“Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities — always see them, for they’re always there.”– Norman Vincent Peale
I was raised with no limits thinking, by parents who modeled finding solutions for nearly any issue that faced me. I love the idea of infinite possibility, senses wide open to all that could occur on any given day, and yet there have been times in my life when I would feel stuck in the muck, mud and mire, unsure which direction to turn. When that would occur, I would, figuratively speaking, throw up my hands and ask “Why bother?” The answer was always another question: “Do you want things to get better, stay the way they are, or get worse?” In my unconscious, go with the flow….whateveh….attitude, things would sometimes indeed take a turn for the worse. It felt like the proverbial snowball, picking up speed as it would roll downhill and run me over. It was when I got tired of picking myself up off my tush and shaking off the symbolic cold, white stuff, that I realized that prevention is better than repair. These days, I no longer see things as impossible; rather, turning it around to ‘I’m possible’. The Norman Vincent Peale quote reminds me that if I am only gazing at the level of the problem, I can’t see beyond it to a solution. When I literally raise my sights, I can view an answer that may have been there all along. There was also a time when I would avoid conflict at all costs; and it did indeed cost me. I traded honest relationships, sleep, peace of mind, self confidence and personal integrity for the pseudo-safety that came with not rocking the boat. These days, I go into most situations, assuming cooperation and that the solution is always available. Creative thinking always unearths answers. Asking “Hmmmm…I wonder if…..I wonder how…?” evokes solutions that awe-me-over.
Since I claimed my identity as Bliss Mistress, friends have been sending me all kinds of quotes on bliss. When I inititially saw this, my thought was “That Deepak dude really knows his stuff.” Like all of us, I imagine that he has had to face this dynamic over and over. I know I have…just about on a daily basis. Although I wouldn’t think of myself as a control freak, I do like to have a sense of structure and have been know to want things ‘my way’. As the Serenity Prayer has helped to keep me sane and vertical over the years, I am grateful that I can let go of the steering wheel in my audacious auto, relinquish control of my ‘vehicle’ and leave the driving to the Divine. I don’t always know the difference between what I can and can’t contol, so perhaps its best to do what I can and then surrender, which has been a theme of late.
The second component, about approval..that one is as prevalent and perhaps even more insidious, since it has been with me most of my life. Unlike many people I know, I grew up in a family with bunches of love, tons of praise and oodles of affection. I wonder now why I should be the exception to the rule. As a quirky result, I was so (even if unconsciously) afraid of losing it, that I learned to ‘tap dance’ and endear myself to people. I call ‘her’; the one craving center stage attention “Little Shirley Temple” who was everyone’s sweetheart. That might explain my penchant for movies featuring the curly top child entertainer who grew up to be a diplomat. She was ambassador to Ghana, The Slovack and Czech Republics. I can still do a great “Good Ship Lollipop”(: I am learning to refrain from putting too much stock in other people’s perception of me and yet there are still plenty of times when I base my actions on what someone else might see in me, or what I would want them to see in me.
The third comes into play when I ‘make people wrong’ for doing things differently than my values tell me they ‘should’ do. One day, I had a conversation with my friend Ondreah during which I asked if she would listen and hold space while I kvetched and expressed my pet peeves which are really solidly held judgements. She said yes and I was off to the races….about people who are smoking, drinking to exccess, doing drugs, being abusive, expecting other people to take care of them and clean up after them, who justify war and violence, who litter, who attempt to legislate what a woman can do with her own body, who steal and commit other crimes….. It really felt good to vent and then let it go.
Although it may feel challenging to relinquish control, release the need for approval and sit with all of the differences that may impact relationships, I noticed that it is far more rewarding and make for a more bliss-filled me.
ttp://youtu.be/1r4bbgv1If8 On The Good Ship Lollipop by Shirley Temple
Words are powerful. Tonight someone used a word to describe me that no one has ever used before and in my mind it was not complimentary, although to her, it might have been, or even neutral. Although I don’t identify myself that way, it set wheels in motion that took me to a place I clearly needed to go. The word she used evoked an image of toughness and hardness, masculine, rather than the soft, warm and fuzzy persona I prefer to exude. I admit to strength and resilience, born of necessity after being widowed at 40, raising an 11 year old son to manhood, supporting us both with several jobs simultaneously, keeping us in the same house all these years. Many’s the time I have deflected the nurturing from others that I put forth in my personal and professional caregiving roles. In the past 4 1/2 years, since both my parents have also passed, I have girded myself even further, playing social worker and minister within their hospice journeys and officiating at their funerals, as well as handling my mother’s estate. Alth0ugh I have grieved, I have also felt emotionally shut down at times; in a sense, putting a bookmark in the bereavement, a rock in the flow, so as to be able to function in my various and sundry roles. Tonight, the flood gates opened as I am on the verge of leaving my full time social worker- in -a -psychiatric- hospital job that I have held for 11 years, so that I can live my Bliss with my writing and speaking. Tomorrow is my last day there and during my tenure, I have supressed and submerged many of my emotions in service to my patients and their families. I have the feeling it will be a weepy day as I end one chapter in my life and begin another. I am willing to refrain from reading to the end of the book and instead, with courage, peruse one page at a time.
Vulnerabilty doesn’t come easily to me. It implies a need to trust that the other person has my best interest at heart and would not intentionally cause harm and would be willing, in most cases, to agree to provide comfort when needed. Much easier to be the giver, the safe haven, the comforter that wraps around them, than ask for that myself. THAT is one reason I am a Cuddle Party facilitator, since we teach what we need to learn. In the workshop, there are opportunities to ask for what you want and to be able to hear ‘yes’ and ‘no’ with greater grace and acceptance. By doing so, vulnerability is on the line, bringing with it a chance for extraordinary growth. When we don’t receive what we think we want from someone, it offers the gift of our own beauty, strength and resilience. Thank you to that person whose description of me is contributing to my healing and being real and vulnerable. May we all be willing to be seen, known and lovcd.
I enjoyed watching this video with sister Social Worker and Storyteller Brene’ Brown sharing her TED Talk take on The Power of Vulnerability. The concepts she put forth mirror my own experiences of desiring a sense of connection and belonging and despite appearances of being supremely self confident, I too question myself and my worthiness/willingness to receive.
Imagine you were taking a long road trip from PA to CA. You have packed your car, checked the tires, filled the windshield washer fluid tank, charged your cell phone, programmed the GPS (or checked out the map if you prefer to read your directions folded like an accordian:), maybe you have your favorite CD’s or books on tape, ready to roll. You know that the direction you need to head to get there, is West, so you drive 500 miles , admiring the breathtaking scenery and suddenly you get a hankering (who knows why?) to turn back around and go East for awhile. Now, will you get to Cali sooner or later if you keep driving East? A simple answer with an easily identifiable solution…Go West Young Man (or Woman)! I use that as a metaphor when working with clients who tend to self sabotage. They may be chugging along for awhile and all of a sudden they throw up their hands in disgust with the entrenched beliefs that nothing will ever change in their lives. I give them a cross between a Mona Lisa smile and goofy grin, knowing that, of course, much has changed since they have been away and are now ready to continue on the path.
I have done it myself. Not as much anymore, thank goodness. I found myself (or lost myself) setting up roadblocks when things have felt ‘too good’. I created detours when a direct route might have gotten me to my destination sooner. I allowed myself to be ‘cut off’ enroute by slow moving cars putt-putting along in front of me. All created out of fear of really arriving at my chosen objective. I do know this…if things had been different, had I made different choices in career, relationship, housing, health, I wouldn’t be where I am now. If certain challenging situations had never existed, I may not have made those choices or met the people who have been my teachers of love. I am fascinated with the concept of alternate realities….things happening simultaneously with different ‘me’s’ engaged in various activities. For example, one aspect of myself is writing this at 1:25 a.m. est, because I woke up a short while ago from deep sleep that began a few hours ago and the Muse beckoned with come-hither fingers, daring me to stay awake with her for a bit, promising restful slumber soon after. Another may be in Hawaii, under a waterfall with my Beloved. Still another may be speaking before a group of folks who desire to live their own rich, full and juicy lives. Those too are part of my journey. If I trust where I am guided, the ride is much more fun and fulfilling. And maybe, just maybe the destination won’t matter so much if I am intentionally discovering joy in the journey; without being an accidental tourist. And aren’t we all just on our way back home?
http://youtu.be/MP74a2jQhDM Two of Us by the Beatles