I treat my friends well but sometimes I slip up and give unwanted advice or opinions. When I do, I promptly admit that I was wrong. It’s not a good idea to defend the error. Better to say, “I’m sorry,” than, “Well you do look fat in that dress.” I believe that’s called damage control.
I don’t suppose there is anyone on the planet who has not said something that hurt the feelings of a friend or relative at some time or other. Some people make a habit of saying rude or critical things to their loved ones. Most of us try to be pleasant but, even with the best of intentions, we make hurtful mistakes.
It is my intention to speak only love and I have spent years overcoming an earlier critical viewpoint. I was very critical of myself and others when I was younger, partly because I wanted to improve life. Like most people in our culture I was taught to seek out the problem and solve it.
Solving the problem is a nice scientific attitude that works when you are looking for a cure for some rare disease. It doesn’t work as well when you volunteer advice to a friend. Especially when that advice begins with the phrase, “Your problem is…” Or the much softer but equally insulting, “Have you ever considered?…”
Of course the fat girl has considered going on a diet. And she already knows that her problem is that she eats too many fattening foods. She wouldn’t be your friend if she were stupid.
We do have the capacity to learn from each other and advice can sometimes be helpful. However, unsolicited advice nearly always serves to make the other person feel worse. It can also make that person resent you.
Before I lost that hundred and fifteen pounds, a lot of well-meaning people who genuinely meant to be helpful, suggested myriad diet and exercise plans they thought I should try. I did not take their advice and I usually resented their words. I dropped a couple of people because of their persistent need to “fix” me.
I knew intellectually that they probably meant well but it felt as though they were telling me they were superior. I wanted to lose weight and I wasn’t ready to take the steps they outlined. I hated being fat and I resented them.
Weight isn’t the only issue that triggers unsolicited advice. Other subjects include, managing your spouse, raising your children, succeeding at work, making friends, dressing yourself, decorating your home, cooking your dinners, cleaning your house and praying to your God. That’s only the short list. It goes on and on.
Think long and hard before you give unsolicited advice. In general, wait until you are asked. Even then, it is good to be cautious because the person with the problem probably has a lot of emotional energy around the issue. Pointing out what is wrong with someone else or giving advice puts us in the “superior” role of judge or critic. Hurt feelings happen. Everyone feels bad, worse and/or sorry!
I have seen a lot of hurt feelings that happened despite good intentions. When we love someone, it is natural to want to help them. We believe we can do that when we see what is going wrong or when we have travelled the same road. I know it is difficult to watch people you love struggle with an issue and I am only saying that it is good to wait before you jump in to solve it. Remember that the love and trust you offer is genuine help all by itself. Your love may help the person you are concerned about open up and ask for help. Trust is powerful.
It is certainly true that people who have already overcome a particular problem can be very helpful to others. Witness the power of 12 Step meetings. But 12 Step meetings have strict rules about something they call crosstalk.
Crosstalk is a descriptive word for a common form of communication that doesn’t always work well in regular conversation and is forbidden in meetings. When people speak in a meeting others listen and they never argue or offer advice. The meeting is designed to be a safe space where people can say what they are feeling without fear of criticism or contradiction.
Crosstalk takes many forms and no matter how loving the motive, is apt to be interpreted as negative. For example, if I say, “I feel as though the world is a terrible place,” I don’t need to have that belief reinforced by anyone else agreeing with me.
Neither do I need for anyone to argue with me and say, “Oh, no, life is wonderful!” Nor do I want anyone to say, “You’d feel better if you ate healthier food”. While these responses may be intended to help, especially if I feel depressed, I probably will not hear them as helpful. On the other hand, I need to feel free to tell someone how I feel so I can begin to heal.
I’ve often thought it would be wonderful if we brought a little of that 12 Step philosophy on conversation into our ordinary lives. Good listeners ae rare even though we know that advice is intrusive rather than helpful. Criticism is almost never constructive and reinforcing negative feelings just makes things worse.
There are ways to respond to other people that are not crosstalk. One way is to listen and then say, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Or, “It’s too bad you are having a rough time. You deserve the best.”
I do believe in giving honest opinions and advice when people ask me directly. For instance, if someone asks me how I manage to be such a prolific writer, I tell them about the self-management skills I’ve learned. For example, I take my focus off the writing and make my goal about spending so much time at my computer.
I will also tell anyone who asks how I’ve lost the weight. All I do is count calories and keep under 1200 a day and I eat healthy food I like. It’s simple when you decide to do it.
I offer my life wisdom the same way I write this blog when I am asked, but I try not to preach to my friends and relatives. A lot of what I am suggesting today is really good manners in communication.
I used to teach communication skills as a part of my job as a public school English teacher. Kids needed to learn to listen and speak politely and to ask questions when they didn’t understand. I learned a lot when I spent all those years in the seventh grade. One of the most important things I learned was how true a famous quote from an anonymous genius is. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.
How are my communication skills?
Did I offer unwanted advice yesterday?
Do I need to tell anyone I was wrong?
Is this topic something I want to journal about?
MaryLou feels trapped in a low-paying job and asks for prayer treatment. As a part of my prayer, I say, “All things are possible with God. Since God is all powerful and present everywhere, everything is possible for MaryLou. God is Divine Givingness and Mary Lou’s new job is already present in the mind of God. I accept that her wonderful new job is here now. Thank you God.” Out of the corner of my eye, I see MaryLou smiling.
Unlike traditional prayer, Religious Science practitioners do not kneel and plead to God. We open our hearts and minds to accept whatever we are praying for. The key to effective prayer is that, “It is done to us as we believe”.
Our process of praying is based on the belief that everything comes from God and God is Love working through Law. When we envision, believe, and accept our desires, God (working as spiritual law) makes a way to bring them into being.
We “claim” rather than “plead”, and we often get marvelous results. The most important factor in how quickly we get those results depends on how and what we believe. If we believe it will be difficult, that will slow us down. So will hidden beliefs about being unworthy or unfit.
Not only must we envision but we must believe before we see the desired changes. We can deeply desire something without believing it is attainable. We can also believe it is attainable but that it requires struggle and hard work. That slows it down. Good prayer work can speed up the process.
Prayers do work very simply sometimes but you can’t just wish and make it so. You usually have to release old beliefs that stand in the way. We all have limiting beliefs. Try and convince a poor person that he can claim a fortune by thanking God in advance. Or tell a sick person that faith will make him well. These old beliefs can be like the burrs sticking in a hound dog’s ears after a romp in the woods.
Here’s another burry fact. Beliefs may be unknown as well as long-standing. Because they know how complicated the human mind can be, many students of Science of Mind begin to focus on uncovering the reason for the problem rather than envisioning and claiming the solution. They approach their prayer work as though they were Sherlock Holmes .
Sometimes it is better not to have too much information. Years ago our center had a visitor from a bigger, older church with a famous minister. The visitor asked me for prayer after the service. She was a 37 year old woman who desperately wanted to marry and have a child. According to her, she and her minister had prayed and counseled for years but neither could figure out exactly which hidden, frustrating belief was keeping her stuck.
We only had the one session so I didn’t know her well. That turned out to be a good thing because I wasn’t intrigued by her history. I guided her away from looking for clues and into describing her ideal marriage. The next week she met a young man on the tennis court in her local park. They dated for a short time and married. That greatly desired baby arrived before her 38th birthday party. Last time I heard, she had another child and a very happy life.
Some readers might think that was beginner’s luck. She insisted I knew a magic formula, but neither explanation is true. My advantage was probably because I didn’t have a history of failure, nor did I know much about her. It was not magic. It was spiritual law in action.
As a Religious Science minister, I have seen all sorts of results that might look like magic or miracles to outsiders. Spots on lungs showed up on an x-ray one month only to disappear the next. A “dying” man checked out of the hospital two days later. A woman climbed a flight of stairs two days after her double knee replacements.
The truth is very ordinary. We are connected to a Power For Good that is Love working through spiritual law. Since this power is unlimited, we are connected to unlimited power. That connection works better when we pray. When we pray we have a trained mind making conscious connections, that focus on the Infinite Power to achieve definite results.
This is the month to enroll in Science of Mind classes to train your mind to pray more effectively. You can learn how to do positive prayer work in a local Center For Positive Living or take classes online. You can even begin by reading. My book, Science of Mind Skills covers the basic ideas. Anyone can train his or her mind to achieve powerful things.
Today, I’ve written a snapshot of how affirmative prayer works. But it is only a snapshot. There are many sayings that offer shorthand descriptions. One phrase you hear in every Science of Mind Center is “Change your thinking and change your life.” Another way to explain the process is to say, God mirrors our beliefs.
I’ve see so many dreams come true in my 23 years in the ministry. I’ve seen amazing successes for people in every area of their lives. These ranged from finding a job as a substitute teacher to building a huge business depending on the goals of the person involved. For the Creative Power of the Universe, one success was as easy as the other because God can do anything.
I’ve seen dying bodies healed, dying relationships recovered, money earned, a million won, grade averages raised and homes refinanced. You name it, you envision it and prayer can accomplish it. God is simply unlimited and says yes.
I was a true believer long before I became a minister. I built my own very successful writing career (80 teen books as Jane Claypool Miner & Veronica Ladd) when I was a beginning SOM student. I saw prayer work like magic because I wrote unsuccessfully for ten years and then I started to pray. What was an impossible goal all those years became as easy as pie. I achieves “overnight success”!
I didn’t go down on my knees and beg. Instead. I spent my time and energy opening up a new level of acceptance. SOM practitioners know that God is the Creative Energy of the Universe and can create anything we can envision, believe and embody in consciousness.
The trick is to find ways to accept more and there are lots and lots of ways to do that. Increasing our level of acceptance is the true purpose of classes. Whether it is a basic Science of Mind class that teaches how God works through spiritual laws or a background class on Emerson and the Transcendentalists, the aim of the teacher is to help students open up to more good in their lives.
Do I know how to pray?
Do I want to take a class?
Do I want to read a book?
What more do I desire in life?
What do I believe about that desire?
Some people in New Thought set their intention for the day every morning. I do a version of that by writing, “Another day to be glad in” and I list ten things I am grateful for. Beyond gladness, my intention is sometimes fuzzy. I can struggle with choice when it comes to making plans for my day.
Since I’m semi-retired, I sometimes have a bit of a challenge deciding what to do. I have plenty of great choices but they’re not usually urgent. While that’s good news it also can be the bad news.
I’m working on several projects but I have no regular job so, with the exception of my commitment to ministerial class, everything else is choice. Hard to believe that freedom of choice can be a problem, isn’t it?
That freedom sounded wonderful in the days when I was up at the crack of dawn to teach English five days a week. Although I had more choice over managing time when I was selling real estate, or writing for teens, or running the church, my urgent to-do list was generally packed.
Now I have a flexible – vaguely normal schedule that includes prayer, meditation, prayer partners, writing and research, errands, art activities, social phone calls and social activities. There are also the necessary but still pretty flexible errands, household chores, exercise.
Usually, I know what I plan to do on a particular day but some days, I do my early morning stuff and then I am in a quandary. Quandary is one of those words like yonder. It exists but nobody knows where it is.
Shall I take a drive to the ocean? Call a friend? Work on my new book? Watch a movie? Write in my journal? Draw and paint? Usually, I make a quick choice and celebrate with gratitude that I have the health, wealth and time to enjoy life. Those are the good news days.
Other days I have to climb out of my quandary before I can do anything. That’s usually when what I really desire is to read one of my historical novels. The trouble with that choice is that I always feel that reading fiction is a bit sinful, like eating chocolate or staying in bed till noon.
Old habits die hard. I learned to feel guilty about that choice because when I was a child I was a compulsive reader. I simply went into the book and stayed until it was over. I am still determined to finish when I start a novel. When I read Gone With the Wind, I become Scarlet. And what’s more, I love being Scarlet.
During my full-time ministerial career, I didn’t read very much fiction. I would gleefully take six or seven paperbacks in my suitcase when I was going to conferences but that was like a vacation. Usually, I taught classes nearly every evening and worked in the church during in the daytime. I really didn’t have much spare time.
When I stepped down from being a pastor, I delighted in my return to fiction. I am now enjoying my novels a great deal. It is one of the gifts of growing older and I’ve learned to appreciate books even more as the movies and television seem aimed at twenty year olds.
However, old habits die hard. This morning, I wanted to finish the book I started last night but I chose to start writing this blog instead. If not today, it would be tomorrow. Since then, I’ve taken two phone calls and spent two hours on errands.
Those things needed to be done and I thought today was a good day to do them. I take full responsibility. I wanted to talk on the telephone to people I love. The errands were better done today because heads into the weekend. My choices were mine and they seemed sensible.
The important thing is that I know that I am not a victim. I don’t feel sorry for myself. If I had chosen to read all day, I still would not have felt guilty. It is my day and my choices!, Whatever choices they are, I claim them. I am so grateful to Science of Mind for showing me that I have free will and can exercise it every day of my life. I am so grateful to know how free I am.
In college, I heard about an experiment with rats that proved that two positive choices created as much stress as two negative choices. That fact haunted me and it seemed better not be offered too much. Then Science of Mind helped me figure out that it was my inability to deal with choices that was haunting.
I am not a rat! I can handle two positive choices! I do it all the time.
There was a time when I would get stuck in decisions over what to do and feel absolutely trapped. I felt as though I was at the mercy of life, whether it came in the form of chocolate or a new novel. Feeling trapped led me to experience guilt or feel sorry for myself. I am so glad that’s healed because I don’t need negative emotions.
Today, I celebrated my choice by delaying my reading until I wrote the blog. I also delayed my blog writing long enough to do the errands and phone calls. I’m happy with every choice I made. It’s a wonderful feeling to be happy instead of guilty, mistreated or frustrated. I will read this evening.
Won’t you join with me in knowing that we always have choices? Even if something happens that is outside our control, we can choose our responses. While it is true that we can’t do everything we want, all at one time, it is also true that we can decide what to do first.
This has been a great day. I celebrate the wisdom and the power of my experiences. I celebrate the fact that I don’t have any reason to feel like a victim. I celebrate that I know what I know.
Do good choices confuse or stress you?
How do you decide what to do first?
Do you feel comfortable with your choices today?
What would you like to choose for tomorrow?
“I want you to pray for my son to stop drinking,” my client says. She is so sure I can work my magic and straighten out her son. Although she’s spent a lot of years attempting that and failed, she thinks it should be easy for me. My response is, “I can’t pray for someone to change his behavior unless he requests it.”
We can all identify with this mother because we’ve probably been in the same tough spot. We know prayer works. We see someone we love struggling with drugs, relationships or debt and we see that his current choices are not working. What could be simpler than praying for him to make new choices?
As the observer, we can see clearly that our loved one is making self-destructive choices. On one level, it makes sense to pray for someone to stop smoking or drinking or arguing with his boss. We worry about our loved ones because we love them. What’s wrong with that?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help our nearest and dearest but life doesn’t work that way. We each must take charge of our own lives. If you look back at your own accomplishments, you’ll understand this better. Would it have been the same if someone simply handed you the solution? Of course not.
Our challenges do bring opportunities and we all have God-given intelligence to help us. It is tragic when a well-meaning person steals another person’s power by dictating choices. That is one reason why practitioners are prohibited from using prayer to change people’s behavior unless they request it. It is only one of the many reasons.
Most practitioners who encountered a client like the mother in my opening anecdote would respond by acknowledging the mother’s love. Then the practitioner would gently lead the mother to rephrasing her request so that, instead of outlining behavior for another person, we simply pray for the highest and best for her son. Most would also pray for the Mom to accept greater clarity and peace of mind for herself.
Whether or not we are practitioners, there are good reasons for anyone to avoid attempting prayer as a means of controlling other people’s behavior. However, it is very difficult to watch our loved ones struggle when answers seem so clear.
We are not completely helpless when dealing with the destructive behavior patterns of others. We always have some point of control. The mother’s behavior may be an influence on her son and she has control of that.
Let me cite another example of my point about where control might exist. I may think Aunt Mabel needs to stop gambling but is really not my decision. However, I can stop loaning my dear Auntie money. I may also stop hosting Saturday night family poker parties. I may also refuse to drive her to the Casino.
Generally, people with addictions will try to involve their loved ones. There is a name for the person who gives an alcoholic money to buy booze; she is called an “enabler”. If she is serious, the enabler can always change her behavior and that may impact the addict’s behavior.
The cook who bakes that special cookie recipe for Cousin Charlotte and then talks about how fat she is, is either not sincere or very confused. At best, that cook is enabling Charlotte to eat wrong. It isn’t really loving as people think to offer a fat person that “especially for you” dish. As a person who struggled to lose my 115 pounds, I can assure you that dieting is consistently sabotaged by friends and relatives.
Before you criticize anyone’s self-destructive behavior, it is good to look at the ways you are supporting those self-destructive patterns. Even if your intention is to be loving, you may be enabling.
If you really want to help someone make new choices, there are some things you can do. You can stop criticizing and you can also stop enabling. You can also do some non-directive prayer work for others. As long as you are not trying to impose your will on your loved one, I believe you will be within the limits of spiritual protocol.
Here are two simple, non-invasive prayers which I have used effectively for situations. The first one is all about releasing relationships that no longer work. Dr. Carol Carnes, helped me with this many years ago and I will always be grateful. I was in a mostly-negative relationship for eleven years. When I consulted Dr. Carol, I’d already moved 3000 miles away but I was still constantly thinking about Mr. X.
Negative relationships can become habitual and create a kind of recurring, sticky unhappiness. I was actually mourning my dream and I felt as though I had no control over my emotions. My regrets included anger, grief, and a sense of loss. I wanted to move on but didn’t know how.
Dr. Carol was a beginning practitioner then but she was already very wise. She told me to say, “I release Mr. X to his highest good” every time I thought about him.
I did that for a few weeks and soon, I truly was able to let go of him and my broken dreams. By praying for his highest good, I achieved true release. It helped me and it could only bring him good.
I have taught others that same simple prayer and seen it work for them. The prayer creates forward movement and release of your negative emotions as you also release the person. I believe it works so well because you are actually praying for their best, not allowing your static emotions swelter and stew.
It’s so easy. Just say, “I release Charlie (or Suzi or Elmer) to his highest and best good.” Say this every time you think about this person and you will find that you really are able to move on quickly.
I have also used this next prayer many times. I have frequently recommended it to other frustrated parents and grandparents. I use it when I feel helpless and the person refuses my offers for help and ignores my advice.
With this prayer, you get to continue the loving relationship without interfering while the prayer protects your loved one.
It is also very simple. Every time you begin to worry about your loved one, say, “The Love of God surrounds Elmer (or Suzi or Charlie), the Light of God infuses him and the wisdom of God guides him every step of the way.”
I love this prayer because it guides, protects and loves without pushing people into a particular behavior they are not ready to embrace.
Relationships are tricky. You must love others in order to have a full and rewarding life. You cannot always escape pain and you cannot live another person’s life for him or her. Like I say, it’s tricky.
When we know that God is an ever-present help in our life and in the life of our loved one, things can get better fast. While we must each take responsibility for our own choices, love does support us in wonderful ways. There have been many times when people’s prayers have helped me open up to the next step in my own spiritual journey. Your prayers can also help others as well as benefit yourself.
Am I enabling anyone now?
Is there any behavior I want to change?
Is there anyone I want to pray for?
I am reading the CSL minister’s list, where we share our questions, ideas and opinions with each other, every day. Some genius suggested that we spend this week praising our teachers. The site is now jammed with expressions of gratitude. As I read the shared thoughts, I am delighted my fellow ministers express such heartfelt and humble gratitude. Apparently, we are all aware that we stand on the shoulders of giants.
I have had plenty of jobs in my lifetime and most of the people I worked with, (including the ones in helping professions) spent a lot of time grumbling about their colleagues, their pay, and their chores. Some even brought their home troubles to the water cooler. Like most people on the Planet Earth, they couldn’t appreciate that their glass was at least half full.
My colleagues in Religious Science recognize that their glass is running over with joy, wisdom and love. They also know that expressing gratitude keeps that joy, wisdom and love chronically bubbling up and over.
Even though it is a part of our religion, I was pleased by how generously my CSL ministers rushed to praise their teachers. Many of them expanded their lists to include the teachers of their teachers. Some colleagues also praised their fellow ministerial students. A few even praised their own students! Others went back into history to thank Ernest Holmes and RW Emerson.
It is true that we can pick up a lot of wisdom from friends, fellow students, and media personalities such as Wayne Dyer or Oprah. Books can also be powerful influences but there is nothing like direct contact with a true teacher.
I wish everyone would enroll in a Science of Mind class this month. Basic classes are offered in individual Centers For Positive Living all over this nation, and Canada; they usually begin in September.
These classes are priceless because they offer direct contact with teachers who have spent years learning a useful spiritual teaching. Classes teach us how to direct and choose our experiences. We discover more freedom and more choice. They give people a chance to establish relationships that go beyond listening to Sunday talks and enjoying pot lucks.
Like my colleagues, I have a long list of teachers that I am grateful for. Dr. Frank Richelieu’s enthusiasm gave me hope even though I could not commit in those early days. I was still too self-involved to reach out but I knew he was there. I carried a treatment he wrote for five years in Mexico and even read it from time to time.
Once sober, my first classroom teacher, Rev. Valerie Seyffert helped me put the 12 Step program and Science of Mind together. The word surrender still represents a very complex idea for recovering alcoholics who are in Science of Mind studies. Rev. Valerie had the personal understanding that help me through that semantic maze.
I will always be grateful to my teacher, Dr. Nancy Anderson, because she was a visionary with courage. She was also very skilled at answering questions and I had plenty of them. She walked me through third and fourth years, one “yes but” at a time.
I want to repeat… I believe that everyone should sign up for a Science of Mind class this week. You can find them by checking out the Center For Positive Living website. If you are unable to study with a group, there are online classes.
Whether you are in a position to take Science of Mind classes or not, you are certainly able to play follow the leader and focus on gratitude. Why not take a few minutes to remember some of the people who helped you by pointing out a new path?
I hope you remember all your wisdom teachers, in and out of school. For example, I had a gym teacher when I was 17, who said, “Jane, don’t tell me you are bored. Intelligent people are never bored.” Her wisdom statement has guided me all my life. There is always a new project, a new book or a new person to enjoy.
As you go over your personal list, see if there are any people you want to call or write to thank them for their help. Believe me, a thank you note from out of the past can be a true gift. Why not make it a practice to express gratitude to one or two people each day?
Even if you cannot thank people in person, it is good to remember the gifts you received. Over the years, I have heard much about releasing resentments by writing a letter to the bad guy and then setting the letter on fire to release your bad feelings. Why not try a reverse process? If we can release bad feelings, we can also hold onto and embrace good feelings.
I met a woman whose Master’s Thesis in psychology was called Teachers. She wrote about all the people in her life who had taught her the things that enabled her to be the person she was. I remember reading a bit of it and thinking it was a sweet activity.
Wouldn’t that be a great project? Why not write a letter of gratitude to each of the good guys and paste them in your scrap book? You can have fun looking at the best things in your life and, at the same time, you will be telling the Universe that you accept and bless those experiences. Surely, the Law of Attraction will kick in and your life will be even better. Gratitude is my best magic trick.
It is wonderful to be in association with grateful colleagues. They are all on my gratitude list for today.
Additionally, all my blog readers are also on that list. I count each of you as a blessing and I hope you will appreciate this post enough to pass it along to friends.
Thanks for that. Also, won’t you send me a comment if this post sparks memories or gratitude ideas for you? Thanks in advance.
Where do I sign up for a class?
Who are the teachers I am grateful for?
Do I want to call or write to any today?
Do I like the idea of a scrapbook of a gratitude scrapbook of stories?
Would I like to start it today?