IDENTIFICATION

I just re-read my post from Monday about the parking lot incident which illustrates identification, the first step toward ‘freedom from the bondage of self.’ Identification is one of my most valuable self-improvement tools. It allows me to assess the effectiveness of a certain behavior and not judge the person exhibiting it. Identification also frees me from chain-of-pain perpetuated by the prison of self-deception. Because I am able to IDentify a characteristic, I recognize it from memories of my past experiences. If I am willing to accept that I have been just as immature and forgive myself for the imperfection, I open the floodgates of compassion and forgiveness toward the person Compassiontempting me to scorn. Miraculously, I feel love for this person who has not yet found this path to inner peace. An overwhelming sense of gratitude follows as a result of realizing that forgiving myself is the key to freedom and peace of mind. How simple is that?

Okay…simple, but not so easy! It is just so tempting to go for the temporary high of ‘righteous’ indignation. Outrage is denial of my own earlier outrageous behavior. The brief exhilaration of feeling ‘better than’ comes from ignorance to the automatic low that must follow from karmic kickback. Why must I feel shame soon after feeling pride? It is because my disgust implies my innocence as if I have never and/or would never do something like that. However, I would not be agitated by this person if I didn’t feel shame about similar behaviors that I won’t admit to myself. Instead, my reaction would be magnanimous and I get a wonderful feeling about myself that lasts. When I tell myself that my agitation is about disapproval of them and not myself, they need to change – not me. While that may seem convenient, it is also very dis-empowering. I am doomed to repeat what I won’t admit. It sets me up for another opportunity to behave shamefully and then another to opportunity to temporarily feel better about myself by shaming someone else, and so on, and so on, and….

Admitting is the act of letting in. I can’t release what I haven’t let in! Conversely, the minute I admit a flaw, I can accept it, forgive myself and move on without carrying it around, walled off buried deep in my psyche like an abscess that causes me to react any time someone touches it. That which I resist will persist. Better to feel the pain of admitting it, so I can let it go. This is like feeling the momentary pain when piercing an abscess so I can feel the relief thereafter instead of guarding and defending it forever. If I could recognize my aggressor’s self-sabotaging animosity as something I have been able to conquer, my response will be gracious. This is far more likely to benefit me and anyone involved or even observing the exchange. Any time I have been able to behave with grace or dignity, it has put an extra spring in my step – not from pride, but from LOVE.

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.

WHO ARE YOU?

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Week 1: TOOLS – What You Need To Know

The second point: THE BRAIN CANNOT DISCERN FACT FROM FANTASY.

This is why we have emotional and physical reactions to stories being played out on a movie screen – and to situations throughout our day that actually have nothing to do with us. Exhaustive scientific research has failed to locate the consciousness (aka awareness, presence, thinker, observer, conscience, etc.) that appears from time to time throughout the movie – and throughout our day – to remind the brain of the truth.

FEAR = Fantasized Evil Appearing Real

Most people have not been trained to cultivate and keep up a disciplined connection with this presence or “present moment awareness.” As a result they have very little power to control the behavior of their conditioned mind.  Events from the past leave an imprint on the brain.  Later when seemingly similar circumstances present themselves, the brain will issue warning signals.  If we are not paying attention (present/aware) we will believe the brain’s interpretation of  imminent danger and react accordingly.  We are re-acting the plot from a situation that may have happened years ago and have no relevance to the current situation whatsoever!  If we are in the moment, we open ourselves to the possibility of a different interpretation.  We can choose to respond differently and experience an entirely different outcome.  When we respond we pause to respire and ponder.

Present moment awareness frees me from being held hostage by my past.

Week 1: TOOLS – What You Need to Know

“Knowledge has infinite organizing power.”

−Deepak Chopra

I will be posting some important points to ponder over the coming days as you expect my next video blog, when I will introduce the first tool/discipline required to gain control over your thoughts, words and deeds:

The first point: THOUGHTS ARE NOT FACTS.

The brain is a non-conscious organ that functions like a computer processing ONLY what it can with the programs  installed on it.  If the brain has not been given the software to process information (through formal education and/or socializing), it computes the material as nonsense, much like a pc would read a Word document without the Microsoft Word™ program installed. The document is not nonsense simply because our pc doesn’t have the programming to understand it.  It is, however, nonsense to dismiss the document as nonsense!  There are many ways to compensate for different operating systems and programs so that the facts on the page, which remain absolute regardless of processor, are comprehensible by all.  Likewise, when we judge others and dismiss their opinions and actions, we are the fools.  Their experience is very real for them and we may miss some valuable information if we don’t make the effort to bridge the gap between our different programming and conditioning/socializing.

What are some examples of this phenomenon that you have experienced? Have you ever changed your mind?  Have you ever strongly disagreed with someone (your parents, perhaps) and marveled at your alignment with them years later?  If you have ever once changed your mind, you  know that believing you are right about anything is not sound.

Another example is religious disdain or worse yet, intolerance.  The fact that a religion works for one group of people doesn’t indicate that no other religion is has value; yet, we see countless examples of judgments without thorough comprehension.

When we are ‘unteachable,’ closed-minded or attached to the way things have always been, we subject ourselves to varying degrees of limitation, irrelevance and isolation as if we refuse to upgrade various hardware or software for a computer.  This is true for the most intelligent of as well as the least!  I saw a conversation on Larry King between Stephen Hawkin and Deepak Chopra and realized that for all of his genius, Stephen Hawking was actually dismissing Deepak Chopra’s claims because they had not been his experience.  Additionally, he had never even tried to gain that experience!

We must be open to the experiences of others, challenge our comfort zone, and  embrace change to evolve.  I’m not sure where I first heard this expression, but I sure do love it:

“When I am alone in my mind, I am in enemy territory.”

−Unknown

YOUR PATH TO PEACE OF MIND

Week 1: WELCOME!

I have cut out and posted on my fridge a full-page Nike print adds that simply says, “LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR.”  These words are superimposed over a photograph of a woman jumping over what she seems to believe is a body of water. From the reader’s angle, it is clear that she is really just clearing a puddle!

So, here I go…

I have brought you my first in a series of video blogs designed to help you gain peace of mind regardless of your circumstances. It is located near the top of the right-hand sidebar on this page.  I hope you’ll watch, subscribe, tune into my blog for associated tools and exercises as well as listen and subscribe to my weekly podcast.

I have also included a link to a video I posted on Facebook at the beginning of the year to hold myself accountable to myself. Today I am following through.  To see my very first video blog post, click on this thumbnail:

If you would like to ask me questions in person on my podcast (anonymously or not) or if you would like me address a certain topic or question, please contact me via email at laura@lauranash.com and I will get back to you.

Warmest regards,

Laura