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Benefits of Keeping a Journal – Part 3: More Lessons from My Year-End Review

In last week’s blog I explained my tradition of ending the old year by looking back at that year’s journal entries to review the truly significant experiences and observations and to record the new “Ahas” in the file I call my Wisdom Pages.


In that blog I shared how I still struggle with my old programming that wants me to say “Yes” when I really want to say “No” out of fear of losing love. This programming comes from my issues with what psychologists call attachment. The more secure our childhood attachments are with our parents and other significant people in our lives, the healthier our attachments are as adults in romantic and other relationships.


Losing my father at age eleven and then coping with my mother’s extreme fragility and my older brother’s lack of emotional availability created a lack of secure attachments for me and, at the same time, created a hidden self-defeating programming in my mind that often tended to sabotage me from getting what I wanted in close relationships.


In therapy I discovered that my lack of secure attachments in childhood prevented me from knowing how to create fulfilling romantic relationships later in life. I tended to choose people who had similar attachment issues and therefore weren’t any better attuned than I was to giving or receiving what I craved. Still, I wanted attachment so much that I often fell into the patterns I described, of sacrificing my integrity by turning my head to what I felt was right in order to try to get the other person’s love.


I have come to understand that the only person who can truly satisfy my attachment needs is me; no one else can fill that void. I have had to learn to parent myself and create a secure attachment to myself in order to create the potential to have loving attachments to others.

I’ve also had to let go of my resignation and cynicism about relationships and to open myself to the possibility that I could satisfy my desire to love and be loved.

Another key understanding I had in 2013 is that each of us lives in our own UNIQUE virtual world of perceptions (literally our own virtual reality), which varies from individual to individual, and that we can instantly “flip” the way we see an experience—the way we see the world—by looking at it with another possible interpretation.


The clearest way to see how our minds can work to do this is with a visual example that we can see in two radically different ways, depending on how we look at it. You can see the picture below as a profile of a candlestick or, if you flip your perspective, it’s two people in profile looking at each other.


It’s hard to believe, but everything can be looked at from this “flipping” perspective. For example, you might tell a runner that she has to be careful that she’s running on an appropriate surface because running on a hard surface can cause knee damage. One person could interpret your comment as helpful information while another could interpret it as a criticism, as if you’re saying that she is “wrong” or even stupid to be running on concrete.


It all depends on how the person hears/interprets what you’re saying—and that person can flip it one way or the other. It’s important to be mindful and realize that the eye can only see, and the ear can only hear, what the mind is willing to process; how we respond to every situation we encounter is dependent on our perceptions. The more mindful we are, the more accurately we experience the world.


We often tend to see our perceptions as facts even though they are just our interpretations. That’s why one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned, which appears in my journal year after year, and which has a place of honor in my Wisdom Pages, is “Feelings are not facts.” We may feel that something is “the truth” and that if someone doesn’t feel as we do, they are “wrong,” but when this happens, it’s just two different perceptions from two unique virtual worlds. And every virtual world can be flipped.


It’s enlightening to consider the old adage that tells us to walk a mile in another’s shoes. It really opens up our horizons for empathy, compassion, and the potential to resolve disagreements.

  • 16 Jan, 2014
  • Posted by Steve Fogel
  • 9 Tags

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