Life often requires that we do things in a less than ideal way along the journey to achieving our ideal. We simply do the best we can with what we have. It is challenging to balance the demands of the material world with our greater visions. It is difficult to work through our developmental stages when they are impacting some aspect of our life, especially when it is our work.
There are a number of ways people can get caught in this process, making the challenging even more difficult or at very least lengthy. One way is that we want things to be different than they are—we want more ease, flow, and joy—and we are frustrated with all the ways that we might not yet have accomplished this.
When we pit our ideal outcome against our current situation, we set up a dynamic that blocks forward movement. One might say, “I don’t want it to be this way anymore, and so I’m really trying to create a different way of being.” The tension created between the “I don’t want” and the trying to have something different holds the problem in place. It is more helpful in these moments to release the tension than it is to strive toward the ideal.
There is not one solution for this in general, or for you over time. The key is to think creatively about how to release your tension—that will free you up to move forward. For example, you might persist in an action because “I’ve got bills to pay and I need to get the job done.” If you have thoughts like this, you can explore their energetic impact on you. This increases your awareness, which helps to open the door to new opportunities. As a result of the awareness, you might have a moment, for whatever reason, where you experience some kind of breakthrough. Because of this breakthrough, you may suddenly be in the flow of things and show up to the task that you need to do. When you do this, you can feel that there’s a totally different energy moving inside of you. And then you can attune to that energy and how that energy moves in you and start to learn about it.
This is one example of how to move through a block and create more of the ideal instead of creating the type of tension that impedes the process. There are numerous other ways, but the point is that you approach things from a new angle and pay attention to what is working or not working in a way that allows you to gain understanding about the problem and align with new solutions.
By working in ways like this, you eliminate or decrease disruption and move into a state of more neutrality. The more you can base yourself in this neutrality, the more you can set yourself up for realizing your ideal sense of flow or whatever you desire to bring into your life.
Once you’re working mostly from neutrality and less in feeding the tension, you will naturally break through into forward momentum. Once there, you pay attention to the qualities of what that is, what brought that into being, how it feels, what the difference is to your orientation. You attune so that this experience becomes like a compass. And the more you practice this, the easier it is to simply switch into that mode. But trying to force the new way of being—trying to process it out or using your mind to override what is with what you want—usually does not work. It will, however, increase the tension between where you want to go and where you are. So, it is most often most helpful to look for creative ways to release these tensions so that you can function more and more in a state of neutrality that is more welcoming to your ideal. Then use your awareness to learn everything you can about this new way.
During a transformational process with you as the guide, people work out their relationships to what they want but don’t know how to have, in a sometimes challenging dance.
During some of these encounters, I have been told that I don’t care enough, that I am not spiritual enough, that I am responsible for another person’s pain because I cannot save them, that I led them to treacherous waters, that I should be doing things another way or with a specific agenda, and more. I have been blamed for taking too much control, taking not enough control, over sharing, under sharing, being manipulative, being too materialistic, being too driven, and not being driven enough. I have had my life picked through and my body picked over so that the other person can get what it is they feel they need on the way to becoming who they want to be.
There is nothing wrong with this process or either of the people involved in it. It is a facet of the healing process. Still, I am a human and I have feelings, so sometimes this process is harder than other times. Most of the time I am able to see if for what it is: the transference that is needed for healing to happen. But when it brushes up against my own wounds—especially the places where I have bought in to the lie that there is something wrong with me—I can lose my way and begin to wonder if they are right.
These are teaching moments for me. Moments in which I can learn to trust more. Moments when I can learn to expand the borders of my limitations and to be more deeply committed to my work in general. To face these moments, I benefit from the solid knowledge that I do my work and I don’t hide from my limitations. I open the door to them, welcome them in, and hold myself accountable to what I see. This willingness builds my faith in myself and my work.
I benefit from knowing that I am a vessel for transformation, not the creator of transformation. This transformation may look like many things; it is not my job to judge it one way or another, only to trust each type of unfolding. I benefit from knowing that each person has a path and what they need to walk that path. I have faith in this. I don’t need to worry that something has gone wrong. I can simply offer what is right for me, and let go.
Essentially, I need faith—faith in me, faith in them, faith in the process. Healing can be mysterious, and some of what appear to be “mistakes” or “problems” end up being the catalyst for powerful transformations. In fact, this can always be the case if we want to look at it that way.
If you have walked the path of healer, guide, or teacher, you likely know that it is full of misunderstandings. This is partly because so much is not known by one or both parties about what healing really entails for the individual. There is an element that lives in mystery, out of our understanding and control. And it is partly because you can’t lead transformation from inside the crowd. Healing often requires a different orientation to the problem -an outside perspective that acts as a catalyst for the new.
And, you can’t expect to be understood if you are bringing something new. Understanding comes when we have spent some time and become more accustomed to what is. The new brings up an entirely different experience.
But of course, I want to be understood. I think that most people do; for me, it was important to the degree that it sometimes got in my way. I learned as a child to be acutely attuned to the perceptions of others and, in many ways, to prioritize their perceptions over my own. By doing this, I learned to understand the experiences of others. And, my understanding brought compassion and empathy to my encounters. However, these early experiences also brought persistent fear and self-doubt in the face of other people’s opinions.
The degree to which I am caught in these others’ opinions, transient emotions, or storylines about me affects my availability in doing the work that I love. My job is to be a conduit for what is needed. When my ego dominates and I get caught in others’ views of me, I am limited in my capacity.
To stay the course and do the work I am here to do, I believe I must continually engage in the practice of aligning with source. As I strengthen this alignment, I am able to hold the truth of the moment more completely and therefore do my work more thoroughly. My personal wounds still ache when poked, but this pain does not hold the same power as it once did. The truth of the alignment with source is irrefutable. Because of this, it is easier to stay open and clear, and to continue the work.
The power and resonance of this alignment allows me to hold the thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of others in perspective and in the proper relationship, eliminating many problems. So, I pay less attention to why I get caught in a projection of another person and more attention to strengthening my alignment. I put less time into understanding the mechanics of my pain and more time building my resiliency and connection to source.
For a long time, I lived the belief that to create the life I wanted, I needed to work harder. This meant less sleep, long hours, and even “forgetting” to eat so that I could get the job done.
There is a place for rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work that is called for. This is an ability that many people lack and because of it they stay stuck in one area or another in their life. But for me, I’ve overused this ability to my own detriment.
I started out my adult life with a trial by fire – no resources, no direction, and a baby. I was fortunate enough at the time to call on this ability to work hard and not quit. Because of this, I put myself through school and developed my business, along with a number of other accomplishments.
Whether it was true or not, my ability to work hard became linked to my ability to get results. In other words – hard work meant survival.
But it goes further than that. There were a number of other beliefs that were strengthened at the same time, including:
Again, there are whole segments of people who would benefit from some deeper understanding of hard work and sacrifice. But above all else at this time, I needed to remember self-care, support, sustainability, and nourishment. Cultivating the psychological and energetic capacity to embody this shift in the way that I show up to life, has been critical in the unlocking of my personal power and stepping into my calling.
I circled through this territory time and time again. But I was so deficient in my understanding, that try as I might, I could not get these things to stick.
Until one day, I found myself cracking. My patience was thin, more and more situations were bothering me, I wasn’t enjoying the people I usually enjoy, I was super thin and really tired. Because of this I was making bad choices and errors in judgment.
It is scary that when you are in a place of leadership, so few people are willing to call you on your dysfunction even when it is staring them in the face – but this is a topic for another day.
Long story short, I was swimming as fast as I could and sinking from exhaustion.
I had learned along the way that I needed to ask for help. So, I asked for help and got a cosmic level dose of instruction. Some amazing support came my way – just enough to stop me from sinking. However, I also received an enormous heap of challenges, and this was the true teaching.
Opposition can show us exactly where and how we need to grow. Here, I was shown the internal mechanisms that were putting this all in place.
I don’t like to repeatedly bang the drum of a certain brand of oppression – throw all my “problems” into one bucket and blame it for everything. Life is much more complicated, and I would rather not make my life story about victimhood. However, that is very different from turning a blind eye to some of the realities of the world we live in.
And for me, this particular issue is about the oppression of the feminine force within us all.
I learned to survive from doing rather than being, so I was not standing in my genius.
I learned to identify my value with my looks, so I never got to know my own beauty.
I learned that care of others was more important than care of myself, so I lived in a place of depletion.
I learned to ask permission to stand in my power, so I was never fully in it.
I learned that the wisdom of my body was inferior to the knowledge of my mind, so I neglected my truth and covered up my wisdom.
I learned that it was ok for others to use my hard work and life force and call it their own, so I let them take without giving until I was exhausted.
And, yes, I believe that this is symptomatic of the long-standing historical oppression of the feminine force and its wisdom – and it affects most of us in some way.
Historically, women have been the home-makers.
They clean the house, tend the fire, and cook the food.
But the wisdom of any oppressed group survives. It just goes underground. It gets preserved and encoded in the simple acts of every day.
So look closely, for the greater healing is here:
Clean the house.
Tend the fire.
Cook the food.
So, I started cleaning my house. I put boundaries in place and moved unsupportive people to more distant places in my life. I looked at the places where I was out of alignment with myself and my deeper truth, and I made shifts to get back on track. I repeat as is necessary. And, yes, I literally clean my house.
I started a desire journal and wrote at least one thing each day that stoked the fire of my life. I added in one activity that was just about enjoyment for each day. I paid closer attention to where I lit up and what brought me joy, and recognized this as my divine intelligence.
I looked at what sustains me, what supports me, and what allows me to thrive, and to this day I continue to make choices to bring this into my life. I am taking time to see what will truly nourish me, and make sure that I have put it on the table.
As I do these things, I heal. I love myself more. I find it easier to stand in my power. And as I make these shifts, I uncover a new way of working where I am cared for, supported, and can create more with less effort. Today is your opportunity, and I invite you to gently allow the feminine force within to come alive.
It is one thing to feel a sense of personal power when things are going well for you, but it is when you know how to keep personal power during traumatic life events that you are able to surf the ups and downs of life with more grace and ease. Being able to do this is actually a type of maturity. Learning the skills associated with how to keep personal power under any circumstances is both grounding and liberating.
When we face any kind of trauma in our lives –the loss of a loved one, an illness, a major setback, etc. -we experience intense emotions associated with the events. This might be grief or anger. These heavy negative emotions are a normal and healthy part of the traumatic event, but, over time, can begin to warp our perspective and impact our ability to move forward. It is necessary to feel and honor these emotions as well as connect to a deeper sense of personal truth and faith.
Emotions associated with traumatic events need time, space, and holding. We can recognize that they come in waves. That we need to be willing to sit with them, or thrash with them, or whatever else, depending on the requirements. That we need to make sure to give them the time they need to be felt and honored and to run their course.
We benefit from putting ourselves in situations and around people who can be with us and our emotional experience, so that we do not run the risk of re-wounding ourselves. This support helps us avoid the pitfalls of a lonesome mind that might convince us that we are alone or unlovable because of how we are feeling. We also benefit from recognizing when the emotional process needs to come to a close and allowing ourselves to rise up again.
Regardless of what is going on in our emotional process, we are in a simultaneous process of the further refinement of our personal power. The two are not separate. They are intended to influence each other. However, we often get stuck in the emotional processing and fail to see the opportunities for growth and power that are inherent in the circumstances we are facing. We lose contact with our own sense of personal power.
To access our personal power we need to begin to believe that all events in life are conspiring to bring us home to ourselves. That, regardless of circumstances, our own heart and truth is able to be revealed to us. That we can take deliberate action to move towards what we most deeply want.
Clarify how we want to feel: When all is said and done, what matters more than outcomes is how we feel before and after we achieve those outcomes. By figuring out how you want to feel on a day-to-day – or even situational – basis, we deepen our personal power in our life.
Envision what we want to create: While how we feel in the now is of infinite importance, it is still helpful to know what we are moving towards. This does not mean that we need to be ready to take action to move ourselves in that direction (we may or may not be). Just knowing where we are headed is often enough. This shows us that our circumstance is temporary and a larger unfolding is imminent.
Foster these states: To fully claim our personal power, we can foster the states of being that support our intended outcome, or take action in that direction. These actions give us a sense of agency in our lives. The results of our efforts teach us about how much power we have to create what we want in our lives.
Pay attention to where we are going: There are numerous signs along the road of life. When we start to pay attention to what is going on around us, when we begin to move in the direction of what feels good to us, when we claim the things that align with our vision based on these signs… we remember that life is on our side and that, no matter the current challenge, we can find our way to something better.
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You are sad, broken hearted, and your life has been radically altered. The person you have been spending the most time with is no longer a part of your life. All the rituals you had and the everyday exchanges that gave you joy are gone, as is the dream of what you hoped to create together. Every relationship we start has the potential of breaking up and we all hope that we will never see the day. Even if the breakup is desired, the effects can still be challenging to deal with and may leave you wondering who you are. Reinventing yourself after a breakup is a natural next-step after this confusion.
No matter how independent we are, relationships shape us. We emerge different than we were when we began. Some of who we have become we may love, some of who we have become may seem like a sacrifice that was not worth it, and some of who we have become may feel like it died with the end of the relationship. Sometimes who we have become is so far from who we want to be that we feel like we need to start from scratch. The question is, how do we reinvent ourselves after a breakup?
Whether you’re reinventing yourself after a breakup or just because you feel it’s time for a change, try these resources for reinventing yourself.
When it comes down to it, everything I’ve studied and practiced over the past 20 years has been about healing. I’ve looked at healing from spiritual, material, creative, energetic, psychological and physical perspectives. Today, both my business and personal development work focuses on how I can best facilitate and teach healing practices.
And so, for this week’s article, I’m going to talk about ways you can incorporate healing practices into your everyday life.
Paths to Healing
What helps us heal? This is a big question.
From my experience, I can say that healing methods help a person – or in some cases a group of people – heal themselves. These methods often include one or more of the following perspectives or techniques:
The Big YES!
Bring Together What is Supportive
Remove What is Unsupportive
Focus on What We Want
Mend What is Broken
When you bring healing into your life, you’re likely to be working with these basic techniques to promote your well-being. As you become more and more familiar with these healing methods, it becomes easier to build them into your life, business, or environment in ways that maintain and strengthen your health.
“Relationships are mysterious. We doubt the positive qualities in others, seldom the negative. You will say to your partner: do you really love me? Are you sure you love me? You will ask this a dozen times and drive the person nuts. But you never ask: are you really mad at me? Are you sure you’re angry? When someone is angry, you don’t doubt it for a moment. Yet the reverse should be true. We should doubt the negative in life, and have faith in the positive.” ― Christopher Pike, Remember Me
The holiday season brings up feelings of stress and lack for many of us. I personally find myself thinking about the gifts I cannot afford to buy, the tensions in my family relationships and the things that did not happen in a year drawing to a close.
I came across the above quote today and it spoke to me very strongly and inspired me to try to reframe all that is to come in the next weeks. I am personally committing to being more positive, during this time and end my year the way I hope to begin my new one – with compassion, patience and joy – and I invite you to take the challenge with me.
Lets commit to taking time to pause, to reflect and to focus on the good that we do have, not our places of lack. To focus on what is good and right about our lives and especially our relationships instead of the places where they are painful. To celebrate the end of the year by celebrating the areas of our life where there is abundance, where there has been growth and where we are proud and joyful.
One of the ways I am staying focused on the positive is by taking 10 minutes to write about what I am grateful for from now until the last day of the year. Join me in this exercise and lets end this year on a positive note no matter WHAT comes our way.
Blessings to you in this very special, potent and beautiful time of year!
Very recently, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, poet and Jungian psychoanalyst, said of the late Robin Williams, “He learned for 63 years of his life how to be ‘the fire handler.’ That is where I would praise him, for what he has managed to do for six+ decades; handle fire, while being made of parchment” (Estés, 2014).
I gasped after reading her words, letting them kindle again for a moment the brittle parchment of my own soul, which has itself apparently survived many conflagrations ignited by failures, losses, and challenges—as well as many other unexpected moments of ecstatic wonder, inspiration, and triumph. Indeed, Estés’s words and Williams’ career—during which we encountered him as Fool, Trickster, Sage, Poet, Hermit, Sacred King, and many more archetypal embodiments—have me reflecting on the true power of the Sacred Wound.
That which might be termed “soul loss” in indigenous and shamanic healing contexts, suffered as a consequence of life’s vicissitudes, is certainly painful and responsible for so much despair and disconnection from meaning, purpose, will, power, beauty, and love. Yet, the hunger to be whole, while leading to a seemingly endless array of mistakes and false starts, can also serendipitously bring wisdom and sow the seeds of transformation. The effort to heal those perpetual wounds engenders—or perhaps illuminates—the unique gifts that only we possess, and more to the point, that only we can deliver to the world in our utterly unique way. After all, no one else can be us better than we can. We have but to make the seemingly foolish choice to turn and face our pain, to lean into that which wounds us, to face with courage what has victimized us, addicted us, or had us on the run for most of our lives.
However, I am becoming increasingly frustrated with ever growing assurances from well-meaning memes and media that the act of turning, confronting, and fighting our demons will itself magically vanquish them and automatically transform everything in positive and helpful ways—as if the act of doing an about-face in our flight guarantees the desired outcome. Irrational thoughts don’t go away just because we dispute them effectively. Beliefs and attitudes built over a lifetime don’t give way to different ones in an instant. Addictions don’t die just because we admit we have a problem with them. Leaning into the storm does not banish its tempests, and one day those storms might indeed have their way with us. Powerful emotions can arise from very deep, abysmal, murky wells. As these fragile bodies lose strength and vitality over the course of a lifetime, we may have the will but not the strength to keep confronting the monsters, and eventually even our will could erode.
Yet, bones that break do often become stronger when healing around the break. Our bodies and spirits can develop an ethereal, silvered grace through the adventures and misadventures of our lives—just as storms and floods etch beautiful lines and curves into rocks, trees, and riverbeds.
Authentic heroism and greatness do not expect, demand, or depend on success. In the best stories, the goal or objective of the quest actually plays a minimal part in comparison to the courage, passion, and integrity of the hero or heroine. These qualities arise out of the decision to remain true to oneself even in the face of doom and failure. Happiness, is not after all, everything.
Moreover, what we understand to be “mental health” might be a chimera against a reality that is itself meaningless, arbitrary, and “insane.” Our artists, poets, actors, mystics, and crazy people—and perhaps some teachers as well—live on or close to that edge of realization, where there is much terrible beauty and beautiful terror.
By no means is a deliberate exposure to being abused repeatedly by those who have shown themselves to be chronically malicious and untrustworthy a good or noble thing to do. Yet sometimes, when heart and body together experience a moment of rightness in a relationship or context, an unprecedented opportunity or growth may present itself. In such a moment, being deliberately, honestly vulnerable—particularly after all that has demolished us and that perhaps continues to wound us—is possibly one of the greatest acts of courage, insanity, and strength that we could ever imagine or embody. To show our tenderness and risk being torn apart again can be an act of power.
Talking about our vulnerability with someone that we hope is trustworthy is admirable, deserving of validation and support, even as it may risk scorn and judgment from others. Actually embodying it, though, in particular moments is wonderful and takes breathtaking courage. It empowers us to be windows on Beauty for those who have eyes to see it, appreciate it, and be inspired by it. Actually living it in an ongoing way reminds me again of Estés’ metaphor of the parchment that holds fire—a life lived fiercely and fully, most likely for a span that passes all too quickly, albeit unapologetically.
That parchment will not be of long duration, and how tragic for those who might never witness directly the beautiful flame it holds. But what wonder is there for those who do, and what secret language written upon it might be momentarily revealed in the heat of the flames?
Read more articles by Drake Spaeth here
I just want to take a moment to have gratitude for all the great dogs that are or have been in my life and the lives of people I know. I am writing this from outside a vet office where a dog I love very much is being tested for Leukemia. If she has it again, at this point there is no treatment and this brings me to my topic for the week.
Spring can be a weird time to talk about loss but loss happens regardless of the time of year. What I think is even more weird is when we pretend that loss is not supposed to happen. That somehow we are justified in feeling betrayed by life itself if we are confronted with loss. This is actually the source of more pain than the original loss.
Unfortunately, when we grow we not only gain we also loose. It needs to be like this. We heal ourselves and what we created no longer serves is. It no longer fits. Sometimes it falls away gracefully and easily and other times it is dramatic or painful.
It is easy in all of the transformation to pay attention to the wrong things. It is easy to get consumed with emotions. But there is an alternative.
In everything that is going on there is a place of calm. A place of truth. If we can anchor our attention in this place then the situations around us are simply that – situations around us. We are connected to what is deeper and more meaningful, what is leading us and pulling us to our greatness because this never leaves us.