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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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.

Embrace Illusion as Reality

Our deepest fear

We all have stresses, strains and fears that are alive in our day-to-day journey. Some days these are more fuelled than others. Some days it is easier to shift back to peace, calm, joy, contentment than others. Some days it is easier to remember that all we have right now is now, the present moment, and that this is where we find peace, serendipity, motivation.

Where do I focus my attention? Does focusing my attention on what’s “not real” – the dreams for the future, the visions I am creating for myself – does this mean I am ignoring the condition of my life, the “reality” of my circumstances? If what we focus on is what we get, then focusing on a current reality that is full of fear, worry and stress about the future ~ because rarely is stress about this actual day ~ only means we will generate more fear, worry and stress. Which often leads to physical illness as well as the incapacity to move forward with little and big steps. Is this the future you want to live into?

Einstein quote - reality - illusionAs I live in this place almost daily of discerning which is “illusion” and which is “reality”, I realize that, as human beings, most of us imagine the stress and strain of our physical condition to be “reality” and the dream of abundance, flow, financial security to be the “illusion”. It is a trick of the mind and when we fall for the trick of the mind, we lose touch with ourselves as powerful beyond measure and as an infinite being living a human experience – which is why this post starts with Marianne Williamson’s quote – to remind us it is our light we fear but that letting that light shine frees us and liberates others.

My visioning these days (even as my passive-aggressive relationship with the Law of Attraction continues) has been around remembering I am an infinite being and, as Abraham says, it is just as easy to manifest a castle as a button, just as easy to manifest $100,000 as $10,000 as $1,000.

We get caught in thinking we need to know the how – which is where stress and fear manifest. As Mike Dooley of The Universe Talks (TUT) says, we do not need to know the how – we just need to keep fuelling the vision and taking steps in that direction – even small steps – to help the Universe know we are serious and committed to the vision and allow the Universe to move mountains for us.

All of this can be hard to remember when you wake up in the middle of the night wondering where the next dollar, the next client, the next whatever is coming from. When you worry about your health or the health of someone dear to you. When you wonder about your relationships. When your insecurities loom larger than your hopes.

It is not irresponsible to dream. It is irresponsible not to dream. It is responsible to aspire to be your best self, to keep moving in the direction of your dreams, to remember you are an infinite being and you are powerful beyond measure. Do not be lured into believing current circumstance is reality. This too will change. Believe in your dreams. Acknowledge the twists and turns along the way, but don’t get stuck in them, and embrace illusion as reality.

The Voice of Your Inner Judge

There is no more powerful limiting mechanism in our lives than the voice of the judge.  I don’t mean that other person – parent, spouse, child, teacher, boss, friend, co-worker, random stranger on the street or in the shopping mall.  It’s the internal voice of judgment or internal critic that often runs rampant inside of us that we barely notice, if at all, because it is so clever and really good at disguising itself – for self preservation really.

I first became intimately acquainted with my inner judge in 2008-09 during coaching work with Sarita Chawla.  She recommended I read Soul Without Shame by Byron Brown in addition to the work we were doing together. I will forever recognize this as a pivotal point in the shifting shape of my openhearted journey.  I wrote about the voice of the judge back then in an article.  I am reviving that article here now in an updated version .  When I first wrote this post, my inner critic was activated – obvious to me because of how I felt – and I am reminding myself of strategies I already know that help to deactivate it and release its grip on me.

When I first became aware of the force of the internal judge, I had been working with the concepts of self-leadership and hosting oneself for almost as long as I could remember – still do, of course.  I worked with coaches, read books, did courses, took part in and led deep group work.  I am generally a positive, optimistic person holding deep appreciation and gratitude for much of what transpires in my life and who shows up.  I have transformed the negative self talk of my “itty-bitty-shitty committee” into more appreciative forms of self talk and into periods of quiet in my mind.  I meditate and practice other forms of reflection and mindfulness.

So, imagine my surprise when I discovered a voice of self judgment and self criticism that was booming loud and clear in my unconsciousness, stronger than any external voice of judgment or criticism could possibly be.  This voice constantly set the bar for my performance at the best that I had ever achieved.  The bar moved if I did better.  When I didn’t match my most excellent performance, even when I did extremely good work, this voice told me that I had failed, that I did not measure up and that I never would on a consistent basis.  Strong performance was interpreted as mediocre.  Criticisms from others, whether justified or not, was reinforced by this inner critic.

When I felt most down on myself or just down in general, this voice played a significant role – and still can in moments I feel most overwhelmed or vulnerable – until I expose it.  I didn’t actually hear it as a voice until I began to listen for it but I felt it strongly in many forms: sadness, unhappiness, melancholy, anger, listlessness, lack of motivation and many other emotional manifestations.

While I had been aware of this voice (or at least the emotions it manifested in) to some extent, I also prided myself on my journey of self-transformation and change.  Been there, got that medal, surely I must be done now, can I just get on with my life and success?  I realize now it was the voice of self judgment that said, “You’ve been doing this long enough, how come you’re not done?”

Part of the reason I had been pretty oblivious to this voice was because, in my quest to be calm Happy-sad masksand serene and professional, I skirted over my own emotional reactions.  I barely recognized I had them except in the odd instances where they overtook me.  Oh, was that an emotion that wasn’t calm and serene?  Oops.  Nope. Couldn’t have been.  It must have been something else.

Then, a friend told me I deal with my emotions intellectually.  So, I thought about that.  And I thought my friend just might be right.  Emotions don’t reside in our intellect.  They reside in our bodies.  We feel them and sense them.  We use metaphors to describe them.  We say things like, “That packed a punch!”  If we stop to notice, we will notice where it feels like we got punched.  And if we stay with that, we will begin to notice the impact.  And if we stay with it longer, we will notice the uncomfortableness and want to move onto something else.  This is where I am learning to stop.  I have learned to stay with it longer, until I can begin to discern the wisdom that is held there and that can only emerge when we give it an escape hatch to surface to the light.

It is in these moments that my voice of self judgment has come booming out at me in all of its voraciousness.  With all good intentions, all it wants to do is protect me – from failure, from being unlovable.  But its methods only serve to reinforce for me my failures, even to the extent of turning successes into failures, thus creating in my mind my own unlovability and unwantability.  I have also become aware through the Law of Attraction and the teachings of Abraham that this voice of the judge interferes with flow, abundance and allowing the full vibrancy of life.

CA red dress Day 1I learned to journal in this voice.  I am astounded by the punch it does pack.  Periodically I sit and check inside of me to sense into what I’m experiencing and feeling and what the impact is.  I journal what I am sensing until I feel done.  Then I check in again to see what I am experiencing, sensing and feeling, and then journal again. And then again, if that seems required.  I am committed to going the next layer deep and the next until I feel the light flood back into my soul and I feel a lightness of spirit and of body. This is what I want to amplify in my life now.

Exposing my voice of self-judgment transmutes it into a gift of understanding and insight after which joy can once again arise and take more of the space that is its, and my own, rightful due.  Now, instead of seeing my journey as one that should be concluded and being hard on myself because it is not, I see my journey and myself with a gentleness I could not access before as it was hidden underneath the protective layer of the voice of judgment.  I have always known, intellectually, that learning and growth is a life long journey.  Now I know it and accept it with a graciousness that only comes from the light.

(This post was first published at Shape Shift Strategies on December 20, 2011)

Why Do I Have To Be The One Who _________?

Why do I have to be the one who ________?

Have you ever found yourself asking this question as you have struggled to sort out a difficult relationship? You know. One of those relationships when you have felt like you are on the receiving end of inappropriate behaviour on someone else’s part? When you have felt like someone else is projecting their issues onto you? When you have just wanted THEM to do their part, apologize, figure it out, leave you alone?

I have been in this place more often than I care to remember. And I encounter it often in training and coaching situations. Why do I have to be the one to “fix” this? Why do I have to be the one who reaches out? Why do I have to be the one to forgive? Why do I have to be the one who takes the lead on this? I am not at fault here!

bandaged heartEven in times when I felt I had made enormous strides, I was sometimes challenged on playing the victim role. Ugh! There is nothing pretty or powerful about that. Nothing. Once, when I asked this question, the energy healer I was working with challenged me with a good hearty, joyful laugh. “Because,” she said. “When you do this, you win.” Resignedly, reluctantly, I did the work – MY work. Because she was right.

It is simple really. When you do the work you need to do in your own journey – which for me I have named the Journey to Openheartedness – you win. Always. Inevitably. This is not winning like winning and losing. This is winning like peace in your soul. Winning like stepping into your strength and power, not because of someone else, but because it is the right thing for you. Winning like clarity of who you are, what you stand for, what you will stand in your life.

Palms holding a beet shaped like a heart

Palms holding a beet shaped like a heart

And what you learn sorting out one tough relationship is translatable to all your relationships. When you sort it out with yourself, you stand differently in every context, not just the one you sorted it out in. You begin to discern more often more quickly what is yours to do and what belongs to someone else. You leave them to do whatever they choose with their stuff – hang onto it, release it – it is not your business what they do or don’t do – and you focus on what is yours to do.

It sounds simple when I write it or say it. It can be. Honestly, though, it is can also be an intense, intentional journey over a long period of years. While it could be true (and the Law of Attraction would say it is true) that you could shift everything literally overnight, that is not my experience, nor the experience of people I know. As one of my coaches said to me, you can do the energetic, non-physical work in an instant. But then you need to ground it in physical experience, shifting patterns that you have taken years or even a life time to grow. It is an invitation to stay in your journey, despite setbacks, despite not seeing progress, despite experiencing the same patterns over and over again. Until the day it shifts. When you notice something has changed. Sometimes when other people have noticed something has changed.

You can continue to give away your power by stubbornly holding onto the notion that someone else needs to do the work – and it is hard to pry away that thought (I know) – or you can step into the fullness of who you are – one step at a time, embrace all that shows up, give thanks for the person and the learning, acknowledge and own your own growth. After awhile, the difficult situations do diminish, you stop focusing on other people and what they do or do not do and you simply focus on what is present and alive for you, in any given moment.

CA red dress Day 1It is worth it. I tell you that from my own open hearted healing journey. I wouldn’t have it any other way – now.

Limiting Beliefs – Dichotomies: Happy or Rich, But Not Both?

How much is enough? Do we need to make trade-offs to receive some of what we want but not all of what we want, so we do not appear to be greedy? Do we need to make choices to accept one thing at the expense of another?

We are bombarded by messages that pitch limiting beliefs, unconsciously strengthening so many of the dichotomies many of us grow up with. You can be happy or rich but somehow not both. “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

Happy not rich“Teach your kids to be happy, not rich, so they’ll know the value of people and not things.” This is a typical message in so many posts on social media, in articles and in some books. Does this mean that if you are rich you cannot know the value of people?

These kinds of messages lead or contribute to a belief system inherent in so many of us – that life is about trade offs. If the relationships in my life are abundant and loving then it is okay that I have not attracted resources to myself – because if I had more money then I might lose the relationships or the love I have. And that is more important so it is okay to be poor or struggle financially.

Being happy is good. Being rich is bad. If you are rich you are not happy. It is okay to be “rich” in love. “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” But sufficient money sure does make life more bearable and even more enjoyable. It offers more choice. Is this not a place most of us would like to be in – a place of more choice? Choice can be intentional with a little or a lot of resources at our disposal.

Instead of focusing attention on what is on our path, what we can do to enrich the totality of our lives, we look to people who have more than we do – more money, more power, more choice. We make a few assumptions about them – how they misuse their power or their money or their choices. Have you ever heard or used the expression, “they have more money than brains”?

It is easy to look at high profile people or situations – the banking systems, Walmart, Donald Trump and more – to point to greed we do not want to participate in. How can they live with themselves, we wonder. Then, we decide we don’t want to be like them anyway. Better to be poor, without power, without choice. Really? Most of us do not think about it so starkly. It becomes an unconscious, un-articulated justification for staying put, for perpetuating the familiar zone, for rationalizing the irrational choices or non-choices we make.

Better to be the way I am, to continue the situation I’m in, then to become like the image of greed and irresponsibility I have created in my mind and assigned to real people I see or know who I believe have taken advantage of others, misused their power or their money. Better to be spiritual and pious than rich and corrupt. One or the other, not both. It is insanity, this belief system.

As Abraham-Hicks says, “Your life is meant to be joyful.” Is your life joyful when you perpetuate struggle in your life? Is it joyful when you judge others by your impressions of their failings? It is joyful when you regret a past you cannot change at the expense of a future you can? Is it joyful when you desperately wish for things to be different but don’t act to make them different?

What is the inquiry you need to be in to surface your own limiting beliefs and begin the process of releasing them? Where do you need to turn your attention and your thoughts to access appreciation and gratitude to make your daily life more joyful? What steps do you need to focus on to bring more abundance into your life – not just in one aspect, but holistically? How can your release the either-or dichotomies we are so often invited into to embrace both/and?

Do not suffer fools gladly (especially yourself) and Go Get ‘Em!

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.

IMG_1120

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!