Ask Rebecca Anything!
The following questions are from real people with everyday challenges asking for my perspective.
First of all, happiness is more than a feeling. Real happiness is a state of being that cannot be taken or shaken without your permission. Learning how to sustain happiness, no matter what the circumstances, is a highly-developed skill that takes years (yes, I said years) of commitment and practice. Think about it: Michael Jordan didn’t become the world’s best basketball player overnight.
Prioritize Happiness. Merely wanting to be happy is not enough. You must want to be happy with the same intensity and fervor you have as a need to breathe. In reality, sustaining happiness is a never-ending 24/7, 365 days a year, full-time job. The compelling results, however, are worth the commitment. Who doesn’t want heaven on Earth?
Practice. Practice behaviors that add to your happiness and eliminate behaviors that don’t. Sounds simple enough, but more often than not, we consciously or unconsciously find ourselves engaging in daily behaviors that actually subtract from our happiness! Can you name behaviors and thoughts that add to your happiness? Can you name behaviors and thoughts that subtract from your happiness? That is the first step—recognize which behaviors and thoughts add or subtract from your happiness.
Patience. Be patient with yourself. New behaviors and new thoughts take time to integrate into your life. It took time to develop into who you are now, and it will take time to develop into who you will become. You’ll find that your journey will mirror the moves of the queen in a chess match: forward, backwards, diagonal, and sideways. The exciting news is that every move will be considered progress.
Love is patient. Love is kind. Be patient with yourself. Be your own best friend.
I’ve been experiencing an extreme amount of anxiety lately and I would like your input. Recently, my husband and I purchased our first home. A few days after purchasing the house, we discovered an ant infestation and faulty plumbing, all while hosting my new in-laws. I’m someone who experiences major anxiety, and the above circumstance literally took me out. Can you please share some techniques that will help me cope with anxiety in the future? I need suggestions to counter the anxiety. Thank you. ~Anonymous
Thank you, Anonymous, for the great question. And thank you for your willingness to share your personal story.
First of all, I’d like you to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and use your creativity to describe yourself differently. You described yourself as “someone who experiences major anxiety.” I would like you to find new labels to describe who you are.
Example: I’m someone who is challenged from time to time, and so far, I’ve survived every one of my challenges with fortitude, courage, and guidance from the Universe.
Secondly, we can only experience one emotion at a time. And you have the ability and the power to change any unwanted emotion at any time—especially if the emotion isn’t serving your best interests. Admittedly, this is not necessarily easy and the process takes time, practice, and patience, but I guarantee you, it’s worth developing this new skill.
Example: You can choose the emotion of feeling anxious or choose the emotion of feeling grateful. Grateful that you are able to own your own home!
Do you realize there are people who would trade places with you and your husband in a New York minute? I know a few people who would love to own their own home, even with (expletive here) infestation of ants, plumbing problems, gutted bathrooms, and in-laws who don’t have the sense to stay in a hotel down the street! Further, I’d like to remind you that all of the “challenges” that you’re fortunate enough to experience will also change. Nothing ever stays the same.
How to Relieve Anxiety While in the Moment
- Physically, take yourself out of the situation for a bit. Go to the park, walk around the block, take a drive, sing a song, dance a jig, go to the movies, get a massage, listen to music that you love. Trust me: Your circumstances will still be waiting for you when you get back home. I call this technique resetting your thermostat. When you find yourself not feeling the way you’d like to feel, you need to actively reset your thermostat. Also, the resetting of your personal thermostat works best if you are alone.
- Breathe, breathe, breathe. Most of us breathe throughout our day using shallow breaths. Try not to wait until you’re in crisis mode to breathe more deeply. On a daily basis, practice breathing deeper and slower. When you are consciously taking deeper and longer breaths, the tension in your body automatically relaxes.
- Can you find something to laugh about in the middle of your anxiety attack? Try to take yourself out of thinking “Everything is going wrong” to “This experience could be a number-one rated sitcom!” Where’s my pen? Journal your experience as if you were going to audition for NBC. Hey, Seinfeld’s off the air (not really); we need another number-one rated comedy show. We need your story! I guarantee you’ll be able to laugh about your present “disaster” in the future. The trick is to discover that you can laugh about any circumstance while in the moment. This creative way of thinking also takes practice and patience before you’re hot under the collar.
- Know that you’re always actively creating your future moments and experiences. It’s really important to remain mindful of this fact, especially when you are in the midst of an emotional storm.
- All throughout the day, you are making choices. Sometimes, your choices are conscious and sometimes they’re unconscious choices. Nevertheless, they’re still choices. The choices you make during every waking moment either add or subtract from your happiness. That’s why it’s important to practice living more consciously.
In your opinion, what’s the most important thing a person can do for their well-being? ~Anonymous
Thank you, Anonymous, for asking such an important question. First of all, let me begin by saying that there are 7.7 billion people on this planet and each and every one of us has a different perspective and definition of what “well-being” means. I’d love to share with you what well-being means to me, and if you feel my answer resonates with you, yippee!
It was only when I began accepting responsibility for my behavior, my reactions to circumstances, and ultimately, my attitude toward what was happening “to” me that I began to feel a lasting and unshakable sense of well-being. Honestly, taking responsibility for my well-being is one of the biggest challenges I’ve had in my life. It was so easy-breezy to point the middle finger and blame circumstances and other people for my problems and how I felt. I’ll admit that it took years to really get it. I can’t control anything or anyone outside of myself. With that said, how could I expect to feel a sense of well-being from anything or anyone outside of myself? I am the only person responsible for the state of my well-being.
I’m at the top of the “well-being” ladder when I know and feel, without a doubt, the following:
- Everything that happens to me happens for my betterment.
- Everything that happens to me is a Universal lesson waiting to be discovered.
- There are no mistakes.
- I’m serving the world by my existence alone. There is nothing I’m supposed to do; only what I am inspired to do.
- Time is an illusion and I am patient with all things unfolding.
- There is nothing that can stop, slow down, or speed up Destiny.
- I AM a physical extension of the Universe.
- I AM responsible for my well-being.
Thank you for the stimulating question.
My twenty-something daughter is smart and talented but has an unforgiving and intolerant nature that worries me. She has some OCD tendencies, insomnia, and can’t seem to relax. I wonder what I can do, if anything, to help her open up to the wonders of the world and to look for the best in people, rather than the worst, and to be a more kindly, compassionate being? She is far too young to be so cynical, negative, and self-absorbed. Is there anything I can do to guide her, or is this just a passage in her life that I should accept (and love)?
Signed, What Have I Done?
First of all, I want to express my appreciation to you for being open enough to share your challenges with the world. WHID, I can feel your heart, and you, like many mothers, have a natural intention of wanting only what’s best for their children. I, too, am a mother, and there was a time in my life when being a “good mother” was my number-one priority. During my well-meaning attempts at being a good mother, I found myself talking—talking a lot. I talked about everything from sex to drugs to money to relationships to religion to politics and everything in between. I expressed what I liked and I expressed what I didn’t like. I practically told him how to “be” and what to become. I shared with him my limited (yes, I said limited) perspectives every chance I got. “Fortunately,” for me, we lived under the same roof, so he was literally a captive audience.
All joking aside, from the day my son was born, he received the Rebecca L. Norrington doctrine of how to be, act, feel, speak, and think. Oh, I left nothing out. And here’s the kicker—I even remember thinking, “If my son turned out to be just like me, I’d be happy.” Without question, my good intentions were leading my son down the path to a life of certain unhappiness. Why? Because I was unhappy! I could not teach what I did not possess my own damn self. Ouch! Besides, there couldn’t possibly be an alternative way of thinking, living, or being other than what I thought, could there?
With all of that said, I’d like to provide you with my personal perspective of what’s happening with you and your precious daughter. I’m going to dissect every section of your letter down to the least common denominator to discover what’s under the surface of your relationship. I’d like you to know in advance that I’m a hard-hitter—it’s just who I am. With that said, my answer is written with an enormous amount of love. My intention is always to (1) find the truth, and then (2) assist you with finding peace.
Your Worrying Has Got to Stop
You wrote that your daughter’s behavior “worries me.” I believe that worrying is a useless and addictive behavior that was taught to us at an early age. Worrying is an emotion that affects the “worrier” detrimentally Also important to note, the act of worrying subtracts from your happiness. Why would you want to engage in a behavior that is useless and subtracts from your happiness? This is a question only you can answer.
Hear Ye, Hear Ye—I’m Worried about You
Further, advertising to anyone that you are worried is an interesting behavior to dissect. In my opinion, “I’m worried about you” is an announcement that doesn’t need announcing. What does that say about a person who advertises to the object of their concern that they are worried? I used to think that when people told me they were worried about me, it meant that they cared about me. I discovered that is not the truth. What does “I’m worried about you” really mean? In my opinion, one of the reasons you announce that you are worried is because (1) you’d like the person to change their behavior. “Change your behavior so that I don’t worry about you,” right? Or (2) you might say “I’m worried about you” is another way, to express concern for the person. If I worry about you, that means I care about you, right? Wrong. Worrying about someone does not mean you love or care about them. And in my not-so-humble opinion, the opposite is true. The energy of “being worried” brings nothing of value to you or the person you’re worried about. Nothing! Rebecca, what can I do instead? I’m glad you asked.
I would rather send out to the Universe the following thoughts:
I know and trust that the Universe has total control of what happens to me and my loved ones.
I know and trust that the Universe will not allow anything to happen that’s not supposed to happen.
I know and trust that my loved one is experiencing exactly what s/he needs to experience at any given time.
I know and trust that everything that happens to me and my loved ones is happening for my and their betterment.
When you know, trust, and surrender to the perfect order and wisdom of the Universe, what is there to worry about?
The Truth about Worrying
- Worrying is a learned behavior that demonstrates lack of trust. The good news is that whatever you’ve learned, you can unlearn.
- When you tell someone you’re worried about them, it’s really your attempt to control them in disguise.
- Worrying is an addiction.
- When you’re worried, you’re not living in the present moment.
- Worrying serves absolutely no purpose—ever.
Warning: You might need a seat-belt for this next response.
Please know that I’m responding to your question with Universal Love. I’d also like you to know that I’m sharing with you the wisdom of my experience and Universal teachings. My dear mother, you are very judgmental and extremely critical. I know this because I used to be the Queen of Judgment Nation and Ruler of Critical County. It takes one to recognize another one. (Remember that statement.) Yes, you are extremely judgmental and critical; however, I don’t believe this behavior begins and ends with your daughter. Usually, people who judge and criticize others also judge and criticize themselves, life, circumstances, events, countries, and the state of the world! It’s a miserable party. Judging and criticizing is a manmade behavior. We were not put on this planet to judge or criticize anything or anyone, including ourselves. What I’ve discovered about my past behavior is that as soon as I stopped judging and criticizing myself, I stopped judging and criticizing others. Why did I decide to end this destructive behavior once and for all? It’s really simple: when I judge and criticize, I literally subtract from my happiness. All judgments and critical thoughts subtract from your happiness.
Further, there are millions of people on this planet who would not come to the same conclusions you have regarding your daughter. In fact, if I met your daughter, I guarantee I would not have the same opinion you have about her. Why? Because I’d be experiencing your daughter through my eyes. There are 7.2 billion people on this planet and each person will form a different opinion about your daughter. And this is what I’d tell your daughter: the only opinion that should matter to her is her opinion of herself.
Warning: You will need a seat-belt for this response.
This is going to be hard to hear and digest, but all—and I mean all—of the adjectives you used to describe your daughter are really describing you, my dear one. Yes, you can only recognize in another what you are yourself. It’s a truth, which believe me, I resisted for years. Yes, every “fault” I found in someone else was screaming my name. You cannot notice what’s “wrong” with anyone else unless you possess that same characteristics. When you criticize anyone, you are really speaking about yourself. Look in the mirror. Do you recognize any of the following traits?
- Unforgiving and intolerant nature
- OCD tendencies
- Can’t seem to relax
Your letter is not about your daughter. Your letter is about you. You said you wanted to help your daughter, and I believe you really do. The advice you wrote is not for your daughter. The advice you wrote below is for you to follow.
- Open up to the wonders of the world
- Look for the best in people rather than the worst
- Be a kinder, compassionate being
When my son was eleven, I discovered the only way I was going to teach him valuable lessons was for me to be the example of what I wanted him to learn. Much to my chagrin, my words never taught him anything. It was my behavior that influenced him. If you want your daughter to relax, you have to be the example of a relaxed person. If you want your daughter to look for the best in people, you look for the best in people. If you want your daughter to be a more kind and compassionate being, you be a more kind and compassionate human being.
The only thing you can do is be the example of the type of person you want your daughter to be. Be, live, and represent the example every day and in every moment. I also suggest that you start focusing on and noticing the good traits in your daughter. Begin ignoring what you think is “wrong” with her, because in reality, there’s nothing wrong with her or her behavior.
In conclusion, my dear mother, know that your daughter has her own journey to walk and experience. She, like you and I, have lessons to learn that are unique to each of us. Allow her to experience her journey in her own way and in her own time. I’d like you to know and trust that the Universe is holding your daughter by the hand along her journey. Everything she does and everything she says and everything that she experiences IS for her betterment. Know that, trust that, and leave your daughter in the hands of the Universe. Mom, the Universe does not make mistakes.
I’m grateful for your questions and I can also feel your loving heart. I would like you to know, that the Universe loves you.
Recently, I have been having some trouble with my ego and moving into my heart. What happens is thoughts that are not so constructive constantly enter my head. I am always focusing on the present moment, opening my ears to listen to what’s real in the present, putting focus on my heart, and looking at people through the eyes of love and treating them all equal. But these negative thoughts enter my mind over and over, thoughts that judge and keep me in this mind-made world. There seems to be little improvement, and I feel like I have been in the same position for a long time. I’ve been doing different things like donating to causes that feel right and using the money I have left to give joy to my friends. Every now and then I will get into a state of pure peace and wonder in the present moment, but it just goes back to this mind-made world where I don’t feel the power of me moving forward to great things in my life.
Thank you for your letter. I love how conscious and self-aware you are. And, Randall, you’re already ahead of the game because when you’re self-aware and have the ability to live in a conscious state, it’s much easier to find solutions to any challenge you experience.
I would also love to live in the present moment 24/7. In my not-so-humble opinion, living in the present moment 24/7 is the ultimate way to live. And the fact that you already know how important living in the moment is to maintaining peace and happiness, lets me know your foundation is directly connected to the Universe. I too, had issues with my ego’s never-ending negative banter before I took its power away. Now, for the most part, my ego is a starving entity held in check, when I’m living consciously throughout my day.
The Truth about the Ego
Remember, the Universe does not make mistakes, and creating the ego as an entity was necessary to our human evolution. (I think it would be fascinating to know how much us humans will consciously evolve in the next 500 years, but I digress.)
I like to think of the ego as a job applicant with a limited amount of skills and functions. You have to designate which position you allow your ego to hold. For example: You wouldn’t let a five-year-old drive a car, would you? Why would you give your focus to an entity that does not serve your highest self?
Traits of the Ego
- Needs lots of attention
- Needs to be constantly fed
- Needs to be heard
- Disguises itself as you
- Lives in fear of being exposed
Behavior of the Ego
- Bathes in negativity
- Showers in judgments and comparisons
- Dresses in feel-bad activity and feel-bad thoughts
- Lives in fear
Again, the ego possesses a limited amount of skill and function. Problems arise when we allow the ego to hold positions of power that it’s not qualified for. My experience with my ego is that it never has anything good to say about me or anyone else. And since I know that, why would I allow that “voice” to make decisions about how I feel about me?
Let me be clear, the ego is not an enemy. The ego has its role, its purpose, and its place. If it weren’t for my ego, I’d walk out of the house wearing plaid and paisley prints . . . around my head. I might even refuse to shower or brush my teeth or apply make-up. No, the ego is not the enemy; however, the ego has been allowed to dominate positions that it’s not qualified to hold. Allow your ego to be in charge only of the jobs it’s qualified for (make-up, hair, and wardrobe), and your life will change.
What We Resist Persists and What We Focus on Grows
Finally, in order for me to find peace with my ego, I had to stop resisting it. I had to stop the struggle. I began to accept, allow, and flow with whatever the ego thought. Why not? I recognize the truth when I hear it, and I recognize the opposite of the truth when I hear it. I can’t stop the ego from trying its best to make me feel bad, but I can stop resisting its existence, and I can stop giving its words any credence or power. I started by paying less and less attention to the thoughts the ego had and began replacing them with thoughts that served me better.
How I Interact with My Ego
I embrace and accept the ego as an important part of me. I allow the ego to be itself, without judgment and reprimand. Also, I don’t resist any thoughts the ego has. Why? Because resisting the ego takes me out of the present moment. Instead of resisting the ego, I just observe and witness. Sometimes, just sometimes, I actually have fun with the ego. When I’m feeling really feisty, I talk back to my ego and say, “Hey, is that all you have for me today?” or “Is that the best you can do to make me feel bad?” When I ask those questions, I usually receive silence in return. Try it.
Change Your Perspective
Change the way you think about your ego. Think of your ego as being a bad reality show on TV. Bad entertainment can be funny. Lighten up. Now that you know the truth about the ego, have some fun and chillax (chill out + relax). Remember, you are not your ego.
Randall also wrote:
“I don’t feel the power of me moving forward to great things in my life.”
When you say you’re dissatisfied because you don’t feel the power of moving forward to “great things in my life,” know that that thought is spoken by none other than Mr. Ego. Remember, your ego has one job and one job only—to keep you in a state of dissatisfaction, for as long as possible. That’s why it’s so important to know the difference between the two “voices.” The truth is that the Universe would tell you, “Randall, your life is unfolding in the exact manner it’s supposed to unfold.” Further, the Universe would tell you to relax and start appreciating and loving where you are NOW. Life evolves and changes. Randall, your life is also evolving and changing in every moment. Know that. Trust that. The Universe knows what IT is doing. By the way, you’ll continue to experience great things, and even more great things; however, the Universe wants you to love and embrace where you are now: the present moment. Surrender to the plan of the Universe and relax. Your life is unfolding in perfect order. You might want to re-read The Bitter Pill of Dissatisfaction.
Randall also wrote:
Also, when I am at social gatherings, I find it hard to get into a conversation with people. Like, no words will come to my mind. I just smile and try to be at peace with myself, but I see everybody in a conversation except me. Then on certain occasions, I will get into a conversation where it feels like everything is going perfect and the way it should. It just feels like a lot of confusion at this point in my life.
The first thing I would say to you is STOP trying so hard. I’ve found that when I struggle with anything, it’s because I’m disconnected from the Universe. Have you ever seen a rose bush struggle to bloom? Have you seen a dog struggle to be a dog? Have you ever witnessed the sun struggle to shine? Whenever I’m struggling, I know the Universe is NOT involved. Further, it’s not the event that’s causing your struggle. It’s your thoughts about the event that’s causing your struggle.
Who Am I?
One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn was to just be myself. The reason why it was so hard to be me is because I didn’t even know who I was! I spent years discarding layers and layers of someone else’s stuff. It was like I had someone else living in my body. Now that I’m learning who I am, I know what feels like a fit and I know what feels like a shoe that’s three sizes too small. Yes, it’s taken me decades to be at peace with who I really am. Who am I? I’m happy, fun, funny, light, introvert, extrovert, and a hippie who expresses herself trough teaching fitness classes, speaking, and writing. When I attend social gatherings, I don’t know how I’m going to feel when I arrive. Sometimes I’m quiet and observe other people and sometimes I feel like chatting. Either way, I’m okay with whatever I feel inspired to be and do in the moment.
Let me share a real-life experience that I recently had at a social gathering. Last month I attended my high school reunion. While in high school, I was shy and socially awkward with a total of two friends. Yes, I said two friends. And to make it worse, I didn’t even like them. I was hanging out with them because I thought it was odd for me to be alone. I thought it was weird not to have friends.
When I attended my reunion, I was basically the same type of social person (introvert and extrovert), with one major difference: I was very comfortable being me. I was happy in my skin. Because I wasn’t one of the “popular kids” and I wasn’t a member of a “clique,” I remember thinking before I arrived that I was going to be okay if I talked to anyone and I was going to be okay if I didn’t talk to anyone. And, it was also going to be okay if no one talked to me! I was ready.
When I arrived, I purposely decided to sit at a table far from the “action.” I did what I was inspired to do in the moment, which was to observe other people enjoying the evening. My entertainment came in the form of people-watching. The only people I talked to that evening were people sitting at my table or fellow classmates who made the long trek across the room to speak to me.
Quiet as a Mouse
There were ten people sitting at my table. Half of the people sitting at my table were husbands or wives of my classmates. A gentleman sitting to my left was the husband of a classmate. This man didn’t utter one word to anyone of us at the table the entire evening. In fact, he spoke only to his wife when she engaged him in conversation. When his wife left the table to socialize, he sat quietly in silence. Even though he didn’t speak to anyone at the table, there was a peace about him that I definitely felt. He was very comfortable not speaking. You, my dear Randall, are not. Why? It’s a question that only you will discover the answer to. If you ask me, and you did, there’s nothing wrong with attending a social gathering and not uttering a word, if you are at peace with yourself.
I’m totally overwhelmed by the state of my life. We had a huge financial setback ($500K) because of a poorly thought-out investment that my husband wanted and then held onto for way too long, despite all the signs and my urging. So, now we need to reevaluate and rebuild. Moreover, since I was rear-ended in January, I’ve been in physical therapy, etc., and on the mend. I’m slow to get around and tire easily. I’m trying to put the pieces back together, for the most part alone, and it is sucking up all my time. My spouse has moved on to his next pet project, has not been very approachable, and takes on almost no responsibility. He is fairly clueless and believes that my workload should be manageable, and that I just take on too many personal projects. I’ve been trying to talk to him for years but he is not approachable.
This is not the life I had envisioned. Once upon a time, I faced each day with excitement, filled with creative ideas. Nowadays, I wake up each day and almost dread the relentless amount of work before me. From the time I open my eyes until the time I crawl to bed. I am working on resolving my children’s health issues and also home-school my teenage son, who has a disability. Sometimes I feel like I have to be both mother and father to my son to give him the guidance he needs, since my spouse acts more like a babysitter than a loving parent. I’m feeling less and less like there is much hope that things will improve, even though there is much in my life to be grateful for. A sense of gratitude does help keep me going day to day. What else am I missing here? How can I make this marriage work? What steps do I need to take to find deeper happiness and satisfaction?
Your letter is filled with a lot of personal questions and life challenges that daily subtract from your happiness. Believe me when I say that I can understand your feelings of being overwhelmed with life. You listed several circumstances and issues that I will address one by one. As always, my intention is to (1) find the truth, and then (2) assist you with finding peace.
One of the most obvious themes in your letter is your focus on what’s wrong with your life instead of focusing on what’s right with your life. I read and re-read what you wrote. Your letter is laced with criticism, dissatisfaction, frustration, gloom, misery, sadness, and unhappiness. I’m not using those words to be mean and or unsympathetic. I’m using those descriptive words to make a point. There isn’t one person, including myself, who hasn’t felt like you are feeling at more than one time in our lives. You are not alone. Life is filled with up and downs, challenges, and bumpy roads. You cannot escape what life brings. You cannot control what life unfolds. You cannot escape the journey. What you can do is change your perspective about your reality. Your perspectives have to change for your life to change.
There are 360 degrees in a complete circle. There is no beginning or ending to a circle. And there is no beginning or ending to Energy. You are Energy. You are conscious Energy. Because you are conscious Energy you have the ability to choose what to focus on. This is a mandatory concept to understand if you want to be happy. At any given moment, we have over 360 different ways to respond and or label any circumstance we experience. Let me be clear: it’s not easy to choose another perspective, but it is possible to shift your focus with (1) intention and (2) practice.
Intention and Commitment
You must have the intention and the commitment to focus on what’s good in your life during every moment. You can verbalize your intention as soon as you wake up. It’s simple and easy. All you need to do is say out loud, before you get out of bed, “My intention for this day is to focus on what’s good in my life.” In fact, you can practice saying that as many times as you want during the day. In the beginning this practice might not seem to be effective and you probably will continue to focus on what’s wrong for a while; however, as with any new skill, you will get better and better at changing your focus. Know that when you make an intention, the Universe always listens.
I also want to say that whatever is happening in your life is supposed to be happening for a reason that you might not be able to comprehend right now. Yes, everything happens for a reason. When I’m challenged by life, I know without a doubt that the challenge is needed and the challenge is here for me to elevate to a higher level of growth and understanding. All challenges are good—regardless of how they might make you feel. All challenges bring an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth. All challenges bring an opportunity for you to shine brighter.
You mentioned you have children. How do you want your children to face challenges? Do you want your children to focus on what’s wrong with their lives? Or do you want your children to find peace and happiness with whatever life brings them? Do you want your children to be able to meet every challenge life brings them with gratitude and acceptance? Your children are watching you, and more importantly, your children are feeling your energy. Be the living example of how to navigate through life!
Your Husband and Making Marriage Work
Your words are screaming a limited perspective.
“My spouse has moved on to his next pet project, has not been very approachable, and takes on almost no responsibility. He is fairly clueless . . .”
“I’ve been trying to talk to him for years, but he is not approachable . . .”
“My spouse acts more like a babysitter than a loving parent.”
“How can I make this marriage work?”
How do you expect to “make this marriage work” when you harbor feelings of resentment and disdain for your husband? It sounds like (at least in this letter) that you share none of the responsibility for the state of your marriage. To begin with, you are extremely critical of your husband. It’s interesting because there was a time in my life where I too was extremely critical of my ex-husband, along with being critical of everybody else I knew. Criticizing others was a daily habit of mine. There is one huge problem with criticizing anyone and that is you subtract from your happiness when you do that. Secondly, when you criticize anyone, the words you use are actually meant for you! Ouch! So ask yourself:
- Am I ever non-approachable? When does this happen, and why?
- Are there times or specific occasions when I take on almost no responsibility? When does this happen, and why?
- Are there times when I am or act fairly clueless? When does this happen, and why?
- Are there times when I act more like a babysitter than a loving parent? When does this happen, and why?
- Are there times when I act more like a babysitter than a loving partner? When does this happen, and why?
Now, when are you going to change?
There are 7.2 billion people on this planet, and I’m sure that more than one person would love to trade places with you. Why? You have a home. You have food. You have children. You physically survived a car accident with the ability to walk again. (I have a dear friend who has been paralyzed since high school). You have a husband who is his own person. I could go on, but I’m sure you get my point.
Let me share two real-life stories. I have a girlfriend who at thirty-six years old attracted breast cancer. Her reaction? According to her own words, contracting cancer was a “gift from God to her and her family.” Why? Because before the cancer, she took her own existence for granted. She let small things bother her. She was easy to anger. She found fault with her life and her family. She was living without feelings of gratitude and appreciation for life itself. Her diagnosis changed her life. Her diagnosis changed her perspective. She chose to view her diagnosis as a gift.
I met a blind man on the bus last year. I purposely sat next to him and asked him how had he become blind? He told me he was hit on the back of the head with a baseball bat and lost his sight. He was twenty-one at the time. He then went on to tell me that he was grateful for losing his sight! He told me being blind saved his life! He told me being blind was a gift from God. How could this be possible, I asked? His story was not unique. As a young man, he was a member of a street gang. His daily “to-do” list consisted of gangbanging, stealing, and murder. He even admitted to participating in dismembering and disposing of bodies. The blind man told me he would have surely been in prison or dead, if he hadn’t stopped his behavior. The baseball bat to the back of his head saved his life, and more importantly, he was grateful and appreciative. Now he shares his story with young men who are in gangs or at risk of following in his footsteps.
You commented that your husband says you take on too many personal projects? Is this true? What are they? Do they conflict with the time you need to focus on your priorities? What are your priorities? What can YOU do to create a livable, sustainable balance between your priorities and your personal projects? I support you and understand that we all need something that’s just for us, especially when we give of ourselves to others on a daily basis. Please continue to engage in whatever nourishes your soul.
Lastly, you wrote, “This is not the life I had envisioned.” Life is never about what we envision, my dear Questions. Life is what the Universe envisions for us. After decades of suffering due to resisting reality, I’ve finally surrendered and realized that I do not have control over what happens to me. Because if I did, I would have designed my life a whole lot differently than how it has unfolded. What I do have control over is my perspective, my attitude, my focus, my intentions, my words, my beliefs, and my behavior. Finally, I trust and surrender to whatever the Universe has in store for me. The Universe knows what each of us needs to experience. Know this and trust it.
What are some suggestions you would make to someone who is talented but just can’t see how good they really are?
I usually don’t answer third-party questions about other people. With that said, know that the person you are speaking of is on his or her own path of journey and discovery. By the way, one of the ways to subtract from your own happiness is keep noticing what other people are doing. Mind your own business and you’ll be happier.
When a person is run by ego, based on the books I’ve read, it is actually self-destructive. It’s important not to confuse ego with self-confidence and self-esteem—a person should not feel badly about themselves; however, ego puts your thinking outside of the present and actually can cause depression and bad feelings. Thoughts?
One of the reasons I don’t address or respond to hypothetical and/or philosophical questions is because nothing really gets solved. Your comment can debated for hours and I’m a solution orientated kind-of-girl.
You don’t have a question and your statements are generic in nature. I’d love to be of assistance; however it’s difficult for me to understand what you need. Please write in again and ask a specific question as to what you’re experiencing and I’ll be happy to share my perspective.
I don’t like to admit this, but I am unhappy with another person’s success. It doesn’t even matter if I know the person or not. I always notice what someone else has that I don’t have. I have struggled with this for years and have not found an answer that will rid me of this awful behavior. It’s not that I don’t want them to have their success, but I feel I deserve success too. Can you please help me with this?
I love, love, love your question. Believe me when I tell you that you are not alone with this dilemma. Don’t tell anyone, but I was guilty of the same type of behavior . . . for years. It was really hard for me to fake enjoyment if I thought I deserved the same things I was coveting. And as you said, I did not want to deny anyone else their good fortune, but I always wondered when my pot of gold was going to arrive at my door. I was stuck for quite a while, until I asked the Universe for help. As you know, when you ask it is always given.
I asked, “Universe, why am I bothered when someone else experiences what I want to experience? Why can’t I be happy for someone else’s good fortune?” I should have asked a lot sooner and saved myself years of misery because the answer came very quickly. The reality is I am not bothered! My ego is the one that’s bothered! I am not my ego. I am a physical extension of the Universe and, therefore, I truly am not bothered. I am not dissatisfied with someone else’s success, but my ego sure was dissatisfied.
It was time for me to finally realize, accept, and remember that there are two separate entities/energies living inside of me. One is the ego and the other one is the Universe. How I feel depends solely on which entity/energy I pay attention to.
I thought a marriage is about give and take and mutual support. I keep giving but now I am resentful because it’s not mutual. My husband is good at taking and thinks mostly of himself. His actions are guided by doing what makes him happy. He shies away from responsibility. But he follows your principles of making self-happy, putting his own happiness above all else. Example: When my son was fourteen years old and doing poorly in school, and clinically depressed, my husband was busy making plans to travel to New York to teach a workshop. That’s the part about the pursuit of self-happiness that I don’t quite understand. And I get it: I have to look out for myself and create my own happiness. I’m married to someone who is looking out for himself. I’m not faulting him, but it’s taken me twenty years and a major financial set-back to recognize the imbalance and why I feel so drained.
I am going to respond to you without a single reference to your husband. What your husband did, does, or doesn’t do has nothing to do with you or your happiness. Further, your circumstances, including your child’s health, have nothing to do with your happiness. Nothing.
Let me be perfectly clear. It’s not your fault for thinking other people and various circumstances are responsible for your happiness. That’s what we all are taught at a very early age: Someone else is responsible for our happiness. Take a look at the media. There’s always someone else to blame. I did it. I placed the blame on everyone except myself as to why I was so unhappy. My dear Drained, the reason you feel discontentment and unhappiness is coming from inside of you. And contrary to what you think, the reason why you feel “so drained” is because your focus has been on everything and everyone else other than you.
The formula for happiness never includes anyone else other than you. Everyone else is excluded including children, spouses, parents, friends, co-workers, cashiers, bus drivers, medical staff, travel agents, astronauts, animals, and the mailman. This is a very powerful concept to “get” because now you—and you alone—are responsible for your happiness. Let me repeat. You are responsible for your own happiness.
Now that you know the truth, what are you going to do about it? As I see it, you only have two choices: (1) You can power-up and take on the responsibility for your happiness or (2) you can continue to feel powerless and make excuses and blame other people and or circumstances for your unhappiness. I look at life like this: If I’m solely responsible for my happiness, and I am, what do I need to do now? What do I need to change? How do I change? How do I integrate this new information into my daily life? I’m glad you asked. Here’s how.
You want to be happy? Practice the following every day for the rest of your life.
- STOP criticizing yourself or others
- STOP complaining about yourself or others
- STOP judging yourself or others
- STOP expecting anything from someone else
- STOP blaming someone else for your unhappiness
- STOP noticing what someone else is doing
- STOP discussing anyone else unless its complimentary
Now you don’t have to practice any of the above. But I promise you that if you don’t, you will remain unhappy. You want to be happier?
- START looking in the mirror for answers and solutions
- START accepting people just as they are
- START allowing people to be themselves, without judgment
- START practicing gratitude
- START becoming more Self-aware
- START being honest with yourself
- START making small changes
Remember, every time you criticize, complain, judge, blame, have expectations, and focus on “what’s wrong,” you are literally subtracting from your happiness. Now that you know the truth, what are you going to do about it? Remember, your happiness is never, and I repeat, never dependent on anyone else. I don’t care what they’re doing or what they are not doing. I realize we were all programmed to believe that someone else is responsible for our feelings but that is not the truth. No one has the power to make you unhappy.
Finally, I’d like you to know that you will find the happiness you seek if you are willing to journey on the road less traveled. The reason why people are not as happy as they could be is because they are not willing to commit to the arduous daily task of monitoring Self. It’s called living consciously and being self-aware.
Warning: Taking responsibility for your own happiness is not necessarily easy, pleasant, or fun.
In addition: Dear Drained,
I want you to know that this is your time. It’s time to make changes and begin living happily-ever-after. I have an important question for you. If I asked your husband about the marriage, what would he say? There are always two sides to every story. I’m curious: Are you able to create a list as to what your husband would say about you? Be honest. Honesty brings freedom and clarity. Think about that and write back.
Drained writes back:
He would say that:
- We have a lot of issues that need to be worked out, and it will take time
- I repeat myself
- I don’t listen
- It’s not tit for tat (I want “compensation” for what I do)
- I compare our marriage to other marriages
- We have a long history
- I am “all over the place” with discussions, I am hard to talk to, and impossible to have a meaningful discussion with
- I am too pointed in my comments
- I start too many projects
- I don’t put things away
- I am disorganized and I should do things the way he suggested.
I’ve written down all the things I do (taxes, monthly bills, managing property, remodeling rental property, homeschooling, grocery shopping, cooking, tending to kid’s health issues, financial planning, gardening, etc.). And I asked him to mark those that he feels are most important. All other things will either be hired out or given less priority. This was about two or three years ago, and he claims he responded and returned the sheet of paper. Then he said maybe he still has it because I certainly did not get it. (I wrote it down because he was generally too “busy” when I asked to have a talk in person).
The only responsibilities he has (meaning things he can be relied upon to do on a regularly basis) is he brings in the mail. He does other things, but if he has the time, and does not want it to be responsible. He doesn’t acknowledge that I do just about everything in the house. If he doesn’t acknowledge it, then he doesn’t have to give credit. Somewhere along the line, that’s where I started to get resentful and lost the joy.
Here’s my second enlightened moment. I’ve been taking on more and more each year. The more I did, he’d be happy, but only for a while. Then I’d have to do more and more until we are here and I do just about everything in the house. Maybe I thought it would help him by taking care of business. Maybe if he was happy, then our marriage would be better. Or, that he would love me more. And, sometimes it was easier to just do it than wait for him to get around to it and/or avoid a big discussion. In all fairness, I definitely have my flaws and my own neuroses and am not easy to live with. I am trying to recall all his other complaints. He has a lot, for sure. That’s about all I can recall for now.
This might be difficult to hear but the truth is that if your husband did everything you asked him to and he behaved exactly the way you wanted him to, you would still be unhappy. Why? Because happiness is an inside job—period. One of the reasons for your frustration is you think that if your husband changed, you’d be happy. I’m here to tell you, unequivocally, that is not the case. Your husband is not the source of your unhappiness.
- Your happiness does not depend on what anyone else says.
- Your happiness does not depend on what anyone else doesn’t say.
- Your happiness does not depend on what anyone does.
- Your happiness does not depend on what anyone else doesn’t do.
- Your happiness does not depend on your circumstances either, regardless of what they are.
Unless you engage in a daily moment-by-moment commitment to growing beyond who you are now, you will never find the happiness you seek. Happiness comes from within. There are no exceptions. The road to happiness begins and ends with the person in the mirror.
What Else Is Wrong?
A second issue, according to you, is that you carry the majority of the household responsibility. Let’s say that’s true. Let me share with you what I’ve learned about “giving of myself” and happiness. Whenever I decide to give someone something, whether it’s my time, or an actual gift, or take on added responsibilities like the example you stated earlier, I make the decision and choice to give without expecting anything back in return—including expecting a thank-you. In other words, I give without strings or conditions attached.
I didn’t always have that perspective—give without expectations of anything in return. In fact, the majority of my life I unconsciously and sometimes consciously gave to get something back in return. What were some of the things I wanted in return? What I wanted varied from love, time, attention, kindness, praise, acknowledgement, credit, compassion, concern, sympathy, friendship, responsiveness, and money, to name a few examples of what I expected when I extended myself just as you stated earlier.
Happiness Is Always My Priority
While on my journey of prioritizing happiness, I learned that when I give I cannot expect anything in return. I have to give without strings or conditions attached to whatever I’m giving. As I mentioned before, I can’t even expect a thank-you. Why? Because expectations subtract from happiness. Expectations always subtract from happiness. My dear Drained, you have so many expectations, it’s no wonder you are so unhappy.
Don’t tell anyone, but I used to be extremely unhappy. I was trapped in a cycle of blaming and finger-pointing. I was easily offended, easily irritated, quick to anger, bossy, opinionated, controlling, confrontational, moody, critical, and I needed to be right—about everything. Need I go on? Did I want to be happy? Had you asked me that question then, I would have said, “Of course I do.” However, I had no clue that my behavior was literally sucking and subtracting the happiness out of my life. When I discovered that my former behavior and my need to be happy weren’t compatible, I was forced to change my behavior. And, I don’t mind admitting any of the above, because, quite frankly, I’m very proud of the behaviors I chose to eliminate from my life.
So, you see, it’s up to you, and only you, to make all the necessary changes if you want to be happy. It’s up to you to change your perspectives. It’s up to you to change your behavior. It’s up to you to choose your focus. It’s up to you to become a happy person.
I guarantee that when you eliminate the behaviors that subtract from happiness, your life changes. You have the power and ability to be happy, regardless of your circumstances and regardless of what anyone else does, says, or doesn’t say or do. Now that you know the truth about happiness, the ball is in your court. You can change your life, but you have to change you first.
RealitySpiriutality Radio Show: A woman called in looking for answers.
Caller: I’m feeling disillusioned by what is happening in my life. I’m waiting for a decision, and I don’t think it will turn out well.
Rebecca: If you look back in your life, have you ever noticed that everything that has happened to you was for a good reason?
Caller: No. I cannot say that. People are taking things away from me.
Rebecca: What do you mean? External things?
Caller: Yes. My career. People are sabotaging me.
Rebecca: There are 360 different ways to look at the same circumstance, in order to find happiness and peace. Is there any way you can change your perspective and find something good in what is happening to you now?
Caller: No. You can’t help me, can you? Why don’t you just say that you don’t have any answers?
Rebecca: I answered you.
Click. She hung up.
RealitySpiriutality Radio Show:
A woman called in to my radio show this morning. Her name was Tina. She asked me if I did physic readings and I told her no. She sounded disappointed but I still asked her why she called? She told me she wanted to know what was going to happen between her and Louis. She said she wanted to get married, and said they’d shared a wonderful day together on Valentine’s Day (2014). She wanted to know if he was going to marry her. I asked how long they had been seeing each other. She paused for a long time then said, “Quite a while.” I asked her how long? “A long time,” she replied. I pressed on. Five years? Ten? Fifteen? “What’s a long time?” I asked. Tina was silent and refused to respond to the question. The exact reason why she didn’t want to tell me how long she had been dating could have been a myriad of reasons. Maybe she thought I would judge her? Maybe she was embarrassed or ashamed to admit how long it had been? Maybe she’s a private person? Only Tina knows the answer to that question. One thing I do know is that if you cannot admit how long you’ve been dating a person, there is a reason why.
When I felt Tina’s energy, I was inspired to tell her that even though I’m not a physic, I was going to make a prediction. I told her, “Whatever is happening between you and Louis today is going to happen tomorrow. Whatever you are experiencing today, you will experience it again tomorrow. Nothing is going to change unless you change.”
After that, Tina hung up.
Note: Freedom comes from being able to look in the mirror and tell yourself the truth. When you’re not able to tell truth to yourself, it’s impossible to experience peace or happiness. Some people live their entire lives not being honest with Self. No judgment here, I’m merely stating the truth.
A Facebook Friend responds to Rebecca’s Facebook post: “The best response to an insult is to not respond at all.”
FB Friend: Very difficult strategy to adhere to. Also, if you don’t respond won’t the insulting person just think they’re right?
Rebecca: What a great question. Let me ask you this. Who’s more powerful? The person that is easily offended or the person that you cannot offend? Further, I know this may sting but it’s impossible to be offended unless you believe the offense is true.
Further, your ego is the entity that feels the need to respond–not your Spiritual Self. When you allow your ego to make decisions get ready to crash head first into a brick wall and be unhappy.
FB Friend: If you don’t respond wouldn’t the insulting person just think they are right?
Rebecca: It really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you. It only matters what you think about you. Further, when you truly feel good about self, no one has the power to insult you.