I am guilty of a most false assumption: “Everything in my life will go smoothly since I am on a spiritual journey.”
Isn’t that cute?
What a rude awakening to find out that I’m not always going to get my way from that God that I have always loved and tried to please!
My first clue into this was the drive from Missouri to Florida right after being married. My new husband and I were enjoying the scenery, albeit a little lost. My husband pulled into a gas station to ask for directions (yeah, I got a winner) while I waited in the car. Out of nowhere, I was suddenly filled with jealous thoughts: “What if he finds someone in there more attractive than me? What if he finds her more interesting? What if? What if? What if?!”
I was never jealous with previous boyfriends–not once. My attitude was, “Hey, if you want to date someone else, go right ahead. I don’t need to waste my time.” These thoughts that surfaced during our honeymoon trek came as a disarming and alien surprise.
At the time, I didn’t know what to do with jealousy, and was quite embarrassed and overwhelmed by the emotions. I tried to hide what I was feeling, but didn’t do so well. Fortunately, my husband was kind enough to talk me through my feelings.
…Which would have been great if all I needed to do was talk! I felt better in the moment, but those feelings were only a taste of what was to come. I had a whole slew of faulty childhood beliefs that were surfacing to be healed. This was what my spiritual journey was to be for several years: Clearing false beliefs from my childhood–not just jealousy, but a series of dysfunctional attitudes and concepts about relationships overall.
What the heck? I wanted to be married and live happily ever after! I wanted to ride off into the sunset, live on the beach, and be eternally wise and wonderful! That emotional work was getting in my way of my FUN! How dare it!
I eventually learned that this is the spiritual process, and healing needs showed up in all areas of life: my relationships, career endeavors, and how I perceived myself. Even those who wouldn’t consider themselves on the spiritual journey have issues that arise to be healed. This clearing of false beliefs, shedding light on what is real and true (until the next round of clearing!) is what this journey is about! It is simply part of our journey as humans moving into Something Greater.
How disappointing, I have thought–at first and many times since then! Yet, how necessary to be able to move forward unimpeded by my fears and false assumptions. How much stronger my intuition became because of my willingness to do the work. What better life choices I have made because of my willingness to let go of my lesser ideas of “fun” and short-sighted ways of doing things.
The spiritual journey is about clearing away our personal ideas of what is real, valid and important; and open to our intuitive nature that knows what is better for us. Our Higher Self waits for us to loose our little wills and cooperate with the bigger picture that can only be perceived when we tap into it! And we can’t tap into it while we hold fears and wrong ideas about whatever situation is at hand.
The spiritual journey takes diligence, willingness, and spunk. What are you willing to let go of so you can grow?
Two years ago, I had the privilege of participating in a three part web radio series on Jane Elizabeth Hart's powerful processing tool, Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions, with Jane Elizabeth and my awesome husband, Gregory Barrette.
Since it is a time of transitioning from one year into the next, I wanted to re-post these audios on the Seven Steps. Releasing the old year is an essential part of making room for a new year of experiences and spiritual growth!
The first interview in the series, called "How to Move into the New Year Empowered", was with author and spiritual teacher Jane Elizabeth. Click here to listen. For more information on her formula for moving through changes, Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions, and empowering yourself for the new year, click here. While you are there, check out the free spiritual resources available at Center For Enlightenment.
"Every problem in life is here to support your soul's evolution. Unless you have a challenge, you will never know your capabilities. Your problems are not awful. They are the most wonderful tools designed to push you forward!"
My interview was next: "The Gift of the Seven Steps." Listen to the recorded show here: Mentors of New Thought Radio. Below is the description of the program:
"My work with clients is to help pull out the patterns and help make the unconscious conscious," says therapist and spiritual counselor Lynn Barrette, LCSW. "Or, as leading psychiatrist Dr. Dan Siegel says in his book, Mindsight, “In order for us to become aware of the feelings inside us—to consciously attend to and understand them—we need to link these subcortically created emotional states to our [higher thinking] cortex.” Or, in spiritual terms, making the unconscious conscious! In order for us to heal the buried emotions and the beliefs that are sustaining them, we need to become aware of our hidden patterns that keep us stuck.
"Jane Elizabeth's Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions is the greatest, most thorough processing tool I have found to uncover and heal unconscious patterns, for myself as well as my clients."
The final show in the series was with Gregory Barrette. Greg spoke about leaving the old year behind and "Making a New Start" in the new year. Here's what he says about this powerful tool: "The Seven Steps method is the single most effective way I know to forgive and release old, past issues and experiences... to fully let go of all that has happened in the past year and open up to a new experience in 201." Listen to to Greg's interview here.
However you use the Seven Steps process, it will help catapult you into new spiritual understanding in many different situations in life. Try it out, and let me know how it works for you!
REVAMPED RULES FOR RESOLUTIONS
So we made it to 2013 after all! Maybe you put off your New Year’s resolutions until now so let’s take this time to look at a few rules for your New Year resolutions.
First take out any resolution that begins with "I want a better …" We all want to enjoy where we are no matter what, and if we don't like something, we think we have to jump to something else. So many desires building on each other keep us from listening within to what our soul is trying to tell us. Perhaps we are supposed to stay and learn something from our current job, relationship, house, car, and so forth. How will we know what we are truly supposed to do when we are somewhere already making our exit plan?
Try the good ole standby Serenity Prayer instead: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Now that is a beautiful resolution for 2013!
Next, add meditation to your daily self-care routine. Are you tired of hearing about the importance of meditation? Increasingly, meditation is shown to reduce stress, physical and mental illnesses, and
even increase successful decision-making in daily life. Commit to making the centeredness of your soul as important as the care of your physical body! Ten minutes a day will change you at depth.
Now commit to learning to observe yourself. Hold one part of yourself in a listening and watching position within you, while the other part of you is in "doing" mode. You will be amazed at what you
learn about yourself and how much easier it is to make changes when you discover something you don’t like so well about your own motives. This helps us to be more in tune with our intuition as well,
and who doesn’t want that for their new year?
Finally, resolve to forgive – any time, anywhere, for any reason. Do it just once, and you will discover how much lighter you feel, how much happier you can be! It’s worth the regular maintenance, but
even if you forgive two out of three times, you’ll be lighter when the time comes to release this year and prepare for 2014.
Service to others adds a nice extra credit touch to your list of resolutions. It allows you to share all the good vibes that lift you when you do all of the above actions. There is nothing more fulfilling than
supporting our own soul. Then we have much, much more to give to others.
For 2013, resolve to evolve!
Now that we are in full swing of the Lenten season, what have you released for this time? Are you spending your energy staying away from chocolate or sugar? Or have you decided to release something that will make even more of a difference to your Soul? Even if you have no investment in the traditional Lenten season, how about ditching guilt and resentment towards yourself for a while?
It is so much easier to forgive other people, isn’t it? I mean, we don’t have to live with those people (not the easy ones to forgive, anyway), so why should we hold a grudge against them? But our own selves? We have to see our own thinking and behavior every single day! That starts building up after a while. And if we find out we have been wrong? Watch out! We pull that guilt hammer out and start hitting ourselves with it so quickly!
How do we release these regrets and resentments directed at oursleves?
First of all, find out what you need to forgive about yourself. Acknowledge it, understand it, label it. This helps us have something more concrete to release rather than it being an abstract, generalized ideal. For example, seeing times when I have been impatient with others over time is much easier to forgive than trying to forgive myself for being a “bad person” over all. “Bad person” doesn’t teach me anything, nor does it give me new choices for my behavior. Impatience, on the other hand, I can grasp, and it has the alternative of being patient.
Secondly, speaking of patience, be patient as you transition from the old behavior that you are releasing to the new behavior. You might have heard the saying, “A habit wasn’t created over night,” meaning that it won’t be changed overnight either. You have acknowledged, understood and labeled your behavior, now let yourself practice the new behavior, with a gentle and wide learning curve.
Finally, during this transition, add energy to the positive choices you make, and quickly pass by the times you fall into the old behaviors. Yes, see that you missed your desired mark, but move on quickly! Don’t let that old hammer have time to resume its flagellating! Take time to feel gratitude toward yourself for your new behavior.
Forgiveness is not just about stating that we are suddenly just peachy about ourselves. It is about making changes, with compassion, and moving into a new way of being with ourselves. Enjoy your chocolate, and give up the guilt!
Love. Fun, sweet, nurturing, enlivening, and…good for the brain.
Good for the brain? How romantic is that?
Recent studies on the brain have uncovered the importance of relationships in brain development, maintenance and repair. Did you know that our brains are designed to intuit another person’s mental state of being? When we are in relationship with another person, we are attuned to something beyond our own thinking, receptive to something greater than just ourselves. This builds our sense of compassion, patience, balance and focus—and the fibers of the brain that are responsible for these qualities.
It is not always easy though, is it? The early dopamine rush of a new relationship doesn’t challenge the complex integrative fibers of the brain much! Everything seems easy and wonderful! It’s the stick-to-itiveness that is required as a relationship progresses that gives our brains the workout it needs to thrive!
Developing patience to tolerate quirky (but not abusive!) behaviors, taking time to listen to another, being able to put yourself in another’s shoes and understand their perspective, finding the balance between taking care of yourself and caring for another—all this (and more!) is necessary for a healthy relationship. It takes a great deal of work on ourselves to be able to relate with someone in a balanced and compassionate way, but it is worth the time and effort to heal, grow and bond with—and because of—another.
Forgiveness, presence of mind, self-awareness, releasing expectations, embracing new ideas, blending with another. These are tools for multiple purposes: spiritual and personal growth, emotional intelligence, building relationships and supporting the brain!
As you celebrate February with the ones you love, remember that as you love, you are exercising your brain as well as your heart and soul! I wouldn’t say “No pain, no gain,” but conscious effort is definitely part of the workout!
The holiday season is upon us, and for all the joy the holiday brings, for some of us it is the time when we gather with people we probably shouldn’t be around. Alas, blood is sometimes thicker than one’s mental health.
Most likely, you know your family members pretty well. You know who is going to get drunk and embarrassing, who will get nasty, who will be emotional and demanding, and who will be enjoyable to be around. Chances are, they haven’t changed all that much since last year!
So, why not proactively enter the holidays with an attitude of forgiveness and resiliency? We are here to evolve into more conscious, responsible individuals. Often, mental health issues arise when we resist what is happening around us and our equilibrium gets out of whack. It is restored as we embrace and adjust to life situations, knowing when to be accepting of others’ less-evolved personalities, and when to get the heck out of their way. A difficult discipline, and a soul-strengthening one!
Having a new experience of the holiday season requires us to examine past decisions and expectations, learn from them, and move on. Uncle Delbert the Drunk will not likely have changed, unless he has successfully gone through treatment. Bringing our old ways of thinking into a situation where we want change can lead to depression: Not clearing the air of our own inefficient and undesirable beliefs and patterns, but expecting new results!
A powerful forgiveness and resilience tool is Jane Elizabeth Hart’s Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions. Hart created this method for releasing old patterns, beliefs and other life situations, based on her personal experiences of change, loss and spiritual growth. Each of the Seven Steps deals with an aspect of the situation at hand. For holidays, she suggests working with the family system as a whole (rather than each person individually) through each step. Journaling is suggested, tissues should be on hand, and laughter at some point is a must. (See the journaling questions on the table next to the Fellowship door, or visit http://www.cfenlightenment.org.)
Step one is 'Gratitude and Acceptance’ and deals with all that we are grateful for in regards to our family gatherings and members thereof. Write down all the aspects of these events that you are grateful for. What joy have these situations brought to you? Don’t worry if you can’t think of anything; simply return to it when you can.
Step two looks at the ‘Good Times.’ Think of specific situations in the past that have been enjoyable for you at these family gatherings. There might be something that keeps bringing you back for more. Again, skip it if you need to.
Step three allows us to look at our ‘Hopes and Dreams.’ What do you hope will happen? What have you dreamt that these gatherings would be like? Who do you hope you don’t have to see when you’re there? Who do you hope will behave differently? Who have you wanted to get to know, but never have approached? Get those thoughts from swimming around in your head, creating unnecessary stress! It doesn’t mean that these hopes and wishes will necessarily come true; this is to help you let them go.
Step four deals with those ‘Disappointments and Difficulties.’ Ah, yes, the confrontations, the embarrassments, the arguments, the losses—everything. Can you see why you have dreaded these events? Can you see any unresolved issues within yourself that are surfacing to be healed?
The most important step is the fifth step: ‘Forgiveness.’ This is how we heal. Who or what circumstance is the hardest to forgive? Why? What does it mean for you if you don’t forgive? What does it mean for you if you do? If we can find it in ourselves to forgive obnoxious behavior, we can handle it much better when it greets us with a wet kiss. We are not condoning unacceptable behavior—dealing with that is a whole other article—I’m talking about the annoying and the petty. Forgiveness requires a certain leap of faith—whatever ours may be—into a space of allowing another to be what they choose to be without it throwing us off-center. Forgiveness pulls us out of the mindset that someone can ruin our day by not meeting our expectations, and puts us into a space of compassion and non-resistance toward less-conscious behavior in others (and ourselves!). It’s tough, but if we are willing, it could just save our holiday.
Finally, we ‘Release’ all these in the sixth step, and affirm our ‘Completion’ with the process in step seven. I like having a ritual for my completion process, sometimes burning my journaling notes, or using Hart’s Seven Step meditation.
The most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves; and when we are okay with ourselves, we can be open to better possibilities. If you get stuck on a situation that has happened in your family, be sure to seek professional help.
No matter what has happened in the past, every new year—every day!—opens new doors for us. Our job is to prepare our minds and hearts for those opportunities to come forth, not so Delbert the Drunk will change, but so we can. Happy holidays!
Spring cleaning is not just for Spring or your house! Here are five tools for your inner housecleaning that you can use daily, as needed, and enjoy the fresh air that peace of mind brings!
1. Meditate. For five minutes a day (at a consistent time and location), observe the thoughts that go through your mind. Don’t push them away, judge them, or feel ashamed; just notice what they are saying to you and let them pass.
2. Journal. Write about the time during the day when you felt frustrated, hurt, sad or angry. What were you feeling and thinking? Get to know your reactions and look for a pattern in them. Writing about your feelings can help you understand when to back off, and when to stand up for yourself.
3. Forgive. Jane Hart’s Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions is an excellent forgiveness method. Unforgiveness balls you up in body, mind and expression; while forgiveness frees you to experience more overall joy.
4. Use difficult people to learn about your hidden issues. Take that guy at the office that grinds you like fingers down a chalkboard. Get your journal and list all the qualities and behaviors about him that bug you. Ask yourself who this person represents to you. You can learn a lot about what is blocking you from your potential by embracing those you find difficult to be around. Forgive them even if you don’t know what it is that you don’t like. The health benefits of this action alone will be worth your effort.
5. Trust yourself above all others. There is no teacher, master, therapist, guru, or life coach out there who is any good unless they are telling you to listen to your own inner promptings. As you watch your own thinking and journal out your feelings, you will begin to understand more about who you are. This is a wonderful and scary thing! Trust that your inner wisdom will reveal itself and support you as you work to resolve fear and false beliefs.
Lynn Barrette, LCSW Blending psychology with spirituality, I offer tools for forgiveness, acceptance, meditation and relaxation, and positive parenting solutions.