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The Right Direction in 2020

Moving on.

Here are a few tips for resolving cognitive dissonance; this article suggests asking the following questions.

  • What are the two cognitions that aren’t fitting together?
  • What actions would I need to take to eliminate that dissonance?
  • Do I need to change any specific behaviors? Or do I need to change a mindset or belief?
  • How important is it for me to resolve the dissonance?

It seems that cognitive dissonance is quite similar to holy dissatisfaction, which I addressed in this post.

It has two abilities; it can put you in a place where you are stuck in the dark, or it can shine on that darkness, and give you a means to get into the light.

We get to choose.

So here I’ll do some inner work right out in the open.

Feel free to stick with me while I ruminate.

In my previous post, I listed three separate areas that are always on my mind, but somehow, there seems to be some cognitive dissonance going on.

  1. Helping people isn’t clear enough.

*What are the two cognitions that aren’t fitting together? My desire to help people vs. my desire to stay at home with my own thoughts is clearly at odds with each other.

*What actions would I need to take to eliminate that dissonance? I need to MAKE time for others and observe people better for places where they can use help.

*Do I need to change any specific behaviors? Or do I need to change a belief or a mindset? Be more discerning.

Sometimes helping people is not only physical, as in helping them clean out a closet, paint a room , or move across town.

Sometimes it is simply sitting quietly with them while they take time to grieve or to try to figure things out.

Discernment and timing are most important here.

The belief I need to change is that in many cases, I feel like folks can work it out themselves, why would they need my help?

When likely, they are too afraid to or shy to ask for it.

How many times do we say “I don’t want to bother you but….?”

They probably do too.

*How important is it for me to resolve the dissonance? Resolving this dissonance is imperative.                                                                                                                                

  • Just writing isn’t enough.

*What are the two cognitions that aren’t fitting together? It is said by many, that to be a writer, you must write.

Writers write. That’s what they do.

Every day; I need to write every day.  

Also, great writers read, a lot.

I go in cycles, even though I know that writing often, makes writing easier, and reading many different sources, whether you agree with what has been written, or not, causes your brain to be more creative, and more critical in its thinking, allows thoughts to flow more freely.

*What actions would I need to take to eliminate that dissonance? I have journals and documents full of junk.

Inside those tomes of junk though, there are jewels.

Lessons learned.

Grievances grieved.

Abundance of joy portrayed, even atrocities forgiven.

I need to take more time to excavate them, and share the most helpful parts.

*Do I need to change any specific behaviors? Or do I need to change a mindset or belief? I believe my mindset to be sound, but my behaviors can get out of sync.

I am very good when I have a schedule; I have a schedule.

When cognitive dissonance shows up, my schedules go out the window. Laziness or fogginess then prevails.

One thing I have found, is that just because you have a schedule, doesn’t mean it is forever.

Recognizing when it becomes obsolete is a big thing.

When this happens, I need not delay – but change it!

Changing it up is most helpful. How about doing that instead of binge watching something on TV?

*How important is it for me to resolve the dissonance? One of my mentors, Sharon, tells a story of her driving passed a graveyard once, and having to pull over to the side of the road because she was weeping so hard. (She is not a crier!)

She prayed and asked why she was having this response, and the answer she heard was that she was weeping for all the gifts and talents that were buried there in that grave yard that had never been realized.

Well I’m not much of a crier either, but if I had the the sense of going to my grave without sharing all that my experiences have taught me, well, that would make me cry too.                                               

  • Enjoying taking photos isn’t enough.

*What are the two cognitions that aren’t fitting together? I enjoy taking photos of natural things.

I love clouds, skies, sunrises, sunsets, rivers, and mountains. All of these have found their way into the view finder; on my phone.

I have a regular camera. I don’t know how to use it.

I’ve always been a watcher, so to speak, but when I started taking photos on my phone, I began to realize that I was looking are so much more than just clouds.

They are an expression of God’s love for me, and these things show me just how much he wants me to enjoy all that He has created.

These things show His power and His majesty.

*What actions would I need to take to eliminate that dissonance? I’ve printed out all the camera instructions so that they are easy to see.

Just like reading, I need to take the time to study the manual, and then actually do the work.

*Do I need to change any specific behaviors? Or do I need to change a mindset or belief? The biggest behavior is what I listed before, Schedule, rework that schedule. I need to schedule time for writing, schedule time for reading, schedule time for learning. 

Then stick with it! (Practice what I preach!)

*How important is it for me to resolve the dissonance? It will be the difference between being successful, or being stagnant.

The first part of 2019, I did really well in my journal.

For the second half of the year, my blog posts have been very regular, even if the topics were super varied. (Maybe that is better?) 

This morning I was able to read the article from magazine that inspired A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. (Movie with Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers)

(It seems like a rabbit trail, but stay with me) Growing up, Mr. Rogers was my hero, I dare say, even now.

He was perhaps my very first REAL friend.

I didn’t know it then, but perhaps Fred Rogers was a representation of Jesus to me then.

One who loved me no matter what. He “wanted to do things right, and whatever he did right, he wanted to repeat.”

Can You Say Hero? Tom Junod – Esquire Magazine – November 1998. In this article, it tells how Fred Rogers always had a schedule He kept it daily.

His ability to maintain that schedule; put him in a position to help multitudes of children, and adults; generations!  

Oh that I could represent my Jesus in such a way.

Thanks for hanging out with me while I processed just a little through the discrepancies that I see that hold me back.

Let 2020 be the year that we set ourselves free.

Free to help others and to do all that we are tasked to do before we’re done.

Mr. Rogers

Year End Ponderings

The last post of the year, and especially the new decade, should it seems, have at least a little weight to it.

Or maybe, a whole lot of levity.

I have neither.

Cognitive Dissonance keeps coming to my mind, perhaps because it is in this season that we recognize where we need change, and decide if we really want to do that or not.

(cog·ni·tive dis·so·nance nounPSYCHOLOGY-the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.)

Most times we begin out new day, week, month, year, decade with great gusto.

There are many things on our minds that seem like they can get us where we want to go; help us accomplish what we want to accomplish.

Problems arise I think, when we do not have a clear idea of the place we want to end up.

I am very guilty of such vaugery.

The vagueness of my thinking, has landed me in spaces of cognitive dissonance more than once.

Helping people, isn’t clear enough. 

Just writing isn’t enough.

Enjoying taking photos isn’t enough either.

 Do I do these things simply for enjoyment? If so, that’s OK.

But if I want to excel in any, or all of these areas; to minister to others or to make a bit of money, that’s OK too.

But then my actions must change to reflect that.

For many years I’ve found myself going in and out of the space of cognitive dissonance.

Making the decisions that go with helping people, writing words, or taking photos, are directly related to the amount of effort I am willing to put into them.

At decision time; I’m gung-ho.

Then after a bit, I fall into procrastination, in-attention, fatigue, or just plain laziness; this is where the cognitive dissonance comes in.

I become so disenchanted with my “work” that whatever ends I thought would come, seem to melt away.

Followed by guilt for not following through.

Cognitive dissonance – My actions fail to line up with my goals – enter guilt.

Such a cycle.

I know that it happens to you as well.

I have it on good authority it is a very human thing.

“Decisions are part of life. You have to make hundreds of decisions to get through each day. What you may not know is that decision making arouses dissonance as a general rule.” Understanding Cognitive Dissonance.

My general belief, is that the trauma that I lived through, whether intentionally, or unintentionally placed on me, has shown me how one can not only survive, but forgive, and thrive regardless of the past;

And so I write.

I write with the intention of helping others avoid some pit falls while on their way to healing.

I have always loved looking at the clouds, the trees, the rivers, and the sunsets.

The architecture of buildings, and the things that God has built for us to enjoy, have always been a way of escape;

and so I take photos.

What happens when these two things take place in my life?

I get to exchange the savagery of a past life, for the beauty of a creation that God has given me; a creation that enlightens my heart and overshadows any incoming grief.

It is a constant reminder that God is always there.

He shows Himself to me daily.

I need only look.

And share.

And that will be enough.

I want that to be enough; enough to help others out of the darkness that so tries to entangle them.

Since these are my core beliefs, I can tell when I’m veering away from them.

That cognitive dissonance begins to try and bring me down, and away from my purpose again and again.

I hate to leave you hanging, here at the end of 2019, but I need some more time to consider this position.

Perhaps you do to.

I’ll return on the first day of 2020.

Join me here please!

So we can encourage each other on how to make our 2020 just as productive as we possibly can.

So we can face the distraction of cognitive dissonance.

Together.

Quiet Spaces, or the Lack Thereof – Feeling Snarky

Yes you read it right. I’m feeling pretty snarky. No sense lying about it. So here it is. My snarky side, and by the end of this post, hopefully, some sort of a redress.

How many times do you find yourself in a spot that should be quiet, but the person who is in front of you feels the need to speak. Even when there is not one thing to say? You have no relationship. You do not desire a relationship. You cannot not maybe even remember their name. Uncomfortable. Awkward chit chat.

Being an introvert makes this even more uncomfortable. (More on that later) Trying to figure out answers to questions that are A. None of their business, or B. Answers when you don’t even know the answer yourself.

I have spoken with both my husband and my daughter about this. They are both the extroverts to my introvert. And guess what? They noticed it too!  It bothers them the same way! So it’s not really an introvert/extrovert thing. It must be  human being thing.

So after careful consideration, and much not small talk, here are some of my conclusions. Understand that these conclusions did not come over night, but are the results of many chosen conversations over years with people I wanted to talk to. I’ve even manged a couple of different conclusions while writing this post.

Firstly, As I’ve said previously, I believe people are afraid of what is in their head. (Even after so much work in this area, I’m still afraid sometimes too) Perhaps the soundtrack of their lives continuously tries to convince them of their unworthiness. Perhaps the sounds are so loud that they hear nothing else.

My own journey with quietude began with those voices. I heard them. Constantly. Then I read a scripture that said “My sheep hear my voice and they know me. The voice if another they will not follow”.

So who was that other voice? The one I would not follow? Scripture tells me it is the voice one who hates me, and will do anything to cause my demise.

I then found scripture that said that that one’s demise was certain. That he had already been defeated.

If that is the case, then why on earth am I still listening?

Habit. Just plain habit.

Plus the fact that it is so much easier to go with the flow, and not fight back against the noise.

I had to decide that a quiet thought life, a calmer spirit, and a mind that I could stand being alone with, were well worth the trouble. (While still not retreating to that quiet as a constant way out/excuse!)

I lunched with a friend recently, and admitted my snarky feelings about people, small talk, holidays, noise, all that. (Sometimes it just has to come out in a safe place!)

I’m slowly beginning to remember what I tell literally anyone who will listen; It’s all a choice! We get to choose how we feel, what we say, and how we fix our attitudes. Heck I just blogged about it Right here!

I am also beginning to wonder if I’ve been using my introversion as a convenient get away tactic. I may need to Review My Own Bubble; Yes I think it’s possible.

With a new year coming, no actually, a new decade (!) it could be a most perfect time to review and renew; you know, change things up!

As you can see from This post, this is not a new problem for me. It is ongoing; but I keep plugging away at it.

The idea is to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

My husband and I traveled across the country once, in an ice storm, with a heavy load, at 30 miles an hour. It was tedious, but we kept moving forward, one mile at a time, and eventually made it to our destination.

But I digress, kind of.

Many steps have been taken this year.

I’m using my introversion less, stepping out more, and learning much along the way.

Remembering that this year has been happy, sad, active, emotional, energetic and exhausting.

I need to give myself, and those around me a little more latitude, and a lot less snark.

If you can relate, or want to share a way that you are, or have begun to overcome an issue like this – Please feel free to comment – I will NOT consider it small talk!

Until later…

What's grabbing You?

Who are you quoting?

What thoughts are you having?

What life are you living?

“We go where we look” Tim McGraw

“If you build it, he will come.” Kevin Costner

“Inside of me there are two dogs. One is mean and evil and the other is good and they fight each other all the time. When asked which one wins I answer, the one I feed the most.” Sitting Bull

“If you feed them they will come” Bruce Martin – About church functions.

We’ve all heard these kinds of sayings.

Do we take them seriously?

Probably, but only for a moment.

Then our usual habits sneak back in, and we find ourselves doing the same things over and over again.

It takes some real tenacity to continue on the road to success; whatever you deem that success to be.

What I’m about to share with you is basically the same thing.

Whatever you give you time to, helps to create who you are.

So with the next two quotes, I’ll give you my personal recommendation.

These two ideas were placed in my head several years ago, (2008?) they grabbed me, and have had me ever since.

This is not to say that I get them right all of the time, but it is to say that I have found them tremendously helpful.

The person speaking was Graham Cooke.

First; “If you don’t like the thought you’re having, then have another thought.”

Second; “Opposition attaches itself to what you do not remove.”

So how does this removal work?

How can I do that?

By reinventing your walk in the Fruit of the Spirit.

People spend copious amounts of time trying to reinvent themselves, only to find themselves the same, or worse than they were before.

Only by REMOVING the old thoughts, can the new ones take over.

I refer you to the Holy Bible,  Galatians 5.

The whole chapter is enlightening, but I point you to verse 22-23 which says; But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Against such things there is no law; simply means you can’t go wrong!

This means to me that there is great power in these fruits.

So here’s the thing;

If in your life you are seeing the opposite; hatred, bitterness, anger, strife, jealousy,

(The list is long I suppose, and different for each of us.)

then I would encourage you to choose the “Fruit” that is opposite of your issue, and

“Have another thought”.

Look where you’re going.

Feed the right thing.

Build a place inside you where the “Fruit” can be attracted to and grow.

Feed the right things – and more will begin to appear in your mind and in your heart.

One last quote;

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet, and the books you read.” Charlie Tremendous Jones

I encourage you to choose your reading, your friends, and your thinking wisely.

It makes all the difference.

Until next time.

**http://Grit & Grace: Train the Mind, Train the Body, Own Your Life; by Tim McGraw

** Kevin Costner as Ray – Field of Dreams – 1989.

Review Your Bubble

Long ago (2016), I wrote a blog post all about living life in a bubble.

You can read it here;

https://significantencounters.com/2016/08/30/living-life-in-a-bubble/

Somewhere in there, was the thought about “Holy discontent”.

Has your discontent caused you to hide in that bubble?

Or has your discontent helped you to find a way out, and on to something new?

And about considering your bubble – Is it a comfy place? Or a prison?

Recognizing the difference is really important.

Here is where we need to be able to discern the difference between hiding,

and simply taking time away to understand where our contentment lies.

Don’t become stuck.

Don’t get too comfy.

Growth and discomfort – they seem to go hand in hand.

Learn from your discontent – it may push you further than you might think possible.

We tend to learn more when the storm is raging – if we don’t hide from it.

Let me encourage you, as I have had to encourage myself, to see your bubble for what it is.

Stay there for as long as is healthy, then,

Step out of it.

See what God has in store for you on the other side.

Too much of a good thing; Pit Falls, and Pit Bulls.

The most important part of a painful conversation is the conclusion that comes from it.

Allow me to briefly explain.

Recently I was told that I was no longer jovial, or fun; that I was different than I was before.

How that exchange came up, or the pain it caused me is not important. At least not here.

The most important parts of any conversation, are both perception, and and process.

Perception involves;

  • Who said it?
  • Why did they said it?
  • What did they really mean?
  • True motivation of the speaker. Period.

Process involves;

  • Is what they said true?
  • Do I need to take it literally?
  • If it’s false; how do I handle it?
  • If it’s true; how do I handle that?

Back Story

Through childhood trauma, and the passing of my mother in 2001, I spent much of my time recovering from a form of PTSD/depression.

God’s Word, the Holy Bible was instrumental as a foundation for my healing.

It taught me to seek out solitude, and gave me steps to begin changing my thought patterns , and learn to avoid the pitfalls of a too painful life.

Reading Susan Cain’s book, Quiet; The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, (https://amzn.to/33esZWt) gave me an inside look on the real me.

I found that enjoying being alone, was actually quite normal for some folks; and that for me it can actually be revitalizing.

Through reading her material, I was free of the guilt brought on by withdrawing, and began to embrace the quietness, and thus thrust my healing light years ahead of where I was.

Then about two years ago, we had to put our little Cairn Terrier to sleep.

He was to be our forever dog, and at age four, became to ill to be fixed.

I swore off ever having another dog.

The pain of his passing, brought back memories of the pain from my mom’s passing, and without my really noticing it – I was again enveloped in depression.

Withdrawing further and further into my own bubble, using my new knowledge of “Quietude” as an excuse.

Well, a mentor of mine says that even a GOOD thing carried to excess, can become a BAD thing; a burden.

So it was with solitude.

So back to present day, and that PERCEPTION thing;

  • Was what I was being told true? Probably yes.
  • Why did they say it? Most likely because now MY pain, was causing THEM pain.
  • What did they really mean? PLEASE figure this thing out so you can stop being so miserable.
  • True motivation? No matter how rough their comments came out, they really only have my best interest at heart.

So how about that PROCESS part?

The evening of that fight was difficult; my heart was dark with pain.

But the following morning, I got up and in solitude, prayed my favorite prayer of all; “God, please tell me the truth.”

  • Was what they said true? Unfortunately, yes. I had been increasingly sullen over the past several months.
  • Should I take their pleas literally? Yes of course. Even though I was not seeing any issues, they were; and it was causing them much inner turmoil.
  • Was it false? No. Since it was not false, it could not be ignored, unless of course change was not something I wanted. (To be clear – I NEVER want to cause someone pain!)
  • So is it true? Yes. Oh God. Tell me what to do. Tell me the truth, and help me to hear it.

Almost immediately, a random thought, of a random conversation with a random friend came to mind.

A conversation about her dog.

She lives alone, and has a large dog that not only keeps her company, but keeps her safe in her ever changing neighborhood.

I of course balked at this random idea, but as I considered her story (boy did she have some stories!) it became clear that perhaps a new dog may be helpful.

It would REQUIRE me to get out of my bubble a bit, and also keep me company.

Always a fan of the “bully breeds”, I began a search for Pit Bulls.

The day we went to see, and maybe pick up the one I wanted at a shelter a couple of towns away, he was sent away to a different home.

Sad, but no harm, no foul.

That night, a friend I’ve known for forty years, placed a video of a dog she knew of who needed to be re-homed – his owner was just too busy to care for him, and he was tied in the yard to a tree most of the time.

His owner was agreeable to us taking him off her hands.

We picked him up the very next day.

All of the problems we could have had with another dog or puppy, are non existent.

He is however making me get up, move about, and TALK.

I don’t know how it will all end, but I’m feeling a bit happier, a little lighter, and glad to have been able to help out a pup in need in the process.

So. All that to say this; Ask God to tell you the truth.

Listen even when it seems random.

He’s here to help.

Oh, and just a note, the pit bull I wanted? Through no fault of his own brought back to the shelter this a.m. Imagine that.

Enjoying his new digs.

See you next time!