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“My basis of morality is this: does this action enhance life, or does it denigrate life? Does it build up or does it tear down?”    John Shelby Spong

As I age I find I am still trying to separate myself from some instilled negative ways of living. Having brought this dilemma to the attention of others throughout my life, I have found most if not all of us suffer from observing the cycles of negative behavior displayed by others in  our environment. Aggression that is found in some family atmospheres tends to bring out our own aggression. Passive aggression observed from a parent’s way of dealing with anger or frustration teaches us how to  use these tools as needed in retaliation, survival or whatever. Bullying, competition found in full bloom teaches us power and control in a negative manner and jealousy.As much as we pick up from our home environments, we vow to ourselves to do things differently. Perhaps we all believe we fail at this but likely we have not and likely we have improved our behavior. I must laugh when I hear the words, “I don’t want to be like my  father, or mother.” Yes we find the pieces of our home environments that simple didn’t work very good and we choose to attempt to do better.

Even when we find ourselves repeating a learned mistake we soothe our wounds with thoughts of not wanting to be like so and so. Lets’ face it, changing learned negative behavior is not easy. The good part is recognizing the unworthiness of negative thinking is half of the battle and a well begun beginning to transformation. I find for most of us we fall into a middle category but still repeat some harmful mistakes of previous generations. One finds that when we suddenly yell at kids or our husbands in a negative and condescending manner, it resembles the numerous times we observed the same negative behavior in the homes of our birth.

Later we are sorry and we ease our conscience with the understanding that it was all for the benefit of the person we yelled at. If they hadn’t gotten us upset or had finished what they were responsible for then we wouldn’t have had to behave in such a manner.  At those times we almost feel justified in our actions. On the other side of the problem we remember our own difficult times of putting up with similar hurtful situations.

I honestly feel that sensing the feelings we recall from the past is a learning situation. It reinforces our desire to change for the better. It is never about where we are at but where we are going. Perhaps at times when we behave poorly in our own assessments, it becomes more of a hands on type of learning that is deeply instilled. Learned behavior is extremely difficult to free oneself from but not impossible.

The knowledge that we comprehend the negative impact helps us immediately to be that much wiser from our learned actions. We do absorb the goodness that we grow up with as well as the negative. It is up to us to acknowledge the differences and tread a new path for ourselves. That  is how we alter and grow into something more positive.

If we observed constant fighting and bickering growing up, perhaps we find more fault in our spouse than is actually present. When we observe bullying it can’t help but instill us with aggressive thoughts if only for the sake of defending ourselves. Expecting deceit brings it. Expecting anger, fighting, rivalry, unfairness and any negative attribute also sends it our way. Start expecting improvement in all areas and you’ll be surprised how much you will see.

I find criticism of any kind to be the most detrimental to the flourishing nature of the child. Living with a constant barrage of hurtful accusations is like having an onslaught on your spirit. I know that the insults are usually meant to be a way of inspiring better behavior. I venture to say the good behavior may advance but the self-esteem dwindles. We are all more fragile than we admit. We further our security and confidence when we recognize our own merit.

Listening to others complain about our imperfections ruins our sense of self and depletes our energy. Children are not immune to disparagement. Perhaps a bit of encouragement and support might spur kids on and build their resolve to amend. Some of us procrastinate, suffer a temper, deal with meekness in defending ourselves,  and worst of all adults and children take the denigrating remarks of others, to heart where they chip away confidence. The end result is sometimes despair and desertion of attaining any goals and a total lack of effort.

When one is broken, it is hard to glue the pieces back together. I for one will always glue those pieces, regardless of how many,  because as we develop,  however slowly, the scars and seams fade away. The vital importance of accepting self and admitting the genuine amount of goodness within us is significant. Blocking the flood of negative thoughts about self is the first step. It is okay to observe and notice that we have value. Finding that begins our journey of self discovery and a reality of truth and joy in the virtuous we easily find.

many people praise others for so many reasons. People are honored and glorified for so much. We hold on pedestals, those the world admires. There is so much we don’t really know about such individuals. Everyone hides what they don’t like about self. When we see only the negative about self we are hiding the truth about our own praiseworthiness. Some sins are simply hidden better than others. As stealthy as it is to cover up negative truth, it is even more horrendous to ignore and deny the positive truth.

When upset many of us wallow in self pity and display a forlorn and low opinion of ourselves. We hold a belief at that time, that we are the equivalent of dirt under the feet of others. Such is so not the case. The ability to feel so much pain, remorse and self deprecation tells a different story. The sensitivity explains a deepness of one’s character. It is full of empathy waiting to be unleashed. the understanding of desperation which comes from a loss of faith in ones self displays an unperceived ability of humbleness. Turning the negative into positive breathes life into the body.

Everyone falters. Accept that about self rather than the constant criticism of disgrace. Improving is always a possibility. Defeatism is like a dead end road. We don’t ever want to discourage others from advancing. We can all do with development, both the highest among us and the lowest. The way we help someone to expand  is crucial.

Parents unwittingly can put us off our game. We  do the same to our own kids. Nobody plans it. We just try to solve problems with the knowledge we have at the time. Trust in your own abilities to perceive what feels right. Disregard the fear and challenge to change. Ignore the naysayers who make you hesitate in trusting your importance. Let go of blame because we all make mistakes so don’t keep placing the fault on others. We are all doing our best. Accept the goodness you found at home and toss away the negative. There is not time for blame only for learning understanding moving on and doing and saying everything with love. Nobody can go wrong with that remedy.

“Imagine for a moment the result if everyone were to love one another as Jesus loves his disciples. We would have no bickering, quarreling, strife, or contention in our homes. We would not offend or insult one another either verbally or in any other way. We would not have unnecessary litigation over small matters.”    Joseph B. Wirthlin

“I am suggesting that as we go through life, we ‘accentuate the positive.’ I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment and endorse virtue and effort.”    Gordon B. Hinckley


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