Monthly Archives: November 2019

how can I help?

The Christmas we spent in England, there was a series of television ads for a grocer with the tagline something like, ‘How can I help?” I’ve tried to google it with no luck, but this active inquiry to helping reminded me of what sets Disney and Ritz Carlton apart from other places with great customer service: Active Engagement in what the customer wants.

I’ve come to realize today (I’m having a flare up, so lots of time to think/process/do practices) that for the last couple of years I’ve been on a “unlearning the things you think help people, and just asking people what they need (and if they don’t know, then not thinking I’m clairvoyant or omniscient and deciding what they need… if they don’t know, let them know I’m available when they can articulate what they need. So unlike how I’ve done it (and thought it should be done) all my life. And liberating. And probably a lot more helpful.

Today I mentioned on a body fulness call that we all are part genius and part fool. We have areas of profound, experiential knowing and areas where we are such idiots, we don’t even know that category exists much less how wrong we are about it. The idiot parts reveal themselves during things like “The Presence Process” (have I mentioned I’m doing this? Fourth round, I think, but maybe 3rd)… Anyhow, through this process, I am seeing that I valued anticipating others’ needs and acting on them as a strategy for love as a kid, which was a fine and effective strategy but not a healthy way to interact with life or people as a general policy.

I got to be an excellent mind-reader for a few people, and then seemed to think I had it pretty figured out for everyone. I realized some time ago – I think even before the illness – that me trying to anticipate and act on needs people couldn’t even articulate was crazy pants. Way too much pressure. Maybe I could’ve done things like that as a kid with predictable household habits, but out in the real world it was a recipe for disaster and the textbook setup for miscommunication. So, at some point during our time in RI I quit cold turkey, with the general public at least. I did not assume I knew what was best for you. I’m happy to help, but you’re going to have to tell me what you’d like.

Intimate relationships was another story. Because, you know, I knew what was best for everybody I truly “knew” right? Well, I seem to have thought so. About 2 years ago I had a somewhat major expression on how thoroughly that is not the case (detailed here, I’m sure) and in the last week or two I’ve come to realize that if I maintain a sense that “I know what would work better” it’s an unfortunate way to live.

I’m extremely lucky. I’ve had a lot of choices pan out (although God knows I’ve had a lot of choices very much not pan out), and I’m married to an embodiment of prioritizing effort to high-impact areas. I squandered a lot of energy on “being helpful” to people who weren’t into it, or even if they were into it, weren’t ready for it; where ultimately the effort didn’t result in positive outcomes for me or the intended helpee.

Recently in a book I enjoyed, it talked about thinking you would do something differently if “x” happened to you… (as I write this, I think it was Byron Katie) and the lesson was coming to understand that we are literally all one: that person is handling “x” exactly how you would handle it if you had “x” happen and had been raised and had the same experiences as that person. It’s what we’re all doing. We’re all unique amalgamations of traits. And while if “x” happened to us, with our unique experiences, of course we wouldn’t do exactly what the other person would do – of course not, we draw from an entirely different experience well. but it doesn’t make one choice better than another, even if the results of one choice seem to provide the desired outcome more efficiently than the other choice. Like everything, the long-term results remain to be seen.

Thus: my new favorite phrase is “I’d like to support you. Please let me know how I can be supportive to you.”

It’s a tough question to answer in 21st century America. We’re supposed to be independent. We’re proudest when we don’t have to rely on anybody. (there was a whole bit earlier in this writing about trying to read people’s minds: there’s a whole passive aggressive archetype who thinks “it’s not worth anything if i had to ask for it’ and ‘someone who loves me should be able to ‘just know’ what I need” and those are very unproductive mindsets. Just wanted to make sure that gets pointed out in this essay). For some, it’s frowned upon to ask for things. Selfish. Bold. [ok, boomer!]

It’s wildly freeing (for everyone) when we can consider and articulate our needs. I’m excited to encourage this wonderful trait in all I meet and truly desire to support.

shame and guilt

I feel like shame and guilt are like a vaudeville act. they keep showing up in different guises with different riffs. They make themselves distracting and keep our attention through sheer constant material. Or at least they keep mine.

I’m reading a book called, “Coming to Wholeness” which is taking my bodyful practice to a whole new level. And the universe has continued to invite me to go just a little bit slower. and because of that combination, I am experiencing a deep appreciation this morning for having the time and attention to focus on Wholeness, Awareness, Unity and Life Itself.  And within minutes, in walk guilt and shame.

Really? I’m experiencing appreciation despite having a body wracked with a lack of ease (feeling just a little proud of myself maybe?) and Guilt and Shame waltz in?

Guilt: mostly that I haven’t pulled my financial weight in my marriage (despite the fact my husband gives me zero grief about this), and some guilt that I haven’t figured out how to be in relationship to the world in a way that is actually helpful (in short, that I don’t have a job, and I don’t know what to do next). That I’m not a more active parent/partner/daughter/friend…

Shame: well, i’m ashamed that I’m not healthy. if i were as emotiono-spiritually advanced as I’d like to be, my body would be light and easy and practically floating, not this haunted house of a body. Plus? if I am smart, why can’t i articulate it in a compelling way to share it? and I don’t do anything. people are running around like chickens with their heads cut off and I respond to email every couple of days. I am milking this not-wellness thing, perhaps to absurdity. I should be a better person. on every level.

I notice the guilt and shame and let it invalidate the good feelings about focusing attention on life itself (and the attending wholeness and feeling supported and adventure) and I start defending myself. Valid stuff. I believe peace and calm are a more valuable currency than green dollars, and I am consistently growing my portfolio. But, defending is participating in the drama, and Laurel and Hardy go back and forth on a loop.

Luckily, this lovely book and my lovely practices acknowledge the feeling and find it in the body and accept it entirely while inviting it to relax, open, release. It’s the ultimate diffuser.

I also had a really big step this week, having read “Leadership and Self-Deception” last week, I had an opportunity where someone was (justifiably, I’ll admit) trying to guilt and shame me, and I could see their underlying pain and sought to address it. I’m not sure how well I did, but it was a far cry better than my general MO (let them know I’m right as bitingly as necessary). That book talks about an inner, sudden realization and I definitely experienced exactly that about another relationship while reading. That the lesson would then peek its head in during an emotionally-loaded moment demonstrates its a bigger, transformative shift than just a “concept” I hope to “employ.” Another book for the “must read” list…

yes, even slower

I can’t remember the topic of my latest posts, and I should probably check, but i think i wrote of the struggle of ‘i’d be better if…’ and ‘if only i could align my thoughts i wouldn’t experience pain’ kind of stuff.

Turns out, I had a doozy of a flare up. Whether be it due to thoughts, weather, or potato chips, i got to slow down again. real slow. slower still.

And I thought, “i can’t possibly need to go slower” and life said to me… “…actually…” and so slower still I went and more insights revealed themselves. Insights on everything from my posture and the way I carry my weight to road blocks in interpreting certain family members’ antics. Insights. Opportunities to notice and change. A whole lot of uncomfortable, but by slowing down and not resisting, a more nuanced step forward, with the kinds of habits and thought processes that will better serve a legacy of health (even if an imperfect expression).

I’ve been excited as I’ve been feeling better to also have the felt sense that the changes got made beyond a superficial fix. When my body really hurts, typically, if i go slowly enough I can find a pace that doesn’t activate any of the pain. i mean, it’s ridiculously slow. it could take me 12 minutes to walk the 30 feet to the kitchen, but what else have I got to do? Whatever plans I had fall directly off a cliff when i have a flare up, and the whole day is mostly stillness or self-explored physical therapy. And some of the revelations and pacing has given me cues to continue to influence the way I walk and stand and interact.

What’s even more exciting is that even as I move into 5th level physical slowness, my mental track shifts gears as well, allowing more inputs and fewer outputs (an increase in noticing that with which I’m interacting, and decrease in intrusive chatter). I can experience more gratitude and less judgement – even about things that obviously really need my judgement (is there actually anything that needs judgement? depends on when you ask me).

I’ve been in a fog for several months, trying to endure it, apply what I know, surrender, look to create for the betterment of all… this flare up feels to mark the distillation of the fog (remembering “Code to Joy” and the idea that an acre of dense fog is about 8 oz of water – an easily manageable amount!) and I trust that I can maneuver within it differently moving forward.

I really thought -for the last few months- that I needed to speed up to get out of the fog. Action is what would transform the energy. I tried all kinds of action. Mostly disappointing results – although plenty of very nice occurrences, too. But it’s not action that is saving me. Once again, it’s a deeper level of slowing down. You’d think I’d bet on that pony more readily, but my habit is to think Quick Wit offers the best odds. I trust I’ll learn sooner or later.