I’m Making Up A Story That…

On Thursday and Friday of last week I had the privilege of interviewing some of the most successful conscious entrepreneurs in the world. It was part of the Shift Network’s Enlightened Business Summit. Earlier in the week, Chip Conley, the founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, interviewed many of the most successful conscious business people on the topic of Emotional Fluency.

It was an incredible week of insights and aha moments. And the most amazing thing for me was to see how much of the information being shared by these high level business executives, authors and experts in the field of Emotional Intelligence could be applied to areas other than business!

Fyi: If you haven’t had a chance to listen, the replays are available through the end of the week.

One of the biggest “AHA” moments for me was during Chip’s interview with Café Gratitude founders Terces and Matthew Englehart, authors of the book, Sacred Commerce. At one point Matthew was sharing one of the communications techniques they use in the restaurants when there is a conflict or tension between employees.

As the two, or more, employees share what they are thinking they begin with the phrase, “I’m making up a story that…”

It is such a simple technique and yet the power in those 6 words is incredible.

Think about it: How many times have you made up a story in your head about someone or a situation that ended up having absolutely no connection to reality?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably done it once or twice… or maybe like a few thousand times! 😉

This technique struck me as such a powerful way to diffuse the charge that builds up when our minds start spinning out in a direction that usually is not based on anything other than a limiting belief.

I know that I make up stories all the time about being abandoned. That’s my “core wound.” And it’s very easy for me to spin out into a detailed storyline about how I’m being abandoned by my partner whenever she does something that activates that wound in me.

Since hearing that interview last week, I’ve made a commitment to myself to use the phrase, “I’m making up a story that you’re pulling away”… or “you’re getting ready to leave”… or, well you get it.

Using that phrase does two very important things:

First, for my partner, it lets her know I’m aware that I’m speaking from the wounded place in me and that I’m not saying this story is true and I’m not saying that she’s doing anything wrong. When I speak from that place it allows her to hear me without going into defensiveness.

Second, for me, it immediately diffuses some of the charge around the story. By using those words I’m letting myself know that it’s just a story. As with most stories, there may be an element of truth to it, but it is not the whole TRUTH. And when I’m able to take that step back from seeing the story as TRUTH I am more able to listen to and really hear my partner’s experience – even if something she says seems to confirm my belief in the story – and feel her love and our connection.

It is a powerful technique that can be put into use in all relationships, work, romance, friends, family. And it’s a tool you can use on your own.

Again, if you’re like me, you’ve got an imagination that loves creating stories. The next time you catch your mind going into that cycle see if you can stop yourself and say, “I’m making up a story that…” You might find that just recognizing that you are creating a story will help you come back to the TRUTH.

Try it out today and let me know what happens. I’d love to hear your experience with it.

You Are NOT Alone!

Have you ever felt alone?

If you’re like most of us, the answer to that question is a resounding YES!

How about when…

  • the teacher called on you in school and you didn’t know the answer?
  • or coming home to an empty house after a breakup?
  • or someone you love has passed on?
  • or a friend is late (or forgets about) a meeting?
  • or someone you love forgets your birthday?

Sometimes, even standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, surrounded by hundreds of people, a feeling of aloneness can creep in and we find ourselves retreating further into the perception that we are alone.

To some extent we all feel this aloneness and it impacts every aspect of our lives.

Eckhart Tolle speaks of Alienation, which the dictionary defines as:  Isolation from a group or an activity to which one should belong or in which one should be involved.

He writes:

“Most people are alienated from who they are… Alienation means that you don’t feel at ease in any situation, any place, or with any person, not even with yourself. You are always trying to get “home” but never feel at home.”

I can relate to feeling ill at ease. Here’s one of the strange ways that feeling has shown up in my life. You know those signs in some stores that say, “Please check your bags at the counter?” For many years, I felt so out of place in this world that if a store didn’t have a bag check I would ask if I could leave my bag at the counter anyway. If they said “No,” and I had to walk around the store with my backpack, I would feel paranoid the entire time that they thought I was going to steal something. And no, I don’t have kleptomaniac tendencies! 😉

It was just one of the quirky ways that my sense of alienation manifested.

Now, obviously that particular expression of alienation didn’t have a huge negative impact on my life. But when that deep feeling of not belonging in the world showed up in my relationships, it did!

Because I believed, so deeply, that I am alone, I acted in ways that helped prove that belief. I kept people at a distance. I pushed people who loved me away. I resisted deep connections and intimacy.

Not the most effective and enjoyable way to live!

And while I have gotten MUCH better at opening up to people and loving them and allowing them to love me, I still do catch myself, from time to time, acting from the belief that I am alone.

Now, when I notice myself pushing someone away or holding myself back from a connection, I stop and remember that it’s the perfect time to love myself and feel into the truth that I am deeply and intimately connected with all that is.

Remember that “Contrast” – the things in our lives that we don’t necessarily like – shows up to point out something obvious that we’re forgetting. When I catch myself relating to someone else in an unloving way, it’s time for me to stop and find the place inside myself that feels unloved or unlovable.

The more I do that, the more open I become to truly deep, intimate, loving connections with others… as well as with myself and, most important, with Source or God.

So the next time you feel alone or you catch yourself pushing someone away, I encourage you to take a moment to stop and find the place inside you that is asking for love, that is asking to be welcomed home.

The more that you can remember your connection to all that is the more you’ll shift that feeling of Aloneness to ALLOne Ness!

Did I Do the Right Thing?

As a child, my father often said, “Do the right thing, Edward.” From turning out the lights when I left a room to sending thank you cards after receiving gifts, he would speak those words.

Back then I did my best to avoid doing the right thing… or at least doing HIS right thing. Certainly, there was a good measure of youthful rebellion in that avoidance but there was at least an equal part of me that felt the mechanical, rote nature of his words. They felt empty and disconnected from a greater rightness that I sensed existed beyond the words.

If you had asked me back then I doubt that I would have been able to voice it but a part of me sensed that doing the right thing meant more than turning out the lights and sending thank you cards (although those are certainly good things to do!)

Now, though, when I hear those words coming from within, I find that I am grateful to have internalized this concept of “the right thing.” Not that I believe there is one “right” thing in a situation but because the question, “What IS the right thing?” opens me to bigger answers.

As the start of the Awakened Man Summit approaches and I dive deeper into the research and reading in preparation for it, I’m beginning to understand what it means to be an Awakened Man.

To be honest with you, when I got the “hit” to produce this summit, I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant to be an awakened man. I had a sense of what it meant, but no clear picture or definition. Now, with less than 2-weeks to the start of the summit, I’m starting to “get it!”

Letting Go!

A big part of awakening, as a man, means letting go of the old concepts of the “right thing.”

Until recently most men have chosen to follow a path of rightness handed down blindly through generations of men. This unbalanced expression of the active (masculine) principle that has defined what it means to be a man in our culture has led to violence, war, unchecked growth and the increasingly unsustainable condition of our world.

More recently, some men – myself included – have actively chosen another path, one that disowns the active (masculine) principle and intentionally embraces the softer, receptive, feminine principle.

While there is much benefit in “exploring the feminine” most of these explorations start in reaction to the belief that there is something “wrong” or “bad” about the active, masculine energy. In that place of reaction, where men are actively connecting to the soft, feminine energies and consciously (or not) disconnecting from the active, masculine energies the “right thing” has led to inaction and an abdication of responsibility.

Neither of these paths leads to the Authentic Power that a man can access and wield when he disconnects from the old beliefs about manhood, discovers his true purpose and surrenders his idea of rightness into the service of the highest good of all.

It saddens me to think that my father – like most men – has never explored the concept of rightness unhitched  from the yoke of manhood placed upon him by his forefathers (and mothers).

Rites of Passage

In most indigenous cultures there were, and remain, rituals of initiation to help boys make the transition from childhood into manhood. These rituals involve extended time in the company of men, away from the energy and influence of women. As these boys step through the fire of initiation they are unburdened from the need to act in ways that lead to approval and acceptance from the feminine.

These cultures understand the importance of guiding men out of the “womb” and into the world. For, in many ways, men remain connected to and immersed in the womb of “WOMAN” until consciously and actively choosing to release that connection and step out into the world “naked and alone” as an awakened, conscious, mature man.

Our modern culture lacks those rituals – or gives us watered down versions such as a bar mitzvah. So most men have not experienced the transformative possibility these rituals offer.

Until a man makes this choice and releases his attachment to the energetic womb of “WOMAN” he cannot show up fully as a man in the world or in relationship with a (singular) woman. There will remain within him an urge to answer the question “What is the right thing” based on whether or not it will lead to approval and acceptance from the energy of WOMAN.

The Hero’s Journey

Last night, I saw the movie Thor. It was a bittersweet experience: My beloved and I had been planning to see it together and it didn’t work out that way. We were in the midst of a relational opportunity… to choose to move forward and deeper into trust or to step backwards into distance and defensiveness. The jury is still out on which way we’ll end up going.

[Note that a slight movie “spoiler” follows!]

There is a scene near the end of Thor where he makes a decision to save many lives and an entire world. It is not a decision easily made, for in saving the lives of many he must cut the bridge that connects him to his beloved. In making that choice he knows there is a chance that his actions will forever separate them.

As he strikes the final blow that shatters the bridge he speaks the words, “Forgive me, Jane.”

If Joseph Campbell were here, he would tell us that, with that blow, Thor had completed his “hero’s journey.” He had learned to seek out, listen for and act upon a rightness transcendent to his own personal desires and even those of his immediate loved ones. He had become an awakened man and earned the right to become King.

While not nearly as dramatic as Thor’s actions, I made a decision yesterday to narrow my focus down to a laser point and put all of my time and energy into preparing for the Awakened Man Summit. I felt guided to stand in service of the highest good and consciously devote myself completely to this project.

In choosing that path and sharing my decision I knew that it could create a chasm between my beloved and myself.

It has.

Now I find myself standing at the edge of that shattered bridge wondering if I did, indeed, “do the right thing.”

Was the guidance I received authentic or was it coming from a place of fear?

Was my action truly “Awakened” or was I motivated by unconscious forces?

Will my beloved forgive me or have I permanently severed our trust and broken the bridge between us?

I don’t know the answers but I sense that asking these questions means that I am not far from the right path. My intuition tells me that my guidance was “right” but that I could have found a more graceful and elegant way to navigate those waters as I shared my decision.

Sin and Forgiveness

Sam Keen, author of Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man, and one of the speakers in the Awakened Man Summit, once said, “Sin and forgiveness is a better way to handle relationships than the illusion of perfection. We learn from our mistakes.”

What a relief it was to hear those words and to let go of the “illusion of perfection” in my relationships. And, yet, what a difficult path to walk… to be open to the “sins” of your partner and your own, to be willing to forgive your partner and yourself, and to be willing to acknowledge and learn from your mutual mistakes and use those lessons to awaken more fully. What a blessing. And what treacherous waters you may (WILL) find yourself in when you choose to engage in relationship in that manner.

I have no illusions about being a “perfect” partner (except sometimes when I do!). Nor do I have expectations of perfection in my partner (except sometimes when I do!) To be quite honest, I have no idea what it would look like to BE a perfect partner or to HAVE a perfect partner!

Perhaps perfection is to be found on the path of surrendering the question, “What is the right thing?” again and again, into the service of the highest good.

It seems that my father’s refrain of “do the right thing, Edward” worked, though perhaps not in the way he intended. I truly do long to do the right thing. Perhaps that longing is enough. And perhaps the desire to do the right thing, combined with the willingness to learn from my mistakes will keep me moving forward on the path of awakening.

We’ll see!

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below!

10 Tips For Staying Positive Around Negative People

Let’s face it. No matter how positive we intend to be and how focused we are on attracting positive people into our lives, there are times when we will come into contact with negative people. You know the type: They love to talk about all the things that are going wrong in their life. They live for the gossip about the latest tragedy in Paris Hilton’s life or their neighbor’s. They bask in being the first to point out why a project won’t work.

These people may be tangential to your life or they may be firmly embedded in the fabric of your life (can you say “family members?”). But either way, when they come into your presence, they provide a true “test” of your ability to maintain a high, positive vibration.

So how do you deal with these people? How do you maintain a positive vibration when you find yourself surrounded by people with less positive vibrations?

Here are ten tools, techniques and insights to help you maintain a positive vibration. Try them out. Discover what works for you. Improvise, combine them, add your own. As you work within the Law of Attraction you will begin to discover your own tools and techniques for maintaining your highest most positively attractive resonance in every situation.

So here they are.

10 Tips For Staying Positive Around Negative People:

1. Leave.

If possible, remove yourself from the presence of the low/slow vibrations as quickly as you can. This is the easiest and often the best way to deal with the situation. If you find yourself immersed in a water-cooler conversation that takes a negative turn, excuse yourself as soon as you realize what’s happening. Admittedly, this is not always possible (think family gatherings!) so we’ve got 9 more.

2. Try to keep the conversation positive.
If you recognize that the conversation is taking a turn for the worse, see if you can turn it back around. Politicians and marketers call this staying on message. Your “message” is positive. The topic doesn’t matter so much as the tone. So anything you can do to keep the conversation positive is staying on message.

3. Think of something positive in your life.
If, in spite of your efforts to stay on message, the conversation becomes negative, see if you can split your attention and allow a part of your mind to focus on something positive. Think of it like the “picture in a picture” feature on your TV. Insert a little positive thought or memory into the big picture.

4. Find something positive about the person to focus on.
Everyone has redeeming qualities. They may be difficult to notice in the heat of the negative moment. But they are there. See if you can find one. Maybe you like her scarf. Maybe he just got a new hair cut that looks good. Maybe she smells good. Maybe he helped you move last weekend. When you notice and focus on something positive it neutralizes the power of the negative energy.

5. Close your eyes.
This obviously may not be possible when you are engaged in a one-on-one conversation. In this case, deliberately slow down the blinking of your eyes. Closed eyes, even if closed for just a second, immediately begin to bring your brainwaves down towards the alpha state. Try it right now. Take a few slow eye-blinks and watch what happens to you physical and mental state. You are much less susceptible to negative energy when you are in that relaxing, contemplative alpha space.

6. Focus on your breath.
Again, see if you can split your attention and focus part of your awareness on your breath. Become aware of the air moving in and out of your body. Feel your chest and belly expanding against your shirt. Notice the rhythm of your breath and see if you can consciously slow your breath down.

7. Unplug your energy from the other person.
Imagine that you are literally pulling your plug out of the other person. These negative people thrive on their ability to bring others down to their vibrational level. Use visualization, feeling, or intention to pull your plug and maintain your own vibrational level.

8. Remember the prayer of St. Francis.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. Recognize that the person’s negativity is an expression of their inner doubt, despair and sadness. The way that you “sow” love and hope and peace and joy is by remaining positive and allowing yourself to become an instrument of peace in that moment.

9. Stop judging.
If you find yourself being judgmental, stop. We all have moments of negativity. And, in fact, this person’s presence in your life could be a signal that there is some negativity in your space that you are not acknowledging. So stop judging the person and, instead, offer your gratitude for the opportunity to explore your own tendency to drift into low/slow vibrations.

10. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you get pulled down into the low vibrations!
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, no matter how strong your intention is to stay positive, you will find yourself pulled down into that negative vibration. Be kind on yourself. As with number 9 above, judging yourself will only add to the downward spiral. If you fall off the horse, the best response is to get right back on and try it again!