We're over here now.
Come join us!
You rock. remember that.
Also, be on the lookout in your inbox for a simple-but-oh-so-fabulous PDF visual component for the evening, so you can follow along at home.
See you then!
by Deb Schanilec
Yes, it’s true—at times even this blissmonger (some of you folks know me by that persona J) encounters what some might call “choppy waters”.
Without going into too much detail, I’ll simply say that a worldview epically polar opposite mine inserted itself into my presence recently. Someone significant to my experience on the planet was trying to be supportive in the only way they knew how.
This worldview focused on lack, playing small, hedging against all possible contingencies, contraction, fear, doubt, worry and anxiety to the degree that this person couldn’t hear otherwise if their life depended on it.
Of course they had the same opinion of my worldview, as polar opposites are wont to do.
I wasn’t being reasonable with my focusing on abundance, playing large, expansion, belief, knowing and positive expectation, and my life depended on being able to hear otherwise.
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when circumstances like this would have had me stewing because of the meaning I attributed to someone else’s opinion being different than mine.
I would have been lost in anger, blame, guilt, or some other savory spot on the emotional scale, and quite possibly even succumbed to the temptation to abdicate my worldview for theirs altogether.
I would have been up most of the night, losing sleep because of the Tasmanian Devil of a tizzy I’d worked myself into, thinking of the perfect come-back that would convince them of my position that I hadn’t had the presence of mind to articulate at the time in my state of shock.
Because of the investment I’ve made in choosing where my mind hangs out most often, doing the maintenance work that keeps it there and supplementing with enhancements as often as possible, my response was much different this time.
I just felt sorry for them.
I understood why they felt the way they did, what life events had brought them to the beliefs that held them prisoner, and I felt sorry for them.
Their gloomy outlook didn’t change my plans a lick.
As a matter of fact, it helped further anchor my resolve to see them through.
Not in a knee-jerk, “I’ll-show-them” kind of way, although that spirit certainly has its place, especially if you’ve spent most of your time stuck in anger and resentment.
My gut told me that I was right on track, didn’t need to detour here, and everything was going to be fine.
I had successfully traversed a particular grouping of baby steps along the emotional scale, and boy, did it feel good.
We often attribute progress towards a goal in physical baby steps, or the accumulation of tasks that can be tangibly measured.
That’s great, that’s empowering, that’s satisfying.
But the ones that really count are the ones that you take, gradation by gradation, from your set point day-in, day-out being that of anger most of the time, to discouragement, to blame, to worry, to doubt, to disappointment, to overwhelment, to mere frustration, to pessimism, to boredom—and then things get really interesting.
And you can tell how you’re doing with this tweaking by how the people around you typically respond to you.
When they stop reacting to you from those same pockets on the emotional scale, now you’re cookin’ with gas.
You’ve done the work to divest yourself from the Velcro hook of triggers, and taken your power back.
Even though their stuff and their projections are all about them, it’s still really all about you.
And that’s great news, because that’s all we can ever do anything about: our response to what does, or doesn’t, happen.
by Deb Schanilec
Ah, yes. The new year's resolution hoopla is in full force.
I hope you've found a way to insulate yourself from it.
Any self-respecting change process worth its salt hasn't transpired because of a calendar page turning.
That is not to say that growing restless and weary of some unacceptable circumstance continuing into the year quickly approaching hasn't been the inspiration for the dropping of a habit that doesn't serve, while successfully exchanging it for one that does.
Peel back the surface of that inspiration however and you'll see the true mechanics of change at work. The order in which these layers peel themselves away isn't important; it's the peeling away that matters.
Layer #1 - There was an element of closure underneath that successful inspiration.
A line was crossed in our thinking as to how things were going to be from now on.
A recognition dawned of who exactly held the keys to unlock the door of the self-imposed prison we lived in.
A belief was busted.
And things were never the same again.
Layer #2 - There was a draining of resentment, justification and self-loathing juices from our daily marinade.
We bumped into a set of words we'd not heard in quite that way before, and suddenly it all made sense.
That thing that occurred years ago, and the resulting position we defended for decades because of it, it lost its hold on us.
Any substantive change I've ever seen happen, happened because the person identified a piece of misinformation that was running them, and then dropped it for a truth that set them free.
Not "the" truth.
Just a truth.
And that made all the difference.
Layer #3 - While we might not have been aware of it at the time, there were also hundreds of baby steps involved in getting us from Where We Were to This New Place.
None of them could have been skipped, hurried or replaced.
Each of them was required to dismantle the old guard and establish the new.
So if you find yourself these days wanting to say, "This is going to be the year that I....," hang on a second.
Instead of joining the millions of folks who, a few short weeks from now, will be bemoaning the fact that their resolution has once again gone rogue on them, cut yourself some slack.
This especially applies in terms of relationship deja vu and Same Guy, Different Face (SGDF) Syndrome.
Right now, you can start to peel back your own layers, instead of beating yourself up over why Mr./Ms. Right isn't showing up yet.
You can read more about the process here.
In the meantime, take it easy with those resolutions.
They can really get your year off to a bad start.
I had the great fortune recently to attend an intimate performance by a baroque ensemble who played music written by English court composers from back in the day. There were two violins, a soloist, and a lute player who offered their sweet sounds to an appreciative audience for an hour while we munched on a very fine lunch in a room lined with windows, wooden floors and comfy chairs.
At the end of the performance, I felt compelled to engage the gentleman lute player in conversation and find out more about his craft.
When I asked, he told me that there are probably 5 other people in the metro area who play the lute, and maybe a few thousand world-wide. He also volunteered that he plays guitar as well but that gigs for the lute pay better.
I was fascinated by these ratios.
And inspired, by yet another example of someone who followed their passion in spite of--I'm guessing--some pressure from various sectors of the peanut gallery in his family and elsewhere about how practical it was going to be to dedicate one's time and energy toward something so obscure, not to mention the how-will-you-ever-support-yourself factor.
Yet here he is, clearly doing so.
You might be spending time with folks during the next few weeks who aren't exactly your strongest champions.
They may not be able to extend their approval of you in ways that feel like approval.
While that might seem like a wonderful thing, even if it were to arrive by some miracle, it's not enough.
We would still be missing our own.
It's the one that counts.
It's the one that matters.
It's the one that makes the difference between you ever EVER being happy, and, well, not.
Happy means living and doing what we are meant to be living and doing.
Until we allow ourselves that freedom, we assume it's because permission hasn't been granted by someone or something outside of us.
And we continue to subject ourselves to relationship deja vu, job deja vu, money deja vu.
Give yourself permission to alter the status quo.
You've probably seen a video of a flash mob on Facebook or elsewhere on the Internet, those groups of people who start singing or dancing to a practiced routine out of nowhere, delighting those who just happened to be in that public space to witness the amazinginess for a few moments, and then stop just as abruptly, re-engage their regular persona and carry on about their business.
The effect this phenomenon has on the audience is remarkable, me included, even though I'm watching the after-market version. It's an opportunity to see a miracle on many levels, and it affects me in that way every time. Knowing what Herculean effort it took to organize such an undertaking, getting people to show up for rehearsals and then the percentage of folks who show up on time for the performance itself--that alone makes something like this miraculous.
Another fabulous quality of the experience is the response of the crowd in attendance. Once it's clear what's going on and the audience can relax without worrying that something weird is starting to happen, everyone within hearing distance streams into the usually standing-room only viewing area, electronic recording conveyances of all manner begin to roll, and female elders and small children join in as best they can.
People stop whatever they were doing and focus elsewhere.
As long as the well-chosen music plays, whatever background noise was playing in our awareness--the thing that's been on our mind today, a relationship that's not going so well, the problem that we keep chewing on and can't seem to let go of--is suddenly dropped and completely forgotten.
It might even take a minute or two to recall what the heck it was we were doing and where we were going as we process what just happened back there.
This power of distraction that provides shifts in our moods and our perceptions is exactly what I teach my clients to harness and then brainstorm ways to infuse into their day-to-day lives.
Identifying the things, people and circumstances that delight, inspire and recharge us--I call them joy pullers--and then choosing to focus on them in the moments we are caught up in what exasperates, confuses and depletes us, is nothing less than the key to freedom.
Plain and simple.
And we don't have to wait for a seemingly random performance-art event to benefit from the relief we are looking for.
It just takes some practice looking over "there" for a moment longer than we have been looking over "here" for the snowball effect to start.
Here's a down-and-dirty exercise to try:
1. Quick--think of a memory, or a present-tense person, place or thing that makes you smile just thinking about it/them.
2. Pay attention to which of the senses your "joy puller" appeals to.
3. Now think of four others that fill out the rest of the senses, so each of the five most commonly referred to are covered.
Could be a song from high school, a delectable aroma from your grandmother's kitchen, etc., etc.--it doesn't matter what they are, as long as they are not borrowed inspiration, and they easily transport you from blah to bliss.
4. Write them down in an email and send them to yourself--right now.
When you stumble upon it later, you will get to experience the same delight and wonder that those flashmob audiences get to, only your hit of happiness doesn't have to end like theirs does.
You get to determine how often and when to connect with something that makes you feel alive.
And it probably should be happening more often that it does, correct?
We are really good at arranging for our kids or our significant others to be delighted on a regular basis, but not so much for ourselves.
And we wonder why we feel taken advantage of, crabby, bored, or generally disinterested; we've stopped investing in who we are.
Log in to your joy puller account and make a deposit.
Get busy becoming the person the perfect partner would want to hang around with, so they can find you.
And they will.
One of the most annoying things about relationships that mystified me for years was the deja vu effect: the phenomenon of the same kind of potential partner showing up, bringing very little variation on the theme of emotional unavailability to the table.
There were slight improvements from one to the next, but not to the point where I experienced connected and committed, what I was shooting for, what I knew was possible.
Until I got connected with and committed to myself.
There were seven milestones along the way to my understanding of what that meant, seven key realizations that I eventually came to through hard work, intention, and a need to know that just would not let me be.
Each of those "Ah-ha!" moments are available to anyone who is ready for them.
I offer them to you here in the hopes of adding one to your collection when the opportunity shows up today.
Which it will.
Those opportunities are endless.
Whether we choose to view them as such is another story, which is a great segue into Number One:
#1 - Keep looking for the intellectual framework that explains how the universe works to your satisfaction. This could be a religious or spiritual practice, or a body of work by an certain author, or a combination of a few different ideas. Whatever those pieces of wisdom are, you'll know them when you bump into them because of how the teachings resonate with you, how they fill in the gaps where other frameworks were lacking, and especially in how they make you feel on a daily basis. Having an answer to the "why" and "how" of our existence makes the "how" and the "why" of relationship yin and yang easier to find. My own personal cosmology is eclectic and diverse, collected over the years into a pantheon that stands the test of time and the, "Well, what about this?" test. If you don't currently have such a framework, keep looking--it's out there, waiting for you to claim it.
#2 - The wherewithal to outmaneuver the onslaught of the Inner Critic, that inaccurate, unforgiving and relentless belittler. Without #1 above in place, our Inner Critics have free reign with no place for a toe-hold of interruption to build upon and eventually outwit this wily character. Most of us have undergone decades of programming from our families, religious dogmas, school authorities and the culture at large, not to mention the messages we see on the covers of women's magazines in the check-out line. With #1 in place, we have the chance to dismantle the negative self-talk tapes that play in our heads and keep us stuck in beliefs and behaviors that don't serve us and keep dishing up Mr./Ms. Wrong.
#3 - Embracing the lowly baby step. There are no overnight successes. Ever. What John Q. Public usually sees is the accumulation of millions of baby steps toward a goal that eventually got to critical mass and then paid off. Our human tendency to want change to happen quickly and with no "mistakes" just isn't possible. Nor would we want it to be. The slow, steady acquisition of a new skill makes it more likely to stick and become part of the landscape.
#4 - Resistance Toys. This is my term for any and all visible reminders that we purposefully place in our visual field to assist us in remembering what we decided we were going to do differently, and why. It's one thing to read a relationship or personal growth book and find a perspective that strikes you as helpful; it's quite another to implement the shift in thinking required to get that perspective to stick. Resistance Toys accomplish this task with humor, creativity and the clarity gleaned from the combined strategies of #1, 2 and 3 above. My first effective Resistance Toy was a Post-It note that said, "It's not true," to remind me that my self-talk tapes weren't based in reality, and what I'd rather be thinking instead.
#5 - Uncomfortable is the new comfortable. Any shifts in your personal growth will be accompanied by feeling uncomfortable, since it requires us to try on new behaviors that feel so different than what we are used to. It's easy to quit when this discomfort comes up, but if you are able to champion this notion in your head, you'll look forward to it. It means that you are making progress. Your ego will try to convince you that all hell is breaking loose and you must stop this new thing, NOW! Having strategy #4 in place helps immensely at this crucial juncture.
#6 - Bargaining with yourself is no bargain. Ignoring red flags, pretending that things will get better when we know they won't--this is the practice of bargaining with ourselves about what is acceptable in how we teach others to treat us, what we will settle for, what we think we are worth. Females especially are socialized to make things OK even when they're not, and we can get ourselves into some pretty dangerous circumstances because we are desensitized to that danger. There are baby steps of awareness along the path to knowing what your boundaries are and holding them in the face of being tempted not to. Lather, rinse and repeat with milestones #1-5.
#7 - Joy pullers, or your purpose on the planet. Our bodies and our psyches are not built to carry negativity. The natural consequences of carrying around this negativity--illness and despair--are not why we are here. Allowing ourselves to do and be the things that make our hearts sing, is. And until said allowing happens, in the form of not letting what others think about us dictate how we react, we are held captive in a prison of our own making. Sure, the adults around us were responsible for putting those seedling ideas in our heads when we were small, but we're grown-ups now. We can rewrite the script any time we choose to wake up on the other side of that prison door. Surrounding ourselves with and participating in the things that make us happy--that pull joy through us--only augment, amplify and solidify your efforts with #1-6.
Think any of these steps are impossible, only happen to other people, I've-tried-but-just-don't-work-for-me?
I am a thought chaperone.
I can help you with that.
I died this week.
Well, part of me did.
And because part of me died to my old self, part of my new self had room to show up and get acquainted.
That new self is the one we put into existence by sending out requests to the universe for something different than what has our attention at the moment.
Lots of attention.
The kind that we are trained to think will somehow result in a solution, but never does.
We vividly imagine the horrific more than we do the pleasant.
We ardently focus on what we don't want simply from decades of habit.
We sincerely believe in our limitations.
And we enthusiastically argue for them any chance we get.
Until we don't.
I started out this week arguing (half-heartedly--I already knew the jig was up) for mine.
And it felt like crap.
And hanging on to the limitations I was arguing for felt like crap.
I was stuck in the "Uncomfortable is the new comfortable" stage of enlightenment.
The one where a new level of understanding is about to slide into place.
And we go kicking and screaming every step of the way (or not).
Fear, doubt, anxiety--all of them bubbled to the surface.
And then yowzah showed up.
What was on the other side of all that angst was amazingness.
I knew that, on some level.
But it had been awhile since I'd dived that deep into completely new, core-bound territory.
I had to drop stories about myself I'd been telling for decades.
But now, I have this entirely new playground available to me.
New ideas, new people, new circumstances, new fun.
I highly recommend taking the plunge.
If you need help, let me know.
I love it when a message comes to me through an unexpected source. Practicing some new thoughts around business was on my mind, and I picked up this book and turned to this passage:
"The first thing you must tell yourself is that you can already do the technique," he continued. "Once you do that, you will be two giant steps ahead even before you start. The final step will be convincing you hands that they also know what to do."
..."What is coordination but a form of convincing?" he asked, spreading his hands and hunching his shoulders.
"Is coordination anything more than a form of convincing?" he asked again.
"What do you mean?"
"Through practice and repetition, could it be that you are just convincing your muscles and you mind that they already know what to do? Maybe that's the primary function of practicing."
"Uh, maybe so, I replied, trying to keep up.
He pointed his long index finger at me and continued. "Now, what do you think would happen if you could convince yourself first, at the beginning of your quest? In other words, before you start practicing anything, convince yourself you can already do it. What would happen then? I'll tell you. Depending on how well you do at the convincing part, you will cut your practice time in half. use the full potential of your mind, and practice will become a thing of the past. How do you think I can play any instrument I choose? Do you think I've practiced them all? Can you imagine a master like the Buddha having to practice before he could play the bass?"
..."Stop it!" I responded in my own familiar way. "Just tell ne the truth."
"Truth? What is truth? Truth is up to you. You make your truth; no one else does. Tell yourself that it takes a long time to learn something, and it probably will. Convincingly put yourself at the end of the path and you will find yourself looking back at the beginning. It is all up to you."
He seemed convinced. I wasn't. He pointed his finger at me and continued speaking.
"But know this: you cannot fool yourself. You cannot half-heartedly tell yourself that you can do something and then expect to be abel to do it. You must be honest. From all levels of your being, you must know what you are talking about. If you want to practice anything, practice knowing that you can do whatever you set you complete mind to. Don't practice believing; practice knowing!"
..."Whether we are talking about Music of Life, good technique is important. Understand that just learning techniques is not enough. You must make a choice. a conscious choice to take one road or another. Good or bad, each is narrow, making it difficult for U-turns.
"Know that the mind is a powerful tool, and that its power can respond to you both positively or negatively. Learning to use it completely should not be taken lightly. This is where technique as well as intention and attention come into play. May people have gotten sucked into the black hole of the mind, never to return again."
~from The Music lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music by Victor L. Wooten
Thank you, universe, for being so consistent, so I may practice with enthusiasm in the direction of my intention.
Now on to practice knowing.