Nine year old Belinda pointed out that I’m always talking about garbage, fences, and crickets. She’s right. These are my guiding principles and have everything to do with my happiness, so why not talk about them? Everyone wants to be happy, right? So let’s talk about garbage, fences, and crickets!
#1 Everyone Takes Out Their Own Garbage!
Our garbage is the emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and psychological muck we carry around day after day, month after month, and year after year. Like the garbage sitting in our kitchen, the longer this trash sits in our heart and mind, the stinkier it becomes. This junk makes us angry, worried, fearful, jealous, agitated, and the list goes on. In short, our garbage makes us miserable.
And even though this garbage is not pleasant, we jealously guard it while we also don’t want to look at it. What would motivate us to clean our house and take out our garbage? What’s the reward? I am finding that when the garbage is gone, all that remains is love, joy, and peace. Don’t you think that’s worth a little bit of housework?
So where do we start? The first step is being willing to look at our own garbage. How can we take out the garbage if we don’t know what it is? Years ago, I found a verse that really helps me identify my garbage.
“Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest does the same things.” Romans 2:1
It is easy for me to judge others. I can see their flaws and mistakes easier than I can see my own. So, here’s the deal . . . First step, whenever I judge another person, I write it down. Second step, I look at what I just wrote and ask myself, “How do I do these same things?” If I get stumped, I ask God to show me how the things I judged in another are actually being done by me. The answers always come. Many times it is not what I expected. It’s genius.
For example, last year I was really triggered by some situations in my life. My problem really looked like someone else’s problem, but I knew better. It was mine. I couldn’t see my issues, so I asked God. He told me I was codependent and a people pleaser. Anyone who knows me wouldn’t have given me that feedback, but they don’t know me like God knows me. As it always is with God, along with the correction, I was given the solution to my problem, “Stop projecting your garbage onto others, and when they project their garbage on to you, don’t receive it.” That little piece of advice is making all the difference. It is clearing up so many problems.
Following this simple advice, I find it is much easier to keep my peace when my spouse, child, friend, or enemy is having a hard time. I remember it has nothing to do with me. Instead of getting caught up in their drama, I help where I can, but know it is about them not me. If there is something I can learn, then I learn. But an angry, frustrated, irritated person is dealing with their issues not with my issues. When I am the object of someone's frustrations, I can keep my peace. There's no reason to be offended at something that has nothing to do with me. A lot of my issues and triggers are disappearing as I stop feeling responsible for everything others are projecting. I didn’t realize what a burden it is to be a codependent people pleaser.
It also improves my relationships with others, when I don’t tell them they are responsible for my garbage. I still get triggered, and sometimes I need to talk it out, but I know my issues have nothing to do with others. They belong to me, and I am the only one who can take out my own garbage.
#2 Build and Maintain Our Fences
Building and maintaining fences is a big deal when working with others. We all need to set and maintain healthy boundaries because it provides clarity and safety.
We get to choose how to build our fences and what they look like. Fences are made of all sorts of materials and are different shapes and sizes. It doesn’t really matter what our fences look like, as long we like them. We might be ignorant of our non-existant or broken fences. So if we feel taken advantage of or walked upon, we need to repair and build up our fences.
It is also important to stay out of other people’s fenced areas unless invited. We are more likely to be respectful of the boundaries set by others, when we have set healthy boundaries for ourselves.
Every individual and family is unique in the way they do life. Variety and diversity are beautiful. It feels good when we have the freedom to explore new paths and discover the perplexities of life. People make a lot of mistakes as they learn and grow, but this is part of the process. We learn from our pain and blunders, and we don’t have to save people from their mistakes.
We all do better when we respect each other’s boundaries. Instead of going around telling others how to run their life, it works better when we focus on attending to the business of our life.
We are responsible for maintaining our fence and taking care of what is inside of our fence. Our first responsibility is to take care of our needs and the needs of our family. Although others may choose to help us, we should not expect anyone else to handle our responsibilities. We also don’t have to feel obligated to take care of other people’s responsibilities . . . unless the Cricket tells us to do so.
#3 Listen to the Cricket
In the story of Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket represents Pinocchio's conscience. We had a major paradigm shift this last year when John figured out how he can live without sin. He discovered that he simply needs to always follow his conscience. Sometimes we want big revelations from God or for an angel in shining garb to show up in the middle of the night. But when we examine what our conscience is doing for us, we realize that we are all receiving revelation all day long.
Everyone has a conscience and we know when it speaks to us. Sometimes, like Pinocchio, we don’t listen to the Cricket. But if we did, we would benefit from the constant direction flowing to us day after day. Instead of running after trouble, what would happen if we chose to respond with alacrity to our conscience?
Our conscience is our personal trainer. It tells us: where to get involved and when to hold back; how we have made a mistake and what we can do to set things right again; what’s the next step in our progression and how we can best help others, etc.
Learning these three principles has changed my life. As far as I can see, it encompasses everything I need to do to live a happy, peaceful, love filled life.