Have we ever noticed how easy it is to say what we don’t want? Many of us do this. Just listen to others. Notice how easily they pick holes in what is wrong or what they don’t like? How often do we start with “I don’t want” statements? How often is it only until we are fueled by anger, do we have the ability to speak up! How often do we speak up from a place of anger? Why is that?
Holding space for “I want” intentions means being vulnerable. For people with hearts of service it may seem selfish. We are so conditioned to serve others, the thought of serving self is uncomfortable. Drop the word selfish and replace it with SELF CARE and that is probably what we are uncomfortable with. How could we know when we were probably never taught!
When things were tense did our family suggest we breath deep, meditate and break out the yoga mats? Did they suggest we embrace our anger and let it rip? Did they ask us to share how their actions impacted us? Are some of us laughing or crying reading this? Good now we can drop our judgments about what we THINK we SHOULD know!
Step One: Drop Mental Judgments.
Drop the idea we “should” know. Drop all those mental judgments. Replace them with the intention to learn. We may say “I did not know. Now I am open to learning. I want to learn a new way to live.”
So how do we practice the CARE for self in loving ways without the drive for approval of others and judgments like ‘what will they think about me?’. How can we learn this new way of being? The first step is writing down all the ways we can practice self care. Good nights sleep. Saying no when we are burdened with too many commitments. Eating healthy and regularly. Walk or exercise. Sign up for a class we like. Read books. Start to ask ourselves what would taking care of self look like for me? What makes my heart sing. Then start living it a little more each day.
Of course our self doubt will tell us “I don’t have time, I have a failing business, I have small kids, no one can do it but me, if you had my life, there is already too much on my plate I can’t make time for this”. If we hold this to be true for us, then it will be true for us. Living in a state of joy is a choice. Just for the next ten minutes as we read this, let our intention shift to we are willing to learn there may be a different way.
Why the resistance to self care besides not being taught how to do it?
Self care means giving up control. For many of us, control is familiar. Asking for help, means dropping our control needs. Admitting we need a break, means giving up control. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable… no more control!
Self care may also open ourselves up to the possibility of being told no and feelings of rejection. Those are yucky! The mind will refuse to ask to avoid this fear. If we are deeply afraid of intimacy it could mean opening ourselves up to someone saying yes! Then we are confronted with our uncomfortable worthiness issues and insecurities “how can they love me, what is wrong with them, how long will this last, wait until they find out who I really am and so on”.
JUDGE. JUDGE. JUDGE. JUDGE. JUDGE. JUDGE. – Then wonder why we are depressed, sad, lonely, anxious, terrified and CHRONICALLY FATIGUED.
Ever tried to whack a tire, a golf ball, jump rope or body surf? That repetitive physical motion tires us out. What do you think all that judgmental negative chatter is doing? What do the neurons in your brain look like? What chemicals get spiked? How do the dopamine receptors respond?
So staying silent, or alternatively using anger courage to puff out, are ways to avoid intimacy. We say “I don’t want” to avoid those uncomfortable feelings. We have learned to make “I don’t want” statements, where we focus on “what’s wrong” with the situation or what “is wrong” with the person. That is safe. That is comfortable. That is why we are stuck!
What is usually the end result of these conversations? How could someone possibly listen to a hit list of all things they did wrong and still want to feel close? Yet is that not what we do? When we build up our case and blast them with all our “don’t want” and what they “did wrong” statements how do we think this will go?
What if we want something but we are afraid to state it? We might think negative thoughts like “I’m making too big a scene, people may not like me, they may judge me or say no”. How often does this fear keep us from speaking up?
So quite often, we convince ourselves we don’t need them, we are independent, we want them to go away. We want to judge them and their “wrongness”. How could they do this to us? They don’t deserve our love or forgiveness…….
True. Now we agree. Do we feel happy with this validation? Did this thought end our suffering? Have we learned anything by pointing out their “wrongness”? No? So are we ready to learn? If not, then please enjoy these lovely fairy tales, because that is all they will be if we remain closed off in our old ways of thinking.
Step two: Make A Decision
Self “Am I ready to create a new story line? Do I want joy? Great. Now am I really willing to do the work to be joyful?
Joy is a state, based on mindful intent, of our thoughts and actions. It is not a wish to be granted. We say we want joy, then as soon as things do not go our way we…. What do we do? How does doing this serve us? What can be a different way to look at this? How can we act differently this time?
“I was in a village outside of Saigon after the Viet Cong mortar attack on a U.S. airbase. Six Viet Cong passed through the village and retreated into the jungle. Then the bombing began. Many houses were knocked down and innocent people killed; a piece of rocket fell only a meter from me.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh had the courage to speak up! He came to America to ask for peace as the U.S. was in his country bombing it. While in the U.S., his own country exiled him for more than 40 years. The U.S. revoked his visa so he had to seek political asylum in France. Rejected by the very nation he loved and went to protect, dismissed by the people he sought peace from and accepted by a country he had no intention residing in. He spoke up then and continues to speak up as the Dalai Lama has also instructed.
“When teachers break the precepts,
behaving in ways that are clearly damaging to themselves and others,
students must face the situation,
even though this can be challenging, criticize openly, that’s the only way.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Hanh still speaks up. He even has a list of ‘suspicious’ Buddhists or groups on his webpage to warn others. Think on that. How many religious groups are so committed to their teachings they speak up to denounce predators? What if the Catholic church had a list of ‘suspicious priests’ and warned of the dangers of being too trusting of those with ill intentions?
This is radically different than what most religions, most companies, most groups do; is it not? Do we not hear more often “If we bring this to light it will destroy us all. Let’s put this behind us so we can move forward. No need to make waves.” All excuses to sweep horrors under the rug and pretend. These are excuses to protect the ego. These actions dismiss social justice, humility, love and unity. They protect predators. We protect predators when we remain silent. Let our higher selves chew on that.
“One person who speaks, brings more awareness than 1,000,000 who remain silent”.
Who will choose to be this one person? Who among us has this courage? How do we speak to bring awareness and end suffering; our own suffering? How do we hold true to what we want?
Step Three: Face and Embrace Anger
We must face our anger. We must embrace it as a gift!
Anger sits atop fear. The fear is always afraid of not getting something we want or losing something we already have. Are we angry? Ask then, what are we afraid of? Is it they will say no or they won’t say yes? Is it they will not behave how we think they should? Is it they hurt us and their actions are wrong; like bombing innocent people wrong?
The fear could be they are getting away with perpetuating injustice. It could be our fear is no one will ever love us. The fear may be if we allowed them to do this to us, then maybe we are stupid and deserve it. The list of negative judgments can be creative, multi-faceted and endless.
In all these fears lies deep seeded judgments. This repetitive mental abuse causes far more suffering than whatever has been done.
As an active person, I must vent my anger. A good work out. A good scream. Break a few plates. I have learned to see my anger as a gift. A way to get an energetic charge. I have more energy and get more cleaning done when I’m disturbed. The only thing “wrong” with my anger is my mind telling me it’s “wrong”. When I allow myself to be human, then my anger is much less likely to discharge on someone else. I’m less likely to implode inwardly, leading to depression, self doubt or cause more suffering.
I must own my anger before I can be set free from it.
This is where it gets confusing. Restraint of pen and tongue means don’t go lambast the other person. It does not mean deny or hold in my anger. Release the anger in healthy ways. Face it. Acknowledge it. Harness it for house cleaning, or energetic movement and getting things done.
This is one of many intentions we can hold when we think of ways to discharge our anger. “Thank you anger for bringing me this gift of intense energy. Now I can get much done!”
Nhat Hanh: If you are filled with anger, you create more suffering for yourself than for the other person. When you are inhabited by the energy of anger, you want to punish, you want to destroy. That is why those who are wise do not want to say anything or do anything while the anger is still in them. So you try to bring peace into yourself first.
When you are calm, when you are lucid, you will see that the other person is a victim of confusion, of hate, of violence transmitted by society, by parents, by friends, by the environment. When you are able to see that, your anger is no longer there.
Here is where many of us become stuck. We let go of our anger. Now without that “anger courage” we may think to ourselves it is “no longer worth it” to speak our minds. This is a dangerous cycle. We may be so angry the second time we lash out violently, leaving the other person confused, which fuels even more anger.
Step Four: Speak With Love
We must have the courage to speak from love now that we’ve embraced our anger.
So how do we prepare for these tough talks? The uncomfortable ones. The ones we have, which may lead to breakthroughs, breakdowns or breakups. How can we see things differently and create a new story line?
This is where SELF CARE comes into play. Are we used to speaking from a desire to love ourselves? Or do we more often speak with a desire to change something about it/them? Do we have negative thoughts like “what’s the point” when we assume we won’t get what we want, so why bother sharing? Do we share our “I want” intentions in hopes the other persons will change? So what is the purpose of speaking up if we are not going to get our way?
When we live a life speaking our intentions and living in them, then our life shifts. Of course not every person will agree to our terms. Like Thich Nhat Hanh, we may even be exiled!
What if we are exiled to a new and higher purpose? What if we are exiled away from toxicity and into love? What if the exile is hard, really hard? What if we choose to grow a heart of deep compassion, and deep understanding, because our easy life is now a struggle to meet basic needs? What kind of example and impact can we have on this planet now through our new experience?
This is what my life is about. Taking these hardships and rather than becoming hard and bitter and resist that which is….. Embrace it. See it as a gift. Love it.
In order to get here, I must be honest with self and own exactly what is going on. To be present in this moment. Then I can share joy and wisdom because it’s my energetic state; not an idealized theory. Then I can write about this journey and perhaps help another who is suffering, but definitely help myself learn even more.
First I may want to scream, cry, be angry, vent and embrace all those human emotions. I am not evolved enough, and perhaps may never be, to transmute fear so quickly into love – all the time. I have accept this. It no longer matters.
My mistakes do not define my entire body of work as my mind told me they once did. Others may use my mistakes to make judgments about who they think I am and this too I am willing to accept.
I have the courage to live in failure. Not the self deprecating idea of failure, but the idea that in order to hit a golf ball into a hole, I must practice. Each time I hit the ball, I must understand I may fail. Each failure is a chance to get closer to the hole. Each failure, helps me learn about what to shift in my swing.
In life, each failure, helps me understand what I want to shift in my thinking. Not because I should, or because I need to… simply because I WANT TO.
It is an I want intention that brings me back to a joyful state. I am angry and I want to be. I want to be angry so I can purge. I want to embrace this anger and use it to fuel my energy to be productive. I want to rest now. I want to focus on the beautiful tree. I want to focus on things that bring me joy.
My mind drifts into a negative thought. I am the witness now; no longer the judge of those thoughts. I think, yes I know you, you are a thought which has been with me for a very long time. What must be going on now, this thought has come to visit? How interesting. The witness and observer without judgments about the thought.
What can I learn from this thought? How can I turn this thought around? What would it look like if I change this thought to a new story line?
In this way I am teaching my mind to be open.
To be open, is to invite change.
To invite change, is to shift patterns.
To shift patterns, is to find a new path from the circuitous one I have been stuck in.
This is the “HOW TO” of shifting into a joyful state.
I practice this all day, sometimes more than 100 hundred times a day. I may fail 99 of those times, or even for days, as my state is effected by agitation. I keep going.
The shift occurs.
So to speak our authentic self is to end our own suffering; therein lies the point!
We will start to live from a place of compassion and kindness. We can maintain a state of joy. We can do this now, because we are living as our authentic self. We are open and honest about what we want. We have the courage to say “I want”…..
Self care fuels us now instead of anger or a high need to get a result from people or situations. We face, embrace and see our anger as a gift, so it’s no longer stuffed inside making us sick. We make peace with ourselves. We are in a more peaceful state. Just as our anger is a trigger for the pool of anger in others, now our joy can ignite the spark of joy in others.
Nhat Hanh: At the heart of Buddhism is the idea of interconnectedness. We all suffer. That is the first noble truth of Buddhism: Suffering is a reality. And the practice begins with the awareness that suffering is there in you and it is there in that other person. When you have seen suffering, you are motivated by the desire to remove suffering — the suffering in you and the suffering in that other person — because if that person continues to suffer, it will make you suffer somehow later on. So helping other people remove their suffering means doing something for you also.
Their environment has watered the seed of anger, grieving, and discrimination. The purpose of speaking to them is to water the seed of brotherhood, sisterhood, joy, and hope in them. That is the most noble thing to do.