Thursday, September 22, 2011

Boundaries: The Castle Metaphor

Creating and maintaining healthy boundaries is a critical component in all relationships. Boundaries are limits created by you that protect your values and communicate to others which behaviors you will, and will not, accept from them. Creating healthy boundaries supports stronger self esteem and demonstrates respect for ourselves and others.

For the sake of argument (and to have a little fun), let’s go medieval for a minute and equate personal boundaries with visiting someone’s home—their castle. When you are in someone’s castle you need to be polite and respectful while you are there. Why is this so important? For starters, being allowed to enter into someone’s castle shows they respect you enough to let you into their personal space—basically, they’ve let down their drawbridge. If you can appreciate this fact, you will already feel respected. But if you don’t appreciate it, you may meet an undesirable fate (see below). 

So now that you've been let in, it is critical that you follow the “Rules of the Castle”:

Rules of the Castle

1. Do not steal. This includes taking ANYTHING that isn’t yours to take including physical objects, thoughts, ideas, or attention. Remember: it’s not all about you.
2. Be polite. Always say “Please, Your Highness,” “Thank you, Sire,”
As you wish, Your Excellency, and “You’re welcome, Your Grace,” (insert correct salutations and titles, as necessary).
3. Always ask if you are unsure. Assumptions lead to expectations, and expectations become seeds of disappointment. Asking questions is practicing humility.
4. Pick-up after yourself. When you are done working or playing, pick up your things (books, toys, swords, etc.) and put them back for the next time or the next person.
5. Don’t be selfish. This includes any type of greed and possessiveness. Share and share alike. Remember the Golden Rule: to do unto others as you'd do unto oneself.
6. Play nicely. Be a good sport, demonstrate good showmanship, do your best, and give others the benefit of the doubt. Remember: you are the guest.
7. Take time to appreciate. Make a point to stop what you are doing and observe what is happening around you. Learn to appreciate the people and your environment. Develop respect for this opportunity; cherish the experience; savor the moment.
8. Treat this castle as if it was your own. Take pride in it and be as respectful as you would be in your own castle—if not more so.
9. Be generous. When cutting cake always offer the bigger slice to your guest or host.
10. Bow or curtsy in a graceful manner. When making closing salutations always pay proper respect to the Master of the House and express your sincerest gratitude. Expressions of gratitude are seldom forgotten.

Those that cannot follow these rules will be shown the catapult!

Happy Equinox,

The Ambassador of Goodwill

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Benefits of Reframing

When looking back on the events of our lives we often recall memories that carry an emotional charge. Feelings evoked from memories can be positive: happiness, joy and enthusiasm; but they can also be negative and bring back memories of pain, anger, and resentment. So how do we use memories to serve us rather than hurt us? We learn to reframe.

Often, our memories serve us well. Through the process of reminiscing, recall of positive memories can aid in healing depression or just lift our spirits! We can use positive memory triggers such as a pictures, songs, or old love letters to invoke feelings of happiness and contentment. By being in touch with our “sentimental side", we are able to invoke memories that bring us continued happiness and a feeling of well-being.

Our memories can also be sources of pain and turmoil. Negative feelings from memories are often a result of unresolved issues or unexpressed emotions associated with an event or person, and since these issues have not been resolved they carry a large burden of repressed emotions connected with them. These memories may be from childhood—a time when we were not mature enough to understand how to deal with event or circumstance—so the lack of maturity and insight may have caused us to feel like a victim, whether or not we actually were. By nature we conjured up the human “fight or flight” response, in which our bodies automatically protect themselves and moved into a state of denial. This denial only caused the associated feelings to be repressed in the mind and body where they will stay until eventually released... or not.

People spend millions of dollars each year to open old wounds and revisit painful memories trying to make sense of them. Many methods such as counseling, meditation, rebirthing, hypnosis, and traditional therapy seek to uncover the roots of repressed memories and apply present wisdom to help release and heal them. Whichever method(s) you choose it's important to release memories which have been repressed in the mind and body, for unexpressed emotions are the root of dis-ease.

Once we have released our repressed emotions we can learn to look at events in a new light through reframing. Reframing includes revisiting an event, remembering the words that were said and actions that took place, our reactions and thoughts playing through our minds at the time, and then remembering the conclusions we made based on our observations. With that knowledge we can check to see if we may have been hasty in our assumptions or conclusions. We are suddenly allowed to examine those assumptions and see if they're still valid. If they aren't, we can now change them. For example, we may often assume that we were at fault for the outcome of an event when we actually weren't at fault at all. By reframing the event with an enlightened (present) understanding, we can see the a clearer reality underlying the event the whole time.

Above all, reframing lets us learn how to accept. Acceptance is a critical step in personal evolution as it honors the relationship between you and the rest of the world. To learn how to accept events and people as they are will be a catalyst for your continued growth, and reframing will allow you to understand the memories of your life with an attitude of acceptance, appreciation and gratitude—no matter what events are or may have been.

This week, take the opportunity to think about where there are opportunities for reframing in your life. Could reframing help you to move beyond past pain and into present resolution? If so, perhaps it's time to release that pain, guilt, or shame. It's really your choice... you just need to start. Give it some thought.

Be Well,

The Ambassador of Goodwill