Need I be Different?
It’s a magnificent, sunny and warm day on the Island today. Daffodils are blooming as a result of my first attempt at planting them in the cold wetness of November. I had no idea that so many would bloom and hadn’t imagined the intense beauty that blossoms in each one.
After sharing some time on Skype with my daughter Elissa, grandson Andrew, son-in-law Jason and my sister Patrice, who is visiting them in Scotland, I consider what I may be missing. I think about what kind of mother I am and the choices I make that have me here on Orcas and not in Scotland, being a Grannie-on-the-spot. I wonder if I need be different.
Over years, I’ve come to share myself in a transparent way, sharing aspects of my humanness that make people ask “Why would you share that? Aren’t you afraid people will judge you?” These questions make me wonder if I need be different.
I bought a new desktop computer, the new software for Office 2013. I spent 10 whole dollars on new fish for my aquarium and for my outdoor ponds. As a solo-preneur, I rely solely on myself to make things work. Financially, I often feel over committed and resourced to the max. Need I be different?
I miss my children. I miss the lifestyle of the rich and famous. I miss the social connections I’d have if I lived in a more populated area, and where my work might take me – perhaps to more stimulating environments. I miss vacations to warm, tropical and exotic places. I miss eating sushi, Mediterranean foods, and having access to all sorts of cultural foods and objects d’art. Need I be different?
My spiritual path has me make choices based on my highest truth and my highest good. I listen for inspiration and move in the direction of least resistance. This often requires me to reject the consensus reality that I’ve been immersed in for lifetimes. I am wary when I feel pulled in the direction of choices based on fear. Witnessing my lifestyle, others wonder and ask if I need be different.
Choosing to choose is what we are doing all the time – quite often without being conscious to this process. Being true to one’s self is extremely challenging, sometimes. All the ways I’ve shared above are questions between playing on Spirit’s Team or for the team Consensus Reality. I sometimes disappoint others by choosing what I choose. I sometimes disappoint myself too. However, in choosing what I choose I have to be with consequences of my choices. I choose to honor all the aspects of me that are part of these conversation. When the questions revolve around “What will people think of me?” I consider that what’s more important is what I think of me.
As humans, we continuously face a barrage of thoughts that suggest that who we are in this moment, and what we are doing now, may not be what we should be doing. We always have options to choose differently, to be different, and to do things differently. How do we decide if we need be different?
The ongoing dialog between our need and desire for security and stability and the desire to live and thrive within our own knowing presses us incessantly to consider the risks and consequences of our choice-making. We worry and angst about what is true, what is mine to do, what if I’m not doing it right, and why, if I’m following my highest knowing, do I still feel doubt and sometimes unsafe. Need I be different?
It’s scary and challenging to choose. And, I will need to be different – only in service to what I say I want. This does create a paradigm shift, indeed. This does require a leap of faith, indeed. This does require the discipline to practice thinking and acting according to one’s truth, not one’s fears – unless one is committed to maintaining the belief in the fear-based reality.
The unfolding of our human lives allows us to witness and observe a lot of truths. Only by discerning your own personal truth and practice walking that truth will you find how you need be different.
Justifying my existence through other people’s assessments of me has been a serious endeavor. From the outside, it may not look as if that’s what I’m doing. Yet on the inside, I’m constantly looking at my options through the lenses of how I measure up to others. This is a hard habit to break, but one that inevitably brings me to the clarity of how I need be different.
“When you act in your own highest truth, you are acting in everyone’s highest truth.” Roger Walsh
I want it all, and yet, the fact is, in this moment anyway, I have to create a hierarchy of desires and commitments. I have to let go of my attachments to what I don’t have, to whom I am not, where I am not, and who I’m not with. Wishing and hoping often keeps me swirling in dissatisfaction with what I have and who I am.
My highest commitment is serving my highest wisdom. Everything else comes next. Yes, there is sadness and anger, and also self-hatred, as I sit in the powerlessness that comes in recognizing that I can’t do it all, or have it all, or be all of it in this lifetime. Then comes compassion and forgiveness as I accept what I cannot change. Eventually, I’ll arrive, once again, in serenity. The practice is becoming more familiar – not necessarily easier.
Engaging in the journey towards Truth rarely happens on a path of rose petals. It’s hard work. And, my desire to have it be different, doesn’t mean that I’ll need to be different. It just means that I’m needing to be. There’s no need to be different.
By bringing a thinking partner into your life you may discover ways to empower yourself that you’ve never known were present in you. I’d be honored to support you in this process. Contact me at 360-376-4323, email me at email@example.com.
Why Say I Love You
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve manipulated people I love in the name of love. I did so because I believed I had something to gain, and something to lose. It’s a model of love based on ownership, property, and the getting and taking model of reality. Its fear-based. And, strategizing instilled a sense of invulnerability in me, if I can make a belief that I love and am loved by someone, even though it doesn’t really feel that way, well, its better than experiencing the reality of being unloved. Who am I, or what am I, if I’m not loved?
I chose this particular strategy – probably before I was five years old, because I experienced the danger of having it be the other way. As I looked around my little world – my reality, I came to interpret that it wasn’t enough to be love. I had to prove my worthiness to God through words and actions. This was true regarding all my relations, teachers, priests, mom and dad, siblings – everyone!
Eight brothers and sisters vying for love and attention from parents – competition for MVP – most valuable person, was the set up long before my arrival on the planet. Being child #6, I had to work like hell to catch up, practicing every possible means of giving love to show my worthiness and value for being loved. I developed hyper-vigilance to see a need before it was ever expressed. I became a master manipulator in the name of love. It was my way of ensuring I didn’t disappear and become invisible in the midst of the ongoing, chaotic fray.
Decades later and a lifetime of attempts to cultivate self-worth and self-value, based on an external source of validation, it all became self-evident that – you guessed it – it never worked. The love I pretended to experience through special relationships, but was in many instances just delusions on my part, well, its isn’t fulfilling, wasn’t fulfilling. I know no one who doesn’t know what I’m talking about here. Too many of us settle for inauthentic connection because of our fear that we are nothing – or not enough, without it.
The spiritual texts I frequently read requires relinquishing the belief that I had to prove myself valuable and worthy of love. It clearly stated that there is no need to prove what is already my birth-right-ness. In Oneness: The Teachings, it says “You have come to this experience you know as your life in order to be able to reject, completely, the consensus view of reality imprinted upon you since birth, and to replace that structure of understanding with a perspective that totally transcends it.” Oh, really? Lots of luck on that one, eh? This wisdom and the engaged practice of living as if this were true, has been the undoing of me – mentally, physically and spiritually. This undoing of me has been a very good thing – not an easy thing, but a good thing!
“Self-value comes from Self-extension.” A Course in Miracles
Why do we say I love you? To comfort, to validate and to reassure others, and sometimes ourselves, that there is a bond between us. Sometimes, and I love this one the most, its an unstoppable expression of what is. I love ….
You’ve heard me speak about my little community of Westsound, here on Orcas Island. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I experience a generosity of spirit, that spirit of love, that seems foundational to what community and true engaged connection is about. The presence of self-extension, for me, is received and experienced in a way that feels genuine and authentic. The sharing of amazing food at the potlucks, of time and energy, and the gifts and talents that build and rebuild the structure of community, as well as the 100 year old building that is called the Westsound Community Hall. Well, this aspect of my world validates the truth of “Self-value comes from Self-extension.” Westsound Community makes me want to bring more of myself into expression – not from “you should,” but from “you are!”
Receiving the extension of Self through so many of my neighbors and members, well, it makes me happy and miraculously shifts my hyper-vigilance from giving in order to gain and get, to openness – an open expression and extension of my whole self.
Little by little I find myself worrying less – being less guarded. I don’t feel the need to protect myself from those who use manipulation in the name of love and service, like I did. Infused with the gifts of self-value, which the neighbors in Westsound share – I’m transformed. Truly!
I’m grateful that I’ve been in this intensive practice of undoing myself long enough to get to the point where the experience of love, which comes through self-extension can be realized within myself and within my external world. My perceptions have shifted enough to allow a new reality to materialize. I wish this for all of us.
No one can fake love and get away with it! We all attempt it and find it unsatisfying. And eventually we find it unpalatable and intolerable. Each of us came into the world knowing love is our essential nature. Too many of us learned strategic methods of love in order to survive. But, in the end, all of us return to remembering that our essential value lives in being the extension of who we already are.
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80 Percent Effective
Michael, a COO of a growing startup in Austin, Texas, is a great guy and a brilliant thinker. He’s been hired by a particular company to bring about a turnaround in management and inevitably the bottom line. The company has experienced a significant loss in revenue over the past few months and it’s now Michael’s job to turn things around. If he fails, the company will fold – end of story.
Michael is about to take the company in a direction that will transform its vision, culture and business structure. There’s no doubt he has what it takes to create this turnaround. However, he’s challenged and stopped with every step he takes. For instance, yesterday he received a memo from his CEO that states all unnecessary expenditures will be cut. There goes any actualization of executive team off-sites to thoroughly discuss and implement what’s required to make this company work.
Michael is stymied and feels like his hands are tied! He is out to rescue the company. That’s what he’s been hired to do. Since joining four months ago, he’s been exploring the underlying foundation upon which to rebuild. He doesn’t want to push too hard for change as the company and executive team is also quite new and pretty fragile. He fears resistance and pushback. Michael retreats from potential conflict or confrontation; unsure whether the executive team will follow his lead. Our coaching conversations lean into what might occur if he steps into his role to a larger degree.
I asked Michael to assess the degree of effectiveness that he brings with him to his job. He answers that he’s about 80% effective. For Michael’s personal and professional development and for the sake of the company, he’s going to have to stretch to 82-85% to fully engage the company in this campaign.
You expected me to say that Michael needs to stretch to 100%, didn’t you? Well, given that for Michael, 80% is within his comfort zone, to leap too far beyond the edge could create a backlash. And, as most of us have experienced, if we push ourselves too hard for change, we end up digging in our own heels, resisting and pushing back. Exploring out just a couple of degrees from the edge of Michael’s comfort zone allows him to experience various dimensions of reality that confront him, without leaving the comfort of his easy chair. From here, he can assess and evaluate any number of strategies that would initiate a greater degree of effectiveness. Though he initially leans out just a bit, he actually expands his comfort zone, engaging his fullest potential to explore and experiment with his capacity to make things happen.
It’s actually rare for leaders to operate at 100% effectiveness. And, my belief is that most companies aren’t even going to hire an individual who brings that degree of effectiveness to the workplace, because they are yet to be capable of that level of success themselves. They don’t yet know how to bring about that level of success. That makes sense!
Quite a few executive clients of mine back away from the edge of their comfort zone because it’s unfamiliar territory. They fear what may be revealed. More to the point, they fear experiencing the inadequacy within their humanity, which no doubt will devastate their egoic identity. Who are they without the suit of armor called ME?
The consequence of avoiding the edge may mean that employees and the company at large are unlikely to fulfill their vision. Executives are human beings, and like most of us, they may miss the point of digging through personal baggage and exposing vulnerabilities, along with the nuggets of GOLD! They play a big game, however more often than not they are unwilling to risk their own personal security in order to remain invulnerable.
Much of Michael’s conversation with me thus far has been how the company is resisting, ignoring or limiting his authority. As his thinking partner, my listening informs me that, on some unconscious level, the company is conspiring to bring Michael to the fullest expression of his essential nature and for him to lead from this place. They won’t budge until he brings more of his empowered self to the table. He is required to empower himself to make those shifts in order to empower others to do the same.
As Michael and I talk, he begins to get the lay of the land within himself and his company. He’s beginning to see how, in many ways, the company is waiting for him to step into the very practice he’s going to require of them. He sees now that he has to be the role model for change.
Regardless of how high up in the ranks of leadership one climbs, each individual is required to face their fears and risk vulnerability, only in service to their vision and life purpose. I love working with Michael because he is clearly aware of a larger vision for his company and he has a knowing that this is essential for the company to thrive, or even to survive.
The Dilemma for Michael: he can stay within his 80% effectiveness and capitulate to the company’s foot-dragging, while still maintaining his reputation as an effective leader. Or, he can amp up a few degrees of effectiveness, risking a loss of safety and security. He may be vulnerable to the possibility that people won’t like him, may confront him and perhaps drastically push back. Yet change is required to save the company. He’s considering his options.
Michael didn’t get to be a COO by being a coward. He’s talented, highly effective and has what it takes to create this turnaround. He has no idea yet the fullest potential available to him just beyond that 80%. I’m happy to report that he sees this as an exciting adventure! Wha-hoo!
Generating Momentum – The Art of Tending Fire
Clients of mine, whose desire it is to have a thriving business, find it challenging to get out of their own way. Many of them are budding coaches who are passionate about their work, yet carry lifetimes of patterning that continually reminds them of how failure met them at every turn. Repeatedly, dreams of achievements are dashed, and they are left to their own undoing. Inevitably, the patterns of lifetimes ending in death leave us to remember our inadequacies to succeed in the face of death.
Exploring current circumstances, clients’ themes, and how they are tethered to lifelong patterns, make easy work of mining the root source of those beliefs, which generated the manifestation of resistance, withdrawal and playing small. It’s a wonderful game of seeking that which has been present and effective yet out of site and overlooked literally for lifetimes.
Last night, while awake, it dawned on me that I have a session with my client Rusty today, and that I’ll need to put on my running shoes for this session. This image made me smile. Working with Rusty has been a gentle and slow building of an inner momentum within her being. Like all clients, I’ve found thus far, regardless of their station in life and their achievements, she/they are all tender and vulnerable beings. Requesting coaching is out of their comfort zones, especially for Americans who are taught to be independent and that needing others proves them to be weak. It takes time to cultivate trust – within the client, of their own capacity to self-empower, and to also trust that their coach will not make them explore and face the depths of failures and weaknesses. Engaging someone like Rusty into a self-study process that explores the source of her current belief system, which manifest her current conditions and has held her hostage for lifetimes – well, it’s an art form, similar to tending fire.
A fire tenders’ job is to bring life to the being called fire, nurturing it to its brightest and fullest expression. This is what we do with our clients. And, this is what clients do with us coaches, too.
Putting a flame to tender twigs and leaves starts it all off. Shall we use a blowtorch or match? The right amount of presence and mindfulness to what is will make the process effortless from the start. Also, creating enough space so that air can fuel the flame and engage the energy within the leaves and twigs is essential. Loading up the session with more than my client can manage exhausts them, and they leave with no energy to remember how they were enlivened for too brief a time. Gentle blowing to engage – too much will put the flame out.
Throughout our work together, Rusty has cultivated an ability to sort through leaves, twigs and branches for deadwood. Deadwood has no fuel left for any internal fire to burn brightly. As Rusty chooses with more care those thoughts and beliefs that contribute to her fire, her flame kindles a spark within, which has been there all along; though smothered almost to extinction by patterns of beliefs, which continually reminded her that she had no right to shine at all.
Clients like Rusty, who return after years away from coaching, make my days happy! Because of our ongoing relationship, as she grows and generates momentum to self-empower herself toward greater degrees of fulfillment, well, it means I have to meet her – with my running shoes on; keeping pace with her own self-generated drive. Over time, Rusty and others bring to our session that which fuels our fire for excellence. Together we continually tend a fire that burns away old debris, allowing only the purest of flames of our essential nature to be ablaze!
There is no distinction between Fire Tender and Fire. There is no distinction between Coach and Client.
In the moment, both are on the edge of their seat – on the edge of their comfort zone. Simultaneously, each is expanding their bandwidth of awareness, cultivating unknown territory into the life-giving ground of being that inevitably becomes the foundation and framework of the momentum that is built through building.
I do my best work as a coach when the territory my client is inviting me into, is unknown, even desolate. This is their journey, yet they’ve asked me to be their guide, their thinking partner.
As coach and client, what is required to venture forth in this manner?
Curiosity and fascination; Courage; Faith, Patience, Trust and Knowing that all that we encounter is part and parcel of humanness. The art of tending fire requires the belief that we are here to experience that which presents itself in this moment. We are one with the fire of life. We are presence, synergy, balance, harmony, mindfulness and LIGHT.
The “Guilt-Free” Diet
Okay, so I found the diet of all diets! Obviously, by the title you can imagine that it has something to do with being guilt-free while engaging in any number of diets. Are you wanting to lose weight, stop spending, exercise more, quit smoking, spend more time with your sweetie, more time away from electronic companions? I get it! A guilt-free diet may be the way to go!
Throughout my whole life, my body image has been really important to me – the ‘image’ part is one thing but also the health that comes as a consequence of eating well and exercising daily. I’m far less successful than I want to be, yet I’ve been able to maintain my weight within a five pound band-width for about twenty years. Not bad, eh?
Being sixty years old, there’s nothing that will stop my body from doing all those things bodies do as they age: the sagging, creeping and wrinkling – well there’s nothing to be done but to appreciate and value the degree of health and vitality that I have today, as well as continuing to eat well and exercise daily. I’m so grateful to have the stamina and strength that I do have.
However, I keep pushing to lose weight – it’s a constant conversation in my head. And, I realized the other day that for the majority of my sixty years I’ve laid an incessant barrage of guilt and shame upon myself. Guilting myself has been the primary strategy responsible for staying thin and fit. But I realize the price I’ve paid using this strategy over others.
I decided, as an experiment, that I would stop working toward a particular weight goal, which only served over time to solidify how inadequate I am in fulfilling commitments. I would also stop the barrage of “Shoulds and Shouldn’ts” regarding everything to do with food. And, I had an “OMG” (Oh, My God!) moment. A list of attack thoughts spewed out a mile long regarding the “I’m not enoughs” that I’ve been living with forever!
I listed a minimum of 10 statements of guilt and shame that were so automatic I didn’t even know they are there. “You’ll look like an old person; you’ll get plump; you won’t be beautiful anymore; your clothes won’t fit; you’ll be out of integrity with who you say you are, on and on and on. That’s when I decided I’d go on a Guilt-Free Diet!
I heard the wee voice in my head say “What will keep me from gaining tons of weight or being a lazy good-for-nothing if I give up guilting myself? I then asked myself if the harmful side-effects of the guilt may be worse than the extra pounds I might carry. Just another one of those darn dilemmas.
Guilting oneself is not uncommon. For many of us, we don’t know any other way to manage and control ourselves but through guilt. Once I realized how I use guilt regarding food and beverage consumption, I also saw how I use it regarding work, productivity, and my financial where-with-all. I use guilt to make things happen and not happen in every aspect of my life.
Is it possible to live a guilt-free life?
So, while on this guilt-free diet, my practice is to notice the thoughts that are embedded with guilt – notice for instance, when at lunch time, the voice in my head says: “You should have a salad.” That “You Should” is most likely laced with guilt. When I’m about to do something based on that guilt-filled thought, my practice is to say STOP! Then re-calibrate my choice based on what I really want. This requires me to think like a mature and wise adult, instead of that more adolescent part of me that constantly wants what I want when I want it.
Does guilt have to be the only source of motivation?
I’m now more aware of making choices based on integrity and accountability. My intention is to enjoy life and I certainly enjoy it more feeling good and looking good. It’s a fascinating process revealing those thoughts that control and manage my behavior but are harmful and actually create dis-ease, self-hatred and other behaviors to compensate for the guilt and shame. Brow-beating ourselves usually creates the desire to anesthetize that voice – so we choose to eat, drink, do retail therapy, sex, TV, Internet surfing – you get the idea. SHEEESH!
Is There Another Way?
I want to be in alignment with my highest truth and my highest good. I know that spewing guilt thoughts at myself, and at others, for that matter, isn’t in alignment with my highest truth or good. I want health and well-being, and I also want to enjoy freedom and flexibility, which may be in direct conflict to well-being.
It’s interesting just to notice what happens when I take guilt out of the equation – not try to replace it with something else, not try to fix or heal the source of the guilt; just stop the guilt. I consider being a parent to myself and speaking without guilt – only loving thoughts – not manipulative, candy –sweet, but just love and care. It’s just an investigation, an experiment. I’m not trying to loose weight or fix my behavior in any way – I’m just exploring what IS without guilt.
Little by little, so far in this experiment, I’m realizing a greater degree of peace and relaxation – something I’ve not experienced for a very long time. I realize too, the degree to which the incessant pressure to be productive, effective, appropriate, worthy, attractive and desirable, never, never stops. It doesn’t take a vacation, and neither do I.
An invaluable resource that grows with aging is wisdom. Inevitably, we come to discover that who and what we think we are isn’t actually who and what we are at all! What matters to me more than anything else now, is that I compassionately reveal and dismantle self-loathing thoughts that impede my capacity to be the fullest expression of my essential self. How can I be anything but fit and attractive if I follow this advice?
I enjoy the adventure that comes with being curious about myself – how I’ve come to this reality I live within, in this current moment. I have no idea what will unfold from this exploration and practice. I do know that my experience thus far is that it’s contributing to a greater degree of well-being that’s guilt -free!