Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wanted: Adults please! Wisdom needed!

A client pointed out to me an interesting perspective while using the Choosing Continuum. He said, "It seems to me, that if you're living your life on the 0-5 side of the Choosing Continuum, then you're essentially declaring that you don't want to be an adult in the true sense of what it means to be an adult. Not until you shift towards the 6-10 side--where you take full responsibility for the choices in your life--and even more importantly, the consequences for those choices do you become a full adult."

We began to dialogue on this idea when he stated, "Yikes, kind of scary isn't it--how few adults there really are in this country!" "Heck, I can see through this counseling process that I've been guilty of saying everyone else should be acting like an adult--except me! I keep blaming others for making me mad, disappointing me, not living up to their side of a commitment and using this as an excuse why I don't have to do it either! Why are we so afraid to be adults?

I responded that "I think a lot of it has to do with the issue of consequences. We're great at making choices--but should those choices result in some uncomfortable consequences--few of us have strong enough Feeling/Thinking edges--SELF to stand up and say, "I own those consequences and I can see that I'm going to accept discomfort in my life is I take responsibility for them." When this happens, we reject adulthood and slip back into the culturally reinforced, 0-5 reactive, victim, child role. And while that might get us through this event, what we also do is lengthen our childhoods into our 30-, 40, and 50's!

Daniel Quinn's new book, Tales of Adam is a series of short story/fables. In the last story of the book, he is talking about the Wisdom of Life which each generation passes on to the next. In it he shares that there is a day in each of our lives when we are no longer children and must now be adults. When a child, we can break our spear, or throw a temper tantrum and the adults around us will tolerate it, help us fix our spear etc. But when we become adults, we can break our spear or throw a temper tantrum, but we will have to deal with the consequences. If we break our spear and can't hunt--we will go hungry tonight whereas the day before, the group would've provided. It is in this learning, we become adults--a necessary step if we are to become "wise". Consequences force us into becoming a person with Integrity.

Integrity is the mark of an adult--because it means we will accept the consequences of our actions. When you are known as a person with Integrity, others know you can be counted on but it is because they have seen you accept responsibility for all your actions--not just the ones that work out!

Today, in the midst of so many crisis, we need the Wisdom of Adults with Integrity to help us show our children that childhood can't last forever! Now, more than ever, it is time to choose--6-10, whole Life Puzzle making. Stop right now and ask yourself--if you died tomorrow, did you achieve adulthood--or refuse it? Because it is a choice in our culture. You can stay a child forever--but we need adults!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Holiday happiness? Its yours to make!

Thanksgiving is over--the holiday season is officially out of the gate and on its mad-dash run to New Years! Here we go again!

I was at the gym this morning, working off the extra calories that come with Thanksgiving dinner. Very empty gym this morning--only two others there with me! The woman said to me, "Can you believe it! People standing in line at 1:30 am for a 5 am store opening!" We laughed as we realized there were plenty of people shopping at 6 am, but none seemed able to make it to the gym at that time. A commentary on our times? (Today is known as BlackFriday--this is the season when retailers cross their fingers that they'll get out of the 'red' and into the black and see a profit by the end of the year.)

Shopping, eat, indulging.....this seems to be the seasonal obsession! Yet, we also know that for many people, the holidays are not enjoyable--actually are highly stressful and lead to depression, high anxiety etc. A friend of mind called and said her daughter was all upset because their typical Thanksgiving dinner was going to be immediate family only this year and as far as her daughter was concerned, this wasn't good enough. It wouldn't "look right" to just have the 6 of them--it needed to be a big table with a big turkey or it wasn't real. (As in the Norman Rockwell painting that everything emulates as the holiday 'ideal').

That got me to thinking how we are such copycats! A man on the local news talked about spending $700 on holiday gifts--and then said, "I don't really want to, don't really have the money, but its what people expect, so I gotta do it".

But we don't! We can opt out, create our own, be different! We can refuse to get sucked into the mass hysteria of the season, refuse to let ourselves become 'sad' because our lives don't fit into a supposed picture perfect world.

How do you do it? Spend a few moments with your SELF. Really assess how you feel about the holiday season. What do you like? What don't you like? What could you stop doing if you just spoke up and said, "Not going to do it this year"? Or, if the holidays really were a pleasant experience, how would you create them for you and your family? Would you forgo all the shopping and instead put your energy into sharing kindness and help to someone who needs it? If you're alone and feeling "left out" of the season, what is one thing you could do to help others?
(Volunteer for Meals on Wheels, Ring the bell for Salvation Army, volunteer to be the one who comes in to work on the holiday so others could be off--and then create a small party for this group).

The over-consumption, over-indulgent holidays have become such a nightmare for so many people. We pray for January 2nd by the middle of November! This year, make a choice to start creating a holiday season that reflects peace--for you, your family, the community and the world. Look at the pieces of your Life Puzzle and choose actions that honor your whole SELF. Eat foods that honor your body, maintain a regular exercise program, deal with sadness/depression by focusing your choice-making on positive actions. Communicate honestly, send E-cards instead of paper cards and honor the environment. Talk with your family and really come together to create a peaceful holiday. Take time to play, refuse to let your finances get hijacked by mass-media's constant "buy, buy, buy" message! Remember the spirituality of living love for all, take charge of any special challenge in your life--especially addiction behaviors which the holiday season's anxiety often triggers and most of all, let this holiday season be a statement of the meaning of your life--a piece at a time with the whole you in mind.

be peace....

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Widening the lens...we are all in this together

This weekend I had the opportunity to see the documentary, Wal-Mart, The High cost of low prices. It is an interesting film and it certainly leaves you feeling like Wal-Mart is a very greedy corporation who in their mission to provide low prices has created a monster that is taking over the world.

At the end of the showing, the group of 50 or so adults in the room began to discuss it and there was the expected venomous comments against large corporations. Wal-Mart, while perhaps the extreme of corporate greed certainly is not alone. Many other corporations have defiled the environment, run rough-shod over communities all for the sake of ever-larger profits (recall Enron). Wal-Mart, with more stores nationwide and an international influence with both stores and factories that supply cheap goods is an easy target to pick on.

But I would have to suggest that we widen the lens and take a broader look at the whole picture. Wal-Mart is a symptom not a cause of the problem. Wal-Mart in fact, is only acting out an inevitability of a system that is predicated on one core issue: a consumer economy. Bottom line is that we like to buy stuff. Or perhaps I should say, we have been enculturated into a culture that has convinced us that we are "consumers" instead of citizens. We all know it is our responsibility to 'consume' because when we stop consuming the economy lurches to a halt and then, oh, my gosh...what happens after that? As we head into the Christmas shopping season--don't you feel a pressure to get out there and do your part? We watch the TV newscasters report day after day whether or not we're going to have a good holiday buying season and thus a "strong economy". In the back of everyone's mind is the thought--if consumers don't buy, businesses don't do well, if businesses don't do well then people lose their jobs and when people lose their jobs then they can't buy and gosh, then it just keeps on spiraling down! No one wants to go there!

While Wal-Mart, the High cost of Low prices movie does force us to think about where we shop (big corporate or small local store) it doesn't force us to confront the even bigger issue--and that's that we consume way too much! Yes, we want cheap prices and for that we're willing to allow a Chinese factory worker to make $.18 cents/hr. Long before Wal-Mart took over the world, the American consumer has been accepting and expecting low prices. Blindly we have allowed our factories to shut down and ship out to India and China--while decimating our own small town factories and the communities around them. Was it Wal-Mart that made this happen or all of us?

Bottom line is that we're all in this together. Wal-Mart gives us what we want--cheap prices and we give Wal-Mart what it wants--our money. We're both addicted to each other but ultimately we are all going to have to confront our consumption. We could all stop buying from Wal-Mart tomorrow and bankrupt them within 6 months. We might feel good that we've toppled the greedy giant--but will we then stop shopping? No, and so another Wal-Mart will arise to fill the vacuum. It won't be long until we discover we've created another monster.

Until we are all willing to look at the core issue--massive consumption at the expense of our environment, the community and life--toppling Wal-Mart is but a temporary feel good. We must take responsibility for designing a world beyond a consumer economy. That's the movie I really want to see!