How I Make My Life Difficult!

Here is just one example: I am hurrying to send an e-mail to an important person in my life (it can be business related or personal) and I read it through thinking it is ready. I push “send”.

As soon as the e-mail leaves my outbox, I realize that the wrong person was CC’ed, or a word in the e-mail was unintentionally harsh, inappropriate or presumptuous.

The feeling in my gut is almost unbearable at this point. Various expletives (not for print here) dance around in my head!

Why did I not wait to send it?

Why did I not think of this before I sent it?

How can I be so thoughtless/stupid/inconsiderate/….?

 

And no matter how much I  wrestle with myself, I cannot undo the action. Done is done – there is no way back. And then comes the self-blame.

Self-blame is like fire – if left unattended it consumes everything in its path!

My day is now shaped by it. It casts a long shadow over my relationships with innocent bystanders such as business associates, and (especially) husband and kids by a sense of dread that I carry with me. I feel bad about me – therefore I have much less attention to give to other areas of my life. I am moody and short-tempered.

Isn’t it interesting that when we beat up on ourselves, we are really taking away attention from what we could be doing? We are less likely to have any excess energy, which means we won’t help our own situation or that of others,  and we are less likely to reach out and be of service. Much of our energy goes towards listening to that critical voice in our heads that is busy beating up on us!

Being in the throes of self-blame is a selfish act.

Think about it…

My daily practice has turned towards separating  self-blame from self-reflection. It is necessary to learn from our mistakes if we want to grow. And spending a little time and deciding what could be done better or more thoughtfully is usually beneficial (even if it is just to let a few minutes pass, do something else, and then read the same important e-mail with fresh eyes).

Yet to self-blame is completely useless!

Perfection is a town in Russia – but we can strive for excellence by learning from our previous actions! 

We can free ourselves from the self-imposed prison of thinking we need to be perfect by celebrating that we learn from our mistakes.  In a sense, if we learn from our mistakes, then they are indeed our greatest teachers and therefore causes for celebration!

For me, this helps to minimize of the guilt, shame and self-blame that I normally treat myself to when I screw up – and I get more done!

And still…. right now I kind of dread pushing that “publish” button over to the right….. And I take a moment – do something else – read it again. Then I push that button and move on!

(The Larger Than Life Coaching blog is in the process of moving to www.marietrout.com. To continue being subscribed – please go there and sign-up.)

 

 

The Dark Side of the Holidays – Or the Best Season that Money Can’t Buy!

Some of us go into this season dreading it….

We have a sense of impending doom, when we think of the long to-do lists that loom, when we consider all the decorating, cooking, buying, giving and planning that goes into the season.

Some find that the financial situation is so tight that being able to live up to the perceived expectations means going into debt for the coming “happy” New Year. The resentment follows like a holiday hang-over when the presents are unwrapped. Presents that effectively will need to be paid for with uncertainty and fear in the coming months.

At this time of year, glossy portrayals of family bliss, adored children with wrapping paper piles, tons of presents, old and dear traditions, lights and lovingly prepared family meals are everywhere.

And for many of us this is far from reality.

For some money is not the problem, but they are not looking forward to the emotional toll of having family members bicker and fight over the turkey. Or they dread the disrespect that their children, their spouses or their relatives show them, even as they try to give everyone a pleasant time.

This is a time of heartache and suffering for many of us. Even the ones among us who are not looking like we are on the surface. It can be a time of  pretending as we put on a happy face and allow the merriment of the season to wash over us, at least in public!

If you or someone you know is in this situation, there are a few things we can do to create a more joyous Holiday experience. First a quick internal assessment:

  • What would you really like to experience this Holiday Season? Try to back up and focus on internal aspects. So, for instance translate “I would like to be able to afford this or that” to the feeling that is below that wish. How would it make you or someone else feel?

If the “home is where the heart is” – then what is truly in your heart?

Sometimes we discover that our focus on how to set the table, what we would like to give, etc. is a cover-up for what we really want: A feeling of love, kindness, togetherness, meaningful relationships, a way to matter to others or simply absence of pain, despair and loneliness.

  • Identify what might be holding you back from having this experience that you would like to have

Is it money? No family? Not enough time? Or is it a perception that this is what others expect? Is it the sense that you by sacrificing yourself for others at this time makes you feel important?

  • Find out how you can step out of habit thinking, and find a way to create the experience you would like by thinking about it in a new way that includes what you have and not what you wish you had.

Can you show your love for your family without having to stretch yourself thin? How can you prepare them (and yourself) for this in a way that allows a new sense of anticipation?

If you are alone, how can you plan a meaningful time for celebrating you – or where can you look to find others who are in the same situation and help create a great experience for them as well as yourself?

If you family is bickering – how can you create new rituals with them that will further a spirit of togetherness and not the same old same old?

  • What components are needed to make this new way of doing things work?

As part of the preparation we can ask family and friends for input as they help us create new traditions.  The mad dash we normally engage in is largely self-imposed. And many of our relatives actually appreciate a less stressful season with more emphasis on togetherness and less on keeping up appearances.

Convention is a town in our own head!

And it is possible that all that we need to change our “have to’s,” is to just have the conversation – first internally, and then with others. You might be surprised at what you find when you lift the veil of convention.

Happy Holidays. To coin a phrase: Have it YOUR way!

Good Grief! I Am Falling!

Yesterday morning I was walking at 4:30AM. It was foggy and dark. A delicious time to walk in peace and quiet. The fog was like thick oatmeal and the dampness of the air was invigorating, sprinkling my face with a cool mist. I was lost in thoughts as I walked. I felt connected to all and nothing in particular.

And then I got the brilliant idea: to break my meditative state and

….drumroll……

check the e-mails on my phone!

Now if I had stopped, or even slowed down, to glance at the ever-present piece of technology, well – that would have been one thing. But of course I didn’t. I walked on in the fog.

All was well until suddenly an object reached out and grabbed both my legs and abruptly stopped their forward motion and enveloped them in a sharp, unforgiving, agonizing pain. The top of my body was well on its way to the next step – and my legs were hindered by this mysterious object.

“Holy s… I am going over – gosh this hurts

My survival instincts were in full attack mode. What on earth was happening? Did someone grab my legs with metal thongs, and next thing I know I am going to be hauled into an unmarked white van never to be heard from again?

Time slowed down, as it tends to do in these types of fight or flight experiences. All I could do was to try to balance myself somehow and not fall over. I was flailing in the air, making the most ungracious moves to remain standing. I did not want to drop the phone on the hard sidewalk concrete either.

By some amazing grace, I managed to not topple, and also to keep my phone in my hand.

It was time to assess what had “grabbed my legs”.

I looked down to see an innocent, yet very unmovable-looking fire hydrant! It was down low and I had not seen it in my phone-absorbed awareness. Well, at least I did not have to fight off the imagined guys in the white van… However, what I never realized about fire hydrants is that they have really, really sharp bolts on them. HUGE bolts, which on this one were covered in black, oily grease. And on both my legs were now big black scrapes and throbbing bruises from these contraptions.

It hurt like crazy.

Now the old me would have frozen. I would have been enveloped in pain and bent over – stopped in my tracks. My first thoughts would have been along these lines:

-“Crap, I am just so stupid! I know not to walk in fog and look at my phone at the same time- Duh!”

-“Jeez, I wonder who saw that? That must have looked ridiculous… maybe someone is having a good laugh at me?”
– “I am just such a klutz!”

-“Why does this kind of stuff always happen to me?”

I would have been petrified by the pain, and humiliated by my own thoughts. The walk would probably have ended with me limping home – or calling a cab. I would have felt like crap. Icepacks would have been applied and I would have been there in my house feeling victimized by the stupid hydrant that happened to be in my way.

What was interesting about this experience this time, was the fact that after I assessed the damage, I actually managed to just keep walking. As my legs throbbed, I seemingly moved through the pain. Words popped into my head that were very different to how I would have responded for most of my life. I felt grateful for my body’s ability to balance itself. I felt competent that I had managed to hold on to the phone and not fall. I thanked the Universe for giving me this reminder that my walks (especially in the fog and with jet lag) are for feeling connected. A connectedness that does NOT involve technology! How lucky was I that I could receive this reminder without falling off a cliff or getting run over by a car?

As I kept walking, the pain became a warm almost pleasant tingle. It was as if the blood, rushing through my body, allowed the pain to transform into this awareness of new lessons learned.

There is a saying that goes like this:

“Pain is inevitable – Suffering is optional”

And yes, we certainly cannot escape pain in our lives. It is a fact of life. From beginning to end, we will run into episodes of hurt. It is what we do with it those painful experiences that makes a difference: Pain is what the world does to us. Suffering is often brought on by what we do to ourselves by how we react to it. By how we think about the it. By what we take the pain to mean.

In coaching, when we experience pain, we often look for “what is real” about it. What is inevitable. And then we work to separate “what is” from what we take it to mean. Often we feel liberated and lighter when we free ourselves from our self-imposed interpretations and assumptions. And our suffering lessens.

What might you take the “fire hydrants” to mean in your life?

Why Death Doesn’t Scare Me… (It might not be what you think!)

Photo by: Jonathan Trout

I almost died when I was eight years old. The experience was one of resignation. I had gotten really sick. Nobody, in the whole country of Denmark, could figure out what was wrong with me. Nothing showed up on tests. And as they kept testing, I just kept losing weight. I could not eat. My legs stopped working and I lost my ability to walk – and eventually I was unable to even sit up in my bed. At the hospital they put me in isolation. And there I was; drifting in and out of consciousness, floating between realities. Most of the time I was in an alternate reality, which I found to be a peaceful place. I was still in this world of flesh, yet I had a sense of something much more “real” was just “across the way”. I did float out of my body on occasion. I had no major sights or experiences other than seeing the room, I was in,  from different vantage points. I had no visitations or voices come to me, yet I felt at peace and completely safe. Death did not even occur to me. I was in a place “between realities” and found the experience reassuring. It was as if my extra-sensory apparatus got enhanced as my bodily functions dwindled. And I did not care about pain. They stuck a big fat needle in my spine at one point to retrieve some spinal fluid without any kind of anesthesia. And it was just fine with me. It felt unreal. It felt as if my body was experiencing pain, but I was free of it. I could not be hurt or even care. I was ready to transcend all earthly pain and pettiness; I was ready to float away.

A nurse, who was assigned to be my caretaker, penetrated my bubble. She literally broke through my protecting barrier by lowering the metal bars around my bed. She sat down unceremoniously at the foot of my bed and started reading to me. As she read aloud, her soft, chime-like voice enveloped me like a supple blanket of sweetness. She read simple stories of love and heroism. Not the stories of “good literature”, my mother preferred, but novels from the Danish Women’s Magazines. The nurse gave me her un-divided attention. She brought me saucers with a few cookies and soda in a tiny metal cup. I had not wanted to eat food – but the orange soda and the cookies got my attention! She literally managed to get me engaged in trying to stay alive through her little spoonfuls of sugar! Never underestimate the power of well-timed and well-presented simple carbohydrates and easily digested pop literature! And her uncomplicated and ever-present care for me gave me enough reason to believe life here on earth might be worth living. Her undemanding company and emotional presence healed me. Her simple joi de vivre gave me the will to force myself back into this reality. She gave me a view of a way of life that allowed a lightness of being.

Since then life has been a choice for me. I choose to be here, and I also choose to make the most of it! The early brush with death taught me that the true value of my life is Joy, Love and Celebration. These are the values that I have sought to fill my life with, and to be a conduit of for others. In retrospect it seems to me that my “checking out early” was an avoidance maneuver for me. It was as if there was a more suitable place for me to be in the after-life, and only through the reminder of connectedness, made manifest in human love and compassion, joy and celebration, I was able to choose the plight of earthly life. We all know the elements that make the human condition a real hassle: The pain of birth, the heartaches, the disappointments, the terror of ownership, the fear of poverty, loss and the fear of death to name a few! Taking on human life includes the willingness to be the tossed on the waves of circumstance. Not at all an attractive a choice, if you have had a glimpse of what it might be like on the other side! However, I also feel that the human condition is uniquely shaped to demonstrate that Creation is what we make of it; that our consciousness shapes our reality. We are able to choose not necessarily what happens to us, but what we take it to mean! The human condition includes constant cross roads, where our choice ultimately is between Fear and Love. As creators of our perceptions, we also may co-create on many dimensions and in many realms. If the thoughts of a scientist can affect whether an electron “shows up” as either a particle or in  waveform, then our thoughts might be infinitely powerful in many ways. Life here is thus a responsibility where every thought, emotion and action has consequences for us, for others, for physical life on the planet and beyond. We can affect physical reality. This responsibility can be felt as a burden or as a gift. The choice is ours. And maybe we will be more inclined to experience the blessings of our physical existence, if we know more about the realities beyond it. An encounter with and awareness of a different level of existence might enable us to face the details of earthly life with more perspective and freedom to a live fully sans fear.

At age 18 I started a journey of self-discovery that included everything Stanislav Grof had ever written. I felt a resonance with his descriptions of alternate states of consciousness. His books gave me, for the first time, at chance to start to explain experiences, which up until that point had been non-verbal and only felt. This journey of discovery has continued ever since. Carolyn Myss’ work was another stepping stone in languaging the pre-verbal for me. From there Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ work was a revelation. Many other authors have helped plant their translations of the alternate reality in my garden of perception. And for their contributions to my piecing together my own understanding of the totality of being, I am profoundly grateful.

Soon I am embarking on a week long seminar with Raymond Moody as part of my studies. He is someone who likewise has been a pivotal documenter and translator of this reality beyond the veil of physical reality.  My focus will be on continuing to pick up ways to translate the experience of the “alter-life” to find expression here in our earthly plain. My overall goal in life is to be a bridge between these realities. I strive to find ways to help myself and others grasp the importance of not getting stuck in the narrow field of vision of reductive realism. At the same time it is important for me not to allow the flights of fancy and flakiness that comes from leaving behind one’s analytical faculty. So as I prepare for this intensive, I wish to engage my inner trinity: My brain, my heart and my intuition.

Ultimately my goal is to further my understanding of how to continually bring joy, love and celebration, the effortless lightness of being, that permeates the Universe into the field of human awareness. Studying our feelings and the facts surrounding the topic of death is ultimately only a useful proposition if we use it to further our understanding of a greater reality than our physical human existence.  This way studying the circumstances of death enables us to enjoy and appreciate our life more fully here and now – not in retrospect – but as we live it!