Wanting Something Different

As the Buddhist teachings say, “to live you must experience suffering.” Throughout life, it’s natural to endure sickness, injury, tiredness, and old age. However, when we look at our emotional suffering, such as loneliness, doubt, frustration, fear, embarrassment, anger, jealousy, disappointment, etc., these feelings are more difficult to accept. When we feel upset we often get impatient and want to rid ourselves of these unpleasant feelings.

Many personal troubles involve being preoccupied with wanting something different.

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Welcoming Our Struggles

Life is filled with countless emotions and experiences. When things are going well, we tend to glide easily through life. However, when suffering arrives, we struggle with it. Our difficulties usually bring us to a redefining moment. They challenge the way we look at ourself and our life. Our unfulfilled plans, mistakes, doubts and disappointments are all part of sorting through our life. All our experiences are valuable in some way.

Each day, we have the opportunity to welcome whatever emerges. Life is a full range of emotion. They arise when we arrive at a place in our life that fills us with joy, happiness or laughter. Or, we could reach a crossroad in our life that is filled with sadness, tears, and discontent. Sometimes, our pain gives us reason to wonder whether we will ever be OK again. A wounded heart can be just as alarming and unwelcome as a broken arm or an illness. However, just like physical pain is a call to action, our emotional pain needs to be welcomed and given attention. Give your hurt feelings, your physical healing and your unmet needs the kind of support that allows you to more easily shift your approach in how you look at your circumstance.

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Embracing Transition

It can be frightening to let go of the familiar  when we don’t know what is on the other side.   I recently  saw a Facebook post  written by one of my mentors. She briefly  posted about the moment of letting go and reaching out to the gap between two  trapeze bars.

There is a moment when the trapeze artist  must release their  hold from one bar and  reach out for the other.  Despite all the training  and practice, that moment is filled with  uncertainty about what will happen.There  is the space of letting go of the known and  reaching out for the unknown-it is the place  of transition.

In our everyday lives, soaring across this dark void  of uncertainty can bring about unrest.   Nevertheless, I have come to believe that transition  is the only place that change occurs.   Transition zones are incredibly rich places.   They should be honored and savored–yes,  even when filled with struggle and feelings of  being out of control.   We must stand with courage  in our vulnerability.

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Step Out of Stuckness

We all experience feeling stuck from time to time in our lives. It is natural to experience these impasses. Either we encounter them at the end of something; a change or a transition in our lives, or we simply become stuck in a feeling. We find ourselves retreating. I like to call it cocooning. Either way, we get caught in uneasiness, self-doubt, avoidance, and confusion about ourselves and our future.

In his book, “Getting Unstuck”, Timothy Butler describes the fact that impasse is developmentally necessary. He believes that impasse is an internalized notion of inadequacy, and a request for us to change our way of thinking about ourselves. The impasse starts with feeling stuck and ends with finally taking action.

When we find ourselves in the midst of an impasse, it means that we need to rework our approach, and adjust the things we say to ourselves. Old recurring feelings of anger, shame, self-doubt may have crept in. What identity or familiar feelings do you get caught in? It may feel like a comfort zone but it really becomes our stuck point and not very comforting.

When we find ourselves  stuck in an uncomfortable emotional loop, there is something inside us that is being ignored.

To get back on the path where everything seems to flow with ease, it’s essential  to face reality for all of what it is, and is not. With acceptance, understanding and clear seeing, we give the stuck feelings space to move, dissolve or step out from the loop.
Ask yourself ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘when’ questions. Do not ask yourself ‘why’. ‘Why’ questions are guesswork and keep you in your head.

Perhaps you can ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • “What are the thoughts I am thinking that keep me in a stuck mode?” 
  • “What benefit do I get being in my stuckness?”
  • “What are my personal worries and fears?”
  • “What can I begin to say to myself to over ride my personal worries and fears?”
  • “By staying stuck, what am I taking away from myself?”
  • “What good qualities am I ignoring in my stuckness?”
  • “What am I grateful for?”
  • “What are the things I enjoy?”
  • “How can I encourage myself?”
  • “What specific things can I say to myself to activate good-feelings?”
  • “How will I take responsibility for choosing what action is next?”
  • “What specific actions can I do to build my confidence?”
  • “When will I decide to take these actions?”

With a strong dose of listening, a seed of inspiration can begin to grow. Gather your inner victory team together. Join forces with your strengths; the feel-good feelings. Align with your goals and core values. Build inner-reliance and inner-cooperation. With your inner support team you can balance your strengths with your fears and weaknesses.

In the movie, “A Beautiful Mind”, Nash says, “I still see things that are not here. I just choose not to acknowledge them. Like a diet of the mind, I just choose not to indulge certain appetites.”

Let’s not indulge our self-doubt. Agree to go beyond your insecurities and weaknesses, and   nourish your personal strengths and uniqueness. “The only thing greater than the power of the mind, is the courage of the heart.” Begin to embark on the idea of saturating your mind with the good stuff of the  heart.

Obstacles

I walked into my office the other day after being away for two weeks.  I was weak and  healing from a surgery.  To my surprise, there was a pile high of what I think was sound proofing sheets.

When I first walked in and saw it I felt my heart race, and I could feel a tinge of adrenaline run through me. I then proceeded to take one off the pile thinking I could move them and place them one by one around the room before my client was to arrive.  As my energy level was really low I realized that it wasn’t a good idea. So, I sat down. I took a breath to gather my energy. I was amazed that in that moment I developed patience–patience for the moment of weakness and not being able to do anything about it. I then was able to sit for the moment and relax into whatever was arising in me.

 As said in, Pema Chodron’s book, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, “Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okay-ness. When we resist what is happening, it’s called suffering.” When we can ease into patience with our struggle it awakens our freedom to connect to our fundamental goodness and our true nature to being perfectly human. Patience ignites friendliness towards ourselves and gives us more freedom to choose.

Well, this was a true test for me. How could I sit with a disturbance or obstacle in front of me without being affected by it? How could I have bits and pieces piled up in the middle of the room and just let it be without letting it faze me? It was difficult for me because I like to have everything in its place, and I also worried about the affect it would have on my client.

My client arrived and she walked around the obstruction to her seat and we began our session. I apologized for the mess and for my absence the past two weeks. This was enough to enable her to focus on what was important to her to discuss and to resolve. She was not concerned at all with the obstruction in the room. Indeed, the focus was on her own personal obstacles; she had her own agenda to resolve with me. As we spoke, we were totally focused on our conversation.

I had put the stumbling block of my day aside and gave my client space to deal with what was necessary in the moment. I was able to separate myself from my feelings until I could revisit the situation and do something about it. Of course, after my session, since I share the office suite with my son, I texted him to thank him for the sound proofing but also asked him if he can get them moved or at least stack them up neatly against a wall until we were able to install them.

What this demonstrates is how we have the ability to notice our feelings, thoughts and even body sensations and then let them pass until we want to revisit them in the proper time.

After putting my worry aside and getting on with what needed to be done, regardless of the obstacles in front of me, I realized that as long as I allow myself to be bothered, everything else seemed to be an obstacle to overcome.  As we patiently move through the art of mastering our personal obstacles we gain clarity for what is truly important.

Core Issues

We all have certain core issues that need our attention.  Core issues are emotional memories that anchor us in emotional fears and negative beliefs about ourselves. They can hold us back, form our reactions, and shape our thinking.  The challenge with core issues is not necessarily the negative experience we had but the emotional charge that gets attached to it. The emotional charge becomes our frame of reference and keeps re-surfacing throughout our lives.

Look for a theme that runs through your upsets. Core issues gone unnoticed will either keep us stuck or push us off-balance. They can destroy our ability to find healthy solutions that are in sync with our true desires and they sometimes subconsciously force us to act in a way that sabotages what we truly want for ourselves. Core issues interfere with love and create opposition and resistance against our self.  And if we are not careful they keep being recreated and replayed throughout our life.  In most cases, core issues touch us at our deepest level and will remain embedded until we address them.

We all have core issues that emerged in our lives as a result of growing up.  As Ram Dass said in a lecture, “If you think you are enlightened—spend a week with your family.”   We are continually evolving in our lives as the adult child of our parents.

We all have a certain frame of reference that holds us back in self-doubt.  Emotional fear is at the core of these feelings. When fear is activated, we could feel overcome. We may be frozen in apprehension or worry, or confused, or sense feeling rejection or disregard. We may even feel physical pain, tension or a sensation in our chest or stomach.  In those times of emotional fear we instantly become reactive, we judge, criticize, blame or withdraw, all in order to defend ourselves from more hurt. Those triggers or intense feelings are our core issues. They are our embedded wounds from feeling unheard, unloved, unworthy or feeling helpless or hopeless or left-out or unable to express our desires or simply scared we would get into trouble.

We need to be aware of our core issues so we can monitor ourselves more productively and the quality of our reactions can be managed with self-respect and self-understanding. The more ‘real’ and true to ourselves we are, the more we can welcome our limitations. Experience your emotions so that you can be in tune with your place of vulnerability.    When we can honestly be with our feelings it provides the space to have more freedom to choose to respond from a place of strength and clarity. When you are emotionally charged you can neutralize it with words that a nurturing loving parent or friend would say.  Pause a moment.  When you pay attention to your breath you have the ability to soften the intensity of the moment. Take a step back and see what benefit you are getting out of being offended, enraged, or angry.  Pay attention to your needs and what you feel you are lacking.  Parent or make friends with the part of you that needs attention or a dose of confidence.  When you become clear of your core issues, you become much more empowered to override them in order to create what you truly want in your life.  Life is difficult and also beautiful.    If you are at peace with the truth of all that you are, you can more easily see a solution.  Be gentle with yourself. As an adult child of parents that we had we deserve to treat ourselves with loving kindness.

Glimmer of Doubt

So many of my clients over the years have asked me, “How is it I can trust?”  Trust is a difficult topic. When we have been disrespected, it becomes challenging to trust.  So, how can we trust again?  Is it possible to rebuild trust in someone who totally disappointed us?

We learn to distrust trust by being hurt or lied to or betrayed or misled. Not only do we lose trust in other people, but we also begin to distrust ourselves. We fear being upset, and we become guarded and expect the worse from people. So, when we have been conditioned to not trust, it takes some effort to realize what healthy trust feels like.

Creating genuine trust is a process that happens over time, and it’s not an easy task. We need to be in tune with our ability to evaluate people. We all have an inner sense; all we need to do is listen to it. A glimmer of doubt will nudge us when we have an uncomfortable feeling in someone’s presence.  So pay attention. Observe their mannerisms, their reactions to situations, or the things they say or doesn’t say. When you listen and observe, you will get a sense of how to proceed.

It takes time to build a trustful foundation, and it only takes moments to shatter it. If someone has let you down, let the rage settle. Trust grows with patience. The springboard to trusting is to investigate the reasons for their behavior. Listen and ask questions in order to become aware of their perspective in the situation. The glimmer of doubt you feel is your gauge to guide you to be empathetic. Look for the sincerity of their words or actions.  Take the time to develop communication. Look for explanations, compassionate feedback and understanding.

We all make mistakes, and if we understand the other’s point of view, it becomes easier to formulate a conclusion as to whether to trust them again or not.  But even when we understand our wrongdoer and possibly even forgive them, we are not necessarily obligated to trust them again. When you simply sit with what you know and you decide to rely on your wisdom, you will come to a conclusion that feels right.

What is most upsetting is not necessarily that our trust has been violated, but that the glimmer of doubt becomes more apparent. As Lady Gaga says, “Trust is like a mirror, you can fix it if it’s broken, but you can still see the crack in that mother fucker’s reflection.” Look within to determine if you can see past the cracks or whether they have been shattered beyond repair. Step back and take some time to find peace and equilibrium. Then you can move forward cautiously trusting again.