Friday, January 14, 2011

You Are Not In Charge

Waiting for the school bus, Charlie started barking at an innocent walker.  He saw him at a distance and started with the short snorts and growls and as the stranger got closer, he broke into a full barking spell.  He does that from time to time and my usual response is to tell him to calm down, or to shut up depending on my mood and how long the barking has been going on.  Today, for some reason I reminded him that he wasn’t in charge of the neighborhood.  I kept on telling him calmly, “you’re not in charge”.

I wonder how often we are disturbed by whatever is going on because of the misconception that we are in charge or responsible.  I wonder if I truly believed that I was not in charge or responsible for all the drivers out there, would I still be annoyed at whoever was driving too slow or too fast or, … Would I be more calm watching the news, if I didn’t believe I was in charge of the world and all its inhabitants and their actions, or opinions?

Truth is the only thing we should be responsible for is our own thoughts, emotions, and reactions.  Yet, we readily give that responsibility to everyone else: our spouses, ex-spouses, children, co-workers, bosses, etc.   It seems like everyone else is in charge of our reaction to life.  I’m sure if my dog was a human, he’d blame the stranger for his barking fit.  However, knowing Charlie, if he could talk, he’d probably say, “I’m a dog and he seemed like a nice guy, I was trying to find out if he wanted to play, I just wanted some attention”.
The next time I get upset about something, I’m going to ask myself: What’s really going on here?  Who is in charge?  Am I longing for some attention, someone to play with?  If nothing else, it sure will get my mind off of whatever was aggravating me and put me in a dog frame of mind. 

Questions To Ponder:
1)    What are some instances where you easily get aggravated?
2)    Do you find yourself in charge of the situation (e.g., the highway, the news, politics, etc.) or are you upset because you are not?
3)    What would you like to hear (e.g., you’ve been promoted, these are not your issues anymore, you need a vacation, etc.) from whomever is in charge that would make you feel relieved?

If you find yourself questioning your responsibilities and would like to explore what really matters to you, you may want to work with a spiritual life coachSpiritual life coaching is a process where you, the client is the driver and there are no right or wrong answers to any of your questions.  Contact me for a consultation to see if this type of facilitation is what you want.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Overcoming Fears

We are full of fears.  We move forward in hopes of not succumbing to our fears.  We are afraid of all kinds of things, real (as in it happened to us or someone we know) or imaginary (there is no real way it could happen, but we are still afraid).  Some of the most common fears I work with my clients on are: the fear of being lonely, failure, ending up poor and not being able to give the kids a better opportunity, and letting others (parents or family) down.
Within these fears are sub-fears.  And when you go even deeper than that, what remains is the fear of death or the fear of nothingness.  So, we keep on being busy, doing things, working hard, creating or participating in all kinds of drama, feeling guilty, running to or away from things, incessant worrying and an unhealthy sense of responsibility, etc. in order to avoid the so-called reality of our own mortality.  As we get older, it gets worse.  Once we see our parents getting old, or when our own health starts deteriorating, we become more obsessed with our addictions.

The more we can fit into a day, the less time for frivolous wanderings. The harder we work, the more we’ll deserve that one week vacation.  Only after we’ve slaved away can we justify taking a break.  And then, we are so exhausted, that the break is a necessary respite to prevent a physical or mental breakdown.  It is also a state of anesthetized rest, to get us prepared for the next week of full activity.  And we go on like this until something breaks down or we retire and die.

The ones we hope to be like are the ones who make it to retirement heaven and move away to someplace warm by the ocean and play golf with other people in heaven, praising their successful children who they worked so hard to provide for.  The failures are the ones who don’t make it to heaven.  They are the ones whose lives fall apart through a devastating loss: divorce, being laid off from work, death of someone close that they never quite get over, health crisis or even their own death.
This really is the biggest fear, the fear of not making it to the end in heaven (as defined by you).  No one wants to be like those other people who didn’t make it.  No one wants to be the shameful one whose husband left her for a younger woman or the one who couldn’t quite pull it together after his son committed suicide or worse yet, be the one with the diagnosis of terminal cancer.  In fact, we keep on telling ourselves, “at least my life is not as bad as XYZ” and that belief is what keeps us motivated to keep on doing what we’ve been doing.  It is like we read what we want into what we think we see.  Nothing bad has happened to me yet, so I must be doing it right.

Fears feed our addictions.  When you see someone who is obsessive about anything, they are afraid of something.  They often rationalize and resist the acknowledgment of their fear(s).  Most times, they are unaware of what’s really happening and keep on playing an internal game of hide and go seek with them self.  This keeps truth at bay.
If you are tired of running in circles, avoiding the truth, all of your fears, etc., it might be time to start working with a spiritual life coach.  The first step in changing self defeating patterns and overcoming any fear is always the hardest, because it involves a certain degree of recognition.  Usually, people don’t even know that they are afraid of something.  They just know that something isn’t right in their world.  Either way, start talking, start looking at your deepest, darkest corners with someone who won’t judge you or force you to make any decisions.  Spiritual life coaching is about partnering with someone in a safe space and examining and repurposing all the junk that you carry with you every day.  Only then can you decide by yourself if you are ready to let any of it go.  And when you do, everything will change.

Happy 2011, best wishes for overcoming those pesky, destructive and painful fears!