Patterning New Habits To Feel Good and Be More Focused

I have been “asleep” for over a year – since I dislocated a toe and stopped running. Running used to call me out of the house into the great outdoors. And it prompted other exercise as well. For over a year, I have not run, I have exercised intermittently, been a couch potato, eaten far more chips than is good for me and been self critical of my bad patterns. While I have held the intention to get more active again, with a travel schedule that makes routines difficult, it was easy to become a slouch.

Then there comes the moment when intention becomes reality and everything shifts. Even subtle shifts bring change. This September has marked that shift for me. I find myself being called outdoors again, even, or especially, in the middle of the day when the sun is shining. Not to run, but to walk. I know walking is good for me but until now it didn’t have the same pull as running used to. Then a friend suggested Nordic Walking with poles and my game shifted into a higher gear.

me-with-walking-sticksThe thing about walking with poles is that it changes your posture and gait. I call it power walking. The first time I used the poles, I was not in sync. My legs went twice as fast as before and my arms were moving at half the pace of my legs. I didn’t care. At least I was moving faster with seemingly little effort. The second time I went walking with the poles, it all came into sync. It was that quick. My posture is better, I hold my head high, my gaze straight ahead as I focus on synchronizing the rhythm of arms and legs. My gait is different and, again, it feels effortless to walk for almost an hour at a good pace. And the physicality brings more mindfulness and the more mindfulness brings more insight.

Regaining a better level of fitness, being outside, brings me joy. Pure and simple. And the walking reminds me of how simple it can be to repattern old habits into new ones. Other exercise is now easier to do, I feel better, I can already feel the changes in my body and I am becoming more focused which benefits my work. My energetic vibration is on a higher frequency and this means more of what I want is manifesting in my life.

It is also a reminder to be compassionate with self when in a pattern and rhythm you don’t like or that doesn’t seem to serve. The contrast alone is a helpful thing and holding the intention long enough gives it its own life force and it will eventually manifest. It cannot help but.

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Who Are You At Your Most Powerful?

It is easy to get lost in the smallness of a day, an incident, a word from someone that hits at the core of your insecurity. The story that rattles around inside the mind, told by the “itty-bitty-shitty” committee, is one that often reinforces helplessness. It is only a “true” story because you tell it over and over again.

What I want to know is, who are you at your most powerful? When have you experienced your most powerful moments? What was alive for you then? What is the story you tell about those moments? They are not accidental. They are your soul qualities peeking through the morass of shadow accumulated over a life time of hiding the most precious things about who you are.

Maybe you are sensing it is time to shake it off, although this is not often an easy journey. There are so many habitual patterns that have developed over time without your noticing that need to be identified and shifted. Some people will attack you. Some will abandon you. Because they will no longer recognize you or know how to interact with you. They will want you to be the same. But you stay the same at your own peril. The soul wants to be illuminated and it requires you to grow. When we do not respond at the first gentle nudgings, they become more persistent and louder.

Flowers growing in the rocksIn my own soul journey this showed up in the form of a difficult job loss decades ago and my first marriage crumbling at the same time – largely due to my own unawareness and not knowing how to act in conscious ways. Just as I was congratulating myself for how far I had come, I stepped into an even more challenging relationship that shook me to the core of my being. And it invited me to step into one of the most powerful aspects of my journey – the journey to openheartedness, embracing the stranger in me – who is no stranger at all but the most powerful aspects of my being.

Even with the intensity of that journey, staying on this path, embracing my most powerful self, is a pattern of forgetting and remembering. It is a noticing each time a shift seems to be taking place in my energetic field however subtle. And it is a reminder to self to be in the practices which keep me strong and to not let the “itty-bitty-shitty” committee take precedence every time I step off the path or forget. To engage self-compassion and self-curiosity.

One way to remember who you are when you are at your most powerful, is to invite an image in your mind’s eye of what you look like, what is around you and what you feel like in those moments. It can be an image from your day to day lived life or it can be the image that emerges as you invite it. Images and symbolism are powerful and your spirit will offer to you that which is most meaningful in any given time. Trust what shows up. The image is not always the same. It shifts and changes as the journey shifts and changes. For me, my power animals and spirit guides are never far away, even as some of the other symbolism changes.

adimirkush_ButterlyThese days, when I invite this question of who am I at my most powerful, I see an image of a woman – me – with powerful posture, in a long flowing dress, levitating slightly off the ground, surrounded by a ring of fire with fire breathing dragons protecting my boundaries and my arms raised by my sides to receive that which the universe wants to bring me. The fire breathing dragons do not isolate me or keep out that which is intended to flow to me but they do create a barrier and warning to anything which would seek to harm me or diminish my power. In my wakeful moments – during the day or at night and especially in the morning – I call that image to me and remember who I am at my most powerful.

dragonformWhat is your image? Call it to you now and know it is also who you are. You can choose it every single time.

Your Truth Wants to Be Known

The times we are most challenged are when we are out of alignment with the truth of who we are, the truth of our own journeys. Because we are all a bit broken, it can be easy to lose our way. To forget who we are and what is at our core. To be blind to what is right in front of our eyes. To refuse to see what seems obvious later.

Our view of the world is shaped by the people around us, by events, by choices we make. In wanting and needing to fit in, we shape some of who we are for acceptance. This may mean we hide parts of who we are or we act differently than we think we are.

At times we find our selves acting “out of character”, making choices that seem contrary to our values. Sometimes we explain that away – I am not normally like this, but… And we may, at times, feel trapped. Trapped in relationship that does not and will not work. Trapped in a job we don’t like, that sucks us dry and makes us yearn for weekends and holidays. Trapped inside a shell of who we are wondering where we went, where we disappeared to and how to find our way back.

Like the truths of journey we do not know – separated families, adoption, family secrets – our own internal truths want to be known. This internal separation – of you from you – seeks wholeness and integration. Your truth will find ways to make itself known, offer to you opportunities to accept it, act on it, live it. If you do not accept at the first invitation, another invitation will come along. And another. And another. The longer you wait, the more insistent the invitation. Instead of a tap on the shoulder, or a sense of knowing or an intuitive hunch, the force of the invitation ramps up, becomes a hammer, explodes or implodes, accidents or illness come along. You run away until exhausted and still the truth haunts your very being.

You cannot hide from it, you cannot hide from you. You must turn and face that which you fear to see. It takes courage. For some it takes reaching the end of the rope, no longer willing to traverse a path of illusion and disillusion, ready to clear the smoke and mirrors to illuminate the core – the core of your being where love, compassion, curiosity, joy and light reside. Yes. In every single one of us. We just need to embrace all that is there and learn that the journey to openheartedness makes us stronger.

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Are you holding your sadness as a treasured possession?

 

5-of-cups-legacy-of-the-divine2Every now and then a question shows up that captures attention as if it was lit up in flashing lights. This happened to me the other morning as I pulled my usual three tarot cards from the Legacy of the Divine deck (my favourite) to help me imagine what the story of my day could be like. One of the cards I pulled was the 5 of cups. Not necessarily a favourite, I decided to open the interpretation book to see what jumped out at me.

Why do you sometimes cradle your sadness like treasured possessions? Are you afraid that the power of your heart will shatter it and force you to leave the safety of the shadowy misery you cling to?

Sadness as a treasured possession? Shadowy misery? Crap! And wham! Both at the same time.

A while ago I wrote about what is real and what is illusion. And I’ve written about my passive aggressive relationship with the law of attraction. And about limiting beliefs.

The journey of life has a way of dishing up illusion so we imagine we are in a different place than we are. It also has a way of waking us up to reality. Like these questions.

I feel the tremulousness of these moments in my life. Partner I love deeply who lives in another country. Re-imagining our work and our businesses. Feeling the pull of life, co-parenting, scheduling. Desiring ease and not always experiencing it. Am I cradling sadness as a treasured possession? Is it part of how I define my story? It is not what I want to hear, to believe is true in this moment but there it is right in front of me.

Am I clinging to shadowy misery? Am I allowing this to define and shape the story of my life in this present moment?

What to do about it?

  1. Allow the recognition of the response evoked by the questions. Yes, there is truth there. Still. After many years of journey.
  2. Invoke compassion for myself. It is a journey. It is not right or wrong or too long. No self-recrimination, just awareness.
  3. Journal to surface and release the patterns so deeply entrenched in my being that sometimes I fear they will never be fully released and most times now I can recognize as part of the unfolding journey – the journey to openheartedness.
  4. Meditate on the vibration I am aspiring to, to let it permeate my physical and soul essence to continue to attract my dreams.
  5. Take concrete steps, even if small, to show – myself, creator, the universe – that the dream I hold is the direction in which I am moving.

I share this because I know I am not the only one cradling sadness and clinging to shadowy misery. If this resonates, know you are not alone and follow the steps.

Recognizing and Releasing the Potency of Your Inner Judge

The potency of you internal critic or voice of judgment is insidious.  It is a master chameleon showing up in many different cloaks, rending itself almost unrecognizable.  It creeps up on you when you least expect it, plays havoc with your centre and your ground and runs wild until disempowered. It can be persistently in your experience and it can reappear after a long time away.

inner judge-reflectionAs soon as you try to debate it, convince it or argue with it, you engage it and increase its potency.  It loves a good argument.  It’s wily and it rapidly changes its stance to retain the upper hand.  You could be arguing a point and as soon as you get “close” to “winning”, it will change its direction.  Sometimes so much so that it now argues in the opposite direction and, if you are caught in the argument, you often miss the inanity of it.

My internal judge was running rampant awhile back but I didn’t recognize it until a few days later – partly because it had been awhile since it has been so present in me.

I had felt out of sorts, de-energized and unable to achieve any substantial progress toward my livelihood. Little things irritated me and made me impatient.  I struggled with taking time “away” from work.

The internal critic was standing back with its arms crossed, shaking its head.  “Yup.  And just when are you going to get your work done?  Your emails sent? Meetings arranged?”  A little feeling of panic seeped in.  When was I going to do that? There is no time!  The panic rose up in me and then there were butterflies in my stomach and a promise of a headache in the offing.

This is an example of a self dialogue I had with my “itty-bitty-shitty committee” a few years back“ when I was trying to build my business (when am I not?) and really struggled with whether I could afford the time away – time wise and financially. ”

And, just what were you thinking, taking time off when you have so much to do?”  it asked.

“Because we all know that a break away is important to maintaining energy and reinvigorating mind, body and soul so work and life flows easier.” I responded.

“True,” says the internal critic.  “But you know you couldn’t really afford it either.”

“I used points to fly.  I didn’t shop.  I shared accommodation.  I had some money tucked away for this break.” I argued, beginning to feel the spin.  “And, in all that travel time, I did a full edit of my book.” I said, trying to find the positive, be appreciative, tune into what was working.

The internal critic nodded grimly, “Yes.  And what’s happened to your since then?  It’s been sitting beside your computer the last few days and nothing more has been done.”  (This would have been a total of two days, by the way.) “Just how long do you think it’s really going to take to finish that puppy and get it published?  As if anyone is really going to read it.  Well, of course a few people will, but not the numbers you are hoping for.”

Wham. Wham. Wham.  Deeper and deeper in.  Fighting with myself to find my appreciative state. To find my centre, my ground. Knowing in my mind I am my own worst enemy in this moment but not able to pull myself out of the spiral. Knowing I was out of my centre and it should be a simple matter to slip back in.  “It’s not what I do – my actions that are important now, it’s finding the right internal vibration in me.”  And my vibration was all out of whack which deepened my fear.  Tears of despondency showed up as I believed into judgment, after judgment, after judgment.

Exhausted, I fell into bed and dreamed.  I dreamed about flow.  I woke up in the morning feeling better, feeling lighter.  Then the storylines began to filter in again.  Then the bolt of realization.  So self critical.  So self judging.  So the voice of my internal judge!  Big sigh.  Of course.  How had I not recognized this insidious internal berating voice taking me backwards and forwards in my imaginings, giving me no peace in the present moment.

A lesson I learned before: whenever my emotions run amok, it is a good clear sign that my internal voice of judgment is lurking in the shadows of my mind, making me a crazy woman!

IMG_2192In simply recognizing it and naming it, its potency is released.  Whoosh! I felt myself shift completely into the present moment, smiling at how this internal judge had found its way into my experience and rocked my core enough to have me questioning myself, my self worth and my path, once again.   No longer fighting and resisting it, simply naming and noticing.  Not arguing.  Acknowledging the power of an adversary that has so much to teach me when I pay attention; even the not paying attention teaches me.  All it took to shift me back to my centre and my usual sense of joy, delight and calm was to pay attention, notice, name. Now I  dance into a new day in a whole new and renewed way thankful for the moments when I see the choices clearly.

designing a loved life

Originally posted March 10, 2012 at Shape Shift Strategies Inc.

Sit By the River or Engage

“If you sit by the river long enough you can watch the bodies of your enemies float by.”  – The Art of War

Mississipi river

Mississippi River in Minnesota

This is an expression, that comes from the Art of War is offered often by my good friend and partner Jerry Nagel, particularly when conflict surfaces. It is a provocative and intriguing statement that I have been viewing as invitation.  An invitation to pause.  An invitation to host self. An invitation to sense whether to engage a conversation or situation with someone else or let it be.

Not every conversation is worthy of engaging.  Not every conversation will produce results or take you to a clearer place. Not every conversation will do what you think or hope it will do. Coming from an Art of Hosting Conversations That Matter perspective, you might wonder if that is almost a sacrilegious thing to say; but perhaps part of the discernment is in whether ultimately the conversation will matter – and to whom?

To truly invite a conversation that might be powerful, it is helpful to discern your own desire and motivation in wanting the conversation.  This is part of the inquiry in the pause, in hosting self.  What is the reason for the conversation? Are you really wanting a conversation or do you just want to make your point or download on the other person and not care about or hear their point of view?

This is where a second bit of advice is useful:  “Feedback should be given from the part of you that wants to grow and learn to the part of them that wants to grow and learn.”  I’m not sure where it is from but I heard it in an Open Space session that Juanita Brown initiated on World Café at a Gathering we both attended in October 2013.  It gave me pause and invited me to reflect about some situations requiring my discernment – whether to invite a conversation or not – or a few conversations.

When you ask yourself if you want to give feedback from the part of you that wants to learn and grow – an openhearted space, it becomes pretty clear.  If you are willing to be in conversation, if you can do it without attachment to how the other person takes it in, you might be ready to invite the conversation.  If you are only wanting to download and don’t want to hear the other person’s perspective then it might not be wise to engage the conversation – because it is not a conversation you are wanting, only an opportunity to express yourself, your frustration or your hurt.  An opportunity to blame someone or point out where they are not hosting themselves – from your perspective of course – because how do you know they are not hosting themselves in whatever way they relate to that practice of presence?  It is your assumption, your lens, your perspective, your worldviewyour judgment and it might not be true. And, in all likelihood, it is not true in their experience of themselves – as hard you might find that to believe.

And it is also quite likely the other person’s actions have nothing to do with you and more to do with them, what they need, what they hope for.  You just happen to seem to be in the way.  Sitting by the river will help you discern that.  If it has nothing to do with you, and the other person is either intentionally or unintentionally trying to cause harm, eventually it will catch up to them and they will, metaphorically of course, float down the river. We see or feel lack of alignment in others, even when it is not clear, even when we cannot put a name to things.  Simply waiting may reveal far more than engaging – in some situations, since we are our own worst enemies and motivation and intention eventually reveal themselves.

Sometimes when you are being challenged it has nothing to do with you. By hosting yourself you might be able to sort that out.  If you engage something in a defensive or challenging way you are more likely to fuel the situation than turn it into a powerful, openhearted conversation. And you can ask yourself questions like: What is the point of engaging?  Will it be a learning field?  Is there an ongoing relationship that needs to be tended to? Can it be left alone?

When you do engage, engage the conversation, not the person. Invite the conversation with as much clarity as you can and bring the level of fierceness and openhearted vulnerability to it that will make it powerful.   Sometimes that is a light touch and sometimes it is very fierce and it can be more fierce when it comes from a place of clarity, compassion, curiosity and openheartedness.

Exposing Self: A Risk in the Journey to Openheartedness

One of the beautiful things about having written and published Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Openheartedness, is the exchange I get to have with readers deep in their own journey. This post is a result of a question from a reader.

question marks on coloured paperThe Question 

I have a whole other career inside of me that I have not exposed fully in this lifetime. Words of love and wisdom on how to get over the fear of revealing I am love? I have been abused, hurt, rejected, prejudged, all of the above…and through it all my intent is always how can I help…what can I do? I have found balance with my intent…now spirit is really telling me to move on and work though this fear.

The Response

The question you pose is a question of journey. It is the biggest question we hold as we begin to know we are on the path to allowing ourselves to be revealed. How do we give the best of ourselves without giving ourselves away, without opening the invitation to be judged, to be attacked? This is where the outer journey meets the inner journey. What is the work we need to do in and for ourselves, how do we host ourselves, in order to shine brightly in the world?

tree of abundanceHow do you learn to love yourself, not judge yourself? To be compassionate for yourself and your journey – not in a way that lets you off the hook for what you need to do but in a way that allows you to more fully explore all that needs to be explored?

Hold these questions for yourself from a place of curiosity, compassion and love. Notice the responses in you to these questions: where am I judging myself? Where I am hurting myself? What parts of me am I rejecting? What am I seeking from someone else that I have not yet found, or found in a lasting way?

What you encounter in the outer world often activates something in your inner world – your own voice of judgment or our own inner critic.

Your emotions are your guidance system. Learn to access and understand them to discover what the message is they are trying to transmit to you, how they are trying to guide you. Ask yourself: what am I experiencing in this moment? Where is it activated in my body? What is it trying to tell me/help me learn? What is it that is really bothering me? What am I really reacting to? Be in an inquiry to go deeper.

Here is some writing over on the Shape Shift Blog on what I’ve been learning that might also be helpful about your emotions as your guidance system.

And, take little risks at first, not big ones that feel like they are exposing you. You don’t need to jump in all at once – you can do it bit by bit. Start with people you feel safer with. Begin a dialog to get to deeper understanding. Seek wise counsel in the ways it wants to show up. Sometimes that might be through a friend, sometimes through a coach, sometimes through writing or experience that shows up in just the right moment. Nurture a reflective practice so you may be in some regular observance of your own experience.

designing a loved lifeYou are love, not fear. Go quiet and listen to the whispers within. Fear is ego. It is wanting to keep you safe. You can acknowledge it, thank it and explore the ways of moving into your courage, strength and power that allows you to show more and more of who you truly are.

And, we never get it perfect. We are always in our learning. Love to you in this exploration and in your openhearted journey.

You Are Not the Story Someone Else Wants to Tell About You

Stories.  They are how we make meaning of the world.  What happens in your life shapes who you are. The stories you tell about your experiences, the interpretative lens you put on the experience, shapes you more. Sometimes it is hard enough to remember that you are not your stories.  It gets even more complicated when other people tell stories about you, to you and maybe to others, well intentioned or not, that they want you to believe, that may or may not reflect your own experience of who you believe or know yourself to be.

And it is, if you take a moment to think about it, surprising how many people have a need to tell a story about you or about other people. (Oh, and you do it too, just in case you thought this is all about “other” people.  If you are honest with yourself, you will acknowledge you also tell stories about who other people are that you want to believe or you want them to believe – good, bad or indifferent.)  It is a dynamic process of being in relationship – from intimate relationship to “I don’t even know that person but I’ve read what they’ve written or I’ve heard about them”.

Case in point, how much do we project onto celebrities without really knowing anything about them other than what the media, paparazzi and twitter feed would have us believe? Or, rich people for that matter? Lots of judgment.  Lots of projection.  Lots of blame, as if other people having money or success somehow directly affects whether you do or not.  It’s actually not about them.  The sooner you stop focusing on what’s not in your sphere of influence and start refocusing on what is, the sooner you reclaim your power, your sense of self, abundance and flow in your life.

Part of the way you learn to distinguish the stories you are telling of yourself – or the stories you own or need to own as ours – is in relationship and interaction with others. Others provide a reflection back to you of where you are in your journey.  But it can be difficult to distinguish when it is a reflection of your journey and when it is a projection of someone else’s view of you.  And projections abound. The less sure you are of who you are the more likely you are to be influenced by the story someone else wants to tell about you.

When you are unsure of who you are, you are more likely to seek external validation, in fact, you are more likely to invite projection.  This sometimes happens when you want to please others, meet their expectations of who they want you to be in relationship to them. Sometimes it happens when you do good work, are seen to be a good leader or get magnified to some super human status (to greater and lesser extents depending on how well known you are). Then you feel good, but it is fleeting. More often you disappoint others.  Sometimes you argue with them about their view of you.  Often you do not feel seen or supported.  The irony is, in intimate relationship in particular, the opposite is also true – the other person also does not feel seen or heard.

It is always interesting when others disagree with you about you, insisting their view of you, their story of you is the right one and that you need to do something about it. (And, again, read that you also do this to others.)  That may be true.  The question is, what are you responding to?  Someone else’s need for you to be different so you fit into their view of who they want you to be or your own need to walk a path of personal alignment or integrity which might invite you into your own journey of growth and change? You have a choice, although you are not always aware that you do, or even happy about it.

Messiness of entanglement. Is another person providing a reflection of who you are or a projection of who they think you should?

Messiness of entanglement. Is another person providing a reflection of who you are or a projection of who they think you should?

It can get really messy. Different people have different hopes and expectations of you in the midst of all their own struggles. Even one person’s expectations of you can shift and change, sometimes over a period of time and sometimes suddenly with no warning.  Or not change at all, even though you do.  It gets way more complicated when there are many people you are trying to please or appease. Either way, as long as you rely on others to validate your experience or your sense of who you are, you give away your power and the ground beneath your feet is really sand that sweeps away and upends you as the tide shifts – which it does continuously.

We all have people who wish we would live into and believe the story of us they carry in their own mind, their own interpretation of their experience of us, as they seek to understand their own identity in relation to us.  When others need to believe a certain story of you it is likely that they themselves might not have a very good understanding of who they are.  They might be giving their power away – even trying to give it to you and then, sometimes, blaming you for it.  It is easier to look at others and assign blame to them for your business not growing, your abundance not flowing, your relationships not working, for you not being happy than it is to understand how you step into your own power.

It is alluring to want to believe other’s stories of you when they are stories of success.  At the same time, if you do not see or own that success for yourself then you have dissonance within yourself that will rise to the surface in some way, often in self-sabotaging kinds of ways.  It is more impossible when the story others want you to live into is how you disappointed them.  But, you are not that story any more than you are the story of success that you do not own.

You can step into your own power and not take power from someone else.  Are you willing to put your power on and own it instead of wondering when someone is going to come and take it away from you? Or wait forever for someone to give you permission for what is yours all along? You have a choice. You have many choices. You can choose to discover who you are in your own journey to openheartedness.  You can choose to live into the stories of how you want to live. You can choose to be powerful in setting the course of your own life.

All Things Are Here – In My Life and Experience – By My Invitation

When my youngest son was a toddler and a preschooler, he could throw a temper tantrum like I had never experienced before or maybe even believed possible.  He could throw them in private at home and he could also throw them in public places, equally well.  I once did my whole grocery shopping with him in a fit because my options were limited.  When he was in a tantrum, which could be set off by seemingly inane things, he was beside himself, working himself up into more of a tempest with each minute that passed. Yelling.  Screaming. Throwing himself around. He was truly inconsolable and, believe me, we tried many different ways to soothe him. Nothing worked.  Anything tried only made him worse, as well meaning friends and strangers sometimes found out.  He needed to exhaust himself from whatever swirl of emotions was in him.  When he was done, he was done.  He was ready for apple juice and a snuggle, to let go of where he had been and to move forward – almost as if nothing had happened.

I have no idea how many temper tantrums he threw.  Enough to observe a wide range of reactions and responses in myself.  Learning, as difficult as it was, he needed to be left alone, to be in his own journey of discovery of how to self regulate.  It was challenging to bear witness to and challenging as a mother to seem to have no strategies of success to help him feel better.  So many things activated in me – disappointment, frustration, my own rage, sadness, despair, feelings of failure – as a mother and a person.  Also fear when that moment became projected into the future and images of this child as a temper tantrum throwing adult made me fear he would not find his way in the world, find his way to maturity.  Learning not to personalize his behaviour, not to make it about me instead of about his experience. Learning patience, to move at the pace of guidance – one of the seven whispers in Christina Baldwin’s book of the same name.

Maybe the most significant learning was in letting go.  After what could sometimes be an hour or more of a temper tantrum, my son was ready to let it go.  An awareness and curiosity arose in me as I pondered what seems like typical adult reactions – the desire to make it about the relationship, to see it as personal attack, to want the other person to suffer as much as we perceive that we have suffered at their hands, as a result of their behaviour. “Just because you’re done, doesn’t mean it’s over. Now you need to bear the consequences of what you just did – to me.”  We want to stay grumpy even when the other person has moved beyond it.  Why do we do that? He was not angry at me.  He was not deliberately trying to ruin my day.  He was caught up in his own experience.

Staying grumpy, staying mad, seeking retribution, sometimes seeking apology, wanting the other person to admit they are wrong, are ways of externalizing our power – giving it away to someone else.  A toddler in a temper tantrum.  A person we care about in their own disruption or projection.  We want them to make it better.  We want them to pay. And who does it serve to be that way?  No one.  Especially not us. Not the relationship either.

“In my life, I have told many stories that externalize or give away my power.  Learning to own my own experience and my own power has been and continues to be a significant part of my journey.”  Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Openheartedness (Chapter 1)

Candle in hands

All of this has me reflecting on relationships – the ebb and flow, beauty and challenge that show up, sometimes in equal measure although sometimes it just seems that way, because of where we focus our attention.  When we have an argument with someone dear to us, sometimes that argument and the energetic imprint of it takes precedence and becomes the defining energy of the relationship.  If we focus on it, focus on how wronged we feel, that is what we grow.  But we have a choice.  We could choose to focus on the beauty, the joy, the qualities of the other person that we admire, adore and love.  They are there in equal measure and often more.  These could be the defining qualities of the relationship.

To know we have choice invites us into self reflection and self hosting – to discern what is our own to take care of and what needs to be taken care of in relationship, so it does not become the shadow underbelly given life by trying to repress it. This is a discernment and we may not always get it right.  But what if we could be in relationship in an attitude of appreciation, love and forgiveness?  How would that change the dynamic, flow and connection in relationship in contrast to when we focus on the moments of hurt, pain, disappointment?

I often need to remind myself that “all things are here by my invitation or attraction of them in one way or another.  If I were not attracting these experiences, the insights that arise from them could not be in my experience.  This includes people, events, situations, timing and flow.” Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Openheartedness Chapter 1.  This is the invitation to hosting myself, to be self reflective.  If I can find clarity in this, then I can know how to show up in relationship, what I can heal within myself and what I need to bring to the relationship, not through righteousness or justification but through generosity and curiosity to understand how to deepen relationship, to create the invitational space to show up in the fullness of who we both are as human beings – in our strength and our vulnerability, to not feel the need to hide or the need to defend.

“With great intentionality, I have been shifting my focus to tell more and more of the stories of appreciation, gratitude and love.  I am telling more of the stories of the way I want my life to be rather than of how I don’t want it to be.” Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Openheartedness Chapter 1.  And this is an ongoing, often daily practice.  It would be so much easier to live a cocooned life but people are always going to show up in one way or another no matter how hard we might try to shut them out.  Easier isn’t necessarily better.  The opportunity for growth shows up in those moments, invited whether we think they are or not.

A beautiful example is my son.  Not a toddler anymore.  A young person who has been learning how to self regulate his emotional experience who no longer throws temper tantrums.  Now it is a beautiful journey to witness.  He is such an old soul teacher for me in this journey to openheartedness, embracing all that shows up on the path.