Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On Being Good

Have you ever noticed how obsessed we are with the concept of good? We use the word all the time, we greet people with a "good morning" and end the conversation with "have a good day" or "goodbye". We tell our babies how good they are, or the dog how good he’s been after doing his business outside.

Goodness naturally spills into righteousness. Doing good work becomes doing the right thing. Being responsible is a good thing. We want our children to be good and work hard and be responsible adults. It’s all about being good.

Does anyone teach their children to do bad things? They probably do, but I guess they do it thinking it is the right thing. This is where it gets messy. What is good to someone may not be to someone else. What I may think of as healthy affection towards my baby, might come across as spoiling him to someone who thinks you need to be stern with children so they grow up being humble and do good. This is all tied to being good.

In fact, I am going so far as saying that we have built lives out of our obsession with being and doing good. This obsession at times feels like a prison. Its walls are so thick that we can’t see what’s going on outside. We have barricaded ourselves in our prison cell with what we think is good and sometimes it gets stifling and claustrophobic.

Feelings of unworthiness also can come out of that same prison. When bad things happen or when what you try so hard to achieve does not, then you go into your unworthiness corner. It happened or did not happen because I was not good enough.

Other belief systems that stem from this obsession with goodness include: competitiveness (I have to be even better or I have to be the best), righteousness (X is good, Y is bad), rule of life (if I do good, good will come to me), criticism (not good), perfectionism (not good enough), justice (if you do bad things, you’ll be punished), etc. It seems that everything we’ve been taught has been about being good.

I would not be writing this article, if our belief in goodness was all that we needed to navigate through lives that have been hit hard by loss, and unprecedented bad times. I am reminded of the conversation I had with a previously religious person who believed her father was a saint and had done nothing but good to drop dead just when he retired and finally had some money to live a comfortable life. She was angry at God, the same God who her father had prayed to daily and gone to church for every Sunday. She could not understand or forgive God. Being good had not earned her father any points on earth. So, why bother being good?

It all comes down to choice. If someone told us, “do good only because you want to, not for any other reason” then it wouldn’t become a prison. Better yet, if someone told us, “do whatever you want, it doesn’t matter”, then what would we choose to do? When I tell myself that, I tend to freeze. It is as if, nothing makes sense anymore. And I am reminded that what supposedly made sense, was just what I had believed in, that goodness mattered.

Today, I believe that goodness matters. It matters to me. I don’t try to be good for any reason other than it feels good. When it stops feeling good, when it becomes an obligation, a judgment, a heavy responsibility or burden, is when I stop doing what I believed to be good. It makes sense: the moment it stops feeling good, it isn’t good anymore!

I am learning to navigate the world of shifting realities, endless potentials, and softly held beliefs gingerly and with eyes wide open…

Questions to Ponder:
1) What is one belief that you have held on to most of your life? How did it become yours?
2) How has it served you?
3) Are you willing to give it up? Why?

Take some time to think this over or ponder with a friend. If you feel the need to talk with a spiritual life coach, email or call me and we can discuss what your beliefs mean to you or where you might be feeling stuck.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I used to think that people who had a strong sense of entitlement were also infused with a huge ego.  Recent encounters with more people who behave as if the world and all of its other occupants are here to serve them, has lead me to believe that what they are actually inflicted with is a very narrow vision that together with a huge ego, can run over others like a tank.

When you think that you and your needs or desires are at the center of the world, then naturally everyone else is here to serve you. 

I’ve seen this in the case of my teenage son, and as teenagers go, it seems that they have this type of vision in common to some degree or another.  As a parent, by teaching him about the world and showing him as much of it as I can and inviting him to read about places and lives he knows nothing about, I hope that it will expand his view.  With this expansion of his narrow vision, hopefully he will be cured of his sense of entitlement.

But what about adults who behave this way?  It is more common than you think.  You probably know quite a few.  And then there is the accepted form of entitlement that most businesses practice.  From the entitled guests at your house who think they can do what they do in their own home at yours without asking if they can, to tele-marketers who call at night asking what your mortgage rate is,  everyone thinks they can have a piece of you.  And they can, unless you decide that you won’t play that game.

These days we also have the soft and gentle entitlement gurus.  That would be the salespeople who have obtained your phone number or email and keep on infusing you with messages, advertising, and special deals on all kinds of things that you just didn’t know you needed.  They act as if they are entitled to your time, your inbox,  and hopefully your money.

Hence, the young clerk at the cash register of the local store where you are buying an over-priced t-shirt made in a developing country for pennies, feels entitled to ask you in a loud voice so everyone can hear: your address please, your phone number, and your email, etc.  And when or if you say, I don’t like to give out all of this information, I just want to buy this t-shirt,  they look at you like you have horns on your head.  In fact, you look like you are being rude! 

When you say no to the entitled of this world, they don’t like it and it is highly probable that they will try to make you look like the bad guy. It is a great strategy and it works for them.  However, if you’ve had enough, you no longer want to be stepped on or even gently be pecked at, you can politely remove yourself from all those email lists and refuse to give out information or even say no to anyone who wants a piece of you.

It can be done without drama (you don’t have to slide out of a plane or yell out any expletives).  It is called reclaiming your own power.  And when you do, you’ll feel wonderful.

Points and questions to ponder:

1)    Take some time to observe your life and your interactions with others.  Do you mostly approach life and people as if they are there for your needs?  Examine the way you treat service people (waiters, sales clerks, etc.), do you treat them like they are someone to go through to get to what you want (dinner, your dry cleaning, etc.)?  Do you pretend to be interested in them to develop a relationship, so you can do business with them later on? Are you ever really interested in connecting with the people you come across in life?

2)    Have you ever been taken advantage of by someone else?  How did that make you feel?  What did you do about it?  How would you have like to have behaved?  What will you do the next time someone tries to feed off of you? 

3)    When and whom do you say no to?

If you are ready to reclaim your own power in all areas of your life, and think that you might need some help, contact me so we can talk and you can determine if a spiritual life coach could help you on your journey of empowerment.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


During a recent conversation with someone, I was once again reminded of how often we use excuses for not addressing the real cause of our true dissatisfaction.  She was expressing her regret at not getting a good education when she was younger.  She continued with how she would have been able to have a better job, make more money, etc.  I stopped her in her tracks and asked, “and what would that give you?”  She looked at me like I was crazy, “well isn’t that enough?  A good job with a good salary?”

So often we blame our outer circumstances for our unhappiness.  There are a good number of people with an education, a good job with a good salary who are dissatisfied with life.  For someone who does not have much or comes from a place of hard work and not having much growing up, it seems like a dream come true.

It is so easy to rationalize our dissatisfaction.  I am unhappy because I don’t have X, or if I had Y, I’d be happy.  Such simplifications at best keep people motivated to go for more, and at worst makes them envious of those who have what they don’t.  Either way, it keeps them on a linear path of the object they are missing, close to achieving it or far away with no hope of getting there.  Such obsessions become part of their narrative and the way they look at life and interpret whatever is happening.

We all look out into the world through our own lens.  The more hardship we experience the thicker the lens gets.  At some point we cannot see without our glasses.  What if we looked at this example differently?

Imagine you have perfect vision and then something happens in your life or you have to live with a difficult situation, you start wearing glasses because you can only see what you think you want to see with those glasses.  Every opinion you form, every judgment you pass, every pain you endure becomes another layer between you and reality.  In time, what you think you see isn’t even close to the real thing.
If you find yourself making up excuses for what you are missing in your life or blaming others, or different circumstances for what you are experiencing, it is time to stop.  Take off your glasses and see what is really there.  You might find that the story you’ve been repeating in your own head was just that, a story, an old and irrelevant story.

It is time to step out of your story and start living!

Questions to ponder:
1)    What is the tape you keep on replaying in your head when you are dissatisfied with something?
2)    What is it that you think you need in order to be happy?
3)    Have you ever been completely satisfied?  What did it feel like?  How could you feel that way again?

Spiritual life coaching is an open-ended process that begins and ends where YOU need it to.  Maybe you hang on to excuses in a way that keeps you from moving forward in your life, or maybe it’s something altogether different.  Either way, if you think you could benefit from working with a spiritual life coach, contact me.