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Sending the Right Message

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Jay and I want success for our upcoming marriage!

We appreciate all of the tools and attitude adjustments possible to help us make our adventure together into matrimony one that is joyous throughout our lifetime. We each want to do our part to be accountable for what we create. We also want to avoid pitfalls and mistakes of the past.

So last weekend we especially enjoyed attending a workshop, “Sending the Right Message,” (STRM) by John Canaan. We’ve been to a lot of workshops before, individually and as a couple, and this was my first time at this workshop, while a re-take for Jay. He hadn’t told me too much about it, except that it had opened his heart.

We really appreciated what we experienced there and came away feeling empowered and inspired. What struck me most deeply was that my life is really my choice. While I don’t always choose what happens around me, I DO choose my reactions to it. This includes my thoughts and feelings, actions, and how long I hold on to or cycle these.

All of us make mistakes, so we need a way to unburden ourselves from the guilt. We can’t always make restitution for our errors, either. This class is Christ-centered, explaining that Jesus Christ came to earth exactly for the purpose of redeeming us from our sins and paying them for us through His suffering, knowing we couldn’t make amends for everything. [If you are not a Christian, you may turn to your own beliefs and Higher Power to assist you with this concept of relief from guilt.] Christ not only paid for our own sins, but also for those of the people who hurt and betray us. When we hold grudges against them or retaliate, we hurt ourselves more and cause Christ more suffering. By forgiving them, it doesn’t mean that what they did was not wrong, but rather that we leave judgment to God and allow that person their own experience. We also release ourselves from the poison acid of resentment that hurts us more than it affects them. 12893946-closeup-of-a-representation-of-the-jesus-christ-crown-of-thorns-cross-and-nail

Jay and I are NOT perfect people! We have each seen the other get ‘triggered’ (overwhelmed by negative emotions) in various settings. Sometimes it has been by what the other has done, sometimes by others around us. It is important that we have a way to deal with these upsets as they arise, and not allow them to damage our relationship. By accepting Christ’s Atonement, we forgive ourselves for being human with fears and insecurities that trigger us in reminder situations, and we also forgive others when they act as less than their best selves.

I actually got upset during the workshop with reminder symptoms from prior bad relationship experiences. Jay let me cry on his shoulder, and John Canaan had me write about my feelings and thoughts, asking me to record on paper what the situation reminded me of and to describe my feelings and thoughts about that, then what those reminded me of, and so forth. By doing this, I traced it back to childhood hurts and feeling betrayed and abandoned by loved ones then and later.

John said that we are all very good at sending messages! People get exactly what we mean! The problem is that this message is not necessarily very nice. Because our hearts are filled with negative emotions like fear, mistrust, or resentment, we tend to send defensive or offensive messages. The RIGHT message is LOVE. Only when our hearts are filled with LOVE will we send the RIGHT message.

I learned invaluable ways to fill my heart with LOVE, the simplest of which is to BE STILL and connect with God until I feel whole and complete. Then to SERVE. We LOVE those we SERVE.

This is definitely something Jay and I can use to improve our marriage!

John has a wonderful program, and taught us nine Agreements to make with ourselves in order to be accountable for what we create with our own life. I create my world!

Jay and I signed up for the Mastery 10-week program, which gives one week for each of the Agreements with daily support and a class each week. This will be a retake for Jay, and I want to take it with him. It will be interesting to see how my perspective evolves as by then we will be newlyweds of two-and-a-half months.

I am so excited to be on this grand adventure of life and of marriage with Jay. I feel very humble and blessed to have him as my companion, because he dotes on me! Wow! We hope that with these tools we can keep our love as fresh and vibrant as it is now. We cherish our time together. I look forward of sending Jay a lifetime of the RIGHT messages: “I LOVE you!” and “I love SERVING you!” His happiness is my happiness. I delight in ways to bring him greater joy.

He always seems a step ahead of me in serving each other, so it is a fun game we play together. “I win!” when Jay feels loved! And vice versa. Actually, we both win. We win because we both feel loved and supported. This in turn helps all others we interact with to win: our children, my parents (Jay’s are deceased), our grandchildren, our friends and neighbors, even the people we meet on the street or while shopping. Because when we are connected to each other and to God, our hearts are filled with LOVE and we are sending the RIGHT message to each other and to everyone: L-O-V-E.forever-love-holding-shape-together-mean-loving-each-other-36033051

 

Why I Pursue Personal Development

Why do I pursue Personal Development courses, books, seminars?  Why invest the time and money? How do they help me fulfill my mission here on earth?

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I, like Nephi, “was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father” (1 Nephi 1:1), and then learned in high school and at college while acquiring my bachelor’s degree. In fact, while attending Brigham Young University I learned the AIMS of a BYU Education: “(1) spiritually strengthening, (2) intellectually enlarging, and (3) character building, leading to (4) lifelong learning and service.” Brigham Young said, “Education is the power to think clearly, the power to act well in the world’s work, and the power to appreciate life.” Personal development helps me to be of greater service to my family, friends, community, church, and professionally.

What is Personal Development, anyway? Wikipedia says it is, “activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations.” A long Wikipedia list follows of ways personal development can assist a person’s well-being, effectiveness, and contributions.

There are many sources for Personal Development. I enjoy reading good books, going to seminars, and listening to audio recordings of books or talks by, those who practice what I want to learn. Recently I listened to Sonya Lyubomirsky’s THE HOW OF HAPPINESS: A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO GETTING THE LIFE YOU WANT.

The 12 recommendations for improving happiness are:         Image

  1. Expressing gratitude

  2. Cultivating optimism

  3. Avoiding overthinking and social comparison

  4. Practicing acts of kindness

  5. Nurturing relationships

  6. Developing strategies for coping

  7. Learning to forgive

  8. Doing more activities that truly engage you

  9. Savoring life’s joys

  10. Committing to your goals

  11. Practicing religion and spirituality

  12. Taking care of your body

Just listening helped me feel happier, as I realized that I control my happiness! I already did so many of these things! I realized these ways to be happier simply put religious teachings into practice, giving me more confidence in the religious views that helped me overcome so much.

One reason I pursue Personal Development is to overcome effects of past abuse and trauma. I find it much more cost- and time-effective than traditional psychotherapy (I’ve used that too, and it has its place). Seminars with activities such as ropes courses, walking barefoot over hot burning coals, and sky diving all helped me to overcome fears and learn that my body can go forward even when the mind is fearful. Getting through the fear, going forward anyway, is powerful in extending my comfort zone. I find a lot of healing in this, and empowerment to know that I am not my past experiences! I have intrinsic and profound worth as a daughter of God.

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I am grateful for the Personal Development gained so far, and intend to continue learning, growing, and stretching throughout my life, to become all I can be in fulfilling my mortal mission.

CONTINUALLY LEARN AND DEVELOP

(Continued from THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTINUAL LEARNING)

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God tells us to study things in addition to the scriptures. In Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) Section 90:15, He states: “And…study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people.” Notice He says to “become acquainted with ALL good books” (emphasis added).  In Section 93, He says (verse 53), “it is my will that you should…obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man, and all this for the salvation of Zion. Amen.”

We see from these that God wants us to learn as much as possible, to help build up His kingdom here on earth (i.e., “for the salvation of Zion”). In the parable of the ten talents (see Matthew 25:14-40), the Lord gives out talents (verse 15) “to every man according to his several ability.” He then expects each of His servants to gain more talents, to be a “good and faithful servant” (verses 21, 23). But the “unprofitable servant” (verse 30) is “cast…into outer darkness” (ibid.). Not only does God expect us to magnify our gifts, but He warns that those who do not that their talents shall be taken away and they will be punished (see D&C 82:3; Ether 12:35; D&C 60:2,13). God wants us to use our talents to bless others (see D&C 82:18). He wants us to improve upon what He has given us, to gain other talents.

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In May 1829, Hyrum Smith was told, “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men” (D&C 11:21). Preparation to magnify our callings is sometimes necessary before we are ready to “go forth” (verse 26, ibid.).

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For example, when I was called to be a ward organist, I was a pianist, not an organist! I stumbled through learning a new instrument, and applied myself to study, taking lessons and attending the BYU Organ Workshop. I passed off Level 1, then Level 2. I took responsibility and learned what I needed to learn. This greatly increased my confidence and self-reliance in magnifying my calling.

Julie B. Beck, Fifteenth Relief Society General President, said, “We become self-reliant through obtaining sufficient knowledge, education, and literacy; by managing money and resources wisely, being spiritually strong, preparing for emergencies and eventualities; and by having physical health and social and emotional well-being.”

Anything we do to improve in education, financial wisdom and skill, spiritual strength, and physical, social, and emotional health, prepares us to magnify our mortal mission. It adds to the talents with which  the Lord already blessed us. The key is to consecrate all we learn and do to the Lord, to build up His kingdom on the earth.

The Importance of Continual Learning

NOTE: This is the first of a four-part series answering a question posed to me by a friend. He and I are both members of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints (LDS), so answers come from scriptures and other LDS sources as noted or linked. Scriptures can be found on lds.org. Further information on LDS beliefs including the Atonement of Jesus Christ can be found on Mormon.org. Today’s introduction introduces segments on Continual Learning, Personal Development, and Healing to be posted next week.

no_49_across_the_universe_by_derekdavalos-d5wcn4dThroughout life, I seek better ways to deal with things, people, and health. A couple years ago I joined a business that encouraged ongoing personal development. Recently, a worried friend wrote this to me:

“I have also been concerned about all the self healing classes and seminars you are going through. I have been personally trying to figure out why anyone needs all that if they are truly centered in the gospel and truly know and have a testimony of the atonement?”

Dear Friend,

I greatly appreciate your concern for me! I see your example and all you overcame through your acceptance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in your behalf! Your life is transformed through Him!

I reassure you that anything I learn, or hope to learn, is through the filter of His life and love. He is the pivotal focus of my life. Anything I do to better myself or my life is consecrated to Him and His purposes for me.

Part of my testimony is that He continues to give light and life to the world. He gives revelation to His prophets. He inspires people to help their fellowmen. As Proverbs 29:18 states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

In Alma 24:14, we read: “And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us that we might not perish; yea, and he has made these things known unto us beforehand, because he loveth our souls as well as he loveth our children; therefore, in his mercy he doth visit us by his angels, that the plan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations.”

God reveals truth to us, giving light and hope. He asks us to study and seek out learning.Latter-day_Saint_Scripture_Quadruple_Combination

Jesus in John 5:39 tells us to study the scriptures: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

Further, the Lord in modern revelation asks us to study other good books and subjects, not necessarily from the scriptures. “Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;

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“Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—

“That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:78-80).

Friend, the scriptures witness that everything we can learn helps us to fulfill our mortal missions and serve God more capably, if we choose to serve Him.