No Need to Manipulate Reality
This was my recent Facebook post that got the most feedback:
YOU NEVER NEED TO MANIPULATE REALITY! You never have to coax, woo, or dupe anyone into giving you the job, being your lover—anything. Just show up authentically and learn which is the right job or lover or whatever for you. You, the other party(ies), and the universe will all be in consensus when it's right!
It's fun to come up with little nuggets of inspiration to post, but then there's the fun of expounding on something that has so much substance, the condensed version really doesn't do it justice. The concept of not needing to manipulate reality is so profound—and so liberating when we practice it.
I learned this concept from Byron Katie and remembered it the other day when I was sitting with a woman who's wrapping up an MBA degree at Cornell and navigating the throes of job hunting. I'll call her Joy, because it fits. It caught my attention when she started worrying aloud about the impression she was about to make on a (busy and important) CEO, which segued into concern that she would somehow be fraudulently taking up his time.
Her concern was based on the fact that she hadn't sufficiently honed in on what she wanted in a job. Wouldn't she seem flaky and all over the place? This sort of concern is definitely a problem if what you're up to in life is pleasing and impressing others, and trying to guess how to show up in a way they'll approve of. But besides ushering you into early dementia and pretty much negating any possibility of authenticity, this way of life is supremely frustrating and unsatisfying.
It really helps to know what you're up to. Whenever you're after anything (let's say a job, to stay with Joy's example), all you're ever doing is coming up with the clearest vision you have right now and beginning to move toward that vision. As you move step by step in the right direction, the vision will clarify; it will come into greater focus, with more and more details in place. But that's never how the vision begins! You can't know all the details until you land firmly in the new reality when it your vision comes to fruition—this job, this lover, this quilt or painting or cabinet. So anytime you engage with another human being along the way, you'll be presenting them with your vision as it is in the moment—with any number of specifics not yet in place.
It's a sure bet it's time to shift the focus when you get into What will they think of me? And as long as you're there, it's a sure bet you're trying to manipulate reality. Not only are you believing you need to manipulate how someone sees you, you're also requiring your vision to be more clear than it is—thus robbing yourself of this moment (the present!), which wants only to offer you the next gift toward greater clarity; which wants, in other words, to bring you this much closer to and this much clearer about that dearly held vision.
All Joy needs to do in meeting this CEO is hold her vision, as clear as it is now. He has agreed to meet with her—it's his business whether he'll end up feeling happy or not about this use of his time. (He's a big boy, and he can deal with this.) Her business is to use the event of meeting him as the next step toward her vision. In this conversation, who knows what she may come to understand? She may simply learn what she's not doing, if their discussion shows her she's not interested in his corporation. Or this could be the moment when she gets a huge insight about how her skills and passions intersect with the corporate world—and suddenly she's taken a leap forward to a much more clear and specific vision. (And there are any number of possibilities between these two.)
If Joy has absolute clarity she doesn't have to manipulate reality, she'll get the most out of this meeting for herself—for her own process of moving closer to her vision. Toward that end, it would help her to remember: