How is meditation benefiting you? Make a list of benefits. If you have never practiced meditation before, when do you plan to get started? Are you ready to go to the next level of meditation? If so, what do you plan to practice? Wilton would have a stressful day at work and go home feeling exhausted, worn out and overwhelmed. So she would get on the computer and play solitaire and the things she needed to do at home would pile up. Her to-do list would grow longer and longer; she would feel more and more overwhelmed and exhausted, play more and more solitaire, and fall further and further behind. This looks like an escape from real life, from feelings, especially anger, and from to-do's. If I give and give, people will pay me backIt's nice to help others, but don't use it as a way to buy their affection. Many people have secret "strings" attached to their favours, such as "If I do this for them, they will do something for me." Because the other person does not know about these "strings," they rarely follow through. Excessive giving can actually make people uncomfortable. My opinions don't matter; others are probably rightYou have a right to your own opinions. If others disagree, it does not mean that you are wrong.
You are the expert on your life, your thoughts, feelings and actions. It is rude to disagree. Conversations are often more interesting if people share their thoughts in a relaxed way, without trying to convince others to agree. It's natural to want to know where you fit into the scheme of things. But measuring your worth, your abilities, opportunities, your career progress and so on with other people can only lead to feeling inferior. You are too unique to compare fairly.
Your skills, abilities, contributions and value are entirely unique to you and your purpose in this world. They can never be fairly compared to anyone else. How, then, can you break free from comparing yourself in negative ways to other people? As I explained to Gina, comparing yourself to someone else puts focus on the wrong person. Your time and effort could be better spent thinking positively about yourself. I came up with lots of good strategies to help Wilton deal with these problems. It took me a while to realize that whatever I suggested, she wasn't going to do, at least not for a long, long time. Sometimes she would eventually incorporate a strategy and her life would improve, but basically, if we planned a project for this Saturday, she was not going to do it. She would just be "too tired". Wilton does not like being told what to do, because being told what to do suggests to her that her intelligence and competence is not being recognized. Although she is indeed intelligent and competent, her ADD ties her in knots, as does her resistance to being told what to do. She is hypersensitive to that. She feels she's being told what to do even when, for example, I collaboratively work out a plan with her or make gentle suggestions. Of course, sometimes I've forgotten and haven't been all that gentle, which only makes it worse. I have to do everything that I am asked to doYou have the right to decide what you will and will not do. If you always do what others ask, you may feel used, angry, resentful and not in control of your life. Herophilus, the ancient Greek physician said, When health is absent, wealth is useless. Another sage, the Roman poet Virgil, said it in a different way: The greatest wealth is health. Both of these wise men recognized that riches do not mean a thing if you do not have your health. The opposite is also true, however.
If you don't have money, it is harder to have health. Having money makes it easier to be healthier much of the time. You have money for trainers, health clubs, trips to relax, supplements, and, of course, medical care. Unfortunately, substantial evidence also exists that poverty is linked to poor health. Stress on individuals and families; lack of access to medical, dental, and vision care; long working hours; and reliance on cheaper but often less nutritious foods increase health risks and make children especially vulnerable. One area in which money and health are very closely connected is the issue of obesity. A 2011 George Washington University study concluded the average annual cost of being obese was $4,879 for women and $2,646 for men, based on indirect costs such as diminished productivity and direct costs such as medical care. An obese woman could have almost $600,000 in savings and an obese man more than $320,000 if the added costs were invested at five percent annual return over a forty-year career. Once again, it helps to break free of the comparison habit if you ask yourself: In what way is it helpful for me to think like this?' Ask yourself too:in what way is it unhelpful for me to think like this?' If comparisons leave you feeling discouraged, demotivated and depressed, then clearly it's not helpful to think like this. Recognize that your thoughts are unhelpful. Let them go. Move on to focusing on what you have done and are doing rather than what everyone else has done and is doing. Reflect on what you've experienced, achieved and/or overcome. See how far you have come. Compare yourself with yourself. Go back to the exercise (in Chapter 6) where you were asked to identify your personal qualities. There will be qualities that you have ticked and unique reasons why you have those qualities. That's because you are unique. You're not a replica of someone else. Even if you had a genetic twin, you would have grown up with different influences, experiences and choices.
So how could your opportunities and achievements be the same? They couldn't. So try to see everyone, including yourself, as unique individuals with their own pasts and their own future potential. Make a conscious effort to free yourself from comparisons and instead focus on your own qualities and pursue your own goals in your own way. Wilton grew up feeling that she was never doing well enough and that she always could have done better, and that her intelligence and competence were not being recognized. She developed perfectionism, which is one way to try to deal with a sense of inadequacy and shame. Unfortunately, perfectionism makes it harder to do anything. It feeds into procrastination. Wilton takes pride in her writing and editing abilities, so she finds it very hard to do what I'm doing right now, which is to just go ahead and write, just to get something down on paper (or into the computer). I can edit later. Wilton finds it hard to just write; she is trying to make it perfect as she goes. The successful author Anne Lamott makes a big point of this; she says her first drafts are always crap. She just has to get something down on the paper. Wilton says she can't write without editing at the same time and that's hard and it's never good enough. So she procrastinates, and has trouble finishing, so things pile up on her, and so she feels exhausted. Wilton becomes stuck. So life goes for her, in a series of vicious cycles and feedback loops. How much of her trouble is ADD and how much is personality and learned patterns, and how much did the ADD contribute to the personality and learned patterns? We are pecking away at all this in her therapy. Fortunately, through her hard work in therapy and her learning some ADD strategies, Wilton is feeling better about herself.
She is less self-critical, and is becoming better at handling things, including her anger, her boss, and her to-do list. She is using manila folders at work, and colors, and lists. She is deciding when to end a phone call, and generally paying more attention to self-care. Her life is going better. I'm entitled to get what I want by expressing my anger. Of course you are entitled to have and express your feelings. Anger is a normal emotion and there is no need to feel guilty about it. However, expressing anger aggressively rarely gets you what you want. It can hurt relationships and lead to regrets. If I'm not aggressive, I won't get anywhere. Intimidating people will often get your needs met in the short term. Unfortunately, in the long term, aggression hurts relationships. People will learn to distrust, resent, and avoid you if you overuse this style. So as you see, how you relate to health and money are connected. If you don't have your health, what good is your money--except to pay for the high cost of healthcare? If you have good health, you can take care of yourself and create a life of gratefulness, happiness, and joy. Remember, the secret to enjoying your life is to stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit. The person who taught me about the connection between health and money was not one of the ancient sages but my father. As he said, Never trade your health for the appearance of wealth. Always live within your means, and stay out of debt.