I can honestly say that, for the first time in 50 years, I’m learning how to just be. How to relish the present moment, which, magically and mysteriously, unlocks the door to the treasure house that is the rest of my life.
- Jennifer Green, Salem, Oregon
From the moment Jon and I connected, I had this deep experience of loving presence and complete trust. Something bypassed my mind and my ability to figure things out, and communicated directly to my heart and soul that I was safe and in the right place. There was a creation of power in our relationship that he honored and witnessed as being mine. It was my power. I had the experience of being wonderfully, beautifully powerful, in the most loving, energized way.
- Laura Lind-Blum, The Idea Midwife, Waterbury Center, Vermont
Jon can help you recognize where you are, and become more clear. My work with him has not been about plotting out my future, it has been about helping me come into deeper relationship with myself so that next steps unfold easily and effortlessly.
He creates a safe, spacious container for you to go as deep or wide or high as you’re capable of in any given moment. It’s a matter of him being able to see the facets and help me make them real in me.
- Sandra Leader, Carmel, CA
My feelings changed from, “Quick, fix me, I can’t stand how I feel, make it better, hurry,” to, it’s not about hurry, and it’s not about fixing, it’s about staying where you are and getting more and more and deeper and deeper sensations that this is okay. You’re fine, this is okay.
It helps me reframe experience. I don’t see anything that’s happening quite the same as I’ve ever seen it before, because my viewpoint has been enlarged. There’s more, there’s peace, there’s joy, there’s love, there’s health, there’s everything.
- Layne Young, artist, Salem, Oregon
Your mind loves to think and to create explanations about what’s going on in your life, especially when things aren’t going quite as you’d like them to. Those thoughts may show up as regrets (“I wish I’d answered the phone when Sue called”), shoulds (“Mike should be doing his job”), explanations (“My boss doesn’t answer my emails — he must hate me“), and worries (“What if it snows when we’re driving through the mountains?“).
Then emotions arise around the thoughts. Regrets become sadness and frustration. Shoulds become anger and resentment. Explanations become anger, resentment, and frustration. Worries become fear and anxiety.
But what’s really going on here? It’s all about stories.
I encourage my clients to email me regularly — daily, if they want to — to tell me what’s coming up for them, the feelings and insights they’re experiencing. I have a more complete sense of where they’re at, and they often realize deep insights they’d not otherwise have seen.
A client sent me the following recently. It’s used with her permission.
I was lying in bed this morning doing my usual winter-morning litany of ... I need to get up. I’m certainly not going back to sleep, so why am I lying here. It’s warm and comfortable. It’s cold out there. I need to get up.
I was getting frustrated with myself. Angry at my laziness. And then I remembered what you always say. Stop. Relax.
What’s the story?
What do I really want to do?
Suddenly, without being aware of having made a decision, I was out of bed. And equally suddenly, I saw the difference between the facts (yes, it was cold; yes, my bed — and I — was warm and comfortable) and my story (I’m lazy).
As soon as I gave up my story, there was no more reason to stay in bed. I really did want to get up, after all.
As she so simply puts it, when you give up your story, you remove barriers. Those barriers may be between yourself and action, as in her case. They may be between yourself and other people: that’s what happens when you make assumptions (stories) about how you think someone will react, think, or behave.
They may be between yourself and your dreams: stories often create fears or other reasons not to try, not to believe in your possibilities. When your stories have to do with what you can or can’t be, what you allow yourself to receive or to give, or what you think others believe about you and your actions, then they’re between you and your potential for deeper feelings of joy and self-expression.
How can you question your stories and allow them to dissolve? Here are three options to try.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, look for surprises. Big surprises, little surprises, medium-sized surprises.
When you look for surprises, you’re operating with curiosity and without expectation. Expectations are a great killers of opportunity, simply because you expect things to be a certain way. You then move into trying to control outcomes to meet those expectations (unconsciously or consciously, and whether the expectation is for good results or bad).
Expectations are just a story about the future. Let go, relax, and see what surprises are in store for you.
The other day, a client said to me, “I don’t know anything any more — and it’s great!”
The pressure to know is tremendous. Schools test you on what you know. You’re hired and fired on what you know. We’ve gone through the industrial age and the information age to reach the age of knowledge.
A lot of what you think you know is really opinion — a story. And if you’re like most of my clients, those stories include a lot of judgment and a lot of “shoulds.”
Experiment with not knowing. Question everything you think you know. Ask yourself, “Is this true?” Pretend you know nothing at all. It’s a lot more fun, and you’ll open yourself to opportunities (and surprises) that you’d never have seen if you knew all about it.
Be like my client whose email I quoted above: when you’re struggling with something, stop and ask yourself: what’s the story? How can I be surprised instead of struggling? What can I admit that I don’t know? What’s really true?
When you’re intensely curious about your thoughts and your stories, you’ll be amazed how things start happening of their own accord. You’ll also find yourself laughing at how simple your decisions become.
Enjoy yourself. Storytelling is for entertainment, after all. Just don’t believe every story you think!
“We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem. We’re a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don’t really have an explanation for.” Malcolm Gladwell, from Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking; United Kingdom-born, Canadian-raised journalist and author, 1963-
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