Getting to “Work”
When we pay attention to what we can do with our thinking about others, about our situation, and about our bodies, we truly free our bodies to do their work. Our path is clear: Our only responsibility is our relationship with our thinking (which ultimately also leads us to a supportive relationship in which we make excellent choices for our bodies).
This morning when I woke up, I got that stab of ‘something’—felt like fear–in my stomach, as if I had been kicked. There it was. I thought I couldn’t isolate any thought that caused it, and that it wasn’t ‘my fault.’ I was like a little kid, not wanting to be blamed for how I was feeling, and wanting someone else to take care of it for me. When I looked closer, I realized that the fear was me habitually thinking (in the instant after I awoke) that because I hadn’t gotten much sleep, I would go back into my chronic symptoms (which means… I would feel bad and wouldn’t know how to get over it, I would let everyone down, people would judge me and ultimately leave me, I wouldn’t feel good enough to do the things I want and need to do, I wouldn’t be able to support myself, I would end up on the street, etc., etc., etc.). I was astonished when I realized the LIGHTENING fast moment in which all these thoughts almost subconsciously occurred and triggered the reaction in my stomach, and how well hidden they were from me.
So, should I beat myself up for catching myself thinking that way and causing a reaction in my body? That is certainly my first knee-jerk reaction, because I want someone to blame—not so much even for how I was originally feeling, but for the self-fulfilling physiological consequences that appeared as a direct result of predicting that I wouldn’t feel good! If I assume that the part of me believing those thoughts thinks it is saving me and is “just trying to help” (and won’t do otherwise for as long as it believes that), then my only job is to help it understand that what feels so scary is based on faulty logic:
- Missing sleep means I will feel bad,
- Even an inkling of feeling bad means I will continue to feel bad,
- If I continue to feel bad for even a little while, it will become chronic,
- If it becomes chronic, it will cause all those other bad future consequences,
- I have only myself to blame due to the bad choices I made that deprived me of sleep,
- I need to DO SOMETHING!
- I need to think a lot and figure out what it is I need to do.
Rather than beating myself up for these damaging, self-fulfilling prophecies, I am learning to think of the thoughts as completely trusting and naive in whatever moment they ‘came to believe.’ If we met a child that was believing such scary stories and holding himself responsible (or blaming someone else, which is equally painful), we would want to help that child find another way to see it. We would sit down and look together for possible interpretations that don’t forecast doom and gloom and tragedy and failure.
We would stick with them, patiently turning the faulty logic around and showing them an interpretation of what is happening that feels yummy and right:
- We can’t predict the future and we could be feeling good in the next moment if our thoughts aren’t perpetuating a scary interpretation of what our body is doing,
- What we did in the night when we weren’t sleeping was somehow more important in that moment on our path as sleeping (or it wouldn’t have happened that way),
- No matter how we feel or what we think we did to cause it, we still deserve to do whatever is needed to love and care for our minds and bodies NOW,
- It’s OK to give at least as much energy to nurturing a positive prediction and enjoying our opportunity to rest, as we have been giving to nurturing a negative one and calling ourselves lazy,
- It’s completely OK—and in fact the best thing we can do for our bodies—to ‘forgive’ and support ourselves and our body’s reactions so completely that we fall in love with the sheer mystery of whatever is unfolding exactly as it is, and
- From this place, we can trust that—like anyone who is in acting from love—we are always making the most loving choices we can in any given moment for that body.
What I got last night was how the two revelations of our session lead to a ‘joint turn-around’:
- The idea of treating your body-buddy like your own dear child, and
- The idea of re-parenting your thinking too—helping to re-educate any thoughts that get in the way of your absolute love and excellent care of that innocent, trusting child.
That is the one gift we truly can give this child (our body): We have the ability to actively see and hear and nurture and accept and support this thing that was created when we incarnated, in a way that we can’t begin to do for anyone else and that no one else can do for us. As Katie says, each of us is ‘the one’ we’ve been waiting for.
The Ultimate Nurturing Parent
I imagine that might be the ultimate gift of your not having a child—that you have been freed in an even more compete way to devote your entire energy to giving to that little one—who is still stuck in the hospital bed in her mind, who is “too fat,” who is lazy, who is just not what you want her to be—all the care and fun and camaraderie and acceptance she wishes they had given her (and all the kinds of care we find ourselves still wanting from others).
But how do we nurture this thing? Haven’t we been trying to do that all along? What about all that inner child work, etc. etc.? We still haven’t been able to show our bodies much compassion or know specifically how to support them so far, or we would be better, right?
Give Yourself What You Think You Want or Need from Others
The HOW of knowing just what we need is very straightforward. One very direct route was described to me in Katie’s teleclass called “The Power of Turn-Arounds:”
- Write down what you want from someone; write down specifically how you want that person to treat you. (I want her to listen patiently to me when I describe how I feel and how scared I become when I am sick. I want her to bring me chicken soup for lunch and ice cream for dessert, and drop her judgments about weight and nutrition.)
- Turn it around to yourself and write ‘your instructions’ down. (I want ME to patiently listen to me when I describe how I feel and how scared I become when I am sick. I want me to bring me chicken soup for lunch and ice cream for dessert, and to drop my judgments about weight and nutrition.)
- See it as your job to live the turn-arounds; the things that bother us in our lives are just getting our attention to help us find our own specific guidance to the areas where we somehow became blind to how to give ourselves for the happiest, best, and healthiest life possible (which also frees us to have the most to give to others and the planet).
- When resistance comes up to the idea of living the turn-arounds, write it down and do The Work on it to clear the way for those turn-arounds to live in you.
For example,:” I already listen patiently to my myself when I describe how I feel and how scared I become when I am sick!”
- Is it true?
- Can I absolutely know it’s true that I “listen patiently to myself when I am sick”?
- How do I react when I believe the thought, ‘I already listen patiently to myself…”? [I become defensive about what I’ve already tried, that keeps me from really honoring the turn-around and looking hard with eyes wide open for ways I haven’t yet done it to your own satisfaction.]
- Who would I be without that thought? I would notice that there ARE ways I’m not listening to myself, like the ways I felt I wasn’t listened to as a child. I would be more open to looking for specific ways I can better listen to me, I would be more compassionate for others who didn’t listen to me and be more open to turn-arounds next time.
Then find examples for the turn-arounds:
- I don’t really listen patiently to myself,
- I don’t really listen patiently to her (especially when I’m feeling bad and I’m screaming inside and wanting her to listen better to ME!),
- Others do listen patiently to me (as I go into a panic, believing all my thoughts about how bad things will get),
(And a facetious example of how I do already listen patiently to myself: I completely believe my own doom and gloom thinking–rather than turning it around and finding other ways to see it.)
Treat Your Body the Way You Want Others to Treat You
The second part of showing yourself how to support your body like a child would be to list how you find yourself wanting others to treat you, and do the same for your body:
I want her to treat all my efforts with respect and stop implying that I am somehow creating my own pain and illness. I want ME to treat my body with respect and stop implying that it is creating my pain and illness.
Treat Others the Way You Want to Be Treated
Finally, when you have been doing this for a while, on days when you feel good—or even when you don’t feel good but feel you have done what you need to care for yourself—you can often feed your soul and bring yourself body-sustaining JOY by turning both of these around to the other:
- Look for what you want from someone, and find a way to give it to THEM instead.
- Look for how you are wanting someone to treat you, and focus on treating THEM that way instead.
Whenever you find resistance to the idea of a turn-around (i.e., why should I bring food to him—he never brings food to me!) then do The Work on the resistance. The turn-arounds are for YOUR happiness, peace, and health—not anyone else’s—so clearing your resistance and letting yourself live your own prescription is the fast-track to feeling good!