Do you see all the dead bugs on the windshield of this picture?
This past weekend, we we driving back from a 2 week vacation (thus my lack of posts), and as we traversed from the North of France to the South at 130km/h, we collided with many insects.
I took this picture, after a bathroom break and a switch in drivers. I couldn't believe that the windshield was so disgusting.
As the driver, though, the mess on the screen didn't impede me at all. I was looking straight past the dead bugs and other shit in front of me, in order to successfully navigate the road.
It was only after I shifted perspective that I was able to see how bad it was.
Unfortunately, we often get it the reverse.
We tend to focus so much on the dead bugs and other shit in front of us, that we can't see the road and navigate through with any speed or accuracy.
Some of the current "dead bugs" in my life are:
Each day, I need to pause, reflect, and clean off my windshield of the "dead bugs." Some days, it happens frequently.
It takes mindfulness and intention.
What about you?
Are you focusing on the dead bugs and shit on your windscreen, or are you looking past them to the road ahead?
Over the weekend, I was in Los Angeles attending the Mindvalley Reunion. If you don't know who or what Mindvalley is, it is a global education company focused on transformation and personal development for body, mind, and spirit. The reunion is essentially a 3 day conference where a thousand or so people come together to listen to speakers, attend workshops, and be inspired.
While I was there I met people whom I had met in previous years, as well as people that I have met virtually through some of Mindvalley's various courses.
Shortly after the reunion, one of the people that I met shot a video about her experience and tagged me in the comments so that I would be sure to see it. I am not sure how you feel about being tagged, but unless I am in the picture, I don't love it.
I replied to the person saying that it was nice to meet them and then asked that they not tag me in the future. I thought it was relatively harmless.
This morning, I woke up to a private FB message from the woman using the words "unkind" and "inappropriate."
The first questions to pop into my mind were: "Huh? Where did that come from?", followed by, "How dare she call me unkind and inappropriate! What a b**ch!"
Having spent too many years NOT SPEAKING MY TRUTH, I sent her a message back letting her know that I appreciated her for sharing her preferences with me, but that I DID NOT appreciate her insinuating that I was unkind and inappropriate, as I had not made any judgments or criticisms of her. I then invited her to think about what her judgments of me really meant about her.
A few hours later, after talking to my power partner, I realized just how high I was sitting on my horse.
One of the speakers at the conference talked about how there is no right or wrong, yet there I was sitting squarely in my righteousness, judging her for having judged me in the first place.
I was clearly right and she was clearly wrong, right?
Not so much.
I sent her the following message back:
Hey again...in the aftermath of my message back to you I could hear my own righteousness and judgement of you. UGH! What a cluster I have found myself in. It brings me back to what Dr. Shefali said about there not be a right or wrong. Since getting your message I have been making you wrong for judging me, which is a judgement in itself. If we take out right/wrong, there are preferences. There is what I like and what I don't like. There is what you like and what you don't like. I don't like being tagged without being asked first. I don't like being told I am unkind and inappropriate. You don't like that I asked you not to tag me in a public space. Anything else you don't like about my behavior? I am open to hearing it.
This whole encounter is a reminder that communication has many nuances and that no matter how much training I have done, or how many books I have read, I am still a human being with buttons that people will push, and which I will then react or respond to. Sometimes I suck at communicating. (Which is another version of "bad"...I know.)
Ever been in a similar situation?
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
When I was 35, my professional world imploded. For some of my clients, it was their relationship that imploded. While for still others, there was no implosion of career or relationship, but a serious earthquake, that shook the foundation and created serious cracks.
If I look back logically, the origin of my disastrous relationship with my former boss, would have started when I was first transferred. But it didn’t. If my clients look back logically on their own situations, they might see an infidelity discovered, a lie uncovered, a business decision gone bad, a pink-slip passed out, etc. But that isn’t the true origin either.
To find the true origin, we need to do a little time traveling.
For me, and for most of my clients (and probably for you too) it was an event that happened between the ages of 3 and 7. Together, we travel back in time, to at that event from the outside, as an observer, rather than as a participant. More specifically, as an OMNISCIENT observer who knows the thoughts, feelings, and decisions of all the participants.
As the time travel facilitator, I focus on the DECISIONS made by that little boy or little girl, because it is that decision, or collection of decisions that is the true origin of the current conflict. It is that decision that has been operating in the background for 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years, like the operating system of your GPS system. It is that decision that becomes the programmers code, until we become conscious enough, or fall on our face hard enough.
I will not lie and say that it is an easy process because it is not, but it is a healing one, because it allows us the awareness we need to rewrite the code and reset the GPS.
Sometimes when are are back there, hovering around observing, we come down to “earth” and step into forgiveness. We step into forgiveness by sending love and compassion to the people involved, especially to that little boy or little girl. We give hugs and reassurance, and paint a bright picture for what the future can and will look like.
After coming back to the present, we can step into the fun part, where we time travel forward, and meet our future self. We see where she lives, what she eats, what she does, and what she says. The words, the guidance, the cheerleading, and the love she shares is immensely powerful and therapeutic after the harshness of the time travel backwards.
Yet, I believe that both are needed, as they work in tandem. As we seek to rewrite the faulty GPS programing from our past, we can insert the new GPS programming given to us by our future self.
Back and forth we go.
Back and forth I go, honoring my past and creating my future, while living in the present.
Just as we eat to nourish our bodies everyday, I am coming to believe time-travel would nourish our souls everyday.
P.S. If you have any interest in time-traveling with me, please reach out.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
Our garage is linked to the main entry to our house through a small stairway with doors on each side. A few weeks ago, my daughter, who is 4, decided that she wanted to climb the stairs “in the night,” as she likes to call it. Both doors are closed with no light penetrating in, and she climbs up in the pitch black holding onto the handrail. It has now become a habit, and my 2 year old son has followed suit.
Many children would think this is scary. Many children would be afraid of the dark, and wouldn’t want to do what my daughter is doing.
As I have watched her do this day after day, week after week, I have held my tongue. At the beginning I wanted to ask her if she was scared, but I didn’t. Throughout, I have wanted to praise her courage for not being scared, but I haven’t.
Do you want to know why?
Because I have recently awakened to the idea that our feelings don’t actually become real until we name them. Nothing is scary, until we say it is scary. Nothing is worrisome, until we say we are worried. Nothing is anxiety-inducing, until we say we are anxious. Nothing is stressful, until we say we are stressed.
Which means, that if I were to tell my daughter I was proud of her for doing something scary, she would then be scared.
Yesterday, I was at the park with my children and I heard a dad say to his sons, “Don’t be scared of the big kids!” In that moment, I asked myself, “Were they scared? And if not, are they scared now?”
A couple of hours later, back at home, my daughter and I walked into the hallway together and she turned on the light “because it is scary.” I turner to her and said, “An hour ago, you walked in the stairs in the dark and it wasn’t scary, but this is scary. What’s the difference?” She couldn’t give me an answer, but I have my own--I gave her the word and the context.
The stairs between the garage and the main house aren’t scary because I never alluded to her that they were. Yet the stairs from the first floor to the second floor are scary, because at some point I told her they were. It’s the same reason she likes the hall light to be on when she sleeps--because I told her about being scared of the dark.
I think that many of her fears have come from me. My words of “be careful”, and references to “being afraid,” and my questioning, “Are you sure? It might be scary.”
Which begs the question, if there were no name for the emotion, is that emotion actually happening? The body sensations may be happening, but is the emotion?
I often tell clients and non-clients alike, that the body doesn’t know the difference between excitement and anxiety, so why not choose the word that empowers you the most. Why not trick yourself?
I am slowly incorporating that same teaching into how I talk to my children, and how I talk to myself.
I am not worried, I am planning.
I am not busy, I am energized.
I am not tired, I am contemplative.
I am not stressed, I am enthusiastic.
I am not scared, I am excited.
I invite you to do the same.
Courage. Compassion. Connection
You may not be as entrenched in the world of personal growth and personal development as I am, but there are three key words that come up A LOT, when it comes to discussing the root cause of many people’s life challenges--WORTH, ENOUGHNESS, VALUE.
They are words that I use quite a lot myself, when I talk about my own struggles (worthiness issues), or when I speak with clients about theirs (also worthiness issues.) Look to the right. Do you see a category WORTHINESS?
Yet, now, I am on the search for a new set of words. Want to know why?
WORTH, ENOUGH, and VALUE are words that describe a measurement of some kind, which in turn brings with it a comparison of one thing to another. It’s not the vernacular of PEOPLE! It’s the vernacular of money and measurement.
Yet, it seems like every coach, or spiritual guru, or healer out there uses these words to illustrate their own struggles, and the struggles of other people, and we wonder why we live in such a competitive and judgemental world. Why we live in a world where so many people feel shitty about themselves and their circumstances.
At the very beginning of Mark Manson’s book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k”, he talks about something called the “backwards law”, which was actually coined by Alan Watts. (though I haven’t read it directly from Alan himself….). Here is what Mark says, “The more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place.”
Which means, here I am living, breathing, and working in the field of personal development, where we use terms like WORTHINESS, ENOUGHNESS, and VALUE in reference to people, while not realizing that I am, in fact, perpetuating the cycle of comparing oneself to oneself, or comparing oneself to another, and in turn, not feeling so hot.
The winning and losing, the being accepted or being rejected, the success versus failure, the worthiness and unworthiness, leave us stuck on a hamster wheel of emotions. We long to feel enough, yet in the pursuit of enoughness, we realize that we aren’t enough, which leads us back to feeling not enough AGAIN. And on and on the cycle continues.
So how the hell do we get off?
My idea: STOP TALKING ABOUT OURSELVES IN MEASUREMENTS!
I am not money, and you are not money. I am not something to be measured, nor are you.
If I couple the “backwards law” with the phrase “Words create worlds”, it’s like BINGO--I can now see the problem.
The problem isn’t about my enoughness or your enoughness, it’s the fact that we are measuring ourselves against some unknown, unseen “thing” outside of ourselves, as if it matters, and as if we have somewhere to arrive where we will finally reach the penultimate WORTH.
I am realizing it's all BS.
I am choosing to step away from the world and vocabulary of measurement.
Want to join me?
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
When I started my career as a teacher my sole purpose was to contribute to the lives of my students. I wanted to be in service to others because I knew that I enjoyed it, more so than I enjoyed having a fat bank account.
After more than a decade, though, I become bored--yes BORED. I wanted a bigger challenge. I wanted MORE, so I turned to school leadership as my next step. It seemed logical to me, as I could have a greater influence, one that extended beyond the walls of my own classroom and into the school at large.
Looking back now, though, I don’t think that the move to leadership was really about wanting to be a bigger contribution--it was really about having GREATER INFLUENCE AND POWER (and money). Somewhere along the way, I moved away from playing the game of contribution, and instead started playing another game--the game of “power”, “money”, “importance”, and “better than.” All of which came from an underlying issue of my own...my false belief that I wasn’t ENOUGH.
It was this new game that eventually led to my being asked to resign from my position as a school leader.
When I finally woke up to the game that I was playing, I perceived it as too late to go back into the traditional education system, and I eventually found myself in the world of coaching. (It’s own form of education, I believe.)
And yet, that pull toward the game of competition and power still beckons me from time to time, because I believe it is a game that many people play. If I am honest with myself, I can see that all of the dips in my business have come because I lost sight of what game I was playing. I lost sight of being a contribution. This quote is a great reminder to me, “In the game of contribution, you wake each morning and bask in the notion that you are a gift to others.”
What about you? What game are you playing?
With love and gratitude,
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
Today, I went shopping with another mom to buy the end of the year present for our daughters' teacher and the teacher's assistant. We had decided that a larger group gift would be more appreciated, so the other mom had collected money to do just that.
While we were at the first store, the other mom pulled out the envelope with all the collected money and proceeded to count out not just bills but coins. Instead of standing their with a blank slate, I stood there and watched through the lens of my conditioning, and I went straight into judgment.
"Really, coins. You couldn't have given her bills? You had to give her coins that she had to lug around? Come on..."
And then I stopped myself.
I stopped myself because I noticed that I was "spreading poison" (to use the words of Don Miguel Ruiz.) That through my judgments of whoever gave the coins, I was energetically contaminating any future relationship and the world in general.
I had no idea what the story was behind the coins, nor did it matter. What I do know is that judgement is a sign that I still have work to do around my own sense of self, especially when it comes to money.
Yet, the story doesn't end there.
When I came back from the shopping trip, I hopped on a FB live within my FB group and told them the same story that I am telling you, and one of the members of the group wrote me a note saying, "I likely need to see and ponder this thought today, because I was feeling quite judgy about you being judgy! I didn’t even really catch the irony until the end, but it was so bad I found myself considering if this was the right place for me."
Have you ever done that? Judged someone for being judgmental and then wondered if you wanted to hang out with said person?
I am thrilled that she had the courage to say that to me because we ended up having a great conversation about how often we don't recognize our own judgments, yet we are quick to point them out in others, the various things that trigger us to judge, and that they are not the same for different people.
The main point, though, was the our judgments of others mean more about US than it does about the other person, and that when we look deep enough we can uncover the fear and snuff it out with LOVE.
A work in progress,
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
I used to think of my judgments as wrong because that is what everyone always told me--DON’T JUDGE or STOP BEING SO JUDGMENTAL.
Unfortunately, telling me to not judge is like telling me not to breath. I might be able to sustain it for awhile, but eventually I just can’t help it. It's how I have been conditioned, and it's how I continue to see the world operate.
Plus, I no longer want to.
I want to EMBRACE and CELEBRATE my negative judgments. (Crazy, isn’t it.)
I want to do so because they are the key to my growth.
I want to let them out (albeit alone), rather than suppress them, or should on them, or distract myself from them because I know that they are telling me something important. When I get curious about my judgments, rather than judge my judgments (quite a paradox), then I can develop a better understanding of what is going on under the surface.
Once I can go under the surface and seek to understand the origin of my negative judgments, then I can unlock what is missing inside of me which will allow me to transform my relationship with myself and my relationships with others.
And you know the super cool thing that comes next--I become LESS JUDGMENTAL.
Do you know the saying, “What you resist persists?”
That is exactly what I am talking about. When I resist my negative judgments, and try not to have them, they just keep coming back, and coming back, and coming back because I haven’t dealt with the hidden unmet need underneath.
Yet, once I embrace the judgment, explore it, find it’s root cause, and get creative for how to otherwise meet my needs, then the judgments slowly disappear.
Want to try it?
P.S. One of my mentors who teaches Non-Violent Communication went to teach a workshop to a group of monks, who all thought that they didn't need his workshop because they said, "We don't judge." At first he was a bit lost, and then he asked, "Well, why don't you judge?" And the monks response was, "Because judging is wrong." My mentor then smiled and said, "Okay. We can get started."
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
For the most part, we all love our grandmas.
Even when our grandmothers say the “wrong” thing, criticize us unknowingly, and don’t seem to “get it,” we take a deep breath, and then we muster up the patience and understanding to help them understand. We don’t let our anger or frustration take over.
What if we did the same thing with the assholes in our lives?
I know that you are probably cringing right now, but I please hear me out.
Why do our grandmother’s act the way they do?
They don’t always realize what they are doing, and even if they did, they wouldn’t care because they are grandmas. It’s the exact same thing with the jerks in your life.
All of the challenging people in our lives are acting the way that they are for two main reasons.
Reason #1: They have been conditioned to do so. They are acting within their values, and it just happens that what they value and what we value don’t align.
Reason #2: They aren’t acting within their value system because they are acting from their subconscious defense mechanisms, which kick in in times of stress, insecurity, despair, hurt, etc.,. When our defense mechanisms takes over, it’s like some other person (a child perhaps?) temporarily takes over, and we lose sight of what really matters. Only the most mindful and self-aware of us even notice.
If reason #1 and #2 don’t fit, is it possible they could be an ass, plain and simple. They know what they are doing, why they are doing it, and they don’t give a shit who gets hurt in the process. (We love to believe that this is behind all of the difficult people in our lives, but it isn’t--it’s usually the first two.)
If you really want to turn things around with a challenging person in your life, I encourage you to start treating them like you would your grandma. We cannot influence people to change if we do not value them as a human being.
Here are a few ideas...
If you start to value others, like you value your grandma, I promise that your inner and outer environment will become a lot more peaceful.
P.S. If you enjoyed this post, consider giving it a thumbs up, sharing it with others, and/or leaving a comment below. I would love to hear from you.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
The other day I was eating lunch and my phone rang. When I saw who was calling I said to myself, “F**k. Not again,” as a pushed the decline button. I didn’t want to talk to her because it was lunchtime, AND I didn’t want to talk to her because I consider her to be a complete pain in the ass.
Do you have these kind of people in your life?
Those people who you avoid like the plague because you don’t want to deal with whatever comes your way--the criticism, the negativity, the complaints, the anger, the whatever.
And when you finally do interact with them, it’s like the perfect storm. Their negativity combined with your reluctance and judgments, leading to even more misunderstanding and frustration.
So what do you do? What do I do?
I chose to feel like it. I chose to reframe how I think of them.
I am never going to FEEL like interacting with a difficult person.
I am never going to WANT to interact with a difficult person.
I am never going to ENJOY interacting with a difficult person.
I am never going to CONNECT with a difficult person.
Instead I chose NOT to think of them as difficult.
I chose NOT to think of them as a pain in the ass.
I chose NOT to think of them as the enemy.
Instead, I chose to think of them as a HUMAN BEING who has some hidden shit going on that is causing them to act the way they do.
And when the reframe doesn’t stick (which is often the case), I do something that makes me FEEL LIKE IT, right before interacting with them. In the case of this pain-in-the-ass-woman, I danced around my office for a bit, smiled really BIG, set an INTENTION TO CONNECT, and picked up the phone.
I didn’t wait to feel like--I called her.
I didn’t sit around and ponder what she was going to say and how I would respond--I called her.
I didn’t analyze all of our past interactions--I called her.
I didn’t practice my French--I called her.
THE RESULT: I still got off the phone thinking she was a pain-in-the-ass, but we had a successful conversation where we connected, understood one another, and can move forward.
Not every interaction is going to be EASY, but there are ways to make it EASIER.
P.S. Even the word “dealing” and "difficult" have a negative connotations, don’t you think?
Courage. Compassion. Connection.