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Pair #83 Afraid to know and not know?
I read Heart-Broken Open and what amazes me about author Kristine Carlson is her ability to remain with the unknown.  She took time to be with the hearbreak of losing her husband, to live with it as a natural (albeit painful) part of life, to not reject it and eventually and in some way to welcome it. 

And I found that beautiful. After all when the unknown comes knocking it is

Not a comfortable place to make camp.

When life tosses us a curve ball and we wobble a bit,  most often the difficult thing about it is that it feels like we are swinging in the dark.  It is hard when we cannot see the next step. We can't see how it will work out.

We've been dropped into the unknown.

And we want out.  Fast. Of course, that's problematic when we can't get rid of things simply by ignoring or avoiding them. So how do we live with not knowing how it will all turn out and having little power to change things sometimes?

Sometimes we believe we can escape by thinking our way out. We start overthinking
. We ruminate. We worry. As if we could apply enough worry to something to solve it!  We try to find peace by over-intellectualizing and we want to leave nothing unknown, no stone unturned, no mystery unexplained. 

Even our 'mystery novels' are tied up neatly in the end, now I think about it...

It is as if we have lost tolerance for mystery. Our scientific-driven world dislikes the unknown and the unknowable in ways that ancient civilizations did not.

How will we discover something new if we can't invite the mystery of life, instead of pushing it away?

When was the last time you answered a question "I don't know"?

Personally I've really suffered from the I should know by now syndrome.

In many cases, if not all, my life would have been better served if I had let go of trying to know and found a way to allow myself to be moved and changed by what was happening. But I wanted out of the hot water as fast as I could.  Maybe its the discomfort. The discomfort with being uncomfortable.

So as I've fought with what life throws me, I look back and notice I've been dragged kicking and screaming to my greatest learning experiences.  All of which, I am now most grateful for. 

My question is, knowing the discomfort, how do you go at life with an open stance and open arms? 

It is not easy. Christine showed me ways I never imagined that you could grow and become more peaceful in yourself by accepting all the feelings that arise and not trying to push them away or rationalize them.

It seems to me that the measure of peace of mind is not so much that we are in some consistent state with no moods, no ups and downs, and no frenzy, but that finding peace is actually about making peace with the fact that we do have moods, we do get upset and we do get a little crazy sometimes.

That's not excuse-making, that's just being bigger than what happens to you.

One of my wonderful teachers in life, Jacob Glass, often talks about how we choose to come at life.  I find his way of approaching life worth trying out. It's called "Lots Can Happen" (read more here).

And if you love living life as an experiment, listen to myself and Jen Louden on Friday, March 11 on the radio show.  She and I talk about how her new SAVOR AND SERVE life experiment begins with not knowing the answer, but looking forward to finding out! 

© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' on http://elesecoit.com"
 
 
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Pair #71 No wonder
Hey, what's happened to curiosity?  Did it do something wrong? Did it get relegated to the third division?  When did we decide that all things have answers and that life is a search for definitive solutions and no questions should be left undone?

We turned life into the multiple answer quiz and removed the option "None of the Above".

But I was thinking this week and I wrote down on my pad next to me:

What if all life were the adventure of finding out, rather than finding?

Maybe it is the nature of the human mind that has become so petrified by the discomfort of not-knowing that it will settle for a poor answer or half-truth before it admits it does not know.

Or has it just become not cool to not know?

I thought there used to be joy in the process of discovery.  Didn't we like a bit of mystery? The word 'wonder'  ponders and considers.  It's open.  It shrugs its' shoulders a bit. It has patience.  And Christmas used to be a holiday of 'wonder', right?  We have 7 Wonders in this World.

Actually, only 7?

That's not a lot of Wonder.

To be unsure is to be invisible.  The humiliation of the admitting you have no answer is actually worse than hoofing something indefensible or silly. Ever seen someone defend a totally made-up fact because they got cornered by their own uncertainty? 

"Actually, dear, no, I'm not sure which road to take or where we are."

Will you hear that?
 
Well, we can all recognize ourselves here. I certainly see myself. 

Having said that, I can't tell you the weight that lifts when I say, "I'm not sure."

Try it on.

What do you think?

 "I don't know.  But I wonder..."
 
 
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#59  Here comes Mr. Brightside
Don’t you just hate it when you are in the middle of something painful and someone says “Well you have to look on the bright side!”

Not that I’m against positive thinking, but I don’t think it really cheers anyone up to pretend they feel fine when they don’t.  (You know how it feels to have someone being all smiles and telling you they are not mad while they are clenching their teeth and fists - it’s dissonant and it’s downright scary).

The only way it works for me to “look on the Bright Side” is if the Bright Side is true.

I’ve never been able to fake myself into happiness.  I have found, however, that happiness is not ever far away, even in the worst of times.

Here’s my theory.  Think of anything ‘bad’ that’s happened to you, maybe losing a job or  breaking up with someone you thought would always be in your life.  In my experience, as the years passed, I managed to appreciate the opportunities that these moments of loss created: I have found love and a job I love, for example.  

What that means is that, with time, I’ve always been able to enjoy some benefit.  So why not just compress time?  I’ll either get the lesson now, or I can have it later. I might as well just shake hands and get aquainted and spare myself the wait.

Maybe that is really the only choice we are ever making.

© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' on http://elesecoit.com"

Thank you.
 
 
Eldon Taylor recently wrote:
"At a very early age we begin a process of conditioning. There are many facets to this process and its influence on all of us, and I have written about much of it. However, there is a particular form of conditioning that can set us up for disappointment and failure. I am thinking of the conditioning that teaches us we should have an answer...
It's as though we are addicted to "answers" and need absolute answers to be happy."

There is a beauty in life that we are so in danger of losing - it is the sheer pleasure of an open mind.  To be honest, my mind likes nothing more than a good answer.  I don't know if I am addicted to answers in order to be happy, but I may be attached to the idea that others will see me as a person who knows.  That's an attractive proposition if I believe that what people think of me should form the basis for my life decisions. 

I notice that enjoyment arrives through the open door of a 'let's find out' attitude.  Stress tend to dissipate.  I see options and possibilities.

Many people who come to coaching do so for this very reason, because there seem to be a lot of closed doors and a dire shortage of exits.  Opportunities don't arise to closed minds.  So we use conversations to pry, wedge or gently nudge open, not the doors, but the mind that sees only those doors.

If only we could see the parallel realities... if we could see what doesn't happen because of our own attitudes and how things happen not for the reasons that we are quick to attribute.   A genuine 'not knowing' conversation sounds like "tell me more about that" or "how would that work ?" or "why don't we try this and see?".

To have this kind of conversation you need to shift to inquiry and listening and give yourself a big shot of willingness to not take things too personally.   These behaviors arise more easily when we are feeling well in ourselves and not consumed with worry. 

An "I know" mind will never know as much closeness or find as many solutions and opportunities as an open one.

At least once today I'm going to say, "I don't know. Let's find out."   Join me if you like.

(Eldon Taylor appears with me on the show on Friday, April 16th.  Tune in on Contact Talk Radio at 10am Pacific. For more information see the main page or visit the Radio Pages for this and other show archives)
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Pair #9 Are you saying I might not know Everything?
© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' each day on http://elesecoit.com"

Thank you.
 
 
Wanted: one person who, against all odds, reason and the free will of other people will move all animate objects into positions that will, once and for all time, make everyone happy. 

OK, I know that sounds ridiculous.  You know that sounds ridiculous. 

So why are we doing it?

If you take only a few minutes to listen to a conversation happening near you I guarantee you it won’t take long to detect all the directives, dictates and must-do’s that we have for other people.  They should call. They shouldn’t call. They should get over it. They shouldn’t be rude. They should be kind. They should get tough. And on and on…

Becoming the expert on what other people should do is a miserable  game that one person always loses: you.  But only 100% of the time.

In order to be Universal Project Manager In Charge of Making All Things Behave The Way They Should, we must ignore two basic truths. One is that we cannot change other people and two, that we cannot make other people happy – no matter what.

Every time I think that someone needs to do something differently in order for me to feel better, I am ignoring one or both of those. 

And who suffers as a result? Them or me?

The minute I ignore the difference between what I can control and what I cannot, I just signed up for the worst job in the world.  It's the energy-depleting job of lining up everyone else so that I don't have to feel so bad.

I need to manage someone’s anger so they don’t direct it at me – so that I can feel better.   I need them to seat me quickly at the restaurant - so I don’t have to feel frustrated. I need someone to call me - so that I can tell myself they do care about me and stop worrying whether they love me. 

It’s a never-ending list of things to control.

No wonder Hell Is Other People!

People don’t behave. Absolutely not. But we only suffer over that when we entertain that it is possible to manage them in a way that pleases us - instead of going to the source and just working where the real problem is.

I think we can all can find one person in our experience we are truly convinced needs to change.  But would you be willing to try, for one day, giving up trying to fix or control anyone other than yourself and your own feelings?  

Resign as project manager of the universe for a day or more this week.  Let others do their thing and you just do yours.  Including learning how to feel good when other people seem to be making that impossible.

Hell is not other people.  Hell is the compulsion to change others so I can feel good. 
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Pair #8 If Only They'd Behave I'd Be Fine
© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' each day on http://elesecoit.com"

Thank you.