We have to be right with ourselves achieve right relationship with others. And to be right with ourselves we have to master our appetites and aversions. Of course, none of this is easy. For most of our lives we act as slaves to the things that please or displease us. And that sets us up for all sorts of conflicts. The secret to resolving our inner conflicts is the same as the secret to peace between us all. It’s moving beyond the pleasure principle to a total reverence for and embrace of life. (See also: Sound Character Requires Reverence.)
Some people vehemently espouse what they believe puts us in right relationship with the transcendent. And it’s always amazed me how many who just know they have the right answer to this have such poor relationships with others, especially those who don’t believe as they do. But the fact is it’s always been easy to gel with folks who see and do things the way we prefer. And it takes no effort at all to feel like you’re right and everyone else is wrong. The real challenge is to relate in healthy, loving ways with all whom we encounter, regardless of how they differ from us. And that simply can’t happen unless we’re in right relationship with ourselves. Peace in the world begins with the inner peace of self-reconciliation.
New Lessons from Puerto Rico
Ten of us made another rebuilding trip to Puerto Rico last week. (That’s why this post is a bit later than usual in posting once again.) This vulnerable island community will be long in recovering from Hurricane Maria. Where we worked, running water was still very intermittent. At one point, the utility was out completely for two days. As distressing as this was, it was a stark reminder about what so many had to endure for months. But, as always, the experience taught us many valuable lessons.
Some things really matter. Others don’t so much. Our experience underscored some things that matter. And I’d like to share a few of them because of how they apply to learning to master appetites and aversions:
- 10 people shared a living space that would make 4 barely comfortable. And each person had their own quirks and idiosyncrasies. But we were united both in intent and purpose. Accordingly, we not only found ways to cope but also ways to get necessary things done. This is the heart of community. And it begins in each individual heart.
- Most of the time, we were without the creature comforts we’ve grown to expect. (i.e. no water on demand, only cold water for showering when it was available, etc.) But we didn’t just survive. Rather, as always, we more deeply bonded. Because we did we were able to bond more deeply with to the community we came to serve. This would have been impossible if our appetites and aversions ruled the day.
- Life is very different in the remote parts of the island. And folks have learned to cope as best they can. Still, they see things and do things very differently. Sometimes it’s hard to understand them. And it’s hard get the message across that a different way might be possible or better. But you have to meet people where they are. And you have to be willing to bear perceived rejection. Your preferences (i.e. appetites and aversions) for how people see or do things can’t rule your encounter with Others. Only openness loving intent can build the necessary bridges between us.
- We worked on the home of an elderly woman who’d succumbed to deep paranoia and despair. She’d suffered major losses. And she’d given up hope. She’d also retreated into deep isolation. We certainly didn’t work any miracles. But we did what we could. The real miracle was in what we witnessed simply doing what we could. The light was slowly coming back into this woman’s eyes. Her home was still very short of a palace. But she was feeling hope again. And she was beginning to trust again. She was coming back to life. That’s what matters.
More to Come
There will be more on the importance of mastering appetites and aversions in the coming weeks. And you can read about all the commandments in Character Disturbance and in a new book to be released this summer.
24 thoughts on “Self-Mastery through Right Relationship”
This article is speaking to me. My adult daughter lives with me, and I am having major issues in communication and cohabitation, which are worsening.
If I work on myself maybe things will change for the better. It’s really difficult to change, especially when one feels their way is the right way.
Lol sounds like you could well be the narc here.
‘One feels their way is the right way’ compatible with narcissism right?
DOUBT YOURSELF. you’re not perfect. If you have a problem with that, if like most Americans you don’t value humility and self-doubt, you are 1) always wrong and that’s a fact and 2) narc.
Truth is all women are narcissists by definition. Never seen a woman accepting she’s wrong. The problem is precisely that you follow your ‘feels’ rather than logic, reasoning and facts. You are slaves to your feelings, and just can’t face the discomfort of accepting you’re wrong. Women will never change or be saved, religions state hell is inhabited mostly by women. Good luck there! Hahahahha. God bless I’m a righteous man and not a narcissistic woman who can never accept being wrong. Women are PATHETIC and that’s a fact. And they must submit to reasonable men. Anything else leads to our deranged narcissistic society.
Lol women believe any man who thinks he might know better than a woman is delusional, while it can well be the case. Women are delusional. Women don’t care about truth and facts, Nietzsche said that among others, and all geniuses were misogynists because misogyny is reality. Women ARE inferior.
Rest In Peace and in the hell (for you) of truth. Truth is heaven for me, while hell is cohabiting with a delusional inferior being who can’t accept she’s wrong and inferior when she is.
FACTS AND TRUTH MUST BE IMPOSED.
‘It’s really difficult to change, especially when one feels their way is the right way.’
Spoken like a true American Christian narcissist woman who thinks she’s saved because she goes to church! Lol. Hopelessly lost and inferior as a fact. Pathetic.
Fuck your ‘feelings’…you must worship facts and reality, everything else is insanity and wrong and must be fought.
I have a problem.
I am losing weight, I have lost 2″ off my waist and 1 1/2″ off my collar around my neck.
I have now got some money to buy some nice clothes. Because I have a natural oily skin, I look 15yrs younger than I am. I look about 35yrs old. I am really 51yrs old.
I have met a young lady, she is a Kim Kardashian type. Dark hair very Brown big eyes, and only 24rys old and very,very attractive.
She wants to see me again. I am serious, this has happened to me, I do not no what to do. I have been single for 33yrs. I had a girl friend when I was 18yrs old and that Is it.
This has upset me. I do not like being taken for a sucker, She came up a talked to me. I got kissed a and hugged and I had none her for about 2 mins.
I was a fat and ugly young man,I am now a fat and ugly old man. I have been single for decades.
What an earth does a pretty lady want with me. I think I am just a meal ticket.
There are several things going on here and I hope the others weigh in on this. Calling all Andy….
First of all you Are Not a fat ugly man. You have a lot of love in your heart and compassion. Remember, beauty is only skin deep, if that. The oily skin is good. I always wore a hat and was never a sun bather, on top of that I always used baby oil on my skin and now use shea. Like you, most people think I am 10 years younger. If your heavy, I say all the more to love.
Remember, a CDN can smell an empath from afar, they have a predator instinct. This gal and I didn’t say lady, because she is not acting like a lady. Joey, age differences like this don’t make for good relationships and as you age her eyes may wonder. Given I don’t know this gal, my gut doesn’t agree with how she has acted within the first two minutes of meeting you.
Can you imagine how many people she may have already done this to. You will always be wondering. I also want to remind you there are an awful lot of gold diggers out there, both men and women. I think when you least expect it, you will meet a nice lady. Stay away from the young ones, they are to immature and the next thing you know she may want a baby or you may end up with one you didn’t plan on and then half your wages could disappear.
I know its hard being alone, I have been alone for almost the last 10 years and I would rather be alone than have a Creature from the Black Lagoon attach itself to me. I would try to stay within 10 years age difference. You may want to try dating an older woman who is mature and established, but then you still need to stay guarded.
You could always try a dating site, I have met some nice people on the site but at the same time I have learned to ask a lot of questions. What one says or doesn’t say says a lot about a person. One needs to know what they are looking for and what they want in a relationship. I am always up from about this when I am talking with a nice person.
I am glad you trust us enough to share your experiences and ask us for our opinions. You mean a lot to us Joey and I know I have learned a lot from you. I have a high regard for you and want the best for you, you deserve it.
Don’t sell yourself short. You’ve got a lot to offer a woman. This one though, coming on strong way too soon, pursuing you, the age difference, are red flags that you’re tuned into.
Her beauty has most probably gotten her many men’s attention. She’s pursuing the older man (you) most probably for your status in life. You’ve got a secure job, a home, good looks and charm.
What’s she got to offer? What’s her history? She’s young, most probably would want children. What’s her status in life?
She may be wanting a man to provide for her. Lots of older men date young women for a trade-off, the man provides and she’s the eye candy. They both get what they want.
I thinking you’re reading her right. People who come on hard and fast generally should be avoided. That’s one of many lessons we’ve learned from Dr. Simon’s articles.
Joey I agree totally with BTOV and Lucy. My daughter was saying a lot of women date men so they take them out to dinner, a meal ticket, that says nothing about you, its on them. I agree with hugs/kisses way too soon. That’s the red flag. Sounds like you are doing well, its nice to treat yourself to some nice clothes. Don’t call yourself ugly Joey, I think that’s a voice from the past. I tend to be hypercritical of myself too and I know its from how I grew up. I am working on that but I think it will always be something I work on.
I agree with all of the above, Joey. When someone comes on that strong right out of the gate, big red flag. Actually, lots of red flags with this one.
As your confidence grows, you’ll likely attract (and be attracted to) someone closer to your age who’s suited for you and really cares for you as a person.
Glad to know you are still reading. Would be nice to hear how you are and as always love it when you chime in.
Yup, looney tunes float in and out and it seems we have an epidemic of them these days.
“Truth” YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A LIAR AND A HYPOCRITE!!
LIAR because no Christian man would EVER talk to a woman like you did!!!
JESUS Loved women he did not ever talk to them like you have!!! So clearly you are NOT FOLLOWING HIM!
NOWHERE in the Bible does it EVER say women are all in hell!!!
IF you were really a Christian you would understand the ONLY STANDARD there is for existing with GOD is Christianity. (Not all religions) Hence you’re a hypocrite! That would be: play actor!!! FAKE!
YOU’RE a sick PIG!!!!!!!
To add to this, TRUTH is a jackass, just like the X.
I think considering what you have gone through you have changed for the better. You have worked hard all your life to have what you have today and It is your home, that in itself speaks volumes. You do have the right to set rules and expect that your daughter respects your generosity to even let her live there considering she is an adult.
You have a kind heart and I know most of all you are thinking of what is the best environment for your grandson to grow up in. I applaud your love and concern in taking both your grown daughter and grandson in and giving them a nice home to live in.
I think you will have to stand your ground and not let your daughter pressure you into lowering your standards in how you want to live. I think many of our children though supposedly adults will test the waters on how far they can push our buttons and get their own way.
I am glad you are sticking to your setting goals, standards and what is called discipline in respecting your home. You have worked hard and long to have this home and above all she should be grateful to have such a loving mother.
I myself had no one to turn to except myself like many here on this blog. Stay strong and adhere to your standards though I would say, correction should be done in love. She alone decides if there will be consequences to her actions.
Thanks for the encouragement. It is difficult having her live with me, my standards and hers are not compatible.
BTOV, & Lucy,
I totally agree. Lucy your standards and daughters do not have to necessarily be equally compatible. However, being a parent of grown men, one living with us currently, you must set rules for them living in your house EVEN IF she pays rent to you or shares equal expenses. We are also self-employed last 27 yrs so I know a little about employee employer relationship. YOU have ALL the risk therefore YOU SET THE RULES.
Do everything you do firmly but lovingly and your relationship will improve. Don’t ever be timid about having a talk with your daughter.
You’re a fantastic mom for having her live with you as well as your grandson!!!
Thanks for the tips and encouragement. There are so many of us out there – housing adult “children” and at times their children.
I still keep thinking This Was Not In My Plan!
I think all the good you have done for your grandson, all the loving care and guidance will come back to you as a blessing. I see the love you have given your grandson, the special bonding and a secure home, believe me he knows it. You are giving him something so lacking in society today and I admire your generosity.
Believe me your grandson will love you for all you have done for him. I think he will be your rock when he gets older. Just don’t let the CD J—A influence him if you can help it. If you see one of those little nasty traits pop up, nip it in the bud with love and reason. If your grandson follows in your footsteps of the character you have learned from this blog, he will be a good man.
I will also pray that your daughter will one day open her eyes and realize how lucky she is to have you for her mother. I was out on my own at 16 and my parents never did anything for me. I will have to say I was blessed with a private education which far surpassed the public system. Otherwise, I was given only the bare necessities. Truly, you are a blessing and above all in your giant heart you will never regret that you didn’t do enough.
Hugs Kindred Spirit
I agree with everything BTOV said. I would also add that it can be challenging because she is an adult and likely wants the freedom of being an adult, but she is living at home, and that can have regressing effects on a person. Have you ever noticed that when you go home, you sometimes act differently? It’s also challenging when, like you say, you have different standards/values and deciding which areas you are willing to compromise on and which you are not.
It’s an opportunity to practice conflict resolution.
Yes I do feel different when I go home because I am attending to my 4 yr old grandson, because his mom isn’t home from work till after dinner. So it’s like I’m raising a kid again. I’ve got a new home and am trying to keep it nice, so it takes a lot of work on my part plus telling my daughter to do this and that . . . she’s a slob with low cleanliness standards. It makes me cranky.
I sure thought at this age things would be different, and easier.
That is so understandable! I can imagine that it’s not what you originally envisioned your life would be like at this stage of life and with your new home.
What I meant about the regression was for your daughter as well. She’s at home with mom, there’s history there. When we go home to our parents house, it can affect us and sometimes we can act like we did when we were younger, or less adult, if you will. Is she acting more like her younger self?
It’s your home, your life, your time, your energy. You get to decide how you use it, share it and with whom.
This is an eye opening message. The story beautifully conveys the point, one that really resounds with me. I look forward to reading more on this!
I think this all relates back to character, our inner selves, who we decide we will be as a beneficial person to society or serve and be slaves to our desires. In the end the people in Puerto Rico, at least most of them are grateful to be alive.
I look at the things I have today and realize I can be a slave to these things which have no feeling or attachment to me or I can choose to love my neighbor.
In the end it is people who count, to love one another, to help and nurture another, to lift my fellowman up when they are down. This truly is what life is about.
Thank you for sharing your experience in Pretor Rico, it is and inspiring story of generosity to lift those up who are less fortunate and truly are in need of brotherly love. I look forward to hear more about this gift of serving.
There comes a time in ones life when I know at least for me, I would rather have memories of laughter, lifting another up and seeing the joy on another face than looking at a collection of stuff. In this world it is really about people who care about others and in reality are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Your post is so ignorant and seething with hatred towards women I couldn’t finish reading it.
What could we have done In life If we had not had to deal with the Grime CD
This year, I have been shocked. My TAKE HOME PAY, this tax year was $40,300.
I cried my heart out.
June this year, It will be 5yrs since I moved out.
For trying to achieve my potential in life. I have been vilified and violently threatened. .
At this time, I have done better than I have EVER DONE in life,
With respect to Brown eyed girl. I will see her again. But as friends.
I have an Armour.
It is made of pure Self Respect.
My company are getting two more machines $1,500,000
I am glad you are doing so well. However, if we keep thinking about the past and the what ifs, we can end up torturing ourselves and let the past which we can’t change steal out joy in the here and now.
So many times I will say to myself I should of, could of, would of and it is a useless conversation with myself that only pulls me down. When I do this I have to catch myself and give myself a good talking to. It is today, yesterday is gone and what I have is the future to build on.
As far as the brown eyed girl goes, it is ultimately your choice. I will be interested to see where that goes. I do think God has someone for you, its just a matter of time.
So, your company has bought another machine, I hope you get to work on it and we can hear about your next raise.