Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"Just Do It" (Muscle Memory)

Tonight I was working out with hand weights.  Exercises for my upper body.  I haven't done them in so long I couldn't tell you when I last did them.  I suspect it is twice as long as I assume it was. Tonight I felt my muscles breathe a sigh of relief.

"We thought you'd never remember."

It hurt some, sure.  But greater still was a following ache of delight at having been used.  Tonight I learned muscles want to work.  I suspect I learned about "muscle memory" and my response to tonight's workout might have been very different if I had never worked out before.  It might have felt a lot more painful.  Instead, I felt my body posture shift.  I felt my limbs stretch and move without judgement.  I know if I step on the scale or look in the mirror nothing will appear to have changed, but my awareness has shifted.  It was like rediscovering once again who I really am.

Lately, I am forever bumping into or touching something that I am suddenly reminded is actually there.  Inside I am the same as I ever was.  I see the world through the eyes of a perpetual twenty-year-old.  Then my triceps brush against flesh that my ego judges shouldn't be so thick under my breasts.  I catch a glimpse of my reflection and I see my breasts, take in their adult width and suddenly I am visualizing my mother.  Seeing myself as my mother.  Everything I swore I would never be.  Later I speak and I hear her voice in my ears.  When you've experienced the worst of someone, even if you have grown to a place where you no longer categorize them as a villain, it doesn't mean you're ready to sing their praises.  Tonight gave me distance.  Exercising felt good and with it some physical self confidence I had been missing returned.  So it was from a place of self acceptance that I could watch myself begin the steps to loathing myself.  It was educational.  You see, it works like this.  I notice something in myself that reminds me of my mother.  Without thinking any more deeply about it, I make the choice to dislike the thing in me that reminds me of my mother.

Deep at heart, I am a slayer.  I don't manage my anger.  I figure out how not to be a slave to anger.  I figure out how not to be anger.  I face my demons and evict them.  Naming one of them or understanding how it works, means I have it on the run.  You can no longer deceive and influence an audience who knows what you're doing and how you're doing it.  It's when I brush against those wider, softer bits, my demons, sensing I have been knocked off my game, make me think of my mother.  I've never been this age or weight before, but I've witnessed my mother at this place.  If I have a feeling I find unacceptable or that gets me into trouble,  I examine it.  I shine a light on every bit of it that I can.

What had happened right before I noticed it?
Is It possible I am feeling a dump in self confidence?  What am I feeling?  
Is how I'm feeling justified or could I be telling myself stories?

In this case, my arm brushed against the softness under my breasts.  It made me feel vulnerable.  It made me feel weak and uncomfortable.  It reminded me that for some time I have not felt myself.  Inside I am as I ever have been, but outside, it's like I've been stuffed into a Staypuft Marshmellow Man suit.  Perhaps not completely inflated, but just the same.  Somewhere around then, I usually make some sort of noise.  Mostly, just an intake of breath and that's when I think of my mother.  There is something about my voice, listening to it when I'm feeling vulnerable, that sounds very much like my mother.  Sometimes when something brushes my face and I become aware of the soft peach fuzz of hair that runs along my skin.  How it feeds into the hair behind my ear.  How I can almost pet it with my fingertips.  All of which are neutral things.  There is no expressed bad here.  Except I am thinking of my mother.  I am hearing her tell me how that same benign fuzz had made Marilyn Monroe more beautiful in her photographs.  I'm picturing my mother's face.  The peach fuzz on her face.  I always appreciate myself better through someone else's eyes.  In relationships, I nurture the aspects of myself about which my partner has expressed appreciation.  Suddenly I realized it might be because it is hard for me to view me, without seeing my mother.

I'm pretty sure this is a deeper place about forgiveness.  Because I've forgiven my mother.  I know that she was doing the best she could with the materials with which she worked.  You can't expect a meat cutter to perform brain surgery.  Most of the time I genuinely hope there is reincarnation and multiple chances for my mother's sake.  She didn't seem to really enjoy the one I saw.

But that is not the same as liking her or loving her or admiring her.  We say forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves.  Forgiveness gives us permission not to feel anything about the past anymore.  It allows us to set down the weight of things that can never unhappen.  For most of us, life consists of being open, being hurt, and closing some to protect ourselves from being hurt.  At some point we either need to make the decision to open our hearts and risk being hurt again or emotionally barricade ourselves.

When I was a child, my mother once said to me, "I love you because I'm your mother and I have to, but I don't really like you very much."  Like so many hurtful things I have heard in my life, it rolled around in my head until I was faced with the truth.  Which was I had come to feeling the same way about her.  I felt a joyless love built out of obligation.  Essentially the same way I have always felt about my body.  Rather than looking at my assets, I look at the things I see as shortcomings and wish they could be better or different.  A fine way to treat a companion who has always been there for me!

Love is acceptance.  An unconditional acceptance.  I love you no matter if you're skinny or chubby.  I love you even if you are cranky or argumentative.  I love you even if you have been a jerk.  Because it is only through my judgements and point of view that you've been a jerk.  You've just been doing the business of living.  You've just been a human who is alive, with your own judgements and point of view.  We all of us wear our own home forged invisible goggles, crafted from our reactions to life's experiences.

Exercising made me realize two things:  First, that the more things you try, the more things you will have some sort of muscle memory about.  In other words, the more things you try to do; the more things you can do.  Second,  it is time for me to aim some unconditional love towards myself and my body.  It's time for me to be grateful for all I am rather than despair at what I am not.  It's time to love myself because I'm alive and I'm creative and enthusiastic and strong and dependable and intelligent and loving and caring and it's time.

It's time to love me like I would love you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Ear Worm

The first time I ever had an ear worm, I was just a child.

"The Lion Sleeps Tonight."  
"Wimoweh ... wimoweh ... wimoweh."

I was so mystified and out of touch at that age, I actually actively avoided that song so it wouldn't happen again.  Like it was something bad that could actually hurt me.  When we're living a life that engulfed in fear, we avoid silly things.  Superstitious things.  We're bullied by shadows.  

While I was driving home from work last night, a song played on my playlist that I had meant to remove.  It is a beautiful song.  A remix of Everything is Everything by Phoenix.  But as it progressed to the lyrics:

Things are gonna change
And not for better 
Don't know what it means to me 
But it's hopeless, hopeless

I have tried to embrace positivity as much as possible.  So weeks ago, when I noticed the song in my playlist, I was going to remove it.  Except my house is being renovated.  Simple desktop computer tasks, like sync-ing your iPod, become a bit larger.  This time when I noticed it, I thought, "Well, it is a beautiful song.  Just listen to the music.  You are positive enough that you can resist being influenced by the lyrics."  

My mind flashed on my last ear worm.  I saw" Into The Woods" a couple of weeks back and for more than a week, my mind was haunted by:

Only I can lift the spell 
The spell is on MY house

The spell is on OUR house 

Just those lines.  Over and over.  Funny how our subconscious works.  All those beautiful Stephen Sondheim lyrics and that's the one that sticks?  A funny thing too.  It seemed to pop into my head at appropriate moments.  Meaning moments where I was contemplating some difficulty.  It seemed to emphasize it like I could expect no help.  

Only I can lift the spell

I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I want:

Things are gonna change
And not for better

it's hopeless, hopeless

Popping into my head three days after I hear it and, unless something stronger overtakes it, chain echoing there for weeks.  

"Three days?" you may ask.  I listen to a lot of music and I get a lot of ear worms.  As an adult, I began to notice a pattern.  The third morning after I had heard a song, I woke up with it in my head.  Or at least a small random part of it.  The trouble was:  I couldn't predict what song and I couldn't predict what little part.  Like I said, I listen to a lot of music.  I haven't yet noticed a pattern that predicts which song or why THAT song.  As I type this, I wonder if I can give myself some sort of suggestion to try and influence it, but as of yet, I haven't tried it.  

Think about it, though, even if it means limiting myself to songs that have uplifting lyrics, it is like tapping into the best affirmation system ever.  All those times, I looked myself in the mirror and repeated a fortune cookie positive statement.  I could have just listened to:

Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I'm happy

If you found yourself thinking, "God I'm sick of that song!  They've soooo overplayed it."  You might want to clear on the limiting belief that great things without a "sell by" date can go bad or spoil.  Do we say of the Mockingbird, after hearing it a dozen times, "Not THAT bird again!"  

Ok, I suppose maybe you do.  I know I used to.  At first I refused to read Harry Potter because "if it's THAT popular, it can't be any good."  I've nearly completely weaned myself off that sort of negative statement nowadays and if I find myself beginning to judge like that, I stop short.  Book, song, food, whatever it is; I decide to give it a try.  

I've told you before.  I've been as negative as nearly the worst of you.  I'm happier now and I haven't even yet begun to exploit my ear worm affirmation system.  

I'm sure I'm not alone in this either.  If nothing else, it illustrates the usefulness of knowing yourself.  Of noticing those little quirky things that are how you tick.  Do you get ear worms?  When was the last time you heard the song that popped into your head?  

Another thing I was just talking about with a friend a week or so ago.  I used to have this terrible habit when I was sad or angry.  I'd go turn on some of the saddest, angriest music I could find.  NIN (Nine Inch Nails) sang my favorite "go to" song:

You'll make this all go away
You'll make it all go away
I just want something
I just want something I can never have

Then one day I found myself a tiny bit appalled just how much I was relating to that line:

I just want something I can never have

I can't tell you how many mornings it taunted me when I woke up.  

You didn't just think it, did you?  You didn't just think, "What am I supposed to do?  Limit myself to jingles and kids songs?"

William Shakespeare once said, "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so."

No, you don't have to listen to jingles and kid's music.  But, whether you listen to House Music or Classic Rock, is there anything wrong with limiting yourself to the songs, the ones that have lyrics at least, to ones that are written in a positive way?  Songs that speak to the best version of you, rather than the sad, dejected worst version of you?  Feelings come and go.  You will experience more negative feelings no matter what music you listen to.  Why not try to salt the kitty?  Why not place your thumb on the scale to the positive side?  If you can influence your subconscious to talk nicely to you, why not do it?

I know, I know.  What about art?   Many magnificent pieces, in every media, exist that are not exactly positive.  Dark even.  Shakespeare had his comedies, but he also had his tragedies.  All I can do is urge you that self awareness is key.  Do you know if you wallow in sad, angry songs when you are feeling down?  Have you ever become aware of the inspiration for an ear worm or a dream?  How DO you want to feel?  What are you willing to do in order to make that happen?

Keep in mind, though, both movies and television programs have their soundtracks.  Today I found the song in my head had changed.  This weekend I watched "Cat Ballou."

She killed a man in Wolf City, Wyomin'
Wolf City, Wyomin', killed a man it's true 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Law of Attraction Steps 1 and 5 (Be Very Clear What You Don't Want and Letting Go)

The other day I was talking with a fellow coaching trainee and I discovered a point of confusion between the two of us within the five steps to the Law of Attraction.  In other words, he was telling me about his line items from Step 1.  "I don't want this and I don't want that."  While I was thinking, "but look what is happening to Step 5!"  The following day I listened to Therapy Training: How To Make Any Therapy More Effective by Chris Milbank and he made this very good point.

People who hate dishonesty really love honesty.  We need to treat our excess love of something as well as the opposite issue.

Used at their most advantageous and effective, I believe the five steps to the Law of Attraction work together and give you a greater picture about what is going on in your life.  Why you haven't been attracting the life of your dreams.  It can be tricky, though, if you don't consider each step in relationship to the other steps.  For instance, my friend was telling me that he had received a job offer and had declined it because he didn't want to work for a W2; he wanted to work for a 1099.  In other words, he didn't want to be a direct employee for the company; he wanted the company to hire him by retaining his business as a consultant.  He wanted the transaction to happen in that fashion because he saw it as giving him tax write-offs for his business.

I saw some conflicts in my understanding with what he was saying.  So I spoke up and asked for clarification.

Throughout my training and in the materials I've read, I've learned:

1.  Money is a form of appreciation.  Money will flow to you as appreciation for the services and work you have performed.  It may flow to you from other sources than you were expecting, but to the degree of which you have removed limiting beliefs or blocks, money will naturally flow to you.

2.  The Law of Attraction presumes a world of abundance.  If you are begrudging someone other than you the money he or she receives in appreciation, you are operating from a position of scarcity.  You are more in alignment with abundance when you are happy for other people's wealth as well as your own.  In other words, in a world of abundance, someone else's wealth takes nothing away from you.  I don't have to compete with you for that dollar.  There is plenty for all of us.

3.  Step 3 to the Law of Attraction is to "Let go."  This means to let go of any expectations you may have as to how you will receive the things you manifest or listed that you wanted in Step 2 (Be very clear about what you do want.)  An example I have been given is people who say they want a million dollars and then go out an buy a lottery ticket.  You see, when you buy that lottery ticket, you are dictating the terms rather than letting go.  I want a million dollars.  I want to receive it via the lottery and since this ticket is for next Tuesday's drawing; I want the million dollars next Tuesday.

I saw my friend's desire to work for a 1099 rather than a W2 as coming from a place of scarcity and dictating terms rather than letting go.  He answered, of course, "but what about Step 1?  I know I don't want to work for a W2.  I know I want to work for a 1099."  Instinctively, I still felt like I was onto something with what I had said, but Step 1 is to be very clear about what you don't want and I couldn't dispute that he was.  I knew we were in danger of slipping into a impenetrable logic loop.  It seems to me our only way out is by diving deeper in.  When you are centering in on what you do or don't want, you are supposed to be very detail oriented.  I've noticed the details from Step 1 can point you towards limiting beliefs you may need to clear in Step 3.  While the details from Step 2 (Be very clear about what you do want) can point you towards the emotions you would like to tap into in Step 4 (Nevillize or feel and behave as if you have already received what you want.)

Now, how would my friend feel if he worked for a 1099 rather than a W2?  As I see it, he would make more money.  Nothing wrong with that, but why not simply ask for a greater salary?  Why not just list in Step 2, X = the amount of money I would like to receive.  After all, whatever amount he visualizes himself as receiving as a result of the 1099 rather than a W2, couldn't he just receive that in the first place and allow for his employers to get the tax write-offs?  While we were discussing it, my friend began to talk more in terms of life purpose.  It turned out that the work he was talking about was, in his words, "soul crushing work."  He felt that way because, although the work is something he is good at performing, it isn't his first choice in terms of what he would like to be doing.

That is where we get lost in the details.  While we're talking 1099's and W2's and their tax benefits, the essence of what he wants has less to do with the money than something more elusive to pin down but is probably somewhere between appreciation and control.  I think when you find yourself listing details of what you do or don't want and they are beginning to read more like dictating terms, a good idea would be to return to steps 1 and 2 and detail how you would or wouldn't like to feel.  For example, in my friend's case.  "I don't want to earn a living doing work that feels 'soul crushing.'"  Perhaps even write it out in a sort of a beginning to something like an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Script.  In the past I have found my work to feel soul crushing.  It felt that way because x.  I would like to perform work that feels soul uplifting.  In order for me to feel that way, (a b c d) would be present.

There is another aspect to consider.  My friend felt the work was 'soul crushing,' but he was willing to do the work if he were allowed to dictate the terms.  Why?  Presuming a world of abundance, where there are myriad things you could do to earn a living, why would you want to do work you felt was 'soul crushing?'  Everything I'm saying is pure speculation based on a few comments between friends; but if I were examining my own Law of Attraction Vision Board or worksheet, I would consider two things.  First, why the work felt that way.  Is it because of how I have been treated by specific employers in the past?  Is there a chance simply working for a different employer could change how I feel?  Or do I just really hate doing that sort of work?  Second, do I have a limiting belief that the only way I can earn a living or be gainfully employed is by doing work that I secretly hate?

Now it is all well and good to take a page from a friend's Vision Board and dig in and say perhaps he needs to go back to the drawing board, but to be fair, maybe I need to put myself on the spot a bit.  At least my friend has a list of goals and what he wants, frequently I find my own vision, particularly in terms of relationships, much more vague.  A starting point could be a statement I made on a Vision Board very early on.  "I would like a romantic partner who makes me feel loved."  That stemmed from a Step 1 item about a former partner.  (In other words, a complaint about a former partner.)  "Being loved by "x," is like sitting in front of a fire which casts no warmth."

On the surface, it seems very straightforward and simple.  I didn't like that former partner's style of loving, so I would like a partner with another style in the future.  Do you see the glaring problem that stands out like a sore thumb, though?

I would like a partner who makes me feel loved.

Was it on while we were on the schoolyard that we first voiced, no one can make you do or feel anything.  You are the boss of you.  How you feel is an inside job.  Seems obvious that my choices in steps 1 and 2 in this instance point directly to a limiting belief.  Perhaps I need to clear on the belief that I need someone else's love, affection, or approval in order to feel loved?  Perhaps I need to examine whether or not I love myself?  And, if all that is the case, how does that change the shape of who I'm looking for in a romantic partner?

Now what does this have to do with Chris Milbank's assertion that we need to treat our excess love of something as well as its opposite?  He goes on to say that if we really love freedom, we will always recoil at feeling trapped.  It will happen again and again.  In other words, the Law of Attraction is an attraction of energies.  By being overly attached to one side, we naturally attract the opposite due to our extreme aversion and resistance to it.  Actual freedom comes from being in a situation that could cause us to feel trapped and being confident we are still free. 

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  the last of  human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search For Meaning

Letting go of attachments is also Step 5 of the Law of Attraction and I believe it is important for a couple of reasons.  First, those attachments are probably also tied to limiting beliefs.  Consider the lottery ticket example.  Perhaps you focused on receiving the money through a lottery ticket because you had a limiting belief that you could only receive the sum of money you wanted by winning it.  Keep in mind what that limiting belief could also be saying about your own opinion of your self worth.  It is a Law of Attraction constant that you will receive love or money or any other form of appreciation consistent with the amount you believe you are worth.  In the case of my own example, how can I ever find a partner who will make me feel loved, if I don't love myself?  If I am not worthy of my own love, how can I be worthy of anyone else's?  

Second, we tend to behave as if things will all work out swimmingly if we just get these limiting beliefs we have cleared and get on with manifesting things.  Life doesn't work that way.  For one thing, most experts in the field agree that once a limiting belief is cleared, another limiting belief will surface in its place.  At the same time, change is inevitable and integral to the system.  For example, I had a later partner who did make me feel loved, but the relationship still ended.  I believe being truly clear on a limiting belief is very much like this quote by Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron:  

Nothing ever really goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.

In other words, as long as we are attached to A, we will hate B.  The strong attachment naturally creates an energy of aversion and that energy will continue to draw the circumstances we dislike.  Or more precisely, it will continue to draw circumstances which cause us to feel and react in an opposing way.  I think to truly clear on a limiting belief that is associated with an attachment, we have to find that place where we can be like Viktor Frankl.  We have to be actively able to choose a different response or reaction than the one that has been dictated by our attachment and subsequent aversion and resistance.  

Honestly, as I have told my clients, I can't really say why your life becomes happier when you choose a positive outlook.   Does it actually become happier or does it seem like it is because you have chosen that filter through which to view it.  To me, it doesn't matter because the end result is the same.  I am happier.  The same is true with "nothing ever goes away."  Perhaps it never really goes away AFTER it has taught us what we need to know either.  Perhaps it is just a question of it no longer disturbing us.  We are no longer attached to its opposite.  We are no longer resisting.  

Why, if it all is simply a state of mind, do I even want to bother?  Because when you have cleared away the cobwebs of attachment, aversion, resistance, limiting beliefs or data, as Dr. Hew Len (the therapist I have mentioned in this blog before who healed a ward of mental patients using Ho'oponopono) would call it, that is when you tap into the flow, which is a sort of pure intuition.   The flow is like being immediately connected to the Law of Attraction.  The flow is when writers and artists describe their work as having almost written or created itself.  The flow is when athletes become the ball, the race car, or simply the thing itself instead of someone playing it.  The flow is when you don't question what you are doing; you just do it.  The flow is being truly alive.