Life is chaos and order

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Photo: unsplash.com

What a relief when I read the words ‘ life compress chaos and orderliness together’ in the book The way of the wizard by Deepak Chopra. I like to think of myself as someone that easily goes with the flow but if I’m really honest, I can be a bit of a control freak. I like it when things are going according to the plan and everything is in order. But life is not always like that. At times life is uncertain, messy and even a bit chaotic. Flights get delayed; thunderstorms damage internet routers; meetings get cancelled, we get sick, etc. Life can throw all our plans upside down.

The problem is that all the plans we make and the rules we set in order to make things perfect only create a false sense of control. When it does not work out ‘according to the plan’, we get stressed and struggle with the “whys” in life. Why don’t things work out for me? Why is life so hard? Why do I struggle so much when others seem to have it easy? We start to beat ourselves down. This reaction can create a downward spiral, it triggers our nervous system and we become less creative.

When in fact, it is just the way life is. Real life is unpredictable. Feeling off balance or uncertain at times is part of life. The struggle starts when we don’t want to accept what is real and work from that place. Deepak Chopra writes that ‘if you want to be in the flow you cannot struggle against it at the same time.’ This was a big ‘aha’ moment for me as I always thought that I’m only in the flow of life if things are running smoothly in my life. Now I realise that the waves that crash on me and the times when I feel that I’m gasping for air are part of what it is when learning how to surf. When I’m stumbling it does not mean I’m not in the flow of life. However, the way I respond to the uncertainty or unpredictable things that happen in my life influence how I experience life.

I’m not saying that from now you can just sit back and don’t make any plans. Structure and order is also part of life but it is not all that life consists of. Observe how you are trying to control your life and how open you are for other possibilities. Next time when something unpredictable happens, acknowledge that life is uncontrollable, surrender to it, trust that things tend to work out (even if it is not according to your plan), celebrate the situation you are in and be open to what comes to you. Ride the wave!

Learning: The flow of life is like surfing; there are times when you surf the wave and then there are times when you need to paddle to get to the next wave.

Healing question: How can I ride the wave of life with more ease?

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25 Lessons Life taught me

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The past year (2016) I reviewed and looked back on my life. The purpose of the process was to set free, heal and gratefully capture the lessons that life had taught me thus far. In order to, simplify and clear the way to move forward in a more authentic and present state.

Below is a list of the 25 lessons and healing questions I’ve learned from life: (If one of them draws your attention you can click on it to read more about the specific learning.)

  1. We all experience the same event differently based on our role in the situation and our expectations of it.

How can I simplify my life and business by releasing unnecessary expectations?

  1. Moments of transition can be traumatic AND meaningful.

What area of my life or business needs to transition into the light so that it can grow?

  1. By avoiding certain emotions I’m not allowing myself / my company to blossom.

How can I allow myself to feel the different emotions that accompany life and/or the start of a new business?

  1. By loving and trusting others and myself I create a safe space to be vulnerable.

How can I give myself (and others) the necessary love and trust in order to feel safe?

  1. When I become curious about life, new learnings open up.

What will I learn about my work or life if I become ‘passionately curious’ about it?

  1. Life is one big learning curve.

How can I bring laughter and lightness into this moment?

  1. My brain needs play time to recharge.

How can I play more?

  1. It is just a sandwich don’t let it define who you are. You are so much more than a sandwich.

How do I allow the sandwiches of life to define me?

  1. We make the best choice we can given the circumstances and information available to us at that stage.

How can I be kinder and let go of the regret for the decisions I made in the past?

  1. Genuine friendships are the jewellery of life – it endures the tests of time but needs to be treasured and worn close to the heart.

How did I treasure my friendships today?

  1. Be grateful for everything.

How can I be and feel more grateful for the struggles in my life?

  1. Being part of a team gives one a sense of belonging.

How can the way I interact with others translate into meaningful, real-life connections?

  1. Surprising events (pleasant or unpleasant) awaken us and allow room for something new to happen.

How am I standing in my own way?

  1. Make time to mourn what is lost and grow in the ambiguity of life.

How can I learn to live with the ambiguity and questions of life?

  1. I’m already a swan as I am now.

How can I love and accept all of me as I am now?

  1. Real feedback allows me to break up and open to love and growth.

How can I allow real feedback to transform me?

  1. Dark moments can turn into soulful moments if we open ourselves for growth.

How can I stay with the uncomfortable unknowing a little longer?

  1. Focus on the space and allow it to open up space within you.

How can I start to see space as just as important part of the bigger picture and not as an area that still needs to be filled?

  1. You can decide if financial stress is going to rob you of you.

How can I not allow my financial stress to overwhelm me in a way that I can’t be present to myself and those I love?

  1. When I’m genuinely committed to me. I’m also genuinely committed to you. My commitment to my vision is imbedded in my deep desire to serve others.

How committed am I to me and my vision?

  1. The space between the cup (current reality) and the quart (my vision) creates emotional tension as well as creative tension. When you use the tension wisely it can be a source of energy.

How can I discover my way between the cup and the quart?

  1. We cannot reach our goals on our own. We need support from people who care about us and share in our vision. We also need a professional network to derive new business from.

How am I tapping into and building my  network?

  1. I commit to live myself in an authentic way of being.

How committed am I to truly live (in line with my truth)?

  1. The space of sufficiency creates space for possibilities to open up.

How are my behaviour shaping a culture that does not determine our value by what we have but the life we live (wherein I believe that who I am is enough)?

  1. We develop skills not to escape life but to learn how to engage with life.

How can I embody the skills I learn in order to connect in a more meaningful way with others and life?

How are you standing in your way?

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Six weeks ago during a coach training session, the facilitator asked me: ‘How are you standing in your own way?’ I could not answer the question. I remember thinking ‘I’m not standing in my way. How can you even think that? I started my own business that is huge for me. It’s a big leap. What do you mean? Me, standing in my own way, never….’ Maybe you are also thinking the same whilst reading this blog.

The question stayed with me and kept on surfacing in my conscious. I knew that it was an important question but I could not find the answer. No matter how hard I tried to look for it. Until a few days ago something unexpected happened that challenged my way of being. It also challenged the way I was doing business.

It felt as if I was walking down the street with a tunnel vision, caught up in my own thinking, and suddenly walk straight into a lamppost that was standing right in front of me. The unpleasant event forced me to look up and see the big world outside of me. It opened my eyes to see the space for something genuinely new to begin.

Reflecting back I realise that the surprising event allowed me to see that I was walking straight into my personal blind spot. It was a deeper fear that was limiting my view. Instead of looking where I’m going I was wrapped up in holding onto an event in the past. In doing that I was limiting my vision of the future for my business and myself. No wonder I could not answer the question. I was standing in my blind spot…

Learning: Surprising events (pleasant or unpleasant) awaken us and allow room for something new to happen.

 Healing question: How am I standing in my own way?

Giving birth is a daily action in life and business

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The past few weeks I reflected on my birth as well as the concept of birth in general. Depending on the context of the word ‘birth’ in a sentence it can have different meanings. According to the dictionary birth can be defined as ‘ the start of life as a physical separate being’ or ‘the coming into existence of something; origin’. I realised that no matter what you are giving birth to; be it a human being, an idea, new company, creative expression or even a blog, there are certain elements that are involved in the ‘giving birth’ process that is relevant to all of them. The elements are: expectations, transition from dark into light and emotions.

To better explain I’m going to use my birth as an example and try to relate it to the birth of a new business.

  1. Expectations. A birth is the embodiment of numerous expectations.

I’m privileged that my mother and grandmother (96 years old) are both still alive. As part of the process on reflecting on my birth I enquired how they experienced my birth. It was so refreshing and liberating to get different perspectives on the same event. My grandmother told me that there are expectations from different sources (parents, family, community, God and ‘the self’) for the baby at birth. (I view her opinion as an expert on this field as she has given birth to five children including among them twin boys).

During our talk it became clear that we complicate our lives by trying to live up to all these expectations. Even though most of these expectations are meant well or even out of love. Others, and ourselves, exert pressure on ourselves because we see potential. Taking on unnecessary expectations in life, or at the start of a new business, burdens us. It can either inhibit us, because the pressure has become too much, or it can make us lose focus because we are trying to please everyone.

Learning: We all experience the same event differently based on our role in the situation and our expectations of it.

Healing question: How can I simplify my life and business by releasing unnecessary expectations?

  1. Transition from dark into light. A birth is the process of transition from darkness into the light.

Womb-time is playtime for the soul. There is no struggle for identity or acceptance by others. Usually the fetus has a safe, warm and nurturing environment wherein it can form and grow into a specific form (baby). Research indicates that the transition for the baby from the womb into the colder and a much lighter environment (the world) can be traumatic. It is, however, a critical transition phase that it needs to undergo in order to develop further on a physical and social level.

Thus, even though it may be a traumatic or scary moment for the mother and child it is also a meaningful moment. The same principle applies when you give birth to a new idea or a new business. It feels safe when we just play around with the idea in our head and design amazing business plans at our desk. But in order for the business to grow it needs to be born and become visible to the world.

Learning: Moments of transition can be traumatic AND meaningful.

Healing question: What area of my life or business needs to transition into the light so that it can grow?

  1. Emotions Numerous emotions are also birthed in the process of giving birth.

At birth and during the new-born period the baby starts to express different basic emotions depending on the circumstances. As a young child my nearby family and relatives told me that I was a colic baby and cried non-stop for the first three months of my life. They mentioned what a difficult and tiring period it was. I completely understand that now but my not-so well-developed emotional part of my brain interpreted it as crying is bad. People don’t like tiring or difficult peoples. From then on I struggled to cry, feel my emotions or even express them.

Thomas Keating writes in his book ‘Invitation to love’ that:

We may not remember the events of early childhood, but the emotions do. When events occur later in life that resemble those once felt to be harmful, dangerous or rejecting, the same feelings surface. We may not be fully aware of where the force of those feelings is coming from.’

Later in the book he continues to explain how even though we may have had the most well-intentioned parents or not experienced any serious trauma. We all have some wounds as a result of the emotional fragility experienced as a child.

I realised that my unhealthy thought pattern of ‘crying is bad’ that developed, as a child, does not serve me anymore. I’m not a child anymore and can develop healthy ways to feel and express emotions. Tears are healing and necessary. What is unhealthy is to avoid the emotion rather than allowing myself to feel it.

Starting your own business gives birth to numerous emotions: fear, anger, sadness, joy, excitement, etc. Studies showed that if we try to avoid emotions we repress it or project it onto others. This can have negative consequences on our health as well as our relationships at home and work.

Learning: By avoiding certain emotions I’m not allowing myself / my company to blossom.

Healing question: How can I allow myself to feel the different emotions that accompany life and/or the start of a new business?

Listening to the way my mother described my birth as well as the period after that it became clear how I was surrounded with love. There was a lot of care surrounding my birth. I know my family loved me in the best way they could.

I’m grateful for my birth and the life lessons that it brought forth.

Review of life

DSCN0553In the revelationary book ‘A year to live’, Stephen Levine writes about ‘how to live this year as if it were your last’. One of the techniques he recommends is to review your past and your life thus far. To see the achievements and disappointments through soft eyes and a forgiving heart. To reflect on the misfortunes, learn from them and be grateful for them. It is a process of looking back in order to move forward in a different and more present state.

It is interesting how you sometimes have a thought of something you need to do at the back of your mind but you keep on ignoring it. Until life brings something to your attention and you know you can’t ignore it anymore. This is how it was with the idea about looking back and writing about my life. It has been an idea that kept on surfacing in my mind. When I read about the life review technique in Stephen’s book I realised that 2016 is the year that I need to do it.

I’m turning 35 at the end of the year. I decided to use the blog space to write about my learnings. The lessons that life have taught me thus far. I know it is not always going to be easy to reflect on the shadow side of my life. Especially when one starts to examine the emotional attachment to it and the effect it has on my life at the moment. But I know this is something I need to do. I trust that it will be a gateway into something beyond my wildest expectations. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.