Best

We have confused what is means to be “best“. The point of being best is really about focusing and putting your energy into being the best you can be.

It’s not about being better than others. You don’t need to be concerned about how you are in comparison to others.

The best you is Wonderful and Amazing and is not supposed to be like or better or worse than anyone else. We each have our own unique, incredible potential whether we realize it or not.

We must direct our focus and energy, often and repeatedly, on releasing what is holding us back, so that we can let our true nature come forth. This requires us taking a moment, as often as possible, to drop our façades and our attitudes, set aside our beliefs, opinions and judgments, postpone our addictions and distractions, and be willing to take a humble, honest, sincere, deep look inside of ourselves. The more we practice this, the more we discover.

Since our true nature is counter to very much of what our world is constantly trying to influence us to be, getting back to our true nature requires that we make it a frequent practice to turn off the influences of the outer world and tap into our inner realm, discover who we really are, uncover our true worth.

What Is Sin?

I don’t subscribe to any religion, but I do appreciate teachings from ancient religious texts.

“Sin” is often (due to misuse) a highly charged word that can evoke harmful emotions like anger, fear, shame, etc., but I don’t feel that the term itself deserves such a connotation. I use the term “sin” simply as a tool of awareness, and only in regard to my own life.

In both the ancient Greek and Hebrew of the bible (Old Testament and New Testament), the term used was one also used in archery, meaning “to miss” (the target). And by inference, to forfeit the prize.

There is a Latin preposition “sine” that means without. The Spanish word “sin” also means without. While English etymologists generally don’t make a link between the English word “sin” and the Latin “sine”, there are Spanish etymologists that do make the link between the Spanish word “sin” and the Latin “sine”.

The Spanish version makes more sense to me since the word “sin” in the bible is translated from Greek and Hebrew words that mean to “miss the mark/target”. In archery, if your arrow doesn’t land within the target, it lands “without“.

When the Greek and Hebrew terms were used in a religious context, it was done metaphorically. One can easily see the metaphor:  The “target” is Love. Love is good, i.e. beneficial, kind, generous, patient, forgiving, compassionate, thoughtful, honest, humble, sincere, caring, etc.
To “sin” (to “miss the mark”) is to be unloving, i.e. dishonest, harmful, selfish, greedy, impatient, unforgiving, arrogant, pretentious, cold, uncaring, etc.

So it makes sense that the English word “sin” would come to be defined by words such as “misdeed”, “moral wrongdoing”, “injury”, “mischief” and “enmity”. If one is engaging in this kind of behavior, they are “missing the mark of love”, and by extension, not receiving the “reward”.

I believe in this concept. I believe that thoughts, feelings, intentions and deeds rooted in Love and in Loving qualities bring rewards, while an unloving approach results in suffering.

I see it happening in my own life. When I feel impatient, I also feel angry and unpleasant and I lack peace. When I feel patient, I feel pleasant, loving and peaceful. When I feel greedy, I also feel tense and controlling. When I don’t feel greedy, I feel relaxed as if everything is fine. If I ridicule or condemn someone, I feel like an asshole. If I try to justify the action, I feel equally as bad but I blame the other person for how I feel rather than acknowledging the true cause. However, if I treat others with respect and compassion, I possess the peace that accompanies doing the right thing.

When I find myself feeling something like anger or impatience, and perhaps even desire to hurt someone with a cutting remark, the concept of “sin” helps me to become aware that I’m “without” Love in that moment. I’m missing the target…I’m forfeiting the prize.

The same is true if I’m harshly critical toward myself or when I feel inferior. I’m not Loving myself because I’m not having respect, kindness, patience or compassion toward myself. I find that the consequence is the same whether the harm is directed at myself or someone else. Or maybe a little worse when it’s toward someone else, but it is still pretty much the same feeling.

It’s not really about reward and punishment for me. I believe that Love is a natural law, one that produces in kind. Loving intent produces fulfillment, unloving intent produces discontent. The former brings calm, the latter brings stress.

There is so much more to say on the subject. Love is everything, and the current state of our world is evidence that there is not enough of it.


Photo: at Lake Easton State Park in the state of Washington, summer of 2019 by me.

 

10 Steps For Dealing With An Energy Vampire

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Step 1

Stand directly in front of the mirror so you can look the energy vampire squarely in the face.


Step 2

Understand that the energy vampire is not aware that they are an energy vampire, that they are under the impression that only other people are energy vampires.


Step 3

Acknowledge that the energy vampire has inherent goodness as much as everyone else does, it’s just that they are suffering from suppressed emotional pain from their childhood.


Step 4

Inspire the energy vampire to openly face and work through their issues involving emotional co-dependance and lack of self-worth.


Step 5

Have compassion for the energy vampire and understand that it’s not easy being born into this world, having had to, from a very early age, cope with and protect themselves from many harsh attitudes and behaviors from those around them like criticism, impatience, anger, unloving demands and expectations, demeaning words, disapproving attitudes and even verbal and physical assault, often from the very parents who they depend on for love and protection.


Step 6

Recognize that being an energy vampire is merely an attempt to attain the love and approval that was so sorely lacking from childhood, and that it is an automatic, unconscious projection originating from an injured heart and soul… not an overt, nefarious scheme to drain others of energy.


Step 7

Motivate the energy vampire to practice looking within for answers. To develop a longing and curiosity to see and feel the truth of the situation. To be willing to cry and feel any pain that arises throughout this process. To want to end the habit of suppression and perpetuation of the underlying emotional condition.


Step 8

Support the energy vampire in taking notice of whatever feelings of neediness, expectation or control that come up when interacting with others. To take ownership of such feelings. To be willing to go off somewhere to face those feelings in private rather than projecting them onto others. To do this as many times as it takes until those emotional injuries are eventually all processed and released.


Step 9

Be kind and loving to the energy vampire throughout the entire process, no matter how long it takes, knowing that it is not easy to face one’s emotional pain in a society that pushes and influences everyone to avoid and numb out their emotional pain.


Step 10

Frequently remind the energy vampire that they are just as deserving of love and respect as anyone, no matter what the other energy vampires say or do.


 

Anger and Its Accomplices

Anger can be defined as anything within a certain range of emotions–-anything from slight annoyance to rage.

Anger Is Never Alone

Anger is a cover for deeper emotions. Anger arises when deeper, more painful emotions exist beneath it—ones we really want to avoid and keep suppressed—usually fear and grief.

Anger’s Accomplices

Where there is anger, there is an emotional addiction not being met. Where there is an emotional addiction not being met, there are expectations and demands not being met.

Some Examples of Emotional Addictions

  • Needing approval for who you are, how you live, the decisions you make
  • Needing praise for the things you do
  • Need for comforting when things don’t go how you want them to
  • Needing to be indulged in beliefs, opinions, desires
  • Needing to be coddled, cared for, pandered to
  • Needing compliments or “Happy Birthday”s

Expectations and Demands

Expectations go hand-in-hand with demands. Where there are expectations, there are demands. Where there are no expectations, there are are no demands.

For example, when you expect to receive praise for “a job well done”, you are simultaneously setting up a demand to be praised. When that demand isn’t met, what happens? Disappointment, annoyance, resentment…all forms of anger. If you don’t expect praise for your work, you don’t demand praise. If you have no demands, there is nothing to get angry for when you don’t receive praise.

Same thing with birthdays and holidays. How would you feel if on your birthday no one said “Happy Birthday” to you? If you received no cards, presents, cake, decorations or surprises? What if you got treated no differently on that day than any other ordinary, uneventful day? For most people, the unpleasant feelings involved would include at least disappointment and resentment. But if you didn’t expect special treatment on that day, you wouldn’t have any demands about it. Where there is no demand, there is no anger. You would be content whether anyone acknowledges your birthday or not.

Two More Accomplices

When our expectations and demands aren’t met and the inevitable anger rears up, we usually blame the other person for our anger and feel justified in doing so.

We blame others for how we feel because we don’t want to take responsibility for our own feelings—the feelings beneath the anger.

We justify the anger and the blame by thinking that if other people would just meet our demands, then everything would be ok.

But we don’t think of it in terms of meeting our demands. Rather, we prefer to think in euphemisms like “if they would just be decent” or “nice” or “reasonable” or “cooperative”.

We often even define it as “love” when other people meet our demands. But that is not actually love, it’s either a bartering system (“if you indulge my emotional addictions, I’ll indulge yours”) or a response to emotional blackmail (”you better do as I expect or I’ll be angry with you”).

The Reality

Emotionally speaking, no one is obligated to do anything for us!

Regardless of what anyone does do for us, it will not heal those deep-seated, suppressed emotions that we are trying to avoid.

We keep creating new problems because we are using (and even abusing) other people in an attempt to cope with an emotional issue that has nothing to do with them. It’s our own issue, not theirs.

Each of us must realize at some point, “I’m the only one who can face, resolve and heal my own emotional issues.” It will never happen through emotional co-dependent behavior.

Our emotional issues will continue to plague our lives until we do some work to resolve them. No one else can do this work for us. A wise person may be able to point us in the right direction, but they can’t take us there. A therapist might be able to help us become aware of what our emotional issues are, but that can also happen through open and honest self-reflection, a desire to know the truth and a willingness to be humble. It is no one else’s responsibility to deal with our emotional issues in any way!

The state of happiness and peace that most of us are searching and striving for is only possible when all expectations and demands are released, not met.

Anger Is Not The Answer

Continually getting annoyed, angry, resentful and disappointed at those around us will never help our emotional condition. The more we justify anger and blame, the worse our emotional condition becomes.

Self-Responsibility

Once we are willing to see what we are doing and take full responsibility for our own feelings, our emotional addictions will fall away. When the addictions are gone, it becomes easy to release expectations and demands. If no expectations and demands exist, there is nothing left to justify and no one to blame.

That is when love becomes possible.


Featured Image: A fallen leaf in the Seattle area in October, taken by Brenda Kay Forest (Hoffman)

We Find What We Seek

Seek reasons to blame others for your anger and you will find them.
Seek the reasons why you want to get angry and that is what you will find.

Seek reasons to harshly judge others and you will find them.
Seek understanding and compassion and you will find them.

Seek excuses do battle with someone and you will find it.
Seek peacefulness and you will find it.

Seek reasons to be at odds with those around you and you will find them.
Seek why it’s most beneficial to be kind and loving and you will find them.

Seek ways to escape how you feel and you will find them.
Seek willingness to remain aware of and feel your feelings and you will find it.

Seek reasons to believe what you want to believe, and you will find them.
Seek to know what the truth is no matter what and that is what you will find.

Seek reasons why you can’t fulfill your heart’s desires and you will find them.
Seek ways to fulfill those same desires and you will find them.

Seek for bad things in all situations and you will find them.
Seek for the good stuff instead and you will find it.


Featured Image: Flowers encountered near Rainbow River at Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon, Florida in December, taken by Brenda Kay Forest (Hoffman)

 

Love Is A Gift

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Love cannot be earned.

If we expect someone to earn our love by complying with our expectations, then what we’re offering is not love, it’s a bartering system.

It is common to confuse love with approval, but they are not the same thing.

Love is steadfast.
Approval alternates with disapproval.

Love offers warmth.
Approval runs hot and cold.

Love is a gift.
Approval comes with a price.

Love perceives everyone as equal.
Approval judges some people as inferior or superior.

Love says, “you are free to think and live in ways I don’t like.”
Approval demands, “you must think and live the way I want you to.”

Love is compassionate.
Approval gets frustrated.

Love inspires and builds up.
Approval coerces and molds.

Love honors free will and appreciates individual uniqueness.
Approval expects restriction and conformity.

Love is unconditional.
Approval is demanding.

Love never demands.
Love gives. It is a gift.


Featured Image: A Bluebird perched in an oak tree watching and waiting for its friend to recover after flying into a window. The stunned and immobile friend recovered after about 20 minutes and they flew off together. This happened in our front yard at AnAcreInTexas.com

Imagine No More Punishment

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Imagine a world where the desire to punish was replaced by a desire to love, understand, have compassion, to help through teaching, guiding and rehabilitation.

I believe that even with the worst, most violent criminal offenders can be restrained and jailed without hate, punishment and condemnation.

Does anyone even need to be shot and killed by police? Why don’t they have tranquilizer guns instead so that a person who is behaving dangerously can be calmed and restrained without having their life taken from them?

Taking a life is a big deal! Who among us should have the right to decide who is allowed to live and who must die? I don’t believe that any of us are in such a position.

Shouldn’t we do to others what we’d like to have done to us?

If I were in a dangerous state of mind, I’d like to be helped. I would not want to be treated like scum and I certainly would not want to be killed. Does killing really solve anything? Does it fix the toxic cultural and societal ills which influenced the person’s condition to begin with? Or does it ignore those ills and brush them under the rug?

I have come to believe that nobody deserves to be treated badly. I believe that being treated badly is the root cause of harmful behavior, not the solution to it. Virtually all of us were verbally or physically treated harshly in our childhood years when we were our most vulnerable, sensitive and impressionable selves. Those around us often chose methods such as anger, fear, violence and/or withholding of love in order to control and shape us. Subsequently, we grow up learning, to some degree, to make use of these same or similar methods toward others. If this weren’t true, there would not be so much anger, conflict, depression and addiction in the world.

What we are in need of is healing, not more harm!

All of us are in need of rehabilitation to some degree. All of us have thoughts and feelings to want to hurt others, even if it’s just in the form of a sarcastic remark or holding a grudge. The most hurtful, most violent among us are the ones who are most in need of understanding, compassion and help.

If we want to create a better world, I believe that what we should practice asking ourselves every time we are about to interact with any fellow human being, “How would I want to be treated if I were in their shoes?”

There is no fear in love,
rather, perfect love casts out fear,
because fear has punishment,
but the one who has not feared has been perfected in love. — 1 John 4:18


Featured Image: A butterfly sitting on a Saw-leafed Daisy which grows wild on our property at AnAcreInTexas.com

All Good Things In Moderation

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When it comes to eating and drinking for pleasure, these days I choose to think beyond the moment.

“How am I going to feel tomorrow morning if I consume this?”

If I’m going to get a pleasure thrill now but feel worse in the morning—or even just after consumption—then I don’t want it. It’s not worth it!

I’ve stopped trying to be successful at consuming harmful foods and beverages “in moderation.”

Why would I want to harm myself in moderation?

Do I want to be healthy in moderation? Feel good in moderation?

Moderation isn’t even possible for most of us. Although we “speak” of moderation, we consume well beyond it, until it becomes not moderate at all. But we still call it moderation.

“Moderation” has become a term which helps us to justify to ourselves that it’s ok to do something we know is harmful to us.

The term “moderation” is not supposed to refer to things which harm us. It’s supposed to refer to the overdoing of a good thing.

For example, if I’m eating healthful, wholesome food—that doesn’t make it ok to overeat. I need to eat in moderation!

Moderation is for preventing ill effects, not for merely managing the severity of them.

Drinking good clean water is essential for life and good health. Drinking too much of it can feel unpleasant and actually causes health problems. It is necessary to moderate our water drinking so that it’s enough but not too much.

On the other hand, refined and processed “foods” like sugars, oils, salts, flours, etc., all produce negative effects and are major factors, along with animal products, in all the common chronic diseases in our culture.

I don’t know anyone who actually consumes them in small quantities. These unhealthful “food” ingredients are ubiquitous!

Thankfully, simple, whole, nourishing foods are available too. We can even grow our own.

But be careful…eat your steamed broccoli in moderation! 🥦 😊


Featured Image: “One Nut At A Time” taken by me, Brenda Kay Forest (Hoffman). A Blue Jay with a pecan flying over our property at AnAcreInTexas.com

Irritation Is Always Irrational

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No matter how much it can seem in the moment that it’s reasonable.

Last night I got angry and it did seem to me in the moment that it was justified.

It wasn’t.

I was on shift driving the truck (we are team truck drivers) and realized I forgot to grab something out of my backpack. I asked Jeff if he wouldn’t mind grabbing it for me. He was kind enough to say yes. I described to him which interior pocket the item was in. He began searching around with his hand in that general area and wasn’t finding it. I became irritated, assuming that he wasn’t searching the pocket which I had described, that he was looking every place else except where I’d said the item was. I asked him to hold the bag where I could reach in and search with my hand since I knew right where to go.

The item wasn’t there. In that moment I recalled that I had left it at home. Jeff looked in the right place for it. He did me a favor. He was trying to help me get something out of my bag that I wanted. He was being kind and helpful and loving.

What he received from me in return was not only impatience and irritation, but a lack of appreciation for his help.

As I awoke just minutes ago, it occurred to me what I had done. It seems so irrational to me now. I hadn’t even told him I was sorry for projecting unloving feelings at him and making a wrong assumption.

I’m sorry Jeff. My attitude and the way I interacted with you was unjustified! You don’t deserve to have my feelings of anger projected at you. They are MY feelings and it is MY responsibility to deal with them in a way that does not inflict harm on you or anyone.

But what if I had been right about him looking in the wrong pocket of my backpack? Would my feelings have been justified? Of course not. If he had looked in the wrong place, I could have chosen to treat him with patience and compassion. He didn’t have to even be doing me this favor to begin with.

Would I want someone to be irritated and impatient with me while I’m trying to do them a favor? Or ever? Obviously not. Who would want to be treated that way? Why would I ever treat someone in a way that I would not want to be treated?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

My behavior last night appears so obviously irrational to me as I think about it this morning. I need to take some time to reflect and look inside and see if I can get in touch with whatever feelings are associated with this. Feelings which have existed in me since long before I met Jeff two decades ago. I learned to respond to the people closest to me with impatience and irritation long before that.

This particular wound is an old one.

We each need to decide—sooner or later— to face our old wounds.
To stop projecting harmful emotions (of any size or scope) at those around us.
To get in touch with the underlying, causal emotions and be willing to experience the pain associated with them which we’ve been suppressing for so long.

Why not sooner rather than later?

I believe it’s the only real way to healing, to freedom.


Featured Image: “Love relationships can be prickly if we don’t take responsibility for our own emotions” … A Prickly Pear Cactus, taken in 2012 by me, Brenda Kay Forest (Hoffman) at AnAcreInTexas.com.

Being Humble

Photo by Brenda Kay Forest; An American Bumblebee feeding on an Indian Paintbrush at home on AnAcreInTexas.com

Being humble isn’t about making yourself lower than and inferior to what you are, it’s about not making yourself higher than and superior to what you are.

It’s about being completely honest with yourself and representing yourself to others in a completely authentic way.


Featured Image: A Bumblebee “bee”ing “hum”ble. Photo by Brenda Kay Forest (Hoffman) taken at her home on AnAcreInTexas.com

We Can Choose To Heal

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Why would we ever blame God for the state of our world when every bad thing that happens in it is a result of our own choices?

Some say that the harmful things we say and do—anything from eating unhealthy to making sarcastic remarks and gossiping to fighting and war—are just “human nature” as if we don’t have any choice but to do things exactly as we are doing them.

But we know we are capable of making choices. We do it all the time. Therefore it makes logical sense that we can choose to stop doing harmful things.

If we have a desire to do something that is harmful, we don’t HAVE to do it. Sometimes the urge may seem so strong that we believe we have no choice. But we do.

Instead of following such a desire, we can choose to acknowledge to ourselves what it is we are doing and ask ourselves some sincere questions.

“Why do I have this desire?”

“What am I avoiding?”

“Why do I want to do anything that’s harmful?”

“Is there something I don’t want to feel that’s beneath this desire?”

“How can I increase my desire to face my underlying feelings?”

Any uncomfortable feelings that arise during this exercise may be exactly what we were trying to avoid.

What if we are willing to just experience our uncomfortable feelings rather than trying to avoid them?

We’ll feel uncomfortable for awhile, perhaps crying in grief or experiencing other painful emotions suppressed in us. That’s a good thing. That’s where the healing begins.

The more we become willing to open up and fully feel the underlying pain within us, the more our harmful tendencies will fall away automatically, eliminating needy behaviors like addictions and co-dependencies, and we begin to see the absurdity of projecting things like anger, blame, judgment and violence on others.

Complete healing may not be possible overnight, but it IS possible. How swiftly we move in that direction is up to us.


Featured Image: Marsh on the northeast side of Lake Ponchartrain taken during our bicycle ride at Fountainebleu State Park. Photo by Brenda Kay Forest (Hoffman).

Be Unique

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You were created to be your own unique individual so why try to be like anyone else?

Be yourself.

It’s not reasonable for anyone to expect you to be like them.

Let them be them and you be you.

We are all born into an intimidating world which strongly encourages us to fit into a certain type of socially acceptable mold. We are led to believe that doing so will enable us to “earn” the approval of those around us and keep us safe.

I believe that in order to realize the strength to truly be ourselves, we must have a desire to build the courage to face our fears, work through them, and release them. I believe this is necessary in order to free ourselves from the ball-and-chain of family and societal approval and acceptance.

I’m not referring to rebellion at all. Rebellion is an act of projecting anger. It doesn’t resolve anything. With a true releasing of the internal fear of disapproval, rebellion doesn’t even enter the scenario. If the fear is gone, there is nothing left to rebel against.


Featured Image: American Lady butterfly feeding on a Brown-eyed Susan. Photo by Brenda Kay Forest (Hoffman) at her home on AnAcreInTexas.com