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How ignoring my Inner Nag got me to Africa.

September 17th, 2009 · 9 Comments

Does she have an Inner Nag?

Does she have an Inner Nag?

Over and over, I’ve been asked the same thing about my recent trip to Africa: what was the best part, the most important thing I learned, my biggest “aha”?  The people, the animals, the landscape, the country, and the African STAR workshop enriched my life in so many ways.  Did one thing stand out?

I puzzled over this, and then it hit me.

The biggest lesson for me was this–I went.  I didn’t take the advice of the whiney chorus of nagging, nay-saying voices in my head intoning “NO-O-O-O. Don’t go.  You shouldn’t do this,” somber as a criminal court judge handing down a life sentence without possibility of parole.

“You don’t have the time,” the clockwatcher crisply noted.  “You don’t have the money,” begged the voice of lack, convinced it’s the only thing between me and a life spent living under a bridge with my worldly belongings in a shopping cart.  “You didn’t plan this far enough in advance,” clucked the practical one as she studied the lists on her clipboard. “The long plane ride will wipe you out,” implored the hand-wringer that thinks danger and injury lurk around every corner.  “Everyone will think it’s foolish/be jealous/won’t like you,” pleaded the approval-junkie that desperately wants to get along well with others.

Is she looking for approval?

Is she looking for approval?

I’d heard them all before, cautioning me not to seize other opportunities in my life.  I’ve listened to their advice many times.  This time, I realized they were just the voices of limiting thoughts that weren’t true.   So I thanked them for their efforts.  And I ignored them.

Oh my stomach still did loops when I gave the airline agent my credit card information.  But I knew my feelings were coming from thoughts fueled by my Inner Nags.  So I bought the ticket.

And I had a fantastic trip with absolutely no regrets.  I was enchanted.  I learned.  I grew.  I shared amazing sights and transformative insights with fabulous people.  I had an adventure.  It felt light and airy and magical and free.  And it still does.

He doesn't seem to be worried about his future.

He doesn't seem to be worried about his future.

The Buddha taught that you can always know the sea because it always tastes of salt and you can always know enlightenment because it always tastes like freedom.

I can recall so many adventures that I’ve passed up because I chose to believe that chorus of hyper-cautious, sensible voices.  This time I listened to the deeper, wiser voice inside me.  “Go,” it whispered.  “This is an opportunity of a lifetime.  Don’t pass it up.  Go.”

Recognizing and listening to that still, quiet voice of truth is the greatest lesson I learned.   And it’s delicious.  It tastes like freedom.

Tags: desire · fear · stillness · thinking · truth

What do you do when things don’t go smoothly?

June 2nd, 2009 · No Comments

Broken BowlA quiz:

1.  The electric drill breaks in the middle of a big project that you had set the whole weekend aside for. You:
a.  Tell yourself the drill shouldn’t break because it’s not that old.
b.  Curse the drill, the traffic on the way to the home store to buy a new drill, and the long checkout line in the store.
c.  Tell yourself and the person next to you in the checkout line that it’s a rip-off that drills cost so much and don’t last long.
d.  All of the above.

2.  Your printer is feuding with your computer when you need a document pronto for an important meeting.  You:
a.  Tell yourself that the printer should work because it was working fine a minute ago.
b.  Hit the print command over and over.
c.  Tell yourself you are an idiot for waiting for the last minute to print the document, and worry about losing your job.
d.  Tell yourself that bad things always happen to you
e.  All of the above.

3.  You leave late and hit a huge traffic jam on your way to your dental appointment.  You:
a.  Tell yourself the traffic shouldn’t be jammed at this hour.
b.  Grab the steering wheel tightly, clench your teeth, and curse the traffic.
c.  Think up dramatic excuses to tell the dental receptionist, the dentist, and everyone in the waiting room about why you are late.
d.  Complain to everyone in the waiting room that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it in.
e.  All of the above.

4.  You are remodeling your kitchen and the granite you ordered doesn’t arrive on time, requiring your contractor to postpone the installation of your counters and new sink.  You have a big party at your house Saturday night, and you were planning to show off your new kitchen.  You:
a.  Chew out the contractor about how he missed an important deadline.
b.  Cancel your party and tell your friends (and yourself) how stressful it is to remodel.
c.  Get in a huge fight with your partner who doesn’t want to cancel the party, and who just doesn’t get it.
d.  Spend the afternoon crying.
e.  All of the above.

If you chose a, b, c, d, or e, it’s called arguing with reality, and it’s an argument you will lose.  Always.

Here’s the truth:  drills break, printers don’t print, and traffic jams happen.  Refrigerators and washing machines break, too, usually when they are full.  Kids forget to take their homework to school, granite doesn’t arrive on time for your party, and your last pair of contact lenses rip as you take them out of the container.  No matter what you are endeavoring to do, sometimes there will be glitches, delays, foul-ups, screw-ups, and mess-ups.  Count on it.

Now, answer one more question:

You are in the middle of something and a glitch, delay, or foul-up happens.  You:

a.  Accept reality
b.  Respond with a peaceful heart
c.  Find your sense of humor
d.  All of the above

Tags: stress · truth

Some tough, amazing questions to ask yourself about what’s bugging you.

March 14th, 2009 · No Comments

pest-control3What’s bugging you?  Is there anything going on in your life that you think shouldn’t have happened, shouldn’t be happening?  Here are some tough yet amazingly compelling questions to ask yourself.

How is this situation right?

How is this situation perfect?

What difference is there between the two questions?  What is the difference in the answers you got?

This is a powerful way to get honest and to see reality from another perspective.  For me, it cuts right through all of the noise and clatter of self-righteousness and victimhood and blame and excuses.

I find that when I do this, I get all of my icky judgmental thoughts exposed to the light.  What’s left is honesty.  Sometimes that honesty still hurts.  But it’s a very different, clean hurt that I can allow myself to feel and move through.

The shift can be amazing.  Try it.  See for yourself what happens.

Tags: noticing · truth

Can You Love All of You?

December 2nd, 2008 · 2 Comments

pink-flower_000005420955xsmallIn our Joy Diet class today, I mentioned Evy McDonald, who suffered from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), an incurable, usually fatal, neuromuscular disease where the body’s motor neurons, which control voluntary movement, degenerate.  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, both her healthy as well as her weakened body.  And then a miracle occurred.

Evy wrote about it in a newsletter of the Canadian Holistic Healing Association: “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 stresses a point we have discussed at length in our Joy Diet class: she let go of outcome in her quest to accept herself.

She 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.

Our jobs then, as joy seekers, is 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 on and on.  When we can accept all that we are, all that we’ve done, all the decisions we’ve made, all with an open and loving heart, we become whole.

The only thing that’s stopping us is the our failure to see the truth about our beauty and our magnificence.  Luckily, as joy dieters, we know the steps to get there.  And we’ll keep taking them.

Tags: joy diet · truth