He’ll suffer unless I feed him NOW (and the goofy thing I did when I believed it)

I had to chuckle the other day.

I was interviewed about The Work and Parenting and Jacqueline Green the wonderful host mentioned my story of nursing my firstborn child and how stressful it was for me one time.

Because I was nursing him in the car.

On the freeway.

While I was in the front seat, and he was in his carseat in the back directly behind me.

My husband was at the wheel.

Yes, I was actually hanging over the back of the seat, leaning over my baby with one breast out so he could nurse, stop crying, and go back to sleep.

Which he did.

I so wish I had The Work at the time.

I was filled with a reaction to his cries and that it meant I must rush wildly in emergency mode to respond to his needs, that we couldn’t wait to pull over.

Good lord.

I called it my crazy gymnastics move and I’m sure my then-husband thought I was completely mad.

Which I was, to be honest.

Mad with the belief that crying meant terrible suffering meant abandonment, and it was imperative that I put myself in actual physical danger. Not to mention it’s illegal to be without a seat belt, for good reasons. (Can you imagine if a cop had seen me and pulled us over?)

Who would I have been without that deeply stressful story?

A calm mother suggesting we need to take the next exit and stop a moment. Noticing all is very well indeed, it’s simply a baby crying, and I’m listening.

I remember doing The Work on this incident several years later, looking back on that situation.

With the thought my son’s crying meant “CALL 911 FEED THE BABY NOW” I felt almost panicked inside. It was interesting to sit with what I had been thinking. All those meanings I had put on that cry, and that moment.

I thought he could be hurt, feel abandoned, and suffer from hunger. I thought I’d be a bad mother if I didn’t show him I cared, and was there.

But when I turned these thoughts around, I saw that I was the one who believed in abandonment and terror of hunger. I couldn’t go five minutes when I felt hungry without being scared or thinking I should remain hungry so I would be thinner (even if I hated it). It was so stressful to be hungry, I had lived with completely whacko eating since I was 18 (even earlier).

I was hearing my own cry for normal, calm response (especially with food) and taking care of myself in a sweet way, instead of believing I both should and should not be hungry at the very same time.

I also saw in the turnarounds that my baby was OK. He wasn’t having some big emotional panic, he was just being a baby and crying in that moment. It didn’t mean I was a bad mother that my baby cried.

Thank goodness for The Work.

It has helped me question similar thoughts about needing to respond to my kids (now 20 and 23) like it’s an EMERGENCY….when it actually isn’t.

I notice I can trust reality to do what it does.

Even the “worst” abandonment we can imagine–the parent that never comes, vanishes, even dies….

….I can even take this kind of trauma and agony to self-inquiry, to question the meanings I’ve placed on people coming and going, on people living and dying, on what kind of response is required for happiness, in any situation.

This takes a radically open mind, and nothing less than an open mind is creative enough to free you from the pain of arguing with what is. And as long as you think that you know what should and shouldn’t happen, you’re trying to manipulate God. This is a recipe for unhappiness.” ~ Byron Katie

Who are we as parents without our painful beliefs?

Willing, patient, OK with not knowing what to do, full of humor….happy.

If you want to see the interview I did today (the one with the nursing-in-the-car story) you can find it by signing up here and watching for free for the next 48 hours.

Much love,

Grace

P.S. If you want to read my nursing story I mention above, and much more about parenting and our thoughts….you can download it here.

With inquiry I didn’t stop the problems…they just stopped.

PeaceTalk Episode 141: When my kids were younger, I was virtually obsessed with their well-being, especially when it came to them attending school(s). Regular school, homeschool, what was the “right” or “best” way? Thank goodness I was exposed to The Work when they were 7 and 10, and I could question my belief “I am responsible for their happiness and education”. Listen here:

http://peacetalk.libsyn.com/website

There’s something especially beautiful when we go through this process of self-inquiry, step by step, and then have a little light-bulb moment of surprise (or a huge in-breath and gasp).

We find a turnaround that brings a smile to our faces. A discovery. Even laughter.

Living our turnarounds is where a particularly beautiful transformation seems to happen when it comes to questioning stressful thinking, for all of us.

It’s the last step in The Work.

First, we take a stressful belief through the four questions, starting with asking if what we’re thinking is actually true?

Then, we study what it’s like, what we’ve been like, what we see happening, what we notice, and how we’ve reacted because we’ve believed this troubling thought.

But then, the fun really begins.

Who would we be without that thought?

Yes…without THAT thought. The one you’ve thought so many times. Like “she abandoned me” or “life is hard” or “they don’t love me” or “I need more_____”.

What if you didn’t think it?

This is an exercise using your imagination. You don’t have to automatically already BE the one who isn’t thinking it. That’s too difficult. If you’re thinking about pink elephants in the room, or the mean world out there….too late. You’re already thinking.

But you have such a genius imagination, so it’s only about wondering, creating, seeing who you WOULD be without your stressful belief?

Then, we find all the turnarounds we can. She didn’t listen to me? Turned around: I didn’t listen to myself. He didn’t love me? I didn’t love him. They didn’t accept me? I didn’t accept myself. He ruined my life? I ruined my own life. I don’t have enough money? I don’t have enough of myself.

If something “clicks” and feels curious, fascinating, or “wow”….

….then we might have hit a turnaround we know we want to live, to work with, to practice, to hold in our hearts.

We might ask ourselves the question “If we lived this turnaround we’ve found….what would it look like? What would it feel like? How would we talk, act, walk, be?”

Last Friday morning (Pacific Time) on the First Friday call….we filled out, slowly and methodically, a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet on a stressful situation.

I love how everyone has a completely and entirely different situation custom made for their own life, totally unique to their experience….and yet on the page we all write the same kinds of thoughts.

He wants me to…..She doesn’t think I can handle….They don’t like me when…..I hated that they…..

It’s actually wonderful that your thoughts come right out of you, without editing, and you get to write them down. They’re stuck there, on paper. They can’t move or wiggle away.

Good.

At the end of your inquiry work, you can feel what it’s like to be aware of a wider, different, grander perspective.

Who knows what can happen when you become aware of a different way of believing, thinking, noticing or being when it comes to your stressful relationship or situation?

Not long after I got off the First Friday call, a sweet inquirer wrote me a note.

She said that after her inquiry the previous First Friday on nobody caring about an important health concern in her life, she easily found someone who DID care. She got something handled that she said was the best it felt in 55 years.

She let go of needing to go to where she always had gone, and went somewhere new….after questioning the belief “they don’t care about me”. She found the turnarounds “I don’t care about myself” and “they DO care about me” and “I don’t care about them”.

It all came together to a living turnaround that carried her right into a new and satisfying solution.

WOW.

Hearing her turnaround, I felt so happy to be witnessing The Work.

That’s what I know to do: question what I’m thinking that feels off, or hurts…and discover the safety, clarity, happiness or joy I was missing.

The Work uncovers blind spots. Who knows what can happen then.

“The turnarounds are your prescription for health, peace, and happiness….

….Through these realizations, the doing changes. I was the same as you. I couldn’t change. I couldn’t stop hurting my children and myself. But as I realized what was true for me, with the questions alive inside me, the doing changed. The problems stopped. I didn’t stop them; they stopped. It’s just that simple.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is

Much love,

Grace

P.S. I’ll be a part of a pretty incredible summit of speakers where the focus is parenting….but my part will be sharing about doing The Work. I’ll be sharing how questioning our thoughts about our kids, ourselves, our own parents can change our lives. To sign up for free, click here.

Parenting Relief: The Work (+ the Great Parenting Show)

Sign up for the parenting telecourse starting May 1st

Not all of us have children….but if you do, no matter what age they are….

….you may notice you’ve thought some stressful thoughts about them and their welfare, their lives, their personalities, their successes or failures, their safety, their feelings, their attitudes.

And even worse, you’ve probably had some stressful thoughts about YOU being a less-than-perfect mom or dad.

Or maybe a horrible one.

Ouch.

Deciding to have kids felt like one of the biggest, most profound decisions of my life. (We could question if it was a “decision” that “I” made).

Little did I know, I’d have so much agony and ecstasy in my relationship with them.

The first time I ever put my first born into his car seat and drove somewhere, I was stunned with the awareness that this little tiny human being was totally dependent.

On me. And my safe driving. YIKES!!

I actually thought “what have I done?” even though I was overjoyed at his birth.

My heart was so full, and I wanted also to protect him with a fierceness I had never experienced about anyone.

What I see now, that I didn’t quite see back then even after I had my second baby, was how having kids made me aware of my beliefs about the world, about reality, about life.

And they weren’t exactly peaceful.

The world could hurt them! The world could betray them! They could die (oh, right–they actually WOULD die one day)! They could feel heartbreak, abandonment, fear!

How could I have forgotten all the difficult and terrible possibilities that can happen in life?!

And then there’s ME! I’m so unskilled, I’ve made mistakes, I don’t know what I’m doing.

Jeez. So much could go wrong!!

Oh sure, I know the world could also support them, excite them, be thrilling and gorgeous and beautiful. The world could love them, bring out their genius, creativity, ideas.

But.

Ugh.

(Worry, worry, worry).

The best thing that ever happened for me, when it came to being a parent and relating to my children as they grew up?

Finding The Work of Byron Katie.

Because then, I could question my frantic believing, my irritation, my complaints, find my turnarounds, and notice new ways to be with these humans (and most importantly, with myself).

I sat in meditation with stressful thoughts like: he got hurt, she’s suffering in school, he needs his coat, she’ll fail if she doesn’t learn to read, he lost a friend, she’s not safe, he’s too shy, she won’t listen to me, he shouldn’t smoke, she shouldn’t yell, they don’t understand me, I need them to stay alive….and be totally happy and successful while doing it.

Who would we be, without the beliefs our kids should never, ever suffer, fail, be heart-broken, feel sad, get hurt, feel scared, or even die?

This doesn’t mean we don’t care.

It’s not about being passive or detached or weird. I notice I adore my children and care about everything they’re doing.

Without these kinds of beliefs, though, about the worrisome things that could happen, I find a deep and profound freedom present about life, and the world, and how we’re all here temporarily….including our kids.

Without my stressful beliefs, I’m so much more relaxed and available instead of freaking out if they’re “late” or unhappy, or “failing”.

Without the old beliefs, there’s an out-breath.

What a relief.

Turning the thought around: So much could go right!!

How could this be just as true, or truer?

Do you notice how sweet it is to find the examples of everything that’s going “right”? This includes YOU, your own learning, the gifts you bring uniquely to the dance of parenting.

Turning the thought around again: my thinking could go wrong (not the world). 

So true! My awful-izing was always worse than what actually happened.

At least five years ago, I received a wonderful invitation by a woman by the name of Jacqueline Green. She had a radio program called the Great Parenting Show. She was curious about The Work. She wanted me to come on her show. It was one of my first radio interviews.

A few years passed, and she came to one of my retreats in Seattle. Then she took the parenting teleclass I offer every year or two. Then she had her clients, who were all moms focusing on becoming awesome parents, participate in an introductory class I offered on parenting and The Work.

She says she feels transformed by learning to question her thoughts. (She speaks of herself as going from parenting disaster to master).

This past year, Jacqueline and two of her staff have been enrolled in Year of Inquiry (YOI)! I don’t know how many people she’s sent to my retreats, or for solo sessions in parenting issues.

Jacqueline and her staff members are such wonderful YOI participants, amazing moms, dedicated to reflecting on the way they are with their children and all the people in their lives….and questioning the thoughts that scare, hurt, sadden, or anger them.

Super inspiring.

And now, Jacqueline’s invited me to join her for a special Complimentary Parenting Show where many experts will be interviewed and offering their sharing to the world for free.

On this season, you’ll join Jacqueline in her years of expertise as she sits down with many parenting-related experts including not only me but the following fascinating people. (I can’t wait to watch their interviews).

1. Dr. Ned Hallowell, psychiatrist and author of books that include Superparenting for ADD, Driven to Distraction, and The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness

2. Dr. Laura Markham, best-selling author of books that include the recently released Peaceful Parenting, Happy Kids Workbook, and Peaceful Parents, Happy Siblings

3. Dr. Daniel Siegel, psychiatrist and best-selling author of books including the The Whole-Brain Child, No-Drama Discipline, and Yes Brain

4. Patty Wipfler, founder of the HandinHandParenting organization and author of Listen,

5. Alison Armstrong, relationship expert, author of books including The Keys to the Kingdom,

6. Dr. Bruce Lipton, acclaimed biologist and author of books including The Biology of Belief

These experts and authors, and the other 14 including me, will be answering questions like how to help your child build a caring and self-disciplined brain, how to cultivate courage, and curiosity….and how to build emotional support you need for parenting.
I will of course be talking about The Work.
This is the 7th Great Parenting Show (GPS). I’m so honored to be a part of it. It starts in 5 days and runs until April 20th and it’s completely free of charge for anyone.
To sign up for the complimentary Great Parenting Show, please register here.

Much love,

Grace

No one can deprive you of water. Or love.

Sibling rivalry.

We’ve all heard the term, we know what it is.

But ugh, when you feel it yourself….it’s very painful.

And it doesn’t have to be “sibling” to hurt. Rivalry in any form, between any two people or groups, can turn very sour, very heart-breaking.

People frequently feel this kind of angst with their former spouse, with a boss who fired them, with a friend who shocked them, with a partner who betrayed them.

Rivalry.

But for me this past weekend, it was rivalry of the sibling kind.

I did or said something, or the whole family did or said something, or our mother did or said something…..and now one sibling has been radio silent for about a year.

Until.

The big extended family function that just happened.

How many times has an inquirer contacted me to do The Work when a wedding, funeral, graduation or other kind of ceremony is scheduled, and they anticipate seeing their rival?

It’s OK when they aren’t around, but being in their presence incites the pain all over again, and the fear.

At least, that’s what I noticed happened with me.

It was almost embarrassing, because I “thought” I had done The Work on this person. I had remembered so many moments from childhood I appreciated with her. I knew I loved her so very much–love was not the issue. I had become aware of how much I admired her. I accepted she needs a sabbatical. I left her alone.

But the lack of acknowledgement hurt. The silence.

It all appeared in an instant.

The family event is underway. People are cooking, tables are set. Big greetings and hugs are happening as people who haven’t seen on another for years connect. Ooohs and aaaahs and sounds of joy fly into the air. The big day has arrived.

And then, someone whispers that the relative in question just showed up. “She’s here!”

What do I do? A wave of nervousness runs through my stomach. I’ll be so very happy if she approaches. Anything, something.

Nothing.

During the entire day of festivities, conversations, then evening celebration. Nada.

The hurt comes waving through. Like a voice from a 5 year old child.

She hates me. 

Here’s my proof. No eye contact. No words. No connection attempted.

Super awkward.

Other siblings don’t seem to have the same trouble with it (I check in with two of them). They appear unruffled and Whatever about it.

So not only does she hate me, but other family members are more mature and relaxed and detached about this person. I must really have a problem. My mind is racing. I feel even worse.

I begin to do The Work. Again. But this time, a new and different thought, and from the point of view of an inner five year old.

The word “rivalry” comes from a Latin word for stream or brook (rivus). The root word “ri” is run or flow. Rivalry are two people who share the same stream of water. Or really, two people who compete for it.

Water is a necessity of life. The physical body will die without it.

I often notice, humans (including me) feel that love is a necessity of life. Acceptance, connection, intimacy. The sense that we’re supported, or wanted.

Interesting that this word “rivalry” focuses on the competition for one source, only one winner, people who are equals in their need to share the stream feeling threatened.

In the sense of Sibling Rivalry, the source of this flow is mother or father. Or both. The feeling within is somehow that I’m not going to get it, I’m left out, I’m lost, I’m potentially rejected. The parent isn’t going to give me what I need. What I need is scarce.

And then….the belief that the person competing with me wants me gone, out, shut off, silenced.

She hates me!

Is it true?

Yes. OK, no. I can’t know this is true. In fact, deep down I know we have a powerful connection.

How do I react when I think this thought that she hates me, is threatening me, can’t be bothered to make contact with me?

Awful. Frightened. I want to escape and get out of here. I want to be as far away from this as possible. She should stay on her end of the stream. Or find another stream.

Sometimes, people have reported to me that they feel absolutely horrible about themselves. Discarded like garbage. Unwanted (by lovers leaving them especially).

I noticed I had pictures flashing through my mind of her stony, mean face. I heard her saying nasty things (she didn’t actually say anything). I started thinking it’s perfectly fine not to have her in my life. I make mental lists of what I don’t like about her, trying to justify my position.

But who would I be without my very painful story of hate, of rivalry, of needing her love?

Wow.

I almost couldn’t do it, yet the question hung in the air throughout my time at the big family celebration.

Who would I be without this “problem” on my mind?

Who would I be without this fearful story?

Watching life, people make kind and loving connections. Noticing she’s a part of the family, and her presence is welcome. So is mine. Watching us all share in the stream of life, imperfectly having our hard times or our caring times.

Everyone simply being human.

No one doing it wrong.

Seeing that it’s on my mind, then it isn’t on my mind. Watching me not reach out myself, feeling insecure, feeling like it’s BIG and OMINOUS, then watching me forget about it for an entire conversation with someone in the family, a niece, an aunt, a nephew, a cousin, an uncle, a second cousin once removed, the new partner of a cousin, a great uncle.

Feeling the hot sun, resting in the shade, watching a flock of birds overhead all making unusual bird sounds calling to one another.

Turning the thought around: she loves me, I hate myself, I hate her.

I study this energy I’m calling “hate” that I’ve thought is coming from her.

I notice I have no idea what it is, and I can’t say it’s coming from her either. This thing called “hate” feels very strong, centered in the heart, explosive, wild, mysterious, loving.

Wait….did you say loving?

Haha. Yes.

I see the energy of hate is an energy that says “you matter to me!”

Even if the way you think that person matters is negative, or that you need to get away from them, that they are your rival.

By definition, this rivalry I feel means I am sharing the river with this person. I can’t help it. Sharing is happening.

In this experience of apparently being in the presence of someone who is Other than me, I’m loving myself, I’m hating myself, I’m loving them, I’m hating them, I’m believing they are hating me, and loving me too.

All crashing together like a gigantic wave.

Part of the family events for the weekend included a river float trip. Everyone receiving their own inner tube and paddles, getting taken in a van up the river to float home over a 4 hour ride.

The river held the entire family. All the bodies, ages, emotions.

The river shared by almost 40 people, and 4000 more (truly) on a hot summer day in a gorgeous, cold, gentle river.

Eagles flying overhead, wild ducks and half-grown babies all following the mother, big trout flashing down below the surface, long brown carp hugging the bottom, fresh sweet water rolling along, big round rocks and boulders to swerve around under the surface.

Sharing was happening, and competition was not required. A faster speed to the finish line was not desired, or required. Survival was not threatened. There was enough comfort, pleasure, peace, sunscreen. Excitement on a moment of rapids, food enjoyed from the tube with the cooler in it, water to drink, sights to see, a time of quiet with eyes closed, moving along without trying.

A great humanity was on this cool river together, including anyone and everyone’s supposed rivalry. Or lack of rivalry. (And by the way, I never saw the person who hates me the entire time–she was somewhere far behind me I’m not even sure where). All of us sharing the stream. Whether people were speaking to each other, or not, or knew one another, or were related, or strangers, or neighbors, or had something to say, or not.

Could it be possible to I’m moving along down the stream, and so is everyone else?

Yes.

And suddenly, the feeling of living the turnaround turns a corner for the first time in a year, after many moments of inquiry and exploration and wonderings and investigation of fear, pain, disappointment, or anger and feeling misunderstood and unloved.

And I take out a pen and paper, ready to write a letter to this person I care about so much, of how I wind up “hating” myself and believing I am hated and thinking I’m cast out, with not enough peace to survive…..and how untrue that all is.

“This is an insane belief. People should stop judging people? What planet do you think you’re on? Make yourself at home here: When you come to planet Earth, you judge us and we judge you. That’s it. It a nice planet to live on, once you get the ground rules straight…..So I’ll strike a deal with you. When YOU stop judging THEM for judging you, then go talk to them about judgment. It may take awhile. No one can deprive me of my family–no one but me.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is 

I like the “it may take awhile” part.

It takes the time it takes, and you may continuously and regularly get to practice.

Just keep going. Like the river itself. Flowing along to the sea.

Much love,

Grace

P.S. Two hour entirely free online immersion course TEN BARRIERS that BLOCK THE WORK on August 22nd at 8:30 am Pacific Time (like, for example, hating yourself for not being farther along). Love to have you with me there. Q & A at the end on the new Year of Inquiry starting September 5th. Register for the live class right HERE.

May Day! May Day! Let’s End Our Parenting Wars!

Wednesday we’ll begin the treat of working together for 3 weekly sessions on parenting for any of you wanting to look directly at our worst moments with our kids. We meet 10:00 am-11:30 am Pacific Time. Sign up at the link at the end of this Grace Note.

You can’t clear it all up in 3 sessions, that would be unlikely….but you can apply the sharp tools to sit with what troubles you most deeply about your child, and take your very stressful beliefs about your child through this profound questioning process we know as The Work.

And it may be simpler than you think.

Long ago, when my kids were young I noticed one of them in particular was driving me bonkers.

I’d get so surprised by her blunt comments. I’d say something like “lets go to x movie tonight” and she’d reply “I would NEVER see that movie, are you kidding me?!”

I had a gigantic belief that she shouldn’t be rude (and this definitely was rude). She should respect me. She should respond to what I said. She should want to spend time with me.

I remember once reading a book out loud, and she got up out of the bed we were lying on together, crawled over me, and left the room.

When I asked her, as I heard her feet patter down the hall, where she was going, she called over her shoulder “Oh, keep reading, I’ll be back in a minute!”

It was hilarious.

I thought she should be captured by every word and not want to miss a single thing I said out loud. But her mind didn’t think that way.

She wasn’t like me (gasp)!

Sometimes, people think that if you question thoughts about your kids needing to love your suggestions, or mind you, or respect you, or not talk back….

….that you’ll become passive and vacant and have no inner authority and you’ll turn into a marshmallow parent (gushy sweet with no clear boundaries).

But that’s not what happened for me at all.

I found, when I questioned the beliefs, one at a time that “my daughter should like my suggestions, never be rude, and speak to me respectfully”….

….it was amazing to sit with who I would be without these thoughts.

It did NOT mean to do nothing. I was still moved to interact with her at an intimate, caring level.

I noticed when I believed these thoughts, and she said “no” to me, I had a hissy fit. I was actually fighting with a 9 year old.

(Yoo Hoo! Where was the parent here?)

Who was I without those thoughts, though, using my imagination to wonder what it would be like if I didn’t have to have it MY way?

I noticed a sense of letting go, relaxing the grip of how I demanded she behave with me. I realized I was in this with her. She was the kid, I was the parent, but that didn’t mean she had to conform to every single thing I wanted.

Perhaps I had been a bit rude. To her, but also, to myself.

Turning the thoughts around: I should like my own suggestions, I should like my daughter’s suggestions, she shouldn’t like mine if she doesn’t. I should speak respectfully to her, to myself, to the world. She shouldn’t. She doesn’t know how, and she could learn how from my (new) example.

These were so wonderful to try on and really find clear, solid examples for all of these turnarounds. Of COURSE I didn’t want her to always do what I said, like what I like. That would be an automaton, like my little slave who gave me approval.

I actually LOVED that she spoke up and voiced her opinion. I want her to do that for the rest of her life and not be stuck in people-pleasing or people-resisting.

I also wanted to speak up for my own suggestions, being very solid and clear with my requests without becoming 9 years old if I don’t get my way. She gave me fantastic practice at growing up and being the loving, very clear parent who saw her as extremely capable of respect for herself and for other people (including me).

Maybe she hadn’t known how to be open and respectful, because, um….where would she have seen a huge high level of love mixed with very clear boundaries and willingness to say “no”?

Heh heh. Not with me. If she didn’t do what I said….before The Work, I went to WAR (it felt like an explosion inside, of anger).

Yep, that daughter has been one of my gurus.

And the fun part?

While she still feels like a challenge, she’s an incredible, powerful, independent, feisty, direct person. The kind I always admire because it’s so easy for them to tell it like it is.

Who knew.

Two spots left in the Parenting and The Work class. $60 for three weeks. Register HERE. Wednesdays 10 – 11:30 am PT. You’ll dial in using a phone or your computer (audio only, not video). I’ll guide you through The Work from start to finish.

“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. 
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”

~ Kahlil Gibran

 

Much love,

Grace

Get clear enough to deal with what’s actually true

Have you ever thought someone’s getting more than you of something you want?

What makes them so special? How come they’re the lucky one (not me)?

They have it. You don’t.

This shows up in a thousand ways (or, is it just one way, really….read on): they have more money, they’ve accomplished exactly what you intend to accomplish, they have the best partner, they have a beautiful house, their life is better because they travel, had kids, never had kids, eat the “right” way (better than you), they have a stronger, younger, healthier, more beautiful body, their kid is doing much better…they’re more enlightened and peaceful than you.

Ow.

By comparison, you lose. They win.

Find just one of these moments. You are comparing yourself with another human.

Is it true they’re doing it better, faster, clearer, more creatively, stronger?

Yes! Did you see her? She started at age 25 running a business and now at age 45 she’s a multi-million success story. Why didn’t I have that kind of a drive when I was her age? Did I tell you about my mother’s influence on me? She would…

Stop. Are you answering the question “is it true?” or starting to explain, describe, share, paint the picture, tell a story?

It’s a simple question!

Is it true that person over there is doing it better?

Yes.

OK. And are you absolutely 100% sure it’s true, with no shadow of a doubt, at all?

No. I have no idea. There’s that way, there’s this way. I’ve had many adventures, I don’t know her world. All I have is this momentary perspective, and a thought about what success is.

How do you react when you believe someone’s got it better than you, or succeeded (and you haven’t)?

Sigh.

I want to get away from them. Or stare at them and watch for clues about how to copy them.

I feel disheartened. Images come to mind of their smiling life, and my struggling one. I’m alone, or I’m surrounded by losers. They’ve got it made in the shade, a care-free life of service, or pleasure. They’re doing it the right way. They’ll go down in history as making a difference. I look, by comparison, like a chump. And be forgotten.

Or perhaps sometimes, you act with defense when you’re believing that person over there is better than you. You feel aggressive. You give reasons why you’ve got something better than them, whether it’s determination, spit and vinegar (as my grandma used to say), a good work ethic. Or maybe you’ve had harder circumstances to overcome because of x, y, z.

Yeah, that’s right!

But who would you be without this story that they’re better, you’re worse?

Seriously, if you had no thought or belief that they’ve got something you want, what would it feel like? How would you stand in that other person’s presence, with no feeling of wanting anything? What if you came from another planet entirely, with no reference for comparison? You simply looked at them, and observed?

Hmmm.

It’s not about ignoring your needs or desires. If that person has a glass of water, and I’m dying of thirst, I could ask them for some. They might say “yes”, they might say “no”. Without any thoughts about anything being better or worse, winning or losing, I simply ask for what I need, or take some kind of gentle action.

Without the belief they’ve got something I want, and it’s not terrible, or frightening, limited and it doesn’t mean I’ve lost….

….I notice I’m fascinated with what’s happening over there. I’m curious.

I’m also enjoying myself, right here, on the inside. I’m feeling happy, joyfully watching the wonders of the world, which happen to include this person and their accomplishment(s). Nothing needs to be added to me, or taken from them. No winner. No loser.

I’m delighted with people who do NOT have any apparent accomplishments, too. In fact, everything in my environment fascinates me. I’m open.

Without the thought I’m losing, she’s winning, I’m even delighting in my own interests and desires. I’m totally inspired by this woman I’m looking at. Look at this amazing thing she did, starting young in inventing a business from scratch and sticking with it for 20 years. It shows me what’s possible. I’m thrilled with my own path unfolding. It was nothing like hers.

Without comparison, it’s all brilliant. Failures, successes, an unknown dance. I might have done the worst thing ever along the way (according to me), but without the belief I’m a loser because of it, and she’s a winner….

….I am free. Energized. At peace.

Turning the thought around all the ways I can find: There is no win and lose. She’s not doing it better. I’m doing it better, for my life. I’m doing it better, for her.

Oooh, how could any of these or all of these be just as true, or truer?

Well, first of all, every life is full of peaks and valleys and every single one of these peaks or valleys has taught me immensely. Wow. I certainly had other important things to focus on besides starting a business at age 25. It was called ending my addictions and discovering a new way to look at the world, and myself. I wouldn’t give it up for something else. (I couldn’t anyway, point taken). There is no win or lose. It all crumbles as soon as I start looking closely.

I’m doing it better for me. True. There’s no one who could do my life except me. So of course I’m doing it better than anyone else. My job is to be this one, here. Not that one over there.

And what if I was doing it better, for her? She could find my life path just as inspiring. I might have something to offer her. Including appreciation for the clear and powerful example I’m seeing right before me of career success. She might enjoy me being over here, just as much as I do!

Ah the beauty of seeing how incredible it is to be able to observe another human, or many other things in the apparent environment, and notice they are included in my path, because I’m seeing them.

They are a part of me.

Oh! Ha ha!

Not separate. Not left out.

Included, connected, open to all the beauty this beautiful mind discovers–so many things it loves….EVERYWHERE

“The only permanent solution to your problems is to go inside and let go of the part of you that seems to have so many problems with reality. Once you do that, you’ll be clear enough to deal with what’s left.” ~ Michael Singer in The Untethered Soul

Much love,

Grace

If my child isn’t happy, I can’t be happy!

Beliefs about children can be so hard, when you’re worried about their well-being.

Or anyone you love, for that matter.

But something about kids. It’s like it’s extra extra amplified, our caring about them, and the strangely stressful thoughts about love, happiness, or success.

Even though these thoughts seem “normal”, it’s quite profound to question if they are true.

What are your thoughts about taking care of your children? About parenting?

  • my children should never suffer
  • my children need to thrive, succeed, accomplish…in order for me to be happy
  • I need to protect my kids from harm (the world is dangerous when it comes to x, y, z)
  • it’s my job to teach, guide, direct my kids
  • if my child fails, it means I have failed
  • I can’t handle it if he/she feels pain
  • I need to help my child
  • my child shouldn’t bite, grab, hit, be selfish, talk back, act rude, defy me, do drugs, get bad grades….etc
  • if my child is hurt, I am hurt
  • I need to be close by talking, sharing time, having the same interests
  • I need my child to live, to be happy
When I really dove deeply into The Work, I began to realize what this self-inquiry was all about.

Investigating fear.

I began to realize that the worst that could happen might be primarily in my imagination, not reality. Even if the feared event or thing actually happened.

For example.

I am far away from home, on what I expected to be a very exciting trip with a man I’m rendezvousing with in Hawaii. This man surprised me with a plane ticket to join him on Maui, and I went at the scheduled hour.

But after a few days in the paradise setting, I’m in deep turmoil as reality hits. Not only is this man quite anxious and unhappy, but I’ve called in sick to my job and I feel more and more guilty.

It wasn’t worth the wild “yes”. I’m thinking of changing my return flight to sooner. I just want to go home. This isn’t right. The whole thing feels out of integrity, and weird. What am I doing here with this man, anyway?

Then I get a call.

My son, age 9, has broken his wrist while skiing for the first time. He’s in the emergency room.

I begin to feel sick with guilt. I call the airline, say goodbye to the man I’m with, and get on the next flight out.

Flying home, I begin to do The Work on the airplane. Clearly, by the time I fly across half the Pacific Ocean he’ll be out of the ER and with the people caring for him, who are wonderful. There’s nothing I can possibly do.

But I’m believing I shouldn’t have gone away. I should be there when something happens, like an accident.

Stressed parents think this all this time. I should have been there. I should be available always to sweep in, to rescue, to comfort, to help.

Is it true, though?

No.

Because kids have things happen in life constantly, and we’re not right there. We’re not supposed to be. They are human beings with their own paths. It’s a little crazy, in fact, to think we should be present any time our child is in need.

How do you react when you believe you should be present when you aren’t? How do you react when you think your child needs you, period?

Frantic. Worried. Guilty.

Who would you be without this dreadful story that your kids need you, when you aren’t actually there?

Way less stressed out. Even free. Circumstances took me to making the decisions I made, and there are no mistakes.

I’d even feel compassion for myself, without the thought. I’d feel awareness of the rest of the world, and it’s support for my children and for everyone, in everything that happens.

I am not the one in charge. My kids do not need me. They need whoever’s right there. Thank goodness.

Turning the thoughts about caring for children around, let’s see what happens:

  • my children should suffer, if they do–Yes, I have learned immensely from my own suffering. It was the way to happiness, actually. Why would I deny my children such an incredible path?
  • my children do NOT need to thrive, succeed, accomplish…in order for me to be happy. So true, I love them exactly as they are. For being alive. Nothing more required.
  • I do NOT need to protect my kids from harm (the world is dangerous when it comes to x, y, z). Of course not, according to Reality. They’ve gotten sick, been injured, had heartbreaks, and they are beautiful people. So is the world.
  • it’s NOT my job to teach, guide, direct my kids. What an egoistic idea in the first place, to think I’m the director. What a relief to see it’s not true.
  • if my child fails, it never means I have failed–I can question what I believe “failure” is. Perhaps my child succeeded. And their event is not me or mine. This is not personal.
  • I can handle it if he/she feels pain. Yes, I notice my wrist did not hurt, when my son’s was broken. I can handle that.
  • I do NOT need to help my child. I was thousands of miles away. He had all the help he needed. Mothers even die sometimes, and the child goes on and has a happy life.
  • my child should bite, grab, hit, be selfish, talk back, act rude, defy me, do drugs, get bad grades….etc. Anything happening could change, in a heartbeat. Meanwhile, I shouldn’t bite, grab, hit, etc, with my thoughts about me (I’m guilty, or a bad mother) or my thoughts that reality is bad.
  • if my child is hurt, I am NOT hurt. And I need to notice this, so I’m sane and helpful.
  • I do NOT need to be close by talking, sharing time, having the same interests. I can still love deeply, without these perceived definitions of closeness.
  • I do not need my child to live, to be happy. The ultimate. How could it possibly be true that unhappiness would be required, if my child died? I have witnessed the opposite, from parents who have lost their kids.
“If your happiness depends on your children being happy, that makes them your hostages. So stay out of their business, stop using them for your happiness, and be your own happiness. And that way you are the teacher for your children: someone who knows how to live a happy life.”  ~ Byron Katie
 

If you’d like to get a taste of questioning your stories about your children (or even just one child) whether 2 or 35, living or not….

….come join a 3 session parenting course Wednesdays 10:00-11:30 am PT. Only $60.

Question your stressful stories about your children, and about what you’re supposed to be doing, and discover happiness. Sign up here.

Much love,Grace

HELP! The Work of Byron Katie on Parenting!

PARENTING 3 weeks Course in The Work of Byron Katie: Got some stressful thinking about your kid(s)? Join me in a lazer-sharp 3 week course on The Work for Parents. We’ll cover the basics, doing The Work from start to finish. Only $60 for three Wednesdays May 3, 10, 17 from 10-11:30 am Pacific Time. All classes will be recorded.

It doesn’t matter how old your kids (baby to adult–it all works). It doesn’t matter if you’re the stepparent, adoptive parent, neighbor, mentor, teacher, biological parent or grandparent.

If you care for someone and you’re supposed to be the caretaker….a few stressful thoughts can appear from time to time.

(Wow, so true, right?)

Enroll in the course right HERE.

But even if you’re not taking the class….you can start right now in understanding your troubling situation with someone in your care a little better.

What kind of thoughts do you have?

I’ve worked with so many parents, they often go something like this, no matter what the age of the child:

  • she should listen to me
  • he doesn’t clean up after himself
  • she lies
  • he’s depressed, unhappy
  • she isn’t doing well in school
  • he’s hard to deal with when it comes to “x” (getting ready, leaving on time, going to school, biting, hitting, fighting, arguing, minding)
  • she’s too: aggressive, selfish, mean, needy, bossy
  • he should stop doing drugs, smoking, biting, stealing, lazying around
  • she should stop talking back, disrespecting me, being rude to her sister

And this is only the beginning.

Then, on top of all these stressful thoughts, we often think we are doing a terrible job. We must be bad moms, or bad dads.

It’s me! If only I was more patient. More kind. More loving. More attentive. More interested in play-dough. Or board games.

But at the risk of doing a humongous inquiry all-at-once….I’m going to ask this one humongous question:

Who would you be without your story that there’s a TERRIBLE problem here, with this person you’re caring for?

Who would you be without the belief you have to find the REASON for the problem, and fix this thing?

Who would you be without the belief this is going downhill, and fast, and that kid will be the death of you and neither one of you can ever get it right?

Who would you be without turning on yourself and ripping yourself to shreds because you’re not good enough, when it comes to those you care for?

Who would you be, without your story, in this moment now?

Woah.

Um.

Not worry, wring my hands, rage, fume or boil? Not feel like a victim? Not feel like I’m screwing up, and so is my child?

Yes. Without the belief a problem is here and it’s HORRIBLE or UNFIXABLE or DEVASTATING?

What would that be like, to sit in this moment, or imagine yourself with your child, and not feel like a failure?

It’s an amazing beginning.

I find, there’s hope in noticing this present moment, without the belief there’s an unfixable problem.

I’m not talking of denial, and pretending it’s not difficult, when it is.

But if you saw your situation with clarity, and a sense of Can-Do or possibility, what would you feel like?

Turning the thought around: This problem is not devastating, or unfixable. This problem is not all my fault, or all the child’s fault, or anyone’s “fault”. There is some confusion, perhaps, but there is no endless problem.

Right NOW, there is rest. Right now, peace is possible. I might not know exactly what to do next, but I can relax my thinking.

I can keep doing The Work.

I can start with one….only one stressful situation….and take one step. I don’t have to figure it all out by Friday.

“Everything is a story. The mind spins stories out and you believe what the mind tells you. Every time you are stressed out or fearful, you are believing what the mind is telling you. The Work is about discovering what is true and what is not true for you, the difference between reality and imagination.” ~ Byron Katie

And if you’d love to meet with a group on together online, wherever you live, at 10 am Pacific Time for 3 Wednesdays….join us. Sign up HERE.

Much love,

Grace

Not Objecting to What Is with teenager, a laptop, and a queue the size of Montana

breakingfree
Life. A love story.

Ohhhh, yeah.

This is gonna be FANTASTIC, I have the BEST ideas.

I’m going to give my daughter a going-away present for college. Called my mac laptop airbook, the one I’m writing on right now.

Sure, it’s used. But it’s soooo amazing. It’s traveled with me without having one single weird or bad thing happen to it, oh trusted laptop, for 4 years. It’s got some good life left in it.

I need to upgrade so I can better support my classes and retreats. I need way more memory space on my machine. I’ve got curriculums designed, extensive feedback, photos to archive, and no one can find how to pay me on my website. Ever. Videos to make, podcasts to share. All created more easily on the new, faster-better laptop.

Win. Win.

I’m all excited. I tell her I’m going to do this, I can finally afford a device with more memory, and I’ll help her get all set up on mine.

She looks at me like….What??! Are you serious??!

“But mom, your computer will probably crash in one year. Macs are so junky, you have to upgrade them all the time. They only last five years! I don’t want that old thing, jeez!!”

Uhm. OK.

Not so Win Win as I thought.

This is not the first time, with this kid of mine, that I have it not only slightly off, but ENTIRELY WRONG.

However, I feel something inside and it’s different than the way I used to feel when she said things like this or surprised me with her reaction.

Calm.

Like, a shrug. Oh, OK. Got it.

I didn’t pursue it one more second. I’m not that surprised, I’m not hurt, I’m not having much of any reaction at all. (Every so often, wondering what she’s thinking about computers and if she needs one, then I forget about it).

A month goes by.

Daughter is leaving for college in 2 days. She approaches me as I sit on the couch writing.

“Mom….I don’t know what to do about a computer. I’m going to need one badly at college. I’m nervous.”

I look up and again, total calm–shocking. I say “remember I mentioned you could have this one?” I raise my laptop off my knees and tip my head.

“It’s all yours if you want it, I just need to get a replacement and figure out for sure if I can afford the upgrade.”

“Oh….I didn’t realize that’s what you meant before. Really??!!! That would be AWESOME.” She comes over and hugs me.

I have one day to go into the Apple Store and see what they’ve got, before she leaves for college, but I can’t tell you how different this pace and flow is from the past. The pace on the inside is total calm. The flow on the outside is just a relaxed ‘OK, we’ll see what happens’. No emergencies. No urgent wild freak-out. No saying she should have brought this up earlier, or figured it out weeks ago.

No saying “I TOLD you before and you were ungrateful, rude, and now it’s too late and rag, rag, rag….”

I just saw her cute eyes and her enthusiasm and her relief, and who knows what that was before, with the “junky macs” commentary. She didn’t even seem to remember it, and I didn’t require we go back there and review the “mistaken” communication in the past.

I’m just sayin’ here….there are results that I can find no other reason for happening than The Work.

I’ve sat with fuming feelings within around this daughter. I’ve felt hurt, and lost. I’ve felt confused, and shocked she doesn’t love exactly the same things as me. I’ve been mad she doesn’t vacuum before I have to ask. I’ve been startled at her forceful comments.

I’ve written a few worksheets.

I’ve imagined and felt what it would be like to Not Have The Belief she’s hurting me, she’s opposing me, she’s against me, she’s disrespecting me.

And now, I feel such gratitude for how much I love her and how wild and unexpected she is, like the weather, like reality….but always safe for me (I’ve never been hurt in her presence except by my own thoughts).

She’s been caring, challenging me. Like the ultimate “life” coach. She minces no words. She calls me on my B.S. especially when I expect people to like what I like.

TA: This is going just right.

I head down to the Apple store to check out the new goods, for myself, and get their help wiping my old laptop clean so my daughter can start fresh with her own stuff

Only….a small hitch.

There’s a line around the block of people waiting to get in to pick up their new Iphone 7.

For some reason….this is HILARIOUS.

I even go back 7 hours later and find….it’s even MORE crowded during early evening. They tell me no one can help me, too much hoopla over the Iphone thing. I’ll have to come check out new laptops another day.

I learn about ordering online, later, back at home.

Because I got to come back unexpectedly fast from the Apple Store, without anything new in my hands…..I got to see my former husband (father of my kids) bringing pizza over, talk to my son who stopped by for a couple of hours, help out with car-loading for the departure to college, and laugh.

Life is so funny.

This is strikingly different from what it used to be. When life was serious, irritating, gloomy and pointless.

Thank you, self-inquiry.

Thank you, “is it true?” question.

Thank you, imagination.

Keep going. Don’t stop doing The Work. This is definitely different, like a very, very, very slow dawning of the light. This is what being undisturbed is, on the inside. It’s OK if it leaves again (probably will) but oh what joy to get a taste of not objecting to what is.

Ha ha!

“Anyone in harmony with what is has no past to project as a future, so there’s nothing she expects. Whatever appears is always fresh, brilliant, surprising, obvious, and exactly what she needs. She sees that it’s a gift she has done nothing to deserve. She marvels at the way of it. She doesn’t make a distinction between sound and no sound, speaking of it or living it, seeing it or being it, touching it or feeling it touch her. She experiences it as constant lovemaking. Life is her own love story.” ~ Byron Katie in 1000 Names For Joy 55

If you feel like practicing for four whole days next month, Thursday through Sunday October 13-16, then join the small group (maximum 14) Fall Retreat. We’re half way full. Seattle. Non-residential. Awesome. Come on over to my house. It will be good. Sign up here.

Much love,

Grace

I had a massive hissy fit…and after The Work…I had a Living Turnaround

DO NOT INTERRUPT ME!! Have you ever had this thought with a vengeance? Living the Turnaround can be.....sweeter than sugar
DO NOT INTERRUPT ME!! Have you ever had this thought with a vengeance? Living the Turnaround can be…..sweeter than sugar

Oh rats.

The other day I screwed up big time.

If there was a camera in the room, or you were a fly on the wall, I’d be soooooo embarrassed.

I got angry with my 19 year old daughter.

I was on skype on my computer, working with a client. She entered the room, gesturing wildly, looming over me and obviously very frustrated. I couldn’t figure out what she was trying to ask. She grabbed a piece of paper and wrote things aggressively on it. She tapped the paper hard.

I squeezed my eyes shut, looked down at my computer keyboard, and kept going with my client.

She was still there five minutes later.

Still there.

I glanced up, her teeth clenched, eyes burning a hole into my head.

She was NOT getting the message that I should be left ALONE.

Thank goodness the client I was working with was audio only, not video. It was like a thing inside me went ballistic and exploded and I screamed at her. OK, it wasn’t really a scream, but it was like a vicious hiss without sound. I was mouthing the words.

GET OUT OF HERE! NOW!!

Now I was gesturing wildly pointing my finger at the door. Flailing around like a nut case.

OUT! OUT! GET! OUT!

Inside it felt like World War III.

She left, and slammed the front door.

Later, as I walked through The Work with my reaction, focusing on that powerful moment, when I got to the turnarounds, I knew this was one of those pieces of work where action needs to happen.

The Living Turnaround.

I’m preparing curriculum on this very topic for the upcoming Breitenbush retreat, only two weeks away.

(By the way, there are four spots left at Breitenbush Hotsprings Annual Retreat June 22-26. This is the last year with the deeply experienced and supportive assistance of Susan Beekman, also Certified Facilitator, who has come with me every single year since we started offering this workshop together in 2011. I’ll probably be doing it in 2017, but she’s retiring).

Finding your own personal Living Turnarounds is very powerful, and sometimes tricky. It doesn’t come so easy.

Because it’s nice to do The Work and everything, and imagine dropping thoughts, changing uncomfortable ideas to exciting ideas, switching things into the positive from what was before feeling negative, watching stress release itself from your mind and heart.

But if it stays up in the head as an intellectual or purely cognitive exercise, without sinking down into the body and into our every move…

…then, well…it’s not really transformative.

Not that we can exactly control transformation (haha) because if we could, we’d all be completely and entirely transformed by now. All foibles and imperfections shaved off and smoothed down. Goals reached, accomplishments made, projects achieved, relationships resolved.

No tantrums and waving arms about in fury.

Sigh. Chuckle.

So how DO we live our turnarounds, or discover more specifically our “living turnarounds”?

Well lets just say as a wild example, you do The Work on the stressful belief “she should NOT f$%&ing interrupt me!!!”

Your turnarounds are the following (without the cussing):

  • she should interrupt me
  • I shouldn’t interrupt myself
  • I shouldn’t interrupt her
Even though you may have a new perspective on the idea that she shouldn’t interrupt you, and you allow reality to be as it is, it doesn’t mean you constantly have your fingers crossed that you hope she interrupts you even MORE than ever, and your living turnaround is to keep the interruption going.

 

LOL!

 

That would be weird.

 

But you might find it very appealing to live the turnarounds “I shouldn’t interrupt myself” and “I shouldn’t interrupt her”.

 

You might sit and contemplate these, and find three ways you could act or be or feel like someone who supports these beliefs, who holds them as sacred, who is committed to these turnarounds as the greater truth.

 

You don’t like yourself when you interrupt. You want to understand your own internal incessant interruptions (anger, rage, fear, distraction) so you begin to see what it might look like to be someone who honors these turnarounds of NOT interrupting, and actually live them.

 

At least, this was the case for me.

If I lived the turnaround “I shouldn’t interrupt her” I asked myself what comes to mind?

I suddenly realized she didn’t know how on alert I felt, and a little nervous, because this was a brand new client I was working with, who wasn’t super familiar with The Work, who just got diagnosed with cancer.

I was thinking about my own cancer diagnosis. I was also aware this was a private call, and she didn’t know I had a client in the first place, and I felt embarrassed about having my kid walk into the room.

The Living Turnaround became very clear. Crystal clear.

I shouldn’t interrupt my love for my daughter, I shouldn’t interrupt my love for myself. I shouldn’t get so freaked out with trying to help the client, or feel overly-responsible to the client so that I can’t handle one small interruption. I shouldn’t interrupt myself with my attempt to be the perfect facilitator, who doesn’t have interruptions.

Trust the universe. Including an interrupting daughter.

I shouldn’t interrupt Reality, and try to make it go MY way.

I knew how to live the turnaround. I owed her an explanation, an apology, and to let her know when I have a client scheduled, if I know she’s coming home.

I hardly had to wait to find a good time to live the turnaround. It was already happening within, on the inside of myself. I no longer felt any of that rage and anger. I saw there was other work to do about clients with cancer….and my empathetic thoughts about them (this is for another Grace Note).

The next morning at 6:45 am, daughter called from her dad’s house to ask me something. After we got the basic logistical thing handled she was asking, I said “you know yesterday, when I was so incredibly furious with you? Well, I’m so sorry. Here’s what was going on for me in that moment…..”

I was super honest, vulnerable and very sincere. I left nothing out. I spoke of my nervousness before she ever came in.

At the end, I said “I love you so much”.

She said “I love you too, mom”.

And you know what? She didn’t interrupt me once.

“You can find the truth only when you go inside. Going outside for a solution, trying to convince her to see it your way, is war. Fear is blind and deaf.” ~ Byron Katie in 1000 Names For Joy

Much love,

Grace