Will Pumpkin Seeds Grow Roses?

“I am dealing with a bunch of idiots.”

“She doesn’t know how I feel – I would never say what I really think; I would be fired.”

“Don’t worry, I behaved like a gentleman.”

These are the types of comments I hear every day.

It seems there is a widespread misconception that if we just keep our mouth shut, no harm no foul.  Many believe that if nobody sees the conflict between what we think, how we feel and what we say, then we can control how we are perceived by others.

This is impossible!

roses-in-the-office

Rosy Results

As within, so without.  We can’t plant pumpkin seeds and hope to grow roses.  Our thoughts are seeds that are planted in the fertile soil that is the depths of our mind.  As with seeds buried underground, we don’t see thoughts.  These seeds sprout in our speech and bloom in our action.

When we say something we don’t mean, we are expecting the listener to believe that our pumpkin sprout is actually a rose sprout.  It won’t be long until that sprout comes to full bloom and our pumpkin is impossible to pass-off as a rose.

Energy is how we water our garden.  Positive (honest, open, willing, compassionate, optimistic and loving) energy will grow thoughts, words, deeds and results that are beneficial to everyone. Negative (fearful, resentful, jealous, anxious, dishonest, secretive and hateful) energy gives rise to thoughts, words, deeds and results that are destructive to common purpose.

The more energy we give a thought, the harder it is to disguise.  If a thought is not helpful, it is far easier to nip it in the bud at its inception.  If we pull our attention away from it, then we can correctly say, “No harm no foul.” Our other option is to replace the thought.  Dig up the pumpkin seed and put in a seed that is in line with a solution and/or positive outcome.

Mental Gym

Suggested Workout

Assume the Best

  • Begin by taking a brief snapshot of your life at the moment.  
  • For the next 7  days assume the best in everything and everyone.
  • Notice how often you feel a temptation to assume the worst.
  • Keep track of each time you intentionally changed your attitude.
  • At the end of seven days, pause and review your week. Has anything shifted?
  • Re-up for another 7 days.

When practiced in earnest, you will notice that your outlook changes when you change your outlook.  

If you can’t imagine a favorable interpretation, simply decide that what seems like a  snag is either an opportunity in disguise or a blessing that has protected you from harm.  Remain alert to the opportunity.  Examples of  assuming the best when we might usually assume the worst:

  • Someone cuts you off on the road and you assume they didn’t see you or they had an emergency so you send them a silent blessing instead of a curse.
  • You miss your flight and assume that  there is a good reason for the delay.  Grateful for the ‘found free time,’ you seize the opportunity to catch on reading, journaling, writing, etc.
  • You don’t get the job you were hoping for and assume that something better is right around the corner.
  • You get such a bad cold that you don’t get out of bed all day and assume that your body knows that if it doesn’t slow you down, you could harm yourself.  So you take the day to rest, watch old movies, read magazines and just relax.
  • Your children are misbehaving and you assume that they are releasing tension from the day in a safe environment where they are not rejected or judged.  You are so grateful that you know how they tell you about their stress and can help them through  times when they want to act out instead of feeling our feelings or because we don’t know what to do about our frustration.
  • You were left out of a social event and assume it was an oversight and that you would have been in a compromising position by someone at the event or something wonderful will happen as a result of the oversight.

It is easiest to think about adopting this attitude “just for today.”  Sometimes I break it down even more.  In very challenging times, I have broken it down to hours and even minutes.  I can tell myself (and believe) that at this time I am okay.  I appreciate the fact that this thing that wants to cause me fear has not yet come to pass.  I can take that perception of ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ and turn it around one minute at a time.  My friend, Walter, once told me, “I can swap my sense of impending doom for a sense of impending wellness.”  I love that!

I can choose to swap a sense of impending doom for a sense of impending wellness.  What to I have to lose?    

 

Hold the Vision

One of my clients has a daughter who serves as a barometer for his well-being.

He came to me for guidance handling the emotional stress of divorce, being a single dad and new fiscal challenges.  He was high on a potent cocktail of resentment and fear.   When we met, he was stuck in a chain of pain that seemed as if it was manifest in his daughter. His relationship with his daughter has made my job very easy!  She was like my Cliff Notes.  Once he described what was ‘wrong’ with her, I knew how to help him arrive at his solution.  Like clockwork, when his daughter acted out, he reacted  impulsively with feelings of anger and even rage.  Then he felt engulfed by remorse for his behavior.  He told me how much he loved his daughter and didn’t want to hurt her, but….. he was just so afraid that she would end up like her mother!  Having heard about some of his former wife’s antics, I certainly understood why he hoped for something different for his daughter.  I also clearly saw why some of his daughter’s behavior would remind him of her mother and trigger his fear.  Luckily, it was easy for him to see that saying things like, “You’re just like your mother!” would not help his daughter to blossom into a woman of substance, especially since she was aware of his disdain for her mother.  But nothing was working.  He could not issue enough consequences or express enough disapproval or launch enough warning flares to get her to change.  Thank goodness.

Because of his failure to effect a change in his daughter after having exhausted every option he could imagine, by the time he came to me, he was teachable.  I explained to him H.O.W. I surmised in less than 3 minutes that he that he will have the relationship of his dreams with his daughter.  From the moment we first spoke, he was Honest, Open and Willing.  If one of those components was missing he would have had to cycle back through his pain-driven chain-reactions until he was ready to  let go.

H.O.W. can you spot a winner? They are Honest, Open and Willing.  Denial is a valuable tool of the human psyche.  It protects us when we could be overwhelmed by circumstances.  However, it will also destroy us if we are not willing to face it when it is no longer serving us.  How will you know if you are stuck in denial?  You will get repeated unpleasant feedback from your environment.  This is our inner guidance system at work letting us know it is time for another growth spurt.  Getting honest with ourselves and others allows us to change for the better…evolve.  However, honesty alone is not enough.  Openness to new ways of thinking and acting is a need for intentional change.  I like the expression, “My best thinking got me here.”   Until you are open to see that your way of processing events is no longer working for you, you will keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results.  Lastly, winners are willing to change.  They don’t feel like a failure when their way didn’t work.  They are excited to find and try a different way of thinking or acting that will give them what they want.  You will know they are willing by their actions.  There is no other way to show willingness.  Period.

Coming to me, who another one of my clients calls her tormentor,  as you process another of life’s growth opportunities, is almost a guarantee that you know H.O.W. it works!  I say that in humility and with a big smile on my face because I know that just showing up to hear me say, “You are the problem'” is an act of willingness!   Someone once told me that he hated me for more than a year because I wrote on a 3×5 card “I AM THE PROBLEM,” and told him to tape it to his mirror.  But, he never forgot it.  And, he knew that my motives were pure and helpful.  So, gradually he became open to try to understand what I meant.  That is when he realized that if he is the problem, then he is also the solution!.  Oprah calls that an “Aha moment.”  In the case of my client with the daughter issues, when he understood his role in real-izing her ‘flaws,’  his behavior changed immediately.   I showed him how to define the exact nature of his objections.  Once he identified the problem in her, I directed him within asking, “How is this a mirror of you?”  He began to notice that if he didn’t  do what was necessary to take care of himself with loving compassion, his daughter would show risky behavior.  If he was too hard on himself, she may have a cutting relapse.  If he was being judgmental or resentful, she would judge him, resent his ‘flaws,’ and ignore him for weeks.

Realizing that she is a reflection of his spiritual fitness, he  began to change his behavior with her and made great changes with his internal dialogue. Of course he had his moments of  ‘two-steps forward and one step backward,’ but that is life.  No one ever gets through life without what they perceive as a misstep.  When we are honest about the events that came before a little slip backwards, we prevent a mindless slide back into that powerless chain of pain.  Honesty allows us to correct course. Every so-called step backwards can serve as the catalyst to move us even further forward…. if we don’t stare at it and blow it out of proportion.

Meditation is a microcosm of life – as well access to pure awareness of the Source of life.  In a meditative retreat our awareness of the stimulus of life slips  to the silence of pure Source awareness.  We come out of  silent Source awareness feeling refreshed and ready for anything.  The brief retreats in life that we call setbacks, give us the fuel or motivation for forward motion.  The ancients liken it to an archer pulling back on his bow with the arrow.  That retreat gives the arrow all the dynamism for its flight.  Lamenting losses , missteps, etc. is like trying to shoot an arrow without the tension of backwards motion.

Demonstrating great skill with one of my favorite tools, the mirror of life and relationship, my client began to see major changes in his relationship with his daughter.  In time, he actually saw major changes in her.  He began to notice that the connection between his attitude and his experiences ran deep indeed.  When he assumed responsibility and gained response-ability for his experiences, he stopped all blame. When  his daughter dented their expensive car, he conveyed his relief and gratitude that his priceless daughter wasn’t damaged.  In the past she may not have been hurt in the car accident but the invisible damage her father would have caused by overreacting would have affected her indefinitely.  Instead, he gave her a huge hug and helped her come up with a plan to pay for the damages  – resisting his impulse to take care of everything himself.  He gave her the ability to assume responsibility for the events of her life!  The pain in her pocketbook was a small price to pay for the empowerment she received by her father’s respect. His compassionate, tempered response felt like trust to his daughter, which is quite different from approval for doing  the ‘right’ way  or being ‘good enough.’

That wasn’t the last time she did something that would have made his head spin in the past.  In fact, a few events followed that I am not sure I would have been able to handle without a lot of  fear and some regrettable behavior.  But, he held the vision. He used Joel Osteen’s trick:  When someone we love misbehaves, instead of  highlighting or inflaming the situation by rehashing and shaming, simply accept what happened and then silently say, “Subject to change!”  Then quickly get back to your vision of this person at their best.  Refuse to dwell anywhere else.  This loving dad did just that in the face of some very trying situations. I remember being in awe of his growth and humbled by his devotion.   Before I could catch my breath he began regaling me with the most joyous stories of her transformation.  Because of his unconditional love and acceptance, she began to feel worthy.  She started to take better care of herself.  She acted with poise and dignity.  She was beginning to impress and humble him as he had done with me.  I have the greatest job I can imagine!

CONTROL ISSUES

Just before Christmas when I was 7 years old my dad died and I experienced a life altering paradigm shift.  It was as if the curtains closed at the end of an act on the stage of my life and when they reopened, the scenery had completely changed leaving me feeling unsafe and bewildered.  As a result, I can rationalize, deny and forget anything.  It is a mechanism I employed to make sense my unfathomable reality.  It helped me survive the grief and terror that threatened my sanity for decades and felt life threatening.  I thought I was safe in my head even though I knew on some subconscious level that I didn’t feel safe.  This ‘survival’ mechanism carried me until I was 35 years old when it backfired for the last time.

At the age of 35 I experienced another paradigm shift.  I could no longer escape my reality. I had to embark on that treacherous journey from my head, where I rationalized my experiences, to my heart, where I began realizing them.  When I ‘surrendered’ and began processing my crippling feelings of grief, rage, shame, resentment, etc., something amazing happened.  I learned that the seemingly miraculous solution to any of my ‘problems’ is contained within my deepest fears! When I began to feel the feelings I had resisted, I made some critical discoveries:

  1. That which I resist persists.
  2. My emotions won’t kill me.
  3. Emotions are simply energy in motion.

    EMOTION = Energy in Motion

  4. My emotions they cannot pass if I resist/deny/stuff/block them.
  5. When I feel my feelings, I can release them and drop my ‘baggage.’
  6. Once I process the emotion, I discover that “peace that passes all understanding” rationally.
  7. Established in this peace of mind I am able to and I want to stay in present moment awareness.
  8. The Intelligence and the Power that creates worlds exists only in the present moment.
  9. Connected to that Power – my fears slip away and I gain ‘control’ of my life.
  10. When I feel a constricting emotion it is my sign that I am shutting down, resisting my experience, and cutting myself off from the Power to change that  undesirable experience .
  11. When I accept the experience as it is, I return to the present and the Power it has.  A feeling of expansion results.
  12. The ‘control’ (over my thoughts, words, deeds and experiences) that I craved was in my Awareness all along!
  13. As long as I was looking for that Power and Control over my life ‘out there,’ it would remain illusive.
  14. This EOS  (Emotional Operating System) is my infallible IGS – Internal Guidance System.  If I remain aware and pay attention to it, it will guide me to the life of my dreams and deepest desires.

I can think of many examples in life when I ignored the wisdom of my IGS and paid a steep price.  One obvious example was in my early twenties when I took a job as a mortgage-backed securities bond broker.  I was about to become the only woman on a dog-eat-dog bond-trading floor.  I had many reasons for taking the job despite a nagging ‘sinking’ feeling.  I was unable to show up for my first week on the job because I had colitis, which in retrospect was my IGS on overdrive, desperately trying to get my attention.  I had stuffed every emotion that surfaced before and after taking the job because I was in survival mode.  I felt that I had to stuff the grief associated with selling my soul to survive because I believed I had to take that job.  The disease I developed as a result of my dis-ease with my decision forced me stop physically.  But since I refused to stop mentally long enough to just be in the present moment, I delayed my discovery of true Power.

I was extremely ‘successful” and convinced myself that I was in control (happy, safe and secure).  I went on compromising my integrity for years saying and doing things that made me so uncomfortable I could hardly stand in my skin…another feeling I worked at denying !  Every year it became more difficult to contain all the trapped energy of my repressed emotions.  Finally at age 35, I reached the tipping point. Choices I made (albeit unconsciously) resulted in a situation that I would typically have denied, but at that particular moment, I could not house another emotion without imploding.  As a result, I accepted reality in the moment and suddenly, in touch with true Power, all my walls collapsed instantly and I stepped into this new miraculous paradigm.