What's Your Weird Gift? What's Your Whisper?
I might have called this, We're All Healers. There's a way, I'm convinced, that each person's presence on the planet offers healing for others. Stay with me. When you were a kid, you knew the house to go to where it just felt right and safe to be, and the mom had uncanny timing for pulling baked goods out of the oven or offered anytime sandwiches with ingredients that might not even taste good at your house. That mom was a healer to the neighborhood children.
Think about all the weird, often beautifully idiosyncratic gifts people have that are really, in the end, their way of healing others or the planet. Could be their way of cooking, listening, fixing things, explaining in images or metaphors, feeling what others feel, bringing people together, connecting to a piece of land, communicating with animals, knowing how to make or invent anything from dolls to furniture, from healing herbal concoctions to pastries. Could be their sense of humor or irony or their connection to the beauty in pathos. Could be the way they seem to land where people or creatures need help dying or giving birth or finding their footing.
The thing about your weird gifts is that they don't necessarily correlate with career paths — though they might, and can be directed that way much more intentionally than most of us believe. Culturally, though, we don't yet think in terms of each having a weird healing gift, never mind organizing ourselves around it. But what's to stop you from getting to it individually?
This begins with identifying and honoring your gift. Honoring your weird gift is an ongoing process: you need to hold the conviction of its value, and use it wherever, whenever, however you can, so that you build the muscles that support it, so that you and others think of you in terms of your gift, and so that you're constantly evolving your understanding of how this gift fits into your whole life — work life included.
If you like no-glitz, low-budget documentaries that inspire, you may want to watch Buck (currently on Play Instantly on Netflix). It's about a man called the Horse Whisperer, who worked closely with Robert Redford on his film by that name. I saw that movie awhile back, and enjoyed it, but I’d choose the documentary for a second viewing any day. Buck, in his low-key cowboy way that sets the tone for the whole film, reveals the heinous way he and his brother were treated in childhood until they were taken from their father and put in the kind of loving, healing foster care you read about (as in Ellen Foster, one of my favorite Southern novels). He could have become a victim and excused himself to be a shut-down human being behind closed doors for the rest of his life, and we all would have nodded, Of course, who can heal from such abuse?
Instead, he connected to a particular compassionate way of connecting with other beings — first and foremost, with horses — a way of being he wouldn't have been so singularly drawn to if he hadn't experienced exactly the childhood he had. (Please note that I'm not recommending, condoning, or excusing abuse. I do, however, highly recommend a response like Buck's to having been on the receiving end of it.) Not only did this man learn how to be with horses in a way that allows them to thrive in cooperating with human beings, he taught and to date continually teaches this way to other people. In the end, though, the most fundamental and fascinating thing is that he's healing the people he comes in contact with, helping them to know themselves through the negative behaviors they've unwittingly created and reinforced in their horses. It's pretty amazing to see footage of Buck in action. I was also very moved by the (sometimes weeping) people talking about ways they'd come to see they'd been mistreating their horses, out of a simple belief that what they were taught to do to tame and control them was the right and only way. There was so much redemption for them in adopting Buck's compassionate and connected way of being with the horses. Beautiful.
Everything in a life's journey contributes to making a human being who he or she is. If you truly believe this (or experiment with believing it), you can find that the stuff of what you're here for is all right there in the story, the best and the worst of it, how you got thrown off and how you found your way, what got you through, how you connected to your own particular ingenuity even when dragged down by the particular ways you give up or stop believing in your own best self. It's definitely in the things you’ve loved even when all of life has seemed unlovable, in the topics of endless fascination to you even when you were too cynical to pursue them, in the thing you were naturally good at even though you feared getting master-level training to make it official. I listen to people all the time arguing for what they can't do, or how what they can do isn't legit. I'm asking you to look at it another way and take this lens seriously: whatever's had your attention ever since it got your attention, whatever you could always do and have always done—that's your thing. Trust that.
In Book Yourself Solid, Michael Port recasts how to think of your career when he recommends avoiding labels when you tell what you do. He advocates offering more descriptive and anecdotal ways of presenting your work to others. When you give a known label, people first hear their preconceived ideas. For example, if I tell people I'm a life coach, they may assume that the content of my work is to help people switch careers. And while I have done just that, the actual thrust of my work is to guide people out of suffering and into living by their own belief systems. More than anything, I help them question their limiting and self-defeating thoughts and change their relationship with their thinking. I often work with them to create a clear vision for what they want in life, or in one realm of life (sure, it could be career) and then to move consistently toward that vision, clearing any thoughts, beliefs, or tendencies that get in the way of reaching it — or even groping in the right direction. Once I've gone through my description along these lines, someone might make a little frowny-thinky face and tilt her head and say, “So, you're like … a life coach?” People do love labels. So I laugh and say, “Sure, that's what I am. A life coach.” But by that point they're open to new meanings.
There's no denying the forceful and prevalent idea that what we do to earn money must fall under some neat preexisting carefully labeled and defined rubric. But that doesn't make it true. Whether you do or don't have such a neat label for what you do, you must know what you do—and that's your weird gift. Because if you're a yoga teacher, for example, you probably have a lifelong connection to your body and the energies that move through it, or you made that connection at some point and got a rush and rebalancing from this that no hard drug, fast ride, or raw cacao nibs could equally effect. You correct lifelong posture problems; you awaken body awareness and move chi; you call in deep stillness through conscious movement: you're a healer, pure and simple. In the case of a former client, teaching yoga means bringing her ministry and music to people in a hatha yoga context. She even offers some Body Bliss events that combine yoga and live devotional music with her band, One Love. Brilliant. Can all that be captured by “I'm a yoga teacher”? Not even close.
You must validate your own weird gift. You must own it. You must value it whether our culture even notices it or not, never mind assigns it worth. You must value it whether the people close to you value it or not, or even begin to entertain its wondrous potential. Unless you come upon someone whose weird gift is to point out to people what and how important their weird gift is (that's what I get to do sometimes!), you're going to have to do this for yourself. How do you know it actually has value? Because it's here, it's yours, and it just moves through you, not only without your effort but without even your consent. It’s the thing that has buzz and crackle to it and no off-switch.
This isn't to say that you can't resist it or squash it or limit it or even forget all about it. You can do all of those things. Perhaps you have. But be sure this all comes at a cost, and that cost is this: you won't fulfill your potential, your mission, your whole purpose for being here. Am I speaking too grandly? If you think so, maybe you're thinking too small, both about your weird gift — your whisper, your healing modality — and about yourself.
So how do you tap into your weird gift's wondrous potential? How do you turn your (possibly secret) whisper into a whisper people pay you for? Consider this: you've probably already seen it evolve. Look back over the trajectory of your life and see how it's been there, in one form or another, all along, and how it's grown either despite you or because you've consciously given it your good attention, or whatever scraps of attention you could during loaded times. So what could happen next if you gave it its full due and allowed it to become something you haven't even begun to imagine? Who would you become allowing yourself to claim your gift, step into it fully, use it at every opportunity for the greater good? I'm thinking you'd probably be a healer, even if of an unlikely type. You'd also feel aligned, expansive, and just plain right with the world.
Someone commented on one of my Facebook posts that she derived a strange comfort from the notion of a weird gift. Ah, I think that's because we're so idiosyncratic, when it comes down to it. To think that there's actually rhyme and reason to the weirdly particular thing that comes up from inside us and captivates us, that moves through us and touches others; to think we can harness that and let it direct us into and through a life we love—very comforting indeed.
Love & blessings, Jaya
Get Over Her!
May 9 (internet program): I'll be the featured guest speaker on Lesbian Love Talk, Barb Elgin's weekly internet radio show, which airs at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday nights, with programs posted online to replay anytime. I'll be addressing the importance of letting go of a past relationship. Come hear (and if you wish, call in and ask) about not being a victim, getting to forgiveness, creating closure by yourself, and more. Check out Barb's Lesbian Love Talk show!
Note: If you're a straight woman or a man, there's little I'll say on this show that doesn't translate--switch the pronouns as needed.
Free Exploration Sessions:
from 60 minutes to 30
For the past three years, I've built my business in part by offering free 60-minute sessions to give people an experience of my work. I also consider it a time tithe, as I offer the session to anyone who wants it, even if they have no intention of coaching with me. I love these sessions and find it deeply gratifying to sit with someone, anyone, and send them away with a new perspective on life, themselves, their circumstances—whatever—so that they can do it differently, connect to all that supports them, come closer to self-love. ...
It's come to this: more people show up wanting these sessions than I can properly make time for in the context of my client load. I've therefore cut them down from 60 to 30. It works! To get the free session, just fill out the contact form on my website.
Grateful for the Facebook connection
After the shocking bombing at the Boston Marathon, I posted this:
When horrible, harmful, nonsensical things happen, it's so important (and helpful, grounding, connecting) to drop down from your head and into your body. Where do you feel the sorrow, the shock, the fear? Can you come very close to the sensations, even for a few minutes, and give yourself the gift of truly being with yourself as you take in and move through the harshness that this earth experience seems to include? Remember that breath is the balm from within. Soothe yourself as you wish soothing for all other sentient beings. Know and feel that we are one.
A few days later, I added this:
Sometimes the personal tragedy of a few hits public awareness and causes a brief flurry for all, then most of us move back into our lives as the ones who were hit directly keep living with the aftereffects. How to be with this? When these few come to mind, don't feel guilt--send a blessing; hold them compassionately in your awareness, in the light, even for a brief moment. Give love, kindness, presence to anyone who's right here, yourself included. Vote for love by being love. Vote for life by living with gusto and gratitude.
Visit me on Facebook anytime.