Slogans can open minds and hearts, reminding us
Help us grow this list. Contribute your favorite slogan at Slogans@ActfromChoice.com. Include your interpretation if its meaning isn’t obvious. Let us know how to give you credit if we post it on the site. The source of these slogans is shown where known. Unattributed slogans are believed to be original work of Robert Goldmann, as are interpretations of slogans from anonymous sources or other authors.
Caught by anger and other aggressive emotions because you don’t like what’s happening? If those emotions aren’t essential to helping you change the situation they’re useless. They only make you feel bad longer than is necessary.
So instead, find something to do that helps you and the situation, rather than needlessly winding yourself up.
At the very least, you’re entitled to all the respect, consideration, and compassion that you extend to others–even to strangers. Anything less is aggression against yourself and is entirely undeserved.
Listen to the way you talk to yourself and notice your tone of voice so you can recognize your negative self-talk. See it as the residue of the way others might have influenced you to think poorly of yourself. Disidentify from those thoughts. Treat them as the voice of gremlins devoid of wisdom–voices of malice whose sole purpose is to make you feel bad.
Take joy in your ability to form independent judgments about yourself and what you do. Excercise choice in what you think and do, and above all, be kind yourself, just as you would be with another person who is just like you.
The love we want to receive and give, and the clarity of vision we need in order to respond authentically must have a path to the heart that is open to our tenderness, and to the world.
Whether your conception of God is a metaphysical presence or simply everything the universe has to offer, with no consideration of deity, it speaks to us only when we’re are able to hear.
The armor we’ve acquired is possibly too thick, welded in place and multi-layered. If so, it developed that way in the mistaken belief that such sturdy, impenetrable protection is good for us.
It would be too painful to rip it all away suddenly, as if it were an adhesive bandage. Still, we can poke little holes in it to ventilate it a bit. Ultimately, maybe all but a small patch could go. Look for those times when you can begin to open up.
No oyster, no willingness, no effort, no pearl—only irritation. Feelings like irritation and impatience can motivate us to reframe our judgments about people, events, even ourselves.
Awareness of our feelings can call us to open and discover what knocks us off balance and how we react. It can motivate us to question our automatic judgments and to choose to try to react differently in the future.
What irritated you today? What can you learn from it? Did the irritation teach you anything? If you didn’t turn it into the seed of a pearl this time, what are you willing to do the next time? Tell your Sentinel about the experience. Tell it what happened, and what you’d like to do instead next time.
[This slogan was inspired by “It’s the irritant that produces the pearl.” from: ”Roving Eye,” by Parul Sehgal, New York Times Book Review, July 30, 2017.]
When others’ feelings are solid like concrete you have to deal with them just as they are. But, be open to questioning your own feelings. Maybe they’re not so always-right that some flexibility wouldn’t be better for you and the situation.
Change what you can. Accommodate what you can’t. Working with things as if they’re different than they are expends useless effort and causes needless suffering.
We often try to make things, people and situations something they can’t be. Or, we work with them in ways they can’t or won’t respond to. We suffer for those efforts.
Of course we want things to be the way we want. But maybe they can’t ever be what we want, no matter how hard we try. Maybe our approach won’t work because we’re relying on projections and wishful thinking rather than what is.
This slogan, and others like it, do NOT ask you accept what is. It calls for realism. Do your best to change what you can. But after you’ve done all that you can do, accept what remains. Work with yourself and reality as it is. Take pride in trying to work with what is.
Maya Angelou, the late, renowned poet, said, “When a person shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” She also said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude,” which captures exactly the meaning of Work with what is.
Important things that are not the way we want them to be produce pain. Resisting reality, rather than working with what is, creates unnecessary suffering. (Think, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”)
It feels good but keeps us from working with what upsets us.
Don’t give in to the impulse to act out if it won’t make things better. Acting-out for its own sake seldom solves anything and creates its own problems. Find other ways to respond. If you’re too hot, hold-off your reaction; leave, disengage, hang-up, until you calm down.
Consider reframing as a way to take the heat out of the situation for you. Above all try to focus your response on dealing with whatever it was that made you boil.
Just don’t act out! But, don’t repress either. When you’re able to express yourself in a way that will get the results you want, say what you feel and what you need.
Catharsis is one of many built-in, but faulty, survival behaviors. It is beguiling but misdirected and useless. The psychological research says it makes negative emotions bigger and last longer. It settles nothing and solves nothing. And when acting out—which is what catharsis is—we often create more problems for ourselves. As important, catharsis does nothing to make us better at dealing with whatever makes us want to act out.
So what is catharsis about?
Something happens. You feel bad, maybe like a victim, powerless, disrespected, betrayed; the variations are legion. You feel bad, so brain tries to protect you by getting rid of the bad feelings. Unfortunately that part of the brain–I call it Reactive Brain–is always on automatic. It has no long-term view. It only deals with what is present in that instant. It doesn’t consider or know about alternatives or consequences, the past or the future. That’s up to you. Reactive Brain doesn’t have your wisdom.
Reactive Brain only wants to get rid of your discomfort. The means don’t matter. It doesn’t care that the ‘solution’ it chooses doesn’t solve your problem, deal with what upset you, or last.
And what more effective means is there to take your mind of the discomfort you feel than to put you in a rage? Is there anything that can make you feel as powerful and in control as getting roaring mad? Your rage may not help the situation, but it is guaranteed to make you feel powerful, self-righteous and worthy. feelings that last only works for as long as the rage.
The cost of those short-term, rage-induced tonics can be exorbitant. When we calm down, the situation that caused the emotional upset is still there. And there are often consequences to our rage that we have to clean up.
Instead of luxuriating in your emotions, get practical. Work to keep those catharsis-inducing events from happening in the future. Work with who or whatever causes you to act out, rather than giving in to aggression or despair. Learn to keep rage or despair from taking you over. Work too with the way you react to the things that set you off, whether that’s a misbehaving child, a surly clerk, a thoughtless driver–people we love, who love us but are less than perfect.
Always work with the things that make you want to act out, even if all you can work on is the way you tend to react. Do not shy away from expressing your feelings. Do not paper over the truth of what happens and how it affects you. But strive to make your reactions improve things.
Validate what’s true.
You’ll be better able to choose your reactions to things
that affect you, and you’ll deepen your relationship with yourself.
To Find more on this and other slogans click: www.Bit.ly/ValidateWhat’sTrue
What are your true feelings? Validate those. Validate and accept that you feel the way you do. You’ll be better able to choose your reactions to things that affect you, and you’ll deepen your relationship with yourself.
Did something happen that made you angry, or is your anger keeping you from feeling hurt or disappointed? Do you want the cookie because it will taste good, or because it diverts you from anxiety?
Your true feelings are the primary ones, the ones caused by whatever it is you’re reacting to. We don’t want to feel them when they’re strong and negative. So the brain moves us to a secondary reaction that will cover them up. We feel the secondary emotions, the anger, the cookie-lust, but their only purpose is to keep us from feeling the primary ones. And the primary ones are the ones we have to deal with.
Always try to find and then work with primary feelings—the fear, not the anger that’s trying to cover it up; the boredom or anxiety, not the craving for the cookie or something worse.
Don’t run away from negative feelings. If you feel bad—frightened, sad, insulted, alone, anxious—acknowledge the feelings. Then, extend comfort to yourself, simply because you feel bad. You’d do that for a friend or a child that feels the way you do, whether or not you think their feelings are justified. You deserve that caring response, too, and, ultimately, no one can give it to you as well as you can.
You don’t have to name your feelings, and you must not question your right to feel the way you do. Everyone is entitled to a measure of compassion when they feel bad. Don’t worry that you’ll start an endless a pity party. Your integrity will let you know when and if you get phony.
By acknowledging yourself and the way you feel, then extending compassion to yourself for the simple fact that you feel bad, you’ll have validated not only the feelings but yourself. This practice will deepen your relationship with yourself. After taking care of yourself in this way, you’ll find you don’t need to act out in anger, or even eat the cookie. Instead, you’ll be calmer, and ready to deal with whatever produced the primary feelings—the hurt or disappointment; the anxiety.
The need for aggression, for getting even, for hiding, for binging will have dissipated. You’ll see the situation that affected you far more clearly. You’ll have much better ideas about how to respond to whatever set you off. And you’ll feel better about yourself.
Don’t judge people by what they do. Identify the behavior you object to and do whatever you can to make it better or deal with the consequences. This slogan is especially germane to parenting. Children feel more loved and secure when they don’t interpret a parental outburst as meaning they are bad and their parents don’t love them. Parental anger can make it difficult to follow through with this distinction. It is also hard to do in the adult world when we decide people are good or bad depending on whether they agree with us. That attitude denies us the opportunity to work with them to make things better. Besides, what makes us think we can divine someone’s intention or motivation from their behavior?
Almost nothing we strive to get from outside of us can give us authentic lasting happiness. The last promotion, new car, television set, graduation, larger home, and stupendous vacation didn’t do it. Pleasures—good conversation, a glass of wine, hearty sex, a walk in the sun, a massage—might make us happy, but the happiness lasts only as long as the activity lasts. They do not fulfill us. They do not give us lasting happiness. Search out the sources of your unhappiness and work with them. Reframe them if you can. Form a new relationship with them; question the importance you give them. Transform your attitude toward them so they no longer produce unhappiness. You can do this with almost everything in your life, even terminal illness and pain. Eliminate the sources of unhappiness one way or another and you will experience equanimity. Then choose activities and goals that will have you feeling that your life is fulfilled, and enjoy those pleasures as something extra, not as the whole game.
hat possible excuse could there be for treating yourself worse than you would treat others? Are you so undeserving of common decency, consideration, compassion, and love? If this slogan is difficult for you, reread the sections on guilt and negative self-talk in the Act from Choice Resource Companion.
Failure and discomfort are our primary teachers. Fortunately they can’t be wholly avoided. Discomfort is the doorway to growth and wisdom. We find what our values are when we realize we’ve done something we don’t approve of, or someone calls us out on our behavior. We realize what we’re attached to when we’re in danger of losing it. It may take separation to make us realize how much we love. We learn more from the weaknesses we discover than we do from our achievements. After you’ve gotten over the pain that accompanies discomfort or coming up short in your estimation of yourself, be grateful for your failures.
Bad things happen to good people, good things too. All produce lessons. We celebrate the lessons we learn from things we enjoy. But we tend to focus more on the pain than the lessons when they’ve been taught by misfortune. After the misfortunate events, we are how we are. Validate pain, resentment, disappointment, and feelings of poverty. Let the feelings go when you’ve grieved enough so you can get to using the lessons.
For me, this slogan summarizes the motivation for and fruition of mindfulness practices. The slogan sounds easy, but there is much to it, and its fruition can take a lifetime. Looking requires us to have curiosity and bravery—the willingness to discover anything and everything that might be there to see. Seeing refers to the practice of just seeing and allowing oneself to understand. It implies being awake to what is present, non-conceptually, without bias or preconception; having the discernment to know what is acceptable and not, but without the judgment of good and bad. Knowing what to do implies that one has truly seen. It implies panoramic awareness, knowing the situation, the alternatives, their consequences, and the resources one has available to effect their choice. The reward for such clarity is captured in this ancient Buddhist teaching, “Where there is no obscuration of mind there is no fear.”
This slogan validates your experience and eliminates most if not all of the guilt or shame you would feel if you thought your reaction was wrong and unique to you. Thus, the slogan frees you to try to address the truth of the situation, rather than let the illogical, not-true emotion direct your behavior.
Beneath anger there is fear. Beneath fear there is a tender heart... Pema Chödrön
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Anonymous
Don’t trust. Question then verify.
Ask the Second Question.
Emotions love emotions. Marsha Linehan
Drop the storyline. Pema Chödrön
Choose regret, not guilt. Pema Chödrön
Happy for no reason. Marci Shimoff
Contingencies yes. Forecasting, no.
Happiness equals fulfillment plus gratitude.
Don’t know. Can’t know.
Never let yesterday use up too much of today. Timothy Egan
Pain breaks the armor obscuring clarity.
Grief can be a gateway to wisdom.
Take the place of the person you’re interacting with.
No itch is eternal. U S.N. Goenka
Unlimited, unseen possibilities in everything, everywhere.
Your brain will take care of survival. Welfare, fulfillment, and happiness are your responsibilities.
You can be annoyed at the situation without being annoyed at someone or something.
Failure creates progress but is no excuse for quitting.
Annoyance is good news
“Bad” is the last resort.
This week, one intention to practice.
“Just like me” Pema Chödrön
Remember your body.
Without intention, one sleep-walks in Master Habit.
True renunciation comes from clarity, not denial.
Your own oxygen mask first. Anonymous
You will work with and stand everything that happens.
Don’t promote the extra.
Don’t seek the quick, false fix.
Do no harm. Anonymous
Are you sure?
Impulse is automatic. Action can be chosen.
You are your choices.
Is this helping?
We are imperfect tools for realizing our most deeply held desires.
Pay attention to your tone of voice, especially when talking to yourself.
If you can’t give up the idea you’re in control—you won’t get beyond your guilt over not being perfect.
You first, for the benefit of everyone you know.
Reframe from a patient mind
What is the right, kind, fulfilling and beneficial thing to do?
Hand on heart center.
Feelings are accurate representations of facts, but not necessarily the facts you think.
The truth of strong emotions is in their causes and effects. Attend to those.
Do they like asparagus?
Don’t wait in ambush. Lojong slogans of Attisha.
Don’t bite the hook. Pema Chödrön
The morning’s intention creates the evening’s understanding.
Don’t let dismay keep you from doing what you can do. Anonymous
Show up. Listen. Tell the truth, and don’t be attached to the outcome. Angeles Arrien
Always be curious.
Let complaint wake you up.
Blow up the balloon of awareness.
In this moment you create some of the future.
“Attend to the duty of the moment.” Star Trek, captains log. Stardate 41263.2
One small thing more.
You neither chose nor designed your Gremlin.
What worse than being a Gremlin?
Generosity is the stairway to the higher realms. Generosity is the virtue that produces peace. Buddhist meal chant.
The medicine of openness cures anger, jealousy, pride and harmful pleasure-seeking.
“Don’t repress. Don’t act out” Pema Chödrön.
Cultivate unyielding, non-negotiable intention.
Honor your aspirations.
Are you being the servant of Brain or Mind?
It’s never too late to begin again.
Grief first. Anger later, if ever.
Sadness speaks to what is important.
Grief is the medal you get for loving.
Address the cause before indulging anger, jealousy, pride, denial and other harmful pleasures.
It’s never too late to learn how to be happy.
Brain or Mind? Reaction or intention? Who’s talking? Who’s choosing?
Don’t let dismay keep you from doing what you can. Anonymous