Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Art of Not Being Offended - Dr. Shemsi Prinzivalli

          [This is an outstanding post by Dr. Shemsi Prinzivalli that didn't lend itself to being shortened so, with her permission, I present it in its entirety for you today. The ideas are uplifting and applicable to all ages. I love being reminded that I create my own happiness. - A]


Dr. Prinzivalli
          There is an ancient and well-kept secret to happiness which the Great Ones have known for centuries. They rarely talk about it, but they use it all the time, and it is fundamental to good mental health. This secret is called The Fine Art of Not Being Offended. In order to truly be a master of this art, one must be able to see that every statement, action and reaction of another human being is the sum result of their total life experience to date. In other words, the majority of people in our world say and do what they do from their own set of fears, conclusions, defenses and attempts to survive.

         Most of it, even when aimed directly at us, has nothing to do with us. Usually, it has more to do with all the other times, and in particular the first few times, that this person experienced a similar situation, usually when they were young. Yes, this is psycho-dynamic. But let’s face it, we live in a world where psycho-dynamics are what make the world go around. An individual who wishes to live successfully in the world as a spiritual person really needs to understand that psychology is as spiritual as prayer. In fact, the word psychology literally means the study of the soul.

          All of that said, almost nothing is personal. Even with our closest loved ones, our beloved partners, our children and our friends. We are all swimming in the projections and filters of each other’s life experiences and often we are just the stand-ins, the chess pieces of life to which our loved ones have their own built-in reactions. This is not to dehumanize life or take away the intimacy from our relationships, but mainly for us to know that almost every time we get offended, we are actually just in a misunderstanding. A true embodiment of this idea actually allows for more intimacy and less suffering throughout all of our relationships. When we know that we are just the one who happens to be standing in the right place at the right psycho-dynamic time for someone to say or do what they are doing—we don’t have to take life personally. If it weren’t us, it would likely be someone else. This frees us to be a little more detached from the reactions of people around us. How often do we react to a statement of another by being offended rather than seeing that the other might actually be hurting? In fact, every time we get offended, it is actually an opportunity to extend kindness to one who may be suffering—even if they themselves do not appear that way on the surface.

          All anger, all acting out, all harshness, all criticism, is in truth a form of suffering. When we provide no Velcro for it to stick, something changes in the world. We do not even have to say a thing. In fact, it is usually better not to say a thing.

          People who are suffering on the inside, but not showing it on the outside, are usually not keen on someone pointing out to them that they are suffering. We do not have to be our loved one’s therapist. We need only understand the situation and move on. In the least, we ourselves experience less suffering and at best, we have a chance to make the world a better place.This is also not to be confused with allowing ourselves to be hurt, neglected or taken advantage of. True compassion does not allow harm to ourselves either. But when we know that nothing is personal, a magical thing happens. Many of the seeming abusers of the world start to leave our lives. Once we are conscious, so-called abuse can only happen if we believe what the other is saying. When we know nothing is personal, we also do not end up feeling abused. We can say, “Thank you for sharing,” and move on. We are not hooked by what another does or says, since we know it is not about us. When we know that our inherent worth is not determined by what another says, does or believes, we can take the world a little less seriously. And if necessary, we can just walk away without creating more misery for ourselves or having to convince the other person that we are good and worthy people.

          The great challenge of our world is to live a life of contentment regardless of what other people do, say, think or believe. The fine art of not being offended is one of the many skills for being a practical mystic. Though it may take a lifetime of practice, it is truly one of the best kept secrets for living a happy life.

Contact Dr. Prinzivalli at www.njcenterfortherapy.com212-316-5383
Originally published in her blog on September 13, 2011. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My Elder Crystal Ball

          Oh, how I’d love to have a crystal ball. I’d love to know how it all ends. I’d love to know that I probably should not wait to write that e-mail or make a long-postponed phone call. I’d love to know so I can hurry or slow down with the next book – either reading or writing it!

          Am I destined to live alone in the years ahead, or will my husband, who is eight years older, outlive me? Will I be sorting and discarding and moving into a smaller place at some point? As a woman without children or other family-of-origin members still living, I wonder what my future living situation will be.


Group Living
          When I worked on the 2010 Census, I surveyed group homes in our city and took a long look to see if I could visualize myself residing in one of those places. For the most part, the homes, which typically housed six to eight seniors, were comfortable and inviting. The residents, however, seemed pretty out of it. They were confined to wheelchairs or lying in bed; no one was reading or having a conversation. While this part of what I saw didn’t look very inviting, I tried not to put my mindset on them. They very well could have been quite content without experiencing what I think I would miss doing.

          Still, for those of us who are more active and stimulated mentally, the issue of isolation is a question. And, without knowing what our future needs will be, ideally I think it’s my job to plan for any eventuality. Then I stop there. I’m not sure how to begin the planning for my future living arrangements. Because I’m pretty proactive (some may say anal), I want to be prepared. But how?

          How do I look to life in the future and still stay firmly rooted in my life today? When I look to what might be, I feel curious at best and worried at the worst. Thank goodness for mindfulness that keeps me grounded in today.

Looking Ahead
          Living with an intense focus on the present and a curious look to the future will serve me best. I will continue to read articles about what other senior citizens are doing to live most comfortably in their remaining years. However, it will be with a sense of curiosity and not angst or commitment that I will take in the information.

          Because I can’t control life in the future (oh, but how I try!), letting go of what might show up in terms of living arrangements is my best course. If you’ve got ideas about what your living arrangements might be like, sure, let’s talk about them. But I won’t let a conversation begin to rule my actions for today. Today is for enjoying where I live right now.

Contact Antonia at antoniasseniormoments.com or 
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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

No You Can't!

          “You’re only limited by how many years you have on this earth.”  I overheard someone say this recently and it truly gob-smacked me. It shouldn’t have; it’s a very reasonable and logical statement.

          Have you ever heard something a million ways and then have it completely sink in the minute you hear it spoken slightly different? Well, this is how I felt when I realized the power of this simple statement.

          During my lifetime, not many of the limitations I've experienced were placed on me by someone else. Even when I state I’m going to do something completely outrageous, whomever I’m talking to just smiles. They never say, “Oh, no you can't!” I often listen to myself say – either out loud or in my head – I can’t do, create, feel, explain, be counted on, share or provide something because of a myriad of reasons. I am an expert at reasons why I can’t.


      Of course, there are “real” limits that we face in life. No matter how hard we try, waving our arms will not enable us to fly. But take a minute to think about the limitations you are currently facing in life, and evaluate how many of them are “real” limits, and how many are self-imposed.

          Limitations come out of voices….voices of our parents or teachers or others in authority saying we can’t. Limitations also come out of experience ....experiences of not succeeding. I failed once, I’ll fail again. Limitations can be enemies to your inner free spirit. Who would consciously choose to do that?

          A friend of mine says when she finds herself saying “I can’t,” she changes her thoughts to “I don’t know how to do this today, but, if I apply myself, I will learn.” Changing the mindset can make all the difference. Henry Ford once said that “If you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

          Are there areas of your life where you are limiting all that you can be?


P.S. I would be remiss if I didn’t include a sentence or two about positive limitations. These are the kind of limitations that include things like only accessing my e-mail once a day or limiting spending to things really needed or limiting exposure to negative people and things in life. Obviously, these are not the kind of limitations that undercut our diligence or our creativity or our desire to do the best for ourselves and others. 

Contact Antonia at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com or
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