Category Archives: Spirit

Letting Go of Scarcity

It has become apparent to me that my scarcity consciousness runs very deep.  Here are some examples:

A couple of years ago the television set that I’d had since I was in college finally gave up the ghost.  As it was breathing its last I wandered through Best Buy and B&H Photo looking at TV’s to buy.  I was not in the market for some 60″ plasma,  a 19″ flat screen would do me just fine.  But I couldn’t get myself to do it.  Eventually I happened to mention my TV’s imminent demise to my cousin who told me she had a spare- great, I thought, I get a TV for free and I defer its arrival on the trash/recycle heap.  And so I manifested a used TV, almost as old as the one that was dying.  Now, two years later, this TV is starting to show signs of tube failure.

When I’m cooking I will sometimes go to great lengths to avoid using an extra bowl or utensil, even if it means struggling with something that is just wrong for the job.

Though I really enjoy cooking and trying things out, I only do it when I am cooking for others.  For myself I go the simplest, least effort-ful route – after all, it’s just for me.

When I buy new clothes, particularly pretty or slightly fancy pieces, I am loathe to wear them because if I do, I will wear them out sooner.

I neglect repairs around my apartment because fixing them would entail both money and effort.  I tell myself it doesn’t matter, I’m mostly the only one who sees the place.  When I do have people over, I have discomfort about this but not enough to act.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  It’s not just about financial resources, it’s also about time and effort and what I think I am worth.  This feeling of scarcity is not directly related to my actual resources.  In times when I earn a good bit more than I spend I still feel this way.  Two years ago when the TV died I could easily have afforded a new set in the size I wanted but it didn’t feel that way.

The reasons for my feeling this way are numerous and originate in my childhood.  But the reasons only matter in so far as they can help me release these thoughts and the feelings that go with them.  This is the opposite side of the coin from needing stuff to feel good, and it is just as harmful.

This also seems to be of a piece with opening up more in general, of allowing rather than trying to control of seeing life as play rather than struggle.

What to do?

  • Practice mindfulness (its so good for so many things); notice when I am thinking this way and stop.  Ask myself, why are you making this choice?  Is it really necessary?  What would happen if you made a different choice?
  • Practice self-compassion.  If I can’t quite get myself to spend (money, time, effort) know that that is okay, as long as I make the choice deliberately rather than on auto-pilot.
  • Concentrate on how I feel both emotionally and in the body.  Does a choice make me feel small?  Does it make me curl up or open out?
  • Accept help from others without shame.  Know that my worth as a human being is not dependent on material resources or the success of any venture.

Isn’t it interesting that we can feel very confident about one aspect of ourselves and yet undervalue ourselves in others?  I say to myself, and to you: Life is supposed to be enjoyable.  There are no REAL rules about how life should be lived so do it your own way.  You are enough.  There is no way for you to be anything else.


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Cynics Anonymous

Hi,  my name is Sybil and I am a recovering cynic.  It has been about 2 hours since my last cynical thought.

Here at CA we don’t count our success in days but in hours, sometimes in minutes.  I’ve been practicing cynical and negative thinking for most of my life.  It is only in the last couple of years that I have made a concerted effort to change this pattern.

This came up for me again just recently when I watched this TED talk.  It’s wonderful and I loved learning about these marvelous ancient beings but almost immediately I thought: now that people have heard about these beings they’re going to go see them or worse try to take them to sell to some collector and they will be lost.

Really.  That’s what I thought.  I have had this thought before when I’ve been introduced to some natural marvel.  There are those who would say that I am right to think these thoughts, that humans often disappoint.  Read any newspaper or news magazine and you will find this opinion confirmed.

I have three issues with this.  First, the news reports only a tiny fraction of what goes on in the world and they will tend to report that which makes for good copy.  Second, I know for a fact that I feel better when I think positive, kind, and compassionate thoughts – both about others and about myself.  Third, if there is even a tiny possibility that we do really create our own reality with our thoughts then there is also the possibility that constantly thinking nasty thoughts will result in our living in a nasty world and who wants that?

So how do I deal with this.  First and foremost with mindfulness.  I notice when I have this automatic reaction and I stop.  Then I do a little variation of Byron Katie’s Work.  I ask myself, is it true?  Do I know it’s true?  What is the opposite thought?  How am I affected by thinking this thought?  and How would I feel and be if I didn’t think it?

I am also helped by all the wonderful people who spread the word of amazing things that are going on out there.  Here is a sample gleaned in the last couple of days.

A celebration of Bees at Brain Pickings

A community in the UK that is creating an edible landscape.

How you can increase confidence with body posture.

How people from opposite sides of a debate can come together and both listen and speak with respect for each other.

This book.

I love this stuff.  It reminds me that I am not alone in my desire for a world where people act with kindness and compassion and care for all living things.  I believe that we accomplish the most when we keep our eyes on the prize rather than on the obstacles.  So I practice to retrain my brain so it sees that goal more often than it sees the obstacles.  I do believe I am making progress.



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Giving Up Certainty

I used to be really certain about a lot of things. (That sound you hear are my long time friends and family sniggering.)  More recently I have discovered that certainty is just too rigid.  It’s true, having the sense that you really know something can be comforting.  But it also means that you are closed to a whole range of possibilities.  For example,  I was quite certain that my body was like a machine, an organic engine.  Food in the proper amounts and combinations along with some exercise and sleep were all that I needed to keep it going.  Sickness came from the outside in the form of germs or toxins or injury.  Avoid those and I would be good.  (The sound you hear now is many generations of healers having a good laugh.)

Through observation and personal experience it has become very apparent that this is not the whole story.  There is much more to us, to our bodies, than we are taught in basic biology class.  What we think, how we feel, what we choose to dwell on, how we feel about our work, how we relate to others, and so on, all affect our health and well being.  Our bodies, far from being just a bunch of moving parts, are filled with intelligence.  Our cells are communicating with each other all the time.  And then there’s the microbes that make up more of us than us.

All of this really blurs the lines.  Where does my consciousness begin and end?  Or does it?  Is it only my brain that is doing the thinking or are the heart and the GI tract in on it too?  How does faith affect my health?  Can I think myself well?  So many questions that arise and there are no definitive answers.  Years ago I would have found that frustrating and anxiety inducing.  These days I find it comforting.  There is no one answer that we have to reach.  Many paths are available, I just have to start down one of them.  I won’t have to stay on it as all the paths criss cross each other.  I can move to another if it seems better for me at the time.  Ease and lightness are my watchwords now.

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