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Pair #22 Soften Up To Life
It's got me all emotional. Roman Krznaric's manuscript of his upcoming book: "Other People's Shoes - why empathy matters for the art of living" has left me with one big question:

 'have we stopped caring about caring?' 

I'm not talking about how we don't act very nicely toward one another as humans inhabiting the same ground, but rather ... how is it we have come to consider it a benefit to be immune to the lives of others?

I'm fairly certain that we have to learn and practice how to cut ourselves off. I'm not convinced we are born this way.  This process happens slowly and with method, and I've even heard people justify the need for it: "you'll get hurt,"  "it will only cause you pain," "you'll just want to get involved."  Well, yeah.  Isn't that the point?

It's harder to send people to the gas chambers when you know their first names (Schindler's List) and it's easier to be polite and leave a nice tip, when you can remember waiting tables to put yourself through school.

Since when did not opening our hearts make us better human beings?  This  schooling in prejudice, distance, and 'not my business' is when we could really afford to skip class.

As Krznaric points out, greater empathy and an openness to caring about how it feels to live the experience of another, has not left us wimpering in the corner, ruined by the sheer weight of too much feeling ...but in fact spearheaded the social movements that amongst other things, ended slavery. It could be the key to why we know about the need for action on climate change but don't do it. After all, lack of empathy brought us the Crusades and the brutal conquest of South America.

If we are to put on new glasses today to see the world differently, why not slip on someone else's shoes too and offer ourselves the gift of deeper connection with others?

What have you got to lose except your aloneness?

Roman joins me on the radio to discuss "Empathy, the Radical Art of Living" on Friday the 30th of April. 
© 2010 Elese Coit
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Thank you.
 
 
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Pair  #21, Honey, Where's The Remote?
Ever see the film “Being There” with Peter Sellers?  

Sellers plays an innocent, older man who is a live-in gardner in a large home.  Chancey, his character, is pictured as ‘simple’ in that you get the sense he is not quite ‘all there’… but you can’t quite put your finger on him.  Clearly the people he works for thought it best to shelter him from the world and so his gentle life consists of tending plants and watching television – which he adores.  This is all he knows. When the elderly owner of the home dies, the house is sold and Chancey is forced to leave the estate walls he has lived behind his entire life.

The scene in the film when he walks out the front door and up the road with a suitcase in one hand is wonderful.  You realize immediately that the house, a beautiful estate on the inside, is actually in a very, very run down part of town.  As Chancey makes his way down the road he not only encounters the world for the first time -- he walks straight into the ghetto, and it’s not long before he’s confronted with a rather mean-looking bunch of men. 

Here’s roughly what happens next.

The men begin to get more aggressive and distinctly menacing, and as the pitch rises, Chancey is on totally unfamiliar ground.  Threatened, lost, and in the middle of a potentially dangerous situation, Chancey does the only thing he knows how to do: he reaches in to his pocket and pulls out  … the TV remote and presses the button to change the channel.

When the world is not how we would want it, and people do not behave as we think they should, isn’t how we react very much the equivalent of pointing the remote and hoping for the best?

© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
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Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #20 Being Cindarella blows
A message to those waiting for prince charming…

Give it up.

Not that there isn't someone out there for you.  Not that you don't have a soulmate.  Not that you will always be single because you live in a town with more penguins than eligible men, or you are too old, too fat or anything else.

The terrible truth is that the person that will save you is not coming because no one in the whole wide world can intervene between you and yourself.

Are you talking yourself down in the mirror every day, but then expecting someone to come and find you gorgeous?  Are you repeating to yourself how unhappy you feel about your life or your singledom, and then expecting for someone to come and zap you into happy town?   

The person that will fix the unhappiness, the person that will make you feel loved (when you are mean as hell to yourself everyday), the person that will make everything OK -  THAT person is not coming.  He or she is not looking for you right now.  They are not just a vibration away.  They are not coming.

And thank goodness for that.

Because life starts when we give up the desire to be rescued.

***

(if this has sparked interest for you,  let me know and I'll send you an audio by Steve Chandler called "The Owner/Victim Choice".  It's powerful stuff.)
© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
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Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #19 Get busy livin, or get busy dyin'
Today, not everyone made it.   Suddenly or planned, freakishly or naturally, more than one person lost their life today.  If you are reading this, you are not one of them.

It's well known that many people, when given a terminal diagnosis, have a very quick realignment of their basic values.  Once we KNOW we don't have long to live, our desire to experience life intensifies.

We've all sleepwalked through a day (or months or years) at some point in life or another.  We do that...

But if this moment is all you have,  what is one thing that you know is important to you that you are not doing?  

I guarantee you know what that is.

I'm not talking about changing the world.   (But if you have a plan for that, be my guest!). 

Maybe you just
  • Start that book you bought?     
  • Call a your Dad?     
  • Tell someone you love them?
  • Finally sell that old car?
  • Take one day off

Each day I have a choice. I don't have to make radical life changing decisions every day.  All I have to do is make a little choice, right now.

Quality of life is ultimately created by the choices we make, not the things we have. Maybe it's decided by our ability to make the choice to allow the present distraction to pass as we chose what supports our desires in the deeper sense. Or maybe it's the choice to live fully now and do the silly thing.  I don't  know what it will be for you.

But one thing is certain.
 
You may not be here tomorrow.

Nor may I.

That makes me want to get a few things done.
© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
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Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #18 What you see (inside) is what you get
Early in the morning I'm walking down a NY street.  I'm considering the sun and the day ahead and I'm enjoying being in a city that's strange to me.  I'm having a reflective walk and a very nice experience.

Walking toward me is a woman. We are the only two on the entire block. She looks straight ahead, she is dressed nicely, makeup on, clutching her bag across her chest.  She is walking and crying.

As we pass I can see that her eyes are very puffy and swollen and her face is wet with tears.  I don't know how long she has been crying.

I immediately feel drawn to her.  I remember times in my life when I have walked on the street pulling back the tears.  An intense surge of compassion, love and connection fills me as we walk past each other.

As I walk on, I can still feel her.  Here we are, on a NY street, no one in site, no cars, only the morning sun on the buildings and two people walking.  What strikes me is that nothing is happening.

Nothing is happening except two people passing.

The contrast of nothing happening and a woman clearly in pain tells me one thing: she has to be playing some kind of painful thought in her mind.  There is no other possiblity.  All the suffering and all the tears are the response, not to the current outside environment but to her current inside one. 

She is in hell right now because of the film playing behind the eyes

How many days have we all lived in this kind of hell and our walking, crying meditation?
© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
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Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #17 Just Dying To Shop
Being in NY for Supercoach Academy every month is giving me lots of opportunities to eat out, walk, people watch and shop.

And shop.

Shopping is an old pasttime of mine.  No, let's be completely honest - shopping was a big addiction and a large part of my life.

Just like anything of this nature, alcohol, sex or any other 'pasttime' that hangs around, it's all about looking for things to feel better.  We think the things create the good feelings, so it's natural to go seeking stuff that 'makes us feel good'.

But no matter what the compulsion, many of us have started to notice that it doesn't actually work for the purpose intended.  At least not in the long term.  It just moves the pain around for a while.

If you consider the way we learn to think about the world (pleasure comes from having and getting things, safety comes from protecting ourselves against horrible things*)  It's very understandable.  And frankly, for some of us it will take reaching the very end of the rope of endless seeking, before we even start to consider that viable alternatives might exist.

I do think we have a longing for something in life, but I don't think that is the same thing as nagging insatiable desire.   It is a tragedy to confuse  the two.  Once you come to believe that happiness can only lie in satisficing desires, you are doomed to a life that is driven by acquiring and then the real tragedy emerges: it is not so much that we can't ultimately get what we seek,  but the looking back on life and realizing you've wasted it seeking something you didn't need.

I don't think a closet full of clothes would make up for that.  Somehow.
* The idea of Getting and Protecting Behaviors was, as far as I know, developed by Greg Baer.  You can hear him talk about Relationships and Truth Telling  on this show from March 20th, 2010.
© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
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Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #16, Go On, Go For Nothing!
Many spiritual paths make getting enlightened a goal.  The trouble with this idea is that, barring having a burning bush experience, it sounds like a very long and arduous path to getting somewhere you are not entirely convinced exists.  (OK, SOME of us are not entirely convinced). This week on the radio show with Peter Fenner we talked about the idea that you can be totally fulfilled without changing anything at all.  That sounds so far off reality for most of us that it’s easy to just pass it over completely.  But the more I thought about it, the deeper the implications. 

It made me consider the last few years of my life when most of my effort has gone into personal change and I could really identify with the thoughts I often had that went something like…

-   I need to create a ‘better me’

-   When I understand more, life will become easier

-   If I get better at this stuff, I won’t have any more problems

Sound familiar?

Those of us who are either ‘pursuing’ personal change or teaching it, what would happen if we actually called off the search?

One of the implications of ‘loving what is’ – which Peter talks about and which those of you who read and follow Byron Katie’s work is that the only time we suffer is when we are arguing with reality.  That the result of loving things as they are with no need to change them is, in fact, peace. “When you argue with reality, you lose,” as Katie would say, “but only 100% of the time.”

 The idea that there is nothing to become  underlies the effortlessness and accessibility of the Buddhist nondual teachings of Radiant Mind. 

Here are some of the main thing you can learn from Peter on the show and in his book “Radiant Mind”

-   the anti-frantic environment

-   how to stop making a problem out of having problems

-   why we get stuck when we think there is more to know than we know right now

-   why we don't have to make anything better

It is also my experience that painful thoughts and feelings dissolve when we are not struggling to establish what needs to change in order for us to feel better.

We pre-recorded the Friday the 23rd show, as I'm in New York, but I have to tell you, I had such a wonderful experience of sharing this 'state of awareness' on the show with Peter that I think just listening to it, there is a very good chance you will feel it too. And get a taste of what it is like when there no goal to get anywhere.

 
© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
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Thank you.
 
 
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Pair # 15 Peek-a-boo, I don’t see you
Everyday I meet people who I’ve never seen and don’t know.  Everyday I also see people who I have met and also don’t know – but I think that I do.

Have you ever noticed that there seems to be point we decide that we know someone well enough to stop taking in new information about them?  I wonder if that relates to how many times we’ve seen them, or is it based on the number of heart-to-heart talks we have had?

This goes for our most intimate relationships, family members and friends.  It’s almost as if the longer they stand in front of us the less we see them.

I think it does take a certain conscious effort to come to know someone. When I give them my attention, listen and spend time with them – that is all time spent in an exchange between to people – and more often than not that exchange has – not the purpose of coming to know them but rather the purpose of trying to “figure them out.”

I’m wondering about this.  Is this an impediment?  After all these years, do I really listen to who my mother is today, or do I still listen to her as if she were the same person I knew growing up.  Am I open to discovering her?  Or am I more interested in feeling that I have her figured out?

If I make a conscious effort at anything, surely it should be to drop my ideas about someone, to open my mind so that I can take in new information about them.

If I am not willing to rediscover people on a daily basis, what that means is the more I know someone the less likely I am to actually see them.

The ironic thing about all of this, of course, is that I myself (and each of us, I think without exception) want to be seen.  We all want to be truly seen and heard.  That’s impossible if our daily interactions are about deductions rather than discoveries.

What might we discover about someone we love if we just allowed ourselves to wake up one morning and pretend we don’t really know them at all – and just let them show us who they are?
© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
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Thank you.
 
 
There's no doubt in my mind that it's possible to create a future that is nothing like the past.  But not long ago I did not know that.  In fact I was down on all fours in my garden in my London home, in agony.

I had just lost I hoped I'd be with for the rest of my life.  (Yes, I did believe in princes, white horses and someone coming to save me!)

Those of you who know this story already, know that I reached a point when I looked back and all I could see was failure... this massive loss plus a long string of 'failed' relationships behind me and one person in the middle of it all: Me.

I knew in some way I was the problem, even though I wanted very badly to blame the person who had just 'abandoned' me, and all the others before him, right back to my own father. 

My Dad and I have a great relationship today, but when I was younger that was not the case, and for many years I treated my father as if he was my life-curse because he divorced my mother.  But even after therapy,  I had very little peace with my past and I seemed to be on auto replay.  Everything I'd tried up until that moment was more like an attempt to try to get a better past, then a step to create any real and lasting ability to move myself into a new future.

I have to tell you that what changed life for me was to decide to actually commit to personal change.  I had a series of wonderful personal coaches / teachers (Michael Neill, Bill Cumming, Debbie Ford, Byron Katie) who had a profound impact on my life.

So, it's ironic that today, I had a chance to look back today on my old life. I met someone who had a similar job and a similar relationship background and I saw the flashback of my own past.

I knew without a shadow of a doubt I made the right decisions to stretch into the unknown, to invest in myself through coaching, reading, meditating and questioning and then to absolutely leap into all that has made possible.

And how very important that has been.
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Pair #14 Stop Looking Back, You'll Only Hurt Your Neck

© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
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Thank you.
 
 
What if, for just a few minutes we actually had a conversation that was more than an exchange of 'How are you' pleasantries or weather reports?  This week I thought I'd try out actually answering the questions 'How are you?' - honestly.

I don't know what will happen, really.  Could be very bizarre.

I did it today, fact.  I stood in line at the Post Office.  It was a very long line, so you hear everyone's conversations, and one of the people working today was smiling and greeting everyone with a great booming: "How are You?"   I watched the responses.  Actually, this has become so NOT a real question, that some people answered "Yeah, will this still get there by Monday morning?"

So as I walked up to that particular person I checked inside.  How am I?  I wondered silently.

When it came my turn to be asked, I responded, "Actually, I'm very relaxed and quite content, thank you for asking."

It might be really nice to say that what happened next was this great moment of human connection.  Actually, he asked me if I had really been waiting my turn or cut the line.  I needed to wait in line he said.  Which was pretty funny, because I'd been there for 20 minutes in a very long line.  I reassured him I had waited my turn and he seemed satisfied.

Was it the 20 minutes I spend checking into how I felt that made some kind of difference? I'm thinking that maybe had something to do with the fact that by the time I arrived at the counter I was really, just relaxed.  Just: A woman standing in line.

What was interesting is not only that I felt  good, but I also felt happy with my interaction with him too.  I felt connected.  I felt connected to me and yes, to him to for a moment.  Even as he questioned my personal queuing integrity.

When he said "Have a Nice Weekend," I replied, "Well I wish that for you too."

And I meant it. 

Anyway, I thought I'd continue doing this for a few more days and see what happens.  Is anyone else interested in doing this with me?   
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Pair #13 I'm Fine, You're Fine, We're All Fine
© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
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Thank you.