4 Things to remind yourself early & often
(which will connect you to self & to guidance)
1. Bring it to now: Come back from the future (quit predicting what you don't want) and come back from the past (quit accruing towers of one thing stacked on top of another so it's all too much) and don't try to figure it all out. What can you do right now to align with this moment? Notice that you're equipped for this one moment.
2. Come back to the breath: Breathing is a felt, sensory experience, but we typically don't feel it. I love to invite people not to breeaaaaathe or even to take a deep breath, but to simply drop into the breath; follow it; stay with it; feel it. Feel its soothing, its kindness, its calming capacity. Feel how it brings you to the core of your being and brings your whole nervous system down a notch or two. It's powerful to take some moments dropping in with the breath and come back to yourself.
3. You don't have to figure it all out right now: This is a great thing to tell yourself to get out of your head, out of fix-it mode, out of believing you're not okay till you have it all sorted out and see the way forward. Actually, if you don't see it all clearly, then you don't have to figure it out right now. Soothe yourself instead (see Come back to the breath above).
4. You are guided: Life wants to get you where you're going. It wants to feed you, provide for your needs, heal and evolve you, keep bringing you closer to love. When you think you need to know what the future will hold, or insist on a blueprint for getting there (when there isn't one), or--yuck--fault yourself because you must be doing something wrong if you don't see the way forward: STOP. Quit thinking you're all alone and it's all up to you to find your way through the dark. You're guided. Connect to guidance.
Love & blessings, Jaya
heyyyy. LOOK RIGHT for CORONA SUPPORT label under CATEGORIES. Find posts most likely to support you as you move through the fascinating challenge of a pandemic. You're equipped to meet this, and to meet yourself kindly on this journey!
Okay, I know the thing these days is succinct posts with practical bullet points and sound bites. That’s not what I’m doing here. I’m going with
My object here is to invite you to use the holidays for your becoming, not for a habitual replay of old stories and bygone identities. Use this time of festivity, connection, and sacred renewal to honor your healing and evolution.
A Story of My Hapless Mother and Holiday Misery
In my growing-up story, the woman who played the mother character was both beautiful and flimsy. She had no concept of her own beauty, no solid grasp on her own goodness and inherent worthiness. (Both of these had always been constantly, in clipped comments and spiteful tones, thrown into question by her own mother.)
Once, when we lived in France (I was maybe seven), I remember creeping into the living room during a gathering that featured grown-ups speaking French and English with more accents than I could track. My eyes flashing across the room, I captured a live snapshot of my Arkansas mom taking a drag off a cigarette. My mom didn’t smoke! But hey—in 1960-something, just anyone can reach for that prop in a smoky social scene and get away with it. I was struck in that unforgettable moment by her beauty. She could’ve been a movie star, from where I stood in semi-hiding.
There were other such moments of brief, dazzling light shone on the subject of my mother, but they never stuck. She would always go back to her fretting self, probably jerked into that known place by the mother an ocean away whom she kept close in her mind, whose worn voice played in shrill loops over anything new my mom might try to tell herself. No certain opinion, no clear creation (she sometimes stripped old furniture and infused it with new life), no authentic laughter startled out of her in an unguarded moment ever ushered in the woman she wanted to be.
Nope, she reverted every time to the frazzled mom who could cry for days or scream for hours, because it was all too much for her. Dad’s work called him away, a lot, to spend two and three weeks at a time in Spain, Portugal, Italy—wherever; wherever the women were sexier and stronger than she was. She was stuck in a small Normandy village, alone and adrift among the Frogs, inept in every way, challenged even to ask the grocer a question.
She didn’t trust her capacity to hold her husband’s attention, to be a good mother, to put any kind of beauty into the world, despite the fact that she could and often would do all three—or dabble at least, till her insecurities ridiculed her in my grandmom’s voice into getting small again. (If she were really so small, she wouldn’t have felt so trapped and miserable there, but she didn’t have that interpretation at her disposal. She didn’t have tools for moving from her habitual thoughts to something kinder and truer.)
Holidays during the years in France actually still glitter in my memory. I believe these were actually fun events, with warmer-than-normal family feelings infusing the festive scenes, and a smattering of gifts wrapped in gold and doused in magic. But then, just before I turned ten, we moved back to the U.S., and that put us in driving distance of my mom’s childhood home, or what she still simply called home (not yet having been able, with all the corporate moves, to truly make her own).
This launched years of dreaded and dreadful holiday events. There was no choice, or any concept of possible choice, in the matter of what we were doing for the holidays. That decision was made by cultural expectations upheld with a vengeance by upright human beings: we were going to be with family. This would include predictable church scenes, predictable meal-preparation and meal scenes, predictable gift-opening scenes. Some of these things were just fine on the whole, or seemed to be, but for my mother, it all represented nonstop encounters with her demons. I learned to discern, over the years, the constant subtext in things said by her mother and sister and the increasingly obvious preference given by the one to the other. My mother always paled in comparison to her more glamorous, more confident sister.
Once returned to our nuclear-family reality, we then cycled through the predictable scenes of my mother processing the self-esteem trauma reactivated by holiday events. First, she was just pissy, peevish, prone to small explosions. As the pressure built, she started giving my father hell for all he didn’t do for her—and not that she was wrong, especially with Uncle Pill and Aunt Glam so freshly in view. As with the glaring contrast in the love my grandmom doled out between her two daughters, no one could miss how the diamonds and finery Aunt Glam uncovered from her husband's gift boxes put to shame the not-much and not-memorable stuff my mother pulled from hers.
From there, she moved to giving her kids hell for all that we thought of her (we thought she was our servant; we thought she should do everything for us that we would never have even an ounce of gratitude for; we thought that she had no right to any happiness of her own—actually, all wrong, and all very confusing to the kids involved, stated as trembling facts, punctuated with slaps). There were predictable scenes of her going silent, crying over slow, morose ironing or tense chopping of onions and slapping together of casseroles. There were the quiet moments she got lost in a book—an activity that allowed her to pretty much disappear and maybe feel only half-bad about it. (I liked the books best, feeling maybe only half-anxious about them.)
In the culture my mother grew up in, stepping from ill-favored daughter to hastily taken wife with no transitional time to know herself and choose her path, she certainly had no choice over how to spend the holidays. She had no concept of her guidance system that let her know which way to head through inner tugs, through sensations of contraction versus expansion, through emotions to pay attention to for the information they bring. She knew only rules in a punitive Universe, embodied by a paternal white-bearded God figure that she was not allowed to question, and wouldn’t dare re-envision.
I’m so fortunate for where I am in time. I’ve noticed a million times over, throughout my adult life, that I’ve got a wealth of resources my mom didn’t have. I even smoked freely for a brief time and inhabited my own beauty guiltlessly, if not with total comfort. I rejected the religion of my childhood categorically and took years of trial-and-error experimentation to rebuild a belief system that honored the spiritual truth of my being—something I was entirely and effortlessly in touch with as a child. (It helped that the France years meant virtually no religious constraints, as there was no Baptist church in spitting or driving distance, and my parents trusted no other religion.)
My Invitallenge to You.
If your holidays are miserable and your holiday choices are based in obligation or some lie you tell yourself about having no choice, I want to sweetly ask: what are you doing? This is not 1960-something.
Please gauge the evolution. Like me, you have healed and evolved beyond your parents. Would you like to keep evolving? Are you willing to use anything and everything to keep coming closer to your guidance system, holidays included? Will you practice presence anywhere and any time of year, especially since presence is simply about tuning in to what’s here right now, and the here-and-now still exists during the holidays? Reminder that presence allows you to access choice, because your connection to the felt, sensory experience of this moment, as it actually is, allows you to bypass autopilot tendencies; question antiquated assumptions and stories; and reach right now for a choice that actually makes sense (to you).
Actionable Bullet Points.
I just talked to a brilliant and beautiful friend who's staying away from family of origin this year during the holidays. It took her years to get to this level of self-permission. I invite you to it. What I invite you to, more specifically, is just the level of permission and boundaries you need. And if you choose to engage with anyone at all who brings up stress for you or in any way makes you question your goodness or well-being, please get lots of supports in place. (Here's a solid holiday support I offer, an audio program with written supplements, priced at $22 for 2019 Holidays.)
Why not use this time of festivity, connection, and sacred renewal to honor your healing and evolution?
Love & blessings, Jaya
Seriously: Check out my Holiday program, Before They Drive You Crazy, TAKE THE WHEEL. It's chock-full of spiritual-meets-practical supports.
And here's my free pdf that offers a formula and script for holding your boundaries during hard conversations with difficult people.
Get the free pdf lays out the premises for an experiment in conscious dating.
(Would you, could you believe that it’s supposed to be easy?)
I just found a little note I wrote for myself with an Abraham-Hicks quote that struck me: “The path of least resistance is also the path of greatest joy, greatest clarity, and the most fun!”
Abraham’s path of least resistance is a crazy-simple concept: You watch for and find the easiest, most effortless spot to next place your foot. Don’t see the whole picture? Don’t have a start-to-finish plan? No problem. Find your next step, knowing that’s enough. Take the easiest step you have access to.
You can do it tired, scared, confused. Point yourself roughly in the right direction (as I talk about in part 4 of Scooch!) and step forward, wherever your foot can land without some big leap or forceful stomping.
You can do it with curiosity instead of dread; you can stay tuned for the guidance rather than fear you’ll get it wrong. You can trust yourself to course-correct as you go.
It’s always okay to find you’re in resistance. Watch it dispassionately, compassionately. Then find your point of least resistance, and step there. Rinse and repeat; rinse and repeat. You’ll see and feel the resistance melt away. You’ll find the momentum builds as you go, often surprisingly swiftly.
To proceed along the path of least resistance, start by noticing when you’re in resistance.
In your body, resistance can feel like
You’re in resistance when you're
It also helps to be clear about the signs that you're on a path of least resistance:
How to follow the path of least resistance:
All you need to do is gingerly pick your way along the unknown way, one step at a time, simply finding your next point of least resistance. What’s the easiest way to go that feels like it’s in the right direction? Forget the whole picture. Don’t call this one step a drop in the bucket. Your point of least resistance simply gives you access to movement. One step, and another, and the next, until you’re moving so well, you forget you didn’t know how to do this. You’ll course-correct as you go, so don’t worry about whether you’re heading just the right way. You’re meant to build and ride momentum.
Hey, it’s not just that the path of least resistance will get you to where you’re going in the most effortless way. Remember the quote I began with from Abraham-Hicks? “The path of least resistance is also the path of greatest joy, greatest clarity, and the most fun!” So when it feels like that … you’re on it!
Love & blessings, Jaya
Note that an earlier post on least resistance approaches these concepts from another angle.
Part of trusting your guidance system is trusting in your capacity to course-correct: not to get it right!
Course-correction is a power—may even be a super-power. You have the power at any given moment to simply course-correct toward what feels better to you than where you find yourself to be or what you thought you were aiming for. Isn’t that kind of amazing?
Sound too easy? Here are some typical ways you might hamper your innate ability to simply and swiftly course-correct anytime.
You’re too attached to the course you’ve set--so you’re not open to guidance about where to head NOW.
Maybe you need to be right or you believe you have to finish what you started or you really really want that thing you were heading toward. But guidance comes in now, for now. You may be guided to Santa Fe and find yourself called to Seattle midway. Santa Fe is just what got your attention and sent you roughly heading the right way! Will you let go now and head Northward as new information comes in?
Reminder that the Universe can provide the general thing you’re after in multiple forms. A great way to counter attachment to a specific form is to remember the general thing you were after: a fulfillment, a compatibility, a connection; a sense of place that felt like home; a new, heightened level of expressing your intelligence or artistic vision—perhaps your entire being. Name the general intention and open to how many specific forms could fulfill that.
You have too many bad feelings about where you find yourself right now.
What if you didn’t judge the status quo? You may have regret or self-recrimination about what got you here. You may feel defeated or discouraged because of how someone else or your own body or life itself seems to have betrayed you. You may categorically hate where you are and be embroiled in the very real complications of your current reality. What if you entirely accepted where you are right now?
Invitation back to nonresistance! I just read words from inspired pelvic pain coach Lorraine Faehndrich saying that her healing began when she stopped fighting her body and everything seemingly wrong with it, and from that space of acceptance simply started listening to what it was telling her. (And her body did not withhold! Inner guidance!) Likewise, my sleep class kicks off with an invitation to nonresistance—hence its name, Give It a Rest: Get Your Sleep Back by Letting It Go. Participants begin by accepting sleeplessness and sleep deprivation, and end up resting better and … sleeping! Byron Katie’s first book is called Loving What Is because she invites readers into nonresistance—or as she puts it, out of an argument with reality. “Argue with reality and you lose,” she loves to say, “but only 100 percent of the time.” You’re fine wherever you find yourself at any given moment, and the course-correction asked of you is within your skill set.
You think course-correction requires knowing exactly where to go or what to do next.
No no no no no! Just think of it as always good enough to head roughly in the right direction. The tweaks (and radical shifts) are made along the way as you keep paying attention! Trust that.
You’re having trust malfunctions!
You don’t trust life to show you the way. (For life, plug in Source/the stars/Higher Power—you name it for you.) Guidance has always been forthcoming and always will be.
You don’t trust yourself—what? To read the signs right? To stay the course? Pause to tune in to what you fault yourself for or expect yourself not to get right. Even if you’re right (and you probably are) about your history or tendencies, whatever you lack or whatever flaw you perceive in yourself will never be fully true. Identity is not fixed, your limitations are ready to become your new strengths, and you get to recreate yourself and your life as much as you care to do. You get to keep course-correcting toward more of what you want and who you most want to be.
You’re confusing letting go with giving up.
They feel really different. Letting go can feel downright good. If not, it will certainly bring relief and probably some sense of new possibility. At the very least, here comes a question like Now what? or What’s possible now? Some part of you can begin to feel the breeze from the open window now that you’ve shut that troublesome door. Giving up feels awful. It feels like defeat, heavy and contracted, and inspires self-loathing or at best instant regret and second-guessing. It feels like failing yourself (sometimes others—but see the next point for where worrying about that can get you!) Trust what brings relief and lightness: that’s part of your guidance system.
You’re listening to someone else’s opinion or advice instead of what’s coming from your inner guidance.
Hey, some people will quickly, and for years, default to failing themselves—as long as they never fail others. That’s always misguided. What’s right for you will be right for them, even if they fight you on it initially. Could be their weak self (or attached or unclear or unhealed self) calling you selfish for following your path. You must nonetheless follow your path. Make your guidance system more important than their unhealed stuff!
By the way, if you go to what someone else wants from you (or deems best for you) because they’ve called you a name or brought forth your worst fear, you’ve just succumbed to manipulation (which obviously isn’t coming from their highest self, and may or may not be conscious on their part). DO NOT CHOOSE YOUR PATH BASED ON MANIPULATIONS FROM OTHERS. (And hey, if you think you’re being manipulated but aren’t sure, I know a good coach. I’ve walked more than one soul out of confusion on that point—funny that being confused is a sign of being manipulated!—and back to clarity about their own knowing.)
Risk being selfish—or irresponsible or bad or all over the place or whatever they’re calling you that cuts you to the quick--and just go when everything else but your fear calls you elsewhere.
A few more things that could hamper swift course-correction:
Love & blessings, Jaya
P.S. For more on advice (and when it's right or wrong for you), See Want inner muddle? Seek outer guidance.
I ran into Adam the other day after my co-op shop. I passed him eating lunch at a picnic table on my way to the bike rack, and he asked if I had time to hear a story. I did!
He wanted to tell me about the most amazing job offer he recently got. This job represents one of those gorgeous marriages of various facets of who he is, including the job description that suits his talents and experience (including mentoring) and aligns with key things he wants from his work (like getting to play the role of mentor to a population he cares about), plus a connection (and travel opportunities!) to a foreign country he loves. He turned it down.
He was excited because the decision in the past would have entailed agony and torture. On paper, it was so clearly a great job and a fantastic choice. But there were other factors in his personal life and the whole of his life balance that made it not such a great idea.
How did he stay out of being ripped apart by these contradictory realities? He applied what he and I have talked about together—got out of his mind and into his body. He felt into the decision instead of thinking it through and figuring it out. In other words, he trusted himself—his own knowing as felt in his own body.
It wasn’t hard. It was as simple as noticing that when he considered taking the job, he felt contracted and conflicted. He felt heavy. He felt off. When he thought about turning down the job, he felt relief. He felt like himself. He felt it was all going to be okay. And that was that.
If your impulse now is to say, “But what about …?” “But didn’t he …?” all you’re doing is projecting on Adam's story what you do inside your own head. Notice that this doesn’t feel good, and it doesn’t yield clarity. It just keeps tugging mercilessly at that place inside that feels torn. It panders to the part of you that wants to white-knuckle it through life and let go of nothing lest you lose everything.
Part of my everyday magic curriculum is about minding your feeling states on an ongoing basis (and these register in the body) to support you to keep coming back to things you want to focus on, things you actually choose to give your focus to—like anything that stirs awe, wonder, curiosity, joy, and crazy-wow feelings about how amazing this life is here on earth; or like any way the universe is actively responding to your clear intentions and the questions you’re living into. Those responses are part of your guidance system, as are the marvelous and entirely trustworthy sensations in your body that let you know whether you’re right on-track or heading off-course.
Adam did 4 coaching sessions with me and read my book, and just about every time he sees me, he reminds me how much he’s gotten from that pairing. (This time he politely asked me if I liked being stopped to get these stories. (Uh, yeah.)
I told Adam I especially liked it this time because, as it happens, I’d recently asked for a sign that I was still on-course with this coaching work, and not only had I gotten a sign that very day that brought tears and set off a tiny bout of (no, I wouldn’t say maniacal) laughter, I’d since been getting more little and large signs on a daily basis, sometimes several a day, for a string of days. That day, it was his turn to bring the message and, truly, what a sweet mirror to look into.
Love & blessings, Jaya