Monday, August 25, 2014

Turning Upset Into Acceptance

Have you ever paid attention to what upsets you?

Do you notice a pattern?

Have you ever looked underneath the upset and the reasons to see why you are upset?

I Don't Like It!

For me, it always boils down to this: I'm upset when something happens that I don't agree with.

I don't like it. I don't want it. It shouldn't have happened.

Basically, I don't agree with it. Basically, I'm having a little temper tantrum about it. And I'm not accepting what is.

Traffic - Doesn't It Make You Nuts?

Let's say I need to drive somewhere I've been many times. And I forget that the timing of my trip will out me smack dab in the middle of in commute traffic. So I didn't allot enough time for that. Now every traffic light could become an annoyance. Every time a driver does something stupid in front of me, or when I am unable to change lanes because there's so many cars on the road, I could be frustrated.

What's Happening Here? 

I want the situation to be other than it is. Better. By my definition. (Well, light traffic would be better by most people's definition. Including the umpteen drivers on the road with me.)

As long as I am arguing mentally with what is -- in this case heavy traffic and a longer than anticipated trip -- there's the option to get upset about it. About the drivers, the lights, or with myself for not planning better.

Whether it's trouble with technology, in traffic, or an interaction, I am upset because it didn't happen the way I think it should have.

That may sound simple, but it's what a former teacher used to call a cosmic pea. In other words: little but pervasive. Here's what I mean.

 What's the Bigger Truth?

But there's a bigger truth here. In most cases, it's not the end of the world if I get there a little bit later. And, whether it is or isn't, it is going to take as much time as it takes to get there. Whether I am upset or happy. So why not choose happy and have fun during the drive?

And when I choose happy, I can turn on the radio or my playlist, and enjoy the ride. And while I'm at it, I am a safer driver, more aware of what is happening around me instead of arguing with the present moment.

It's More Fun

And I usually find it so much more fun to choose to be happy instead of arguing with the present moment.

Although I'm not a big fan of the phrase "It is what it is.", that's one way of saying this. To me, it's not resignation, but acceptance. It means that I accept the fact that this is the current situation. And I make a choice what to do next.

I can choose acceptance in every situation. If I don't like what's happening, the first step (assuming there's no physical danger) is to really look at what's happening. And accept the fact that this is what's happening. Then look at your options based on that.

How About You?

What upsets your canoe? What do you do about it?

Related Posts

The Search for the Black Skirt

Monday, August 18, 2014


I’ve been doing the Course in Miracles for a few months now, and so have some of my friends. A lot of the work is about forgiveness. And we've been hearing about it on Sundays lately.

Did I hear a groan? A scream “No!” from somebody?

Forgiveness is Not Condoning Bad Behavior

If you’ve done forgiveness work before, you probably know that forgiveness does NOT mean condoning bad behavior or staying in a bad situation such as domestic abuse. If you are in that situation, get help. If you don’t know where, in the USA, dial 211 on your phone for resources.

You Mean I'm Still Not Done?

When doing a forgiveness practice recently, I found myself forgiving my x-husband and myself - for the umpteenth time - for it not working out. And I found myself asking “Really? Still?! It’s been more than 20 years! WHEN will I be done with this?”

And then I had an image of that resentment as a ball and chain around my ankle. A weight I had been dragging around. Even though it doesn’t weigh a fraction of what it did 20 years ago, it’s still there: invisible, weighty, dragging me down from time to time. Really? Still? After all the work I’ve done on this? Can I just be done with it?

I felt the full truth of it: For me, forgiveness is the opposite of holding on. It’s the opposite of holding a grudge. It’s giving up the idea that the past can be better than it was.

Wow. What do I do with that?

It happened. It was not fun. I was miserable. I was unable to communicate, no matter how many ways I tried, in any way to make things better. At one point I told a friend that it was as though we sat across from one another, but I was blind and he was deaf. He could not hear a word I said. I could not see that he was using sign language. And for whatever reason, touch was not used as an alternative.

So that’s how it was. I cannot go back and change that. I cannot use the tools I have learned since then to go back and fix anything or make it right. I can’t do a thing about it. That’s the way it happened. That’s the first step - acceptance. What happened, happened. It’s done.

The next step for me: What do I want to do about it?

If you’re lucky, you sit down with yourself, by yourself, and ask yourself that question. And if you can’t answer it, you talk to someone who can help you get clarity. I didn’t do that. My inner voice kept telling me to go spend a month away. Had I done that, I might have gained some much-needed perspective. And I might have seen another way. At the least, I would know more clearly what I wanted.

The third step for me is the hardest - letting go

Somewhere, someone explained an easy way to let go. Imagine that you are holding a pen in your hand. If I ask you to drop it, you need to open your hand and let it go. Gravity will take it from your hand. Of course, some things seem to be stuck to me with Velcro.

So here’s another way to do it is this: Hold your hand, palm up, with the  pen in your fist. Now open your hand. That is also letting go. It’s still there. But having looked at it, accepted that it is there in my palm, I am no longer holding on to it. It rests there. And when I am ready, I can turn my hand over and let it drop. Or I can set it down gently. The pen doesn’t go away, but it’s no longer occupying my fist, making my hand unavailable for anything else. That is how forgiving someone frees myself.

And if I find that pen in my hand again later, it’s easier each time to open my hand and set it down.
I like that.

How Do You Know When You've Forgiven Someone?

Our Rev. Edward says you know you've forgiven someone when you grant them safe passage through your mind. Check his blog article on Kindness Is My Religion.

To me, it feels like floating on the river's current instead of fighting it. I have more energy, and I have a much better time while I'm there! I trust that the river knows what it's doing.


 Can't Forgive Yourself?

If you have trouble forgiving yourself, here’s an article and clip from Good Will Hunting that you might enjoy.

How About You?

Have you forgiven and moved on from something that held you back?

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Search for a Black Skirt

One Summer years ago, I needed a black skirt. I searched 16 clothing stores, and found one black skirt. But I didn't like it, and it didn't fit.

So I went to 3 fabric stores, thinking I would just make one. I didn't find any black fabric suitable for a skirt.

I was quite puzzled. A black skirt is pretty basic stuff in a wardrobe. I needed it for some function, and it needed to be black.

Did I Miss Something?

Years later, I got to wondering... Because my entire focus was on finding a black skirt, I didn't even notice any other color.  What if there were some really great things at some of those stores that I missed because I was looking for a black skirt?

Now women's clothing stores are a set-up for this kind of thing... we are expected to go in and see
what's available and choose from that. Maybe even focusing on what's in style that season. That's not me, but it's how the clothing world works here, so I've learned to adapt.

Do I Look at Other Stuff Like That?

Our minds work that way too. If we want something, or believe something, our world conforms to that idea. In this case, it was a black skirt. And it happened to be lacking that week.

But it could just as easily have been a search for a partner. Or the perfect home. Or a better job. Or better health. If I focus on what I think I want or need or expect, I may not see what is right in front of me that will work even better.

Thought Creates Reality

If I have a basic, underlying belief that what I want is not available, that will show up as my reality. If I am imbued with the overall flavor of lack in my subconscious, that's what I'll experience.

You've heard me say before that your thoughts create your reality. I didn't put those thoughts of lack there. But when I check in, I know it's one of my beliefs. And it doesn't take much examination for me to see where that belief came from growing up.

 Choosing Something Different

But that doesn't mean I need to live that way now.

I can choose something else. I can re-program myself with new beliefs.

And just like learning to ride a bicycle, I may not perfect that skill right away. But with practice, I can change that core belief buried deep in my psyche. Unearth that malware that wormed its way into my mindset, and upgrade to a better Operating System in my mind. In other words, take the red pill. The Truth I am learning is Freedom. Freedom from old beliefs that limited my options. Freedom from old thoughts that kept me from seeing what is possible. Old habits that keep my stuck in my way of thinking, being, living. When I really want to grow and know and Be so much more.

And it all starts and ends inside my mind. That's the real final frontier.

And that black skirt? I ended up making one.

How About You?

What thoughts have you found and changed that held you back?

Monday, August 4, 2014

What Does the 5 second rule have to do with life?

What Does the 5 second rule have to do with life?

So you have no doubt heard someone, after dropping food on the floor, say “Five second rule!” then pick it up and eat it. 

Some of us cringe at the very thought. There is no scientific evidence that it takes 5 seconds for germs to get on a piece of food when it’s dropped on the floor, or worse, the ground. 

Personally, I would suspect that if we could film the event on a microscopic level, it’s would resemble a meteor crashing to Earth, digging a crater where dirt gets into the meteor and meteor gets into the dirt. So a carpet would offer a huge surface area for contamination, and a hard floor, having no give, would create a harder, more intense smashing of the particles together.

Do I Ever Act Like That?

So when I think about this in terms of my thinking, I see parallel in how I “smash” into a situation. You know, how I react or respond to the person, place, or thing. When a web site or software program behaves in unexpected, frustrating ways, my frustration sends a flood of neuro-chemicals through my brain and body, creating ripples through my being, making my hair stand up, my jaw clench, my breathing shallow. Even after the fact, I can feel a tightness and stress in the center of my chest. There is recent scientific evidence that emotions affect our entire energetic body, our thoughts, our immune system, everything.

It Affects How I See the World

Even more than that, our perception affects our vision. Not just the physical vision, although there was one time in my life when I was so angry that I literally saw red. It also affects our point of view, our experience of the world, our expectations, and so our experiences of the world. Some of these thoughts, beliefs, and opinions come from our upbringing, school, etc, we may have been born with some, and quite a few come from choices we make about what something means.

These assumptions can contaminate our experience in much the same way as that meteor hitting the Earth or that potato chip hitting the floor. If our mental floor is clean of assumptions, there is less contamination. If I have taken care of most of my wounded places, what don Miguel Ruiz calls the Pain Body, then my feeling won’t be hurt when someone doesn’t respond to my “Hello!”. If my mind and heart are clear, I can be open to thinking, “perhaps she didn’t hear me.” Rather than thinking that she doesn’t like me. 

A New 5 Second Rule

So my new 5 second rule is this: Wait 5 seconds before reacting. Give myself a chance to respond instead.

That 5 seconds, or 3 deep breaths, can change everything. The way I see the situation. The way I feel. The chemical reactions in my body. The way I see myself.

How About You?

Do you notice times when your thoughts are contaminating your perception? 

Do you find it helpful to pause when you are frustrated or overwhelmed?