Getting over Yourself — the focus has to be on you — how you live, how you choose. Once you see your patterns, you can simply stop, breathe, and move down another path.
In This Moment
I’m working on a new e‑book, on Couple Communication and Elegant Relating. If you have relating questions, or comments, or want to be one of 10 who provide feedback on the test-drive of the e‑book, let me know!
I mentioned that I’m working on a new book — likely I’ll make it available as a pdf, then a Kindle e‑book, and then perhaps as a paperback. The book is called, “Elegant, Intimate Relating.”
I’ve been messing about for years with a Relationships book, and as it got bigger and bigger, I lost interest. Then, a couple of clients asked for specific help with the communication model, and with Intimacy projects.
I realized I had 80% of that already written, buried in the pages and pages of stuff. ‘Twas just a matter of digging it out and filling in the missing pieces.
That, in short, is how The Pathless Path’s approach to living works. I was overwhelming and frustrating myself by creating an out-of-control book. So, I stopped writing, and took a step back. I refocussed my attention to a couple of topics, and redesigned the entire project, top to bottom.
Stop what doesn’t work, do what does.
I’m not suggesting that what I write in this column is some kind of Universal Truth. What I write is simply how I see things. My criterion for a “belief system” is pretty simple and straightforward.
“Is what you are doing working for you?”
My two clients are each interested in relating more deeply, intimately, and with greater clarity. I have a set of beliefs about how that can be done, and therefore write about things like Communication, Vulnerability, etc. as ways to accomplish this.
If you go (on the blog) to the search box at the top, and type in Communication or whatever, you’ll get a list not only of blog articles, but also articles from my website — there are tons of them, from our e‑zine (1999–2005)
The new book is all about getting our priorities in order.
Let’s say that what you want is this: a full, rich, meaningful and intimate relationship, what I’m calling Elegant, Intimate Relating. I’m using the adverb “relating” because it’s an action — none of us can bring a relationship into the counselling office. All we can bring in is two people, and what each is doing. (another action word.)
So, if this is the kind of relationship I want, and I have never been in one, then there is a problem between what I say I want, and what I am actually living.
Living a meaningful and rich like requires doing things differently from the norm. It’s all about self-responsibility
And here’s another cause of headaches…
A client was in yesterday. I wrote about her a couple of weeks ago, she of the headaches — I included photos of her back after using moxa.
As she was leaving that prior session, I said, “The next time you have a headache, call 2 days ahead and come in for an appointment.”
We all laughed.
Well, yesterday, she actually did it! She was feeling the very first twinges of tightness (well ahead of getting a headache) and called for a session.
One of the things we talked about was how she looks after herself. Coming in early was a great example of being good to herself.
She then popped up into her head, (where she spends a lot of time, either making herself angry or sad,) and talked about a “busy week,” and a “stressful event.”
Now, little Zen me kicked in. “Days and events are not busy or stressful.” That’s you, making them so.”
She knows this.
I said, “Have a breath, drop out of your head, and see what your body (in her case, heart, belly, genitals, root Chakra) want.”
She replied, “Sad, wet eyes.”
Me: “Let go.”
She breathed, then cried. She finished, and smiled. “I feel much more grounded.”
We then had a conversation around “stopping this game.” Here’s the thing. Who we are and how we react emotionally is hard-wired in. The way we react to “life” is set in stone. However, as she demonstrated, in the midst of feeling tight and (angry, sad, depressed, out of sorts, alone) all that it takes is…
Stopping… Breathing… Feeling… Expressing… Choosing
Her state of groundedness came by shifting out of the familiar pattern (the thing that isn’t working) to what she wants (elegance and groundedness.)
“Life” is a classroom, or a laboratory, and this “system” is perfect.
What appears right in front of us — people, situations, decisions, dramas, IS the lesson. We daily receive all the teachings we could ever use in 10 lifetimes. In each case, we have the choice of a knee-jerk reaction, or the “other” path: Stopping… Breathing… Feeling… Expressing… Choosing
That we do not easily take advantage of our choice is not “the fault” of the system. We fail at observing, remembering, and enacting something different.
We’re being lazy when we blame the system when we do not choose a more elegant path.
Here, again, is what happens: I need to sort something out, only initially I don’t know what. All I know is that “something isn’t right.” My body is uncomfortable, and I find myself up in my head, telling misery-making stories. If I just do that, I’ll remain stuck.
If I use my discomfort as a cue, then I can shift: by Stopping… Breathing… Feeling… Expressing… Choosing
Hell, here’s an example, which is also in my book, Getting EXACTLY the Relationship You Want:
Old soul… slow learner
I married my 2nd ex, (let’s call her “Sue,”) in 1975. While in University, we dated and lived together for 3 years prior.
I remember wondering, a lot, why I was choosing to marry her.
As I look back on it, my reasons, at age 24, were,
- I liked her body and looked, and
- I had 3 years invested in the relationship.
There were many things about her I didn’t like, but being a guy, I thought I could “fix her.”
The thing was, there was nothing wrong with Sue. The problem (and this is what I hadn’t learned to notice) was that I thought that Sue should change to make me happy.
This would be my “repeating pattern.”
I was unhappy, and rather than look to me as the source for my unhappiness, I’d blame Sue and expect her to change. For the 8 years of our marriage, I tried everything to get her to change, so I didn’t have to.
In 1982, during my therapist training, I’d be talking with my supervisor, and seemingly out of the blue, she’d say, “Why are you married to Sue?” I’d reply, every time, “Because I love her!” and wonder why she was asking.
Now, remember: I was feeling sad and alone in the relationship, yet was not letting myself see the repeating pattern. I was too busy blaming my dissatisfaction on Sue.
Another year passed, (I’m a slow learner) and I kept listening to friends and my supervisor, and suddenly (irony… nothing sudden about it!,) right in the middle of a conversation with Sue, there was a “scales before my eyes fell off” moment.
Which, of course I could have ignored or denied. Instead, as I stood there, I went through the Stopping… Breathing… Feeling… Expressing… Choosing cycle.
In the clarity of self-responsibility, I realized I didn’t want to be in the marriage, and so I ended it.
Not because of Sue, but because I chose to deal with me — with who I was then, and how I wanted to be. (This is why it’s called self-responsibility.) I chose. with Darbella, to create something fresh and new. I decided to dedicate myself to the endless choosing of Elegant, Intimate Relating.
Here’s the “classroom” part
Starting in 1982, I began to notice. As my eyes opened, I saw an increasing number of events, books and people, all talking about the value of being in a deep, meaningful and intimate relationship. More and more examples, because I wouldn’t own my need to stop blaming and become self-responsible.
I’d find a book or a course, and say, “Boy, is this ever going to be valuable for my clients.” Continual evidence of what I could have, if I made different choices. I was walking around in total denial regarding my behaviour with Sue. I was telling myself another story — the blame / fix the other person story.
So, the number of opportunities to see myself started increasing. (Like my client’s headaches…)
I began deepening my work on my self — and this caused me to open my eyes a bit, and I began to notice what was right in front of me.
I soon was tripping over experiences that called my relationship into question. Finally, I reached the “make it or break it point, and had enough intelligence to stop defending my stupidity.
At that point, I consciously shifted my understanding, my focus, and my behaviours. I continue to do this, 30 years later.
We break through by focussing on what we can do something about — or thoughts and behaviours.
I need to decide… do I want them up or down?
My “job,” through this column, and in my office, and through my books, is to encourage you to accept total responsibility for the choices you are making. You have the boundless opportunity to stop making excuses — to open your eyes, and to make better choices.
Just let your eyes open. Accept what is right in front of you. The “classroom of your life” is providing you with feedback, both in your interactions with others, and through your body.
That’s why we consider Bodywork so essential.
The body is the early warning system, and most of us sorely (literally and figuratively) ignore it. My client felt the tightness in her chest and belly. When I invited her to breathe into it, she released. In the actual Bodywork, she released more.
As she made “space” in her body, her mind became more open and receptive.
The people we meet are, as I see it, the people we are “supposed to meet.” Same with everything we engage with. Rather than ignoring or arguing with the “message” of the person, place or thing, I might more simply ask myself, “What does this have to say to me?”
If you are stuck and you know it, then begin listening to everything, and especially your body, very carefully.
Talk to a therapist you trust.
Dedicate yourself to listening to the each of your “lessons,” as opposed to getting hit over the head with a big one, every year or so.
What’s right in front of you, that you refuse to accept? What lesson, what body experience, do you keep getting, again and again, and why are you resisting dealing with it?
And why is it, week after week, that these articles seem to be written just for you?
Coincidence? I think not.