Many moons ago, I wrote a list of 12 Principles that were the basis of my understanding, both of my life and of my counselling practice. I’ve been thinking about pulling them together into a small book that I could give to new clients.
Just the other day, a new client sent me some biographical data, and I replied with some other, and to me, more useful ways of interpreting this data. My client replied that she’d have to think about what I wrote, as I was speaking from an entirely new perspective, some of which she was having trouble grasping. This was even more reason to have a go at this project.
I decided that I’d, at least for now, tackle each of the topics here, in the blog. We’ll see how it goes.
1. If life has any meaning, it is this: each event of life has the potential to bring wisdom. The wise person is able to see through the events of life to their essence, in a moment of simple engagement.
Part of the game of life is learning to see through the ‘rules’ to a clearer understanding of what’s really happening. Here’s a thought for you:
You are the centre of the universe.
Take a look around you. Everything that is “out there” has you as it’s centre. All the way out to infinity. There’s stuff all around you, all the time, and there you sit, right in the middle of it all. Other people surround you.
6.5 billion of them, on this planet, all rotating around you.
I’m only kind of joking here, as this is actually how it is. Of course, it’s also true for everyone else, meaning that there are, on this planet, 6.5 billion centres of the universe. But our conditioning tends to mean that we forget that what applies to us applies equally to others.
We get caught in the, ‘me, me, me’ drama quite easily. When I begin to work with clients, this is the first issue we must deal with.
The problems that bring clients to me are always of the “This is not how it is supposed to be going” variety.
“In one of her better moods”
I was watching my 6 year old grand-niece the other day, as she flitted from one thing to another, butted into every photograph being taken, made countless demands on the adults–for food, time and attention. At one point, she turned up the volume on the stereo, and then got annoyed that the adults were talking. Clearly, she sees the world as her oyster, and the rest of us as pawns in the game she is playing.
We make allowances for this behaviour in our children.
It’s harder to call people on it as they grow up, or get older–perhaps the better choice of words. One woman of our acquaintance, who did and still does a ton of self-development work, used to annoy herself regularly, and then start literally running around the house, loudly complaining that we weren’t taking her seriously enough. This was always connected to her threatening to leave–“I’m going to take my toys and never come back! So there!” She’d get even more annoyed when we didn’t give in to her or ask her to stay.
Clients list off multiple things that have gone wrong
(from their perspective.)
The have bad genes, or have trouble keeping their jeans on, or finding someone who wants to take them off. They are sad, or depressed, or angry, or bored, or disgusted, and yet everyone around them keeps doing stuff that forces them to stay caught in their bad feelings. They endlessly tell their defective partners what to do and are furious when the partner (or parent, or sib, or child) won’t listen, change, and thank them for their great advice.
Sitting in the middle of their universe, surrounded by the mess that they have made, They adopt the face of the beatific 3‑year-old, and say, “Who, me?”
I begin, as I suggested in our short series on asking “What do you want?,” by asking clients to do one thing–to accept that the mess around them is their mess. How they are, who they are, and with whom they are in relationship (and with what–jobs, bank accounts, debts, education level, etc.) all of this is there, in their lives, by choice.
You are indeed the centre of your universe, and like the sun, you exert gravity–you attract stuff. That great sucking sound is you, creating your life.
If you expect that any of this is going to change, just because you want it to, without you having to first, accept responsibility for it, and then to change something–well, good luck to you.
The only way to change your life is to accept that what surrounds you is yours, and who you are is you!
Once you make this concession–once you stop blaming fate, or god, or externals for dumping this stuff on you–you have the chance to shift your relationship to life.
For now, let’s just see what this sort of wisdom might look like.
First of all,
- Life is exactly as it appears. What this means is that life is going on around you, people are doing what they do, the economy is doing it’s thing, wars are fought, and from the ridiculous to the sublime, this is life. People are going about their lives, and life is going on as it does.
- People do what they do. No one is doing stuff to you. Now, sure, some crappy stuff may happen to you, but that’s just what happens. Accidents happen, of course, and you didn’t deserve it–you’re not being punished, etc. People around you are acting from within their own universe, and do what they do from within their experience and understanding.
- You can’t prove anything to anyone. Your perspective is so unique to you as to have no other match in the universe. Stuff means what it means to you.
- Wasting time trying to get others to declare you right is futile.
- Wisdom is working with yourself–all aspects of you, from where you are, without a ton of time spent trying to figure it all out. You start where you are, make choices about what you want to experiment with next, and you evaluate your experience based upon actual results.
There is no need to continue to play with the mess you’ve created.
All that’s required is a broom and dustpan. That most people would rather play with the mess, and feel sorry for themselves, does not mean that this changes the mess.
Wisdom is twofold here.
First, you admit that you, and you alone, have created the life you have right now.
Second, you decide that you’re not going to stay stuck in the mess out of stubbornness, lack of motivation, or confusion. You’re going to clean things up, recognize the triggers that got you stuck in the first place, and as those triggers arise, you’re going to walk rapidly in the other direction.
True wisdom is recognizing that nothing has to happen the way it has always happened, nothing means anything other than what you make it to mean, and satisfaction comes from doing what works and dropping what doesn’t.