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I’d just had…a rough week. We’d just moved. I was sick with the gazillionth cold that year. We ran the washer for the first time and something criss-crossed somewhere and a sewer line backed up (ew!). Then the dishwasher wasn’t properly settled into the cabinetry and literally “fell” forward when I tried to load it.
As my mind ruminated on the things that seemed to be going wrong one after the others–yet another thing needing repair, why wasn’t this taken care of?, I bet something else is going to go wrong, next–I felt white hot pissed off anger coursing through my veins.
I tried to breathe and access the body and noticed that I was suddenly feeling really, really run-down and far more sick than I had felt when waking up.
It was this little reminder that ANGER IS TOXIC.
Now, I don’t believe that it’s healthy for people to just repeat affirmations trying not to feel their anger or frustration or sadness or whatever negative emotion comes up. Anything that we cannot sit with will run us. But it really, really hit me how when I carry around anger and frustration, this stuff is just toxic sludge.
So as I hopped into my car and drove to grab a cup of coffee, I played my theme song–the song that is my ring tone, the song that is my life’s theme song–“Golden” by Jill Scott.
I played it twice.
I felt immensely better (and less sick).
A Simple Shift
Slowly, things improved. I ran into my friend Laurie Wagner at Peet’s. We caught up on friends. I was invited to a trunk show she was co-hosting. By the time I left Peet’s, my thought process had completely shifted.
And this is the point: it was a simple shift.
When I started with the conscious choice to do one small thing–playing a song that lifted my spirits–that was enough to start digging me out of the hole of ugh that had begun. And when I made yet another conscious choice to take some time to connect with another human being, that was another piece.
Technically, nothing had changed–the dishwasher wasn’t fixed and I still had the cold and still felt tired from the move–but I wasn’t feeling particularly frustrated by any of it, anymore.
It’s when we make a simple shift that we see how possible change really is. I appreciate that I didn’t get completely caught in the rabbit hole of fear, negativity, or feeling like life was nothing but a series of challenges. Even if I hadn’t run into a friend, listening to a song that lifted my spirits was entirely free.
Where do you get stuck thinking that the only way you can be happy is to completely overhaul your life? Sometimes, a simple shift is all it takes.
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I was thinking about how something that could be really positive (New Year’s Resolutions) often just becomes a measuring stick for self-hate, for how we could do it better, or as evidence for all the ways we’ve “failed” already.
I was thinking that this is bullshit (because it is). I was thinking that what I really wanted was just to tear up/do away with all of that old negative stuff and instead step into something new.
I feel the need to explain because you’ll see things in this video like, “Lose 10 pounds,” and the thing is, I think that it’s totally fine if someone wants to lose 10 pounds (ever notice how there’s this weird backlash now against working on yourself, like the most evolved place one can be is to be “above” working on themselves? I’m all about accepting myself as-is while also acknowledging that there are spaces where I want to grow, spaces where I default to old habits that no longer serve me).
It’s fine if someone wants to lose ten pounds or forgive their mother or find more time to exercise–but I continually like to ask whether there are ways of stepping into a bigger or more authentic vision around this, one that brings into the circle the idea of PLAY, and keeping things loose, and self-care.
The be kinder, be more patient, be more be more be more messages…I just loved tearing it all up. It was deeeeeelicious to tear up those messages–I highly recommend it. Just write down all of the messages that you feel yourself pressured to live up to, and then let them rip!
(don’t worry; I purchase 100% post-consumer content recycled paper, and all of this paper was recycled after I made the video!).
So that’s my explanation for all of that–now I commence with showing you the video!
Click to tweet: Don’t turn resolutions into self-hate.
This piece was written in October 2009, and documents my transition from part-time to full-time coaching.
From the first time I ever went to Cafe Gratitude, I really fell in love with the place. I love that they ask a question of the day when you come in; I love the atmosphere. I even love the food, though I no longer subscribe myself to a raw foods lifestyle.
On my most recent visit, I indulged in a book I’d noticed on several occasions and had wanted, but had been holding back from: Sacred Commerce: Business as a Path of Awakening.
Stepping out on my own with my own business, I wanted to see what they shared about their model/philosophy. There is so much that I am finding to be tender about stepping out there as a business person. I’ve noticed how a lot of my defaults are stepping out these days–defaults of doing, doing, doing, trying to fit in one more thing in a desperate effort of feeling in control by doing.
It is at these times that I am reminded that what I work on with clients, what I want to share with the e-course, with all of it, is that this is a practice. It’s not “finished” at some point. Life is always bringing in new challenges to look at and turn over. The practice becomes noticing and choosing what I want to think about those challenges–are they burdens, or opportunities?–and then going with a certain course of action.
Although the book is really designed to be for business owners who have employees, I am finding that I can use whatever they say about an employee as a model for how I would treat myself.
And I really loved the authenticity that I found here, because basically the #1 problem I’ve had with every job I’ve ever worked is that I was supposed to put aside who I was in service to something else, usually with an expectation of showing up in a fake way in order to be “of service.”
“The traditional model of wage-employment is one in which alienated employees force themselves to suppress their beckoning stream of personal anxieties, obsessions, and desires long enough to do the work for which they are receiving a wage. This often leads to customers receiving service that is not really service, but rather acquiescence to the necessity of the worker to earn a wage by minimally fulfilling the needs of the customer. The customer almost always senses this perfunctory level of interaction, which lowers the level for everyone, giving the customer the devastating impression that they are not really cared for; rather, they are on the receiving end of a kind of prostitution.” — from Sacred Commerce by Matthew and Terces Engelhart
So what we need to endeavour to give to ourselves is this same space for our “personal anxieties, obsessions, and desires.” Inspiration can go–very quickly, if not monitored–into overdrive mode.
Before I know it, the day is gone and my wrist is hurting from being on the computer and I’m going, “Whaaaat…?”
Any time you notice a lack of abundance, one of the first places to look where you might be grasping, holding on tight, not allowing something to breathe. If it’s a lack of abundance with friendships–where am I placing expectations on others? If it’s lack of abundance with money–where am I tight, constricted, not fully breathing around money? If it’s lack of abundance with time–where am I most likely to start chanting in the back of my head, “I don’t have time, I don’t have time, I don’t have time”?
One of the first things that “rights” us again is the experience of stepping straight into giving.
Give my friend space to be where she needs to be.
Give away money or treat someone to something.
Give myself more time by canceling something or arranging to arrive later than planned.
This isn’t so simple as it sounds–it is a choice to step into living this way. Of course I have my judgments about how people “should” spend their time or the money “should” be coming to me or how I “should” be better at arranging my schedule.
The choice becomes noticing the “shoulds” and not buying in.
“This is the true joy in life. The being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. The being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole of the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” –George Bernard Shaw