You Are Worthy

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You are worthy and you are worthy of your gifts and talents. Do not let anyone convince you otherwise – including, especially, you.

It does not matter that you are not, thankfully, perfect. It does not matter that you have made “bad” choices in your life or choices you regret? It does not matter that you may have, at times, acted inauthentically, out of integrity or even immorally. It does not matter that it has taken you your whole lifetime until now – or later even – to step into your gifts. Have you been keeping track of how often you have paid the price – over and over again – for one of those “mistakes”? Your debt, if there was one, is paid. With an abundance of interest.

You are worthy. You are worthy of your gifts and talents. They are inherently yours to accept or deny. Although you may find they will not be denied.

When the time is right, when you are ready, in the moment of epiphany that brings on that quiet knowing, you will find the courage to step in, to step in fully, to claim the gifts that are your own.

Are you willing to put them on, embody them, own them, instead of wondering when someone is either going to take them away from you or give you permission to do what is only yours to do? Give yourself permission. Only you can do it. You are worthy of your gifts and talents.

You are worthy, even if you are afraid. The purpose of fear is to keep you safe? From what, you wonder? From abusing your gifts? You cannot abuse your gifts. You can only step in and allow things to flow through you. And they will. Because, you are worthy.

Let go of the self questioning, the self recrimination, the self judgment. It only gets in the way of the beauty and grace of who you are. You are worthy. Do not let anyone convince you otherwise. Especially you.

Palms holding a beet shaped like a heart

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My Passive-Aggressive Relationship with the Law of Attraction and Some Simple Steps

It is safe to say that the Law of Attraction was not on my radar prior to my life crashing and burning around me when I was in my mid-thirties. Up to the point of dramatically losing my job and my first marriage falling apart, I was blissfully unaware, and some days I still wish I was.

When it did come into my awareness through Alan Cohen’s book, The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, it was a tremendous relief, almost a lifesaver, at a very dark and paralyzing time in my life when my only way of dealing with each day was to look only at what was right in front of me, not the next day and certainly not the next week. Essentially the message I received was: if I attract the circumstances of my life to me, and I had powerfully attracted destructive forces, then I had equally the power to attract good into my life. And that was a hopeful promise and expectation. It meant my life didn’t have to be all bad. That this day and circumstance did not need to be a predictor of my future. Hallelujah!

Since then, for almost two decades, my relationship with the law of attraction could probably be described as passive-aggressive and fraught with pitfalls along the way.

The basic premise is, set your intention, write it out, visualize it and then let it go. Cool, simple, easy. Until it isn’t cool, simple or easy. Especially when those big dreams of enough money, enough opportunity, enough love and enough success don’t materialize. Are they right around the corner or miles and miles away? Do I stay with it or give up on it and how do I know the difference?

I have experienced myself, and witnessed others, move from hopeful anticipation that this stuff really does work to painful desperation in their visualizations (“I trust, really I do, but how much longer do I need to wait?”). Some books and authors, The Secret being one of them, would have you believe it is as simple as visualizing – forget the how, just know what you want. It’s not what you do, it’s your state of mind, your energetic field, the vibes you give out.

Then we look around to see what other people are doing, judge ourselves for not measuring up and, in our jealousy of believing they are achieving something that eludes us, judge them for not being perfect enough, for being inauthentic or for abandoning their values in the pursuit of success – all projection, by the way, since rarely do we have enough knowledge of them or their path to truly know their intentions, their values or whether they are being authentic or inauthentic.

I am not totally disillusioned with the law of attraction but I have been in deep inquiry about what works, when it works and why it matters – to me anyway. While it is not as simplistic as thinking happy thoughts and life will be happy and full of success, there are a few simple guides I am learning to adhere to as my passive-aggressive relationship with the law of attraction becomes more moderate (and seemingly more successful).

Self Talk

It is true that it is as simple as: our self talk influences how we feel and essentially our basic health. Aside from all the of the promises offered by the law of attraction, when our self talk is positive rather than frustrated, anxious or worried, our anti-aging hormone goes up, our immune system hormone goes up and cortisol (nicknamed the stress hormone) goes down. When we are more at peace with ourselves, it shows on the outside, others notice and are attracted to us. We make better decisions. We have more energy. We treat ourselves and others better and they treat us better – because in this process we also fuel healthy boundaries. Win-wins all the way around.

Setting Intention and Acting

It is still true, as Yogi Berra said, that if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.

And the truth is, if we are not consciously setting intention, the pathways are just being filled up for us – by circumstances, by other people, by non- or in-decision. What is it you want for yourself and for your life? Grow your clarity on this, imagine the end result and let it go. But don’t stay home on your mediation cushion or on your couch waiting for the miracles to start rolling in. Begin to do what you can to move in the direction of the intentions you set. One of my favourite teachers in this respect is Mike Dooley and his messages from The Universe. Love, love, love the beautiful balance of dream, dream, dream, remember you are a forever being and everything will be fine and ACT. Do what you can, when you can, from where you are or nothing will happen. And acting in accordance with your intention takes your attention off whatever it is you think isn’t manifesting in this moment.

IMG_1495What I have witnessed over and over in my life is that clarity of intention does bring results. Sometimes in immediate timing like when my second marriage ended and the assets were finally being separated and I was moving into my own place. The house was prepped, physically and energetically (I would meditate outside, walk around the house, say my goodbyes and invite welcoming energy), put on the market and, against all odds, it sold in 24 hours. My new home had come on the market just before that – ready and waiting for me. In three weeks, I was in a physical locality that represented sanctuary, joy, movement and home for me.

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Me and my sweetie

Sometimes it takes awhile and a few tries. Prior to my second marriage, I began to imagine what my ideal relationship might look and feel like. It was supposed to be my second marriage. It wasn’t. I let go of the idea, quite content to be joyful alone. And then love tapped me on the shoulder in the most unexpected, improbable and gentlest of ways and the relationship I imagined plus more showed up. It is not what I expected it to look like or how, but it is a gift I cherish every day.

Who Cares What Other People Are or Are Not Doing; What Am I Doing?

Focusing on what other people are doing or not doing, imagining how successful other people are, worried that there is “not enough” for everybody so I won’t get “my share” are all counter-productive distractions that do not reflect healthy self talk but is the purview of your “itty-bitty-shitty committee”. While your attention is in minding someone else’s business instead of your own, opportunities pass you by. What is yours to do? Do that. Pursue it with singular focus – while keeping your peripheral vision active to catch those things that activate, fuel and will manifest your own visions and intentions. Keep your head down, your eyes focused on your own destiny, your actions aligned with your intention and more of what you want will come your way.

Appreciation and Gratitude For What Works and for “Your People”

Pause. Breathe. Look around. Who is there with you, supporting you, respecting you, valuing you, working with you in the movement toward your intentions? Deep gratitude to these people. They matter. And, notice how far you’ve come from time to time so you can begin to believe that more is possible, your vision is attainable and maybe more than you ever imagined.

Review Your Own Relationship with the Law of Attraction

Read a lot of stuff on the law of attraction. I have. Sort through what resonates for you. I like a lot of what Abraham-Hicks offers. And Napolean Hill‘s Think and Grow Rich is a classic. One of my favourites is Florence Scovell-Shinn. She wrote this little 100 page book: The Game of Life and How to Play It, which for a time, practically became a bible for me. I still use affirmations from her work and it was a simple one that made me feel like I finally actually understood prayer for maybe the first time in my life. “Following the path of love, all things are added; for God is love and God is supply.” Or you could substitute ‘Source’ or ‘creator’ or ‘Allah’ or whatever works for you for God. Because it is whatever works for you not what I think it should or shouldn’t be or even what works for me.

Limiting Beliefs

Examine your limiting beliefs (which I intend to be my next post). Focus on what matters. Do not suffer fools gladly (including yourself) and Go Get ‘Em!

Observing the Passing of An Authentic Man – Rob van Soest

At 6’4″, with a direct, no nonsense approach, Rob van Soest did not suffer fools lightly. Which made him a surprising mix of intimidating, daunting, trustworthy and likeable. You knew where you stood with him. He was clear about his values and lived them. With an often gruff exterior, he was a a kind, caring and loving man who stood by what he knew were the right things to do and the people he cared about, especially his wife, Deb van Soest. The evening of January 15, 2015, he left a big hole in the hearts, minds and souls of so many as he transitioned back into spirit to continue his own soul journey, supporting, cherishing, loving from a different dimension. He was just 65 years old.

Rob

Rob van Soest, 1950-2015

 

I first met Rob in March 2008 when I went to his home in St. Paul, Alberta to meet his wife, Deb – my sister –  in person for the first time since we were children.  I was arriving as he was leaving – on his way to work on a post-retirement contract in Fort McMurray where he and Deb had each lived for about thirty years. They worked for the same company which is how they met and they retired together to spend time at their home in St. Paul, to travel together and to spend time with family and friends who mattered.

Since retiring, Rob was in demand for contract work. Employers trusted him, knew his sense of integrity and knew he would get the job done well. Rob enjoyed the contract work because he was beholden to no one, could speak his mind openly and clearly and take or leave the work depending on the circumstances. If he thought it would compromise his integrity, he would not commit to do the work. He and Deb had many and deep conversations about the path he and they wanted to walk.

He was, of course, curious about me and how it would be for Deb to meet me and be with me for a few days and discreet enough to give time and space to the new – renewed – discovery of relationship. By the way Deb talked about him and their relationship and some of their many stories of family over the years – between them they have ten kids – it was clear they had a solid, loving, respectful, mutual relationship.

When I met them, Rob and Deb were living on their property in St. Paul – remote, woods and fields where the dogs could run and they could go 4 wheeling or snow-mobiling by themselves or with visitors, like kids or grandkids, friends or like me and my son Shasta when we visited – which we did together twice. Rob had rules for the operation of 4 wheelers and snow mobiles, for fires, for guns. His rules were for safety. The kids and grandkids obeyed the rules. As long as they did, it was all great. If they broke the rules, there were consequences and not a single person doubted that would be the case. He commanded respect and received it because he gave it.

Deb and Rob on 4 wheeler

Roaming the property – with Shasta and me and their two dogs. First time Shasta went 4 wheeling was under Rob’s guidance.

 

Shasta and I first visited there in 2010. He was eight years old. With a three hour time difference, I was a bit concerned about him waking too early and waking the household – not wanting him – or me – to get on Rob’s bad side. I was surprised in the morning when I woke up and Shasta was being very, very quiet. I commented on how quiet he was being. That’s when he told me that if he wasn’t quiet, Rob had threatened to throw him in the beaver pond. I looked at him quizzically and said, “Rob wouldn’t do that.” What I didn’t realize was that Rob’s grandson who was also visiting at the time and was in his teens, corroborated Rob’s threat. He looked at Shasta in all seriousness and said, “That’s where my brothers are.” I could tell that Shasta was trying to reconcile in his eight year old brain his sense of Rob and Rob’s integrity with this threat and clearly Rob was not beyond pulling a good prank on someone.

Deb and Rob on the deck

On their deck – a regular occurrence – with one of their dogs – overlooks a beautiful back yard, the fire pit and the beaver pond.

 

 

I also remember standing on the deck with Rob, watching Shasta occupy himself by running from the fire pit down by the beaver pond up behind the house to get a piece of wood and run it back to the fire pit when Rob would just as easily have brought the wagon up behind a four wheeler to load it up and take it down. Rob and I both shrugged as we watched him do a little dance every time he headed back up.

I am grateful that Shasta and I (and my other two boys as well) have memories of this extraordinary man and I mourn the fact that I did not have more time to know and experience him and that my life partner and Rob did not have a chance to meet. They would have liked each other. And then I know there are others who had the privilege to know him and journey with him for much longer and who will miss him deeply.

Deb and Rob with Grandkids 2014

Rob and Deb with two of the grandchildren – mutual adoration.

 

The quality of Rob and Deb’s relationship – of strong communication, openness, mutual support – is a quality I now experience with my own partner who I did not know at the time Deb and I first met. While the four of us won’t have the opportunity to meet, raise a glass together or spend time together, their relationship is an inspiration and an aspiration for me. Love them both. Might even raise a glass of good Alberta Whiskey in honour of a man who blazed a true path.

Deb and Rob selfie 2014

Rob and Deb – the joy of their relationship evident in this photo

 

Taking Whole: Building Authenticity With the Johari Window

Good leaders are often recognized for their qualities of genuineness and authenticity.

Authenticity is the quality of being real or true. The public perception of an authentic person is the same or very close to the “real” person – who they are in private or with those close to them. In the language of our Worldview Intelligence work we call this “taking whole“.

People who are authentic are comfortable with who they are, what they discover about themselves, their worldview and what shaped it, and they have a willingness to continually grow who they are. They know a lot about themselves and they are comfortable expressing who they are to others. They are also able to embody chaordic leadership or chaordic confidence which is growing increasingly important in today’s complex times and when we seek engagement of multiple voices to address the questions and issues at hand.

The Johari Window is a framework that allows us to practice better understanding of self and thus provides a means for any individual to evolve their own authenticity. The Johari Window was developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham and was first used in 1955. It is as effective today in developing a broader self understanding as it was then.

The dimensions of the Johari Window are representative of an individual’s whole personality or psyche. The dimensions are: what I know and what I don’t know, what others know and don’t know. They are illustrated in the following matrix:

johari window

What is known to us that we show other people is Open. These are aspects of ourselves that we are consciously aware of and willing to freely share with others, thus these aspects are also known to others.

The second aspect is what we know about ourselves that we keep Hidden from other people. There will probably always be things we do not disclose to other people. Disclosure in and of itself is not the issue. The question is why are you not disclosing and how much energy is contained in keeping these things hidden from other people?

It is impossible to be truly authentic if we fear other people knowing certain things about ourselves. We have all made decisions, choices or taken action in our lives that we regretted, are embarrassed about or just wish we hadn’t done. It is part of human nature, part of the growth process. Sometimes we don’t want other people to know because we are afraid they will think less of us – possibly because we think less of ourselves. It could be because we have identified ourselves with what we perceive to be a failure instead of recognizing that failure is an action from which we can receive feedback, as discussed in The Wisdom of Failure article.

Sometimes we keep things hidden because we feel like an imposter, or maybe we feel shame about something we did or something that happened to us. Other people tell us what a great job we are doing and yet we feel like we do not deserver the praise or accolades. We keep our fears and uncertainties to ourselves.

When we keep things hidden because of our fears, this takes energy. As long as it takes energy, it detracts from our ability to be truly authentic. If we don’t disclose things about ourselves, simply because they don’t seem relevant anymore, then this doesn’t have the same quality as those things we are afraid to disclose. It does not consume the same energy. In the right circumstances or for the right reasons, we may disclose these things about ourselves and feel perfectly comfortable doing so.

It is not whether things are hidden or not that is problematic, it is the amount of energy they consume in staying hidden and whether fear of disclosure is the motivator for keeping them hidden. Once I began to learn the story of my birth mother, after finding out later in life that I had been adopted, I understood fear was a big motivator in her life.  She was afraid of being found out so she kept many of her stories hidden, not to see the light of day until after she died. She did not disclose her past, that she was married or that she had children and she lived every day in a new constructed life in fear of being found out. So much so, she never told her own adopted daughter when her birthday was.  “Fear and worry are the interest paid on trouble that never comes. They shut the door on what more is possible – love, forgiveness, ease and the rewriting of stories of our lives that could instead be lived with grace and empowerment.” – Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Openheartedness, p 208

A third aspect is Blind. This is what we don’t see or know about ourselves, but others see. This includes what we imagine to be true of ourselves that others don’t see. For instance, we may imagine ourselves to be a great leader, but if you ask people around us, they may not see evidence of this.

The blind category may include things we genuinely don’t see about ourselves and there may be things we are somewhat aware of but don’t acknowledge or don’t want to see. Just before my first divorce, I was going through a very difficult time in my life and was very unhappy. I covered it up by being very busy. I didn’t know how unhappy I was, I was afraid to see it. Some of the people around me were aware of it, however they were unable to broach it with me because I was not ready to hear it. Later, when I was ready, I was shocked to hear how many people could see so clearly what I could not or would not see for myself.

Asking others for feedback is a sure way to shrink our blind aspect. We can do this informally by asking friends, family members or work colleagues we trust. We can do it formally in our work or learning environments through the use of feedback mechanisms like 360s.

The final aspect is Unknown. This is what we don’t know about ourselves and what others also don’t know about us. Because it is unknown, it is impossible to know exactly how big it is but we do tend to shrink it over time, especially if we are consciously on the path of growth and self awareness.

This information resides in our unconscious. Sometimes it is revealed to us by something that happens, sparked by events or situations, outcomes from choices. It could arrive with a new Aha! It could be uncovered through work we do on any of the other three aspects. By revealing a bit of ourselves to others, we open up a discussion that may provoke some other information to come to light. By taking in what other people are willing to share about what they see, we may also trigger some learnings in the unknown quadrant.

One other way to discover the unknown is through the mirror principle. The mirror principle is a tough concept for most of us to understand when we first hear it. It basically says that whenever we have a strong reaction to someone – positive or negative – it is because they are mirroring something back to us about us. We are like them in some way. This is fine for most people when the reflection is positive. It is much more challenging when we consider the reflection to be negative. The mirror principle gives us some of the most valuable information about ourselves if we are open to receiving it.

One area of my life that had been completely unknown to me and many around me for decades, is my gift to see spirit and work with energy, which I write about in Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Openheartedness. Although I have always believed in energy, spirit, reincarnation and the existence of other life forms, I always thought only very talented and gifted people could access that information, not everyday people like me. When I was first told of my gifts and even when I first experienced them I rejected the information as not being plausible. As I grew to accept and be more curious about these gifts it began to shrink the Unknown aspect of the Johari window and invited me into a deeper exploration of things I did not know about myself. As I began to speak and write about this aspect of who I am, it shrunk this window more and grew the Open window.

The four aspects of the Johari Window are fluid. They are not generally of the exact same size and shape. The more authentic you are, the larger the Open aspect and the more likely you are to continually find ways to expand it. Generally this is done through a process of disclosure and feedback, curiosity and learning. Not only do you become more authentic as you expand your Open aspect, you release energy that can then be used to your benefit and you create more peace and contentment for yourself. It is worth the risk to learn to be more open.

designing a loved life