Being Successful at Living Someone Elses Illusion
One of the fundamental truths I’ve been living with in my life is that I’m simply not enough and will never be enough. I can never do enough because I can never be enough – you get the picture.
Every day, I fail to bring about the magical miracle outcome that I hope will happen through completing ordinary tasks. The hope is unfulfilled. I’ve come to resist doing anything, or completing anything, because the evidence is that I will face the emptiness of unfulfilled expectations,… and I hate that feeling.
Empty of magic; empty of miracles; death of a dream; incessant hope that is unfulfilled, I watch as I despair with the perpetual emptiness that greets me at the end of every trip to town, every email session, every completion of a blog. The wish for success – work and prosperity – is attached to the belief that something is lacking. And all fingers are pointing at me – there’s something lacking in me.
Spiritually, I know that I’m Divine Presence incarnate and if that’s true then I have no doubt that I’m worthy of my desire for work that fulfills me and brings prosperity. This isn’t currently present in my life, which means something is wrong – again, all fingers point to me. My job is to uncover and unconceal a belief pattern that is juxtaposed to the truth of my Divine Presence.
Through muscle testing I’m able to converse with my self. I recover the logic and reason a three year old child used to understand her reality. Given the dysfunctional environment she was raised in, she came to believe she will never be enough and that she can never do enough because she can’t ever be enough. She is powerless to bring about a change in the circumstance in her environment. She is destined to repeat this pattern for decades.
Having the wisdom, experience and the knowledge to have this conversation with myself today, obviously reveals that as an adult I am enough and can do enough to bring about amazing outcomes; however …
If I find my emotional self continually avoiding tasks and projects as ordinary as going to town and back so as to avoid what I’ll be facing upon my return, I then have to take this expedition into emptiness to find the belief I made to be true, but which continually sabotages and thwarts the fullest expression of my essential self. So I take the journey.
The emptiness the three year old could not fill through her own presence of being is still here, experienced yet unfulfilled. For her whole life, she’s looked to others to fill that emptiness. She/I now know that has never worked in the past, nor will it ever work.
In this exploration, I touch on all that I’ve shared above. I see how I came to create the level of success I now allow and understand that this three year old child’s essential belief about herself is still embedded deep within my psyche. There is no capacity for greater fulfillment as long as this belief – that I will never be enough, is in place. I will continue to fail to bring about a different outcome because I can never do enough because I will never be enough.
I have no doubt that in past lives – my own or my ancestor’s, that I failed to survive. I died because I couldn’t do enough to save myself and perhaps others. So, again I came to decide that I must not be enough if I can’t do enough.
Anyone who understands the power of the energy held within beliefs, like the ones I’m sharing with you, gets that I need to detach from these beliefs and past life experiences in order to liberate myself from the inevitable outcome from proceeding as usual.
So, now what?
On page 8 of A Course in Miracles (1985), stands this passage:
“The Escape from darkness [illusion] involves two stages: First, the recognition that darkness [illusion] cannot hide. This step usually entails fear. Second, the recognition that there is nothing you want to hide, even if you could. This step brings escape from fear. When you’ve become willing to hide nothing, you will not only be willing to enter into communion but will also understand peach and joy.”
I’m grateful that I’m well into stage two, and no longer wish to hide, distract myself from, ignore or avoid thoughts that precipitate fear – to any degree. Everything is up for a look-see and a toss out.
As many of you know, I dowse to uncover and clear thought patterns that no longer serve my highest good or my highest truth. I highly recommend this practice to everyone in service to your fullest expression of your essential self.
After a session such as the one I’ve just described, I need to allow time for my body to release the cellular memory that has been within my system, perhaps for lifetimes. Rest, water, walk in nature, perhaps a good cry, all support an energetic detox. It could takes an hour or two, a day, week or years … no one knows how the unfolding of this process will proceed. I will know where I am in the process by the sense of peace and joy that I experience. In this moment, though, I feel liberated from the incessant feeling of emptiness and despair, and, I feel gratitude, which I’ve come to realize is part and parcel to being peace and joy.
Gurdjieff said: “Conscious faith is freedom. Emotional faith is slavery. Mechanical faith is foolishness.”
In moments like these, I practice conscious faith – though sometimes it’s really difficult. Given the choice though, to truly practice what I preach, there is no other choice to make. It all becomes a no-brainer. Not fun, not easy, but just what there is to do.
Blessings on your journey!
In the Pursuit of Mei-Li
Mei-Li has a Ph.D. and works for one of the biggest communication companies in the world. Originally from China, she has been in Silicon Valley, California for the majority of her adult life. Married with two children Mei-Li is very happy. However, she has been facing a very challenging dilemma for many years: Though she is happy, successful and fulfilled in her life as it is, she’s concerned that she should do more – be more.
Mei-Li observes her boss focusing most of his attention on getting ahead; she sees other women at her level of management working for the next promotion, the next level of leadership and responsibility. “I don’t want an increase in responsibility; I don’t want to work that hard; I don’t like talking with people that much that I want to move to the next level of management. But, should I want to? Is there something wrong with me that I don’t want to do that? I’m afraid there’s something very wrong with me.”
As Mei-Li shares with me over many coaching sessions, her consistency of feelings and truths about what’s true for her has me coach her to see the dilemma she is currently constrained by. On the one hand, Mei-Li loves her job and the team she manages. She has the free time she needs to be available to her children and to her husband in a way that fits best with her sense of the quality relationship she wants. She isn’t stressed and unnerved by unmet deadlines. She’s actually one of the 10% of the workforce that actually is fulfilled in her career.
On the other hand, Mei-Li’s culture married with our Western culture attempts to move people into work that isn’t their’s to do. Mei-Li watches people spend more time being people pleasers than effective employees of this company and she finds this frustrating and confusing. “People aren’t getting their work done while they are schmoosing for a promotion. Should I be doing that? The fact is, I don’t like schmoosing; I don’t like going to cocktail parties, playing golf or any of those other social things that you are supposed to do if you want to get ahead. I’m a pretty reclusive person who enjoys my life the way it is. But, I feel like I should be doing more.”
Many of us face this dilemma of being more – doing more; at the same time actually finding fulfillment in what we are doing right now. But, aren’t we supposed to want more money and power? Aren’t we supposed to want the bigger office, more contact with the more influential people of the world? Aren’t we supposed to want more?
My sense is, and I shared this with Mei-Li in our session, that what people want is to get to a place where there is fulfillment in their work and personal life – that there is balance with health and happiness. I believe that most people want what Mei-Li has. She already has it. Though the current within the corporate structure drags many people in its undertow toward some fantasy life that is wrought with a lot of what they don’t want to do and perhaps aren’t really cut out to be with, there are few who willingly choose health and fulfillment with what they have, what they do and how they be.
Mei-Li laughs as she begins to see a bigger picture – one that allows her free choice to choose for herself what’s hers to do. She laughs to hear that what people are struggling for is what she already has. She laughs as she realizes that she is presently free to choose to be happy in the life she has created and if in the future she feels inspired to grow her career toward greater degrees of leadership and responsibility, she can do that.
Mei-Li isn’t out of the current, and as long as she is in the corporate environment there will always be that field of influence. The degree to which she can stay aligned with her commitment to well-being and fulfillment in her career, the stronger her dedication and the less pull this will have on her.
Christopher, who I spoke of a few weeks ago, shared with me that if he could do anything he would work with inner city kids, teaching them math and computer skills. Then, the litany of “Why I Can’t Leave My Job and Give Up Everything I Worked For” began. There was no stopping him; the who would pay the mortgage, who would take care of my parents, I’d have to give up my addiction to Siamese cats; on and on, fully engaged in the undertow of a make believe reality, for too many, is actually real.
Mei-Li has found an eddy for now where she is out of the stream of influence by others. She is finding herself – the one she believes she has to continually pursue. It takes strength and courage to step out of the normal way of being for the sake of what we are all striving for – well-being and fulfillment in our careers. Kind of crazy when you think about it! Perhaps the pursuit of Mei-Li has come to a happy ending; right here where she has been, but now enjoying it to a much larger degree!
Yoda says “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” Wow! Think about what that would look like in the business world: Letting go of winning, power, promotions and bonuses; letting go of being right and other people being wrong; letting go of complaining, blaming and shaming; letting go of stress and worry and all of the underlying reasons for the stress and worry. What would you have left?
Christopher is a Senior Director for a corporation in Atlanta. He’s been with the company just over two years and is extremely loyal and committed to the company’s mission, to the degree that he had a physical and emotional breakdown after giving his all to the project that will inevitably make or break the company. Now, a couple of months later, he currently faces a similar dilemma – this time consciously, and this time he realizes it’s not just his body that’s on the line; it’s his soul that could be taken.
“What options do you have, Christopher?” I asked him after his complaining how things are exactly as they were those many months ago. Matter of factly, Christopher responds with “There are no options!” “Really?” I ask. “There are no options?” “Yes, there are no options,” He said: “except to revert to the old me that yelled and hollered to get people to do what they are supposed to do. That means setting myself up for another emotional and physical breakdown, and that’s not an option!”
“There are other options,” I countered. “Let’s look at them.” What I was attempting was to get Christopher to see that one of his options is to leave the company and go somewhere that may be more in line with maybe a more workable situation for him. He didn’t see leaving as an option, nor did he see letting go of everything he feared to lose as an option, either. Christopher’s perspective offered no option. He’s in a stalemate.
Yoda also said: “A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind.” What does that mean in Christopher’s situation? By having the deepest commitment and the most serious mind, it’s easier to fully align with that which you are truly committed to. In Christopher’s case, is it the success of the company orhis own personal success and the maintaining of his reputation (He fears that if he leaves the company his reputation will be tarnished.) that’s at stake? One other thing he is committed to is keeping himself healthy – it’s not an option to sell himself to the devil again. Yet, through my eyes, it looks very much like this is happening. When someone as brilliant as Christopher has no options, he’s a dead duck. He’s given his soul away if he gives himself no options.
We’ve been trained to see the world a certain way, and it’s essential to our survival in many families, communities and business environment, so we think, to maintain that perspective, no matter what. Our minds can’t make sense of our reality if it no longer looks the way it’s supposed to. Much like Christopher, we are then faced with no options and no way to move forward, except to do what we’ve done in the past and we know that’s not going to work.
If we don’t want to lose what we are afraid of losing, our egoic self will bend and twist reality in such a way that we experience stuckness. We can feel lost in the midst of bright lights and lots of people. It’s not uncommon for people to experience mental and emotional exhaustion and breakdowns, inevitably losing more than they were bargaining for. Aren’t we a curious species?
The dilemma Christopher faces is because he has a great deal at stake. On the one hand he has his position, his credibility and all that he’s invested in this company. On the other hand his physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health is deteriorating. Attempting to hang on to what he’s got will most likely mean he’ll lose everything.
Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose
Where Christopher sees no option, I see he has no options too, but from a different perspective. Unless he opens himself up to the possibilities he currently doesn’t want to see, he will lose everything. My job as his coach is to gently guide him towards what now appears to be too frightening to accept. Inevitably, he will have to choose to shift his paradigm and experience a reality that he doesn’t yet believe exists.
Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose
For some this process is a walk in the park; yet for others it can be experienced as a shattering. There’s nothing wrong with a shattering. A shattering is the same as a paradigm shift, it’s just way more painful in every way, you, I’m sure, have imagined. And, generally, it takes a great deal more time to recover from.
What’s right in front of Christopher is right in front of each and every one of us: the opportunity to discover what’s worth losing and what’s not. It all goes away, sooner or later. In this moment, though, it’s just a matter of choosing to choose to choose to be accountable and responsible for the consequence of the choices we make. I hate that part as much as most people do. I want it all good and all easy. When it’s not, I don’t want to look at options I don’t want to take. I’ve learned though that my life isn’t worth living if fear is the only conductor on this train. I’m listening to Yoda and other spiritual teachers in order to create a life worth living. Christopher will make a similar choice, I have no doubt.
Not losing is a no-win game.
O is for Obligation
One evening as I was laying in bed, preparing for a restful night of slumber, a voice from inside my head said: “I want to live my own life?” I was shocked with this outburst as I am one of the most independent individuals I know; I live a thousand miles away from my husband, on a secluded island off the coast of Washington; I work independently and live happily in my very solitary existence. What more is required for me to live my own life?
I realized later, that though I live and work alone I carry many people to whom I feel obligated and responsible. They are in my memory as unresolved disappointments that have me burdened, exhausted and keep me from fully taking flight in the way that I imagine. They are the ones that continually remind me of all of those things I should have done but didn’t because, well, I took the road less traveled. What becomes clear is that until I resolve my relationship to my belief about obligations I’ll never truly be living my own life.
All of us carry a tremendous burden with all sorts of obligations and we don’t even know it. Or, we carry them thinking we are obligated to carry these obligations. I mean, where would we be if each of us let go of everything and every one who we no longer wanted to carry? Think of all of those opportunities to say or do what is in your highest truth but because of your sense of obligation you deny your truth for the sake of … what?
The foundation of the work that I do as a transformational coach is to ask these very questions to my clients, giving them an opportunity to figure out to whom and to what they are truly interested in being obligated.
I grew up within the Catholic Religion. I learned early on how to live in a state of obligation. There was a great deal of guilt and shame. Up until I was seventeen, when I left the Church, I was terrified I was doing it wrong – it didn’t matter what it was, I was obligated to do it right, even though I might not know what right was – and right according to whom?
All religious institution require obligations. It’s not just religious institutions but family, community, government, economic – all organizations require some form and level of obligation. How we respond to these obligations generates the quality of life we live, as well as the stress and dis-ease that is so prevalent in our culture.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine decided to visit Orcas for an undetermined about of time. She felt compelled to travel 26 hours from Omaha in order to be on the Island for – well, she didn’t know why – but she had to find out. She called to ask if she could land at my place for a few days and figure out what was next from here. I said sure, and looked forward to seeing her after many months apart.
A week later, I found myself struggling with the fact that part of me was ready for her move on to what was next on her adventure. However, what I was hearing was how she wanted to make the cabin a little more convenient for herself so she wouldn’t be such a bother. We were sliding into conversations that sounded like she’d be staying for the whole summer – maybe longer.
I love my friend but I love my solitude more. And, yet I questioned my desire for my sanctuary to be free of guests. Was that really what I wanted? A part of me felt obligated and responsible to take care of my dear friend, after all she’d come all this way, had no money left for rent, gas or food; she needed a place to stay. Shouldn’t I be willing to help her out – isn’t that was friends are for?
What was my obligation, really? I agreed to let her stay long enough to get her feet under her – that should have taken just a couple of days. And this is her adventure – her journey, and for me to feel obligated created resentment and a slow deterioration of our friendship. I could feel myself begin to withhold and withdraw. It was time to check in with myself and then with her.
My fears have kept me blind to my own truth, yet I was afraid what she might think or decide about me if I asked her to leave with empty pockets, gas tank and tummy. What kind of a friend would do that? I’ll tell you, it wasn’t easy but I told her that she needed to continue on with her quest, seeing what else was in store for her. Fortunately, she’s the kind of friend that understood completely and very quickly found a source of income and a new place to stay in a matter of days.
As a professional business person my work life needs to reflect this clarity of integrity too. Where do my obligations interfere with being the most effective at my jobs? Where do I take on obligations that really aren’t mine to begin with? When do I take responsibility for the consequence of other people’s choice-making? When does my own choice-making, based on other people’s problems, cause further challenges to my clients, work environment, and associates?
It takes a great deal of courage to ask yourself these questions, and even more courage to speak or act in alignment with your highest truth. In order to bring spirituality into business we have to ask these hard questions and to follow through. For when we act in our own highest good we are acting in everyone’s highest good.
Stepping onto the path of self-realization is a fascinating journey. It means being open to answers that may initially feel uncomfortable, yet in the long run allows for a greater level of wisdom to emerge, which allows for self-actualization to occur easily and effortlessly.
Obligations are obstacles to being in alignment with our highest truth. This is a very different way of thinking but one that will lead to the paradigm shift.