Inner180

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Can You Love All of You?

December 2nd, 2008 · 2 Comments

pink-flower_000005420955xsmallI love the story of Evy McDonald, who suffered from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), an incurable, usually fatal, neuromuscular disease that destroys the body’s motor neurons, the nerve cells that control voluntary movement.

Sitting in her wheelchair, Evy chose to literally face her disease, and sat before a mirror looking at her deteriorating body.  In the beginning, she was revolted by herself.  Gradually, she became able to find aspects of herself to admire.  In time, she made peace with herself and her weakened body.

That’s when a miracle occurred.

In a newsletter of the Canadian Holistic Healing Association, Evy wrote, “I couldn’t pinpoint just when the shift occurred, but one day I noticed that I had no negative thoughts about my body. I could look in the mirror at my naked reflection and be honestly awed by its beauty. I was totally at peace, with a complete, unalterable acceptance of the way my body was – a bowl of jello in a wheelchair.”

Although she had been given only a year to live, Evy ultimately made a full recovery from the disease.  In writing about her process, which you can read more about here, Evy stressed the importance of letting go of outcome in her quest to accept herself.

Easier said than done. But she persisted.

Evy suggests this as a step in the healing journey, a step we can all wisely follow, no matter what kind of healing we are doing:  “Release all expectations of how it will turn out. Your body may heal completely – or not at all. You may find that a wheelchair, cane, walker or crutches becomes an integral part of your daily life. That does not determine whether or not you live in a state of wellness.”

Our wellness, indeed our wholeness, then, does not depend so much on whether we lose the weight, heal our knee, or find the perfect career.  We become well and whole when we make peace with all of us, with ourselves exactly as we are.

Our jobs then are to make peace with our overweight bodies, our strained backs, the times we yelled at our kids when we were tired and angry, the unkind things we said to ourselves, marrying the wrong person, failing the test, and so on.

When we can accept all that we are, all that we’ve done, all the decisions we’ve made, we become whole.

The only thing that’s stopping us is the our failure to see the truth about our beauty and our magnificence.

It’s the work of a lifetime, but I can’t think of anything better to do.

Tags: self-acceptance · self-criticism · self-worth

What Are You Doing “Just in Case”?

October 29th, 2008 · No Comments

I knew what I had to do today.  The thought was scary.  I was really, really hesitant.  Is this the right decision? Can I be sure?  What if I make a mistake?

I’ve held a license as an educational therapist for about 10 years.   I thought, “Well even though I don’t want to do this work anymore, I should maintain this license, just in case….”

Just in case what? It’s practical, sure, but I have a full-time coaching business that I love and this particular just in case is based on an assumption I might lose the work I love and go back to work I don’t love.

So I decided that just in case is not a sufficient reason to do keep this license.  Just in case wasn’t coming from the reality of a thriving business doing work I love, and it wasn’t coming from desire, from what I really, really want.

So I sent an email notifying my certifying company that I would not be renewing.  Simple.  Straightforward.  Direct.  It was scary to push the send button on my email.  My hands trembled a bit and I caught my breath.  And a few minutes later, it felt fantastic.  Clean, honest, clear.

What are you holding onto just in case that you really don’t need?

Tags: desire · fear · risk

Can You Be Smart AND Happy?

September 18th, 2008 · No Comments

This morning, I was coaching very smart client.  She’s an academic at a renowned university, and feeling a little sheepish about the possibility that she could actually be happy.  She has a brilliant, highly-trained mind, and like so many in academia, tends to be suspicious of mooshy concepts like joy and happiness.  Especially her personal joy and happiness.

Another client, a genius with two PhDs, spent years as an academic.  For a while, he resisted some of the more imaginative exercises I gave him.  Even when they helped him stop procrastinating, the issue he’d been paralyzed by and sought coaching for, he feared that without empirical proof that the techniques worked, he was somehow being stupid for relying on them. “Are there any studies on this?” he’d ask me.  It seemed better to hang onto his dysfunction than to risk doing something that was possibly unproven hocus-pocus. Better to be a brilliant procrastinator than a productive dupe, I guess.

I’ve done my own time in academia, as a law professor, which carries not only the general fear of academia (the worst fate in life is that others will find out I’m not smart), but also the pessimism of legal thinking (if something can go wrong, it probably will, so I have to be prepared for every possible negative contingency).  I spent a long time rejecting the possibility that I could be happy, even when I began to feel happy. I felt sheepish about it.  It seemed so, well, improbable and foolish.

Ultimately, I got over it.  With practice and a bit of self-compassion my client can, too.

It’s crazy really. A smart person can  justify staying miserable or dysfunctional, because if others find out we’re happy, they might think we’re not so smart.  Sometimes the smartest people do the silliest things, in the name of intelligence.

Tags: happiness · resistance · self-worth · transformation