It’s one thing to think and talk about human transformation and quite another to notice when it has actually happened. That was the case for me today when I, quite consciously, experienced myself not saying three things I used to, quite unconsciously, say all the time.
The law of attraction has taught me that despite anything I may have seen, heard, or been taught while I was growing up, there really is no such thing as luck. Indeed, as spiritual beings having human experiences, we trust that we are — on a soul level, anyway — always in the right place at the right time and that there are no accidents. So if there’s something in my experience that makes no logical sense and is most assuredly not something I particularly desire like, oh, a challenging relationship with a family member, I’ll chalk it up to karma — something set in motion a very long time ago — not to bad luck. On the other end of the spectrum are things that, with conscious intention, have been made manifest. For example, my not working for The Man and only doing my own work. Don’t tell me I’m lucky to be able to do my own thing when I’ve busted my balls very consciously, via the law of attraction, to create my own experience. Don’t even think it.
So when my friend was talking this morning about the day ahead today, loaded as it was with potential for a very high high or a rather low low, I didn’t oblige when he asked me to wish him good luck. “I hope it goes exactly the way you want it to — or better,” was what actually came out. And without getting ultra corny about it, it’s really a far more empowering statement to make. I really do genuinely hope it goes the way he wants it to go — or better. No doubt. And because he’s creating his reality and I have absolutely no say in the reality he is creating, all I can do is hope and/or wish and/or pray for him, stuff like that. If I had said, as requested, “good luck,” it would have been a meaningless throw-away. I’d basically be affirming that he doesn’t create his own reality and I’d be ignoring the idea that the law of attraction exists. But that’s just me.
“I have no choice.”
When I was a psychotherapy intern, I had a client who was mandated by the court to see me for a set number of sessions. At the first one, he was virtually non-responsive, though he did allow that he was there because he had no choice. I told him I didn’t see a gun pointed at his head and he said he had to come to my office and would sit through the appointed sessions so he could get “signed off.” Signed off? Now we were getting somewhere. I asked him what getting “signed off” meant and he said it meant he was going to be able to see his 10-year-old son again. He’d been in prison, he was on probation, and if he fulfilled this obligation he could see his son again on a regular basis. I asked what was important to him about that and he, begrudgingly at first, talked about the regrets he’d had. Now, he thought he had one more chance before his boy got any older to, essentially, do a much better job as a father. Bingo.
Our subsequent conversations built on this theme and by the time he was “signed off” he had, quite poignantly if you ask me, gotten in touch with a part of himself that was always there but to which he wasn’t quite connected. He was choosing to be able to redeem himself with society and, in particular, with his son. He was choosing to be responsible for his actions. He was choosing to be seen as a success in this way. He was choosing to be a good father. Having started with the idea that he had no choice, he ended his series of mandated sessions with a full understanding not only of all that he was, now consciously, choosing but with a highly expanded view of himself as a person and as a father. Most importantly, his choice to get “signed off” connected him with his values.
So when I was faced earlier today with choosing between crap and poop, I couldn’t even muster the thought, I have no choice because it’s patently untrue. When I chose the poop, it gave me the opportunity to shine a light just a little bit brighter on a value of mine, made me look more closely at it, consider it, and to feel good about it — and my Self. To have allowed that I had no choice would have been a complete abdication of the idea that we are to take responsibility for how we experience our lives. The moment we say we have no choice, we surrender responsibility and, thus, become disempowered victims. So there’s that.
As it says in the Talmud (commentary on Judaism’s Torah), we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are. How true is that?! We actually learned it in kindergarten playing “telephone” with a group of kids in a circle, right? The first person whispers something in the next person’s ear who then turns to the next and, ostensibly, repeats what the initiator said, it continues around to everyone in the circle until it returns to the first one. Virtually without fail, this is where they are shocked to learn how wildly divergent the message had become from what it was when it started. They taught us that it was a game, but I beg to differ: it’s just the way things are.
As a former psychotherapist and facilitator of all manner of personal growth private sessions, classes, clinics, and workshops, no four words scare me more than, “Remember when you said…?” As one who chooses his words rather deliberately, particularly when I’m working, it used to absolutely crush me if a private client or a participant in a class or workshop would walk away with a message that was actually very different if not diametrically opposed to anything I actually believe or would have said. But it happens. A lot. Like today.
I was having a scheduled, informal, friendly conversation with someone with whom I’d had a couple of formal Spiritual Workout sessions several weeks earlier. To cut to the chase, she had interpreted a few things very differently from how I meant them and it was good to have had the opportunity to clear the air. I also got to notice, with clarity, that my previous, knee-jerk temptations to say, “I’m sorry” for what I said (even though I wasn’t sorry at all) or to say, even, “I’m sorry you had that experience” no longer exist.
In the first instance, I know what I said, I know why I said it, I have consistently said the same thing to scores of different people over the course of more than two decades, and I would have considered it malpractice to have said anything else to this friend/client at that time. (I don’t always remember making the offending comment, but this time I did for sure.) That she heard something else is, really, all about her and doesn’t change the fact that I said precisely what I’d meant to say. Thus, apologizing for it would have undercut my Self and my work for no reason whatsoever. And in favor of what?
Had I said something akin to, well, “I’m sorry you had that experience,” it also would not have been true. No, I do not derive pleasure on any level from seeing someone suffer in any way. But to do anything that even hints of taking responsibility for another’s experience is to upend one of the foundations of conscious living: that we are each responsible for our experiences, we create them wittingly or unwittingly, and we cannot create in another’s experience. We owe each other our truth and forthrightness — that’s the least and the most I expect from you — and you can always count on it from me. What I see and what you see, what I hear and what you hear, well that’s all about us.