Wednesday Words

“Often we treat certain aspects of ourselves as junk, having no value. We try to throw parts of ourselves in the garbage. But a human being is an ecosystem, and everything in that system is of value to the whole.”

– Stephen Schwartz.

hole-in-heartAre you abandoning the parts you don’t like? At what cost? What if you could learn to include all of you?

You are always welcome to poke around at Move Into Change. If you’re ready,  let’s see if we can work together.

Wednesday Words

Sometimes in life it is the smallest gestures of self-compassion that make the greatest impact on your life.                                                                                                 JG

3829Artwork by Angeline Dannecker  Grade 5

She says, “I chose the color pink because it reminds me of love. I made a sculpture of a good heart because it is like a stone in the ripples of a beautiful life.”

The Appleton Compassion Project http://www.appletoncompassion.org

You are here.

No, not literally at the Adelbert but, they have one of these maps at the outlet mall in Lee, MA where I’ve been known to spend many an afternoon. The mall is weirdly laid out, so without the directory map, it would be impossible to know that in order to go from Just Socks to Calvin Klein, you have to go through the food court into the mystery passage next to Cinnabons. I told you it was weird.

Anyway, I’m driving to see a client today and I’m feeling a bit snippy.  Come to think of it, I’ve been snippy all day.  I  wonder how I can be fully present for my client if I’m like this, so I begin to use some of my practices.

The snippyness feels tight in my chest, more like resentment now. I have choices; I can go into default mode from the past; tell myself that I can’t be feeling this right now and push it down and to the side, secretly wondering if it will surface when I least want it to, or,  I can spend some time with it, acknowledge it and promise to make a safe place for it to wait, so I can come back later when I have more time.

So proud of myself for opting out of default mode and thrilled at how easily the new choices came (Yay growth!).

Only it didn’t work.

This snippy part of me was having none of it. It needed attention – now! It was having a mini tantrum; a fists waving, feet stomping,now Now NOw NOW fit! Okay, Okay, I say with my hand on my heart, I’m all ears, what do you want me to know?

It turns out that last weekend, when my workshop was cancelled (just the day before- ack) due to a plumbing problem at the venue, I skimmed over my disappointment to address the practical matters (emails to participants, rescheduling, getting deposit back, etc.). And, I was all about the silver lining. Hey now I can tell more people about it, and I’ll have time to write some more teaching stories (say this in a chirpy bad customer service rep voice).

Yes, but I  didn’t notice the frustrated part that was  let down, or at least, not enough.  I had been so excited and then – nada – and that part just didn’t get its due. So, I  get to learn (again) just how important it is to meet myself where I am.

It’s kind of hard to get from Calvin Klein back to the car (hopefully with a new sweater) if I don’t know that I’m still in Just Socks. I am HERE (at disappointed). Nice to meet me.

Benefits of doing the work I did…

Instead escalating the feelings (which is a worry I have), giving the sensation the attention it needed, listening to it, actually dissipated its intensity. Then, coming back later, in case there was more, felt possible. By talking to “it”  I was able to use the mature other parts of me to dialogue with it, which in turn, let me know that I was much larger than this sad part. I felt confident and calmer; a great place from which to meet my client where he was.

AND – new date for the workshop, Listening From Your Body of Knowledge for Parents is  Oct. 19th. We’ll learn more of the  skills I talk about on this blog. You can check it out and sign up – click photo- if it looks like your kind of thing.

Ask Judy #4: The Problem With “Why” or Try a Little Tenderness

“Why” is a fantastic question. So, this post isn’t an effort to remove it from our language, or anything remotely like that. Lately though, I’ve been listening to how some of us use Why questions against ourselves, against other people or situations, mostly unknowingly, or let’s say, unintentionally.

For example, I have a client who has just begun to notice the power of her inner critters (critics). She has become aware of how difficult it is for her to accept acknowledgment from others, or celebrate her own strengths and accomplishments – big or small.

I’ll stop here and state how cruddy it is to want to feel good and to then notice the pattern of perpetuating the not feeling good. Ouch, yuck, and – what use is self awareness if I still feel cruddy anyway? Oh yeah, I know this one really well.

Back to my client, call her Teresa. Teresa wants things in her life to change. She wants out of the patterns that she sees are holding her back. And, she’s in that place where she’s sick of the old, but when she starts to get a glimpse of the new (and how to go about taking small steps to change her pattern) the Why questions start.

Why do I have this pattern?” Why don’t I just change already? Why do I always do this? And, my all time favorite, “Why, if I can see what’s wrong, don’t I just act on what I know?”

That last question can be the subject of this blog for the rest of my life, so let’s leave it alone for now and move on to, the problem with why. Don’t get me wrong, finding out  why a pattern began is valuable work. But, have you noticed that the Why questions above (or substitute your own)  really aren’t about loving inquiry into what might be under a pattern, but more of, well, blaming?

Mostly blaming ourselves.

Why, in this context, is about looking for what’s Wrong.  Under the guise of figuring it out, we look for the bad, or really, who’s been bad (and guess who that turns out to be?). And, on top of that, we’ve  convinced ourselves that answering the question will bring us the relief we seek. In my experience, this doesn’t happen. The answer isn’t in the reason, but in the relationship with the reason, but that’s also a subject for a future blog potentially titled, “Needing to Know.”

Back to Why. When working with young children, I learned pretty early that, why, as in, “Why did you hit johnny with that truck?” goes nowhere productive. When you ask why in that situation here’s what happens:

  • Jenna, who hit Johnny with the truck, may not know why.
  • Asking why makes Jenna feel stupid, confused and possibly humiliated that she doesn’t know, ’cause if you’re asking her, the expectation is that she should know.
  • AND, she probably hit Johnny because she was scared, angry, or hurt and she didn’t know how to deal with it.
  • That’s pretty overwhelming as it is, and Why from an adult just scares her more.
  • Scared = flight, fight or freeze.
  • The answers you will get at this point are; stone faced silence, running away, “I don’t know” or some version of, it was Johnny’s fault.

See how that works? This post is too long already, so I won’t go into what might be happening for Johnny.

We aren’t much different from Jenna except that now we get to be both scared child and interrogator.  Asking why, when we’re feeling terrible just adds to the confusion and/or self-loathing we already feel.  We think we “should” know, we “should” be able to do something about it and we “shouldn’t”  try anything new (or fall back while we’re learning) unless we can know why there’s a problem in the first place.  Gaaaah.

The first thing to do here is the opposite of analyzing the problem. Why can’t help us here. But tenderness can.  Finding some intentional practice of listening to ourselves with tender regard, as we would hold a tiny seedling that we need to re-pot, or watch a bird hatch from its egg, can bring relief. From here, we are free to know more about what we might really need to do to move forward.

There are lots of great practices to investigate. You might try Exploring the Perimeter, it’s a good start. When I’m really desperate, I pick a part of my body I feel pretty neutral about – like my thumbs- and I sense them (eyes closed) with as much patient gentleness as I can possibly stand for as long as I can.

Listening to Otis singing Try A Little Tenderness here couldn’t hurt either.

Let’s Stage a Sit In

When I was in high school, student protests against the Vietnam War were everywhere in the news. College kids, just a few years older than I, were camped out in classrooms and administrative offices all over the country effectively disrupting business/school as usual. While I dutifully colored maps of Europe and mended my Pointe shoes, they were attempting to change the world.

Why do I bring up long haired, patchouli-scented, free-love peaceniks of the late 60’s here, now?

Because those ordinary kids weren’t just trying to make change, they were doing it non-violently. They were hoping to influence our culture to include other approaches to conflict. They were staging  Sit-Ins. Sitting. In.

I bring them up because this blog and my sweet itty biz (Naomi Dunford’s name for a small business), are all about change. As in, move into it – change, of course.

I don’t know what got me thinking about Sit Ins, but I started to ask myself;

What if we choose to sit in with ourselves?

What if the goal of my personal sit-in was to be with the conflicted inside parts of me (thoughts, feelings, criticisms, body aches, injuries, emotions) non-violently?

What if I changed my inner culture? What if you changed yours?

How would our lives transform? How would we make changes in the world?

Yes, all well and good, you say, BUT didn’t those hippies end up dirty, jobless, dropped out and drugged in? And, “violent?” Isn’t that a bit extreme?

Well, yes, some of those kids got lost  in wonder and idealism. Some ended up rabid consumers and corporate raiders too. They didn’t dig into the “small steps” practice that makes real and lasting change. You know, the boring kind, the kind that takes a bit of perseverance, willingness to be curious about discomfort and courage to sustain.

And, maybe “violent” sounds extreme to you, but so many of us struggle with harsh and punishing inner critics.

Luckily, every one of us has the capacity to cultivate Curiosity, Gentleness and
Will. And it doesn’t take more than ordinary courage (thank you Brene Brown) to take steps toward change.

If you want, you can stage a Sit In now – it’ll only take 2 minutes and I’ll do it too. I call this one, Exploring the Perimeter.

  • Find a quiet place to be.
  • Put your feet on the floor.
  • Become aware of the air temperature on your skin.
  • Notice any sounds.
  • Come inside to your breathing – but do nothing to change it.
  • Become aware of the outline of your body. Slowly, with your inner awareness (your “mind’s eye”), trace the outermost edges of your body starting anywhere you like. Do this with the care and gentleness you would use if you were tracing a baby’s foot.

How was that? Get lost? Have some parts that you couldn’t sense? Me too!

One more thing, those protesters, they were in it together.

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If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or see if we can stage a Sit-In together, just comment below, or visit me at Move Into Change, you’re welcome anytime.