Don’t complain, don’t explain

Complaint department is closedI recently told a young friend that my new motto is “Don’t complain, don’t explain” – two activities on which I have wasted a lot of energy in my life.

I’ve done lots of bitching and complaining about situations in my life over the years – both out loud and in my thoughts – and none of it ever created a positive outcome. Facing facts is empowering;  complaining creates negativity and unhappiness for yourself and those around you! Does anything ever change because you complained about it? Situations occur in our lives and we can’t expect to like them all but, it’s important to understand that the situations themselves don’t make us unhappy; it is our thoughts and, ultimately, how we choose to react that cause unhappiness.

I still haven’t completely eliminated complaining and sometimes I get caught up in it when someone else is doing it but,  since reading Eckhart Tolle’s books “The Power of Now” and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”, I am much more aware of my thoughts and I make a conscious effort not to voice a complaint or, better yet, to change the negative thought in my mind. My main reason for this is I know that when I get on a complaining rant I feel unhappy and my primary goal is to live a happy life. This is especially important when confronted with illness because complaining can actually weaken you – as can any negative thought pattern. Complaining not only has no power to change a situation, it actually puts you in the role of playing “victim” and allows the things people do and say to have  control over you. I accept that there are many things in this life that I don’t understand and many things over which I have no control so I try to focus my effort on the one thing I at least have a chance of controlling – ME – my thoughts and my actions. To quote Tolle “Watch out for thoughts that appear to justify or explain unhappiness but in reality cause it.”

Don’t explain – what I mean by that is just be at peace with yourself and stop trying to define that to others. The true purpose of your life can’t be found externally – it’s not about what you do; it’s about what you are and that is something you can’t explain. I think people who explain themselves all the time are basically insecure and are seeking external validation. I used to be like that – I wanted to be sure that no one misunderstood me or my intentions and that everyone thought I was a good person but, of course, that is impossible. I also used to say “I’m sorry” too much, even when I hadn’t actually done anything wrong. I’m not suggesting that we crash about, recklessly doing whatever we please at the expense of anyone in our path. Think deeply about the concept of not explaining yourself and you will realize it is just another way of loving and honoring yourself and hurting other people will never be part of that. Gradually you will understand that acting from self-love and honoring your highest interest is the best thing you can do, not only for yourself but for everyone in your life, and rarely requires explanation.

No complaints here!

No complaints here!

To see more of my artwork and books visit Lynda Linke Productions

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Desperately seeking me

Topaz - November birthday for herAbout 10 years ago I read something in a book that caught my interest and actually ended up being the inspiration for my reinvention a few years later. The career field in which I had spent so many years was no longer a good fit – it was like when you gain a few pounds and the jeans that used to be so comfortable suddenly feel as if they are cutting off your circulation! When I began feeling like I had lost touch with who I really am and what I wanted out of life I pulled that book off the shelf and re-read the part that had caught my interest years before. The author recommended going through your old albums and finding a photo of yourself, when you were under the age of 10, which reminded you of the person you were way back then. According to the author, we are closest to our true selves at that age because it is a time when our personality is fully formed but it is before we become self-conscious and overly concerned with the opposite sex. It’s when we still love ourselves and we’re not so worried about the opinions of others.

I began going through the old photo albums, which was a lot of fun in itself, searching for that one special photo that could show me the essence of who I really am. I stopped at one old black and white photo that seemed to speak to me. I was about 9 years old and I was sitting on the floor in the living room of the house where I grew up. In front of me was a small suitcase in which I used to keep doll clothes. One of my dolls was next to me on the floor and the suitcase was open with doll clothes spilling over the sides. The camera caught me in the middle of a full-throated laugh, my head thrown back in delight, mouth unselfconsciously wide open. As I studied the photo to try to discover what had made me laugh so hard I saw the little black body of my cocker spaniel, Skippy, his head hidden underneath a doll blanket. Suddenly the moment flooded back to my memory but, more than that, the simple joyful feeling of the happy child I had been. I focused on my face and my body language and recalled the things that made me happy at that age – drawing, reading, writing stories, my pets, love, music, movies – and I realized with surprise that those were still the things that made me happiest more than 46 years later. The happy, outgoing child I used to be had been so deeply buried under all the disappointments and fears of adult life that I hadn’t been able to see her anymore. I posted the photo on the refrigerator so I could see it every day and be reminded to continue the work of unearthing the true me. I felt confused and lost and that little girl helped me find my way back home. Because of her I have been selling my artwork as greeting cards for the past 5 years and I have published two books “Try Lots of Hats” and “Velvet Ropes: The Ties That Bind Mothers and Daughters” and an ebook “Finding the Truth”.

This is a simple exercise but I wanted to share it with you because it helped me to rediscover my true self and also to figure out what I wanted my reinvented life to look like. Today I live a peaceful and happy life – writing, drawing, reading, enjoying music and movies and my home. I share my home with the wonderful Stella, who is one of the sweetest pets I have ever had. She always brings a smile to my face. Every morning I take Stella for a walk, enjoy nature, and thank God for all the blessings in my life. In many ways my new life has been not so much a reinvention as a rediscovery of what was always there.

I recommend trying this exercise if you feel like you’ve lost the essence of your true self – you might be pleasantly surprised by the person you meet.

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

                                            ~T.S. Eliot

Stella is in touch with her inner puppy

Stella is in touch with her inner puppy

 Visit me at Lynda Linke Productions

Humble Pie

To thine own self be trueOne of the many things I love about my reinvention journey is having the time for contemplation. This week I’m thinking about humility. An undervalued trait in the modern world because it is perceived as being weak or being a doormat, which is unfortunate. Webster’s defines the word humble, in part, as “implying an absence of vanity and arrogance; lacking pretentiousness”. To me that means someone who is comfortable with his or her self and has no need to impress anyone by trying to be something they are not. These are some of my favorite characteristics in a person, although true humility is so rare. I’ve run across plenty of false modesty in the guise of humility and I’ve also seen humility taken to such an extreme that it becomes subservient and obsequious, which is quite nauseating to behold. True humility has an innate dignity. Do I have humility? Let’s say I value it and I strive for it but I fall short of my ideal. I can be arrogant at times and I have vanity. I don’t think I’m pretentious and I’m definitely not impressed by the pretentiousness of others – which celebrities they have met, how many carats their ring is, how much money they earn, how big their house is, etc. – but I know that usually stems from their own insecurities so I try to be understanding.

Of course, a truly humble person wouldn’t discuss their humility because that would be the opposite of being humble! Sort of like Charles Dickens’ character, Uriah Heep, who was constantly letting everyone know how ” ‘umble” he was. Oh, well … allow me to bring myself down a peg or two. When I’m contemplating spirituality and the meaning of God (Higher Power, Creative Spirit, whatever name you choose for the energy that is behind everything) I am awed by that power and I get a glimpse of true humility. I think one of the reasons I’m attracted to the ideal of humility is because I sense that it fosters joy, love and peace.

I read somewhere that true humility involves subjugating the ego to the point where you are seeking neither credit nor praise for the things you do; you simply do something because you believe it is your purpose to do so – in other words, it feels right – and I agree with that. In “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your LifeDr. Wayne Dyer says “It is crucial to remain independent of both the positive and negative opinions of other people. Regardless of whether they love or despise us, if we make their assessments more important than our own, we’ll be greatly afflicted.” That is no easy feat even for the strongest and most confident of us but, if you want a life in which you are being true to yourself and you are making decisions based on your highest and best interest, then it is essential. It is the ego that seeks the approval of others, causing you to do things that are not aligned with your true self. You are not your ego! The ego can be thought of as the “false self” that you created with your thoughts. I learned some interesting concepts about ego from “The Power of Nowby Eckhart Tolle. If your ego controls you with negative thoughts of fear, jealousy, anger, self-pity, and worry about the future you will be able to experience only fleeting moments of joy, love and peace until you free yourself from that control. I see humility, in its truest sense, as one way to be free of ego and live as your authentic self. I also see it as connected to self-love – in fact, when I talk about self-love in my seminars I always remind people “this isn’t about arrogance or conceit”.

Humility, like darkness, reveals the heavenly lights

                                    ~Henry David Thoreau

 What an inspiring thought!

Humble? What's that?

Humble? What’s that?

If you’re near Flagler Beach please join me and the very wonderful Stella for my next SELF seminar at Christmas Come True (corner of A1A & 14th St. N.) on Tuesday, February 12 from 7-8 pm. Call Nadine at 386-569-4429 to RSVP.

You can see more of my artwork at www.LyndaLinke.com

 

What is this thing called love?

With love all things are possible

 “To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance” – Oscar Wilde

 I’ve been wrestling with how to talk about love – it will be the topic of my next SELF seminar (at Christmas Come True on February 12) because I decided the third letter in SELF will stand for love – but I find that I know more about what love is not rather than what it is. I don’t feel too bad about that because, as I have been pouring over my books to prepare, I have realized that people who are much more educated and experienced than me also say love is indefinable. My drawing illustrates a romantic love relationship between a man and a woman but I’m thinking about love in all its forms and it really is mysterious and difficult to put into words. Love is a powerful force; a great creative energy. The closest I can get to expressing my own thoughts about love is to say that I think God is inside each of us, in the form of love, and it is up to each individual to find that best part and share it, first with themselves and then with others.

If you have read my blog before then you know I’m on a reinvention journey and part of that is to understand my spirituality and my relationship with God. I am constantly amazed by how many of the books I read or things I see lead me back to spirituality and how, in turn, that points to love – especially love of self. When I was younger I never thought of love as a spiritual thing, in fact, I didn’t think much about spirituality at all. I was brought up as a Christian but I was an atheist from around age 15 to some point in my 30’s when I started to question my beliefs again. I finally came to the conclusion that it was arrogant of me not to believe there was a Higher Power. That was the real beginning of my spiritual journey. I studied many religions over the years – I even took a 9 credit religion course in college – and, although I never found one that I wanted to join, it helped me to form a better idea of what God means to me. Over and over, the concept that God is love is repeated in different religions, in different words. It has taken me almost 30 years but I finally can see the truth in that.

Maybe some of you can relate to this paradox – we can be strong, competent, confident, and intelligent in many areas of our lives but, when it comes to our emotions we are often insecure, misguided, immature and sometimes downright stupid. It is because anything that causes us to share our deepest emotions also makes us feel vulnerable and feeling vulnerable is very scary. Guilt, jealousy, anger, resentment, disappointment, insecurity, possessiveness, unrealistic expectations and an assortment of other negative emotions too often color the feeling of love in relationships but, once you begin to see that all your struggles were a result of lacking love and respect for yourself things will change for the better. It turns out that old chestnut “you have to love yourself before anyone else can love you” is actually true!

Romantic love can be a minefield when you don’t have a strong sense of your own identity. Like many women I have known, I used to think I was not a complete person without a man, which is a distorted view of romantic love. Now I know that when you truly respect your value as a complete person, regardless of whether you are single or in a relationship, you will feel happy and blessed with your life. In fact, all your love relationships will benefit from viewing yourself this way. When you are operating from a place of lack and need it is much more likely that you will compromise your integrity to achieve what in the end will be just a false sense of “wholeness”. A mature, healthy relationship – whether friendship or romantic – is not a mirror in which you are constantly checking yourself to be sure you’re real. Everything seems to lead back to self-love. Hmmm.

Friends with a common bond ...begging!

Friends with a common bond …begging!

If you live near Flagler Beach please join me at my next SELF seminar on February 12, 7-8 pm, at Christmas Come True (corner of A1A and 14th St. North). Call Nadine at 386-569-4429 to RSVP .