It is important to learn all I can, to read books on all kinds of subjects, because it helps me to see myself and others more clearly. The more I know myself and see clearly the more I can love and respect others.
The atonement not only allows me to be forgiven of my sins when I repent, but pays for and compensates for all sadness, pain and tears. I have agency and make choices good and bad. Sometimes I do not realize that I am causing others pain. The atonement covers that as well, for both of us.
Respect is essential! It is OK if others have different ideas than I have. It is never OK to get angry at someone because they do not think the same or do not know what I want or am thinking. No one else is responsible for my feelings. When something goes wrong I should not blame others. I can be loving and kind to those around me even if I have had a bad day or feel bad. I can show empathy by asking how someone else’s day went. When I give loving hellos and goodbyes to my loved ones they can feel my love. I can share my dreams and myself with my loved ones. I can listen to someone without interrupting or trying to think of a response, but instead really hear what they are saying. When others are happy I can be happy with them and celebrate with them their achievements. I can show interest in other people’s interests. I can respond to others, engage with others and be a good friend, especially in my family. It is not OK to ignore another person. It is not OK to divert a conversation to avoid discussing a problem.
Respect takes time and effort but earns respect back from healthy people. When I respect myself and others my self-esteem grows.
Don’t take offense.
“Don’t take offense” reminds me that I have a choice. I do not have to be offended because of something someone says or does. I can choose not to be offended.
This is easy to say and hard to do at first, but gets easier with practice. This is easier to do with strangers than with loved ones. But, feeling bad and hurt harms me and I waste so much time worrying about why the other person did or said whatever they did. I am learning that I do not have to take things personally. I can recognize when I am making assumptions and put those aside. The problem with assumptions is that I believe them when they may or may not be true.
Of course there may be times when I need to talk to the other person. God can help me decide if I need to ask questions, to stand up for myself or just to let it go.
When I think that someone may be trying to hurt me, I can decide not to take offense or to retaliate. Such incidents will then vanish away and not leave a mark on me. I do not have to take or accept offense. I can choose to not take things personally.
What is respect?
When I was growing up, I learned very little about how respect really works. There was demand for and talk of it, but no one showed respect for each other.
As an older adult at work, I learned that I receive value when I work hard and do my part and then trust others to do their work. But, in my personal life I had trouble respecting myself or my loved ones with addictions.
In support meetings we treat each other with love. I hear that everyone is worthwhile and loveable. We take turns sharing and everyone is given a chance to speak. We thank each other for sharing. I am learning not to judge, criticize, argue or give advice. When we listen to each other the spirit is present and our shared words are there for anyone to absorb and use or to discard. In support meetings we value each other.
I am learning that I need to give others time to learn difficult lessons just like I need time. As I learn to value others I am beginning to respect myself and my loved ones.
Being true to me.
I developed shortcomings of worry, fear, anxiety, isolation and low self-esteem from living with loved ones with addictions. After attending support groups for a time, I realized that the root of these problems was an inability to be true to myself. I wanted to please people so I would let them take advantage of me. I often felt depressed when I did something expected, when it was not in alignment with my values and goals. But, I would feel guilty when I chose to do something I wanted to do over something another wanted. It was hard to walk between the two and I often felt either guilty or depressed.
Support groups have taught me to take care of myself and that I have rights. I can share in meetings and no one interrupts me or gives me advice unless I ask. I can “take what I like and leave the rest”. Support groups tell me that my anonymity and confidentiality will be protected and only I can disclose them.
I am learning that “no is a complete sentence” and I do not have to give explanations. Pleasing other people is not a good reason to do something. I am learning to “stop taking things personally”. I learned that I cannot make people do what I want them to do. Since I cannot make people like me by what I say or do, I should do what I think is best as long as it does not hurt anyone else.
If I set realistic goals and I can achieve them step by step. It is the process and the learning that are important. The outcome is irrelevant.
Taking care of myself, learning and growing, and achieving goals have led me to personal growth and higher self-esteem. I am worth something and I can choose how to live my life.
Fear and Defects.
Fear is often the catalyst for bringing out my defects and old behaviors. Trying to control other people, places or things – things over which I have no power, can trigger my fear. Living in the past or the future can also trigger my fear.
When I try to control things over which I have no power, I become fearful and anxious. When I remember that I can only control me and put the focus back on myself, my responsibilities and then my fear shrinks. I remember I can handle my own responsibilities with God’s help.
When I spend too much time living in the past, I feel fearful and guilty. When I spend too much time thinking about the future I start to worry and get fearful. Living in the present moment helps me to be calm and more peaceful. When my mind is going round in circles about the past or the future, I can focus on what I’m doing right now and my fear recedes. I can focus on enjoying what I’m eating, put my energy into cleaning, cook a fabulous meal or focus on whatever I’m doing right now. These are precious moments that I don’t want to lose by living in the past or worrying about the future.
Fear is a normal and natural human feeling. There are many things that can trigger my fear. Learning about the atonement in support groups has given me tools that I can use to let go of fear.