A Timely Tip to Try – Revisited

Andrea Chilcote

This week, join Andrea as she revisits A Timely Tip to Try, originally posted in May 2012.

by Andrea Chilcote

In the past month, I’ve spent much of my time working one-on-one with people from very diverse walks of life and with quite different needs. Even with the varied backdrops, a theme keeps reappearing: judgment. Self-judgment, judgment of others – that subtle process of forming an opinion that leads to even more subtle and often unconscious behavior directed at those we judge.

My work has always been about helping people change behaviors that are unproductive (and even destructive) in their relationships. Behaviors are tangible; they can be seen and heard. We can stop and listen to ourselves, or receive feedback from others, then make a choice to do something different and better. But if you have ever tried to act or react differently toward a situation or person that “pushes your buttons,” you know how difficult changing your own behavior can be.

Imagine one of those button-pushing people in your own life. Recall a touchy situation and then try to think of something you could have done or said differently. You may or may not be able to think of something. Even if you can, doing it is a whole different story. Right?

It’s hard to change how we act or behave because, if we really analyze it, we think our behavior is justified. This mind-trap is almost certainly being driven by a feeling. In a world where being busy is valued, rapid decision making is expected, and multi-tasking is rewarded, who has time to truly become present and feel? But that’s the key to the kingdom, so to speak. Lack of this simple presence can result in misunderstanding, or even disaster.

So take time out right now and get present. Take a breath, notice the sights and sounds around you. Recall the incident with the button-pusher. How does it feel to you? As you recall a past confrontation or presume a future interaction, what feeling do you have? What motive is driving you? Are you judging yourself or another, and if so, is it really fair and accurate? With new perspective comes transformation.

As I’ve done this work with clients (and myself) these last few weeks, we’ve unraveled many small mysteries that have led to breakthroughs in thinking and acting. Impatience led to inclusion, inadequacy morphed into acceptance, and a motive to highlight wrongdoing was converted into motivation to solve a problem. Small and incremental, one step leads to another.

Here’s another tip: be gentle on yourselves. When we take responsibility for how we behave in connection with others, there’s a tendency for more self-judgment. True responsibility includes conscientiousness in how we regard – vs. judge – ourselves.

Taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them. – Byron Katie.

Good Vibrations

Good VibrationsSince the beginning of last year I’ve focused on managing my thoughts and staying present. This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!

By Andrea Chilcote

Remember the Beach Boy’s song Good Vibrations? My favorite part was the refrain

“Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a happenin’ with you”

If you’ve been following my posts for the last few months, you’ve noticed a theme. Since the beginning of the year I’ve focused on managing my thoughts and staying present, and the practice, while imperfect, has been enlightening.

Every now and then, somewhat counter to my natural style, I get organized. This week I’m organizing my “good vibrations,” and I thought I’d share an insight here, along with some really good news.

In one post connected to that theme, I suggested that thoughts are prayers, directing the flow of apparently coincidental circumstances. In another related post, I told the story of my own passionate thoughts and feelings about a young Siberian Husky born without kneecaps and needing very expensive surgery to survive. Through that story, I hoped to inspire all of you to find feelings of compassion for something meaningful that you can affect in a small way, vs. feeling sorry or helpless in a world that seems to have no shortage of tragedy.

I’m thrilled to report that the angels at Alley’s Rescued Angels in Los Angeles raised enough funds for the pup’s surgery and it was performed last week. Just one week later he is walking proudly, tail wagging, and has a bright future ahead.

I am certain that the loving thoughts, prayers and well wishes from around the world played a significant role. Literally, caring individuals rallied in an effort to share the story and raise money. But maybe even more importantly, all of the loving thoughts served as healing medicine. You need only review Larry Dossey’s amazing work to know that is truth.

Do you ever really ever doubt that we are all connected? Separation may just be the biggest illusion we face. And, if we are all connected, in my opinion we have we have responsibility to lift one another up through our thoughts and feelings for and about one another, vs. squandering them as is so easy to do.

I ran across a fascinating study conducted by a Case Western Reserve University researcher. The research found that when the brain fires up the network of neurons that allows us to empathize, it suppresses the network used for analysis. It shows for the first time that we have a built-in neural constraint on our ability to be both empathetic and analytic at the same time.  The work begins to explain the “emotionally engaged intuitive understanding which allows us to relate to one another as people.” (Or, I might add, other beings, such as animals).

As I build my insights from my simple observation of thoughts and feelings I have a new focus for my practice: breathing. I don’t think I breathed at all the day of the pup’s seven hour surgery, even as I prayed with fervor. I’m exhaling now, present to the simple opportunity to connect and shape our collective experience.