Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Asking & Receiving: What Could Go Wrong?

asking We've all had it drilled into our wooden little heads since we were wee ones: "Ask and you shall receive", and for many of us, the full meaning of that simple phrase has escaped our complete comprehension for most of our lives.

First of all, just asking does not imply that I'm ready to accept what comes as the result of the ask. "I've been asking and asking, and nothing is showing up", is a common lament (nowhere more common than in my own life I dare say).

"Well," says the lightly sarcastic voice of my guide, Marty, "Asking ain't receiving, buddy," in his best Robert DeNiro. "You have to be completely--and I mean completely willing to receive the result of what you're asking for."

Marty continues on, "What YOU do, is ask (a lot, by the way), and then when stuff starts showing up, the FIRST thing you do is judge it, come to a conclusion about its value, and then go back to asking. You see, the thing you asked for has just started to show up, and rather than welcome it into your life, you give it the third degree! No wonder stuff stops showing up--it's scared of you!"

Marty I have to admit I do catch myself doing that now and then, but now that Marty has made a bigger deal of it, I see that my critical nitpicking was like putting a giant fire-breathing dragon at the entrance of my life with a big sign, "Perish those who enter this way." Yikes.

"The other thing," Marty says, sighing, "You gotta see how what is showing up is exactly what you are asking for. Rather than criticizing what's showing, how about changing what you're asking? Huh, bub?" Ouch.

And this is where I can use some other assistance tools, such as "What else is possible in receiving what I'm asking for?" "What else can I ask for that more closely matches what I desire?" Or, if I really want to gain some revealing awareness, "What is the lie in what I'm asking for that keeps me from receiving it?"

I see Marty is giving me his thumbs up. "Okay, that's a good start. Now, what we need to look at is how you're being a big know-it-all." Uh, oh. I've been accused of that by a couple of ex-wives.

"Look, if what you know is causing you to want something other than what you have, then that something is not something you know about, capiche? You want something different, and then when it starts showing up, what do you do? 'Eh, that doesn't work,' or 'I already know that,' or 'I've seen that before.' Uh, news flash: NO, YOU HAVEN'T!" Marty is looking at me like my high school English teacher did when I tried to correct her and I was incorrect myself.

"Again, say you are looking for a new, different, bigger, better way to promote the business, and then, your cute little blonde neighbor comes over and starts talking about how good she is at social media, and your response is, 'Nah, that doesn't work for my business', then you're being a big, fat know it all. Maybe she is the exact person to tell you the answer to your question--being the messenger of the universe and all. And instead, you start shooting her down and dissing everything. Is it any wonder you aren't receiving when you do that?"

receiving Again, ouch. I'm seeing that when the universe sends an answer via a person and you interpret that what you are hearing from them is stuff you already "know", then you're not receiving what you asked for. Instead, pick their brain--find out what it is they know that you don't that is the answer to what you've been asking for.

"Bravo, mate!" Marty is chiming in with his best Australian. "Saying or thinking that you know something doesn't get you anything new. Being curious about what the hell you don't know is a much more fruitful path--in fact, it's pretty much the only path to discovery."

I'm nodding my head. Okay, this know-it-all nitpicker is choosing another way to be. I hereby proclaim to the Universe, I am ready--really ready--to receive! Join me, won't you?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Are You Living A Story You're Not Aware Of?

blinders Lately I've been paying attention to what story I've been living. You'd think it would be obvious, just by looking around my life and noticing the patterns. But that doesn't account for habits of perception, and blind spots.

What I mean by "habits of perception" are packaged conclusions you've made that amount to preconceived ideas about the "way things are", or the "way things should be". These are judgments and points of view, that can be changed, provided enough mindfulness is employed.

These preconceived "lessons" we've "learned" from life can create blind spots of assumptions. For example, just today I spotted myself commenting, "Well, I better get busy, or I won't make any money this month." This gem is chock full of assumptions about how money comes to me, or "how the world works"--you gotta work hard to make money. We just sort of off-handedly live by these "rules", when they are based almost completely on incorrect conclusions made when we were much younger, and less wise. Yet, here we are, spouting these life rules without any critical thinking or regard to their veracity.

String enough of these rules together, and they form a narrative--a story of our life and how it unfolds for us. The thing is, it's based almost entirely on past conclusions, judgments and points of view. The fact that, in many cases, the story has been proven unworkable and sometimes miserable, doesn't seem to cause any introspection. Why? Because it's all tangled up in who and what we believe we are.

We've come to believe (because we've accepted certain things as "true"), for example, that "nothing comes easy for me." And, even when something DOES come easy, there is no alarm or red flag to tell us that our little story about how nothing comes easy has just been contradicted. Instead, we ignore that information. But when corroborating evidence that things don't come easy arrives, we are quick to jump on it as definitive evidence of the "truthiness" and consistency of our story.

reframe This selective awareness or filtering of evidence we use to justify our precious stories, is also the way we can change a story we do not want to live in anymore. Just as we ignored exceptions to the "rule" (that nothing comes easy, for example), we can now notice the exceptions and make THAT the evidence that our story is changing. Once we make ONE exception the rule, it all starts to shift. The trick is being able to SEE evidence contradicting our stories.

One way to increase mindfulness is by using gratitude. We are grateful for what we have, and grateful when things "come together" with ease and joy. Without gratitude, we would tend to simply overlook these moments of ease and joy because they contradict our ongoing narrative (that life never comes easy).

Another technique is to "re-frame"--where we re-contextualize what we are experiencing into a positive narrative. For example, when I'm in a hurry to get somewhere--I may be under some sort of deadline--and traffic seems so slow, and that street is blocked off for a festival, or there's a tree down in the road--I would immediately jump to this being evidence of how HARD things are, and nothing comes easy. Instead, by re-framing I become grateful for these slow drivers who are timing my travels so I won't get into an accident in my haste.

In these ways, we can get out in front of our story, and make whatever changes we choose about how the story unfolds.

A long time ago, my guru told me, "Do you know how to train a cat? You wait until it does something you want it to do, and then reward it." Life is much like that--it's flowing according to the story you're creating, and will immediately change course if you do. Change course with gratitude and re-framing.