The Case for Self-Love and Compassion

If the mistakes we made as children were met with unhealthy responses, we likely didn’t develop an internal mechanism to accept our humanness or learn resolve our mistakes in a healthy way. Consequently, we weren’t able to develop a loving, compassionate relationship with ourselves with regard to our missteps along the way. I know this is true for me.

As a result, later in life, I experienced great pain every time I saw–or someone else pointed out–that I’d made a mistake. I tend to say that I’m the worst person in the world, and I don’t deserve to be forgiven. Clearly, this is not a healthy way to deal with the inevitable mistakes in life.

What do I need to do? Well, I acknowledge that my motivation is to avoid pain. Once I put on my big girl pants, I can resolve to change my dysfunctional ways.

Growing up under constant condemnation, I tried really hard to do things perfectly. I’ve come, finally, to realize that I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tied; but I’m doing the often hard work necessary to attain a healthy self-concept.

Suggestions I’ve found–and have been trying–include these:

  1. Say “stop” to my inner critic. “No, no, no! We’re not going there!” or some other word or phrase that stops that train of thought, and refocus on something positive.
  2. Use healthier motivation habits. Remind myself of the benefits of what I’m trying to accomplish.
  3. Take a two-minute self-appreciation break a couple of times a day. I set the alarm on my phone, and when it sounds, I take a deep breath, slow down and ask, “What are three things I can appreciate about myself?”
  4. Write down three things in the morning that I can appreciate about myself, in my journal. A benefit to writing it down is that after a few weeks I can read through all the answers to get a good self-esteem boost and change in perspective on days when I need it the most.
  5. Do the right thing. When I do what I know deep down is the right thing to do, I raise and strengthen my self-esteem. Most recently, it has been taking the dog out for a mile-long constitutional as soon as I’ve brushed my hair and teeth and gotten dressed. If I don’t roll right out of bed, she gets antsy, which is an added motivation!
  6. Replace the perfectionism. Few of my thought habits have been as destructive in daily life as perfectionism. I’m going for good enough.
  7. Handle mistakes and failures in a more positive way. I make a real effort to go outside my comfort zone occasionally, trying to accomplish something that is truly meaningful. I accept the fact that it means that I will inevitably stumble. I’m recognizing that it is normal. It is what people who’ve done something truly significant have done all along, even though we never hear much about their failures. I’m trying to be my own best friend, when I take those missteps, talking to myself like a true friend would. How can I support and help myself in this situation?
  8. Find the upside. Focus on optimism and opportunities. What is one thing I can learn from this? What is an opportunity I can find in this situation?
  9. Try something new. I choose to challenge myself in a small way. I don’t expect anything. I just tell myself that I will try something out. Then I do the same thing a few more times. By improving my performance, my opinion of myself goes up.
  10. Stop falling into the comparison trap, because I can never win. There is always someone who has more or is better than I am at something in the world. Instead, look at how far I have come. I am cultivating an attitude of gratitude.
  11. Spend more time with positive, supportive people, and less time with negative, destructive people. Also, I think about what I read, listen to and watch in the same way, with an eye toward building myself up rather than making myself feel less valuable.

It may be that you find yourself–like I did–in a relationship with significant others who employs narcissistic defenses to deal with his (or her) own residual childhood stuff. It’s just a theory, but it seems to me that there are inordinate number of us self-contemptuous people (living with narcissists) among the population having weight issues.

There are some red flags to consider. Does it seem that the other person feels immune from making mistakes? Does he or she try to control everything, and then blame you for everything that goes wrong? Do you sometimes feel intimidated by him/her? Do you generally give up or give in because if you don’t, there will be no peace until you do?

If you’re beginning to feel uncomfortable with this line of questioning, you may be thinking about blaming yourself for your cowardice. “If I would just stand up for myself…,” you say. Stop that right now! I even had a counselors tell me that all I needed to do was to stand up for myself. Of course, she didn’t know what erupted when I tried it.

Consider that it may not be possible for that person to see you as an individual in your own right, but as an extension of him- or herself. Really think about it. If your life isn’t really your own, it may call for drastic action for you to get it back. It most certainly won’t be easy, trust me. But are you really willing to give someone else that much power over your life?

I know I tried very hard to understand why he was the way he was, but because he never wanted to talk about it, and became angry when I asked, I can only guess. As a child, he may frequently have felt threatened, and developed a dysfunctional response to perceived danger, threat or stress. His coping mechanism may have caused him to react in such a volatile way. His childhood experiences may have resulted in  his difficulty controlling his emotions, and, perhaps, brought on his exaggerated fight response (of the physiological fight-or-flight response to threats). I’ll never know for sure.

The point is, it doesn’t matter. Thankful to have recognized and begun to deal with this pattern of mine (which has caused significant difficulties in so many relationships, including the one that I have with myself), I see more clearly that I must have compassion for myself. It’s too important to the new life I’m constructing as a healthy-weight person for me to give up.

Hence, this post. It’s my declaration of intent (to stop my inner critic, replace the perfectionism, handle mistakes in a positive way, find the upside) by trying something new and scary. I hope it helps you in some way, too.

Advertisements

What? Me…righteous?

I was thinking this morning about Andrew Farley’s The Naked Gospel, and his repeated assertions that in Christ, we Christians are “righteous.” For years, I’ve struggled with what, exactly, that means. The word itself gives me trouble. It has always seemed presumptuous, and even arrogant, to think that it applies to me, even though I know that’s what Scripture says. I just have trouble feeling it.

For years, I’ve struggled with what, exactly, being righteous means. It has always seemed presumptuous, and even arrogant, to say nothing of a whole lot of hard work, to think that I am righteous. I decided to go straight to the source of my confusion: the definition of the word.

According to dictionary.com, as an adjective, “righteous” means one of these four things: (1) characterized by uprightness or morality (for example, a righteous observance of the law); (2) morally right or justifiable (for example, righteous indignation); (3) acting in an upright, moral way, or virtuous (for example, a righteous and godly person); or (4) as a slang term, absolutely genuine or wonderful (for example, some righteous playing by a jazz great).

Unfortunately, I don’t feel like I measure up to any of those things, especially if I attach the connotations to it that its synonyms suggest.

At thesaurus.com, the news becomes even more bleak. Synonyms for “righteous” included the following: good, honest, conscientious, ethical, honorable, law-abiding, noble, pure, spiritual, upright, virtuous, angelic, blameless, charitable, commendable, creditable, deserving, devoted, devout, dutiful, equitable, exemplary, fair, faithful, godlike, guiltless, holy, impartial, innocent, irreproachable, just, laudable, matchless, meritorious, moral, peerless, philanthropic, philanthropical, praiseworthy, punctilious, reverent, right-minded, saintly, scrupulous, sinless, sterling, trustworthy, and worthy.

Nope. No me here, either.

So, finally, I went to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words for further clarification, trying to figure out why it’s so hard for me to reconcile “the truth” with what I feel.

Here is what I found: “‘…for the most part he [Paul] uses it [righteousness] of that gracious gift of God to men whereby all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are brought into right relationship with God. The righteousness is unattainable by obedience to any law, or by any merit of man’s own, or any other condition than that of faith in Christ…The man who trusts in Christ becomes “the righteousness of God in Him,” 2 Cor. 5:21, i.e., becomes in Christ all that God requires a man to be, all that he could never be in himself. Because Abraham accepted the Word of God, making it his own by that act of the mind and spirit which is called faith, and, as the sequel showed, submitting himself to its control, therefore God accepted him as one who fulfilled the whole of His requirements, Rom. 4:3…”‘”

Ah! Right standing with God. Who gets to decide whether I’m in right standing with God? God, of course. The point is that God did what I couldn’t do, no matter how hard I may or may not have tried. When he had done it, he made the pronouncement, “Maryann, you and I are good. You’re in good standing with me.” How’s that for good news? Suddenly, I feel the shift from head knowledge to deep, heart knowledge.

In Ephesians 6, there’s instruction about how, in this world, to stand against the lies with which the enemy of our souls attacks us. Verse 14 says, “Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.” In other words, we fasten truth around us and protect ourselves from a frontal attack–an attack on our hearts–with the righteousness we possess because of our position in Christ.

Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God.”

Once that idea dawned on me, I had to know what further light other references might shed. I wanted to know for sure that I wasn’t jumping to an erroneous conclusion.

Here’s the definition Thomas Nelson Publishers’ Compact Bible Dictionary gives:  “Holy and upright living in accordance with God’s standard. The word ‘righteousness’ comes from a root word that means ‘straightness.’ It refers to a state that conforms to an authoritative standard. Righteousness is a moral concept. God’s character is the definition and source of all righteousness (Gen. 18:25; Rom. 9:14). Therefore, the righteousness of human beings is defined in terms of God’s.

“In the Old Testament, the term ‘righteousness’ is used to define our relationship with God (Ps. 50:6; Jer. 9:24) and with other people (Jer. 22:3). In the context of relationships, righteous action is action that promotes the peace and well-being of human beings in their relationships to one another.

“Sin is disobedience to the terms that define our relationship with God and with other people. Since the fall in the Garden of Eden, people have been inherently unrighteous. We cannot be righteous in the sight of God on our own merits. Therefore, people must have God’s righteousness imputed, or transferred, to them.

“The cross of Jesus is a public demonstration of God’s righteousness. God accounts or transfers the righteousness of Christ to those who trust in Him (Rom. 4:3-22; Phil. 3:9). We do not become righteous because of our inherent goodness; God sees us as righteous because of our identification by faith with His Son.”

If God has declared me righteous–and he has–I can accept that I am in right standing with God. That doesn’t sound prideful. I can buy into that, and accept it as fact, because God is the only one who can legitimately make that determination. If he says it’s true, then it’s true. What a relief!

Turns out, then, that I’m the king’s kid. I’m not just adopted, a ragtag little girl that the royal family feels sorry for. Rather, I’ve been reborn into the royal family, and I gratefully accept all the benefits of my station. I have the best of everything, including the best parent it is possible to have. He loves me. He protects me. He guides me. He wants me to spend time with me. He disciplines me, in order to make me better–more like him. He is kind and compassionate toward me. He knows me better than I know myself. He understands me. He teaches me. He respects me. He gives me the advantage of his amazing knowledge and wisdom for living in this world. I accept my gifts with gratitude, and I use them. I don’t have to hoard them, because there are always more good things coming into my life. He dotes on me. That’s just the way my daddy is.

What’s my Why?

What’s my “Why?” for wanting to maintain a normal, healthy weight? I’m not sure if it’s mostly–or just partly–the reason, but I don’t want to be a burden to my family if/when I can no longer move myself to get where I need to be. I know that it was no fun for me when my mother was on the floor, weighing over two hundred thirty pounds, for me to get her up, onto a chair or her bed. It hurt my back, and it was extremely awkward to do, even using good body mechanics. So, I want to save whoever gets stuck with the job as much as I am able.

Besides that, I want to feel better in the meantime, while I’m still mobile. As they say, if you don’t use it, you lose it. I just feel lighter and freer when I don’t weigh so much, and that is a wonderful feeling. I can do more things, and I don’t need special accommodations, like a seat belt extender on an airplane.

Furthermore, it’s simply not personally responsible to make other people pay for my laziness and failure to take care of my own things. I’m still kind of resentful that my mother left sixteen rooms full of her shit for me to do something with when she died.

What is evidence of personal responsibility? Here’s a list I’ve constructed of promises I’ve made to myself in that regard:

  • stop spending time with anyone who regularly overlooks my worth
  • face my problems head-on, no matter how difficult or scary it seems. I’ll keep myself from over-thinking things by evaluating situations and taking decisive action. It seems to me that the whole purpose of life is to face problems, to learn from them, to adapt, and to solve them over time. I’ll be my own best self. This is what makes me who I am. I’ll choose my relationships wisely, and surround myself with positive people who are smart enough to value me. The right people will love me for exactly who I am, without my pretending to be someone I’m not.
  • remember that there is a purpose for everyone I meet. Some will test me. Some will use me. Some will teach me. Some will bring out my best. It’s my job to sort them out, and decide what to do with them.
  • be honest with myself, since I don’t believe lies I try to tell myself any more, anyway. This means that I’ll do what I said I’d do. I’ll keep my promises to myself.
  • look forward, not back. There’s nothing to gain from obsession with the past. Beating myself up for old mistakes doesn’t accomplish anything positive; it just keeps me stuck.
  • make as many mistakes as I need to. Everything that doesn’t work takes me one step closer to learning what does work.
  • practice gratitude for the things that really satisfy me, like love, laughter, and meaningful work.
  • I’ll be intentional in my practice of gratitude, for the same reason. If I concentrate on being thankful for things in my life, things to be grateful for will grow. Besides, if I stop to think about it, I realize that there are millions of people in the world desperately fighting for things I already have.
  • take responsibility for my own happiness.
  • cultivate the mindset that I’m ready for the great opportunities in life, even when–or especially when–they take me outside my comfort zone. That’s how I know they’re great opportunities.
  • compete with myself only, and concentrate on beating my own records every day. That’s what will bring me success. I’ll count my own blessings instead of envying those of others. More to the point is asking what I have that someone else might want, and being grateful for those things.
  • stop complaining and feeling sorry for myself. Things happen sometimes that I don’t like, and I may not understand, but even if they’re difficult, they happen for a reason. In any case, those things will make me stronger, and I can be proud of that.
  • forgive both myself and other people. I’ll do better the next time. I forgive others more for my own benefit than for theirs. I don’t want my heart to be contaminated by hate and bitterness.
  • stop wasting my time explaining myself to other people. If they’re my friends, they’ll know I do what I think is right. If they’re enemies, they won’t believe me anyway.
  • stop taking the path of least resistance. I’ll avoid the easy way out, because I want to accomplish something extraordinary, but neither will I try to make things perfect. Sometimes “done” is good enough.
  • stop pushing myself, without stopping to think about whether it’s really the best thing for me to be doing. I’ll take time to breathe deeply and look at the big picture. I will appreciate the beauty around me, and take joy in the small moments of life that are truly the most important.
  • give up the pretense that everything is fine, even when it isn’t. Sometimes I need a “jammie day,” and I permit myself to take it without guilt. I can even cry when I need to.
  • take responsibility for myself, and stop blaming others for my troubles. Blaming them gives away my power to act on my own behalf. Neither will I run my life based on what others think I should do, say, think, or feel. I am capable of deciding these things for myself.
  • reside in the Now. I can have no effect on the past, and I can do nothing in the future until it is “now.” This is the only moment in which what I do matters in the slightest.
  • focus on what I want, rather than what I don’t want, since what I focus on, expands.

The Teddy Illusion

I wish I could give credit to the author of this piece, but I neglected to make note of it, since I never expected to be sharing it. It resonated with me in my emotionally abusive marriage, and I suspect it may resonate with someone else in the same situation. It went a long way toward convincing me that I didn’t need to be committed to a mental institution, and that there was something very, very wrong–but it wasn’t with me. I hope this helps someone else.

I believe I read it in Controlling People, by bestselling author Patricia Evans (The Verbally Abusive Relationship).

“Hey,” you say to Imaginary Teddy Bear, “I’ll be back later.”

“Okay, bye,” says Teddy, in the same little voice.

“Hi, I’m back.”

“Oh! Hi, here I am,” says Teddy.

You hug Teddy while you watch some cartoons on TV.

The next day, you say “Bye” as you go out the door.

Teddy says, “Bye.”

Days pass in much the same way. Sometimes you show Teddy things.

“Look what I made today.”

And Teddy says, “Oh! You’re really smart.”

You have different things to tell Teddy, and Teddy knows just what to say.

Sometimes you just leave Teddy sitting around. But that’s okay. Teddy’s always there. Sometimes you grab Teddy and give a big hug. You’re glad to have Teddy because no one else seems to care.

Most of the time you tell Teddy “Bye” when you leave, and Teddy never fails to say “Bye” back.

And Teddy always appreciates you. Teddy always thanks you for a taste of your candy and some of the good snacks you have.

Teddy is so nice to have around. You dream of Teddy and in some ways it almost seems that Teddy is alive.

Time passes.

“Hi, Teddy,” you say.

“Hi,” says Teddy.

You dream of Teddy even more and Teddy becomes more and more real to you.

Then one day your dream Teddy is more than just a dream.

“Would you like some coffee?” asks Teddy.

Teddy moves around now, but as you look back it’s hard to remember how it all came about. Anyway, this is great. You couldn’t be happier. Teddy gets things done, agrees with you, of course, and thinks of things to do for you, even before you ask. So sometimes you give Teddy a list of things to do for you. You sure love Teddy.

You come and go as usual.

“I’ll be back later,” you say.

“Okay, bye,” says Teddy in a familiar little voice.

“Hi, I’m back.”

“Hi,” says Teddy.

Time passes, and life continues quite the same. Teddy comes and goes, too, and gets money you can use and always is home for you. Sometimes Teddy talks about stuff but it doesn’t have anything to do with you, so you just nod now and then. Sometimes you tell Teddy about what you did at work and Teddy says something like “Oh, that’s great. You’re really smart.”

You know Teddy wants what you want.

Each morning as usual you say, “Bye, I’ll be back later.” And Teddy says, “Okay, bye.”

Each evening as usual you say, “Hi! I’m back.”

And Teddy says, “Hi!”

The days go on and on much the same and you feel okay. As time passes, once in a while Teddy says something that sounds strangely different, so you don’t even nod. It’s really just noise. Nothing to do with what you’re thinking.

Then one morning you say “Bye!”

And in a very normal voice–one you’ve never heard before–Teddy says, “When will you be back?”

You’re stunned! Your world is suddenly turned upside down. Nothing like this shattering experience ever happened before.

The Teddy you’ve always known is gone! Part of your mind wants to scream, Where did my Teddy go? Teddy has never acted like this! Teddy’s so different! So suddenly separate. You feel almost annihilated. So alone. So shocked. It’s as if Teddy’s against you.

“What do you mean, ‘When will I be back’?” you say, raging through clenched teeth, feeling attacked.

Everything seems to be falling apart. All because of Teddy. How could Teddy do this? Anger courses through you.

“Just what the hell are you questioning me for? All you do is question me!” you say. Beside yourself, you’re barely able to think.

In the tiniest of voices, Teddy says, “I just wanted to know if there’d be time for me to stay for a meeting and still have dinner with you, or if you were getting home early.”

Suddenly you hear Teddy’s little voice. It sounds familiar.

“Well, why didn’t you just say so! Damn it!”

“But that’s all I needed to know–when you’d be home,” says Teddy.

“Would you just quit going on and on. Always trying to be right,” you say, as you go out the door.

Busy all day, you head for home that evening wanting nothing more than to relax and cuddle up with Teddy.

You come in as usual.

“Hi, Teddy!”

“Oh, hello,” says Teddy, in a different voice.

“What the hell’s wrong with you?” you say, tired and exasperated and scared because Teddy sounds different. Not like Teddy at all.

In a pained way, Teddy says, “Well, I feel kind of sad. Are you angry with me about something?”

“I don’t know where you get these ideas! Who’ve you been talking to?”

“I just want to know what you were angry about,” says Teddy.

You feel an even greater rush of anger. “Nothing! I told you! Now will you just drop it? You never give up. I’m sick of your questions,” you say.

Teddy stays quiet.

Everything is back to normal.

Next day, you say, “Bye, Teddy.”

Teddy says “Bye” in a little voice.

You think, Everything’s okay.

“Hi, Teddy,” you say, as you come in that evening.

No voice greets you. You look around.

There’s Teddy, sitting in the bedroom.

“What’s the matter with you now?” you say.

“Nothing is the matter with me. I’ve just been thinking,” says Teddy. “I think there’s a problem in our relationship and I want you to go to a counselor with me about it.”

“What the hell should I see a counselor for,” you say, with disgust. Then angrily you say, “You’re the one who’s been acting strange. You’ve got a major psychological problem.”

“I don’t,” says Teddy, sounding angry.

“Well, go see a counselor by yourself. You’re the one who needs it. Look how you’ve been acting lately,” you say as you walk out of the room.

A few days later, Teddy goes off to see a counselor.

You arrive home, saying, “Hi” as you come in.

“I want to ask you something,” says Teddy.

“Well, what now? Just say it.”

“The counselor says to ask you to come in with me,” says Teddy, looking very still and staring straight ahead.

“What counselor?”

“The one I called, because I was feeling so sad, and I’m really mad too. This whole thing is so confusing,” says Teddy.

“Why should I?”

“Because the counselor wants you to,” says Teddy.

“Well if it’ll straighten you out, then I guess I haven’t any choice. When do we have to go?”

Teddy tells you. And on the appointment day you leave together. You’re hoping Teddy will settle down if you just go once. You can’t seem to make Teddy happy no matter how hard you try. You never even complain when Teddy doesn’t get everything on the list done. And this is what you get for all your trouble. Just when the relationship is going great, Teddy has to start something.

At the appointment you tell the counselor how Teddy’s been acting hostile lately, questioning you, seeming to have changed radically in the last year.

The counselor asks Teddy to try to understand how upset you’ve been and asks Teddy to try to be more accepting, to show more affection, to stop questioning you, and to be assertive.

The counselor asks you to be patient with Teddy and recommends a doctor who can give Teddy some antidepressants because Teddy seems especially sad.

Maybe it’s a winter depression and Teddy needs more sunlight, she says.

If that doesn’t help, she knows a doctor who can tell if Teddy needs some hormones.

You’re relieved that there’s someone to help get Teddy back to normal.

Life goes on the same for the next couple of weeks.

“Hi, Teddy,” you say, as you arrive home one day.

There is no answer. You look around and find Teddy in the bedroom packing a suitcase.

“What the hell are you doing?”

In a very tiny voice, Teddy says, “I’m leaving. Nothing has worked. I have to go.”

“You’re not going anywhere,” you say. “Not after all I’ve done for you.”

Suddenly Teddy snaps the suitcase shut, grabs it, and runs to the door. You chase Teddy. Furious. Suddenly you grab Teddy, all the while shouting as you push Teddy to the floor.

“I’ve had it with you! You’re crazy! Even a therapist couldn’t help you. You try that again and I’ll have you committed,” you say. You feel like jumping and pounding on Teddy, but you don’t.

Secretly you hear a little voice inside saying, I’m not going to play with you anymore. I’m going to find a nice, new Teddy.

          Teddy sits quietly in a corner.

Maybe Teddy got the message, you think. Everything seems normal–as good as it did years ago. Teddy’s stopped acting up.

Next day, “Bye, Teddy,” you say.

“Bye,” says Teddy, very quickly.

As you head for home that evening you wonder why Teddy isn’t any fun anymore.

You arrive home. Teddy is gone. For some reason you feel some part of you is gone too.

To Be and Not to Do

After I decided that I didn’t want to remain stuck in the same place in which I had metaphorically woken up and found myself, I came to understand two very important things, and there was a significant tension between them.

I knew I needed to move forward, but I didn’t know exactly what direction to start, so I felt stuck. I knew I needed to make some decisions, but I felt paralyzed in fear of making the wrong ones.

Also, I knew that I needed to be kinder to myself, to give myself the time I needed to regain some of my mental and emotional strength before making any big decisions, but I felt so much pain in that place that I was impatient to get on with it.

I spent a fair amount of time talking to myself about it both with my counselor and then, later, in my journal. (If you don’t have a journaling practice, I highly recommend starting one. It helped me to make sense of the swirling thoughts and emotions that felt like they would swamp me, and it helped me to process what I was learning along the way. As I put words to paper, I sometimes realized that what I truly believed was something totally different from what I claimed to believe. It was an eye-opening experience. If you want to write online with anonymity and accountability, try 750Words.com. You can get a thirty-day free trial, and if you like it, subscribe for five dollars a month.)

Reading was also a critical component of my recovery. I read every book I could beg, borrow, or steal. (Just kidding!) Since the first thing I was able to move on in my life was extricating myself from an emotionally destructive marriage, I read Leslie Vernick’s books on the subject, books about controlling people, and books about setting healthy personal boundaries. I took great comfort from the Psalms and from Sarah Young’s devotional book, “Jesus Calling”.

I started taking daily walks in the neighborhood, just to clear my head, and as I did, I talked to God. Sometimes I spoke to him in anger, sometimes in gratitude. I just showed up, getting real with him, and told him what I was thinking and feeling. As I did that, I felt his presence more than I ever had before, and that encouraged me to continue my walking prayers.

The more space and grace I gave myself, the more I discovered of what I wanted and needed. I was learning how to “be,” and not just how to “do”.

I think a lot of contemplation happens in bathtubs. It does for me. Nothing like a hot bath to ease the tension and think about what’s going to happen next.

Sarah McLachlan

Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem.

Rollo May

To think that I know what’s best for anyone else is to be out of my business. Even in the name of love, it is pure arrogance, and the result is tension, anxiety, and fear. Do I know what’s right for me? That is my only business. Let me work with that before I try to solve problems for you.

Byron Katie

The tension between what is, and what we dream of, is important. Not to discount what we have, but to hold onto that middle ground, because it’s in there that the magic happens.

Susan Branch

We exhaust ourselves more from the tension and the consequences of internal disharmony than from hard, unremitting work.

Steven Covey