Peace Pilgrim Quotes and Some Questions Asked Of Me, Answered.

"Many common problems are caused by wrong attitudes.  People see themselves as the center of the universe and judge everything as it relates to them. Naturally you won't be happy that way. You can only be happy when you see things in proper perspective: all human beings are of equal importance in God's sight, and have a job to do in the divine plan."
~Peace Pilgrim

Q. You often refer to your old self as opposed to your new self--what is different about you today from who you were ten years ago?

Ten years ago I looked happy on the outside but was miserable on the inside.
I was unhappy. I suffered depression on and off.
I took a lot of things personally.
I tried to control everything and please everyone.
I was lonely and lost...but no one really knew it. Not even me.
I disguised my unhappiness by being sociable, traveling, connecting with everyone and anyone.
It was exhausting.
Ten years ago, I did not believe in God.
Now I believe in God. 

Q. Are you a hermit.

A. No, but I want to be one. Or a monk. Or a nun.
I find silence peaceful. However, one can not be a hermit, monk or nun when one is a wife and a mother. So I try my best to be sociable not only to my family but to people who care to wade through my moat. 

Q. Why do we suffer? Why do I always suffer? How do I stop suffering?

A. Off the cuff, the root of all suffering is our ego and the great effort we take to protect it and build it.  The ego is super competitive.
It wants to feel good, and better than others--the ego wants to win.
Interestingly enough, I notice that I suffer whenever I feel superior or inferior.
I suffer whether I feel "right" or "wronged."
My suffering exponentially grows when I dwell on either scenario.
I believe this is because anything driven by the ego is not good for your soul.
When you crack the code on banishing the ego, you will experience everlasting joy and peace.
So to put this into practice, if you are able to make any and all experiences, whether good or bad just pass through--without clinging to it--without needlessly turning it over and over to examine it from every angle--you will eliminate suffering.
I think this can be done when we learn to surrender the outcome and establish the habit of gratitude.

Q. "The habit of gratitude" sounds very fadish and cliche. 
When life is awful, how is it even possible to be grateful? 

A. Take it or leave it. I have discovered there is always something to be thankful for. And, get this, when you start focusing on one thing that you can be grateful for, it starts to multiply. Joy begets joy.  Gratitude attracts more blessings and love to flow towards you. If all else fails and you feel you have nothing to be thankful, start by being thankful that you have eyes to browse the internet, and the ability to breathe.
The converse of this, is also true--complaining makes one more miserable.
When you open the door to hatred, you also let in other negative emotions such as jealousy, depression, selfishness and anger.
So, anytime you feel a negative emotion coming on--blast it away right away with a prayer or a grateful thought.

"Prayer is a concentration of positive thoughts."
~Peace Pilgrim

Q: What do you do when you suddenly get gripped with that anxiety loop. 
You know the kind, the one that replays in your head over and over that makes you kick yourself, blame yourself for not taking care of something sooner, for wishing you said something, or wishing you had not said what you said... The loop that keeps you up at night, or the loop that makes you want to sleep all day. The loop that makes you feel as if your heart is heavy or makes you feel insignificant. What do you do?

A: The very first thing I do once I realize what is happening in my mind is, I stop.
I almost imagine the sound of brakes screeching in my head. I stop. I put the sound of silence in my head. Try it. STOP. Experiment with making it quiet. It helps me to close my eyes and see black nothingness. I almost do an internal hum (no sound though)
Then I think the words: "God please help me."
Once I am able to experiment with a few seconds of peace, I count breaths.
Sometimes 10 breaths. Sometimes more. It is not an exact science.
I imagine that my  mind is not IN my self but rather outside of me, watching myself.
I observe myself experiencing whatever it is I am experiencing...and with each breath, I imagine myself getting separated further and further away from the situation I am watching. More often than not, I become successful in letting go of whatever is bothering me.

Q. When that does not work, what else do you do to help you stop being bothered by something?

A: As I mentioned in the previous question, I pray. Then I take the time to look deeper at what is actually bothering me. I have learned through various books and meditations is often times when something is bothering me in real time, what appears to be bothering me is not what is seems.
Present day triggers merely remind us of unresolved or unhealed hurts.
So (I am not super successful yet) I take the time to try to remember why the hurt seems familiar.
Sometimes I remember, sometimes I don't. Either way, I don't repress the hurt.
I feel it with my entire body and then I let it take off without me. I let it go. Visualization helps.
I imagine setting my pain on a train and letting the train leave the station without me.
Try it right now with something that is bothering you.

Q. What is the secret to an enduring marriage?

A. In 2011 I stumbled across the biblical framework for an enduring marriage.
It is the Ephesians 5:33 Marriage Tool.  
The one that states that "each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself and the wife must respect her husband."
Ever since I started doing my best to follow this approach to marriage, our marriage experienced a significant makeover from the inside out.  The change in my marriage came at the right time too, as in 2011, our first-born was becoming a teenager.  Truly, God was watching over us, as there is no way to withstand the teenage years with parents who do not love and respect each other.
While our marriage is far from perfect, it has gotten very much better.

Q.  How has the ego gotten mixed up with parenting?

A. Every single time we operate out of a desire for our kids to do "better than others" as opposed to
"becoming their best selves" you can be sure the ego is involved.
When this happens, know that you are not parenting effectively out of love but rather you are parenting with the goal of winning.
You will suffer when you allow your ego to help you parent.
It all boils down to motives.
Good intentions, produces good results--(or at the very least, results that are meant to be.)
Evil intentions rarely produce the results good for the soul.

Q. Please explain further what this means: "it all boils down to motives."

A. Perhaps an example may help me explain this better:
It is not good for a parent to insist their child takes piano lessons so the parent can show off the child's talents.  The result of  the pride-clinging over the talented child will eventually cause suffering to both parent and child.
If a parent's motives for insisting their child take piano lessons are so their child develops their brain, learns to be disciplined and so they express themselves creatively--the parent will experience simple joy whenever they listen to their child play the piano--and more importantly, the child will experience this joy too.

"There is a criterion by which you can judge whether the thoughts you are thinking and the things you are doing are right for you.  The criterion is: have they brought you inner peace? If they have not then there is something wrong with them--so keep seeking! If what you do has brought you inner peace, stay with what you believe is right."
~Peace Pilgrim

Q. How do you deal with difficult people?

A. I have been asked this and I feel almost sheepish answering this because of the fact that most of the time I stay home. I don't leave my house unless I have to. But the rare occasion that I am exposed to difficult people or situations, I find myself automatically switching to prayer mode.
I also immediately remember The Four Agreements: I don't take things personally, I don't assume anything, I try to be impeccable with my words and I do my best.
While we can't always help how and whom we spend each moment of our lives with, we can certainly choose to make every encounter with other humans as best as can be by being kind.
For the toxic people though, I interact with them only as much as my own mental health can handle. If someone is difficult, self-referential or hijacks each encounter with their heavy demeanor, I give them wide berth.  I work on erecting healthy boundaries because in the long run, toxic people do not change if we keep actively participating in their drama.
Life is too short.

"Judging others will avail you nothing and injure you spiritually.  Only if you can inspire others to judge themselves will anything worthwhile have been accomplished."
~Peace Pilgrim