It’s all a matter of perspective. Expect good things, knowing that life is not perfect. Bend like a tree in the wind and enjoy the ride. Without a little rain, we cannot appreciate the sun.
LIVING WITHOUT AN AGENDA
Could our minds and our hearts be big enough just to hang out in that space where we’re not entirely certain about who’s right and who’s wrong? Could we have no agenda when we walk into a room with another person, not know what to say, not make that person wrong or right? Could we see, hear, feel other people as they really are? It is powerful to practice this way, because we’ll find ourselves continually rushing around to try to feel secure again—to make ourselves or them either right or wrong. But true communication can happen only in that open space. -Pema Chodron
I love Pema Chodron. She so consistently hits the nail right on the head in simple, yet profound ways.
The words ‘right and wrong’ are prevalent in today’s society. Republicans vs. Democrats. East vs. West. Atheists vs. Church. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Is there even such a thing?
Think about your own unique origins: Where you came from demographically, who your family is and your dynamic within that nucleus. The type of home and community you grew up in, the school you went to. The number of siblings you have, the professions your parents held, any health issues, tragedies, or accidents you and/or your family members may have had along the way. Every single person on this planet has a different sense of ‘reality’ based on these many unique details. So, essentially, the world in which we live is slightly (or sometimes greatly) different for every single person alive today. That means literally BILLIONS of realities coexisting at the same time.
I try hard to honor that fact, especially when someone is being rude, disrespectful, irrational or difficult to understand. What is that person going through right now? How is his or her health, job situation, relationship status, financial stability? Obviously, there are difficult and toxic people in the world, but I’m less interested in showing them that I’m right than I am in learning where their anger or drama originates. It’s REAL. It’s VALID. It affects how we interact with each other.
In a world where roughly 7 billion people reside, how can we expect there to be a universal ‘right’ or ‘wrong’? What’s right to us may be horribly wrong to another, and vice versa. The need to prove that we are right to others says less about them than us. Why do we need to be right? Why do we need them to be wrong?
If you enter into a conversation relaxed and secure, confident and kind, you’ll find that it does not matter. Even if you’re a Republican and he’s a Democrat, even if you’re atheist and she’s Catholic, it’s okay. When you have nothing to prove, when you are secure in your Self, your eyes and ears open wider and you gain the ability to really listen to another point of view. While you may not fully understand it, you may at least respect that this person’s opinion and/or belief is just as valid as your own. Letting your guard down requires knowing you are perfect exactly the way you are. When we feel insecure our defenses go up, and our need to be right increases. Have you ever noticed that the more someone knows, the less they need to say?
It’s because they have absolutely nothing to prove.
What do you have to prove today? Or maybe the better question is, “Why do you feel the need to prove anything at all?”
Believe in yourself, and in return you give others permission to do the same.
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.
by Amanda Christian (Reprinted with author’s permission)
Recently, I did something radical; I entered into a relationship with the intention of extending love. I consciously set the goal of peace.
It’s with the intention to experience more peace than ever before that the relationship began, and it’s with that same intention that we decided to end the relationship. In between it all, I felt deeply connected, heard, and loved.
What did I do differently this time that allowed me to experience a new level of peace and love? What about this relationship created the space for us to peacefully “break-up”?
Unlike other relationships I had that seemed to pull me deeper into fear, this relationship accomplished the complete opposite—helped to release me from it.
Whatever I did differently with this one, I wanted to bottle it up! As I took some time to reflect, I realized that what I did differently comes in the form of three simple miracle-minded questions that I asked myself before I even entered the relationship.
The three questions below helped me step away from fearful relationships based on getting and filling my perceived voids and instead, helped me step into a loved-based relationship built on extending the love and completeness I found within myself first.
And what a difference this shift made in my experience!
The next time you find yourself getting ready to join with someone in a relationship (or even a friendship) ask yourself these questions first:
1. What is it for?
In the past, I would just jump into relationships without any real intention set at the beginning. I wanted the attention and for someone to prove I was loveable. I wanted to get more than I wanted to extend. I was motivated by ego fears and desires to fill my perceived voids.
The way we move beyond these ego fears is by stopping and asking ourselves, what is this relationship for?
Without a clear goal set at the beginning, it’s easy to get lost and stuck in a fearful place. So with my last relationship, we decided that our goal would be peace, and that we wanted to help each other remember the truth about ourselves, instead of getting lost in the illusions about ourselves. What is this relationship for? To extend peace.
And this makes all the difference. When you do find yourself in a disagreement, you can remember that your goal is peace and then act accordingly.
The value of setting a goal in advance is that it will pull you through the tough times. Without the goal, it’s easy to get caught up in the ego’s drive to be right or justified. Having a common goal in mind allows you to move forward together instead of working against each other. In my last relationship I found that a shared goal connected us and gave us something to focus on.
2. What limiting beliefs are blocking me from authentically connecting?
A lot of times when we don’t experience something we say we want, it’s because we have some underling fear associated with getting it.
For example, if you say you want to experience a deeply loving relationship and it hasn’t shown up yet, it might be because deep down you’re scared of it. I know for me, I said I wanted to have a loving relationship, but when I got honest with myself, I realized I was actually scared of falling in love.
Somewhere along the line I decided that being in love would make me weak and vulnerable. When I went even deeper, I noticed that I had the belief that I wasn’t good enough yet to be loved. I didn’t think I was skinny enough, successful enough, or funny enough, and deep down I was scared that other people might find that out, too.
So what do you do when you realize you’re scared of what you want? What do you do with the belief that you’re not good enough? You simply become willing to move beyond the fears. Often times the awareness of our fearful patterns is enough for them to be released.
Sometimes I will even say to myself “I hear you fear, but I’m not going to let you determine my actions right now.” Instant personal power.
This opens the way for you to step beyond the limiting beliefs you carry about yourself. The truth is, you’re good enough right now in this very moment. There is nothing to prove. Become curious about your beliefs and behaviors. Invite them in, question them, and watch as they melt away.
3. Am I focusing on the content or the frame?
Fear-based relationships often start with a strong attraction to a body. I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely been sucked into relationships because the frame was lookin’ good. I paid no attention to the content, aka the mind.
But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that you’re always getting in a relationship with a mind. If the content is not engaging and exciting, circle back to the first question: what is this for?
When we put all our focus on the content and not the frame, we simultaneously release our expectations and allow ourselves to experience peace and love in ways that we might not have thought possible. The frame will shift and change, but lasting fulfilling connection starts and ends with the content, not the labels and clothes we place around it.
Ultimately, within others you can either lose yourself or remember yourself, because from a spiritual perspective, everyone is a reflection of you. And with that idea, relationships become a miraculous teaching device.
You decide if you want fear or love based on the intention you set at the beginning. I’ve both lost myself and remembered myself in relationships, but I prefer the latter.
The three questions above are how you open the doorway for a love-based relationship to enter your life.
By setting the goal of peace, becoming willing to move past our beliefs of not being good enough, and focusing on the content, not the frame, we can experience a deep connection and trust, which is perhaps one of the most miraculous things you can share with another human being.
The Buddhist teachings emphasize that being grateful for what we have is more beneficial than complaining about what we wish were different. Appreciation is a relaxing and peaceful state of mind. It creates a space in which we can accommodate the vicissitudes of life and even think of the welfare of others. Complaint, on the other hand, is frustrating and painful. There’s an element of anger and fixation involved. We are believing our thoughts, taking them to be real. Our attachment to the concept of how we want things to be is stressful, because it is always disintegrating. What we wanted to happen is not happening. We think complaining is going to get the world back on our track.
It results in our being deaf, dumb, and blind to the present moment. Narrowing our mind with complaint is unpleasant and claustrophobic, the opposite of contentment. -Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
(Read more here….)
A dear friend shared this article on Facebook. It really resonated, because I recognize how sluggish and heavy I feel when I complain and how ‘icky’ I feel when I’m around others who complain. No, we do not have to be happy with every moment. Trying to do that, I think, is quite unrealistic. But accepting each moment for exactly what it is is different.
“It is what it is.”
I think it probably takes more than one lifetime to rid ourselves of being attached to our desired outcomes. But I believe it’s a goal to work toward because, quite frankly, our desired outcomes are not REAL. They exist only in our imaginations. (They are nothing more than fantasies that live in a place where no one else can access them, and how silly it is that we hold others accountable to our random daydreams!) And, believe it or not, a lot of times we don’t really know what will make us happy. Thoughts and desires are transient, and depend largely upon basic things like how much we’ve had to eat, how much external stress we’re experiencing, and how much sleep we’ve gotten. How nice it is, then, if we can allow ourselves to let things simply unfold instead of holding the reins so tightly that we wear ourselves out with fret, complaints, and worry, and still get nowhere?
When I consider that each moment I spend wishing things were different is a moment of my life wasted, it helps put things in perspective. In moments when I’m feeling sad about something I’m longing for, I ask myself, “Why do I want that (thing, object, outcome, whatever)?” I keep asking why, keep digging deeper. And I’ve discovered that, in quite a few instances, the only reason I want something is because I don’t have it! I may go even a step further and imagine myself having *it.* I explore the feeling of that and ask, “Does this really make me happier or better in some way?” More often than not, the answer is, “Not really.” WOW!
As Oprah would say, “Lightbulb moment!”
Think back to the last thing you really wanted in your life that you ended up getting. A new house, new car, new job, new partner….heck, even a new pair of earrings or a clean house. How long did having that desired thing or outcome make you happy? Did getting what you wanted solve your problems? Or, did you simply latch on to something else you wanted and go on complaining and pining about not having THAT?
It’s okay. We all play this game with ourselves. Today, challenge yourself. Accept what is without complaint. You don’t have to love it. Just see this miraculous day you’ve been given for what it really is without trying to control it; see how you feel when you let go of the reins.