Wednesday, October 30, 2013

An invitation

If you've been reading my blog for a while you probably have read that I've been training to be a coach. Not a football coach, voice coach or executive coach but A LIFE COACH!

Ahhhhhh, that felt good. It took me a long time to get here so it's nice to share it with you all.

This is an interest I've been pursuing for a long time--a decade almost. Even before I earned my pastry diploma I was considering coaching as a full time career.

I became interested in coaching because people would often come to me to help unwind their conundrums. These long conversations (mostly them talking and me listening and asking questions occasionally) would end with the other person feeling better and sometimes with an idea of what they wanted to do next.

What I really loved was when a conversation turned into something that resulted in a happier, more fulfilled life for the person I was talking to. I knew becoming a coach could give me more opportunities to help people as well as experience the joy of seeing someone live a happier life.

However, even though I aspired to help others, I was getting in my own way on a massive scale! I had so many negative beliefs about myself I almost didn't pursue the training at all--I put myself in the impossible position of having to coach myself out of all my own issues and difficulties before I would be fit to take even one class.

Changing those self defeating beliefs didn't happen overnight. My road to becoming a coach included a tremendous amount of introspection and self work. Reviewing my old journals I saw there were certain areas of my life that were a constant source of suffering to me--I was always running after perfection in my career or body image or trying to attain another achievement. I really believed I would finally be happy with myself once I "got to" whatever those old goals were.

I have over 1000 journal pages on my computer at home filled with an infinite loop of self criticism, plans to fix myself and anger at my circumstances (especially around my work life). It's not very good reading. There was nothing anyone could say that would make me believe I was ok and a worthwhile person just the way I was.

Working with a coach helped me break out of the thinking that created that infinite loop of misery. My life is now far less based in achievement and perfect circumstance and more based in self acceptance and connection. Because I've extended grace and kindness to myself I'm able to help others see the good in their lives as well.

See, dear reader, you don't need to be fixed. You also don't need to improve. I want to hold up a mirror to you so you can see your own beauty--beauty you have today. And if you can't see that mirror, I want to help unwind whatever it is that is clouding your vision. Because when you have that kind of clear sight with yourself, the whole world changes before your eyes. Then life becomes truly magical.

Hope to hear from you soon.  Love, Sasha

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sick days, sick thoughts

Two weeks ago I had the kind of cold that requires you do nothing but lay perfectly still and sip tea because you have absolutely NO ability to do anything else. Not sure where it came from but one morning I walked to the door with my lunch bag and backpack ready to take on the world. However I stopped for a moment because I suddenly didn't have enough energy to open the door. I put everything down and retreated to the bedroom where I stayed almost exclusively for the next 48 hours.

I felt doughy, weak and like my muscle tissue was evaporating. I felt fluids soak my tissue turning me into a human sized version of the Stay Puff Marshmallow man. I lay there poking at myself unhappily, unable to do much of anything except contemplate my sorry physical state.

I wandered into the kitchen for a tea refill and looked at the dishes in the sink--I then wondered briefly if I can do a load of laundry and tidy all that up. Or do some writing. Or log a few hours of email time for work and avoid being so behind on it all.

And then I had a different thought. The thought was "this is you being sick".

That was all. I was sick. There was nothing to do except rest. The soreness, the state of my energy, my pallid complexion, my total domestic disarray were all perfectly consistent with a person being under the weather. Not pathetic. Not behind. Just sick.

The other peevish little bitch of a voice (the one wondering if this downtime could be used more productively and making note of how I am losing ground and muscle tone just laying here) is not at all ok with breaking with the superstitions I have around being a "better version of me".  This stopping to rest represents an enormous slide backwards towards...what?

All this activity I think I'm missing out on represents some huge distance I want to put between an ideal version of myself and what I think is undesirable/unlovable/unacceptable about me (even though these ideas inhabit exactly the same mind).

The best version of me, the one I am anyway (regardless of what I do), decided to just be sick for a few days and rest.

Amazingly my life didn't crash and burn. Now I am back at work rested and refreshed, whistling a happy tune--the imagined, pallid dough girl didn't show up in the mirror today either. There are a few dishes to be done but I'll get to them. 

And that's how it is when I whisper to myself "how could this time be used more kindly?"

What are you whispering to yourself these days?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Let's not self improve

There is an angry, unappreciative, tense part of myself that has the microphone every-time I think I need to "improve" myself.

It's the part of me that thinks that there is something wrong with me, with what's going on around me, with the general tapestry of my life. It's wrong. Wrong I tell you!

Whether it's my weight, how well I'm doing at my day job, the general order or disorder of my home, or how I stack up to others-none of it is happy. None of it makes me feel good. What am I improving? Where is this going? When will it ever end?

Even the idea that I could be having a more interesting life seems poisonous. I have exactly the life I created for myself--the one I picked based on every action I've ever took. Thinking it should be "more interesting" would be the same as saying I've done it all wrong.

As a coach, self improvement is a tricky question (it's a multi-billion dollar industry and it appears to be growing). My personal coach and friend Max Daniels brought it up in her blog recently calling it a "a deep crevice, very near the bottom. Down where there's no oxygen". Many people seeking coaching are trying to fix something about themselves--to improve.

I'm going to be bold--there is nothing about you to fix.

Also, there is nothing about me to fix. There is nothing about "that other person" to fix. And, shockingly, there is nothing in the world to fix either. Everything is exactly as it should be. Tomorrow, it will all change in some way and THAT will be exactly as it should be too. There is nothing wrong with any of it.

This is where people will get angry/indignant that I'm not giving sufficient weight to the problems that the world has. Or even more, the very very VERY serious and real personal flaws that people need to fix RIGHT NOW (seriously, this enormous butt isn't going to shrink itself).

Yah, so if everything is perfect, then why get coached at all?

Honey pie, if you are suffering over any part of your life, that's where the coaching comes in. Coaching is about your thinking--not fixing.

If you are suffering over something, you have created a story that is bending your perception of reality.

Skillful coaching helps remove thinking that keeps you trapped in a self improvement cycle--the kind of illusion that makes your perfect life some "just out of reach" thing in the future. Believe it or not, your perfect life is just waiting for you to notice it.

Oddly, once your change your thinking, everything else changes as well. I said it before, this isn't woo. It might seem like magic but anyone who has studied illusion knows that the magic is in the seeing.

If you want to experiment with unwinding some of your own illusions, drop me a line.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

There is a law of attraction but it isn't what you think it is

Remember The Secret? It says some pretty wacky things especially the notion that thinking about something will bring it about (such as you can't get fat unless you think about fat or car spaces show up because you magically make them appear).

So lets just list off all the things the Law of Attraction (LOA) isn't:

1. Magical thinking--such as thinking something really hard will cause it to happen.
2. A cosmic or universal power handing over stuff because you had the exact right thoughts.
3. some other woo that says you can sit on the couch and wait  for the magic to happen.

But weirdly it IS about your thinking and it IS about how things respond to you when you believe and think certain thoughts. And most bizarrely, a lot of it all happens without seeming "effort". How it not be list one but still be all the things list one seems to imply.

Let me explain.

Everything we do and say begins with a thought. And guess what? Our thoughts, while not necessarily true, still drive how we act often in subconscious ways that inform people how to respond to us. Our thoughts drive decisions that take us in certain directions--sometimes insignificant changes to routine result in big outcomes. What we don't take into account is all the information we are taking in and filtering out based on our thought patterns.

I'm sure you've experienced the phenomenon of buying a car in a certain color. As soon as you start contemplating this car you start seeing lots of these kinds of car on the road in the same color you plan on getting. It's as if these cars just pop out of nowhere. That's not quite it--the cars were always there. You just see them now because you are thinking of them.

If you apply this to the seeming good luck that follows LOA adherents you can see a connection between what they think and believe and the kinds of opportunities that seem to arise. The luck is simply them seeing the opportunity and then taking advantage of it. The belief that this is possible--that the opportunity is meant for them makes them extra resourceful, charming and ready to step up to the situation in a way that makes it work out. The signals they give off in body language and choice of words sends the message "I'm available--come play with me."

The same goes for so called bad luck. The same opportunities are out there for the person who just can't catch a break but they can't see them. And when they do see them or the opportunity is pointed out to them they act in self defeating ways (many times subtly and unconsciously) that make the opportunity not work out. They choke.

Even when a person who more or less has a positive LOA factor doesn't carry off what they want, they shrug it off, saying it wasn't quite the right time or whatever and that something even better is "on it's way". And yes, like magic, something does come along that fulfills the expectation of the LOA belief.


The rub in all this is that it can't be really manipulated by rituals and secret systems. You can't simultaneously attract nice things into your life and believe your life is cruddy--until you handle your belief in the so call cruddy aspects you won't see the good you have in the first place. This is why gratitude is one of the foundational practices for LOA. You become wealthier simply by acknowledging the good things you already have--you "see" them and and they make a positive appearance in your life whereas before they were dull and unappreciated--nearly invisible. Gratitude itself is a belief altering, sight expanding practice.

A person that wants to harness some LOA magic doesn't have to pretend things are going great. They simply have to be prepared for things to go well, to see good, to expect good situations and above all to feel that those much desired things are open and available to them.

It all boils down to ingrained thought patterns. If you find yourself harboring beliefs that separate you from they things and experiences you want in your life, it's time to start questioning those patterns. Once you start unwinding the beliefs that are contrary to your best life you may find yourself surrounded by experiences that "a person like you" would never have had before. Those experiences are already there waiting for your eyes to refocus to let them in. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

More than an acumulation of all days

I've been giving a lot of thought to all the experiments I've conducted over the years to adopt behaviors that feel natural--baselines for health, mental well being, prosperity and new experience.

When I look in the mirror at my body I review all the actions I've taken to create what I see--every step walked, every pound lifted, every boundary crossed, every bite of food ingested, every risk taken and every failure endured. What I see is a living picture of cause and effect--a physical representation of a life that is constantly transitioning and changing form.

It's very tempting to view myself in terms of how well or poorly I seem to be doing. To feel smug or unhappy because of progress or the lack of it. 

My behavior isn't who I am. My behavior is something I do. 

All the things I see in my life today (my friends, my cash flow, my body, my home, my job etc) are a complex printout of a web of choices I've made in my past. Even so, they aren't who I am. 

Many people look at the landscape of their lives and harbor the illusion that the things they see around them and and activities they participate in represent an intrinsic state--something to hold on to and identify with. Over time people add or subtract behaviors that result in how the image of life appears. And because that, the belief that intrinsic change has taken place emerges. Changes such as becoming more prosperous, or getting fat/thin, or finding ourselves surrounded by children, or living in a foreign country start to form or shift an identity and we believe what we see around ourselves IS who we are. 

Why does this matter? 

If things aren't going well for you, any belief that your circumstances are a reflection of your intrinsic being will drive behaviors (in conscious and subconscious ways) to ensure you stay in the same unsatisfactory place. 

The brain always drives us to behaviors consistent with our beliefs. You may do something that starts to put you in what you see as a more positive direction but you will probably write off the positive result as "luck" and go back to behaviors that support your beliefs about yourself.

Conversely, if things are going well and our outer life looks rosy we tend to congratulate ourselves on being "the kind of person" that (gets raises, stays slim, makes rain, etc) forgetting that what we do today is going to effect who that "kind of person" is months and years down the road. 

Change is inevitable in circumstances, behaviors, physical form, and anything else you think you have complete control over. This is all just furniture being moved around in our world. The beliefs you have about these changes and events form their appearance in your perception.

This morning I read this short quote from Jiddu Krishnamurthy. "The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth." 

I would extend this to say the same goes for fixed ideas and beliefs about who you are. 

Any belief you harbor about yourself should leave you feeling free to make decisions and change behaviors to express your truest self--even if those decisions mess up the image of who you think you should be. This feeling of freedom will guide you to take actions that cause a shift in your life that will form a new external reality--one that will closely match and support your truest self.