I’m talking about when you see that you want more of something. And to get it, you’re going to have to do some more things.
My personal example is activism. I have never been politically motivated before much beyond voting. I blithely tossed political mailers in the recycling. Hid when local candidates went door to door. Attended exactly one fundraiser and one rally in my nearly three decades as a voter.
Since the election, although I’m still focused on finding common ground and remembering everyone’s innate humanness, I’m also suddenly activated. There are many policies I hold dear, for myself and for my fellow Americans, that are in need of protection and I know that I personally can’t just ‘wait and see’ what happens. Honestly, it feels like a switch has been flicked on deep inside my being, or like I just took the red pill in The Matrix.
As I’m writing this, the election was 10 days ago and there has been a lot of resistance to the results. Including in my own mind. It feels like many things I hold dear are under attack—reproductive rights, equal rights for all people, the environment, our standing in the world.
To me, it feels like our plane has been hijacked, and my reaction has been to storm the cockpit. Let’s roll! Because I don’t want to end up a smudge in a field. (Hey listen, I realize this is dramatic, but this is how it has felt in my mind.)
Basically, every cell in my body has been saying NO to the suggestions, commands and shouts that have been flying around Facebook to “get over it.”
What I’ve been feeling, in very stark relief, is resistance.
In the mindfulness tradition, resistance is not liking things as they are. It’s bemoaning the rain, hating your hair, judging the driver ahead of you, feeling sorry for yourself, getting irritated at the sight of a long line at the grocery store.
The hitch is—things will always be exactly as they are. You not liking the things won’t change them. Meaning, it’s not the thing itself that causes your suffering, it’s your reaction to the thing that causes you pain.
This is a post for the folks who are feeling emotional after the election. Whatever the emotion may be—I myself have been numb, devastated, angry, irate, despairing, and sad within the last three days. it’s all welcome here so long as we are kind to one another.
This election is a little bit like the time I did yoga in my underwear in front of a full-length mirror when I finally was ready to see how much post-partum weight I had gained. In other words, it’s been a real eye opener that isn’t particularly fun or enjoyable, but also imperative for moving toward something better.
It’s been tough for me to reconcile the America I thought I lived in and the one that showed up to the polls. I’ve had the privilege of living in a bubble—recognizing that people felt threatened but convinced that things were getting better, had already gotten better, and we needed to focus on the good. I had the luxury of discounting the signs that all was not well. I am so, so sorry about that. There’s a difference between choosing your focus and deluding yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that it’s a fantasy to think that if you just work on yourself, do your practice and stay open that you’ll never have any problems again. I know the world will trigger us as well as support us. I know that there can’t be light without darkness, rebirth without a death, summer without winter, blah blah blah.
Don’t answer that—if the answer is yes, I don’t want to know!
One thing I do know for sure is this:
No matter what happens on Tuesday, we have to keep talking to each other. Here are 5 simple ways to do just that. (Click to Tweet!)
- Ask questions
Keep the phrase “Curious, not furious” top of mind, and if you find yourself yearning to make declarative statements—“She’s a crook!” “He’s mentally ill!” “You’re crazy if you’re voting for him!” “You’re evil if you’re voting for her!”—think question mark, not exclamation point. When you can stay curious, you’re suspending judgment—at least for the moment. Ask, “How long have you been feeling this way?” “What makes you say that?” “Can you tell me a little more about that?” Questions change the conversation.
- Look for similarities, not differences
No matter how different your politics may be from someone else’s, there are millions more ways the two of you are alike than you are different. The human mind is just wired to look for the differences, and make them mean something important, but we’ve got the em-PHA-sis on the wrong sy-LLAB-le. When we remember the ways we’re similar, we can find common ground.It’s like the old saying your grandpa probably told you when you confessed to being intimidated by someone—“They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you do.” Look for your commonalities, whether it’s physiological (you’re both human), emotional (you both want what’s best for your children), cultural (you both love Friday Night Lights), or literal (you’re both wearing a blue shirt).
- Imagine the folks on the other side of the ballot as being happy, free, and at peace
Short-circuit judgment against the folks who are voting differently than you (or not voting at all) by sending them good wishes. It can be as simple as saying “Bless your heart” at the start of your comment on their Facebook rant, or as profound as sitting quietly and sending them a little loving-kindness by imagining their face and silently saying May you be happy, may you be free from suffering, may you be at peace. Compassion is true force that helps reduce suffering, including your own. Use these stressful times to get better at invoking it at will.
I’ve talked to multiple clients in the past week who are reporting that they are feeling abnormally irritable. Seems like there’s something in the air (like the election?!) so I wanted to get some thoughts down about what to do with yourself when you’re feeling cranky, intolerant, and/or impatient (or all three).
Here are some questions to ask yourself to start working with it. Write your answers down! It’s the best way to give your conscious mind a chance to objectively see what’s going on subconsciously, and awareness is always the first step in change.
What’s going on when it happens?
Is if a particular time of day, week, month (I know I am way less patient with my kids in the 2-3 days before my period—I can practically set my watch by it!). It could be hormonal, or related to blood sugar or fatigue. Not all of it, probably, but a good portion of it may have more to do with your physiological state than anything deeper than that.
What kinds of people are doing the irritating?
Complete strangers, kids, partners, authority figures, pedestrians? What do you think is it about this group (or groups, if there’s more than one) of people that triggers you?
What are the thoughts that come up for you?
What are you thinking? How could you do this to me? Why are you torturing me? The world is conspiring against me. <– those kinds of things. Be honest. Write ‘em down.
Are those thoughts true? Read more…
Last week I talked about doubting a choice that you’ve made—specifically, how I doubted our decision to adopt a dog. (She’s passed out cuddled up next to me as I write this—she and I have both definitely relaxed in the two weeks since I wrote that!)
This week I want to talk about when the doubts you’re having are about you.
The last big attack of self-doubt I had came after I went out and bought myself some fancy new bras. For my male brethren reading this, bras are a crucial piece of your wardrobe—with a good one, you look great in everything else. I had gone out a couple years earlier and gotten fitted at Nordstrom for Wacoal bras. These are adult bras, $60+ each, not something you randomly grab off the rack at TJ Maxx, if you know what I’m sayin’. Oprah swears by them, if that gives you any indication of how legit they are!
After a year and a half of wearing these fancy bras, they were spent. So I took myself down to the mall to get a few new ones. Oh, I was so proud of myself! I was being so proactive. So grown up. I was going to feel so sexy in these new bras!
Except, I didn’t. I bought a different style, one that had a totally different shape. Once I got them home and tried them on with my actual clothes, they peeked out of all the many deep V-necks and scoop necks I own.
My daughter had been asking for a dog since kindergarten (she’s in third grade now). My husband and I would always say, when you’re 8 and your brother is 6, we’ll get a dog. So this has been a long time coming.
Once they both had their birthdays this past spring, we said we would wait until after we got back from our annual trip to Block Island. Once that was behind us, we started looking for real.
I’m not sure if you’ve adopted a pet lately, but the Internet has made it a lot like online dating. There’s lots of hours spent perusing search results, emailing with foster moms, setting up dates to meet. It’s no small investment of time.
She had been home sick from school that day, and her brother had been home sick from school the previous three days. As someone who relies on regular periods of solitude as a sanity preservation strategy (i.e., total introvert), I was running a serious alone-time deficit.
It was a nice night. The kids were feeling better and were punchy and wrestling on the couch. So I shooed them outside. Or, I tried to shoo them outside. Probably because I was feeling like a really needed 10 minutes of separation from them, and because I wasn’t willing to be the one who removed myself, they were like, “Mommy! We don’t want to go outside! It’s dark! There’s nothing to do!”
I was having none of it. So I brought out the big guns. “Go outside for 10 minutes and then you can eat one of the cookies Lillian made today.”
Teddy grudgingly went outside, but Lillian refused. She crossed her arms over her chest and gave me the stink eye. I asked/told her a couple more times to outside. She stood her ground. So I lowered the boom: I said no cookie for you.
This is the final installment in six-part series on how to get the heck out of your own way. At last. For real. And, I wish I could say’ for good,’ but honestly, you’ll have to go through some variation of these six steps again and again, but that’s actually a beautiful thing, because it means that you keep getting opportunities to toss some old baggage and shake things up.
If you’ve stuck with me these past six weeks, first of all, thank you! I hope you’ve uncovered some nuggets that are putting some new kind of fuel in your fire.
Last week I talked about the power of doing things differently. This week, I’m talking about the exact opposite—I’m talking about NOT doing things.
Specifically, I’m talking about surrendering. Letting go of the outcome. Suspending judgment. And accessing your trust muscles.
If you’re squirming in your seat a little as you think about doing the things I just listed, I get it. Most of the women I work with are great at the doing and the figuring out. You’re pretty smart, after all, and you can get crap-tons of things done. But at some point, you’ve got to make some space for the unexpected to swoop in.
I know what you’re probably thinking: How do you do that, exactly?
Here are a couple of ways
- Don’t get attached to specifics.
You’ve got to change your focus from the specific, tangible details (like, particular job title, or specific neighborhood if you’re house-hunting) to the broader, intangible qualities (like, what kind of contribution you’ll make or how what you’re working toward will make you feel).
When you can broaden your tunnel vision, you’ll be much more likely to run across an unexpected opportunity that fulfills your basic requirements better than you could have even hoped.
- Be patient.
FACT: There is no such thing as ‘too late.’ (Click to Tweet!)
Byron Katie writes that there are only three kinds of business in the universe—yours, mine, and God’s. Timing is God’s business. So let Life, the universe, the man upstairs, whatever you call the force greater than you, work out when something will go down. In the meantime, you keep yourself focused on doing the things you know bring you closer to what you want.
I KNOW how hard it is to be patient, believe me! My coach even told me, “If I had to tell you just one thing you needed to work on that would help you the most, it’s patience.” (So if you struggle with this one, reach out and set up a sample coaching session—the first coaching call is always on me.)
- Accept what you’ve been resisting.
This is the most powerful thing you can do.
Life will send you things over and over so that you finally heal whatever’s in your way, whether it’s a belief or a fear. When you resist those situations, you essentially prevent yourself from breakthrough.
When you’re getting some circumstance that you don’t like, particularly the ones that keep presenting themselves over and over, stop resisting it, blaming it, or wanting to hide from it, and accept it. Be open to it. Show up for it. Own it.
You will always, always find a huge gift within the experiences you resist the most. Joseph Campbell, who wrote The Power of Myth said, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.” Let this sentiment inspire you to face up to whatever it is you’d rather run from. There is so much healing and growth available for you if you do.
If resistance is something you feel like you’re butting your head up against, I highly recommend the book I Don’t Want To, I Don’t Feel Like It, by Cheri Huber, who is a long-time Zen teacher who writes, I swear, at a fifth grade reading level, which is perfect, because that resistance in coming from a place that’s about as evolved as your average fifth grader.
So here’s an exercise to make all this ‘thinky’ stuff more real:
Take a blank piece of paper and draw a line right down the center. On the left at the top of the paper, write “What I’ll take care of” and on the right, write “What life will take care of”. Then make your lists.
If you want a new job, for example, the things you can take care of include things like polishing up your resume, continuing to take good care of the job you have so that you are putting good energy in to the work area of your life that will naturally overflow into your new work reality, reaching out to friends and other contacts and setting up time for you to share what you’re looking for and ask how you could support them.
And what you write in the “What life will take care of” column are things like, connecting me with the right people at the right time, sending inspiration just when I need it, working out the details of the job that is the next right step for me.
This is a nice visible way for you to see that not everything is on your plate. It frees you up and helps you stay focused on what’s possible instead of reasons why what you want won’t work or isn’t cool.
If you’ve got a comment, question, insight, or cool story to share about anything I’ve covered in this “Get Out of Your Own Way” series, I would love to hear it! Leave a comment below.
Get Out of Your Own Way Tool #5: Give Yourself a Different Experience (Also, How I Finally Lost Those Last 10 Pounds)
This is part five in six-part series on how to bust through any roadblocks you may have been unknowingly placing in your own path. Because we all do this! It’s not that you’re lame, or dumb. It’s that you’re human, and success is often just as scary—if not scarier—than failure.
Rubber, it’s time to meet the road.
Ultimately, any time you want to get a new result, you’ve got to give yourself a different experience.
That means you’ve got to do things you don’t normally do.
Which is not easy. You’ve gotten quite used to the way you’ve always done things. Even if it that way isn’t exactly producing comfortable results, it’s familiar. And your mind is great at equating familiarity with comfort.