Want Inner Muddle?
Seek Outer Input
Ever hear yourself say, as I heard a client say about a decision she and her spouse were making, “We were doing pretty well until we started talking to other people.” Ay, that'll muddle things every time. Another client choosing between two demanding jobs, as she gave me her best reckoning to date, included the statement, “All my friends think [job B] is a no-brainer.” To them, perhaps, but the more I questioned her, the more aligned she seemed to be with job A!
What's wrong with getting advice?
The right thing for you—you as you are right now, you at this point of becoming, you at this juncture, which may take you into new directions and new identity—can only come from your own inner guidance system. What you'll get from others is what they've come to at this point based on, at best, their own guidance system (which is all about them) or, at worst, their own fears, beliefs (often unquestioned), and projections.
Sometimes I invite people to try going against tendency, because it's useful for anyone to counter any set defaults they have in place. Getting really simple with this: the person who rushes around may need to slow things down, while the person who moves too slowly may need to rev it up. Most people giving advice tell you to slow down because they've needed to do that (or still need to, so they're speaking it again to you to reinforce it for themselves). Byron Katie says you should always eavesdrop on yourself when you give others advice, because it's really all for you! So what if they tell you to slow things down when you need to rev it up?
Well, this happens all the time. Helpful advisors will tell you to persevere when you need to let go and quit pushing the river; or they'll tell you to stop forcing it when you just need to hang in there a bit longer. They'll tell you to let the other come to you when it's right for you to reach out. They'll tell you to be more diplomatic when it's your moment to assert something no matter how it's received. Oh, the advice people give you when you're dating! They tell you to stay open when you need to have clear boundaries around what you will or won't have. They'll tell you to give someone a chance when you know the person is wrong for you (however adorable they may be—everyone deserves lots of chances, but not necessarily from you!).
All this wrong advice serves no one—except perhaps the one who does eavesdrop on their own advice.
How do you know when advice is bad advice?
It may seem especially hard to evaluate advice when it sounds good and comes from intelligent people or perhaps from those who really know you. As to the latter, consider that they knew who you were a moment ago, and what you're on the cusp of now is very likely to be unknown to them—esepcially if you can't yet articulate it. Or they may even have known you so long that their stories of you are truly antiquated and have little or no bearing on your current reality, never mind your potential.
Their advice sounds good? So does your best thinking on each side of the coin you're considering. That's why I tell people to stay away from pro-con lists—or at least use them initially just to look at the overview and sort it out a bit, but don't use them to decide. The right choice for you doesn't boil down to intelligent reasons to do or not do something. You could intelligently talk yourself in or out of most anything whether it's actually a good idea for you right now or not (now being the operative word here). So if you're going to look elsewhere for how to decide it, look away from others' smart reasoning as well.
How do you know when even good advice is the wrong advice for you?
It's so easy to tell:
Is all outer input worthless?
I'm certainly not saying there's no place for talking to others as part of a decision-making process. Just listen with a hefty dose of take-what-you-like-and-leave-the-rest. Here's how you know when someone else's perspective actually applies to you and is being spoken for your benefit:
Great input that isn't advice
At the end of coaching sessions, I almost always ask my clients, “How do you feel right now?” They almost always give answers like, much better, more clear, relieved, calm or peaceful, present, ready to go out there again. They feel better not because I gave them great advice. (It's been known to happen, but I seldom give clients a strong “do this” sort of directive.) They feel better because I've helped them come back to themselves. I've reflected back to them how they're thinking or operating unclearly, or how they've failed to get behind a choice. I've echoed what I heard them say that shows they're thinking out of fear or shame or obligation or some old concept about themselves (perhaps recently fed to them by an advisor who supposedly knows them well), and I've helped them deconstruct that thinking. They feel better because I redirected them to what they know and away from what others know. Perhaps I've shown them how they're not applying their own belief system, then we've looked at how they might do so here; or we've addressed the fear that has so far kept them from doing so. (And by addressed I don't mean cleared away: fear is tenacious, and you need to be able to keep moving in the direction you know or suspect is right for you even as fear keeps gripping until it's been along for the ride long enough to know it's okay, it's really, truly okay.)
So ask people for the kind of input you want. Ask them what kind of input they'd like from you, and offer what matches what they want. Ask them to listen with no input and play with listening to them without offering yours. Say no (if no's the right answer) when they ask, Would you like to hear my thoughts on this? End the conversation if they keep proffering thoughts you don't want. When you start to notice their words are causing agitation inside you or getting you more muddle, ask their forgiveness for engaging them and tell them you've just remembered you're seeking to make a new habit of locating and following your own inner wisdom. Or change the subject. Ask if they knew that sea otters sometimes eat so many urchins that their teeth and bones turn purple. (It's okay if they look at you funny.)
Byron Katie invites people to offer experience instead of advice, as others can benefit from your stories and apply to themselves what's actually applicable, but they may or may not benefit from your advice. I know my kids enjoy stories of my past wacky choices and their fascinating consequences much more than they enjoy any direct advice about how they should proceed or any predictions of the consequences of their current choices. I give less and less advice as I grow up in my parenting. I believe my job with my kids is to point them inward to their own guidance system. For that matter, that's also what I do with my clients and with anyone I'm in any kind of relationship with. May this writing support you to look inward, where all the right answers for you can be accessed.
Love & blessings, Jaya
From Vision to Fruition (weekend retreat version!) will include a look at the ways we navigate choices and access our guidance system as we move toward the clearest version of our vision we currently have in view.
One-on-one One-Day Breakthrough Retreat: What are you ready to be done with? Let me help you usher it out.
Invite me to present to your group! I love (love, love) coming to you with a program that fits your needs.
Read prior writings from Jaya the Trust Coach.
(Audio offerings on this page as well.)
Sign up for a free 30-minute exploration session.
I'm overjoyed to be offering a retreat at beautiful Light on the Hill on one of my favorite workshop topics,
from Vision to Fruition. This retreat is for women only, and it's creative, spiritual, dreamy, nuts-and-bolts practical, life-changing.
Join the circle of women this spring on May 6-8. Yeah, that's Mother's Day weekend. We'll officially stop after lunch for those who want to leave then, and we'll continue with optional integrating activities until 3 pm for those who want to extend their time in the hills.
I've written about this material, successfully coached clients one-on-one in creating life changes they wanted using these principles, given workshops on the topic that lasted from 90 minutes to 6 hours, and I'm finally fulfilling a dream of mine to play with these concepts and the left- and right-brained activities I've created to teach them in the context of an unhurried, spacious weekend in the gorgeous hills of Van Etten, New York. (And it'll still be just a beginning in terms of all there is to say about the topic.) We'll make the most of it and bring it close, with a lot of time for participants to apply the principles to their own visions, ask a lot of questions, share experiences, make art, and work and play together.
Cost is $366. This gets you a cozy and lovely single room (many with amazing views, all with bedding and towels included), gourmet vegetarian meals from Friday night through Sunday's noontime meal, access to Light on the Hill's glorious land and gorgeous common rooms, including the great hall where we'll meet in the main lodge, with its gloriously high ceiling and seemingly more windows than walls. All programming and art supplies included. Keep reading!
Improv at the retreat!
In the past, I've enriched my retreat offerings by using the gifts of women bringing yoga, song, dance, and fox walking. This time, I'm thrilled to announce that Erica Marx will be leading the group in improv activities on Friday night. Anyone who'd rather fully participate by playing the role of audience is welcome to do just that. See what Erica has to say about her contribution to this program.
Here's my workshop agreement, which sets the tone for our work together:
I agree to keep confidential anything shared during this workshop. I agree to hold space for each being present, seeing all in the highest light. For these hours together, I agree to put aside any negative story that comes up or any preconceived notions I have about anyone here. For everyone present, I take the stance “My love is greater than your fear.”
I agree to continue bringing back to myself any insights and advice I find myself having about another. I will apply these to my own process. I am here to work on myself and my life.
I will also seek to hold myself in the highest light. Where I’m concerned about what others think of me, I’ll keep coming back to what I think of myself. I will seek to be in good standing with myself, to meet whatever comes up for me with compassion, and to move as directly as I can at any given moment toward the highest vision of myself. I am willing to believe in my own evolution, to step into the next best version of myself.
For more information and to register, follow this link.
Curious about coaching? I offer a free 30-minute exploration session by phone or Skype or in person (in Ithaca, NY). I don't use this session to sell my services, only to give you a direct experience of what it's like to work with me. Obviously, this does bring me new clients. It also allows me to send people away from a single experience equipped to do something different, to see something differently, to get that much kinder to themselves. To get the free session, just fill out the contact form on my website.
For Facebook types, I post most days with an aim to support your growth and healing, inspire you, remind you of what you already know, keep you in touch with the magic, propose that you think big, and cast my vote for you to keep being ever kinder to yourself. Some popular posts from the past month:
Let others off the hook. When you're disgruntled by others—how they think & behave, or how they control or confuse you, or how they don't get you or don't give back at the level you give—look away from them (even if millions agree that they're tiresome or hurtful or inappropriate). Instead, look at yourself—not to find fault or assign blame but to see what this brings up for you. The healing called for is likely between you & you. Others are just doing what they do (move away from them if they bother you!). What matters for you is what your reaction to them reveals about what you need: Better boundaries? A clearing of old beliefs about what's wrong with you? A reminder to take nothing personally? Look away from the other & ask yourself, Why would the face of God show up for me this way?
If you notice something coming around again that's oh so familiar, consider moving away from typical responses of being horrified & disgusted and believing this means you're stuck with it forever. When it spirals back around, you have the chance to get to some deeper stuff this time that didn't get fully cleared out before. This doesn't mean you're hopeless. It means there's more hope than ever of really being done with the thing. But don't worry about the future. Are you willing to meet what's here now, consciously, and let the healing go as deep as it can go this time? It comes up to clear out, not to show you what you're stuck with.
When you're anxious, you're feeling or believing yourself to be disconnected from self and Source. (You're not actually, though. You're never separate.) Don't focus on disconnection and set that in stone. Let awareness of anxiety and disconnection invite you back to connection, back to yourself, back to Source. Anxiety isn't here to tell you you're a hopeless mess. It's here to signal to you to come closer to yourself for a moment; to remember and re-embody the truth of your connection, your oneness with Source; to bring consciousness to that truth. Ground yourself: connect to earth and to body by feeling your feet on the ground, by tuning in to your senses (what do you see, hear, taste, smell, feel?), and by breathing—or bringing awareness to the breath going in and out of the core of you. If you still feel separate, no problem. Feel it (awareness, breath). Feel it, but don't believe it. Stay close to yourself; it'll all come back to you. Just don't require any timing, and don't say it's not working. If you're bringing conscious awareness and breath to what you're feeling, the thing that's working is that you're present to yourself, right now. Perfect. Your job is to come back to yourself using awareness and breath, now and now and now and now, to help you know the inherent connection that is your true essence.
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Addendum (bonus concept!) for getting out of inner muddle.
Byron Katie's 3 kinds of business
I'm astounded by how often I tell people about Byron Katie's 3 kinds of business and how often it's just what they needed to hear. I've written about the 3 kinds of business elsewhere, with an emphasis on overwhelm, and am providing the link here because it's currently off my website, having been subsumed into my (as-yet still unpublished) book. When you know the 3 kinds of business and can keep redirecting yourself toward yours (out of others' and the Universe's), then you're empowered to take action in realms you can actually control, realms that are actually yours to manage. This makes things manageable, and makes it easier to find your right next direction. When you're in other people's business (seeking to please and placate them or worrying about what they'll think) or in the Universe's (seeking an outcome before its time or insisting on a certain outcome when life is redirecting you), then it all becomes very muddled indeed. Notice when you're out of your business in a decision-making process, locate where your business is, and I guarantee you'll be in a better vantage point for getting the clarity you want.