Being human

A few days ago I noticed that my Ficus Benjamina had started to sprout tender new leaves. It always happens around this time, and it never ceases to amaze me that during the darkest time of the year here in Iceland, when daylight is considered a luxury, these brand-new shoots of life should spring forth. Just when you would think their natural tendency was to go into hibernation mode and just ...

Here in Iceland we have a pretty nifty word: siðblinda. The literal translation of siðblinda is "ethical blindness". Basically it is used to describe people who in English I would classify as either psychopaths or narcissists. The English language typically has a lot more words to describe various shades and nuances of meaning than the Icelandic language. (Or most languages, for that matter.) That's one of the reasons I love English. However, in this particular case, the Icelandic siðblinda just nails the meaning. People who are siðblind are unable to see the plank in their own eye. To them, ethics is a meaningless concept. They will bulldoze over you without a second thought, and only apologize if they can intellectually comprehend that not...

One of the worst things I do is when I start comparing myself to other people. I'm sure we've all been there. We look at someone else and see only what they have, and we lack. We become envious. We feel crappy about ourselves, because in the comparison, we inevitably come up short. Why is that person more [__] than me? Why does that person have more [__] than me? What am I doing wrong? What am I not doing enough of? ARGH. It's so incredibly destructive. And yet I fall into that pit over and over again. Not all the time. Not constantly. But occasionally, and sometimes quite hard. Usually when I'm feeling lousy about something with respect to my own life. And even...

Since I started writing about all this stuff I've been writing about, I've received a number of messages and emails from people who say they can really relate. Some say that they find my posts hard to read because it mirrors their own experience in a way that is difficult and painful. I understand. I think that when something gets to you in that way, it usually means that the wound has not truly healed - it is still raw and painful underneath the old, worn band-aid you managed to paste over it, way back when. [Or maybe not way back when - maybe even just yesterday, or last week.] I love getting feedback, and I am grateful that what I'm sharing resonates with people, even...

Years ago when I started seeing a shrink, I learned that there are ideal conditions by which a child develops in a healthy way, and when those conditions are thwarted, the child's development gets derailed. Those ideal conditions presuppose that a child grows up with two parents, in a secure environment, and is able to pass unhindered through all the stages of human development – such as learning to crawl/walk, use the potty, resolve the oedipal complex, etc. etc. If all of those transitions are successful, the child will grow into a strong and well-adjusted adult that is able to have healthy relationships and participate fully in life. If not, there will be problems. Of course this may be an oversimplification...

I have had such a strong response to the last post I wrote - thank you to everyone who has commented, emailed, messaged, or even spoken to me about it in person. Clearly narcissism is far more common than one might be inclined to think, and many people have been affected by this heinous disorder, in one way or another. To me, narcissism is an evil force. One of the best descriptions of it I have read is in M. Scott Peck's book People of the Lie. In the introduction, he writes that the word "evil" is "live" spelled backwards. His young daughter pointed it out to him. Such simple, clear-eyed logic; so perfect. Evil is the antithesis of life. It is anti-life. It...

Six years ago this week my mother died, and left behind an extremely painful legacy. It’s always hard when someone leaves this world with unfinished business. Death is so final, and at least while the person is alive, there’s always that small chance that maybe, just maybe, things might change. Whatever “things” might be. That differs for each of us. I guess one of the hardest thing to come to terms with is that someone is not the person you wanted, or needed, them to be. I will freely admit that I have struggled to come to terms with what my mother left behind. That final blow, which I wrote about here, was incredibly painful. However, I also realize that it was not...

Anyone interested in metaphysics or spiritual matters will know this: our outer circumstances mirror our inner circumstances. We attract or are drawn to people and situations that correspond with what we believe to be true, or somehow reflect what we are feeling. This has rarely been more starkly evident in my life than when I was going through the sort of deconstruction that I described in the last post - that drawn-out, painful death of old beliefs, attitudes and illusions that we all go through, in some way or other, and at some point or other, in our lives. It suppose it started with an inexplicable attraction to cemeteries. Instead of simply walking past as I always had done, I started going...

Within be fed, without be rich no more: So shalt thou feed on death, that feeds on men, And death once dead, there's no more dying then.                                     William Shakespeare, Sonnet 146 We are so conditioned to think of death as the surrender of the flesh to the Grim Reaper that we don’t realize that death also happens to us even when we are still alive. During our formative years we learn things that shape us, for better or for worse. We become conditioned. Often that conditioning is not healthy. It may be made up of negative patterns that our parents learned, and that they pass on to us. It may be made up of beliefs that we form because we do not have a...

Recently I was at a gathering where people were discussing Christmas, and the difficult feelings that are often associated with it. It seems like that time of year has the ability to highlight so many hurts in our lives, and it takes a lot of strength not to spiral out of control emotionally. What struck me as I listened was how many of us struggle to get our needs met by people who aren't willing or able to meet them. Sometimes this can mean our relationship with our spouse. Sometimes with our families of origin. Sometimes with friends, or people we are in love with. We keep hoping, even against hope, that those things we so desperately need - love, attention, caring, whatever...