Tag Archives: acceptance

The Power of Letting Go

Since I moved to Massachusetts I have been complaining about how difficult it is to figure out how to be “legal” about things like my business and my car registration. In particular my car registration.

The day after I first arrived, I received a phone call from my insurance company telling me about all the hoops I would need to jump through to get my car registered. And, within 20 days of my move. Since I am someone who has had a long-standing fear of getting in trouble (even though I am typically a goody-two-shoes), this created some anxiety for me.

Over the next several weeks and multiple calls to the insurance company, emails from the insurance company, calls to the leasing company, an in-person visit to the state licensing agency (only to be told “we don’t do that here”) and finally a call to the state titling agency, I was completely and totally confused, and no closer to getting my car registered and licensed.

During the call to the state titling agency, at which time they told me that I had to get the car title and bring it in person – while the leasing company told me they would only send it to the state agency – I finally gave up. I surrendered. Since this whole process seemed impossible anyway, what else could I do? I said to the representative on the phone, “Fine, then I just won’t register it.” And that was what I decided.

I made one finally call to my insurance company, and they said they would try again to get the title from the leasing company, but that it would take 30 days. Whatever. I wasn’t going to put any more energy into figuring this out, or worrying about the consequences of not registering my car in Massachusetts.

Three days later I received a letter in the mail from the leasing company telling me they had sent the title to the insurance company. Three days! Not 30 days, not never. Three days! After five weeks of fear, anxiety, frustration and anger, all it took was to say “I give up.”

I realized that my anxious energy was holding this entire process hostage. As soon as I surrendered, the process could flow and complete itself.

The reality is that all my fear and worry could not control what was happening, so why not let go and surrender to whatever unfolds?

Now, I didn’t surrender in order to try and control the process (i.e. “if I let go then this will all work out”); that would actually not be surrender at all, but manipulation. True surrender is letting go of attachment to the outcome, and that is exactly what I did. If everything worked out and my car got registered, great! If my car never got registered, great! I reached a point where it didn’t matter to me.

This is the key to inner peace, letting go of attachment to the outcome.

What are you holding on to that would be better served by letting go?

Mother’s Day Part 1 – Lessons My Mother Taught Me

Mother’s Day is always good for bringing up stuff for me. It began when I was at the store the other day looking for a card for my mother. We’ve had a rough go of it – at least from my perspective. I don’t think she is conscious of how difficult I have found our relationship, even as I have tried to address some of the issues with her over the years. And of course that is part of the problem.

Looking for a Mother’s Day card is always interesting. Most of them are all about what a wonderful mother the person in question has been. How loving, how supportive, how… fill in the blank. The problem is that I don’t feel that my mother was a good mother for me. Yes, we always had food, clothing and shelter. My sister and I were not physically abused. My mother was not an alcoholic or a drug addict. She was the epitome of a good, responsible citizen.

Unfortunately, that was not enough. I didn’t get what I needed most: unconditional love.

Yes, I know she did her best. Yes, I know she was the product of her own upbringing and environment. And, as I have told my counseling clients many times, just because you can understand and have compassion for why someone acted a certain way, does not make it okay that they acted that way.

I do have compassion for my mother. And I still did not get what I needed as a child.

This morning I was looking at all the tributes to mothers on Facebook, and it was in my face again. I couldn’t honestly say that I felt the same way about my own mother.

In thinking about this more, I realized that, in fact, I got exactly what I needed from my mother. My relationship with my mother has been my greatest source of personal and spiritual growth.

Here are the lessons my mother taught me.

  1. Perfectionism. In my mother’s world you must do something perfectly, or you fail. An A- is not good enough. 2nd place is not good enough.

The real lesson:  I am already perfect. As a soul I am whole and perfect. It is the human part of me that needs to work on becoming perfectly myself. Because I’m already perfect.

  1. You have to earn love. This is a corollary to #1. The reason you need to be perfect is so that people will love you. Otherwise, you will be abandoned and alone.

The real lesson:  As a spiritual being, I am love. I don’t have to seek love from others, because that is who I am – and who they are – at the core. I have the love of Spirit, no matter what. No matter what I do or don’t do.

  1. What others think of you is more important than what you think of you. Starting to see a pattern here? Yup, once again about earning the approval / love of others. This time by being what they want you to be, which may not be who you really are.

The real lesson: Be true to myself. People come and people go. Some like me, some don’t. In the end, I’m the one who has to like me.

  1. Rules are made to be followed. If you break a rule / law, you will get in trouble. People will find out. They won’t like you anymore. Boy, was I good at following the rules! (I still struggle a bit with this and judgement of others when they break rules. But I’m working on it!)

The real lesson: Rules and laws are useful to keep society in check. And I do what feels right to me. If what I’m doing harms no one else (for me this is the litmus test), then so what if it’s against the rules?

  1. Right and wrong are opposites and clear cut. My mother has a strong sense of right and wrong – and difficulty seeing a situation from anything other than her own perspective. My sister and I used to say, “There’s our mother’s way to do something and the wrong way.”

The real lesson: I know what’s right for me. I don’t necessarily know what’s right for you. And there’s a whole lot of grey between those opposites of black and white.

In looking back over these, they really are all closely related. They’re all about judging and being judged in order to give or earn love. I guess that’s the crux of my issues with my mother and her way of being: I constantly felt judged and was constantly trying to earn her love.

These days my mother and I have the best relationship of our lives, in my opinion. I accept her for who she is, but I don’t buy into her stuff. That’s about her, not about me. I rarely feel guilty that I’m not being her vision of a “good daughter.” Once I gave up the guilt and the feeling of obligation that caused it, it was a lot easier to want to spend time with her.

I don’t have any illusions that my mother will ever become the mother I wish I’d had. But I do feel compassion for her and her own struggles, and I recognize the ways in which she tries to show me that she loves me. I’ve let go of feeling that every good deed from her comes with a price tag attached (that’s one I forgot to mention – if I do something nice for you, you owe me), and instead just express my gratitude for whatever the favor is.

Finally, I am grateful for the lessons I learned through having her as my mother. I believe that we pick our life lessons and who will play them out with us before we come for another lifetime, so obviously I set this all up for my own benefit. I guess I can’t be mad at anyone about that, but myself!

Feeling Grumpy and Out of Sorts

I woke up feeling grumpy and out of sorts the other day. I know that writing helps me process what’s going on when I feel this way, but I didn’t have the right tools, or so my ego (small self) told me. I needed a new journal, a bigger size than any of the many blank journals I currently have.

Yeah, right.

But, that’s where I was. Listening to that ego chatter telling me that I couldn’t do what I knew was in my best interest.

So instead, I decided to do a 3 card spread with my Tarot cards. This is a practice I did faithfully every day for a full year a couple of years ago, until it felt like it no longer served me. Recently I’ve gotten back into using the cards to help me access guidance from Spirit (my higher self).

Of course the cards I drew were perfect.

Tarot Spread 2016-05-02

So perfect that I felt the emotion well up in me and began to cry. I felt so supported and so validated, and knowing that I was on my right path helped, even though right now it doesn’t feel exactly right to me.

I realized a couple of things, all lessons that continue to show up for me over the past few years.

  • Trust and Faith: I want to let go of doubt and trust that Spirit has my back. Whatever is happening is in my best interest, even (sometimes especially) when I feel out of sorts. The cards I drew were so absolutely perfect, that there is no doubt that Spirit is guiding me. Trust and faith.
  • Surrender: When I feel grumpy and out of sorts, I’m usually in a growth spurt. I know this well, have identified this in myself over the past several years. It makes perfect sense that as I shift into a new way of being that it feels uncomfortable. That’s normal and I can accept that as my reality in this moment, just as I accept – and trust – that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be and how I’m supposed to be feeling. I don’t need to change a thing.
  • Let Go of Attachment to Outcome: I don’t know what’s going to happen next, and I don’t need to know. Of course I have preferences about how my path will unfold, but experience has taught me that I (the small I – ego) don’t have any idea of what is possible. So I can put out there what I would like, and then let go of making it happen. Let go of managing the situation. I don’t need to know how to make it happen. I don’t even need to know what the end result will look like. I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other on my path.


For More Peace of Mind, Stop Complaining!

This morning at 4:45 AM I awoke to the sound of large trucks on the street below my apartment. I waited a few moments to see if they were just driving by, but they weren’t. I got up and looked out the window.

There are two buildings going up nearby – one next door to my building and one right across the street. There were two large trucks, one off-loading equipment, the other a cement mixer in the street below. They weren’t going away.

I immediately began to get angry. How dare they! There must be some law about noise at that hour. Who could I complain to? But I quickly realized that even if I found the right authority to complain to, it wouldn’t remove the noise that was keeping me from sleeping right at that moment.

So I got out my earplugs and put them in. They went in easily on the first try in both ears, and I said a little prayer of gratitude for that. I got back in bed and went back to sleep.

I did have a few fleeting thoughts of complaining to my building’s management to see what they could do. But I again realized that would only keep me feeling upset about the situation, which in reality had been easily resolved.

Yes, I would have preferred not to be awakened early. But I was only awake for maybe 5 minutes as I assessed the situation and took care of it. It wasn’t that big of a deal, and by continuing to focus on the unfairness of it, I would continue to be upset when there was no longer anything to be upset about.

My lesson is whenever I feel someone is stepping on my toes, encroaching on my rights, and I’m tempted to complain, what I really need to do is look at how I can do something to make the situation okay for myself, then do that.

Because in the long run, I just want to be happy. How it happens – whether through my actions or those of another – doesn’t matter.

And quit complaining!

I’m Fat

I’m fat.

There. I said it. I’m fat.

Not overweight. Not heavy. Fat. Because I want to desensitize myself to that word.

I want to see “fat” not as a judgment, but as a description of myself.

A few days ago I saw a picture that was taken on Monday, and I was shocked. I said to myself, “I look fat.” And I didn’t like that one bit. Because I judge myself when I think of myself as fat.

Lazy. Ugly. Not worth knowing. Those are the main judgments I have around being fat. If you told yourself you were lazy, ugly and not worth knowing, you wouldn’t want to acknowledge that you were fat, either.

So I’m on a mission to de-judge the statement “I’m fat.” I want it to have the same emotional pull for me that saying “I have brown eyes” or “I have short hair” has. I know this will not be easy, because I’ve spent my whole life judging myself on how I look, as have many other women.

And fat is the number one thing that you should not be if you want to be valued and admired as a woman.

Well, I’m done with worrying about what others think of the fact that I’m fat. I can’t control that. And, it says more about them and their issues than it does about me anyway.

What I can control is what I think about the fact that I’m fat. And, I’m choosing to learn to think of it as a description, not a judgment.

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On – 4 Techniques for Managing Anxiety about Change

Over the past several weeks I have been experiencing periods of anxiety. Anxiety is just another word for fear. I know that this anxiety is my ego, my warning system, trying to tell me that I’m venturing into unsafe territory.

A few weeks ago I suddenly had a knowing that I was supposed to move. I acknowledged out loud a feeling I’ve had for a while that I am meant to leave Seattle, at least for now. That unleashed a whole lot of discomfort and fear.

Even after I worked through the immediate fear reaction, I have continued to have moments of anxiety pop up, seemingly for no apparent reason. However, I know that it is my system adjusting to this new idea.

Whenever we are making changes in our lives, whether they are big or small, whether we think it’s a good change or a bad change, our systems get shaken up. As humans, we like to maintain equilibrium, to keep things the same. When we start to make changes, our ego – whose job it is to protect us – starts making noise.

Warning! Warning! Things are changing! We’re no longer in equilibrium. Pay attention!

Here are a few things that help me whenever this happens:

1.      I take some slow, deep breaths. When we get anxious our breathing becomes quick and shallow. This is part of the fight or flight response. By consciously changing my physical response, I can also change how I feel emotionally.

2.      I remind myself that both fear and excitement have the same chemical reaction in my body, and ask myself if I can choose to feel excited rather than anxious. Especially in my current situation, excitement is part of the equation. Yes, I have some fear about how things will all work out. But I’m also excited about this change.

3.      I don’t get attached to the anxiety. In the past, whenever I felt anxious I would search for the reason, and of course I could come up with a dozen of them. Searching for reasons I might feel anxious only perpetuates the feeling. Now I choose to notice and acknowledge the fear: “I’m feeling anxious,” but don’t get caught up in justifying that anxiety by looking for reasons to be fearful.

4.       I accept that anxiety is a by-product of making changes. It is natural and normal that when we step outside our comfort zone, that when we upset our equilibrium, our ego is going to try to get us to move back to where it is “safe.” I know that as I move through the change that I am making, this fear will eventually dissipate as I reach a new equilibrium point.

Is the Answer No, Slow, or Go?

Yesterday I was reminded of a saying that all prayers are answered, but the answer isn’t always “yes.”

I have been reinventing myself, and my coaching practice, as I become more and more authentic. This reinvention has led to the need for a new branding for my business and a new website.

I had talked to a few different people about doing this work for me, but nothing was resonating. Then this past Sunday I saw a website that I really liked, and was similar to what I envisioned for my site. At the bottom of the home page was a link to the company that had designed the website, so I clicked it.

I was impressed with the company’s mission and approach. They want to work with people (like me) who want to make a difference in the world. There was no pricing info, but I knew the website I liked was owned by a sole practitioner like me, so I hoped the cost would not be prohibited.

I was really excited; this felt right to me. Since it was Sunday I couldn’t call the company, so I sent an email asking to schedule the free consultation they offered.

Getting my branding and website redesigned are prerequisites to some other things I want to do in my practice (internet radio show, publishing a book). I was anxious about getting in touch with the web design company. So Monday morning I also called the company to request the free consultation.

I reached an automated voice message system, and left a message. I was little disconcerted that I didn’t get a real person, or even a real voice, and started to feel some misgivings. Six hours later I had not gotten a response to my email or my phone call. The misgivings became larger.  I called again and left another message saying that I really wanted to work with them and hoped they would call me back.

Within half an hour I received a return call from a live person, and we scheduled a 15 to 20-minute Skype session for a few days later.

When the time arrived for the Skype call, I was at my computer and online on Skype, but the web company representative was not; his status was “offline.” I waited a few minutes and messaged him on Skype. I waited a few more minutes and sent him an urgent email. I waited a few more minutes (now halfway through the time we had set aside to meet) and called the only phone number I had – the automated voice – and left a message.

I waited. Nothing. Finally, when it was 30 minutes past the scheduled meeting time, which I had double-checked in the confirmation email from the company, I gave up. I sent another email expressing my disappointment in the meeting not taking place, as well as my frustration with not having a phone number that reached a real person (or at least that person’s direct voice mail). I went back to my regularly scheduled activities, which included going for a walk.

On my walk I went through a series of emotions, and thoughts, about the situation with the web design company. I was really disappointed because based on other sites they had done I felt that they were exactly what I was looking for. On the other hand, I had not always had a great experience with web designers before, and wanted to pay attention to messages that this company might not be the right fit for me. I sometimes allow my excitement to cause me to overlook the potential problems, and didn’t want to repeat that mistake.

Then I remembered something I had once been told about the way prayers are answered. Sometimes the answer is “no,” sometimes the answer is “slow,” and sometimes the answer is “go.”

What was the answer in this case?

Well, I could say for certain that it wasn’t “go” (or “yes.”) Things were not falling effortlessly into place.

So the choice was between “no” and “slow.”

There was a message in all these roadblocks I was encountering. My immediate interpretation of the roadblocks was that I was not meant to work with this company. A “no.” But what if the real message was that I needed to develop more patience? Patience has never been my strong suit, and certainly I could use more of it. This would be an answer of “slow.”

It was true that I had been feeling a real sense of urgency about getting the branding and web redesign underway. Did I really need to be in such a hurry? On the other hand, the difficulty in getting in touch with individuals in this company was also information I needed to pay attention to. I knew that if I decided to work with them, this would not be acceptable to me.

In the end, I saw that I still didn’t have enough information to know if it was a “no” or a “slow.” I didn’t know why the meeting hadn’t taken place. I was open to gathering more information, with my eyes wide open, before making a decision.

This situation was a good reminder that a roadblock doesn’t always mean to find another path (although frequently that is the message). Sometimes there needs to be a delay. Often the reason a delay is necessary doesn’t become clear until sometime later when we can look back and put it in context.

Since it isn’t always clear in the moment which way to interpret a roadblock, it pays to have patience, pay attention to what happens next, and be open to whatever the answer may be.

Blockages Mean Take A Different Path

It is amazing to me how sensitive I still am to perceived rejection or exclusion from a group.  A few months ago I began attending a local church, and recently decided to officially join. My primary reason for attending and joining a church is that I want to develop a community of friends and the support of like-minded people. I attend services on Sundays, but need more in order to create the kinds of connections I want.

My church offers a variety of classes and groups, and I have attended one class series, as well as participating in, and being a presenter for, the goddess group retreat a little over a month ago. This is a good start at getting to know others, and I also saw an opportunity for me to offer classes of my own, as well as starting several groups I would like to lead or participate in.

I started looking into how to go about proposing these classes and groups, and who I would need to speak to. I quickly got feedback from another fairly new member of the church community that she had tried this same path and had not been embraced. I have a huge fear of not being accepted – I think we all have a similar fear but I fantasize that mine is bigger than most – and her experience immediately triggered this fear of rejection in me.

In order to mitigate my fear of rejection by “the church,” I chose to blame this person for her experience. She was too pushy, she wasn’t collaborative, she didn’t follow the process, etc. By blaming her for her experience, I believed I could have a different experience (be accepted) by acting differently than she did. In other words, blaming her gave me an illusion of control.

I moved forward with contacting the people I needed to speak to about classes and groups via email, and received what I perceived as a lukewarm response. Since I was leaving to go on a two week vacation shortly, I decided to just leave it until I returned, which was a week ago.

Yesterday morning when I arrived for Sunday church services, I immediately saw the person who is in charge of the groups. I needed to use the restroom, but made a mental note to speak to her before the service. As I was leaving the restroom I ran into the woman who is in charge of education (classes). I thought it was very serendipitous to have seen both of the people I needed to speak to without even looking for them.

I introduced myself to the education person and reminded her that I had ideas for classes I would like to discuss. I felt immediately shut down by her response: Choose one topic I feel passionate about (oh, and by the way it can’t be happiness – which is one of the topics I teach classes on), fill out the form and send it to her. Oh, and it will have to be a workshop, it can’t be a class series because there just is not room in the schedule. I felt as if she were doing me a favor to even consider me teaching a workshop.

I walked away from that interaction feeling as if offering to do classes at the church was an imposition, not a gift I was offering of my knowledge and time. I felt rejected and not as good as whoever else was already being allowed to do classes. I felt like an outsider in a community where I want to be an insider.

I entered the sanctuary in a serious funk and sat down to wait for the service to begin. The thoughts going through my head were things like “I made a mistake joining this church. Maybe I should go to CSL (a different church). These people are mean. These people don’t like me.” and on and on.

The service started with an upbeat song and I just wanted to stay grumpy. The education person (who I felt rejected by) got up and made an announcement about needing people on the education committee to help with class sign-up and other administrative tasks. I felt even grumpier.

Then the pastor got up to welcome everyone, and everything changed for me. I had recently taken the church membership class, but I was on vacation during the Sunday when they introduced the new members to the church. I had only given a passing thought to what this meant to me, other than the fact that once again I wasn’t part of the group.  Then the pastor asked if I was present, and had me come forward to welcome me as a new church member.

This was totally unexpected, I hadn’t really thought about that possibility at all, so I didn’t have an opportunity to feel nervous about being in front of everyone all by myself. Right after this was the part of the service when the congregation gets up and greets one another, and many people congratulated me on joining the church. I felt included and accepted.

I sat back down after the greetings and had an epiphany. I wasn’t meant to teach classes at my church, at least not right now, and that’s why my path in that direction was blocked. To be honest, I didn’t even really want to teach classes, I just felt that it would be a good way to get to know others at the church and as a side benefit would possibly be good for my business.

I saw that by teaching classes as a way of getting to know others at my church I was perpetuating my old belief that if I didn’t have something of value to offer, then others wouldn’t want to get to know me and be my friend. I realized that starting groups on topics that I was interested in was a better way to be a member of the community, and I also would be getting my own needs met within the groups, rather than being the leader or the teacher.

I had just learned the lesson – once again – that when there are blocks in the path it doesn’t mean that I am not valuable or that I am being rejected or excluded. It’s just a message that I’m going down the wrong path and that I need to alter course.

Others Provide a Mirror for My Own Issues

A couple of days ago I met with the intuitive healer I’ve been working with. Most of the session revolved around my family of origin including my sister, my father and my mother. My mother and I are leaving in a few days to take a trip together for two weeks. I was told that my mother wants us to be closer, and that this trip was an opportunity to become closer to my mother, and for me to really see her for who she is.

I have extremely mixed feelings about becoming closer to my mother. On the one hand, it’s something that I have yearned for all of my life. My dearest dream is for my mother to see me for who I really am, and for her to love the real me.

On the other hand, being close to my mother has not been safe in the past. I grew up very enmeshed with my mother and have spent a lot of time and effort in my adult life to separate from her. I’m currently in a place of keeping her at arm’s length. The idea of being close to my mother feels threatening. I worry that I may disappear once again into her vision of who I am, or who I should be.

Additionally, I still harbor some anger and resentment about how she parented me as a child. I struggle with knowing how I really feel about her. My need to protect myself from her and the knee-jerk reactions I often have when I interact with her keep me from being authentic with her. I realize that without being authentic, I really can’t know what I feel for her.

Putting all of this together, you may understand that hearing this news about my “mission” for this trip with my mother was pretty uncomfortable for me.

Enter my mirror.

The next day I was co-leading a gathering with my friend who is also the intuitive healer that I work with. We have recently started a Meetup to share information with others and do group coaching to help the members move toward changes and results that they want for their lives.

At this meeting there was a woman who had not attended before. Initially she mentioned that she was there because she wanted to overcome her stage fright. However, as the meeting progressed she brought up an issue where she was not as close to her adult daughter as she wanted to be.

Raising this issue came from something that had been brought up by another member of the Meetup regarding his mother and how her lack of support and criticism of him in childhood continued to affect him now. We were discussing how with each generation we try to do better than our own parents did, and I shared how I had compassion and understanding for why my mother was the way she is and that I consciously chose to do things differently with my own child.

This woman joined in the conversation which eventually led to her sharing her sadness and frustration at not being closer to her own daughter. As more was said it became clear that she had very specific expectations of what her daughter, now 40 years old, should be doing and how she should be expressing her caring and involvement in the family. The daughter’s reaction has been to remain distant and angry with her mother.

My co-leader and I suggested ways in which she could be different in her interactions with her daughter, which in turn might lead to her daughter reacting differently. I had become aware during my meditation earlier in the day that one of my objections to the way my mother approaches me is that her requests are in the form of a demand or an expectation, and that I don’t feel that they are requests or invitations at all. I know that if my mother approached me differently I would react differently.

I could see that this woman was approaching her daughter in the same way as my mother approaches me. The woman believed that she was issuing invitations to her daughter, but they really were expectations and demands. I used my relationship with my mother and this insight I had about it as an example for this woman.

Unfortunately she could not accept this idea, saying “I don’t believe you” about the idea that if she was different her daughter would be different as well. She wants to hold on to her desires and expectations and even stated that she had a right to have expectations. Well, I don’t dispute that she has the right to have expectations. My point was just that they were not getting her what she said she wanted.

The woman got angry with me and with my co-leader. I realized later that she was treating us like she treats her daughter. She had expectations of what the Meetup would be like and expectations of how we would interact with her. When we did not meet her expectations she became angry and blaming, just as she is with her daughter.

The biggest learning for me that came out of this situation, though, is that this woman is my mother. Hearing her desires for her relationship with her daughter, witnessing the pain she feels, and seeing that at this moment she does not have the capacity to make changes that would create the relationship she wants gave me greater insight into my own mother.

I also realized that the suggestions I was making to her about changing how she interacted with her daughter can also be applied to me changing how I interact with my mother. If I take the first step in interacting differently I can open the door for my mother following my lead.

I have kept my mother at arm’s length because I am afraid of being overtaken by her (there’s that boundary thing again). As I am consciously striving to be more authentic in every area of my life I have to trust that I will be able to keep myself safe even as I reveal who I really am – not only to my mother, but to everyone in my life.

I have not shared the real me with my mother. It has felt too dangerous. After meeting this woman yesterday, I see that if I give me mother what she longs for – being close to me (the authentic me) – that she can stop demanding and expecting. She will have what she wants. Right now my mother is striving for that closeness in the only way she knows, by demanding and expecting. She doesn’t know the path that will create the relationship she wants with me.

But I do.

So, with a deep breath and not too little trepidation, I decide that this trip with my mother will be the opportunity to create the relationship we both want.

And I thank this woman who came to the Meetup yesterday for providing the mirror that allowed me to see things from my mother’s perspective.

I Never Met a Self-Improvement Program I Didn’t Like

A couple of years ago I was telling my therapist at the time about some book I was reading or an online program I was doing to improve my life.  I don’t remember specifically what it was or how it was supposed to make my life better, just that I was excited about it.  He responded by saying, “You never met a program you didn’t like.”

I was a little taken aback at first.  Then I realized that what he was saying was that I didn’t trust my own instincts about how to move forward and become who I wanted to be; that I believed that others knew the answer to this better than I did.  My therapist’s belief was that I already knew how to get where I wanted to be if I just tuned into my authenticity.

Intellectually I got what he was saying, but I still felt like I needed a roadmap laid out by an expert to reach any major destination in my life.  It was comforting to me to know that if I did step A through Z I would arrive safely where I wanted to be. This is a very black and white way of thinking and doesn’t take into account that we all have our own path, and what resonates for one person may not resonate for another.

Using this program approach was sometimes helpful for me and got me to the destination I wanted. Other times I ended up feeling frustrated because the program just didn’t fit for me.  In those cases I would end up blaming myself for not doing it “right” instead of acknowledging that this particular program was just not a good fit for me.

You can see that I valued the experience and opinions of others over my own.  I did not yet trust that I am the one who knows me best, and that with guidance from my higher self I know how and when to act.

I think we all would like to know the magic formula that will transport us to being the person we want to be, or being in the relationship we dream of, or having the success we want for our lives. I’ve come to realize that the magic formula is not outside of me in a book or a teleseminar led by an expert. It’s already in me, and I’m the expert.

This is not to say that there is no value in the experience and expertise of others; there is. I still read books on personal growth topics that interest me. I recently did a teleseminar series on connecting with my soul mate that I found to be very enlightening. Learning new tips, tools and techniques keeps me from having to reinvent the wheel.

However, I have become much more discriminating about which of these I choose to take up. I often come back to what my therapist said to me that day and ask myself if I am just looking for the next new, great thing to save me.

I’ve also gotten pretty good at knowing quickly when something does not fit for me and just moving on.  In the past if something wasn’t resonating I would have questioned myself because, after all, this was an expert telling me that this is the way it is.  Now I know that I am the expert on me, and that if something doesn’t feel right for me then it isn’t. This doesn’t mean that the expert is wrong, just that what works for them does not work for me.

I find that the programs that resonate for me all have one thing in common: they are focused on how I co-create what I experience in the world. This idea resonates for me and connects with how I live my life, which really is about me getting clearer on who I am authentically and what I want to create in my life and in the world.

I can still sometimes get sucked into wanting someone else to tell me how to get where I want to go. When I see this happening I know that fear (ego) is in control and I’m not trusting in my authentic self and the Universe to guide me.

There is great freedom in being in this place of knowing what’s right for me, and trusting my own path.