This morning I remembered that I'd dropped the ball on getting back to someone about meeting up. My sister-in-law's friend recently moved up here, and we emailed almost two months ago, saying we'd get back in touch in late September to make plans.
But neither of us did. And it was nothing personal. It's just that life happened. Distractions happened. I went in and out of forgetting completely and then remembering but not reaching out because of not being available yet or not having clarity on my availability.
And remembering to contact her this morning, and finally emailing her back about meeting up, comes at the perfect time for me. It makes me laugh. It even soothes my soul a bit. It's like one of those "aha!" moments. Why?
Because there are a few people who I haven't heard from who either said they'd be in touch or who I left messages for that have not yet been returned. And I was starting to make up stories about it. Not for each of them, but for a couple of them. I was starting to take it personally and/or starting to make character judgments or assumptions because of their lack of communication. And that's not really fair. Because here's the thing: we all do this. And although sometimes it can indicate something about someone's character or an unhealthy relationship dynamic, sometimes it really doesn't mean anything other than that life gets busy and distracting, and sometimes we forget.
Sometimes it's not personal. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it's a conscious choice. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's about priorities. Sometimes it's not. People get busy. People get distracted. People forget. People drop balls. And sometimes that feels shitty. But sometimes it's okay.
I just love that this happened today because it was like one of those real life examples of that saying about how what we don't like in others is what we don't like in ourselves (or something like that). And I don't like it when I drop the ball. I'm usually really good about following through, especially when it involves others. I usually either do what I say I'm going to do or I let the person know it'll be a bit longer or that I can no longer do what I said I'd do....
Oh, but as I type that I recognize that if I'm being totally honest, then this isn't the only thing at play for me in this situation. In fact, the main thing is probably a childhood wound around rejection and other kids not wanting to play with me. Even though there's plenty of evidence to support that others do want to "play with me," this old childhood wound still wreaks havoc from time to time. And I'm working on it. Admitting to it here feels helpful, like a form of releasing it. And a way to gently hold myself accountable to not let it get the best of me.
I didn't expect this blog entry to go there. But here we are.
So, what's this blog entry really about? It's about not taking things personally, having compassion, and also having the courage to look at what's underlying our painful thoughts and feelings. Is the painful thought and feeling really because of what's currently happening? Or is some old trauma or wound influencing how you perceive what's happening?
This kind of self-inquiry is so important for optimal well-being and personal growth, and for having healthier, happier relationships--both with others and with yourself!
So I invite you to ask yourself those questions next time you catch yourself taking things personally or making up stories about others.
Another helpful tool is the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet, from Byron Katie. You can download a free pdf to guide you through a process of self-inquiry, questioning what's really true, and releasing yourself from the bondage of painful thoughts and feelings. Get it here. You can also just identify one painful thought and do "The Work" (Katie's 4 questions at the bottom of the worksheet) rather than going through the entire worksheet. Depends on what's bothering you and if it has anything to do with other people in your life or not.
If you try it out, let me know how it goes.
That's all for now!
I've been having some insights recently about what influences my wants, my desires, my goals. And what I've discovered is that sometimes they're misguided. Even when I think they're not. Even when I'm so sure they're coming from a crystal clear place of love and divine inspiration, sometimes they've been fear-based or influenced by past trauma, old wounds, other people's opinions and societal pressure--or even by something like hormones.
Hormones are a biggy for me right now--or at least they were. Between March and mid-July, I went through 3 egg retrievals to keep my baby-making options open as I approached 40 with a ticking biological clock. I was what a nurse referred to as "fake pregnant" 3 times within a very short period of time. So, my hormones were all out of whack and affecting me in ways I didn't even realize until recently. I've just been starting to feel back to normal over the past few weeks. A normal I hadn't felt in a very long time. And along with that came some big questions, some changes of heart and mind...about various choices, goals, and desires of mine.
And as per usual lately, so much of what I want to say just feels too personal to share right now. I'm still processing and unpacking, unravelling, and clarifying some things for myself. So, although this blog post could be so much better if I revealed more of my personal story, I'm just not gonna do it. At least not today.
Today I just want to explore in a more general way this question of why we want what we want--and how what we want can change.
Or maybe that is all I want to say: What we want can change. And that's okay.
We always have the right to change our minds. Living life in an authentic way means that as we have experiences and collect more data, we just might change. Aspects of who we are and how we show up in the world might change. What we see for our future might change. Our mode of operation might change. Protective mechanisms and limited ways of thinking might fall away. And this is a good thing. It's evolution. It's growth.
It's all good. Just sometimes it feels scary or confusing, especially if it comes on suddenly or feels like a 180. But that's part of the fullness of life: accepting and embracing change. Having the courage to change. Having the courage to rewrite your story as often as needed. And feeling the freedom, the liberation, of that. Feeling the expansiveness of setting yourself free from how you thought things needed to be, if those thoughts and ways of being no longer resonate or serve you.
So, without overthinking things, it is helpful to look at why you want what you want--or don't want what you don't want. But it's also important to realize that no matter how clear you think you are, sometimes these things change. And that's okay. As I said back in 2014... Change.Your.Mind. Again and again and again...if it means you're listening to the whispers of your Heart.
I've been doing a lot of mental detoxing lately. And I'll be sharing more about what that means and how to do that in my new book, Detox Your Life. Speaking of which, one of the thought patterns I've been clearing is around urgency, such as letting go of rushing the editing process of that book in order to publish before the end of the year! So, it'll probably be available in 2020 instead of 2019. ;)
But I digress...
Not caring. That's what I want to write about today.
I was reminded the other day of "not caring" while in the process of cleaning up and clearing out toxic beliefs and self-limiting, self-defeating thoughts. I've been using several methods for this mental detox, and one is what I call "positive brainwashing."
Yes, brainwashing can be good for you! ;) Not all brainwashing is bad. Sometimes our brains need to be washed! I mean, really, think about all the junk that we take in both consciously and unconsciously each day. Don't you think it makes sense to clear that stuff away and scrub your mind clean at least every once in a while if not each and every day? I sure do!
Again, I'll share more about that in my book, and probably over time in blogs and articles as well. But right now this concept of "not caring" is on my mind because it's been working magic lately, and I owe it all to Abraham Hicks videos on YouTube--one of my favorite positive brainwashing tools.
Now, as a very caring, thoughtful, considerate person, the first time I heard encouragement to "not care" and even to recite "I don't care" like a mantra, I was amused by the relief I felt when getting into the mindset of "I don't care, I don't care, I don't care." Wow, what freedom! I realized what an energy drain caring too much--or about the wrong things--is. So I love being reminded to not care so much--and in some cases, to not care at all.
The truth is, it feels good to care less. When I care too much and try too hard, it's just exhausting and usually sabotages things. So now I'm embracing the power of not caring.
Now, this doesn't mean I am no longer a caring person. It doesn't mean I don't feel caring. It just means I'm lightening up around how I think about things. And I'm getting out of my own way.
I'm being more selective about what I do care about. I'm getting better at not caring about things that I can't control or that pull me out of alignment.
This "not caring" helps with letting go of attachments to outcome or to how things unfold. I'm getting better at letting go of some of the ways in which I think things need to be. I'm seeing so clearly how all of that over-caring, which is also a form of overthinking, is a protective mechanism. And I don't need that anymore. I can relax into trust, into faith; I can have more fun in this dance of life; I can feel more truly free.
Perhaps context matters here or would be helpful? So, here's an example. If I don't care what you think of this blog entry, I'm much more likely to let the words flow freely through me, not overthink it, and then release it into the world after just a little editing. This blog becomes a place where I can freely express myself without being a perfectionist. And that feels good. And feeling good is important. It's all anyone really wants. Although there are various flavors of feeling good, it all boils down to feeling good, right? Right.
And when I don't care what others think, I can still be mindful and respectful and kind, but I'm much more free to say and do as I please. I'm less inhibited, more authentic. I'm not walking on eggshells or trying to control things. I'm more in the now. I'm more accepting and trusting. I'm more free to be unapologetically me. And there is so much power in that.
When I care less, and don't try too hard, when I lean back and trust that everything truly is working out for me--and always has been working out for me--then things just fall into place with much more ease, flow, and grace.
And, so, I invite you to try on this whole "I don't care" thing. See how it goes for you. Or don't! I don't care. ;)
I don't care if you take my suggestion... but I do care about you.
I do care about feeling good and about you feeling good. I want you to be happy and to live your best life. I just don't care what path you take to get there but do hope you find a path that resonates, that serves you well. And so I'll wrap this up now and leave you with a link to a video all about caring and not caring.
Click here* if you're curious.
*If you've never listened to Abraham Hicks before, and/or don't resonate with the use of the word "source," you can replace it with something like god, higher self, higher power, love, the universe, inner knowing, inner wisdom, etc... Whatever floats your boat.
Something interesting happened on Saturday. Instead of going to a concert, I ended up at a bookstore.
Over a month ago, I'd bought myself a ticket to go see India.Arie, one of my favorite singers. A lot of her songs feel like music therapy to me and have helped me through many tough times. So, when I saw she was going to be in Edmonds, just a short drive for me, I was a YES.
This wasn't just any ticket purchase, though. Originally it had looked like there weren't any tickets left, like I had missed my chance. But then, I checked back another day, and there were just a couple of seats available. It was meant to be! Or so I thought....
Fast forward to this past weekend. On Friday night, I got back from a week in California, where I met my newborn niece and spent a lot of quality time with family. The next day, Saturday, I thought I'd be going to this concert in the evening.
But when it was getting closer to the time to go, the truth was that I didn't feel like going.
And I didn't feel like making myself do something I didn't want to do, especially something that was supposed to be fun, something I though I'd be happy to go do. My body was just saying no. Loud and clear. It didn't make sense, not really, but I had to listen.
It took a little while, though, to fully listen.
First I made myself get ready to go out. I put on some nicer clothes, found some earrings, re-applied some eyeliner, thinking maybe if I got ready to go and got in my car, then I would want to go. Maybe it was just about getting myself out the door! That does happen sometimes...
So I got myself out the door and into my car. And within a couple of blocks, I still didn't want to go. I thought maybe I'd just go grocery shopping. Woo hoo! But that's not really what I wanted to do with my Saturday night. I considered just making myself go to Edmonds, but then I felt another no in my body, so I turned right instead of left. I knew where I was going now, and it wasn't to the concert.
I drove to Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.
And it felt good.
That clarity of decision and freedom of choice felt good. Invigorating, even.
I'm sure some of what felt so good was what felt like saying "you're not the boss of me" to my concert ticket. ;-)
That freedom of choice felt so good, it almost felt worth the $70 I'd paid for the ticket I wasn't going to use and was too late to sell!
And then I walked into Third Place Books, was surprised and delighted to hear live music playing and to see a bunch of older folks partner dancing. And then it felt totally worth it.
I got a cup of tea and sat down to enjoy the music and dancing. I thought about how much I'll probably really love being a senior citizen some day. And I thought about texting a friend to see if he wanted to meet me there, but wasn't sure how long I'd stay. So I just enjoyed my tea, the music, my silly thoughts, and the dancing. And then I walked around the store, looking at all sorts of things while still enjoying the music.
I hadn't done anything like that in a long time. And I do believe it was the best choice for me that night. And that's part of why it felt so good. I followed my feelings. I listened to my gut. It didn't need to make sense. I just needed to trust myself and see where that took me. And it resulted in a really unexpectedly delightful Saturday night.
Of course there are times when we really do have to do things we don't feel like doing. That's part of life. But this wasn't one of those times. So I'm glad I didn't force myself to go to that show. Who knows? Maybe something bad would have happened on my way there or back? Or maybe I just wouldn't have had as good of a time.
One thing is for sure: I wouldn't have experienced the kind of magic that comes from letting go of shoulds and instead going with the flow. It was so entertaining and so much fun. I felt free and alive, instead of like a prisoner to my original plans.
So, I'll wrap this up and just say that listening to your body is important. Choosing what's authentic, what's really true for you and in alignment with your greatest good, with your true desires, is important. Even when it comes to things that seem little, like what to do on a Saturday night, our choices shape our lives.
I've been thinking a lot about "choice" lately, so perhaps all write more about it some time. But for now, I choose to end this here and to leave you with an image that made me laugh on that night: when I realized what kind of tea I was drinking...
I'm sitting on the couch in the rec room of my parents' house on Mercer Island. This was my childhood home from the age of 8 on up. And 23 years ago, when I was 16, on a Monday, on President's Day, the first day of mid-winter break, I remember being in this room.
In the earlier part of the day I was watching Pulp Fiction with two friends. And then, after taking them home, I found myself back in this room, back on the couch, in front of the TV, watching Melrose Place.
And then I went to bed. It must have been 9 or 10pm, which was pretty early to go to bed during a vacation, but I was sleepy, so I went to sleep.
But not for long.
Around midnight, I received a phone call on my parents' landline. I had a phone in my room, but the ringer was off. My mom knocked on my door, though. She said someone was calling from work.
I worked at Tony Maroni's pizza. I knew it wasn't really a call from there. But I crawled to the foot of my bed and answered the phone. And soon I was getting into someone's car to go watch The Usual Suspects. But we didn't make it to our movie-watching destination...
There's more to this story, a lot more, and it's in a manuscript I mostly finished back in 2012. And some day I'll finish it, when I know what the point is of sharing it and how the story ends.
But for now I'll just say, for those of you who don't already know, that night I was in a nearly fatal, highly traumatic car accident.
You can read an old blog post about it here--a blog post that inspired me to convert that whole manuscript into the style of "epic poetry." No joke. I worked on that conversion in my friend's attic, where I was temporarily living, when I first moved down to Austin to work with Master Li on his books.
It's tempting to share some more of it here. But for now I feel it's best to just redirect you to my old blog.
And speaking of now, what more do I have to say about this day?
Anniversaries are stored in the cells, which can feel like a gift or like a curse. Or like both.
I've done a ton of healing--physically, emotionally, energetically, you name it--and the driver and I are on good terms. But every year, as February 19 and 20 approach, I feel it. I feel a combination of things, and it's shifted over the years to be mostly positive. I have more of a survival story than a victim story now. I feel grateful for the blessings in disguise and the gifts that have come from this experience. I see how the accident and its aftermath have shaped my life in mostly good ways.
But I'd be lying if I said it was all good. I even just recently found out about an impact of the accident I hadn't anticipated. And some day I probably will share more about that. But not today.
Today I just sit with it all and don't feel like saying much more. I sit with the blessings and gifts, as well as the harmful impact. I sit with the perfection of it all, even the parts that have been hard. I know it's all part of my path. And I'm grateful to have survived. I'm grateful for this life.
When you're ready, it's easy. When you're ready, there's no question. No making up judgments, assumptions, or stories as to why not to.... It just feels right.
Although this could apply to so many things in life, these are the words I heard in my head a couple of nights ago while voraciously reading Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy.
I'd purchased this book by Georg Feuerstein on a whim a few months ago. I was at Half Priced Books, and it caught my attention. I knew I'd only really been skimming the surface over the past couple of years-- sure I'd been diving deep with my Sexual Awakening for Women studies (and teachings) and some other workshops and readings here and there-- but what about the foundation and origins of Tantra? I'd pretty much skipped right over that.
I knew there was much more to Tantra, and it was time for me learn what exactly that "more" was.
And yet it wasn't. It wasn't time for me. Each time I picked up this book, I could never get into it. I'd read a page or two or three or four here or there. But it didn't grab me. It felt too dense or technical or dry or something. Something that made it feel difficult to read. I even started thinking I didn't like the author, didn't like his writing style.
But now? Now I know I just wasn't ready. It just wasn't time. Almost. But not quite.
Now I am loving this book. I feel that it's so easy to read. So fascinating. So digestible. So right for me right now.
And this brings me back to timing and readiness. Imagine if I had tried to force myself to read this sooner and when it wasn't feeling right. I probably wouldn't have gotten nearly as much out of it. Would've gone in one eye and out the other. And it certainly wouldn't have been as enjoyable. It would have felt more like some sort of obligation or something I should do because blah blah blah.
But instead, I didn't force it. I remained open to the possibility that at some point in time I'd read this book. But I wasn't attached to the when or even to it happening at all. And then? One day it finally happened. Right timing. Resonance. Ease. Flow.
It feels so delightful now, and all because I had let go. I had let go and remained open. And when I was ready, it all worked out.
I want to remember this. I want to remember this anytime, in any situation, where impatience or force or pressure, where trying to micromanage or control an outcome or timing, are wreaking havoc-- and they always do. I want to remember this.
And now some questions for you:
What in your life do you feel you might be trying to force?
Are you willing to just let go?
Ooooh, and this makes me think of a related topic-- the topic of getting over the resistance to getting into a daily practice. This has come up with friends, clients, and students a lot lately. What's the difference between discipline and force? Perhaps it's that feeling of devotion I wrote about the other day? Perhaps it's a question of alignment? Please feel free to comment below, or email me at email@example.com. I'd love to see your thoughts.
© 2015 Rebecca Clio Gould. All rights reserved.
Rebecca Clio Gould is a Certified Sheng Zhen Teacher and Holistic Wellness Coach. Her specialties include self-love, embodied joy, women's sexuality, spirituality, surgery preparation, and trauma recovery. She is also a Supreme Science Qigong Instructor, Essence vs Form Coach, and Award-winning Author of "The Multi-Orgasmic Diet: Embrace Your Sexual Energy and Awaken Your Senses for a Healthier, Happier, Sexier You."