Sometimes what keeps us from changing is a big bunch of nothin’ that we create in our minds. When we want to make a change that will open us to greater Soul contact, the ego knows it is about to be displaced, and fights (with false beliefs) for its existence more than ever!
Years ago, I was guided to enter graduate school to become a therapist. I was so excited by the new adventure! But once I started, the voice of guilt kicked in: “You are abandoning your children. You’re not doing that extra work around the house–shame on you! You are being selfish.” Over and again I would hear these words within myself. While this didn’t stop me from continuing with my studies, it did get in the way of feeling good about my decision.
Journaling about these feelings, forgiving myself for holding limited ideas of what a “perfect” mother and housekeeper is supposed to look like, and letting go of that former, limited idea of myself, helped me through this major life change, this transformation from the old me to a more expansive expression of my soul.
What is that false “voice of doom” saying to you that stops you from pushing through your transforming changes? Journal it, stand up to it, kick it out, and move forward!
Let’s break this down: How you ever found yourself in a transition that you chose? Have you ever found yourself in a transition that you didn’t choose?
Those can feel a lot harder, can’t they? Transitions we choose can sometimes feel exciting, empowering, refreshing. But if we didn’t choose it, it can feel like the rug got pulled out from under us. Those can also be the best spiritual lessons ever!
Chris Chenoweth, who has spoken here in the past and was the minister at Unity Village Chapel for years, called these kind of lessons “Blessons” because they were both blessings and lessons all in one topsy-turvy package.
I recently moved from an apartment to a house with my son, and it’s been a whole bunch of blessons left and right and it’s been a great time!
While I was packing, I somehow managed to pack all of my coffee filters two weeks before my move, or at least I thought I did. And let me tell you why this is a big deal. I’m the person who sets up the coffee the night before so all I have to do in the morning is push a button because when I mess around with ground coffee before my coffee, I end up making a mess all over the place. That’s the kind of morning person I am. I’m cheery and pleasant, just don’t ask me to make any major life decisions before at least half a cup of coffee.
I was packing and taping boxes together with a tape gun. You know those large tape dispensers that get the job done fast? I’m taping up boxes and somehow I pick up this tape dispenser by the sharp edge and poke a couple holes in my finger. So now I’m bleeding everywhere, and do you know what else I packed?
No, I hadn’t packed my Band-Aids because I hadn’t gotten to the bathroom yet. The things I barely use, like Band-aids, were right where I needed them in the moment; while the things I use every day, like coffee filters, were packed in a taped-up box somewhere. So, lucky me, right? The Universe was watching out for me that day, right?
Yes, so I bandage up my finger, not because it was a bad wound, but because I didn’t want to bleed all over everything as I was boxing things up. So I bandage my finger and I’m finishing boxing up the kitchen, and guess what I found? More coffee filters. Doh!
So why am I telling you all of this silly stuff? Because things can be topsy turvy in times of transitions! That’s part of the fun!
St. Francis advised his followers to“wear the world like a loose garment,” What he meant was that in order to be free, you need to be in the world without being attached to how it hangs on you.
Transitions, times of change, are those times when we are pushed to hang more loosely, loosen our grip on what we thought was solid ground, because there is no permanent solid ground in life! Things are always changing, and if one thing in your life isn’t changing now, just stick around–it will!
Wear the world like a loose garment. Jesus demonstrated being in the world but not of the world. That’s not so hard when it’s a simple move and we’re talking about coffee filters, but what about losing a job, or a loved one, or a minister, or a house in a hurricane?
I learned from my meditation teacher, Jane Elizabeth Hart, to manage change with grace and wisdom. She taught me about her “Seven Steps” process soon after I first met her 25 years ago, right before I got married because it was a big life transition, and the whole title of the original Seven Step process is “Seven Steps for Moving through Life Transitions.” That’s exactly what it’s for!
It came to her in a vision when her mom passed. She was grieving and didn’t know what to do. She saw these Seven Steps and the different facets of a grieving process: Gratitude, Good Times, Hopes and Dreams, Disappointments and Difficulties, Forgiveness, Release, and Completion. She knew she had to work those steps, too, so she journaled them and was able to move forward after losing that outer connection with her mother.
Over the many years or working with this process, for changes big and seemingly little, I learned that embracing any change is part of life, and it is possible to flow with it, even when you puncture yourself with a tape gun!
In my therapy practice, I share the “Seven Steps” all the time because it’s a great tool for working through all the emotions and confusion that come up during times of change. Doing this work does, indeed, make the crooked road straight! So I share it with everyone I possibly can, as often as I can!
Whenever we have something in our life that we have invested time and energy into, it becomes part of who we are; be it a relationship, a home, a car, a job, anything! When something becomes part of our identity, it’s a garment that we’re wearing. When it’s time to change, we need to take it off the old garment, appreciate all its aspects, then let it go, so we’re ready to put on the new and improved garment of the next scene in our play.
Anytime I’ve ever moved, I’ve taken the place I was moving from up those “Seven Steps” in order to release the attachment and emotion from the current situation so that I’m walking into my new circumstances as clear and open as I possibly can. Before I started packing my coffee filters prematurely, I took my condo up the “Seven Steps” to let it go and move forward.
Our road is clearer when we aren’t taking our emotions, positive and negative, into our new situation. But we have to do our part on that.
I don’t always quote the Bible in talks—I usually leave that to the professionals—but when I do, it’s because a quote or a story has stood out to me and meant something significant to me over the years.
One story that I both love and resist (and you’ll find out why shortly), is Jesus’ parable about the ten virgins:
The Parable of the Ten Virgins (NIV)
1“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9“ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Why do I resist that? Because it’s a great story about being prepared for the next step that’s coming, and that means work on my part, and I’m human, so I resist that! Isn’t there enough work to be done during a transition? Why would I put myself through more work?
Because, like the women in this parable, we have to be prepared for our next step. If we’re not clearing the way for that step to happen as seamlessly as possible, we could end up missing something very important—like making our transition much easier on ourselves!
What’s one thing we can be fairly certain of in times of transition? Uncertainty! We’re moving from one thing to the next, and we have only an imaginary idea of what’s coming, based on the little information that we have.
In times of transition there is so much going on already, why would we want our emotional baggage to interfere and put a hindrance there that isn’t necessary? Why do that to ourselves instead of doing what I call the “front-end maintenance” of the spiritual/emotional/mental work of releasing the old and preparing for the new?
Right now, think of a life transition that may be coming in the future, maybe a making job change, getting a new car, moving to a new home, perhaps someone in your life is preparing for a life transition that will take them out of your life somehow. What in your life needs releasing? What garment needs to be worn more loosely, or replaced altogether?
Use the “Seven Steps” or some other conscious, thorough release process to let it go so that you can walk forward free and clear. Then when you prematurely pack your coffee filters, it’s no big deal! You can adjust and keep moving forward!
Note: This is not a verbatim transcription of the talk. In preparing for a talk, one often prepares far more than needed, and remembers far less than desired. At least, that’s true for me. So this “article” is based on my rough notes before the talk, which is not exactly how the talk went. But, I’m a busy professional, so this is the least time-intensive thing I could post with the video. I hope you enjoy it!
Lynn Barrette, here, licensed clinical therapist and spiritual counselor, talkiing to you about how it takes a whole lot of “no”s to make a “YES”!
As we set up a goal, the first thing we do is have an idea for a goal. Perhaps we’d like a new job, behavior change, relationship, or life tranisition of any kind.
Next we define that goal: What it looks and feels like, what action steps are involved, and so forth.
Then the tricky part comes in: Keeping your focus on your goal, and aligning your actions and choices with that goal! That includes saying “no” to anything that doesn’t back up your goal.
Let’s take, for example, the goal of eating healthier foods. You say “Yes” to healthy foods, and “No” to all the tempting sweets and processed foods that aren’t going to fit your goal. Yes to greens, no to cookies. Yes to whole fruits, no to that third piece of bread; and so forth. Each time you say no, you are brining yourself back to your goal and strengthening your resolve and building confidence and assurance wtih it.
In this video, I give a personal example that I’ve been working on, that came to a wonderful fruition just this week. As I describe my process, as a side note I mention a journaling and release process called “Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions“, and promised to include the link, so simply click for a pdf download of the wonderful tool.
Through the process of saying “Yes” and “No” toward your goal, you define and refine your focus, then you know when your goal is achieved, that it is exactly what you are looking for. Be willing to say “Yes!” but don’t forget that your “No!” is just as valuable on your journey.
How do you hear your inner authority? How does your inside speak to you?
And most importantly, do you listen? Do you follow the inner promptings of your soul? Do you pay attention to what is going on on the inside of you, as much as you are paying attention to the outside?
Just like all the social media, politics, or cell phone games that you might keep track of, your inner Voice is speaking to you, wanting your attention. The wonderful difference is that your inner Authority will give you useful information!
Just like our streets have limits and guidelines to keep us safe and on track on our automobile journeys, so too does our inner world have its needs, guidelines, instruction that keep us safe and on track on our life journeys!
Two years ago, my dad had part of his esophagus removed due to a growth found at a doctor appointment. I detoured my family vacation to go help out after his surgery.
My inside was telling me that I felt afraid for him. What would happen? What could happen? What if he dies? All these worries went through my mind over and again, and I knew what I had to do. I took the “Seven Steps for Moving through Difficulties” journaling process by Jane Elizabeth Hart, and used it to write my way through my fears. Actually, I had to go through that Seven Step process twice because I didn’t get it all moved through the first time.
As I worked through my fears, I came to realize that his well-being had nothing to do with me or my desire for my dad. His wellness, his life, was between him and his soul; no one else. If he was going to live, awesome! If it was his time to pass on, then ultimately, that was for the best possible outcome for him and his soul awakening.
By the time I arrived at the hospital, my dad was walking around. I was able to be present, aware, mindful, faithful, and strong as I did what was in my power to do to help out. I didn’t drown in my fears, nor did my judgment get foggy because of my emotional attachments to him. I was able to use my love for him in the highest, most useful way possible. Plus, we had a great time laughing at all the food commercials that one doesn’t notice until sitting with someone who can’t take in solid food in that moment!
What if I hadn’t listened to what was going on with me? What if I tried to ignore the feelings that were there, and just tried to listen to my inner Voice? Knowing myself the way I do, I imagine my emotions and fears would have out-shouted my calm, subtle, inner guidance. I imagine I might not have been much help or moral support for anyone during that time. My fear energy might have stressed out everyone around me, especially my dad who was busy working on his visualizations and healing processes.
It was hard to release my dad, to let go of my attachment to him being around for a long time. It was scary. But, it would have been harder to move through that time in fear and despair. I did my “front-end maintenance”, a car term for keep your vehicle tuned up so you can avoid unnecessary problems. I am so glad he and I had that time together for his healing and our closeness.
What is your inside saying? Is it telling you that you have work to do, like I did with my dad? Is it giving you encouragement in a direction that you might not want to listen to? You don’t have to listen, but your life will be much simpler if you do.
Watch the video and learn a few ways to practice listening to your inside!
Let’s talk about how to forgive! In this video, I give you a few specific processes for how to work your forgiveness need, covering the steps from previous videos in this series: Acceptance, Compassion, Release.
I spent two weeks in July helping my dad and mom after my dad had major surgery. I felt grateful enough for being able to be there for them, but the experience of his light and courage topped the experience! My only real job was to cooperate with the bigger picture.
Before I arrived, I prepared myself for my dad to be incapacitated for the whole time I was there, with tubes coming out of him every which way. Indeed, he had a lot to overcome following his successful surgery! But by my second week there—two weeks after his surgery—he was home, walking around, looking and feeling better than he did before the procedure!
My dad’s courage, will, and perseverance shined through him, even on his frustrating days. He took every day in stride, joked with the medical staff, and displayed a positive, stoic determination that wouldn’t have allowed any other outcome!
My job was simple—stay above my own emotions. Fear had no place near him! Being human, of course I experienced it; but there was no space for that around him.
But he is a soul in evolution, and this was his call to make, not mine! I had to get myself out of the way; I had to be prepared for any possible outcome. I released him to his highest good, knowing that whatever the outcome, that was the most efficient route for his soul journey. The most peace I felt was when I was simply in the moment with him, loving and appreciating his soul with no expectations or demands.
There were ups and downs through the process: How much cancer was there? Did they get it all? (They did!) Irregular heartbeat. Infection. Difficulties eating, and so forth. Each time something new arose, I had to be steady and not lose myself in fear, sadness, or hopelessness. Each time I grabbed hold of a faith I didn’t know was there—not a faith in some god that would give me what I wanted. Rather, faith in his beautiful, wise Soul that knew what it was doing—no matter what!
By the time I left, my dad was laughing, eating, walking and enjoying his newfound health! His healing process will continue for a while, but what a great start to that journey!
Where else in my life can I trust the bigger picture rather than my own puny ideas of what should or should not take place? Where in your life can you trust the bigger picture? It is always there! Trust it. Look for it. Let go of your ideas of outcomes and embrace the plan that is in place for the highest good for all concerned. Cooperate with the process!
The question now is, “How do I support myself in that process?” It seems that there is always something coming up and pushing you buttons, doesn’t it? People or situations demanding that you get out of your comfort zone, reminding you of that other awful thing that happened, and so forth. What do you do with that? It can seem like those “button-pushers” stand in your way, but you can use them to stretch and grow from the inside out.
There are three levels of processing demands: Observe and Release, the Agitated Energy Process, and Journaling to Go Deeper.
Observe and Release
This first level includes those thoughts or situations that come up and are easily pushed out of our minds. The trick is to be aware of those things—to be conscious of the thoughts that are going through your mind at a given moment. Observing your thoughts helps you to release the ones you don’t need and act on the ones that you do.
For example, if you are working on releasing judgmental thoughts of yourself and others, you would need to be aware of when those judgments arose. Once you are aware of them, you simply notice and release them on the spot, rather than jumping into a conversation about them in your head. No need to chastise yourself nor analyze the thought; you know what it is, you noticed it, you let it go. End of story.
Agitated Energy Process
This next level of processing involves looking more closely at what’s coming up from inside you. I learned the “Agitated Energy Process” from my husband, which he had learned from his mentor at the time, the late psychiatrist Dr. Mary Allen. Over the years I have changed it just a little bit in order to make it more accessible to the people I meet in my practice.
Here is the revised process:
1. When you feel emotion in your body, or simply become aware of surfacing thoughts that you aren’t able to Observe and Release, ask yourself, “What is the emotion that I’m feeling?” Try not to think about the answer; just let it surface. Gently label the emotions that you’re feeling. Is it anger, frustration, sadness, fear, or some variation of these emotions?
2. Next, ask, “What story am I telling myself that’s causing me to feel this way?” Again, don’t think too hard about it, just let the story surface. What is the emotion telling you about the situation at hand?
Using the previous example, let’s say I have been doing very well at not judging myself or others—Observing and Releasing like a pro. After a few days, I notice that one person at home or at work who did that thing to me that I keep judging and cannot seem to stop myself. You know who I’m talking about. If I am NOT able to simply sweep it away, most likely it is causing me to feel agitated, which is how emotions show up in the body. That is my wonderful cue to go deeper! First, I label the emotion. Let’s say in this example it is anger. Then I ask myself, “What story I’m telling myself about the situation?” Let’s pretend that I am telling myself, “That person is trying to make me feel bad about myself, and I don’t like it!” Excellent! I allow that subjective observation to surface, without judgment.
3. The final step is to ask, “What is the new perception I could take that would be calming to me?” Here, I am giving myself the opportunity to look at the situation in a different way.
Let’s say the new perception that arises within me is, “I don’t know what is going on with that person, but my job is to be in charge of myself, what I am feeling and doing.” Then do a quick self check-in and see, “Do I feel calm now?” If so, then, I am done with this process. If not, then I can restart at the first question, and repeat the process until I feel at peace. This is a deceivingly effective on-the-spot processing tool since it doesn’t take an hour of journaling, and you can do it anywhere.
What if that process does not calm you? Then what? Ah, then it’s time to bring out the big guns, which I will address next time. In the meantime, pick one of these levels of processing and practice with it. You’ll be surprised at your mental and emotional clarity throughout the day. Let me know how it goes for you! I would love to hear about your experience!
Process journaling is a tool I often use—and support my clients in using—even though most of us (myself included!) don’t like taking the time to do it. And it does take time and effort! But so does brushing our teeth every day, but we (hopefully) find time to do that twice a day. Just as brushing teeth is an important part of our physical hygiene, journaling as part of our emotional, mental and spiritual hygiene just makes sense.
Journaling’s benefits include helping you to get out of your head (versus letting thoughts spin around in the hamster wheel of your mind); allowing you to better focus on the facts of a situation, versus the emotional content and potential projections by you or another; and helping you attune to your own intuition by letting out the clutter and listening for what remains.
Unless you’re excited about writing a little every day (and a rare one you are, if that’s true for you!), when is it a good time to journal? Besides “anytime” as the best answer, other times include when you:
• Have a question about what to do
• Have been triggered by a person or situation
• Had a dream that stood out to you
• Need help prioritizing your day
• Need to forgive
• Wand to understand a character trait/pattern in yourself
• Want to understand a character trait/pattern in someone else that drives you crazy (why?)
• Your mind is racing and you don’t know what to do
Building writing time into your schedule, making it a priority in your life, is a must for serious spiritual seekers wanting to learn more about who they are. Here are some tips for setting up a writing practice:
1. Have two journals: One for processing with pages you can tear out and burn, shred, recycle; one for recording your insight, understandings, intuitions.
2. Ask a question about the subject, and write your answer. For example:*
a. What emotions am I feeling?
b. Who or what pushed my buttons? Who was upsetting me today?
c. Does this always happen to me? Is this a pattern in my life?
d. When has this happened to me before?
e. If I was guided by my soul, rather than being run by my ego, how would I handle things differently?
3. Did you receive your answer? You may not right away. Set aside your journal for now. Resume tomorrow.
Whether you prefer using a phone app, keyboard, or good, old-fashioned pen and paper, writing down your insights each day is guaranteed to support your awakening. Taking time to write will help you assimilate new understandings, support the changes you want to make, and help you remove blocks to reaching your spiritual goals.
Soul growth is primarily about taking responsibility for your choices, past, present and future. Intuition is necessary to guide you through each moment, helping ensure your right new course of action.
Intellect can only go so far, since it pulls information and ideas mainly from past experiences—experiences that often hold false beliefs, faulty decisions, and unresolved issues. It’s hard to make clear decisions when you are seeing a situation through a clouded filter.
What is intuition then? It is the avenue for receiving answers from your Higher Self—that part of you that sees through the drama (yours and others’) of a situation. Intuition is a spiritual muscle that takes practice, time, and attention to build, clarify, and trust.
If you haven’t already practiced using your intuition, here are some ideas to being. If you regularly check in with your intuition, these ideas may help you go deeper, and strengthen your intuitive muscles.
Practice with the small stuff. Ask for guidance about insignificant matters daily. When you get your answer, go with it and see what happens!
Observe yourself, your thoughts, your emotions on a regular basis, throughout the day.
Millions of thoughts move through your mind each day. Some of them are true, but most of them are not. When you go through life unaware of these thoughts, you inevitably act on the false ones, reinforcing them. Observe your thinking and begin to discern the difference!
Also, there are times you can let an emotional response go, and be done with it. Other times, you have to watch an emotional or thought pattern for a while so you can understand it enough to let it go. Observing your inner self greatly aids this process.
MEDITATE! This is the best exercise for improving your intuition.
Meditation raises your vibration, allowing you to problem solve at a higher level. Meditation also gives you practice discerning the real versus unreal among the thoughts that whip around your mind all day.
Work with tools to go deeper:
Journaling. When in doubt, write it out. Your mind will turn an issue in circles a million times and still not let you have peace about it. As you journal emotional triggers, you will begin to see patterns in the triggers, which helps lead you to the core issue. Then the healing begins.
Forgiveness. No matter what, forgive. If you’re holding on to blame—toward yourself or others—your ability to move forward is greatly inhibited.
Detach from the result you think you want in a given situation. When you are follow an intuitive sense, just go with it. Which brings us to…
Trust the process! Your intuition is connected to Universal Wisdom. Trust your inner Self!