8 for ’08

I’m excerpting Judith Gayle’s ‘Big 8’ for 2008 here. Couldn’t have hoped to say it better myself.

Tell the truth: We seldom tell the truth; it hovers just above our conversations, just out of reach, but intruding into our awareness like a shadow we don’t want to recognize. Telling the truth takes some skill — first and most importantly, you need to tell it to yourself; then you need to make it sound like a suggestion rather than an attack. To pick the most mundane example I can think of, if somebody asks you, “Does this make my butt look big?” then your blunt assessment might benefit from a little diplomatic twist, such as, “You might want to find something more flattering.”

I had a family conversation during the holidays with someone who ranted on endlessly about border security and English as the official language of this country. The shadow truth that I recognized was that the person pontificating was suffering from an advanced case of xenophobia and a limited political view. I am more focused on the assault on the Constitution than on isolationism, and I find this kind of racist rhetoric limited and dangerous. In order to tell my own truth, I had to try to broaden the concerns of this person — connect the dots to a larger picture. I was only mildly successful — which brings me to the next category.

Read your audience: People are in the process of disenchanting themselves; some of them are standing in front of a crumbling wall of understanding, defending it to the death. They haven’t found the truth of it, and they won’t hear it until they’re ready. When you walk to the wall with someone, and see (hear) them flatten themselves against it, you can bet you’ve just gotten to the core issue of that personality, some internal fear or desire they probably don’t recognize. That means you have a broader understanding of them than they do, themselves — it also means you are obligated to behave compassionately (unless they’re holding a gun.) If you are to help them, not hinder, this is the time to gently reflect their resistance back to them — sometimes all you have to do is repeat what they’ve said in defense of their position. If they are even close to breaking down the wall, they will hear how hollow it is. Sometimes, that’s all you can do — and that takes us to the next category.

Listen to yourself: Before the advent of cell phones and Internet, a dear friend and I would tape long conversations to one another and send them via snail mail. I never sent one that I didn’t listen to first. I surprised myself every time with discoveries of my own personal walls, resistance, biases and fears. So, listen to yourself as if you were a disinterested stranger — monitor the voice that comes out of you as a “witness” rather than a participant that agrees or disagrees. By doing so, you will find the walls that YOU have flattened yourself up against. Once you find them, you can let them fall more easily –which brings us to another “must do.”

Buddy up: You need a process partner. This is a person whom you can trust, who has your good and your growth, in mind. This person will listen to your hopes and fears, reflect you back to yourself, tell you the truth and help you make sense of things. A process partner will not let you lie to them — or yourself — they will not commiserate with you when you snivel, or if they do it will be briefly and compassionately, and then they will remind you that self-pity defeats you. They will lift you into higher truth, and help you consider your options. In short, they won’t let you “get away with it.” If you have a true process partner, you are blessed — and if you do, and have the courage, ask them about your “shadow self.” They will be able to tell you where you give your power away, sabotage your own good and demean your potential.

Don’t panic: You probably have a familiarity with this, having survived the early years of this century, and may know by now that panic will only get you more of the same, aggravated by a series of knee-jerk responses that don’t help at all. Since you already know this, try something else. Breathe deeply, move to center yourself — assume your Que Sera attitude. Whatever has prompted this moment will work out one way or another, so don’t let your ego run this conversation with its list of “should’s” and “have to’s”. Determine your options by writing them down; call your Buddy and run them past him/her. Call in the Force; however understand that it’s waiting to cooperate with you. Repeat this mantra: I am the calm in the storm. Then trust that to be true.

Don’t try to make it happen: The more we push against something, the harder it resists. We “care” just a little too desperately, it constricts our energy — we can learn how to care about the important things without putting so much tension into it. Learn how to step around things in your way. The universe is creative and it comes to your side to help you when you learn to drop your guard and relax a bit. There is ease and flow available when you hit the right stride — when things happen effortlessly, you’ll know you’re in the zone. That’s the space you need to bookmark in your mind, and return to as often as possible.

Detach gently and with compassion: We have carried many people with us in these last years, taken on responsibility for the good of loved ones and friends. The time has come to free ourselves from these kinds of burdens. They don’t need that “old” us anymore — if they haven’t taken on responsibility for themselves by now, they’ve probably become dependent on us to do it for them. They have had opportunity to awaken in much the way that we have; it’s time to let them go on to their own journey.

One of the hardest things for a parent to accept is that their children are entitled to their own karmic lessons; it’s the same for those we carry along with us. If they are to grow, we must allow it to happen without stepping in each time to pick up the slack. If you are one of those who think you don’t have these folks in your life, a careful look will show even the subtle links that are sapping energy from you. This is not a process of abandonment — it is a rewriting of the emotional contract between one another. It will require conversation and a process of detachment, but it’s time for each of us to step into our own power.

Love with abandon: This one is both the easiest and the hardest. It’s effortless to perceive all that’s wrong with the world; it takes some consideration to notice what’s fabulous, remarkable, amazing and wonderful. All these things are happening around us every day but they look too small and temporary to grab our attention. Attend them — magnify them, appreciate them, encourage them, duplicate them. Replace the “what’s wrong” dialogues with “what’s right” often enough and you will have a shift in consciousness.

Let those who are dear to you know it. Meet new people and let them see a welcome in your eyes, smile at strangers, feed stray dogs, save whales, polar bears and wolves. Contribute to charities and become an activist for those who are disenfranchised and suffering, an activist for the integrity and commonwealth of your nation. Feel everything — EVERYTHING. Celebrate your human heart, because that is where the alchemy begins and ends. Most importantly of all, love without having to be loved back.

We have a remarkable year ahead, one fashioned in the cauldron of paradigm shift and welcoming us to the change of the Ages. We will meet challenges and suffer defeats. We will cry and laugh, we will lose some of what was and gain some of what will be. We will meet ourselves and wave hello. We will learn to live with purpose, examine our motives, and become more authentic. We will discover what’s really important, discard what isn’t and know the difference. We will love and be loved — and frankly, my dears, if we do all that, it will be a year to remember.

I certainly intend to give it a go.

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