Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Dysfunctional?

As my readers know by now, I counsel homeless and disadvantaged people for a local charity organization.  I have been doing this for two years now and I have talked with a lot of clients over that period of time.  I am not a psychologist so my main focus is on trying to find resources for the people I talk with.  But psychology comes with the territory.  People who need help ask questions and I feel that I have to help in any way I can.  So I use a technique called "active listening" to help them get to the route of their problem with the knowledge they possess inside.

The word dysfunctional has become something that many people seem to banter about to explain why they are the way they are.  "I come from a dysfunctional family" is a phrase I hear in nearly all my conversations with clients when they try to explain why they use alcohol or drugs to escape their current problems. While I am fairly certain they DO come from a dysfunctional family,  I have to ask, "Who doesn't?".  Families are inherently dysfunctional no matter how hard they try not to be.  We ALL come with a certain level of dysfunction.  I agree there are different levels of this, but basically their is dysfunction whenever two or more people get together in any kind of emotional relationship.  We may have like thinking, but we do not think alike.  Siblings who are brought up in the same environment often have totally different views on what that environment actually was.  It is all a matter of perception.  It is also a matter of choices that each individual makes.

Using past experiences to excuse or explain away a current situation is bogus.  Other people can influence us for sure, but ultimately we all make our own choices.  It is easy to blame our backgrounds for everything.  But, when all is said and done, we are the ones who choose for ourselves.  The choices we make are what truly shape our lives.  Others may influence us, of course, but bottom line we make our own choices.  Sometimes we choose not to make a choice at all, but even if we do that we have actually chosen not to choose.

It is only when we take responsibility fully for who we are right now that we can be free of the blame game.  Dysfunctional relationships?  Sure.  All their fault?  THAT I don't buy.  I come back to the word choice.  We choose to stay or go.  We choose to be happy or sad.  We choose to love or hate.  We are in charge of how we look at things.  The devil made me do it is just a way to avoid our own responsibility to shape our own destinies.  When we waste our time blaming our dysfunctional lives on others we are looking in the rearview mirror.  We are missing the brick wall straight ahead.  Who do we blame when we crash head on into that brick wall?  Our choice.

This is food for thought.  I don't pretend to have the answers.  This blog is subtitled "My Way of Thinking" for a reason.  I mean only to inspire you to take another look inside yourself.  If you begin with a choice to love, I guarantee you will be better prepared to face life as it IS.

                                             Peace and Love,



Thursday, May 3, 2012

My way of thinking: What I've Learned From Dogs

I suppose I write about this subject all the time.  But I thought it might be fun to put it all into some kind of order.

I have had dogs since I was 5 yrs old.  I loved them and they loved me.  But I never really thought about all the things they were teaching me.  It wasn't until about 1996 when I got a dog from a shelter in Key West.  We named her Miss Parker and she loved us from the moment she was released from her prison.  She is a story all by herself and I will tell it soon.  For now, I will talk about the many thing I have learned from the many, many dogs who have changed and enhanced my life.

#1: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE  This is something that dogs have all over their two legged counterparts.  They don't care if you are rich or poor.  They don't care if you punish them.  They will love you no matter what.  Even a dog who is left outside, even chained, will be thrilled to see his human.  They hold no grudges.

#2: FORGIVENESS  Every dog who has come into my life has an enormous capacity to forgive.  I have seen dogs who were abused, and yet they still loved the person who was their abuser.  Talk about turning the other cheek.  I know I couldn't be that forgiving.

#3: LOYALTY  There is no loyalty on earth like that of a dog. We have all seen the stories about the faithful dog who holds vigil over a beloved owner who has passed away.  They grieve every bit as much as the humans.  Maybe more.  They also grieve over the loss of a companion pet, be it dog or cat.  While a dog seems to forget an abuse, they don't seem to forget the loss of a friend.

#4:  ENTHUSIASM  Dogs are interested in the world around them.  Some more than others but all seem to appreciate every tree, every bush, every dog, cat, squirrel, or bird that crosses their path.  They greet each day with joy.  When you come home from work, or even a 10 minute absence, they greet you with wagging tails as if you were gone for a week.

#5:  APPRECIATION  A dog appreciates every pat on the head.  They love those belly rubs, head scratches, and the ever popular butt scratch.  They love every walk, every meal, and every water change.  They love every word of praise, every kiss, and every show of your love.  They are truly sorry if they misbehave and make you reprimand them.  Often they don't know what they did wrong, but they don't ever want you to be unhappy.

#6:  COMFORT  Whenever a dog senses that you are unhappy, they will come to you and offer their comfort and understanding.  They will sit with you quietly and lick away your tears.

I can come up with more, but I try to keep my posts short.  As always, I appreciate your comments.  I always love it when anyone joins my site.  That way you receive my posts via email so you don't have to search them out.

These were some of the things I have learned from dogs.  I work hard to exhibit these same traits.  Dogs inspire me.

                                          Peace and Love,