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Declare Your Intention

Posted June 28, 2014

Declaration and flag


You have to give credit to America's Founding Fathers: The guys knew how to set an intention.

Having studied spiritual laws as long as I have, I now approach Fourth of July celebrations with great admiration for the brave early Americans who looked beyond their current circumstances to hold a vision of freedom.

Their Declaration of Independence in 1776 was a spectacular statement of intention, supported by a set of affirmations.

Let's look at it today in that context. I think this iconic document illustrates what to do -- and not do -- when you want to transform your life.

The Congress declared Americans were going to “assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them.”

An intention is a clear promise of what you're going to do.

“We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions…”

(That means: We're right, and God knows it!)

“… do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown…”

So there!

Of course, they knew declaring freedom for the 13 colonies would be considered treason, and they were very likely to hang as traitors if they weren't killed in war.

But that would be up to God, they said. They would hang together. So they ended the document by stating:

“And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor. “

Whew, now that's setting an intention!

When you have no idea how things might turn out…

When there's no evidence this will work…

When you could lose your life – or life as you know it …

And you don't know how the good can possibly come about…

It takes great faith to declare your intention for a better life and cut all ties to the old one!

They were practicing spiritual law.

An intention pinpoints your destination. Affirmations keep you focused on truth along the way.

The affirmations that sustained the Fathers?

  • All men are created equal.
  • They are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights.
  • Among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

They said these truths were self-evident, which is another name for universal principles.

The Declaration of Independence is a beautiful document at the beginning and the end, but unfortunately the middle is a long list of bitter grievances that cast Americans as the downtrodden victims of King George.

Thomas Jefferson, the primary author, was writing for a global audience and for history, so he felt obliged to chronicle the case against England. But I cringe as the declaration builds in righteous indignation about the king's mistreatment and “absolute tyranny over these states.”

“He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. … Our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.”

Ah, justified anger. Shifting into positive consciousness is so hard when you know you are right and someone else is wrong, wrong, wrong!

We can't stand it anymore!

We've suffered enough!

We won't let ourselves be treated this way!

We're outta here!

Jefferson was more eloquent, but this is the balancing act of any intention. Are you spurred by what you don't want, which only invites more conflict, or are you envisioning what you do want?

What we focus on expands. Focusing on good and bad equally, you might get what you want, but only after a long and difficult fight.

That's what happened in the American Revolution.

The Furious Fathers renounced what they did not want – King George has no power over us! – then they had to stay focused through six more years of war to manifest what they did want.

That was “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” as they later expressed it in the U.S. Constitution.

Our lesson, I believe, is that when we set an intention, we don't have to explain or defend it. In fact, it's better not to enumerate all the reasons we want change.

Release the obsession with the unwanted. Turn the other cheek. Look in a different direction.

The Greek word for heaven means “expansion.” We create heaven on earth as we expand our consciousness, expand our experience, expand our understanding and expand our faith in spiritual laws.

They are laws that apply to all of us. Equally. They allow us to live, be free and pursue happiness.

Got thoughts? Leave a comment below!

   

My Doubts, Your Doubts

Posted June 21, 2014

girl wrapped in monster of self-doubt


I spent last weekend at a fabulous conference for creative people and reconfirmed my belief that we all exhibit our craziness in the same way:

We all have the same self-doubts.

This might be the most important thing I have learned in the past decade or more. We all have the same self-doubts.

It's a voice within that whispers or shouts its warnings:

  • You can't do this.
  • You're not qualified.
  • You don't have enough experience.
  • There's not enough time.
  • There's not enough money.
  • Your too old/too young.
  • You're just Not Good Enough.

Then it starts to taunt:

  • Who do you think you are?
  • You're getting too big for your britches.
  • What if you succeed? Your life will be turned upside-down!
  • Nobody wants to read/see/hear this stuff.
  • It's already been done.

My self-doubts have made me miserable most of my life. My mistake was not only to believe what the voice was saying, but to think my doubts were unique.

I truly believed everyone else was blazing through life like a comet, living according to life's purpose and leaving the world a better place. While I wrestled my demons, alone and ashamed.

Hogwash. Everyone is wrestling demons. Everyone hears the voice.

(Okay, I've known a handful of people who don't have that critical voice putting them down all the time. If you're one of them, you may stop reading now and get on with your carefree life.)

The problem occurs not because we hear the voice, not even because we believe the voice, but because we obey the voice.

How many times have you stopped yourself from writing, painting, singing, dancing? Or at least letting anyone see it?

How many business ideas have you set aside?

How many adventures, parties and flings have you declined?

How many times have you wanted to do something, kept saying you were going to do it, really intended to do it … but just kinda kept putting it off?

It's fear. Just fear.

Showing up in different disguises: too busy, too late, too difficult, too … too … whatever. Fear always gives you a reason not to take action today. Do you obey?

Now, before you condemn it, remember fear kept your line of ancestors alive long enough to produce you. They weren't eaten by tigers, didn't fall off cliffs, weren't trampled by horses or hit by cars, so they continued to survive and create the next generation. They were careful.

But the well-earned quotient of caution embedded in your DNA may cause internal problems. The outside world is pretty safe now, and fear has little to do but gnaw at you from within.

Bless fear's heart, it is trying to protect you. It loves you. It doesn't want you hurt or rejected or disappointed. Ever. So it does everything in its power to stop you from taking a risk.

I have actually developed some compassion for the fear that babbles at me so incessantly. And I have found a little reassurance is often enough to soothe it.

Once I recognize the voice of fear – and that's the hard part, because its warnings sound so logical and well-informed – but once I know this is just a scared, protective little part of me and not a monster, I can talk to it like a child.

  • I know, honey, this is new and scary, but I'll be with you.
  • Thanks for reminding me of the statistics, but let's take a chance.
  • I know others have failed, but WE haven't tried yet.

Sometimes I add details that are specific to the situation:

  • We're trying to help other people, remember?
  • We'll have friends there.
  • The food will be good!

Whatever it takes.

Reassurance is so much easier than fighting against the doubts or condemning them as harmful or stupid. I know; I've tried that way, too.

Crippling self-doubt is easier to see in other people, of course.

Haven't you known someone you considered to be fabulously talented, bright and interesting, then listened to them tell you all the reasons why they couldn't pursue their dreams? Because they weren't good enough?

It's laughable and sad.

Well, you might sound just as ludicrous to others every time you explain, very seriously, that you are too busy, or your children are too little, or you don't have the education you need, or the network you need, or the technical savvy, etc. etc. to do what you really want to do.

See? We are all in this together.

I have one other thought, and it's a new idea for me, so I'm not sure it's right, but I'll throw it out there. (Ooh, hear the doubt?) Here it is:

Maybe we don't feel adequate because we are not completely here.

I keep hearing that only part of the soul incarnates. The real Self is larger and more magnificent than could ever be expressed through a human body.

So maybe at some level, we know we are incomplete as humans. We don't feel whole because there truly is so much more of who we are, and we miss it.

But we always have access to that grander part, the Higher Self. It can give us whatever we ask in the moment.

Your divine self is the fearless, creative, evolving part of you that is prompting your desires to be more and do more. The pipsqueak voice of fear cannot overcome it without your permission.

Which of them are you going to listen to?

I'd love to know how you handle self-doubt. Write in the comment section below.


PS -- Some good books about overcoming self-doubt and fear:

The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer – Compares the inner critic to a crazy roommate yammering at you all the time. Kick him out!

Fearless Living by Rhonda Britten – Her personal story alone is worth the read.

Big Fat Lies Women Tell Themselves by Amy Ahlers – I expect men have a lot of the same doubts.

Get It Done by Sam Bennett – Especially when fear shows up as procrastination. Samantha is the one who finally convinced me we all have the same self-doubts!

   

Getting Out of the Hallway

Posted June 19, 2014

double doors opening to the sky


Welcome back to the hallway!

Last week, I wrote about what to do when you are going through a period of change and uncertainty, whether from death, illness, divorce, job changes or myriad other reasons.

When one door closes, another one opens, but it can be hell in hallway. Last week was about making the most of hell. (That blog is here.)

Now let's turn to the next door. How do you leave the dark hallway and walk into the light?

Funnily enough, not everyone wants out of the hallway. It can become pretty comfortable.

Some people enjoy playing the victim and soaking up sympathy. Others feel guilty for moving on. Some become so identified with their story that they don't know who they are without it. Anger and blame might keep them juiced.

So first, make sure there's not some payoff for staying in the hallway. If considerable time has passed and you're still rehashing what happened, you might be a little too comfortable there.

The door you are seeking will open first in consciousness. This is a bit hard to describe, but it's a shift in mind and heart before anything changes in the physical world.

One day, you will start looking forward instead of back. One day, you will notice your anger or fear has dissipated. One day, you will think of yourself as strong instead of defeated.

Thoughts have to change first, because thoughts have creative power. What we focus on shows up in our lives. That's how we attract love, money, jobs, or anything we want.

Or imagine the universe is reflecting our thoughts to us. Not every passing whim, and not always the conscious thoughts. But our deepest, truest desires.

Unless you're a practiced mystic, I would suggest you ask for help. Human and divine help.

Divine help is always available, whether you imagine it's coming from God, Jesus, Sophia, angels, spirit guides, your Higher Self, your soul, your inner wisdom or inner voice. The universe is biased in your favor.

Asking for human help is a little tricky because it often comes with others' opinions about how you should leave the hallway. Start dating again! Send out more resumes! Everybody might have suggestions and a timetable for you.

But assuming you have friends, mentors, coaches or spiritual leaders you can trust, ask for help as you create the next phase of your life. Let them help you envision the possibilities.

Then, finally, take action. Notice this was not the first step in the hallway.

I have talked to people who look back and laugh (now!) at the ways they tried to escape the hallway too soon. They were so uncomfortable, they jumped at the first job, person or idea that came along.

One woman, whose husband had died just weeks earlier, moved her elderly parents into the house with her. Mistake! So she put the folks into an assisted living facility, then immediately went online to start dating. More mistakes!

If you can, let some of these spiritual changes foment before you take action.

Let's say you are looking forward, focusing on what you want next in life, asking for help and have been taking every action you can think of.

What if it doesn't work?

One woman asked me, “What if I try to follow my bliss, and my bliss doesn't want me?”

If your time in the hallway seems to be dragging out, you can reboot or reframe.

Reboot means to reconsider what you're really asking for, to dive deeply into your true desires.

I knew a man who had lost his job in corporate communications and for months, he sought another job in corporate communications. Interviews, networking, no luck. He only became more discouraged.

Until he made the deep dive within and found his true desire to be an actor. Once he was clear on his desires, doors flew open for him.

So often, too often, we are simply off base about what we think we want and who we think we are (or are required to be).

Imagine:

  • What if you could do anything you want?
  • What if money were no object?
  • What would be your perfect day?
  • What would satisfy your inner longings?
  • How do you want to feel?

Your deepest desires point to your purpose, and they promise what is available to you.

Reframe means to think differently about whatever is happening. Fear, negativity and a sense of lack may creep in when the hallway lasts a long time. And you know what that attracts!

But look at it differently:


What if all the pieces are being moved into place for you?

What if this waiting period brings your greatest growth?

What could you do with this time that is meaningful or creative?

A favorite prayer: How can I see this differently?

I know it's easy for me to say your time in the hallway is for your highest good. You might want to hit me!

But let me stand in faith when you cannot. Let me know for you that, as painful as life might be right now, you are being offered gifts you could not have received any other way.

I will hold for you that the most difficult times in your life will also prove to be the most transformative, in ways you intended all along. You are becoming more loving, more compassionate, more connected and more in touch with your deepest Self, which is exactly why you booked this excursion to Earth.

And I know for you that, with perfect timing, you will reach out to open the next door and walk into the light.

Thoughts, musings, comments?

   

What to Do in the Hallway

Posted June 7, 2014


My friend looked at me across the restaurant table and said, “I'm in the hallway! What do I do?”

I'm supposed to be the expert, ya know. When one door closes, another one opens, but it can be hell in the hallway.

I've been talking for years about what to do when you're in the hallway and how to get out.

As if it were easy! I so wish I could give you 10 Easy Steps Through the Hallway or Forty Days to Open the Next Door.

You might be in the hallway because of an illness or death, a job loss or retirement, a divorce or breakup, or caring for someone whose disability, whether physical, mental or emotional, might never get better.

I believe the spiritual work of the hallway is pretty much the same for everyone, in any circumstance. But I don't want to trivialize your individual process by claiming, Just do this and you'll be free!

What I can tell you is what has worked for me and others who found themselves facing life-altering change and experiencing long periods of uncertainty.

The first act of the hallway is simply to ACCEPT what has come to pass. Hm, I'm in the hallway.

Of course, some people immediately beat themselves up for being there.

Why didn't I see this coming?

I should have been more careful!

I made such dumb decisions.

Others feel completely victimized. Why me? Why now?

Feel whatever you feel. Angry, sad, betrayed, embarrassed. Even wallow in self-pity. Your feelings are valid.

But may I suggest a better question than How could this happen? or Why me? Or even, How did I create this?

Ask: Where is the good?

Or make it a prayer: Show me the good.

That might not be your first response, but after you have settled down, recognized you're in a hallway and started to breathe again, it's time to ask: Where is the good?

Consider this could be happening for you instead of to you.

Don't be surprised if you're also asking, Where is God? or even shaking your fist at heaven. Again, feel whatever you feel. (God can take it.)

This might lead you to SURRENDER.

Acceptance and surrender are different. Acceptance is acknowledging where you are and that life is changing, whether you want it to or not. Surrender is opening to whatever an experience has to offer and whatever it brings.

I'm amazed at the number of people who have told me their moment of surrender came when they had literally collapsed onto the floor in tears. Apparently a lot of divine energy lurks down there on the floor.

Surrender might not be pretty, but you will recognize it by the feeling of peace.

This also might be a good time to FORGIVE.

Nearly every hallway has a villain – the boss who fired you, the doctor who misdiagnosed the problem, the spouse who walked out.

Regardless of what put you in the hallway, scan the story for people you might forgive. Sometimes it's a whole group – a corporation, a political party, the judicial system.

And nearly always, forgiveness has to include yourself.

Why forgive? Because holding onto anger and pain will keep you stuck in the hallway. And you don't want to drag any baggage through the next door.

Here again, I wish I could offer 10 Easy Steps to Forgiveness or some written exercise that dissolves resentment. But you know what works for you. If you don't, teachers and books on forgiveness abound. In my experience, the willingness to forgive is often enough.

Many who have survived the hallway say the most powerful action they took was to PRAY. They prayed for themselves, they prayed for others, and others prayed for them.

One man who came out of an eight-week coma said he had sensed the prayers for him even while unconscious. They felt, he said, as if bottle-nosed dolphins were nudging him up toward the surface of the water.

Accept, surrender, forgive, pray. These are not steps per se; the spiritual work of the hallway is not linear. It all happens at once, and it stretches and contracts over time.

Think of it as a spiral. You might surrender or forgive today, then have to do it all over again later!

Remember, each time you repeat a piece of this work, you have not relapsed. You are encountering old problems from a higher level of consciousness.

Remember, too – oh, this can be so difficult to see – you are a VOLUNTEER in the hallway.

Now, hear me: You might not have caused it or asked for it with your conscious mind. But at some level, you – your soul? your Higher Self? –must have agreed to it.

How do you know? Because this hallway is bringing you life-changing work to do and lessons to learn. It also is bringing gifts you could not have received any other way.

This experience might be a crucial part of your life's purpose.

I don't believe we came to earth in human form to put up our feet and relax. We asked to come because we could grow spiritually here.

Trust that there are no victims, only volunteers. And see whether that notion opens your eyes – at least some of the time – to the good around you.

Now, how do you get OUT of the hallway? That is next week's blog.

PS – Every time I speak or write about the hallway, someone says, “This oughta be a book.” It is. It will be. The manuscript is done, and the book proposal for Hell in the Hallway, Light at the Door is making the rounds of publishers now. (I'm in the hallway with this book!) Stay tuned.

   




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