Filed under: disability, Health, NLP, personal development, Politics, Religion | Tags: beliefs, dental hygiene, old age, pensions, programming
There was once a very old woman who had only one tooth in her very old head. When she smiled she upset people. Her family tried to persuade her to have the tooth removed and have dentures fitted, but she refused. She always protested that when a body lost all its teeth it knew it was time to die and so, even though she had only one, she was going to keep her tooth. Inevitably the day came when the old woman’s last remaining old tooth fell from her old head. She stopped eating and died within the week.
Had she not believed that losing all her teeth indicated it was time to die, would she have lived? Is it true that the body is genetically programmed to die when all its teeth are gone? Is it natural to live with dentures and do they disturb the natural order? Does any of this matter?
What if it were true that the body is genetically programmed to die when its teeth are all gone? Some people begrudge the time they spend on brushing their teeth in the morning and at night. Four minutes lost from a busy day, four minutes they would not begrudge their television or mobile phone. Why begrudge their teeth? Whatever the truth of it I prefer to call my time brushing teeth not a waste, but rather, an investment in longevity. (I’ll look a bit silly if I get run over by a bus this afternoon, but at least my teeth and underpants will be clean….Underpants? That’s another story)
We all have beliefs about old age, many of them founded on arbitrary factors like legal retirement ages and the longevity of our forbears, perhaps even losing our teeth. What do you believe about growing old, and will die when you believe you should or when you choose to? At least I’m not going to let my teeth decide for me.
Filed under: disability, food, Health, Justice, Politics, Religion, success, Writing | Tags: benefits, Bible, Christianity, Exodus, foodbanks, government, Jesus, Matthew, NHS, Parliament, Prime Minister, Proverbs, refugees, St Paul
Today, as I will everyday this year, I read my Bible. The Old Testament still does not endear itself to me. I wonder whether there can ever be peace in the Middle East when one of the main religions in the area has such an inauspicious foundation. I am only in Exodus, but so far it’s all been propagating dishonesty, adultery, slavery and violence, the first instituted holy day is a celebration of the slaughter of Egyptian children. One can only hope things improve in later books!
Today’s New Testament reading on the other hand was magnificent and so relevant to our country today. I do like Matthew Chapter Twenty Five largely for its condemnation of modern Christian values. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Away from me, you that are under God’s curse! Away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels! I was hungry but you would not feed me, thirsty but you would not give me a drink; I was a stranger but you would not welcome me in your homes, naked but you would not clothe me; I was sick and in prison but you would not take care of me.’”…. “’I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me.’” (Mt. 25: 41 – 43, 45. Good News Bible)
When I read this in the context of a Britain that wants to turn away refugees and migrants rather than welcome them, I wonder how many of Britain’s self professed Christians like the Prime Minister actually have any regard for the teachings of the man they consider to be God. It’s all very well going to church to pray and sing hymns, but what about the instructions their holy book gives them? How can anyone claim to follow Jesus when they force people to starve or rely on food-banks? We are not talking here only about the unemployed, but about those with jobs. Whatever happened to ‘The worker is worth his keep.’? If a worker’s wages cannot feed his family, surely that is an affront to the teaching of Jesus and of St. Paul who repeated the saying in his letter to Timothy.
The repetition of the teaching by Paul suggests it is a fundamental Christian value, but sadly one ignored by the Government of the United Kingdom. It may be argued that the fault lies with greedy and dishonest employers more intent on profit than justice. However the government has a duty to ensure that people are justly treated. I hardly need to relate the government’s failure to properly support the National Health Service to Jesus’ condemnation of those who fail to care for the sick, nor shall I comment on the privatisation of prison services so they are run for profit and not for society. Who is condemned by Jesus in Matthew 25? All of us, our responsibilities are collective and if we allow people to be abused, to go hungry and homeless then we are as much to blame as anyone as long as we allow it. I am quite glad I don’t believe in heaven and hell, but those who do have real cause for concern.
Even the day’s selection from the Book of Proverbs condemns our society; ‘To honour the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance evil ways and false words.’ (Proverbs 8:13). Perhaps our legislators should take the proverb to heart, particularly on Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Filed under: disability, Health, NLP, personal development | Tags: dislocation, joints, pain, pain killers, sciatica
And so once again I find myself struggling to write my blog. Again my body is in rebellion. I thought it was bad enough having back pain, now diagnosed as sciatica, without spraining my ankle (last week). To add injury to insult to injury my left shoulder dislocated itself last night. It relocated itself almost immediately, however it is somewhat less than comfortable.
I am reminded that (as someone once said) ‘pain is inevitable, suffering is optional’. I choose not to suffer. As to the pain I observe it with fascination. I shall overcome it with the power of my mind, but not today. Today I’ll use painkillers and Voltarol. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll use the power of my mind. On the other hand….
Filed under: asperger's syndrome, disability, Health, NLP, Parenting, personal development, Poetry, Religion, success | Tags: choice, Civil Partnership, commitment, Corinthians, emotions, feelings, love, marriage, sex, St Paul
Love as I see her.
I think that one of the tragedies of many people’s lives is that they fail to realise that Love is a choice. People tend to associate love with feelings and when the feelings they associate with being in love fade they believe love has died and move on. Their relationship ends and they go looking for someone else who can make them feel warm and fuzzy.
Feelings are incidental to love, certainly they are symptomatic of it but they should not be confused with it. I feel sorry for atheists because most of them are utterly incapable of love as people believe it to be. When reality is reduced to the physical and all that cannot be quantified and empirically demonstrated is rejected then where is the place for something as illogical as love?
In fact everyone is capable of Love because love is a choice and love for another is a committed choice. Love does actually not depend upon an object for its existence. For love to be present it only requires that we choose it. Human emotions and feelings are nothing more than a boiling stew of chemicals triggering thoughts and sensations in the brain. Some people’s love is insubstantial enough to be destroyed by indigestion, but for many it endures the most terrible challenges and continues regardless of how people feel.
I call love ‘a committed choice’ some might call it a ‘stand’. It is a choice that transcends our feelings. It is a choice that we make regardless of the feelings of the other person and ultimately independently of any relationship we may or may not have with them. Our love is something we create within ourselves and experience within ourselves, as is our experience of another’s love for us. Love is not a matter of feeling but of who we choose to be. When in love we choose to love someone else, that choice does not depend upon anything they may do or how we may feel at any moment. Love is a choice that carries us through difficulties because we choose to believe that the person is worth it. However badly they may behave, we choose to believe they are better than their behaviour. We choose to Love because it is a choice to manifest our highest nature. When we love we are most truly ourselves free from mundane and selfish considerations.
Of all our continual choices Love is perhaps the most important. Some relationships ̶ particularly marriages and Civil Partnerships ̶ are commitments for life based on choosing to love someone else over and over again. This means choosing to forgive and to love, choosing to love regardless of how you are feeling, choosing to love even in the depths of man-flu. Elsewhere we have talked about choices being given by focussing on what we love, this is especially true in relationships. The choice to love someone is not a ‘one off’, but is kept alive when we keep returning our focus to that love we chose.
Sometimes we do choose to be in temporary relationships, to ‘go out with someone’ or whatever. There is nothing wrong with a temporary relationship as long as we realise it as such and don’t confuse it with love. A misapprehension of love in a relationship that ends leads to feelings of betrayal and guilt and all the other nonsense that prevents people getting on with their lives. There is nothing wrong with a relationship based on mutual interest, affection, a need for company a clearly defined relationship is valid in itself. There may be a point when a temporary relationship becomes more. However a temporary relationship based on warm fuzzy feelings ̶ even if the sex is great ̶ should not be confused with the love required for a lifelong commitment. Having a good time is worthwhile in itself, but a long-term relationship requires a determination to transcend circumstances and the only way to transcend circumstances is responsible and committed choice. We alone are the source of our love and regardless of what may happen we can choose to keep that love alive and if it dies it probably wasn’t love.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (Paul of Tarsus)
Filed under: asperger's syndrome, autism, disability, Health, NLP, personal development, Politics, Religion, success | Tags: Arnica, atheism, belief, choice, Darren Eden, religion, The Transformation, theism
I pulled out the plug and as I watched the water draining from my Arnica bath I was struck by a reluctance to get up and get out. I examined my reluctance to stand and realised that I believed that standing would cause me to experience discomfort in my joints. However I had had an Arnica bath because I believed that the Arnica would ease the discomfort in my joints and allow me to get on with life.
There was I sitting in a draining bath prey to two opposing beliefs. It was certain that I could hardly remain in the bath. How was I to choose between my two opposing beliefs? Did I choose one belief over another? No, instead of either ̶ or any ̶ belief, I chose to stand up and get out and to experience whatever I experienced. This may be a trivial example, however it illustrates a real truth that we allow our beliefs to determine our actions. In the model used in Darren Eden’s ‘The Transformation’ he identifies twelve negative core beliefs which effectively categorise most of the negative beliefs we may have which impede our freedom to choose and act on our choices. In the end it doesn’t matter how many beliefs there may be or what models you may follow, what matters is the beliefs you choose to use.
Many people are not aware that they choose the beliefs that run their lives. Every belief we have we have chosen to believe. The proselytising religions are very aware of this, were it not so how could they ever persuade anyone to convert from one religion to another? Some choose to believe in a god or gods, some to choose to believe there is no god, but atheism is every bit as much a belief as theism. Both the religious and the atheist will claim to base their belief on evidence, however each discounts the evidence of the other. When examined, the only reason that the religious and the atheist reject each other’s beliefs is that they choose to believe differently and interpret their evidence through the filter of their beliefs.
In reality we all depend on beliefs. We open a door because we believe there is something on the other side. We pay our taxes because we believe we will benefit from it or that we will suffer should we not. We stand at bus stops because we believe a bus will come. We don’t consciously choose our beliefs most of the time, but choose them we do.
Most of our beliefs are based on past experience and upon evidence. The Rail Time table says that there will be a train at 07:00; yesterday and the day before we caught a train at about 07:00 therefore we believe today we will get a train at 07:00. It is a reasonable belief and based on evidence, however it only takes the wrong sort of leaves on the lines to invalidate it ̶ for one morning at least.
A lot of our beliefs are not really ours but are instilled in us by others and circumstances. When the train fails to arrive several days in a row we quickly come to an expressed belief that, “The Seven o’Clock never comes on time.” When a child’s parents or teachers have told him often enough that he is a slow learner he will learn to have learning difficulties. We tend to filter our experiences to find evidence to support our negative beliefs. In reality there is no reason why we should not filter for evidence to support positive beliefs except that we are unaware that we can choose our beliefs. If instead of negative beliefs like: ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I don’t deserve…’, ‘people like us can’t…’ we had been conditioned with beliefs like: ‘You can do whatever you put your mind to’, ‘you are very clever’, ‘you are creative’ we would find evidence to support them. In truth most of us are exposed to both negative and positive conditioning. Until we choose to act as we choose regardless of beliefs we will be left sitting in a draining bath getting cold. That we can act regardless of our beliefs is also a belief, but a good one to choose.
Filed under: asperger's syndrome, disability, Health, NLP, personal development, Politics, Scotland, Writing | Tags: Admiral Bar, at cause, Bridge of Spies, choice, injury, James B. Donovan, Mark Rylance, Rudolf Abel, sovereignty, Tom Hanks
I am sitting at my computer dosed with pain killers, my left ankle, knee and elbow strapped up and my eyebrow grazed. I fell on my way home from the pub quiz in Glasgow’s Admiral Bar ̶ and no, I was not drunk. Did I choose for this to happen? Well it’s what I got. So what did I choose? I chose to take a lift home rather than the bus and hence I chose to walk in the opposite direction from usual. I chose not to look down at the ground as I walked over unfamiliar pavement even though I know that Glasgow City Council has a bad record of not maintaining roads and pavements. Had I watched where I was putting my feet I might have avoided the hole in the pavement and not fallen. I did not want to fall, I did not intend to fall, you could say I did not choose to fall, however the choices I made led to me falling. I made the choices I made and I am responsible.
Being responsible, having fallen, I choose not to go into victim mode. In victim mode I could blame the council for my fall, when I am responsible I can accept that they may have failed to maintain the pavement, that does not mean they are to blame for my fall and why should I surrender my responsibility and power to them? Besides where does the blame stop? With the council or with the government that imposes austerity cuts on the country? With the government, or with the economic system that contains the belief that the cuts are necessary. It doesn’t matter how much blame I place outside myself it makes no difference to me. I cannot but remember Mark Rylance’s portrayal of the Soviet spy Colonel Rudof Abel in the film ‘Bridge of Spies’. Abel remained calm and unemotional no matter what happened, when his lawyer asked him whether he was worried Abel responded, “Would it help?” It never helps to allow one’s emotions to be determined by outside forces even when one’s circumstances are not entirely under one’s own control.
There is an exercise called What am I Choosing? In which a person examines their feelings and circumstances and deliberately chooses them so that they become responsible for what is happening to them and how they experience those events. In responsibility I chose this morning not to remain in bed, but to strap up my various damaged joints and attend an appointment I had in my schedule. Fortunately I am equipped with ankle braces and knee braces and various other braces and strapping because I choose not to allow joint problems to stop me doing what I choose. Had my injuries been serious enough to keep me in bed then I would have responsibly chosen to remain in bed, I chose not to and it was the right choice. Had it been the wrong choice and had it made me worse then I alone would have been responsible.
I am very aware of my injuries at the moment, but I am choosing to not define the sensations, although intense, as ‘pain’. I find it more empowering to be aware of the specific sensations without adding any value judgement to them. When I find it impossible to detach from the discomfort enough to remain analytical, I shall probably choose to take another painkiller, perhaps I may take an arnica bath or even attempt some self hypnosis. Whatever I choose it will not be an uncontrolled reaction but a deliberate choice arising from being at cause.
Rudolf Abel was able to remain in control ̶ at cause ̶ even in gaol. In the film his lawyer ̶ James B, Donovan played by Tom Hanks ̶ also demonstrates the power to remain at cause. In his hostage negotiations he held to his stand to free not only the American spy Francis Gary Powers but also the innocent student Frederic Pryor regardless of the pressure to sacrifice the student. No matter what obstacles and pressures were applied to him he remained focused on his Primary Choice. Donovan remained at cause
When a person is at cause however limiting their circumstances may be and however restricted their options, their choice remains free. Even were that choice to lead to their death they choose without constraint. Who they are being transcends the circumstances in which they find themselves.