The Stuff of Life

The Stuff of Life
For those of us who find nature to be both aesthetically beautiful and life-sustaining.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

I Can't Catch a Break: Everyone and Everything is Out to Get Me!


You keep trying. Life won't give you a break. People won't give you a break. It feels like everyone is actively trying to make life difficult for you. At every turn, you meet a new roadblock or thoughtless person that just won't give you a chance.

You wish others could see how hard you're trying and how much you want to get it right this time. It feels sometimes like no one believes in you. Why don't they believe in you? Why does everyone treat you so badly? Why don't people appreciate what you have to offer?

Here's the thing...

Maybe they never will. Stop waiting. Stop wishing. Stop holding your breath. Stop trying to impress. Most importantly, stop needing that!

Yesterday's choices and consequences will continue to haunt you for as long as you are motivated by extrinsic things and people. Yes, I said it. You have to stop needing to fill yourself up with other people, things, substances, habits, addictions, praise and notoriety.

Intrinsically motivated people are more likely to be successful at finding that elusive thing called happiness. Joy and peace come to those that stop needing other people's acceptance and approval and stop being slaves to substances, words, and labels.

How do I do this, you ask? It is simple, but not easy. The first step as with all great things in life is simply recognizing that you have a bit of an issue. You cannot continue to live blaming the world around you for your problems. Even if it really is the world around you that caused most of your problems. You are the only one that can navigate yourself out of this and you are the only one that will care enough about you to do all the work it requires. And, let's be honest, all of your problems have a common

So, you recognize you have a bit of a problem. Now what? Well, for example, I've worked with clients who constantly seek and need praise. If they don't get enough praise, they get down on themselves. If someone insults them, their mood is affected deeply and at times they give up trying all together. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy at work. If you believe deep down that you suck, you constantly need other people to tell you that you don't suck or you need other things to distract you from your suckage. Once the compliments stop or the snarky comments come your way, you tell yourself, "yep, I knew it...I suck."

This recognition of how the self-fulfilling prophecy works is actually part of the first step of recognizing that you have a bit of a problem.

Step two is quite simple, yet not easy or else everyone would do it. You have to practice reframing absolutely everything that happens to you. You immediately have to be consciously aware of life events and how they impact your overall perception of yourself and you must reframe the situation to give you the most positive outcome about yourself possible. You have to be aware of your thoughts. Thought awareness takes a lot of practice. But, it's immensely empowering if you get good at it.

For example, I have a friend that was called a "wimp" in high school. This was decades ago now. It affected my friend for years. This was so sad and unnecessary. The moment you are called a "wimp," you must reframe it. I frequently tell myself things that assure my conscious brain that I am amazing and that the other person is either jealous, competitive, lonely, misunderstood, damaged or depraved. Whatever it takes. I must come out of every situation with my self-esteem in tact and my self-image undamaged. I've worked long and hard on my sense of self. But, long ago, I was more fragile. This reframing and thought awareness has helped me to build myself a solid foundation that is very, very, difficult to damage. You might knock out one block or two but I promise within 24 hours, I have that block put back in place and even more concrete poured around it to secure it better for the next situation.

I could write on this subject for hours and will write on it again in the future as it is such a human condition. Know that you are the soul person charged with your self-image. You must protect it at all costs. I don't care what you 've done. I don't care what is in your past. The point is that it is in the past. You know that. I know that. You do not need to be reminded of yesterday's mistakes in order to remember that you didn't make all of the best choices in your life. We learn from these things. Other people may be judgmental but I guarantee you they also have made choices that they regret. It's a beautiful thing to not live with regret though. Embrace your mistakes. Love the mistakes for what they give you and for what they have brought to the new you. Don't repeat the mistakes but definitely love the many mental shifts these mistakes inspired in you.

The best change catalyst in my life has always been my mistakes. I love them. I don't regret them. I value the life lessons and I am determined to have a better tomorrow. Because I embrace this philosophy and I do not give others the power over my esteem, no one can punish me by reminding me of yesterday's bad choices. It simply won't work. That's how profound a few simple mental shifts can be. Just like tectonic plates shifting, small shifts in your thinking and behavior can bring massive change in your life and change the trajectory of your life forever. Flush those self-defeating thoughts and stop allowing others to be in control of your sense of self. Take back your esteem and guard it with all that you are because you are not your mistakes. You are a brand new version of you. Reframing is empowerment.


Taking the First Step Toward Reinvention

How do you take the first step toward reinvention? You know you want to do something differently. You've been feeling that familiar "itch" that reminds you that you need to get motivated and accomplish something. You aren't sure yet if it's because you "should" or because you really want to but you recognize that you have this great idea or maybe a slightly good idea or even a "meh" idea that you want to flush out. You just keep getting stuck and the idea never moves forward toward fruition.

The very first step after an idea or a dream hits us is to let the idea resonate for a few days. Flush it out in your mind and on paper. Become obsessed with your idea or your dream. It's ok to be obsessed sometimes. Obsession has gotten a bad rap. Obsession can be absolutely harnessed for personal advancement. Allow yourself to become obsessed with this idea. After you have chewed on the idea for a few days, the work begins. You must picture yourself accomplishing this idea or dream. Imagine the dream is real. What does it look like? This is important because if you can envision it, you can absolutely begin to create it.

The very next step and the true first step toward reinvention is planning what that first step will look like. The primary difference between an idea or a one-day dream and a goal is an action step. What you need to do is provide yourself an action step to actively take. It doesn't matter if the step is small. It's a step. It's vital to the forward movement that we need to accomplish here.

Write down your step. If, for example, you dream of getting a pilot's license. Rather than sit around and talk about it twice a year with Aunt Maggie at the holiday buffet table, actually begin to envision yourself following through with this.

Your first step might be as simple as writing:

Step 1 toward getting my pilot's license: Research how to get a pilot's license.

You see how easy that is?

It's a simple step but it is incredibly profound because now you have planning and forward movement. Now you have pictured it. Now you have imagined it. Now you can accept that it can and it will happen. Now you are working toward it and it no longer is just a spinning thought in your head to help you escape the monotony that has become your plight. You have just created a goal and you have just developed a first step on a continuing plan to bring that goal to life.

Congratulations! The first step is absolutely the hardest step.

Before I let you go, I have to insist that you also put a timeline and a deadline to do the first step and then schedule it and stick to it. Once you do that step, you immediately need to plan the next step.

That is all that is required to accomplish great things in life is planning and taking one small step after another.

Let me know your dreams and first steps as you have time!



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shall Not Be Infringed: A Defense of Our Second Amendment Right to Defend Ourselves

“I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.” ~Virginia’s U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788. (LaPierre, 2009, p. 158).

Controversy is abundant over the second amendment and the verbiage in the amendment has become one of the most debated, argued and misinterpreted pieces of our constitution. The Second Amendment was written in 1789 by Congress and in 1791 it became ratified by the States and became a permanent fixture in our original Bill of Rights.

The Second Amendment was intended to protect and forever preserve all citizens' rights to individually protect themselves and their lives. 

This right of self-protection stated:
“A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” (Barton, 20ll, p. 5).

It's vital to teach from awareness of all sides of a perspective. I am absolutely hyper-aware of the damage, death and destruction that guns have played a role in. As a criminologist, I am also hyperaware of the constitution. I am aware of how vital the protection of every single word is. I am mostly concerned with latent consequences of  infringing upon any of the rights embraced by the bill of rights. 

Over time, anti-gun enthusiasts have taken pieces of history, pieces of the amendment and out-of-context literature then used this information to suit their agendas. The words “shall not be infringed” are immensely self-explanatory. There is no other way to interpret “shall not be infringed,” but to declare and state that this “right” as stated, cannot be broken, undermined, encroached upon or any unauthorized use of the terms being restated. To infringe is to "encroach upon," to "restate" or to "break the terms of" and ultimately to "undermine" the original intent. Those that want to argue that you do not have the right to keep and bear arms are arguing that you do not have the right to defend and protect yourself. This is a direct infringement upon “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

Later, anti-gun activists have argued that “the people” may not be "you or I." They also argue that “the people” means the "socially organized people" such as the military, police and government. This is absolutely taking our history out of context. These rights were written into the constitution in order to protect "you and I" from the infringement of those “socially organized people” or "others" that would threaten our livelihood (Barton, 2011, p. 6-13).

One of the most utilized pieces of legal script used in the origination of the Second Amendment was known as “Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws” (Barton, 2011, p. 15). This commentary became a source for America’s legal system, attorneys and judges as well. The Blackstone Commentary was first introduced in 1766 in America and the commentary clearly stated that citizens have rights to own and use weapons for their own self-defense. It further stated that this is a "natural right" to be used for resistance as well as individual self-preservation in the event that society’s laws are “insufficient to restrain violence of oppression” (Barton, 2011, p. 15).  This was a three part course of action. First, the citizen has the right when their rights have been violated or attacked to justice in the court of laws, secondly, the right to petition a grievance to the government and thirdly, the right of owning, having and using fire arms for self-preservation and self-defense (p. 15).

These citizen militias “being necessary to the security of a free state” were the reasoning behind the historical landscape under which the constitution and the amendment were written and intended. The “free state” was a priority of the times so that our future freedom from the risk of a government that was not of the people, by the people or for the people would not be threatened. This “free state” concept is still a priority as is self-defense and the right to defend our own lives. 

Our founding fathers were suspicious of the motivations of government for good reason. One of Jefferson’s famous quotes sums up this belief: “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in Government” (Pratt, 1995, xii). There lies the number one reason to continue to fight for your right to keep and bear arms given to you by one of our founding fathers himself. He and the founders of the time knew what history has shown many times over: that governments with too much control over the people can and will become dangerous and that the people may, as a last resort, have to defend themselves. The most frightening thing about gun control is when the government itself wants to disarm you. You must ask yourself why? Our founding fathers didn't want to disarm us. We had fought too hard to get where we were and they knew we were a necessary entity.

These rights were so important to our founders that our early history is peppered with examples of how undoubtedly vital gun ownership was in our history. In 1658, Virginia required every home own a working firearm and if you didn't own one, after 1673, the government would provide one for you. In 1676, the law stated that you must carry it with you everywhere that you go. In 1632, the Plymouth Colony required that every citizen bear arms at all times or they would be fined. In 1639, no one was allowed entry to any public gatherings without their firearm in Newport Colony. Later, Connecticut added fines for failure to carry weapons and powder, then Georgia added fines and others followed suit. These laws are evidence that the government not only valued well-armed citizens, but demanded it. They considered every citizen a member of the militia. Every citizen was part of “the public defense” system (Barton, 2011, p. 16).

This brings us to the meaning of “a well-regulated militia." The English militia system under Elizabeth I became a commonly understood “concept of a universally armed people ready to stand in defense of their nation” (Pratt, 1995, p. 7). In the context for which “a well-regulated militia” was written, this "militia" was the citizens of America and the “regulation” was the legal requirement of this militia to keep and bear arms. The citizens of America were “the well-regulated militia.” In the “Centinel” it was written that “a well-regulated militia” is “composed of the body of the people” (Halbrook, 1994, p. 80). The militia was comprised of the people and the people were considered necessary to the “security of the state.”

Why are the people no longer trusted or considered necessary?

“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed-unlike citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”
~James Madison, the father of the Second Amendment  (LaPierre, 2009, p. 6).

Once again, we are reminded that we cannot always rely upon our own government to have our best interests in mind or to protect us in the event that we need to be protected. As was the case in our history, we may need to protect ourselves and it is vital to any self-reliant individual that he or she know how to take care of and defend themselves should the situation call for it. 

Other evidence in our history that the government may not have our back as we would like to believe is made obvious by the following quote:

“To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” Stated by George Mason in “his suspicion of government” (Pratt, 1995, p. xiii).

There is no doubt that our world is every bit as volatile and dangerous as it was in these vital formative years. To disarm citizens today is to say that the citizens are no longer valued and recognized as individuals who have the right to defend and protect themselves. Citizens are no longer respected as being a valuable piece of the public defense system as we once were. Our “rights of the people” are being infringed upon in a dangerous way. 

The government, media and gun control activists would have you believe that owning weapons leads to more violence. This again, is spinning of facts to suit agendas. The right to keep and bear arms and the right to carry them may in itself function as a crime deterrent. Criminals are unaware which citizens may be armed and which citizens may be able to protect themselves. This makes it more difficult to target people for the criminal. Those who choose not to own or carry weapons stand to benefit from those that do for this reason (Lott, 2010, p. 275).

Crime is a choice made by people. Owning guns does not make you commit crimes. And, criminals would be the primary citizens that would gain control of weapons should they be taken from the rest of us anyway. There is ample evidence of crimes committed against people via knives, bludgeoning, falls, drowning and many other methods. In absence of gun ownership or accessibility, where there is criminal intent, there will still be a crime committed using a different method. Taking citizens’ rights to protect themselves via a firearm, will not keep bad people from doing bad things, but the right to keep and bear arms will allow some of us to protect ourselves from these bad people doing bad things. 

The individual right to protect myself  is an inalienable right. The Constitution, The Bill of Rights and The Second Amendment simply acknowledge that right and declare that my right shall not be infringed.

“The Notion that the Second Amendment somehow belongs to a small number of gun rights advocates is simply wrong. The Second Amendment belongs to all Americans.”
(Cornell, 2006, p. 218).

Works Cited:

Barton, David. “The Second Amendment: Preserving the Inalienable Right of Individual Self-Protection.” 1st Edition. 4th Printing. WallBuilders. 2011

Cornell, Saul. “A Well Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America.” Oxford University Press. 2006.

Halbrook, Stephen P. “That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right.” The Independent Institute. 1994.

LaPierre, Wayne. “The Essential Second Amendment Guide.” World NetDaily. 2007, 2009.

Lott, John R. Jr. “More Guns Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws.” Third Edition. The University of Chicago Press. 2010.

Pratt, Larry. “Safeguarding Liberty: The constitution & Citizen Militias.” Legacy Communications. 1995.