Just Say Yes

Like Albert Einstein, I believe that the Universe is a friendly place, conspiring to help us at all times. What I struggle with is the difference between what I think the help should look like and what the Divine has in mind. I have the tiniest problem with wanting to give the Divine fairly detailed instructions about how things should go. You would think I might have overcome this small issue when Nick, my son, got cancer at 16. That certainly wasn’t the outcome I was writing over and over again while waiting for the results. But, as I’ve said before (mostly to myself), I think the Universe dances to a more complex set of variables than I can possibly imagine. One of the ways that I know I’ve made progress in trusting  God/The Divine/The Universe (insert the word that makes the most sense to you) is when I say “Yes” to the random opportunities that show up in my life–you know, the ones that I hadn’t planned. I did that several months ago when Vicky Townsend contacted me through Twitter and asked me to do a webinar with her on her program for TheCafeD (an Internet community of support for people going through divorce). Training is something that I’ve done for years, but a webinar? What was the Divine thinking? But, it was just random enough that I suspected that God might be behind the weirdness. So I gulped and said yes. It turned out just fine–not perfect. I said “yeah” a few too many times and struggled with technology a bit. But, all in all, it was pretty ok,...

3 ways to distinguish the inner critic from your authentic self

Most of us are well acquainted with our inner critic—that voice that constantly critiques and judges our actions. The root of the negative self talk comes typically from our early childhood years when we believed everything that authority figures—family, teachers, church elders, doctors, even “older and wiser” friends– told us. In childhood, we had too little knowledge of the world, and were too dependent on love or protection of those powerful figures to discern between what was true and what felt true to them. For example, a teacher who feared she would be judged for a student’s poor academic performance might tell a child that she is “stupid” rather than admit that she has neither the time nor skills to help the child learn more effectively. Or a parent who had experienced many disappointments in his life might teach his son that “you can’t trust anyone.” Neither of the pronouncements were accurate but both might have been adopted as true by the child who did not know better. Our authentic self however knows us better than the inner critic. That self is connected to our strength, our wisdom, our intuition as well as to our vulnerabilities and fears. Unfortunately, while the inner critic is an early riser, standing (figuratively) beside our bed waiting to get our attention the minute we wake, our authentic self waits for an invitation to speak to us and often requires quieting our mind to hear its voice. For many of my clients, it can take a lifetime of careful listening to begin to discern critical self-talk, created from early childhood experiences, from the voice...

Releasing the Cold Comfort of a Grudge

One of the traits I’ve worked hardest to release in my life is the tendency to harbor a grudge. Listening to my clients’ stories of wrongs done by childhood friends, mistreatment by bosses, and ancient family wounds that have never been healed, I learned that forgiveness doesn’t come easy to many people. Grudges, in fact, are often one of the first signals I receive from a client that there is psychological territory to be covered. Sticky and smelly, a grudge continues to mark the place of an earlier injury to ensure that it is not forgotten. The cost of resentment Lately, I’ve found myself looking at grudges in a different way for several reasons. Dr. Judith Orloff, author of “Positive Energy”, talks about all of the ways that we “pour out our stores of energy.” Her point is that our personal vitality has to be consciously managed or renewed and that anything that saps us of that is ultimately harmful. With less energy to squander now than I had earlier in my life, I find I am no longer willing take the time and energy a grudge seems to require for its maintenance. “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Malachy McCourt I was once privileged to work with a torture survivor who, at the age of 21 was imprisoned and tortured for the crime of marrying a man who was the political enemy of the government in charge. Repeatedly raped by some of the prison guards, she lost the baby she was carrying. The day before her slated execution, she escaped, aided...

Love yourself anyway

The Paradoxical Commandments Kent Keith wrote his paradoxical commandments in 1968 for a group of student leaders. It speaks to the decision that we can make every day to love people despite what they might or might not do. If you’ve never seen the original version, you can check it out here. Mother Theresa’s version of the Paradoxical Commandments, found posted on the wall of her room, is a powerful statement of the intentions that guided her life.   Yesterday, a friend and I were talking about the difference our spiritual and personal intentions and the actions we sometimes take. Gail shared the frustration she was feeling about a personal situation.   She had worked hard, really hard, to let a relationship go but still was not at peace with the outcome. Gail saw her struggle as lack of spiritual progress and–as I often do–was beating herself up it.   As I listened to her, I was struck with a thought. What if maybe, just maybe, our spiritual growth was less about the amount or speed of progress we made and more about our ability to love ourselves unconditionally—wherever we are on the path? What if the most important intention that we held on to was to love ourselves unconditionally? What if self love was the foundation of our personal and spiritual growth?   It seems to be a human paradox that we expect perfection of ourselves while lovingly accepting and forgiving others for mistakes that can far exceed our own. It was so easy to cherish Gail, even while she worked through her challenges. Why was it so hard to have compassion and love...
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