Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Joys of Age

As I was thinking back over the last year, what was positive or fun, what I learned from, what succeeded, what failed, what the jury is still out on, what seems to want to expand in the coming year, who I enjoyed being with and feel honored to have in my life, I realized that there is a true joy in coming of age.

You can come of age at any age, though it’s often in response to some life changing event: having a baby, running your own business, death of someone you love, the serious dis-ease of you or someone you love, the end of an important relationship, financial hardship.

It’s a never ending process, and we can choose to grow and learn through awareness and joy rather than pain.

That said, here are a few joys of age:

You know who you are.
- You know what your strengths are (speaking, I hope, writing).
- You know what you're bad at (proofreading, typing) -- and have other people or systems to do that for you. -
- You know what you love to do (readings), what you hate to do (clean bathrooms), and what you will no longer tolerate (washing dishes).
- You don’t define yourself by that great shirt, or the cool watch or cool car or even right neighborhood. You define yourself by the content of your character, the size of your heart, you compassion.

You are good at things you enjoy.
- If you like to eat, maybe by now you’re a good cook. And if, because you like to eat, you discovered you like to cook, you’re definitely a good cook.
- If you like to run, you’ve learned where the edge is, between not pushing hard enough, so it’s not really a workout, and pushing too hard so you hurt yourself. You know the edge is a little different every day. And you stay on that edge.

You know who other people are.
- You know who you can count on, and who you can’t.
- You know that when someone is always late, they’re always late, no matter how much they say they’re going to be on time next time, and that it’s about her/him, not you.
- You know that Mom gets anxious when anyone else drives — it’s her control issue, not your driving.
- You know that Jane runs off at the mouth — she needs to be heard really badly, and you can either be around her or not, but you can’t shut her up.
- You know that when two people get on each other’s nerves — it’s them, not you, and you don’t have to be in the middle of it.

You know who your friends are -- and you know you have them around you.
- You know who shows up to help you move and who is conveniently busy.
- You know who to call when you are heart-broken at 2AM.
- You know who will bring you groceries when you’re sick, and who just can’t be around sick people.
- You know that these are 3 separate people, and you don’t expect the one who helps you move to be the one you can call at 2AM.

You can see patterns.
- You know that when Joe calls his Dad, Joe’s going to be in a bad mood for a few hours.
- Or you’ve learned that your husband is most cooperative when he needs sex, so that’s when you ask for something big (this is truly what a very smart woman I met told me about how her marriage worked).
- You know that when George Bush says he’s not doing something, like planning to attack Iraq, or Iran, or spying on the American people, he really means the opposite.
- You know that anything the government is hiding, it isn’t hiding for your good.

You are doing something about the things you can change.
- If you don’t like where you’re living, you figure out how to make it a place you like -- or how to move.
- If you don’t like your financial situation, you figure out what field you might like that could make you more money. Or how to save, or how to invest.
- If you don’t like how your body looks, you join a gym and go. And you eat less and stick to it. And if that doesn’t work, you eventually figure out what in your body isn’t working right, and do something to get it to work right.

You are gracious in accepting what you can't change.
- You can’t change the weather, you just deal with it the best you can.
- You can’t change other people, you either deal with them the best you can, or you don’t deal with them.
- You can’t change the past, but you can change your memories of it, and how you deal with it — that’s the grace part.

You are smart enough to tell which is which.
- A friend of mine, a single woman, adopted a 3 year old Russian orphan a few years back. When the girl got to be school age, she began to have projects about her family, like drawing a family tree. Since she was able to remember the orphanage, it was clear she had no idea about her family tree. Of course, they used my friend’s family, but it never felt right. When it came to stuff about the family pet, though, they went and got a cat. As my friend said at the time, “this one I can do something about”.
- And if this is beginning to sound like the Serenity Prayer, perhaps this is why those of us who are “awake” grow more peaceful with age.

You have let go of a lot of the baggage that led to stupid choices.
- You’ve learned that some of what you learned at your parents’ possibly dysfunctional knees may or may not have worked for them, but it definitely doesn’t work for you, and you’ve learned to act or be different.
- You’ve learned that you don’t need your peers’ approval, or your parents’ approval, for your life to work.
- You’ve learned that your need for security is often a trap, and that giving up what seems like security, in service of something you truly want is actually the smartest, safest choice in the long run.

You have learned from all the bad choices.
- Choices always have consequences, and you have learned from the consequences of your actions. So you’re making different choices now.

You have your own spirituality.
- You’ve read enough, and talked enough, and prayed or meditated enough to know what you believe, and what rings true for you in other people’s writings or speaking.
- You’ve developed your own relationship with (pick your word here) God, a higher power, Goddess, All that Is, the Universe, your guides or angels, your higher wisdom. And you rely on that relationship to get you through hard times. And if you’re really together, you remember to say “thank you” in good times.

Please write me with any ideas you have for additions to this list — I’d love to hear them!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Affirmations 101

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how daydreaming was good for you. If you did some daydreaming, you now are very aware of what it is you wish to create. Here is one of my favorite tools to use that awareness to actually make it happen!

The tool is an affirmation. An affirmation is basically a self-hypnotic suggestion, which is a suggestion to your unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is very literal. To see what I mean by that, right now, don’t think of a purple elephant.

What happened? If you are like most people, you immediately thought of a purple elephant. The unconscious mind doesn’t hear the word “not”, and so it immediately makes a picture of a purple elephant. That means a few things about how to structure an affirmation:

State it in the positive — Again, the unconscious mind does not hear “not”. And more subtly, it focuses where you focus it. So if you focus on getting away from a bad situation, you will perpetuate the bad situation, because you are reminding yourself of the bad situation. It’s important to focus on what you wish to create instead.
State it in the present tense — If you tell yourself something will happen, it will forever remain in the future. If you tell yourself it is becoming true, it is.
State it in a way that is believable to you — First, you must believe the desired state is possible, and that it is possible for you. Then, it must be believable to you as a statement. If you tell yourself that you are thin when you are 100 pounds overweight, your unconscious mind won’t believe you and will dismiss the suggestion. However, if you tell yourself that you are daily approaching your natural, slim weight, your unconscious mind can’t automatically reject that, so it may believe that and will be attracted to doing whatever is needed for it to happen.
State it in a way that is qualitative, not quantitative — the unconscious mind doesn’t understand numbers over two, or possibly three. Quick — think of a stick. Now think of two sticks. Now think of three sticks. Now think of four sticks. Getting a little fuzzy? Now think of 100,000 sticks. You can use numbers in goals, but not in affirmations.
The affirmation must be controlled by you. You have no more control over another person, and how they treat you, than you do over the weather. You do, however, have control over how you react, and over how proactive you are in any situation.

Affirmations are best used at times when you are naturally going into a light hypnotic trance. Contrary to popular belief, all people go in and out of these light trances all the time. If you’ve ever driven for a while and realized you don’t remember the last few miles or few minutes (or more!), you were in a trance state. When you do things like washing dishes or brushing your teeth or running a few miles on “automatic pilot”, you are in a trance state. You can use these states to your advantage by doing affirmations when you’re in them. Plan to do this in advance of the state and see how easily the affirmations manifest.

As you are doing your affirmations, all your internal objections to them will pop up to be dealt with. Those objections must be handled in ways that are satisfying to your unconscious mind. There are many, many ways to handle them, and I may suggest some in future articles.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Daydreaming is good for you!

As the year begins, this week is a really good time to think about what you want for the coming year. And the place to start that is with daydreaming — you only daydream about what you want, right? And knowing what you want is the first step in getting it.

Know that this daydreaming is possibly the best use of your time this week. Even if you’re hanging out with your family and friends, save a little time for you.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

What do I want for my work?
home/surroundings (I include workplace and cars here)?
health/personal growth/spirituality?

If I could create anything (and you can!), what would that be? This is not a time for practicality or “being realistic” or limits. Go wild!

In the best of all possible worlds, how might it happen? You are not envisioning this to limit the universe but to see how easily it might come about.

Make each of these things as real as possible for yourself — see it, hear it, touch it, smell it and/or taste it, either in your mind or in reality.

So if you want a new car, and you know what you want, go see one! Touch it, get inside it if possible, and enjoy the feeling of that — breathe deeply and notice the scent. If you don’t have time for that, then do this in your mind. If you don’t know what you want, maybe go look at cars. If you don’t yet have time for that, at least get the feeling you’ll have inside the car, see as much as you can in your mind, maybe write down criteria for that ideal car.

Have fun with this — your enjoyment of the creation process actually helps you create!

If you have a chance, it’s good to write down as much as you can of what you daydream. Treasure maps (collages of pictures of what you want) are fun, and work well for lots of people.

And rather than do the usual New Year’s resolutions, which don’t work anyway, next week, I suggest you write affirmations — I’ll send out some info on that then.