Prepared to Learn: Getting an Unexpected Lesson

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I recently attended the final Hay House I Can Do It conference in Ft. Lauderdale. I was amazed with all the speakers. I took tons of notes and listened to every detail that I could get to stick. I was surrounded by over 1,000 positive and loving people  in one room. The energy of the room lifted me up to amazing levels. I was in learning mode. I expected to get a lot from the speakers over this two-day event. Day One, I was overjoyed with all the powerful information and tools I was getting to take on my day. I was charged…

So, with all of that going on, how could I be attacked with such rage and anger? As my two friends and I were coming in from eating our awesome leftovers from Mellow Mushroom, I was excitedly engaged in a conversation about all the amazing information and inspiration. I had one eye in front of me and one focused on my friend. Our other friend was walking a few steps behind. All the sudden my foot hits a foot in front of me. Baffled and confused, I of course apologize to the usher I tripped on, but I had no idea how I had missed her. I was looking ahead. She instantly jumps into attack mode, got in my face, and started screaming at me at the top of her lungs. “Watch where you are going! Do you think you can just walk all over people?…” My friends and I were in total shock at this interaction. Fight-flight response took over. I went into feeling like a scared little girl being blamed for something I didn’t do and didn’t understand. My friend on the other hand went into fight mode, but luckily with all the great energy we had sucked in, knew it was best to talk to a supervisor and simply say, “Bless you!” Our other friend, who saw the whole thing, just kept repeating, “Do not engage, bless you, bless you, bless you.”

After we walked away,  I was told the woman had sped around me and was aimed at cutting around me but had to walk in my path to avoid the people sitting on the bench. The reason I never saw her is because she cut over into my walking space and I couldn’t catch her in my peripheral because my head was turned to the right. I was in such shock, my nerves were on edge. Every usher I passed made me feel like a scared little girl trying to avoid a dangerous stranger. I walked with complete tension and my heart wouldn’t stop pounding. I couldn’t understand how this could have happened here of all places. I needed this conference. I needed to be filled with the energy to get me out of the grief I’d been facing because of the recent passing of my “Gifted Mom”(my dad’s partner). I just had surgery on my face and needed to stop being so focused on that. How could this have happened here and now?  Haven’t I gone through enough in the last six weeks?

We went back to our seats, and I knew I wasn’t up for reporting the incident. I just needed to get myself out of the trauma and into a better head space so I could enjoy and absorb the rest of the event. I knew if I stayed where I was,  I wouldn’t get what I needed. So my friends went off to report the incident and I sat in silence.

Deep breaths and connect, deep breaths and connect. I know this happened for a reason, I started with a prayer: “Help me to figure out the reason for this lesson, so I can move on from it and stay connected to the energy of love and gratitude.” Deep breaths, deep breaths, I was so grateful I had just heard techniques to get me out of this. Davidji talked about the power of connection and mediation, “Connect to our guardian soul.” was one of the messages I wrote down. He also talked about the fight-flight response and what happens physically and emotionally to us when its happening. He quoted Pema Chodron, “The things you cling to make you unavailable to learn something new.” I knew I had to re-connect and get passed this. The situation with the usher happened after I just heard all this. My friends came back and told me the manager apologized and they would look into it. They were going to meet her again after the next break. My breathing steadied, but my adrenaline was still coming down and had a ways to go.

Kris Carr  was up next, somehow I knew I was going to get the answers I needed. She quoted Louise Hay who said, “It’s only a thought, and a thought can be changed.” My mantra, “Deep breaths, connect, deep breaths, connect.” Mastin Kipp followed Carr.  Kipp said, “Negative emotions are a call to awareness.” YES! YES! YES! My Aha moment arrived. One of my biggest challenges I’ve faced in my life is my connection to being blamed for something I didn’t do. It stemmed from when I was a little girl. This negative exchange took me right back to being that defenseless little girl. I have been dealing with this negative thought pattern for a long time. It had been so long since it was engaged, I buried it. When I was in high school, these thoughts made me suicidal. Luckily, or I should say I was protected because both times it happened I was in places where I could get help immediately. I needed to once again face this fear, but this time with fresh tools to get through it.  I once again was protected and in the perfect situation to get the help I needed.  I will tell you, nothing makes techniques stick better than applying them right away.

After the next break, we found out the woman thought that we were 19-20 year olds. I like to think I look young, but that is a little drastic. She didn’t see us at all. She was wrapped up in her own head feeling walked on by the younger generations. Her reaction had nothing at all to do with me. I knew that logically, but knowing she had no concept of the fact that we were all over double that age, I knew I was looking at a very hurt and wounded woman. I could see her with eyes of compassion and pray for her healing. I could also look at how far I had come from my younger self. I got exactly what I needed, which made me think of something Mastin Kipp said, “What’s the spiritual lesson in this?…This is happening for you, not to you.”

The rest of the day, I continued to get what I needed. Cheryl Richardson asked, “Are you willing to take your own heroes’ journey?” My reply, “YES!!” Gregg Braden was the final speaker. He showed us a technique to help the heart and the brain to work together. The coolest part is it was all based on science. Very interesting findings!! The event was over, I left better than I came and in a very short time, I grew.

How we look at things and deal with the people and events around us is so important. If we are responding negatively to our situation, we are putting that hurtful energy into ourselves then breathing it back into the world. We need to ask ourselves, is this what we want? Are we going to miss opportunities from being caught up in a fight-flight response? Are we getting caught up in negative thoughts that can change to more positive ones? What is my lesson? How can I be and do better to serve myself and humanity?

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

 

Embrace the Breakdown

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When I was 17, I struggled with severe depression.  I could send myself into a tailspin within seconds. It got so bad that I agreed to be admitted into a hospital to get help. I used to believe that it was only going to get worse, and that there was no hope in my future.  There was a period of time that I’m surprised I survived.

This was the time frame that I learned to embrace the breakdown. Like many others, I used to do anything I could to avoid the breakdown, but learning to embrace it made me see breakdowns as good things. I wasn’t going to hit an emotional bottom. I was going to break through a barrier that was holding me back.  It is empowering to be in charge and  head down a downward to have a break through. I say I’m getting ready for a  growth spurt. The bigger the spiral, the bigger the growth spurt.  Learning this skill did not keep me from experiencing dark times, but it helped me see that the dark times would pass as soon as I got what I was meant to get out of the situation. A lesson could take a day, month and sometimes longer. It really depended on how stubborn I was being and how tight I was holding on to the problem.

Growth spurts are what I call my emotional break throughs that lead me to better places. I  usually have something great happen after one of my breakdown to break through episodes. After I embrace the breakdown, which is feeling all the feelings that are going through me. Sometimes I am hit with a lot, all at once. Those are my category 4 hurricanes. Next, I look at the situation from other perspectives. I’m not going to lie, I had a great role model for this part. We lovingly refer to my mom as “Pollyanna”. She modeled the skill of looking at things from a much brighter and less sinister angle. I remember getting so annoyed when I wanted to stay in a bad mood. Eventually, I came around and realized it wasn’t that bad. It’s funny watching my kids’ reactions when I do it to them. The best part is, they have now started to keep me on track too when I slip. After that, I look at the lessons in what’s causing me stress, anxiety, and/or depression.

In my early thirties, I was introduced to the work of Byron Katie. A friend gave me a CD series called, Making Your Thoughts Work for You By Dr. Wayne Dyer and Byron Katie. I had already done a lot of work on this, but her methods are truly amazing and easy to use. There are tons of videos out there of her work. Her method is brilliant. She even has an easy to use worksheet on her website. Katie’s way of looking at a perspective is a tool I use on a regular basis when I get triggered by anybodies actions or words. For the parents out there it is a great tool and a great way of life to teach children. It gives us great tools to see our children clearly and teaches them to take personal responsibility, while not getting caught up in what my mom calls, “awful-izing”. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but just like anything else it plants a seed.  When they are ready, it will grow.

Another thing that works for me was suggested  by my first sponsor in AL-ANON. She said to stand on a chair and look at the room from a different angle, then do your daily routines in a different order. My favorite was to change the order I put my foot in my underwear. I had to literally put a note in my underwear drawer to remind me to get out of my head and make different choices. I’m in my head a lot! I am one of those people who have to do a lot of work to get out of my head. I love hiking off-trail to help me with that one. When I have to pay attention for sticks, snakes, and direction, my mind stays clear!

I have worked with a lot of people on the topic of personal growth and I can share a couple of observations about what has kept myself and others in the vicious spin cycle longer.

  1. We try to run away from it using people, places, or things. I have used the busy world of doing, relationships with my children, family, and friends to keep me distracted from looking at myself. I have seen others use excess alcohol and drugs. In my experience, it never works to solve problems. Create problems, YES! Solve problem, No! I learned that when I feel over emotional about something I avoid alcohol completely or keep it to one glass of red wine in a relaxing environment. The relaxing environment part is essential.
  2. There is something about the chaos that makes us feel comfortable. Here’s an example: I used to be in a relationship with a lot of yelling and name calling. I was always on edge. I never knew what was going to come next. The reason it was comfortable to me is because it was what I experienced as a child watching my parents’ relationship. There was a normalcy in it. It took a lot longer to break that pattern than it did others. I had to consciously study healthy relationships and surround myself with friends in healthy relationships.

I’m sure there are other reasons, but for me, these are the ones that always stand out.  Don’t be scared to feel everything that comes up. This can take time. This is not a quick fix. If it doesn’t work, go deeper. In the beginning for category 4 breakdowns it would take me a month or longer to get through it all, and some days were downright ugly. As I have practiced the skills and have learned to spot warning signs, I can tend to get through the process in about a day. But, not all the time. Around three years ago, one of my breakthroughs was from a failed relationship that was a carried pattern of many failed relationships. I had tried before to go deep, but it obviously wasn’t deep enough. I had to deal with childhood shame that was buried deep down. That took a lot of time and tears to get through. If there is shame involved, face it. If there is guilt involved, forgive yourself. If there is anxiety involved, get present. Anxiety comes from fears of future, and future in not predictable (at least for most of us). If there is anger, forgive them. Don’t forgive for the other person, forgiveness is personal. Repeat the mantra, “Breakdown to break through, breakdown to break through!” I will share my break through reading list soon.  First, I have to do some digging.

Most importantly, treat yourself kindly from a loving place. It has been said many times by many different people, “We are our worst critics.” We are all doing the best we can with the tools we have been given. You deserve love and compassion just as much as all the people around you.  Cry, scream, let it out! Stop running and embrace the breakdown.