The Gumbo

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

Hello good folks. We learned a while ago that how we feel generally comes from our thinking. For example, if we’re having fearful thoughts, it would be normal for the body to feel afraid. The body is trying to get our attention, in fact, so that we’ll stop and take a look at what’s going on in the mind. Most of our thinking is actually invisible, with the voice in the head being just the tip of the iceberg. So a big part of what I do with clients is to help them learn how to relax into a feeling in the body, knowing they are not the feeling itself; those feelings are always temporary, so they’re actually the one safely watching it. And then we try to see what kind of thinking is making up that particular feeling.

A good analogy for looking at the thoughts underneath our feelings is to view it all as a soup or a gumbo, with several different ingredients. So we learn to relax, get out of the way, and look to see what the ingredients are. When we see the ingredients, we can deal with them – one at a time. We can usually see a major cause for how we’re feeling right away, but something cool happens when we slow down and talk it through. After a few minutes, something else might pop in, something we hadn’t seen before. And we can see how that would contribute to the feeling as well. And then several minutes later, another ingredient might pop in that we hadn’t seen. And we can see how that would make the feeling even stronger.

This is exactly what happened with the client that felt like she had a thousand problems in her life, when she really had exactly three. She looked at the feeling and got curious about why it was there. What was her body was telling her? When she got out of the way and asked this question, she saw that there were three ingredients to the gumbo. So she did the good old Attach-Deal-Detach method for handling things, dealing with one at a time, and the feeling shifted, leaving her feeling much better.

To me, the coolest part of this is how more ingredients that we hadn’t seen before can just pop into our heads. That is huge! And why does this happen? It happens because we chill out on our obsessive thinking and we slooowww down. When we do this, not only does the body relax, but space is created in our head so that our wisdom can just give us the answer. Because it already knows. Read that again… It might help to be in an office with someone like me, because our relaxed conversation style mimics how our wisdom thinks, which is not in a rush. And it actually gets somewhere! The chatterbox, meanwhile, talks a million miles an hour and doesn’t really get anywhere. And our body just contracts more and more as a result. Not good… So when we relax and slow down, it’s actually much faster in the long run. And as each ingredient come into our awareness, we can deal with it. They are now conscious, whereas before they were not.

Also note that sometimes nothing can be done with whatever is bothering us (at that time, anyway). We can still find more peace, though, because we see it and note that we’re in a holding pattern, so we can consciously let ourselves off the hook. It’s like the body is telling us there’s a problem that must be fixed, but there’s no action that can be taken to fix it. Maybe you’re awaiting the results of a test or a job interview. Your mind is in its old habit of freaking out, so the body freaks out. But then you see what’s going on and you remind yourself very firmly of the truth: there’s nothing that can be done right now, and I can only wait. So why not practice waiting in more and more peace? And the body will relax more and more. Isn’t this cool, people?? I sure think so…

So there we go folks, I invite you to get super curious about the ingredients of the gumbo when you’re feeling off, because there might be more going on than you had originally thought. And when you see the ingredients, you can handle them one at a time. And how you feel starts to make more and more sense; you’ll have a really good understanding of what’s going on. And the result, of course, is that you’ll feel better, faster. You’ll handle situations better. But when you don’t understand what’s going on, it can seem like there are a thousand things wrong when there are actually only three. And that doesn’t feel good. So here’s to wishing you all the best as you sort through the ingredients of your gumbo at any given moment. Also let’s note how appropriate it is that this post is called The Gumbo and was published on Fat Tuesday. That was not planned… So let’s send a big cheers to the folks that are finishing up their Mardi Gras celebrations today, from over here in Pensacola where I live all the way west to New Orleans. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

A Thousand Problems Or Just Three?

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

Howdy, folks! I went out of town for a while over the holidays, came back to a busy schedule, and then like six weeks passed. What happened?? Time flies, that’s for sure… But we have lots of good stuff to talk about here, so it’s time to get back in the swing. Also being busy for me is good, because I can help more people and continue to hone this craft. I sure do learn from my clients, too, like I’ve learned from the one we’ll talk about today. And always know that if I write about someone (always anonymously, of course), it means they were thrilled to have their story told. The reason is that if their story can help anyone else, even one other person, then it’s worth it to them. So here we go…

A client has been having some troubles at work lately, and it’s been disturbing her peace. And the situation has been lingering, so that “blah” feeling has gotten worse. When this happens, the sneaky chatterbox tends to start exaggerating – and it might even tell some lies. Well, that’s exactly what happened here. Before she knew it, she noticed thoughts in her head questioning her overall competence. And of course this has the effect of making her feel even worse. Then the voice in the head gets louder, we feel even worse, the voice gets louder, etc. It’s a feedback loop, and we’re learning to nail it early and thus avoid a bunch of unnecessary, self-inflicted pain.

And you know what? She really kicked ass in handling things exactly how she has learned! She told me, “I felt like there were a thousand problems I had to deal with. But when I checked in and really looked, there were just three. One can be handled in two hours and the other two will take more time.” Wow! That’s exactly how our wisdom or common sense would handle it – by sticking to the facts and seeing things more clearly. Because the feelings exaggerate, the feelings lie. So great job to her.

The next thing that popped into my head when I heard this was, “What’s the worst case scenario for the other two issues, the ones that will take a bit longer to get worked out?” So she thought about this, slowly and calmly of course, with as relaxed a body as possible (SO important!). After a few moments, she realized that the worst case for each was really not that bad. So her body and mind were able to let this stuff go, and she felt much better. Before this was all thought through, though, her body had been carrying the feeling of, “There are a thousand things wrong with my life, which really sucks. And oh yeah, I’m also incompetent.” Can you feel the difference, people??

I love this tale, because it’s sugh a classic example of how the chatterbox exaggerates and lies, while our wisdom is still always right there to tell the truth. And how our body will always faithfully feel whatever we’re believing in that moment. And how the feedback loop works – we feel bad, so the chatterbox gets louder, which makes us feel worse, which makes the chatterbox gets louder, etc. And we learn how to nail it early on. Had her body not told her, she would not have known to check and see what the mind was up to. So she took a look and saw that she was believing stuff that simply was not true. And it caused unnecessary pain. And when she saw this and asked what really was true, the feeling shifted. Bam! This is such cool stuff…

So be on the lookout for what the mind is up to, and make sure it’s telling the truth. And if not, it sure is nice to know that thoughts are just thoughts. You are the only one that hears them and you are the only one that can give them any power at all. It’s just that there’s been an unconscious habit of giving them power for so long that it appears they have their own power built in. Nope… For most people, it’s a gradual process of choosing in any moment to de-power these thoughts. You can even learn to look at them with amusement, too. And after a while of this, Future You won’t even believe how much Past You listened to that conditioned crap. This is pretty freeing, and you’ll feel more and more at peace with each passing year. Good stuff, and it feels good to be back. And I’ll have to work on my non-existent time management skills…