Being Rattled

“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow  into your heart,  it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person.  It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow  in your heart…” Pema Chodron

Have you ever had someone talk AT you?

Words coming at you!
There are times when people harbor frustration, then, without warning they harshly express what’s on their mind.  Their fighting words can catch you off-guard and ignite a rattled feeling.  It strikes an inner-core of familiar yet uncomfortable feelings; feelings of unworthiness or helplessness.
When you aren’t prepared for this type of criticism,  you instinctively react to protect yourself. Either you get agitated and verbally retaliate, or the opposite can happen–feeling hurt and overpowered, you respond with silence.

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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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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.

Quality Moments

People say quality moments are hard to find. We spend time working and undertaking daily responsibilities.  And we also use up moments drawing our own conclusions or creating a story of judgment about what we are doing, who we are with and the emotions that we have.  What we neglect to realize is that each moment we spend is a quality moment.

Imagine spending more time capturing who we are in any particular moment without categorizing it or wanting to improve or edit it.  Imagine just being with whatever we are feeling in that moment without critiquing it or doubting it.  Imagine trusting the process of life and recognizing that every moment of its unfolding is beautiful and perfect in its own way.

“Sometimes we like what we’re feeling and then suddenly we don’t like what we’re feeling. And then we like it again, and then we don’t like it again.”  It’s fine for it to be like that.  The problem is we become accustomed to doubting, negating, or evaluating our moments and not seeing the beauty in them.

Often our fleeting feelings are just as irrelevant as our momentary thoughts. We don’t need to get hooked into every thought or feeling that we have.  They just are.

Moods come and go. Some days are cloudy or even rainy, while other days are sunny. Some days we wake up with a headache or a heavy feeling in our heart.  But then there are other days when we feel everything is just right, when there is a certain lightness to the moment. There are moments when we smile. And then there are moments when it feels as if everything has all come together.

So let’s begin to have an appreciation for where we are in each moment and an acceptance for what is. And let’s not get caught in a flood of judgment. To accept is to say ‘yes’ to life in its wholeness.  To accept is to have the wisdom to experience what is happening in the moment and to believe that it doesn’t have to be different. It’s never too late to begin to appreciate all the moments of our lives-the warm breezes, the sunny days and even the passing storms.

Putting Our Feelings Aside

We all have emotions. It’s healthy  to  express them. Yet, there are times  when putting too much emphasis on our feelings can be detrimental. To avoid outbursts or unnecessary confrontations, it is better to express our emotions carefully. In order to avoid unhealthy confrontation, we can knowingly choose to “compartmentalize” or “put our feelings aside.”

We can identify and fully sense the inner turbulence of feelings in a situation without having to get swept away in them. By paying attention to the situation and wanting to stand our ground, we then can consciously choose to put our feelings aside for the moment. We are not denying our feelings, we are merely postponing the expression of them. As astronaut Mark Kelly stated in the Associated Press, “Ignore stuff going on in your personal life and just focus on your mission. The key word there is being able to compartmentalize things.”  Putting problems and personal feelings aside in little boxes and zeroing in on the task at hand is what astronauts, military personnel, firefighters, business professionals, nurses and surgeons do all the time. No one needs to know what’s happening inside our minds unless we really want them to.

We certainly have the right to be angry, hurt, etc., but how we handle these feelings is what counts. It is okay to hold back in order to keep peace for the moment or to get something accomplished. Having staying power in the face of adversity, or exercising great self restraint in expressing emotion takes courage. Consider a performer hearing bad news or having had an argument with their spouse right before a performance. They take a deep breath and “put their feelings on the back burner” until the performance is over.

Postponing our emotional upsets is easier than attempting to turn them off completely. In order to avoid becoming totally stressed and anxious, though, we must revisit and process our feelings when it seems safe and appropriate.

Knowing when and how to express our-selves takes honesty and courage. Keeping a stiff upper lip for a certain amount of time is okay, but it’s also very important to give our-self space to honor and express our feelings. When the time is right, journal, pray, meditate, create, talk to a friend and cry if need be. As Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”