That’s a photo of my dear friend Mary Cade and me (and her adorable daughter) that was taken last fall.
We got together on a beautiful spring day last week (but were so wrapped up in catching up I forgot to snap a pic).
If you’ve been a long-time ezine reader, you may remember that last fall, she and her husband, Gawain, were embarking on journey of extraordinary healing after Gawain received news that he had a recurrence of cancer.
Many of you, in fact, were part of a crowdsourcing campaign that raised over $50,000 to help support his alternative and complementary treatments!
Last week Gawain shared that he is feeling the best – the most healthy and vital – he’s felt in 5 years!
And yet he is still not seeing test results that would reflect the complete cure we are all envisioning for him.
So how do we keep the vision of him enjoying MANY more years of health and vitality in the face of some unwanted (and pretty sh*tty!) news??
Have you ever felt totally at a loss when faced with some pretty sh*tty news? What about when a family member or a friend gets some?
I still remember the surgeon coming out after operating on my mom and telling her family she had found cancerous lymph nodes. We all knew what that meant: her breast cancer had spread, and she was facing a much bigger fight for her health than we had hoped. At that moment I felt the worst I had ever felt in my whole life.
It took a lot of mental discipline to focus on what I did want (for my mom to be healthy and happy) and not on what I didn’t want (which seemed to be staring me in the face), but I discovered that it IS possible to make that shift. And I discovered that it makes ALL the difference.
I really believe you can sit with some pretty sh*tty circumstances – and still focus on what’s going well in your life and on what you really want.
I remember taking care of terminally ill kids when I was a nursing student.
On the second day of my 2-week rotation, I burst into tears and cried to my nursing instructor, “How do you do this work?? It’s just so horrible to face these tragedies every day!!”
And she said, “You just do it. Because you can help. Because that is enough.”
It soon struck me that if I could be fully present and focus on what would bring some lightness to the room (a simple Cat’s Cradle from string was always a big hit), I could say that I helped.
When I could get a sick child to smile and laugh, I helped.
More than anything else, though, I remember how a parent’s face would light up when I asked for stories of the child when she was well – and then projected a time in the future when she would be doing all the things she loved again.
There was tremendous grace, and yes, healing, in those moments, and they confirmed something that I have always believed: we can’t help anyone by focusing solely on their sorrows and limitations.
Of course, I have great compassion for anyone who is suffering, and I’ll always try to soothe such people first by letting them know I understand their pain.
But then, as soon as I can, I let them know I also see their best and shining selves coming out of this experience.
As it turns out, research supports this approach.
A research study at Case Western Reserve University has documented reactions in the human brain that show positive visioning is much more likely to have a positive effect than an interaction in which a “helper” focuses on a problem the subject is having.
That makes sense, doesn’t it? We intuitively know we feel better when we interact with people who show compassion for us AND who inspire us to overcome our challenges.
The bottom line? Focusing on a person’s desired personal vision, even if the person is in crisis, will turn on the parts of the brain that are associated with openness – to solutions, to help – and better functioning.
On the other hand, when people choose to focus on what isn’t going well, it actually closes down future, sustainable change, and stirs the sort of emotions that lead a person to turn away from help. Consider that the next time you focus on the crisis rather than the solution!
So, yes, when you are struggling with some sh*tty circumstances, it can feel like one more bit of unwanted news could tip you into overwhelm and despair, but as long as you’ve got enough presence of mind to recognize where you are are on the Emotional Guidance Scale (see inset photo) – and to point yourself toward better emotional states – you can focus your thoughts forward.
By stringing together better-feeling thoughts you’ll return to a powerful place and find a solution that works for you. And THEN you can enjoy all the joy and vitality that is available to you at all times.
Of course, what’s essential in this process is that you keep a steady reading of your emotional state.
Download a copy of the Emotional Guidance Scale and then set a timer (like an alarm on your phone) for every waking hour so that you can be aware of your “vibrational meter” and if you are at a “low frequency” you can choose thoughts that create a better feeling.
Don’t forget how important body language is in all of this, too. I wrote about this topic a couple of weeks ago.
In case you missed it, here’s the most salient part: Acting the way you want to feel is a science-based shortcut to feeling happy and more powerful.
No, really. Wherever you are right now, stand up. Put your hands on your hips and your feet hips-width apart and tilt your chin slightly upward. (For an added effect, hold a pen between your teeth – but not with your lips, because that does the opposite of what you’re after.) See how you feel.
Strike this pose whenever you get some unwanted new or before any potentially challenging interaction, and see how it changes things for you.
Keep doing this pose, and soon you’ll see for yourself: If you change how you direct your thoughts and how you use your body, you will change your mindset and how you feel about your life. And you WILL become happier and more powerful as a result.
Even if the best you can do with your emotions is render them “vibrationally neutral” (that is, somewhere between “contentment” and “boredom” – “acceptance,” maybe) – so that even if you can’t lean emotionally toward the things you want, you can stop yourself from reacting negatively to the things you don’t want, you will still make it easier for you to find positive solutions that will work for you.
In other words, it’s not your job to figure out the “how, where, when, who” – it’s your job to know what you want and to know how you want to feel. And once you know that, you can trust that the Universe knows in detail everything that will please you and is yielding it to you.
Trust that it is coming…it is ABSOLUTELY is coming.
You cannot be clear in your desire and not have the Universe line up circumstances and events to achieve it. You just have to relax and let it come and trust that you’ll know it when you see it.
THAT is the vision I’m holding for YOU!!
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