Tuesday, October 27, 2009
This is part 5 of a five part series on tools for going through life transitions.
The last tool when going through a major life transition is patience. Often times, we just want to zoom through our changes and get to the end. The attitude of having to get to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow can dissolve the power from the other tools like self-acceptance. You cannot be accepting of you and what is when you are in a rush to get to the end. A difficult transition requires lots of patience and gentleness. When you have altered your course in life, you are traveling on unknown roads. It may be scary or unfamiliar and patience helps you on your journey.
When you lose someone you’ve loved deeply, you may feel lost without them, buried in grief, patience is the only tool that can help you get through the darkest nights. Sometimes, we want to numb ourselves by keeping company, or doing stuff and when our friends are not available or we run out of things to do, we may find loneliness as a prison that we tried so hard to get away from. But loneliness is temporary and it will pass. In the middle of a transition, it could be your companion if you choose to look at it that way. Patience with yourself and this in-between phase is critical. It truly makes the time go by easier. You might find your creativity blossoming in those quiet and lonely moments, if you are accepting of it. If you fight it, get impatient and try to force things to happen, creativity will stay away until you are done playing your game. When you do get impatient, remember you changed your life, or something has changed, by definition, the old ways/rules do not apply anymore. Change is just what it means, different. Different is what we say we want, but we are not prepared to deal with the unfamiliarity that comes with it. Our brain cannot come up with new solutions, it only knows what it has known from the past. I have written about trust in past posts (September 08 and July 09), and this is where self-trust becomes crucial. Along with self-trust will come new solutions from new places foreign to your head.
Creativity is a gift that is waiting for you to stop doing, stop rushing into the future, stop numbing yourself and denying what is. Creativity is waiting for you to get silent, truly silent. Creativity will creep up on you when you are present. You’ll find yourself creating in a way that you may have had a long time ago, perhaps even back when you were a child. You will find yourself filled with a peaceful sense of being and from that place even making a simple meal for yourself will be a joyful event. You may decide to rearrange your furniture, or buy new drapes, or paint your bedroom a different color. You may decide to take dance lessons or go on that long awaited adventurous trip you never took, or simply clean out the attic. Whatever it is you do, is coming not from compulsion or duty, but from joy. You will be filled with an inner sense of joy and peace that is inexplicable. Nothing in your outer world has changed and if you think about it, your joy seems senseless, yet more real than any feeling you may have ever felt. When you practice patience in your journey, especially through the difficult times, you will be gifted with these precious moments consistently. So, step back and see the big picture, observe yourself in it, accept what is, honor everyone you’ve ever encountered, and be patient. These five tools are the essential tools in living a big life. If you fall off the wagon, and notice that you have not been using one of the tools, then go back and pick it up. It takes lots of practice! I wish you unspeakable peace and joy on your journey…
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
This is part 4 of a series on tools for going through major life transitions.
Tool #4 in going through life transitions is the ability and practice of honoring everyone, especially those who may have hurt us. Honor is similar to self-acceptance and self-respect but it is done for the other. It is also something that you can practice doing regularly throughout the day. It takes away the need for righteousness or the need to be right. In fact, it is almost like pouring cold water on that live wire that is sizzling with self-righteousness. It fine tunes and focuses the image you see in your big picture. When you can honor people who drive you crazy or even characters in the news who are portrayed as truly evil, you are able to see more clearly and into farther distances. You can disentangle from the pangs of judgment that you may have experienced when you first encountered someone who did something you consider wrong. It feels like when the Novocain sets in and you begin to feel nothing. It allows you to expand your consciousness so you can feel grander than your human story.
Honor is about accepting others for where they are at, no matter what. You don’t have to condone or agree with their actions or words, but you can still honor them for their experience and the role they play in your journey. I personally have learned more from the difficult people in my life than from those I’ve had agreeable relationships with. It is as if the tension in the relationship is a lesson ready to be unwrapped. So often we get stuck in our own opinions, our way of being brought up and our view of the world that we need to be shaken up a bit. The horror in the news provides that shake up, the opening of the eyes, the soul, and the heart to understanding a bigger world. Once we allow the other to be as they are (by the simple practice of honoring), we have stretched our reality and this makes everything easier. We are now free to expand and move into a new place and a new experience.
Tool #4 or honor can also make self-love or self-acceptance easier. If you are having difficulty with self-acceptance, then honoring others will loosen things up and you will find that now you can use tool #3 more easily. Also, if you are wondering how to use honor, it is very simple. Just practice saying it out loud or in your own head when someone makes you mad. Start with the easy ones, not some serial killer in the news or an abusive parent. Start with the rude person you encountered at the grocery store. If it feels fake, keep on saying it until it does not. Then you can use it with people who have hurt you in a deeper way. Try it at least for a week consistently and decide for yourself if you sense a change or a shift.
Stay tuned for tool #5 in next week’s post!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
This is part 3 of a series on tools for going through major life transitions.
Now that you are in the midst of a huge transition, you’ve realized that you need to see the big picture and learned to observe yourself, what’s next? The answer is self-acceptance. A result of self-observation might be regrets, realization of having made a few mistakes, noticing repeated patterns or choices, etc. This is why the next tool is self-acceptance which includes: self-forgiveness and self-love. Yes, you may have made a few mistakes, but you cannot change the past, only your experience of the present moment. If we are judgmental of our self, then we are not accepting our self and cannot move forward. Guilt and shame are shackles that bind us to our past and will ensure that we don’t move forward and create joyful experiences throughout our transition. This may sound simple, but imagine a woman who has left a dysfunctional marriage with no job and has to provide for her children who blame her for the dissolution of their family. In order for her to experience success and joy, she has to accept her decision as hard as it may have been and allow her children to go through their own experiences without any guilt. As a mother, this is not an easy task. Self-acceptance comes when one takes responsibility for one’s own life and only that. Yes, she is a mother, but she is not responsible for her children’s feelings or opinions. Her acceptance of her own decisions and self-responsibility is the greatest teaching to her children who only learn by example.
This tool is a very powerful tool that is not easy to use. It takes lots of practice and it will undo many beliefs that no longer serve you. It will uncover the past and stuff that have lingered on for too long. It will give you the opportunity to choose what you really want and move forward in your journey, but only if you are ready and willing to boldly accept you and all that you are and all that you have done. This is where self-love comes in handy. Once again, the topic sounds benign, but we are mostly amateurs at it. We have been trained to love others, but not our self. We only venture to love our self, if someone else deems it deserving. If our loved ones say that we are a great mother, friend, brother, employee, etc. then we might consider our self deserving of love, but here too, only deserving of their love. Unconditional self-love is the result of true self-acceptance and very necessary to move through challenging transitions. However, if you cannot love yourself unconditionally, how can you truly love another unconditionally? If you cannot forgive yourself for mistakes, how can you forgive someone else? And if you cannot accept you, in the shape you are in right now (whatever weight you may have, whoever you may have hurt, whatever job you may have, however messy your home may be, etc.), you are not in the present moment. If you are experiencing regrets about the past or fantasizing about the future, you cannot move through change simply because you are not here to experience it. It is a denial of what is. This denial will only prolong the inevitable and that’s the reason why transitions seem so difficult.
In summary, if you are going through earth shattering change, you may want to take a look at the big picture, observe you in it, and then jump right in and love and honor yourself and the journey you’re on. Self-acceptance is an essential tool when going through transitions. For tool #4, stay tuned until next week’s post.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The next essential tool or tool #2 for going through life transitions is the ability and practice of observing yourself. This goes hand in hand with the first tool, seeing the big picture. Once you are aware of the big picture, you can then observe yourself even when you are participating in life. In fact, it is crucial to do it as you go through your day. What you may not have been able to decipher, you can now recognize easily. Separation from your ego and your personality allows you to see it more clearly. You will be able to see your fears, reactions, compulsions, judgments, expectations, beliefs, etc. This in turn allows you to work through them. Take fear for example, once you realize which fear gets in the way of moving forward, you can go deeper into it and figure out what it is made of, how it shows up in different scenarios, how you have coped with it (or not) in the past, etc. And last, but not least, what might the fear be teaching you? These are all questions you can work with your coach to help you move through the fear and make some life empowering choices.
Observations can also reveal our judgments and beliefs. No matter who we think we are, we can’t help but to judge ourselves, others, circumstances, etc. Perhaps the word judge is not accurate, because it is more like evaluations. We are always evaluating things, comparing them, mostly done in order to understand. But once our ego gets activated, the evaluation becomes more like a ranking system that we use to judge. And unfortunately, the judgments only imprison the judge, not the object of the judgment. Once you cast an opinion on something, you hold that thing within the constraints of that opinion. Any other event or object that is similar to that first event or object, will follow the same fate, and so on, and so on. No one can feel free when they’ve slammed the judgment doors shut. Every time we think, “I should have”, “I could have”, etc., it is a judgment on what is. Observation, allows you the space to catch yourself casting judgment. The moment you become the observer in your own story, you have given yourself the power to choose. Once you know that what you were thinking was a judgment, you can choose to think and eventually believe something else. This is also the first step in changing belief systems.
Observations also reveal expectations. We want things to turn out a certain way. Expectations like judgments imprison the person who is doing the expecting. When you expect, you are saying “no” to what is not within the domain of your expectation. In other words, you are closing the door on all other possibilities. It is a self-limiting practice that we have learned to do early on in life. We have been trained to respond a certain way from the moment our parents and teachers taught us how to speak or behave, and since then we’ve been practicing this way of being. You do something and then you expect something for it. This all works well until you don’t get the reward you were expecting for your behavior. And even as adults we then behave like children having a tantrum when it all comes crumbling down. Observations allow you to see what it is that you are expecting and the space to choose to dismantle this learned behavior. Eventually, you will get to a place where you will only do that which brings you joy. The action is driven by the intent to experience joy, not to get some reward. As simple as it sounds, you’ll be astounded at how often you do things because you are expected to do them. And this type of re-wiring of your SELF is not easy! Observing yourself helps you zoom out of your story and see the big picture. These two tools go hand in hand when going through transitions or even just when you want to have a bigger and more fulfilling life experience. They allow you to choose how to be in every moment of every day instead of reacting to what you think is happening.
If you are going through a major transition and are still interested, stay tuned for tool #3 in next week’s post.