What if every day of your life was a treasure hunt?
What would you be searching for? Money? Connections? Pleasure? Relief? Love? Beauty? Those are just a few ideas, but we are all wired to think of “treasure” as something worth getting and that something is different for everyone. But it is a set up isn’t it? Because if we have defined success, or getting the treasure, as something, like feeling happy for example, then what happens when we have a day that is full of grief? I mean, life happens right? So does that day of grief get labeled as a “bad” day in our minds? Often, it does. And we are socially conditioned to do this, to label our day as a “good” day or a “bad” day. And let’s be honest, but isn’t a “good” day just a day that happens to go our way?
How about just experiencing whatever day we are having and letting go of the label of good or bad?
What if, every single day, no matter what is happening, is a treasure hunt, and that treasure is simply, peace. In other words, how can we find the peace in every day?
Being at peace with what is happening does not mean we are passive about things that upset us or need changing.
It does mean being at peace with our own response to that particular day. If there is something upsetting in the news for you that day, then there is a choice. You can think its “bad” and therefore you will have a “bad” day, or you can accept what you are feeling (not so much thinking) and use it to get to know yourself more deeply, and build compassion for yourself. What are you feeling when you are upset by the news? Sadness? Disappointment? Anger? And then under the anger, is it fear? Powerlessness?
Empathy builds when we acknowledge the feeling that is present without judging it as bad or wrong or trying to fix or solve it.
First we allow the feeling to be present and recognize that it’s likely pretty normal to have such a response. Next we can ask ourselves the question, “what do I need today?”
Here are some ideas to help you find your way.
It could be the guidance you received from your self investigation, leading you in a new and enlivening direction. Or it could be the simple awareness that something does need to change, even if you don’t know what that is just yet. The good news is you are listening now, and not leaving yourself behind in your efforts to attain some idea of success (more money, cleaner fancier house) or someone else’s expectations of you. You are living your life and letting that deepen into something more enriching than before because every part of you matters and exists for a reason. Even the tired and irritable part. We need only be willing to listen and hear the underlying message.
Life becomes more complex and stressful when we don’t allow ourselves expression to be the full spectrum of who we are as human beings.
We simply cannot afford the luxury of suppression any longer. This doesn’t mean we can explode with abandon. In fact, emotional explosions tend to be the result of long term suppression.
It does mean we take stock on a daily basis, and work to surrender our agenda for our lives, or the day, and open up to the bigger picture of who we are and what life might have planned for us.
It’s not easy. But it can be magical to set aside all the ways we attempt to control ourselves and our day to day. What happens then? Well, go ahead and see. And share with me about it, if you want, in the comments.
It is so easy right now to look at the state of the world, or the current reality and see problems that need fixing.
Politics depends on this viewpoint; all the candidates rallying on the fact that things are terrible and will only be better if “I” am in charge. Now, I am all for being realistic and making practical changes. However, I’d like to invite us to look under the surface of action, at mindset. Our mindset refers to the state of our minds, or perspective, as we look, assess, or make sense of things. Mindset is how we approach a situation. It includes our biases, our personal filters, our cultural lens. Without digging too deep into this rich territory, let’s keep it somewhat simple and talk about a very common mindset, which is the mindset of judgment. When we judge we decide, often automatically, if something is right or wrong. Judgment is great friends with black and white thinking.
Now it gets confusing, when folks want to argue that some things definitely are wrong. Like child abuse for example, or animal cruelty, or poverty and homelessness. Again, I am for positive action and change to address such things. However, I am suggesting that we can be more productive in transforming reality, when we are willing to drop the judgment that things are not as they should be. Indeed, whenever we want anything to be different than it currently is, we create suffering for ourselves. This happens easily as we look at world affairs, but also at the state of our relationships, marriages, health, bank accounts, physical image, wardrobe, cars, homes, the list goes on and on. We are encouraged to compare and come up short on so many things, because then we get motivated to buy things, do things, vote in order to address our own needs for change. But what if change happened more readily when we first can simply accept what is? Accept the current reality, whatever it is. I’m not saying you have to be happy about it, or even love it, but just accept it. It’s what’s happening. First and foremost, when we engage with anything by first accepting, rather than immediately wanting to or trying to change it, we are first present, and able to connect more authentically with what is.
Coming from a place of always trying to change a thing is exhausting and limits our ability to see clearly from the get go.
Again, we are so encouraged to do this and to see deficits and deficiencies everywhere. We get a sense of identity from it, an identity that cares or achieves or advocates. It can be really scary to consider dropping the mindset of judgment, because we might be afraid of losing a battle, or losing ground, or being seen as apathetic, passive, or uncaring.
Consider that we can put all of our caring and education to work and make positive changes from a place of acceptance.
We can be at peace first with what is, and then move forward from there, from a place of inspiration and hope and loving, rather than anger and judgment. Our actions then become nourishing and fulfilling actions, rather than a depleting and ongoing fight. In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle puts it this way: “Don’t look for peace. Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.”
It is a nourishing act for ourselves and all of those in our reality to choose into a loving approach, and let go of the fight.
Fighting begets more fighting. Loving begets change. Complex issues appear to need complex solutions, but I am going to suggest the opposite is true, that lasting change results from simple interventions. Taking a break before an argument escalates, doing what it takes to “cool down” from heated interactions, giving yourself the gift of a pause. Reminding yourself that you don’t have to convince anyone of anything. You can let go. You can let go and continue on doing what you know you need to do, following your inspirations and dreams.
Ultimately, you can just be yourself, and in that process discover how dynamic and evolving you can be. Freedom lies in change, not in rigidly holding onto our positions about things, but in cooperating with what life hands us, and using everything to grow and lift ourselves up. The disturbing things in life often provide us with the most momentum for our own growth. We just need to be willing to be present and accept our own reactions first, to better understand ourselves rather than trying to change something or someone else. That kind of self-reflection can make all the difference between feeling empowered and inspired, versus feeling like a victim and depressed. Consider that everything in your life is helping you to wake up to a new level of loving that is inside of you. Consider that there is more to what we see than we can possibly know. Consider that there is a greater process going on, and that process also includes you and your own growth.
Here are 5 steps that can take this deep process and make it something doable in our day to day.
These are things that I do to shift myself out of judgment and back into loving, back into acceptance so that I am doing my very best to live from that loving place and not perpetuating the “fight” inside of me, or out. Ultimately, when we talk about healing, this concept is very core. This is changing from the inside out. This is stress management. This is about creating positive change for yourself without having to make anyone or anything else different.
5 Step Loving Plan
The developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson, identified eight psychosocial stages for ego development.
The first stage he titled Trust versus Mistrust. In this first stage, Erikson theorized we are under an essential crisis, which is the question, “is the world safe or not safe?” Depending on the consistent loving care of our parent or provider during infancy, we develop a sense of trust in the world to meet our needs or not. This sense of trust or mistrust, carries over into all relationships. Including, we can assume, one’s relationship with herself.If we complete this stage with a sense of trust, then we also complete this stage with hope, or confidence, that future crises or challenges will be managed successfully.If we complete this stage with mistrust, that is, if our needs were not lovingly met in a consistent way, than instead of hope lies anxiety, or fear, and a lack of confidence in addressing the inevitable obstacles of future reality. To read more about Erikson and his psychosocial stages click here.
Let’s take this premise and apply it to the essence of Conscious Wellness. Let’s also hypothesize that most people have a mixed experience of trust and mistrust, that it isn’t so black or white as Erikson describes it in his stages. Let’s assume that one could complete the stage with trust and mistrust, and that this stage may never actually be complete, but continues to evolve within us as we move through each relationship and experience that life has to offer.
The one person that we will always be in relationship with our whole lives is our own self.What does it mean to be in relationship to our own self? How is that even possible? Well, let’s consider for a moment the different levels of communication that we can participate in. The first thing you may think of when I say communication is talking and then you might think that it is ridiculous the notion of talking to yourself. Unless you’re me, and I talk to myself all the time.
Modern psychology identifies that the majority of our thinking on a daily basis is negative self talk. So maybe we are not talking to ourselves out loud, but there sure seems to be a lot of chatter in our minds and many of us are not even aware of the constant self talk that is going on and guiding the way we feel and how we make choices everyday. If you are interested in discovering what your self-talk might be I suggest sitting quietly, with no distractions, and writing in a journal. Without censoring yourself or worrying about correct spelling or grammar, just let yourself write the flow of thoughts onto the page and observe what comes up. Additionally, noticing what you are thinking about others can also be an indicator about how we talk to ourselves internally as well.