversation about forgiveness. If you missed part one, it’s here.
Forgiveness is not a one time event.
It is a process and too many people get this point confused.
We often hear, “If he forgave me, then he would be over this by now!” This is just not realistic. If we’ve done something extremely hurtful, and are needing to seek forgiveness, then we can’t expect for the healing to happen immediately. Your mate will not get over the hurt right away, it takes time. Just because you have earnestly sought forgiveness and forgiveness has been given does not mean that their will not be consequences for your actions.
In fact, depending on the severity of the hurt, we may never fully recover from the pain. This is not to say we will always be suffering, but it does mean the pain might show up periodically after years by some event that sparks a memory. The pain isn’t as severe as when it first happened, but it still hurts.
If you think about it, the memory is a great way to keep you humble. It is hard to get on your “high horses” when you can remember some of your more ridiculous mistakes. Remember, your pain only makes you better.
The process of forgiveness is just that, a process. It’s part of the journey toward wholeness. <— Click To Tweet
We know we must forgive, so how do we go about the business of forgiveness?
Let’s use Carl Meninger’s model of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is entirely in the hands of the victim, although offenders can seek forgiveness, they are not ultimately in control of whether or not the victim forgives.
If you choose to follow these next five steps in the process of forgiveness, understanding that you may move in and out of each level throughout the process, we know you will greatly increase your ability to forgive. It is an ability, not a feeling, emotion, or accident.
The first step in the process of forgiveness is claiming the hurt. This might seem obvious, but realize that living in denial and or forgetfulness is much easier than admitting something has happened to us that is painful. We often try to avoid the painful experiences in our lives, because they are painful. All humans behave in a manner to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. We don’t want to experience pain, so we avoid it by ignoring it, disguising it, hiding it, stuffing it, and a whole host of other defense mechanisms all designed to protect us from pain.
Sometimes avoiding the pain is a direct consequence of our laziness. We don’t want to devote the energy necessary to deal with the issue, so we avoid it. M. Scott Peck has said that laziness is the biggest sin and the path toward human pathology.
See what the pain has done in your life. It’s about opening our eyes to our lives, and not living in denial. This is important because we’ve admitted that something needs to be done. How can we forgive someone if we don’t acknowledge that something needs to be forgiven.
Now you’ve claimed the hurt, and are taking full responsibility to how you feel and how the hurt has affected your life, the next stage in this process of forgiveness is typically Guilt. It is common to feel responsible for what happened. “What could I have done to prevent what happened”, or, “If only I hadn’t. . .” Both thoughts are very normal and necessary in the process of forgiveness.
By recognizing your hurt feelings, you give yourself the opportunity to have power over it. You will begin to know what it is that is causing your emotional pain. Something to help you during this stage of the process is to do something for yourself that makes you feel valuable. Often times, victims of hurt feel worthless and powerless, and doing something specifically for yourself will help bring you out of the stage of guilt. It’s about getting active and not remaining passive during this process. You have to “do” something, move in a direction in order for change to occur.
Couples wonder why nothing is getting better in therapy sometimes because they are still doing the same things that got them into trouble. We have to change our behaviors in order to experience change.
You’ve claimed the hurt and experienced the possible guilt, you are now ready to feel like a victim. Now that you’ve recognized your hurt it is only natural to feel victimized. Signs of this stage are: depression, listlessness, isolation, or bitterness.
When we experience these kinds of emotions it is only natural to want to medicate them. It’s the human way to solve our emotional pain. We get involved with drugs, alcohol, food, and anything that makes us feel momentarily better. But the key is that it is only momentary, it is never lasting.
This stage is a cry for help. It’s a 911 to your soul. The best thing to do during this stage is join a support group and do things for other people. Helping others helps yourself.
People want to ignore feelings of anger because at some time during our lives we got the impression that anger was bad. Anger is not bad! In fact, it is extremely healthy, when handled in a healthy way. Anger motivates us to change and take action. It’s like the fuel in the process of forgiveness. It gives us energy to make it through the process of forgiveness.
What is inappropriate anger, you might be asking?
When anger is focused on vengeance, then more than likely it is not a healthy anger. Anger shouldn’t be about getting back at somebody, but rather about getting motivated to change. Vengeance will destroy us, it’s like toxic waste to the soul. It’s very nature is hateful, and hate only encourages more hate.
The key is you want to be healthy in your anger. You never want to simply let yourself go in your anger, which allows it to take root in our souls and blocks our relationship with others. Positive anger lets us know something needs to be taken care of. It’s like the red warning lights in your car. When the lights are blinking, you’d better take notice of the problem. Pent up anger might not cause problems right away, but let us assure you, it will grow and sprout up someday to hurt and damage the people around you.
Now is the time you can actually forgive as an act of love because you haven’t denied yourself the opportunity to grow through all the stages of forgiveness. You’re no longer a victim of your pain because you’ve taken control over it. Forgiveness is the ultimate sign of maturity and love. Forgiveness says that we know you’re not perfect, but neither am I. So I choose to love you anyway, and forgive you so I am free to grow in my life and in our relationship.
Wholeness is a direct product of the first four stages. It’s not even a choice, it’s a product of the first four stages of forgiveness.
You don’t grab on to wholeness, it grabs you. You cannot help but become whole when you go through the first four stages!
That is the power of the journey of forgiveness; in looking at forgiveness as a process instead of a one time event.
When you forgive each other, you give the marriage a chance at experiencing what you want the most…joy, peace, harmony, sexual intimacy, fun, etc. It is the act of forgiveness that allows you to truly grow up in to a more solid, authentic person.
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