Small, But Not Too Small

blackholeI was watching Cosmos last Sunday. At a certain point, we were traveling towards the center of a black hole (called a dark star today), where gravity is so great that nothing, not even light can escape it’s pull, it was suggested that entire universes could possibly be found within the center of a black hole, that our universe could conceivably be within a black hole. At that moment I felt so small I got scared. It was a jolt.

I looked over at Demetrius and found myself relieved that he was asleep. I wanted to protect him from feeling as small as I felt.

Interesting instinct, right? Let’s look deeper.

Feeling small is part of the human experience. Our fear mechanism, that something can threaten us, helps keep our fleshy, vulnerable bodies alive. In some ways it creates an arrogance, that we are important enough to keep living. And then when you think of it, this mechanism going wild is the root of why we don’t get along very well, too. This self-importance. The idea that what I want, see, think, feel is most important right now, the source of conflict.

So, overall, it seems like we need to feel small, that it’s integral on an unconscious level. But not too small. Too small creates a whole other set of problems. Existential fear. We desperately need order to our lives if we become aware of how insignificant we are and how being subject to forces indifferent to us create our whole existence. This is what creates the desperate need for god and the drive to create science, the need to congregate in groups for security, to create our parents as omniscient, to focus on the threat of the “other” (it makes us feel more secure to have good and bad, right and wrong). If we had no order to things, nothing that makes sense controlling how things go, it becomes impossible to keep the illusion of our importance going.

This importance thing isn’t seeming all that important anymore, just a fear-based construct. I’m going to peek inside this insignificance more, allow it. It seems way closer to truth than the order I’ve been assuming that I live under. This is not to say that I’m just going to drop everything and forget order, but it seems valuable to see the strings that keep this thing held together, so we don’t need to limit ourselves to their constraints.

Does this bring up anything for you?

You Are Not Your Behavior (and neither is he/she)

I don’t remember where I first heard that, but when I did it started a powerful process of forgiveness and understanding that is still ongoing. At a certain point, when we are ready, we can finally see that the things we did that got us scolded, corrected, that bent others out of shape was not who we were and we ultimately were not being scolded, just our behavior, but neither us or the scolder could likely see that at the time. We can start looking objectively and releasing ourselves to the world from behind our common and habitual behaviors.

Our behavior so often meets others at their behavior. But because we run our lives without this distinction between our behavior and ourselves, we build narrow relationships, whole systems of punishment and ideas of identity that balance on this faulty evaluation.

People become related to and labeled as drug addicts, womanizers, criminals, self-centered, lazy, etc.. The person becomes synonymous with our mental or cognitive illnesses or issues as well. We are not very good at seeing the person behind the behavior, because we don’t want that behavior present in our lives, it makes us uncomfortable or threatens us. The best way to keep it out is to slap the label on and then fight the behavior or avoid it altogether. It’s also the best way to perpetuate the behavior, because that person’s sense of disconnection from others grows. For all of us who got the idea stuck in our heads that we were bad kids, do you remember how that label affected you? How it still might?

We defend our behavior as ourselves. Our parents did when we built up the umbrage to question them on their ways. Do you remember what it was like when you were in full swing of being critical of your parents? How right you were, how uncomfortable it was to see them keep doing or saying that thing? It may still drive you bananas. Their behavior was not them either. More often than not, their love for you met their fear for your safety and well being and that is just rarely a pretty place to come from and so largely misunderstood. The fear comes through most of all and we are impacted on a visceral level. We are either seduced or repulsed by each other’s fear. You have long-standing issues with them or other people in your life, but are you any more willing to disengage from your own behaviors and look objectively at whether they really work for you, your commitments and your relationships?

It’s a rare person who is willing to have their behavior questioned, rarer still to find someone willing to question their own without it being part of some old self-flagellation ritual (the bad kid). No one is really up for looking when it hits a place where the hurt that birthed these behaviors was so bad, so clear to the person either consciously or unconsciously (the hurt and the automatic behavior coming up without us even noticing it). The reaction, defending will always show up loudly and clearly. It takes powerful practice to keep going after self-defense kicks in and just look, without stopping from feeling made wrong or dominated.

See your heart open when you notice your pull to judge someone and you just allow that to pass and try to get present to the person. We’re judging all the time. You can try this on line for coffee, riding the subway, sitting down for a meeting, looking at photos of people you’ve heard of on magazines or the web, when your caller ID pops up and you know who’s calling. All of their behaviors that helped you form this judgment, all of the ways it worked or didn’t work with you and your reactions has us staying at this level of engagement with others, with ourselves. It scuttles the possibility of freedom from behaviors that reinforce pain, fear, disconnection, lack of intimacy, acts of violence. It keeps us chained to fear, to avoiding discomfort and to self-defense.

The stress benefits alone from not getting caught up in judgments and reactions is worth it. Try it and get back to me. It takes practice.

From love,
Gregg

Acclimation – A Powerhouse Relationship Skill

ford-marshburn-hadfield-google-hangoutOne of our greatest assets as human beings is our ability to acclimate. I was thinking about this and looked up an article about what it’s like to acclimate to gravity after months in space. Apparently, it’s no walk in the park.

Trusting your power to acclimate can make life drastically different. The thing is that when we’re talking about our lives and relationships, we need to be on purpose about using the power of acclimation.

Acclimating to feelings is a great place to start. Feelings unconsciously have us make decisions that may not serve us. If only we could acclimate to the feeling, we might take more decisive action towards our goals and interests.

I encourage you to practice acclimation on purpose. Look at an area of life where you could be more powerful, like asserting your leadership. If you understand that you will be acclimating to speaking up, for instance, over the next month, you can speak up as a practice and see how you are doing at making this a more normal part of your workday. As you acclimate, more of your power will come through and your fear will lessen.

You can do this with so many parts of life. Codependents who are looking for a change need to acclimate to not helping in ways that hurt them. If we want to wean ourselves from technology’s hold (or any addiction), we need to practice acclimation. Changing eating habits requires acclimation. All behaviors that we exhibit that we want to let go of, we need to acclimate to life without doing that thing (like cutting people off, half-listening, listening for forming your rebuttal, always voicing the most alarming possibility, pushing away from the unknown, etc.). When you remember that you have this power and practice it, you can broaden your horizons vastly.

Part of acclimation can include getting support. If you let people know what you are working on, they can hear you as a student and help you with feedback as you move from fear to comfort.

http://www.space.com/21290-space-station-astronauts-nasa-hangout.html

Your Awesomeness Does Not Require Agreement

If your will to be yourself, to express yourself authentically is affected by the sense of agreement you feel around you, then you have let your awesomeness become co-opted by your needs. Identify your needs and resolve that you can be responsible for them. Hello, we’re talking about awesomeness here, it’s worth it!

When you detach your awesomeness from your needs and attach them to your commitments and to the experience of life you want to create, your awesomeness can take on an eternal quality. You become bulletproof. With commitments, we get used to a lack of agreement. If there was total agreement, there would be no need for the commitment. Also, your awesomeness then is powerful, directed towards what matters to you.

By the way, your awesomeness can just be, too, without purpose, attached to nothing in particular other than just experiencing the joy of your inherent freedom (and we don’t need to even be aware of that!). We’re born with that freedom and with full on awesomeness. We train each other and ourselves out of it with our judgments and reactions and by giving those judgments and reactions so much weight (imagine sound effect of a jailhouse door slamming shut here).

The best use for lack of agreement is feedback. Maybe there’s something available in the lack of agreement that will make you more effective. Maybe it’s just a pile of crap that someone lazily wants to give you, too

Become Authentic in your Relationships

If you want to shift your relationships, decide right now that they have no disempowering past that gets carried into the present. Do not fall for the trap of your habitual reactions and compromises that put you in places you never wanted to be. Leave the old patterns in the past and create the relationships from your vision, then act from it consistently. More often than not, it refreshes others and frees them, too.

People also may not go along initially and it may rub them the wrong way, but for how much longer are you going to be inauthentic, asking people to get along with a version of you that ISN’T EVEN YOU? It’s ok for people to be upset that you no longer act in ways that don’t serve you, if, from love and truth, you just want something else, if you’re finally being you.

It’s their right not to come with you.

Leadership Tip – Adore Them

Adoring people moves them forward more powerfully than pushing them because you’re uncomfortable with where they’re at today.

The pushing comes through and then what you’ve taught someone more than anything is how to push back on you.

When you adore someone, you give them space to look on their own at areas to improve, because there’s nothing wrong. You can adore and offer learning, offer standards, offer consequences, for the sake of development, but once you push from your own discomfort, you’ve lost them, they’ve lost awareness of whatever better intentions you had and at best, maybe they’ll succeed to spite you. At worst, you’ve seen what happens…

Woody Allen on Relationships or, How to Make Better Tasting Eggs!

“It reminds me of that old joke – you know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office and says, hey doc, my brother’s crazy! He thinks he’s a chicken. Then the doc says, why don’t you turn him in? Then the guy says, I would but I need the eggs. I guess that’s how I feel about relationships. They’re totally crazy, irrational, and absurd, but we keep going through it because we need the eggs.” ― Woody Allen, Annie Hall

If we’re in it for the eggs, we’ve got no chance, relationships will eat us alive. You probably have bite marks, yourself (and given them)!

It’s what you can make out of the crazy, irrational and absurd that’s the opportunity of relationships. Our reactions to what happens in relationships are a window into our transformational process. I know, it would be so much easier to just have unlimited eggs, but when you take relationships on for the sake of your transformation and all of the success that can come from it in every area of life, relationships become the most powerful tool around.

From here, the eggs get better and better 🙂

Jedi Tip #471

One of the keys to living a powerful life is raising one’s ability to tolerate the fear and discomfort we and others are going through without it taking us over and unconsciously choosing our next word or action for us.

When we’re/they’re upset (uncomfortable, scared, annoyed, angry, etc.), all of that yuck is constantly being broadcast outwards to the environment. All of us do this broadcasting when we’re upset. When two people are going through it together, they’re just throwing it back and forth. You can feel it even when you’re not directly involved, when you’re just in the room with that kind of energy, right?

Normally, we react and try to change the situation so we can get back to our normal, familiar and more comfortable state. There’s no future in that approach, though. It’s all we’ll ever do and it’s what we can’t stand other people doing to us.

Raise your tolerance. Practice allowing the reaction in yourself that comes up when you’re in the middle of that signal of upset coming from others (or ourselves). Initially, it won’t feel good. You won’t want to. It takes practice.

Over time, you’ll notice a powerful rise in your ability to tolerate this energy and a greater freedom will show up. The ability to be present in the midst of this is the power I’m talking about. It’s the ability to transcend the emotional conditioning we are all partly formed by and truly be ourselves.

What do you think this would bring to your relationships (Mom, Dad, sibling, boss, co-worker, kids, spouse)?

May The Force be with you

Last Night’s Relationship Circle – Roles in Relationships

We gravitate towards roles in relationships – mother, helper, know-er, child, savior. How many relationships are you in just to continue playing a role, because it makes you feel needed? Are you choosing these roles or are they automatic?

How people choose roles that they become victimized by:

1. Roles come from how someone has related to another person from past experiences. For example: I need to be your protector because I know you to put yourself in dangerous situations. The victimization is that the other person winds up resenting you for not understanding who they are today.

2. Roles are chosen to help people mitigate their own fear and discomfort. Because I am scared about my future with you, I choose to fix you. We choose a role that if we follow, it will hopefully make us comfortable. It is ultimately about our life, not the other person. In this role, we (consciously or unconsciously) care about what happens because we feel the other person’s choices effect us. Our discomfort distorts everything we see.

“If my boyfriend would just realize…”
“If my son would just finish law school…”

The victimization here is that we relate to the thing we’re afraid of, not the person and the relationship suffers.

3. Pattern. We find ourselves habitually choosing roles all my life. This is usually born from an incident early in life. We learned how to deal with something scary by choosing this role

The victimization here is that we don’t get our needs met, because we are always being the ________.

The other side is how we react to the roles others choose in relationships with us.

I am tired of my husband trying to be my therapist. My mom won’t leave me alone about getting married. My brother is always correcting me, like he’s some critic I never asked for.

We can all relate to these examples. Here are some tips on how to deal with it.

1. LEAVE THEM ALONE. Let these people play the roles they want to play. In fact,thank them for it. Whatever reactions (thoughts and feelings) are coming up for you are yours. Learn to be with your emotional responses, become masterful.

Your reactions are also a part of the pattern that you and your partner/mom/friend have created together. If you stop bringing the predictable response and take responsibility for your reaction, the pattern will break down over time and the relationship will shift. By taking a role with us, people are NOT controlling us. Whatever reactions we have are ours.

2. Let the person your in a relationship with know the roles you want them to play with you. Not to the exclusion of the roles they want to play, in addition to them. In fact, don’t even mention the roles they seem to play. Only mention what you want more of.

No matter how careful you are with suggestion number two, when you are shifting the normalcy of the roles people play in a relationship, there may be some pushback and upset. Many of us will not want to take on number two, because we are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. There are things we don’t say or do because we make up a future possibility in our mind, like if someone gets upset that it will cause irreparable damage. We don’t think we can have a continued relationship with someone if we say something to them that could be upsetting and then we stay victimized. We need to allow them to have a reaction and continue to forge the relationship we want.

3. Recognize that role dissonance occurs because each person on this planet is living inside a different reality than every other person on the planet. What we try to do is force others to live inside our reality. Life would be so much easier if everyone lived inside of one reality 🙂 Your reality doesn’t have to be my reality. Once you see that, the experience of being controlled will dissipate. Again you don’t need to mention this to the other person, just allow them to continue doing it, it’s your reactions to it that you can make a difference with.

Travis Bailey, thank you so much for helping me collect the notes from The Relationship Circle and sending them to me without me even asking. It was invaluable help in putting this update together.