Monday, May 25, 2015

Drama Queen Abdicates!

Drama Queen Abdicates!

Back in the dark ages I was churned up most of the time. For example, I thought I liked drama. I was so shut down emotionally that I couldn’t feel my normal feelings. It was only when things went to big that I could really feel anything. So I made a lot of drama. Misery is good for that. Crises are good for that. Rage and shame are good for that. On the other hand, I wanted peaceful desperately.

Why would I choose peaceful? How could I choose peaceful? What makes me choose to feel my feelings?

Back then when I thought about someone being at peace, I thought of a saffron-robed monk sitting alone on the top of a mountain with his eyes closed to the world. Boring! My grandfather was reported to have said during a conversation about yogis who lived in caves, “Anyone can feel peaceful living in a cave. I’d like to see them pull it off out in the real world.”

Well, Grandfather, I would like you to know that it is not only possible, I’m doing it.

Choosing to feel peaceful rather than going to all the cranked up choices we have takes some dedication. We are deluged every day with opportunities to go to drama, from the news media to contending with traffic, from daily frustrations to the big stuff that can come into our lives. We are encouraged to go to drama by watching people misbehave in movies, on TV, in the stores we visit to run our errands, in our families of origin. We come to believe that yielding to anger is normal, that freaking out in a crisis is normal, that little blow-ups are par for this course. Oh, yes, we do.

What makes me allow my life to unfold? How do I stay relaxed? What makes me calm?

I had to practice many times every day to unchoose this mislearned love of drama. I could recite my litany of ills and wrongs, of pain and stressors, of betrayals and losses big and small, and would. I would run them through my head rehearsing how awful my life was, and then use all that bolstered up misery to justify a whole lot of bad behavior from incessant complaining to drugs and alcohol, to rage attacks with yelling and, oh, so much drama. Letting off steam, I called it, never mindful of the fact that I had made all that steam myself.

As I unchose drama, I had to pay attention to my thoughts. I had to notice when I started to run my litany of suffering. And then I had to choose to stop it. It took some practice to start running a list of gratitude instead. It took some practice to start to notice how full of blessings and wonders my life is. It took practice to stop comparing my life to the lives of others who seemed like they had it better, or easier, or softer. Each moment of noticing, each moment of choosing to look at the good in my life, brought me closer to being able to choose peaceful.

As I unchose drama, I began to make better decisions. I chose calmer people to be around. I chose people who wanted to be happy and peaceful, and I even found people who were happy and peaceful. I watched them. I learned from them. I began a meditation practice, granted it was ten seconds at a time to start, but I started. I worked through old traumas, let go of old hurts, practiced allowing my life to unfold as perfect in this moment. I let harbored resentment sail away, I forgave. Every moment of practice was worth it.

How have I changed from loving drama to embracing serenity and peace?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2015 all rights reserved 05252015

Saturday, May 23, 2015



Back in the day I felt pretty inconsequential. Invisible in certain circumstances, even. I mentioned that to some friends at lunch one day, that I could go invisible. They naturally pooh-poohed the idea, so invisible I went. I stayed that way for about 20 minutes and the look on their faces when I “reappeared” was priceless. It was a skill I learned to avoid abuse. I have met a number of people who know how to do this. It’s usually a response to abuse. I don’t know if I can still do it.

For many years, and a lot of bad stuff, I felt wrong. On some level, I believed that my adults were right and that abusing me was their privilege. I had to learn to roll with it, so to speak. I learned to forget and forget I forgot. I learned to disassociate, and, depending on how bad it was, I could get out of my body several layers. I believed that everyone lived in fear like me. And I believed that I was fundamentally bad and wrong.

Why am I right? What makes me trust my instincts?  How do I know I am good?

I felt perpetually guilty, ashamed, terrified, helpless, and, oddly, put upon. I was mostly really depressed and spent a lot of time wishing that I had never been born.

As I chose to grow up, I started to lose that sense of being bad and wrong. I began to find a feeling of being right deep inside, and with it, I started to understand consequences.

My poor adults didn’t understand that they had choices. They were ensconced in misery, feeling desperate and helpless and took it out on those who were weaker. Poor little adults.

The more I worked through my feelings of resentment and fear, of rage and guilt and shame, the more compassion I found for my abusive adults. And the less I felt abused. The more I cleaned out my toxic feelings and thoughts, the easier it was to forgive. I began to understand that “victim” was a choice.

I began to see that I made a difference in the world just by being. I began to understand that my words were heard, my actions seen, my energy responded to by all sorts of people. I could see that I had an impact and I started to experience some wonderful consequences.

I began to understand that I was not bad and wrong, I was right. I could see that while my poor abusive adults seemed to think that they were right, many of them also felt bad and wrong. It’s so challenging to make changes when we feel like we are bad people who make bad decisions. This is a good time to get outside help.

When I feel right I feel peaceful and relaxed. I feel open to new ideas and open to the diversity of our opinions. I am clear on the notion that neither you nor I are our behavior. I can model for you ways of behaving that yield better consequences. By telling my story, what it was like, and how I changed it, I can often inspire you to try new ways to think, new beliefs that are supportive of the lives we want to live. In other words, I don’t need to proselytize or lecture or try to pound my ideas into you. I can, instead, create a safe space for you to find your way, as I have found mine. When I feel right, I can understand that what works for me may not work for you, and trust that you will choose to take care of yourself in your best ways. I can choose to believe in the power of your good heart.

How have I changed from living in negative consequences to enjoying the positive consequences of feeling right?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2015 all rights reserved 05232015

Friday, May 15, 2015

It Isn't Really That Way at All

It Isn’t Really That Way at All

I was recently reading about a man who hasn’t eaten or drunk anything in decades. Doctors and scientists studied him for weeks, even to the point of sealing the toilet in his suite. There are others like him, and there is a spiritual movement called Breathariansim. Oh, yeah. Somehow, these people are able to sustain a high quality of health through their breath alone.

I am not a breatharian. I do find the idea intriguing because it reminds me that the world that I live in isn’t what I think it is.

That’s a hefty thought.

My world is cobbled together by my thoughts, my beliefs, my filters, my habits, and the people I choose to be around. It’s just so much personal convention, and at the bottom of it is “I don’t know.”

How amazingly liberating is that, “I don’t know.”

Why can I choose? What makes me happy? How am I spiritual?

When I remember that I don’t know, there is suddenly room for miracles, mystical experiences, life-expanding occurrences, delightful surprises, and all manner of wonders to be had. All I have to do is get out of my own way.

In my qigong practice, we have six rules. The first three are don’t intellectualize, don’t worry, enjoy! The next three are relax, relax, relax. Now, I am a philosopher by temperament and training so intellectualizing is what I am inclined to do. When I remember to think of it as play, some interesting things happen. My thoughts become more fluid, and I don’t need to take them as Truths.

I used to be a championship worrier. I fretted over my stuff, your stuff, and if we were somehow stuff-free, I would fret over the state of the world. My current favorite POV on this is that worry is like praying for negative stuff. If I am putting energy into thinking rotten thoughts, I am not putting it into living a joyful and purposeful life. Unchoosing worry and fretting was a challenge; it took a ton of practice, but every moment I spent turning my thoughts away from it was worth it. I notice much more quickly when I see stuff that triggers worry in me. I look at the thought; is this something I can do something about right now? Usually not. Is this something I can do something about later? If so, put it on the list, if not, strike it. And start thinking neutral or positive thoughts. This is not Pollyannaism, pretending things are fine when they are not, this is about my well-being. Worry and fretting are physically damaging to my body, and since I live here, it’s good to take some care. There is a big difference between fretting and considering options and solutions.

The whole concept of “I can’t do X, this is just how I am” falls into this category, too.

I enjoy myself when I feel on purpose, aligned with my relatively new, supportive beliefs. I enjoy myself when I am in the present with awareness. If I choose to believe that every moment is perfect for where I am, if I look for the gift, the silver lining, the lesson, it is alway satisfying.

These attitudes are the foundation of my spiritual life, the universal urge we have to find connection, purpose, and meaning in our lives.

How have I changed from feeling adrift and lost to feeling spiritual purpose and joy in my life?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2015 all rights reserved 05152015

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Inalienable rights granted to us by our Higher Power. How many of us live our lives like that? How many of us consider what those things mean? How many of us plod through our days, vaguely dissatisfied, suffering, and imprisoned in our own minds?

Life. This right isn’t about simply existing, it’s about being alive, experiencing our lives fully in each moment to the best of our ability. Using our senses to see, hear, smell, taste, feel, and consider the moment. This moment is it. It’s always just this moment. Will we squander it by dwelling in the past, or fretting about the future? Will we waste it by judging it to be wanting in some way? How would your life be if you considered each moment perfect for where you are right now?

How do I feel when I feel alive? Why can I feel alive? What makes me enjoy living?

Liberty. What if liberty weren’t just about free speech and freedom to practice the religion of my choice, freedom to live where I want, freedom to vote, and so many other things we hear about, but rather, what if liberty were freedom from noxious beliefs, unsupportive habits, self-loathing, mistrust, isolation, suffering, and so on. What if that is what we are meant to be pursuing? What if supportive habits and beliefs, self-love and care, trust, connection, joy, and bliss were available to us all? How freeing! How much energy we would have to live our lives in ways that matter deeply to us, not from a sense of obligation or duty, but from joy and connection!

How am I free? What makes me feel liberated? How am I untethered?

Happiness. As a kid, I thought this was about houses and cars and prestige jobs. I knew artists and musicians and writers who were living their passions,  but none of them was happy. Most of the ones I knew drank too much, were angry and resentful and felt like the world owed them something. I know, nice crowd! What if that happiness were just waiting inside for us to stumble upon it? What if happiness were something that we got by being present in the moment, by liberating ourselves from limiting thoughts and behaviors, and was simply there, inside us, just for the taking?

Why am I happy? How could I be happy? What makes me own my bliss?

Who am I surrounded by? Do I seek out others who want to live their natural lives of satisfaction and peace? Or do I hang out with grumps who find treasure and complain that it’s heavy, or who pour their energy and attention into pain and misery, judging everyone as lacking, or better than they are?

I have sat on my porch, in blissful peace, surrounded by the birdies, the plants, the fresh air, my beloved friends, but I have also found peaceful joy in the hospital with tubes coming out of mentionable and unmentionable places, with life-changing circumstances and physical discomfort. My happiness is not dependent on outside stuff anymore. I appreciate the outside stuff, but that’s not where my bliss is. It has taken daily practice. And even more important that practice, I had to admit that I was wrong about the world, about my life, about you. I had to choose Life, Liberty, and Happiness. Are you ready?

How have I changed from feeling dead, trapped, and miserable to enjoying my gloriously free and happy life?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2015 all rights reserved 05132015

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Deciding to Choose

Deciding to Choose

I got my favorite card today, “Why can I choose?” This is where the action is, this is where change starts, this is the beginning of the life I want.

Why can I choose? How do I know I decide? What makes me notice my choices?

It is also something that we tend to deny.

What’s that you say? Why would I deny my choices?

Each of us has a huge pile of beliefs. We believe them We trust in them. We forget that they are beliefs and act as if they are just the way the world is. We have beliefs about ourselves and everyone else. We have beliefs about aging, beliefs about success, beliefs about limits, about nature, about food and art and music and joy.

So much of what we believe we took on as little kids. And a lot of it is just plain wrong. We mislearn based on watching our grown-ups do stuff. We mislearn based on listening or observing with baby-minds. We often forget the experiences that led us to our beliefs, and so we take them as fact. Or truth. And then we end up in trouble.

Drama is a good one. We get the idea that giant feelings are normal. Rage, grief, fear, resentment; we have the idea that holding onto these feelings is the way to go, and we let them build until we are yelling or weeping without end, saying horrible things to each other, hold onto perceived wrongs that others have done to us, or feel guilty for decades about things we did that we think are wrong.

Poor little we.

Taking things personally, feeling better than or less than, hiding our gifts, suffering, controlling, and looking for the worst are more examples of mislearning.

As we start to practice choice, we begin to be aware of our thoughts, and then aware of our beliefs. Recognizing that I believe X to be true means that I can look at that belief and see if it supports me. Recognizing that a belief is an idea, and not a law of nature, means that I can erase it, or rewrite it, or tweak it in a way that will make my life easier, freeing up my energy for things that matter to me.

Sometimes I need to take action to change a belief that harms me. Sometimes I need to delve into my past and complete an experience, one where I shut down before I got to the end. There are a lot of ways to do that. Find the ones that suit you best and clean up your emotional basement.

One of my friends refers to making these kinds of changes as using our want-power. For most of us, will-power just doesn’t work. We end up feeling weak and like we have failed. When we choose what we want, and then remember that we want it, we can unchoose behaviors or thoughts that get in the way of that desire. That’s easy.

How have I changed from believing my beliefs to knowing that I choose?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2015 all rights reserved 05112015