Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day...I Insist!

Many people come to me in hopes of finding ways to deepen their connection with loved ones, partners, family members, workmates, etc.  So often they are confused thinking it is the other person who is creating the distance.  I invite you to consider the ways you separate yourself from the people in your life, often with simple greetings, intended to connect.  

Here’s an example:

Once again, it is a ‘holiday’ ~ Mother’s Day (don’t get me started on what I think about this) and I see on facebook and have been hearing multiple greetings of “Happy Mother’s Day” all morning.

How is it that happy is the only feeling offered?  Can people be delighted?  Can they feel satisfied or content?  How about devastated or grief stricken?  

Which feelings are you okay with?  And why?  

I am thinking of the mom who lost their child suddenly this year, struggling in every minute to understand how to feel happy, and on this day being bombarded with demands to do so.  I am thinking of my niece who who lost her mom and is reminded today how many big events in her life she won’t have her mom to cheer her on, or ask advice from.  I am thinking of the mom’s who are struggling with their kids who aren’t quite thriving and suffering with their own thoughts of “I’m such a bad mother”.  Or the many, many people still longing for a feeling of connection or nurturing with their own mother and confused about the pressure they might feel today ~ given the call to honor their mother ~ deepening their feeling of disappointment or despair.

I encourage you to be mindful today (and every day).  How about instead of dumping your insistence on how someone should feel about the day, you offer a connecting request?  

Say This Not That.  

How about trying a few of these greetings?  Notice if you are more connected with the person you are talking with.
  • How are you feeling this Mother’s Day?
  • Is Mother’s Day a holiday that has meaning for you?  I’d love for you to share a bit about your day with me.
  • I am missing my mom today and feel lonely on Mother’s Day.  Is this a day you celebrate or mourn or both?
  • This is such a hard day for me, I’m curious how you are doing today?
  • I love Mother’s Day!  It is an opportunity for me to celebrate all the people who have nurtured me.  Would you like to hear a story about one?  Is there someone in your life that you feel that way about?
If you want connection, it is simple.  Ask for it!!

Blessings to everyone out there with deep feelings today, whatever your experience is.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The OTHER Choices You Are Making this Election

This election season seems to have been particularly trying.  In ways that I do not remember.   Of course, it also seems that my memory is not what it used to be.  Why am I at the computer again? 

Oh yes, this election has had and continues to have so much energy, it is pulling people, squeezing out the hard, built up apathy and inertia.  A deluge of thoughts and feelings are being thrown around flooding the thoughtfields.  I am experiencing it like some serious weather.  A hurricane or a tornado of sorts.  Can’t get away, nowhere to hide, hard to breathe.  And it is a bit scary and painful.  Not sure what will be left of my life when it is ‘over’. 

I hear talk of choices, “If you do choose this, you are actually choosing something (someone) else.”  “The choices both are horrible” (sometimes with one being more horrible being thrown in).  “One is dishonest, the other uniformed, spewing all kinds of rhetoric without much of what is said based in fact.” I hear it being said over and over by my friends, almost everyone on facebook, the media and the comics I think are so funny.

I hear so much ‘they’.  They are this and they are that.

So who is they?

They is you.  At least to the other person.

In this time when the people who have risen to the top (however it actually happened) is what we have to deal with, we get to ask why.  We feel so much more comfortable when it is ‘their’ fault.  However, what I know to be true is that we are all a part of this, somehow. 

I would like to consider this in a bit smaller context.  If we were talking permaculture, I would be saying consider this hyperlocally, or zone 1. 

I am asking you to consider how you have been being during this election season.  How much listening have you done?  Actually listening for the deeper fears – under all the stories of what is showing up ~ for all the people you disagree with?  How much dialogue have you even considered. 

I’m not even suggesting that dialogue is possible.  I am curious if have you even tried offering empathy to those who are saying and doing things that you really, really don't like?  This is when it really matters, when we might really make a difference, when we can discover how committed to understanding, compassion and nonviolence we really are.

How much of the name calling, forcing your opinion as truth, hoping to drive the outcome you want, have you engaged in? 

It seems so easy this time.  So obvious that ‘they’ are doing it.  I wonder if you might take a breath and see if you can notice when you are ‘doing it’. 

In this election, I wonder if we all have lost a bit of our own compassion, our own values, our own open-heartedness.

For me, that is a choice.  And if you choose to lose this in yourself, what is (has been) the cost?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What's Your Evidence?

Are you telling people what you think using language that masquerades your story as truth?

I believe the quality of your life depends on a few things, one being the language you use and the words you say.  For that reason I offered you this question.  I think with a few tweaks here and there in what you say, you will feel more free, more open, more empowered in your life.  And, I think it starts right here with how to share what you think.  And why you might not share it all.

When intending to connect with another person, offering them a peak into your inner world is  an invitation to know you.  Sharing what is important to you and what meaning things have for you is connecting.  So is the inverse.  Listening for what is important to someone else.  And this can be quite alluring and connecting even if what is important to you is different.  Unless, of course you are talking about your interpretations as truth.

Most often you are so quick to do this, you don’t notice.  You may have difficulty pulling apart the ‘what is’ from the meaning you make about the ‘what is’.  When was the last time you said, “It is a beautiful day!”  or “That is such a great restaurant!”?  Interpretation.  What is the evidence you use to make the determination of a ‘beautiful’ day?  Perhaps, the temperature, how many clouds you see?  In language it seems like nitpicking, in the experience of the person listening to you, it is a challenge and a suggestion. 

What if you love sunny, brisk days, and your friend loves the gentle rainy ones.  In the sentence “It is a beautiful day!” there is no invitation for your friend to have a different experience of the weather.  And, really, there is little sharing about what is important to you.  Very little revealing of your inner world.  Try this on:  “When I feel the warmth of the sun on my face, and the breeze in the air, I feel so happy and alive.  I am so grateful for this sun-shiny day!”  Now your friend knows exactly what is important to you in the moment and how you feel about it.  S/he can share in your joy, even if s/he prefers rainy days.  Connection is made.

If you say, “it is such a great day!”, your friend actually has very little information as to why.  No understanding, no connection and there is no invitation for your friend to have another experience of the weather than the one you declared as the truth.

Let’s break it down a bit.  Static language – it is, you are, s/he is.  Nothing exists as static.  If you use these words, you will be mixing your interpretation of the facts as a declaration of the truth.  In a situation more important than a discussion of the weather, you will most likely receive a response that you do not want ~ if the person doesn’t agree with your interpretation.  Instead, offer them the evidence, what you notice, how you feel, and what is important to you about it.
What can you notice?  Three things ONLY!
1.  Things outside of you
2.  Your bodily sensations and emotions
3.  Your thoughts

That’s it!  Nothing more.  

You can notice what someone says or does, how you feel about what they say or do and what you think about it. 

Here are two possibilities...
Your boyfriend comes in a closes the door more loudly than you are used to.  It has happened in the past, when he was angry.   You greet him by saying, “What are you so pissed at?”  He replies, “F*ck you, I can’t believe you just said that.  I am so sick of your self-obsession.  I wish, just once you could be caring about me.  I just saw two guys fighting outside, and its pretty bad.  I’m going to call 911.  Just leave me alone.”  So now what?  This conversation needs an intervention.

Your boyfriend comes in a closes the door more loudly than you are used to.  It has happened in the past, when he was angry.   You greet him by saying,  “Oh my!  I am thinking something is up for you given how you shut the door.  Will you talk about it with me?”  He replies, “I am so glad to be inside.  There are a couple of guys outside fighting pretty seriously, I want to call 911.  Will you make me a drink and wait for the cops with me?”

In the first situation, you confused your interpretation of the sound of the door shutting (noticing) with your boyfriend being mad (interpretation).  You shared it as the ‘truth’.  Basically demanding that he buy your assessment of the facts.  While there was a question, there was no invitation to share what was happening for him.

In the second situation, you offered what you noticed, your guess as to what was happening and an invitation for sharing.  What you got back was connection.

Take a minute before you speak ~ especially in difficult conversations, to separate out what you notice, and the meaning you are making.  Share them as two separate things.  I believe the quality of your relationships and your overall experience of the world will be richer, more connected and you may have more freedom in all of your relationships.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pain Wheel

If you didn’t have pain, what would you be doing differently?

I have a client who has been in physical pain for many months, off and on approaching years, in fact.  She has attributed it to a car accident.  Science tells me in her case, 2 things.  One is that the ‘damage’ to her spine is not likely the cause of her pain, and the other is that it is unlikely that the accident she had could actually cause the ‘damage’ she does show up on x-ray and MRI.

Week in and week out, when she comes in, she tells me in exquisite detail, over and over, the woes of her physical life and her social life.  Every week, I ask her to focus her attention on the progress she is making, the decreased amount of pain, the increased distance she can walk without pain, etc., which she also reports.  It seems that celebrating and savoring these changes is quite difficult for her.  Her focus is her pain, no matter what else she is experiencing.  She just keeps asking when she would be out of pain.

Recently, I asked her what would she be doing differently if she was out of pain.  What is missing now, what can’t she do now because of the pain she is in.  My intention was to bring to the foreground of her attention her intention.  What did she want from life?

Her answer surprised me.  She said that if she felt better she was afraid that people would want her to do more.  That she wouldn’t get the help she needed.   As much as I prompted, She did not actually say what she did want.   In the end, the needs ~ what is important to her ~ seem relatively clear.  Support, dependability, nurturing and ease come to my mind. 

Her strategy to get these needs met seems so tragic to me.  She is in pain, and unhappy.  And, she doesn’t ‘have to’ do the thing she imagines people would ask her to do if she were well. 

Is this familiar to you?   How aware are you of what you are wanting in your life?  How stuck are you in the one or two strategies that you have discovered over time get those needs met (no matter how tragically)?  Are you on the PAIN WHEEL?

In the case of this client, I would love her to free herself from her belief that if people expect and even ask her to do things, that she has no choice but to say yes.  It isn’t true and the prison of pain she is living into is devastating to her happiness and joy of life.  For my client, learning the skill of being able to say yes and no to requests gracefully and compassionately would be quite empowering and dare I say, make her life more wonderful.

If you are in chronic pain ~ emotional or physical ~ sure, being out of pain would be quite delightful.  Just make sure you ask yourself why?  Ask the deeper questions.   Questions you want the answers to.  Questions that can actually be answered and will make a difference in your life. 

Here are some examples:
What experience do I want to have in my life? 
How can I have more of this regardless of my pain? 
What is my pain keeping me from experiencing? 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Truth or Consequences

When I hear the word vulnerable, certain images come to my mind:  A dog or cat, or any animal laying down on its back during a fight.  Someone with his or her back to a wall with nowhere to go.  Or someone walking down a cobblestone street, in the dark, slightly damp with scary music in the background.

All these scenarios indicated danger or losing to me.  And I shied away from using the word.  Yet it is the current buzzword in communication/new age health circles.  So I decided to look it up.

vulnerable |ˈvəln(ə)rəbəl|
susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm: we were in a vulnerable position | small fish are vulnerable to predators.
Bridge (of a partnership) liable to higher penalties, either by convention or through having won one game toward a rubber.
ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from late Latin vulnerabilis, from Latin vulnerare ‘to wound,’ from vulnus ‘wound.’

What!?  Susceptible to attack!  Harm?!  Of course it is hard to be vulnerable. Of course I hear people say I don’t want to be vulnerable.

But what does that have to do with saying the truth?  Why do we think that telling others what is really going on for us will make us susceptible to attack?  I’m sure it is an old story.  Parents and society in general not being able to communicate their needs without squashing the needs of the children?  Possibly going to school for 12+/- years sitting in straight rows, competing with the kids next to us for the approval of the authority?  Thus making ‘all others’ our enemies?  Yes, we do have a lot to get over.

And is there a difference between being susceptible to attack and being harmed?  I think yes.  And it is a big difference.  If someone doesn’t like what you say or do and they tell you (yes, even in ways you do not like, for example yelling or poking fun) which may seem like an attack, still really what is the harm?

So I looked up harm.

harm |härm|
physical injury, esp. that which is deliberately inflicted: it's fine as long as no one is inflicting harm on anyone else.
• material damage: it's unlikely to do much harm to the engine.
• actual or potential ill effect or danger: I can't see any harm in it.
verb [ with obj. ]
physically injure: the villains didn't harm him.
• damage the health of: smoking when pregnant can harm your baby.
• have an adverse effect on: this could harm his Olympic prospects.

Talks about physical injury only.  Most often when the discussion of vulnerability comes up, it is emotional harm that we are talking about.  “I don’t feel emotionally safe.“   And that, my friends, is an inside job.  What I hear when you say ‘emotional safety’ is that you are not willing to bear the feelings you have because of the meaning you make about what someone says to you.  You are mistakenly giving your power away.  Maybe that’s why you might say you are vulnerable.  But, as it turns out, it isn’t true.  

The consequence is to continue to outsource your emotional safety, and wait til you think you can control what everyone says to you and wait and wait, and hope to get your needs met, so you feel comfortable.   Although I am not so sure you are really comfortable, you just prolong the experience of feeling scared.  Which is the very experience of not having emotional safety.  augh.  What a horrifying loop!

What if you took yourself on and remained curious about how and why you feel a particular way?  What if when someone said something you didn’t like, you used your uncomfortable feelings to guide you to the very things that are important to you in that moment?  It is quite the powerful, resourceful place to be.  It is freedom.

You can walk down the dark alleys of relationships fraught with dangerous conversations with confidence, knowing that your emotions (yes, even the ones you have been trained not to like) are your gateways to identifying what’s important to you.  And when you know what’s important to you, you can make conscious choices to have more of it – in every moment.