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“Your thoughts do not create your reality, but they do create your experience.” – Alan Cohen

This feels good to me. Brings me some ease.  But it also confuses me.  I have, for a long time now, believed that we DO create our reality through our thoughts. But here he’s saying that we don’t.  Alan has another quote that says, “Your thoughts do not create your reality. They either permit it or they do not.”

This puts an interesting twist on things.  It says to me that reality is busy marching along its way, passing by. That does make sense.  My tiny thoughts probably do not create the big reality around me.  It is, after all, affected by the thoughts of others in my life.  Surely what happens in my world has something to do with what goes on in government – locally and nationally. My work situation goes this way or that depending on the thoughts of others.  I can see that my reality is formed from the meshing of the thoughts of all of us, everywhere.

So … whew!  I don’t have to be responsible for creating everything that happens.  But I am certainly responsible for how willing I am to say yes to whatever passes by my door.  How I think about whatever approaches me is what creates my experience of it.  Do I see myself as empowered or as a victim?  That creates my reality far more than the situation that has come into my view.  Am I fighting against it, saying, no, thanks anyway, but take it back?  Doesn’t that decide whether I’m happy or miserable?  Or am I taking hold of what I find in my life, embracing what comes my way and looking for the sacred jewel shard in it all?

Part 2 of 2 – see below.  (This post is kind of meant to be read AFTER the previous post.)

I have written before about “The Wealthy Spirit,” a delightful book from Chellie Campbell.  In the book you will find an essay for each day of the year, along with a quote and an affirmation.  One of the essays is about the voices we hear in our heads.  Often these voices came from parents, teachers and other adults we were around as children. In one column Chellie lists the negative voices and another gives us positive words we can use to drown out the negative. Things like “Can’t you do anything right?” or “It’s for your own good,” can be replaced with more loving ones like “You can do anything you put your mind to” or “I appreciate you.”

One of my favorites is “Let’s create some fun together.”  I remember many times, as a child, when I was scheduled to go somewhere and at the last minute, I couldn’t.  Or when I asked if I could do something and was told that I couldn’t.  Children are not always soothed by the facts: “I’m sorry.  The car broke down and I can’t take you.”   “They cancelled the party.  There’s no place to go.”  These messages may not sink in, may not matter when your heart was set on it.  All you’re left with is a feeling of being deeply disappointed.

But what if someone said, “Maybe you can’t do that fun thing, but let’s you and I create some fun together”?  What a wonderful thing to do for a child! Offer him something fun to do.  What else might feel good right now?  Let’s accept the disappointment and move on. There are other enjoyable things in life. “We can sit down and draw or play a game together.  I’d say these are two of a child’s favorite things: playing and getting time and attention.

Play is a chunk of time to do something you really love to do.  For me, it would include creativity.  Doing art is how I like to play.   I emphasis doing because play entails some kind of activity.  While taking a bath might be thoroughly delightful and a healthy thing to do, it is not, strictly, “play.”  Playing might be taking a walk in the woods.  Better still, swimming.

Play is an amazingly healing thing.  But I think most of us don’t play enough.  Sure, there’s rest, but I’m talking about play.

One of the gifts of play is to use it when you’re otherwise disappointed by plans.  When plans change and you’re given a gift of time.  What are you going to do with it?  Sometimes that can be overwhelming.  Especially when you’re used to working all the time (see below).

Many times, when I find myself with unexpected time, I just don’t know what to do. Surely there must be something productive I can do with it.  That would be the thing to do, wouldn’t it?  Particularly since I’m always feeling behind. This could be a chance to catch up.  But then I find myself whining, “I doan wanna.  I want to do what I was planning to do!”

Wouldn’t it be great to use this disappointment to do something good for yourself? I try to keep a list of ways to play when I find free time. Play can be a perfect filler when your energy is cranked up anyway. Though I’ve not been very good at it (see the previous post), I think it’s important to figure out what would be fun for you.  Knowing this can really help a workaholic!

I happen to think that it’s a personal definition.  For some, going to a party is fun.  Not so much for me.  There are, of course, harmful ways to play.  But what I’m trying to get at here is just that one person’s play is another’s bore or turn off.

What a shame most of us didn’t have parents to model that for us.  Wouldn’t it have been great if we were taught how to make fun from disappointment?  Given tools for discovering what fun and play is for us?  What a great skill it would be to take with you into the world!

Now I am all for things that are productive AND play. Ultimately, isn’t that the idea?  To get to a place where everything is play. Cool, now I’m playing the Work game, digging my work, playing this part. Oh, now it’s time to play the Family/Loved Ones game!  Now I get to play with people I love.  How cool is that?  Next I’m going to be playing the Game of Caretaker, tending to needs.  Tomorrow I think I’ll play the Sports Game. . .

Life would feel a whole lot better if we played all the time.  What an amazing gift to give the art of re-setting to a child!  Easy to do, too. Just help them to find alternate plans. Create fun with them. Show them how good it can be when what you wanted or expected doesn’t show up!

Emotions have a habit of collecting other emotions; especially similar ones.  When you feel pain after stubbing your toe, you might start to wonder if someone is avoiding you. The next thing you know you’re aggravated at your printer!  It can go so far as to make you feel like you’re being sucked into a downward spiral.  A slight thought that someone did something wrong catches into feeling like they did it on purpose and before you know it, you’re boiling with anger!

When things are said to “escalate” that’s an example of the chain reaction. Emotions can be catching. There’s a well-used story of the guy who has a bad day at work, comes home and snaps at his wife, who is short with the child, who smacks the dog. One good deed, on the other hand, can cause someone to have a better day than usual, go home and do something helpful for a spouse, who gives the child some extra time. The child then feeds the dog, without being asked.

This chain reaction is what creates your life. You have a thought.  It generates a feeling or emotion, which spurs you to action.  You influence and create your world by the thoughts you have that put you into e-motion.

It’s important to watch for and pay attention to chain reactions of emotions, both in yourself and others. You may want to get out of the way if you don’t want to be affected by it.  For you will.

Like running into a moving car (or the swoop of a loved ones arms), chain reactions of emotions have Effect.  What kind of effect are you making with your thoughts?

Wonder is like curiosity.  It’s one of those things that everyone – as long as the brain is fairly normal – has the capacity to wonder or be curious.  Wherever you are, you need no tools. Whatever you’re doing, you don’t even need your hands.  It’s all right there, awaiting your call.

Susan Jeffers, in Embracing Uncertainty, talks about adopting an attitude of wonder.  It  takes the angst right out of “I hope,” “I want,” even “I wish.”  It helps you to be comfortable with not knowing.  And how many of us really know everything, anyway?

“I wonder if he’ll show up,” feels so much easier than, “I hope he’ll show up.”  That seems like you’re begging him to arrive. Wondering is just sitting there imagining. “I wonder if I’ll get the call I want,” even lessons the weight of it.

I want a new job.  I choose to get a new job.  I wish I had a new job (getting closer).  But “I wonder what my new job will be,” transforms it into an adventure, a game, a joyful activity.  Now I’m looking delightedly, with a lighter heart. That lightness might well be just what I need to open to the flow of it. To make the space for it to come into my life.

When I say, “I hope” it creates something out there that has to happen.  I’ve put qualifications on what it must be.  Instead I could be moving fully forward, with arms outstretched, ears tuned, eyes searching for whatever it may be.  “I wonder if this is what I’ve been looking for?” opens a much wider Universe for bringing me what I’ve chosen

Using wonder helps to feel a different way, see a new perspective and therefore travel more lightly, without the excess heaviness of wait and doubt.

“I hope I get a new phone.” – is pleading for life to bring you the phone.
“I wish I had that phone.” – gives you some more information but still has you reaching for it.
“I choose that phone.” – is more proactive.
But then you have to let go of even that.  No restrictions.  Though you may know your intention, the essences of what you’re after, without all those qualifications, you can allow so many more things to satisfy your wish.

So just wonder.  Now that you’ve sketched out what you’d like – you toss it into the hands of wonder and proceed.  Paying attention in the present moment for the answers, the ideas, the ways and means.

The second class in the Smart module of the book that never was is “Emotion Chemistry.”  This class will take the reader into the lab to observe emotions at play.

Section one is Exploring the Table of Emotions

As there is a Table of the Elements of Life, there can also be a Table of Emotions.  Your emotions direct your actions.  Anyone who has ever lost his or her temper knows this is true.

Knowing which emotion you are processing gives you a lot information about where you are in the present moment.  How you are reacting to what’s going on. The awareness also keeps you focused in the now.

This might seem a bit ambiguous, to decide if the emotion makes you feel “good” or “bad.”  What about those pesky “neutral” feelings in the middle?

To try to get a grasp on the wiggling nature of emotions, it helps to separate them.  We can see them falling into different families, such as physical feelings, like pain or heat or mental feelings such as love or frustration. Another family might be positive or negative feelings, Another might be those inspiring to create, or making you stop in your tracks.

The easiest way to slice them is to ask, is this emotion backed by love or fear?  This simple distinction can give you a tidy frame of reference.  You can usually tell if you feel comfortable in it or not. Broadly speaking, anything that doesn’t make you feel jazzed up, full of energy, ready to go, overflowing, could be considered on the fear side.

In “Conversations with God, Book 3,” God names the five natural emotions: Love, Fear, Grief, Anger, and Envy.  He explains it like this: “The five natural emotions include love and fear, yet love and fear are the basis for all emotions.  The other three of the five natural emotions are outgrowths of these two.”   And, He adds, in the end, it’s all love anyway. . .

It’s a fine thing to master the art of quickly naming your emotions.  Naming something gives you more control over it, helps you to understand it and express it more naturally.  Once you’ve sensed that you’re getting angry, you have time to decide how you want to use it.  In this way you can use your feelings in a natural way. You can see the anger telling you this is something you do not choose.  And within that, find the love.  Grief teaches you about letting go, Envy helps you to reach for more.

So, being able to identify which emotion you’re feeling helps you to feel it, process it and use the knowledge. With that, you can make a new decision how to proceed.

Okay, so we’ve progressed far enough along the path to know that it is NEVER anyone else’s fault. We know that we create our own reality.  Whatever you’ve just done to me, I’ve done something to call it forth. (This is NOT about “legitimate” or “illegitimate” rape.  The Justice System is another matter entirely.  This is about personal growth.)  We have learned to take responsibility for our own actions.  And forgive others, quickly.

If you’re not getting where you wish to go, not evolving into the person (or circumstance) you wish, that’s all coming from you.  Your intentions and willingness.  It’s not often easy to spot our true intentions, but when we discover them (and take the time to search) we know why.  Forgiveness of others can wash over us, easily.

The problem is that if you know this, it puts the blame for everything, the fault back on you, no matter what.  In the end, that’s freeing.  If you created it, you can fix it.  You are not a bad person you’re just misinformed or made a mistake – which is growth.  You made a choice that brought you here, where you need to be.  Simple as that.

But that’s not always how it feels.  It’s very easy to get caught up in, “I did this. It’s my fault. Why can’t I get things right?”  When you’ve been working a long time on your personal growth, how can you allow yourself to sink back into that guilt?  And yet it is as easy as slipping into sleep.

So, how do you turn this back around?  Self forgiveness is the only way. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  We have practiced long and hard to forgive others.  When we reach a certain point that comes naturally.   Now, it’s time to apply the same tactics to ourselves.  We can learn to let it go, to clear out the blame and guilt.  We can make a choice not to look back. Then we can come back to the business of making new choices.

It’s odd how we do this.  But I guess, with no other place to put the blame, it quite easily falls back on us.  I’m going to practice forgiving myself as quickly as I forgive others.

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