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!

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Changing How You Look at Things Changes What You’re Looking At

I want to show you how you can end stress associated with control issues.  Actually, that’s redundant!  Isn’t all stress caused by feeling powerless to guarantee a desired result?

One of the most important principles underlying everything I say and do and teach is: Life is Lived From the Inside→Out.  There are many potent principles associated with this Truth.  One of the more challenging and equally rewarding to use is: Thoughts Are More Powerful Than Words or Things.  This principle is challenging because it rarely produces instant gratification and we can’t prove cause and effect at this level.  And yet, if you pay attention, you will know that all the events of your life, began at  the invisible level of thought.  Awareness is key.  If you are not paying attention you will miss it and dismiss the most effective way to create the life of your dreams.    When we understand that our inner world creates our outer world, we know that trying to control people, places or things to get what we want is an option on par with rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

The formula is simple:

  • Become aware of stress.
  • Change your perspective by looking at the scenario from the perspective of the other person, the institution or an impartial observer.
  • Reinterpret the situation.  Spend as much time as it takes to imagine a way to  interpret the event(s) that benefits you.
  • Adjust your attitude by acting as if this interpretation is the correct interpretation.  
  • Use this perception every time the topic comes up.
  • If new information is presented about this topic that negates this, simply repeat the steps.

Many years ago, one of  my best friends betrayed me.  I was divorcing my husband at the time.  I felt like I had been abandoned, unappreciated, unloved and alone when I couldn’t save my marriage.  I was so afraid, depleted and depressed.  This was one of the darkest periods in my life.  To make matters worse, I discovered that friends and relatives don’t like when you upset the apple cart.  At least, back then in my little world, divorce came with stigma attached.  My friends weren’t happy that I became a single  mom and my relatives were not too thrilled with the idea of a ‘failure’ in the genealogy.

One of my go-to ‘peeps’ was so disturbed by my decision, that she set out to destroy my reputation.  My situation at the time was rife with highly effective circumstantial evidence that could be used to ‘frame’ me.  I was the unwitting starlet of my soap opera.  I faced accusation and rejection from people I loved at a time when I needed them most.  Luckily, I already had a bit of an awakening having read Deepak Chopra’s book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and James Allen’s classic, As a Man Thinketh.

We reap what we sow in thought word and deed.  This is inescapable.

This  meant that I was enduring that particular undesirable ‘harvest’ because of seeds I must have sown in the past.  If I wanted a different harvest, I would have to plant new seeds.  I would have to change something.  In this case, I first had to figure out what seeds I had planted – because I had no idea what I did to get those results.  It seemed so obvious to me that she was the problem and I was the victim!  How could I ever find a way to take responsibility for this cruelty?  Then it occurred to me.  My life had a very strong theme running through it.  From the day my father died when I was a young girl, I developed an increasingly powerful victim lens  through which I perceived seemingly unprovoked unwanted circumstances.

I needed to reframe my perception or I would keep real-izing these types of scenarios.  I remember feeling so grateful that I had figured out why I often found myself saying, “Why me?”  The warm and cozy blanket of denial known as self-pity is particularly challenging to remove.  It feels so good to blame others because it gives a brief ego-driven high of  righteousness and… quite conveniently, if you are at fault, I don’t have to change.   You do!  Unfortunately,  blaming others also means my happiness is dependent upon other people or scenarios beyond my control.  Why would I choose this feeble strategy?  Fortunately, by assuming responsibility for all the circumstances of my life, I give myself response-ability.  I can respond to an affront, insult, set-back, etc. in a way that will diffuse any negative energy associated with me and begin to build a new momentum in the direction of my choosing.

Awareness of my thoughts, feelings & emotions and the  consequences of owning or validating them, gives me the power to choose the next chapter of my life.  Conversely, if I am not paying attention to the activity between my ears(positive or negative),  I give up my freedom to choose whether what comes next is beneficial or harmful  to me.

In the case of my  friend, every time a realized I was obsessing, or got a strong feeling of self-pity or resentment, I stopped what I was doing so I could address the situation, because I knew it would be a runaway train in no time. I used to take a moment or longer to bless her and forgive her.  Pausing for a minute helped me to remember that what she thought she was doing to me, she was actually doing to herself.  She could only harm me if I ‘ate the poison’ by reacting to it, thereby tacitly agreeing with the charges. In pausing, I could also reflect on  the  thoughts that came before the gripping sensation associated with my earlier negativity. Once I identified what tapes were playing in my mind, I would replace them with new ones that made me feel better, stronger, wiser, happier, positive, etc.  I could access compassion  for her because I knew that what we ‘send out’ comes back multiplied. I knew that she had no idea of the havoc that her behavior would wreak on her life later… or she wouldn’t do it!  Meanwhile,I knew I  was fortunate because I could choose to return unkindness with love knowing that I will be so happy when  that love comes back to me exponentially.

I was vigilant about harboring no ill will.  However, I did not seek her friendship either.  That would have been an act of cruelty toward myself that would also bring an undesired harvest.  In less than a year, it was time for her to reap the harvest of the seeds she planted with me.  Misfortune she never could have imagined caused her much shame and threatened her good name and reputation.  She found herself in a very compromised situation suddenly overwhelmed by new responsibilities thrust upon her.  Without batting an eyelash, I assumed as much of her load as I was suited to handle.  Her young daughter spent the better part of a year with me going home at night just to sleep.  I did whatever else I could do. The past never occurred to me.  This is why thoughts are more powerful than words or deeds.  My response to her suffering that resulted in a beautiful win-win for all parties, was only possible with a pure heart.  If I had continued to have a grudge, I could have felt vindicated.  I may have enjoyed some twisted sense of satisfaction that ‘she got what was coming to her.’ I promise you, this would have caused subconscious self-loathing and an unintended negative spiral that I would not believe I deserved!

Instead,after a couple of years, my decision to force myself to feel compassion instead of resentment (even when I didn’t mean it at first) reaped a harvest that continues to feed my soul today.  I have in her, a most loyal friend.  We have trustworthy friendship based on respect, personal responsibility and generosity of spirit.  Perhaps even more importantly, I gained so much self-respect by honoring the Golden Rule.  Gold it is!

TRUE POWER

Power is magnetism.  It is obtained by empowering others. Trusting, inspiring, respecting, challenging, delegating, appreciating, informing, listening, etc. elevates the recipient, who naturally reciprocates.  The exponential effect on the individual with this wisdom is obvious.  They are loved and respected. They don’t need to watch their back. They are mostly lighthearted, energetic and healthy.

Controlling, manipulative people have agency power.  As soon as their title or leverage is gone, their ability to influence is gone. They suck the energy out of everyone they impact. Instead of adroitly using Power, they think they are the power.  This type of exertion/force creates likely candidates for heart disease, anxiety issues, etc.

The brain constricts under duress inhibiting inspiration and creativity.  Pressuring people provides instant cause/effect gratification, but does much more harm than good over time. While the ignorant gain satisfaction from measuring the result of massive effort, the enlightened lament the unrealized potential and out-of-the-box, genius ideas that were suppressed in the process.

NASH FLASH

 A true leader’s Power

is the result of daily lifting…

 

other people! 

 

Altruistically winning the hearts and minds of people with whom you interact, is exponentially more beneficial to you than control, intimidation and manipulation combined.

 

 

NASH FLASH

INDEPENDENCE

In-dependence
of each other,
our environment
and a higher power,
free from control.

THE DAILY MANDALA by Henry Reed