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Pair #89 How did you get into my head?
"There is only one way to happiness, and that is to stop worrying about   things that are beyond our control." ~ Epictetus

I was thinking about today's topic: things that are out of our control.  It reminded me of something that happened in my life that I hadn't thought about for a long time.

When I was 20 I had a stalker.  

Now, he was someone who wouldn't leave me alone, and wouldn't leave my friends alone and would go to any lengths to find me. No matter how hard I tried to hide, eventually he would turn up at work or at my door.  I became very frightened, and I remember vividly to this day what it was like to wonder whether I was safe, whether he would find me, whether something bad was about to happen.

A situation like this has many elements that are out of control.  I couldn't have control over his actions, decisions or whereabouts.  I also felt very little control in my own life.

Looking back on this event I know that I had very little understanding of my inner world, and even while I was taking action on the outside to protect myself, it took me a while to see and overcome the inner panic that I took with me everywhere I went.

And there is one learning from this I cherish and would like to talk about today: 

my inner state is mine.   

It cannot really be disturbed by anyone or anything else.

When I fled the country to 'get away' all those years ago, I wish I had known that I didn't have to take him with me in my head.  That particular piece of the story took a bit longer for me to see.  Now I know more about my own state of mind and the elements that play into how I feel within myself.  

And, in the end, I'm very glad that other people can't actually step into our heads.

We do have to let them in.

Which means we can kick them out.

 
 
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Pair #88 All that effort is bad for you
Ever sat in front of your computer with a high whirring noise and you are hitting the keys but nothing is happening?  That's what occurs when the computer is trying to process too much information all at once.

You recognize those times when you are 'wound up' in your mind in the same way. 

And just like the computer that freezes up when you are most wanting to leave work, or just at the end of that long project plan, or term paper - the mind freezes when you are working your hardest at getting an answer or making an important decision.

So then we get really wound up and it all spirals downwards and gets worse.

When I work with clients on this kind of thing, and they have some idea that the quality of their thinking has a role in creating the quality of their life, and that they are freezing themselves up with the volume of thoughts they have... they often  start saying:  How do I stop and let go of these thoughts?

So I just want to take a moment to realize that the instant you begin your effort to "let go" the buzz has begun ramping up again.

We all have human minds in which thoughts come and go.  That's the process of thinking.  

It's actually more helpful to realize that you have plenty of thoughts that you have already released and let go - today, just in the last hour.  They came. They went. You hardly noticed them.

The thought that you don't want to walk or feed your dog ever again might have dropped by.   You just didn't feel like it.  But you don't take that seriously.   You don't actually strangle the person who cuts you off in line; even if you think you want to for a split second. And then you just don't think about it anymore. 

How does that happen?  Did you really need to figure out how to 'let go'?

You are bypassing thoughts all the time.

The nature of thought is a flow, in and out. The process itself is one that you don't have to take particularly seriously.

It's good to see that we have hundreds and thousands of thoughts in our lives that we have never acted on, or even come close to acting on. 

That, I've found, is a really great way to not take my own thoughts so seriously.

When I worry how I will learn to "let go" of all my non-serving beliefs and my "self-harming" thoughts, and I focus really, really hard trying to get rid of them, even if I call it "releasing them" it never works anyway. 

Pick up a pen.  Hold it out in front of you. Now work really hard at dropping it.

What takes effort is hanging on.

Knowing this helps.
 
 
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Pair #87  There's no harm like self-harm
I am not sure it will shock any of you to know that we are raising a new generation of stressed out kids.

What I didn't know was the depth of where they go to release that stress.  I think imagined the reasons why a child might reach for pills and alcohol.

What I did not imagine was stressed out kids who think that a viable option for dealing with stress is through harming themselves.

They call this de-stress practice
"cutting"

As I researched the topic for the show on The Truth About Stress, I discovered a dark fact on the forums and boards on the internet...

Children of 12, 13, 15, screaming for help to find a way out of their stress.

"I'm stressed OUT and I don't know what to do!  I've tried everything - I've been cutting myself to relieve the stress" 

Cutting themselves? To relieve stress?  At 12 years old?

My heart beat in my throat as I read those almost exact words many times over.

And here is the worst part.  Knowing what we know about how stress is created and how it does not come from something outsides ourselves - imagine  cutting yourself to relieve the pain of your own thinking...

It's like thinking you need to shoot yourself with one hand so you'll stop hitting yourself with the other.

Cutting, drinking, drugs - all the myriad of "solutions" to the everyday problem of hugely over-wrought thinking.

Let's understand the nature of our own minds so we stop using them against ourselves

I'm not suggesting that any of us are harming ourselves because we are somehow wrong or stupid.  We   Each of us has come to understand the nature of life, to take distance from our problems, to see things from that shade outside of ourselves before we could see anything differently.  Yet now we have our own children and look what we are passing on to them.

Some of these children will never become distant from their problems in the natural course of a life. They will give up hope long before then and give up on life
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Failing to teach what we failed to learn
Remember the days when GPA was EVERYTHING, when getting into the University of your choice felt like a matter of LIFE AND DEATH, and if you broke up YOU WOULD NEVER LOVE AGAIN?

These dramatic, all-or-nothing beliefs were part of our thinking too at one time. Now we know better. Or do we?

As I shared my love, care, my experience and my perhaps more 'philosophical' point of view with some of these young people I wondered, how many of us have mastered our own understanding enough to really teach the children? 

By the responses I saw, I'd say we are failing to.

And what will happen if we don't?  I shudder.

Then I remember why I do what I do.
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More on this topic in the radio archives
Spiritual Parenting with Ami Chen Mills Naim author of The Spark Inside

If you'd like to comment on this topic, or suggest more topics for discussion on the show that you find important, please do Send your comments

© 2010 Elese Coit
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Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #86 To change is human
Working in the field of transformative change, and talking to people about change everyday, I was reflecting on the nature of 'change.'

Here's our common definition of change: Change is bad.   Unless what you have to change is really bad, and then Change is good.

This idea that change, in and of itself, is a negative thing can be easily seen all around us. You'll find it in your own head too... what is the first thing you say when someone says "I've lost my job"?

I'm not suggesting that my first response to that would be "oh, how wonderful!". But I do notice thatthe first response is almost never, "Is that a good thing or a bad thing for you?"

Don't you find that interesting?

That default definition, 'change is bad' just kicked in. And we have other ways of viewing change.

In another of our operating reactions to life, the purpose of change may not in itself be bad, but the purpose of change is to get rid of what is bad (about me, the world, what happens to me). That's very interesting too.

It assumes that we can always know what is good and what is bad, make a clear choice and then kick in the change mechanism.

Now, I'll be the first to say that
I am always operating out of what I judge to be good and bad. That's just human.
(Not doing the dishes the night before and waking up to a dirty kitchen has got to be bad. Right?)

OK, so, totally true in my world. But it doesn't mean that it is in yours.

I'm not suggesting that it's all good and there is no such thing as bad. But I do think it is possible to become more philosophical and to see that we live within a bigger context called life.

Not everything that ever happened to us that we judged as bad, turned out to kill us. In fact sometimes, years on, it not only didn't kill us, it strengthened us in some way.

Which doesn't mean everything is good no matter what, but it does mean that everything contributes to life in some way. 

Or, everything is part of life.

Or... life just is.

Maybe time delivers us a fresh perspective, or distance shows us new vantage points, or we simply wake up, have a change of heart, or let go. However it happens, change happens.

Isn't that the same thing as saying: things are not always what they seem?  or There is no good or bad but thinking makes it so?

Since I'm not content with platitudes, here is what I'm reflecting on... if we could accept the nature of life is change, rather than certainty, wouldn't that make everything easier?

We could remain judging creatures, but begin to consider change natural, normal and perhaps sometimes welcome.  It opens up the possibility of not having all the answers all the time - and being OK with that.

I am going to share a story that was sent to me in a longer version and that I passed on this week, in a completely bastardized and shortened version.  You'll probably recognize it...

Two Angels.

Two angels are walking the earth in human form and are taken in by a very poor farmer and his wife.

Now when angels come into form, their powers become more limited, and only experienced angels are empowered to intervene in cases of highest need and emergency.

Anyway, when they wake up in the morning the farmer's only cow has died. The farmer and wife are distraught that their only source of milk and some small income has gone forever. Not only that, they've given most of what they had in provisions to their two house guests. They are destitute.

The younger angel, whose miracle powers are strictly limited, says to the elder angel - "How did you let this happen? They sheltered us for the night and gave us everything even though they had so very little. Surely you should have intervened on their behalf. Now they have nothing!"

He becomes very discouraged and also angry at the cruel misjudgment of his teacher.

As they set off down the road, the more he considers this wrong decision not to intervene on the part of his mentor angel, the more upset he becomes.

Finally after a long period of walking together the gentle elder said, "Things are not always as they seem little angel," for he had been receiving the silent snarls with kindness and understanding.

"Last night another angel dropped by, " he said, "it was the angel of Death coming  for the wife," he paused, "I gave him the cow."

This week on the show:  GET OFF YOUR OWN BACK
Friday, April 8th at 10 am Pacific

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