Early Early morning Christmas Eve rain, and I want to write to you from a place of having found another ‘edge of the envelope of my evolution’—i.e., a place that took me back into very familiar emotional pain—descending back into the HELL OF REGRET).
My Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas gift to you would be to offer you the tools that provide a reliable path out of that hell and brought me to a new kind of faith: A place where you trust with absolute surety that your pain is holding its own very special gifts of growth and greater peace; and that you possess a reliable path out of this horrible place. It is really something to trust that, even though these ‘relapses into regret’–like right NOW–seem to hurt more now that I don’t ‘live here’ all the time.
I’d love for you to know that you have a reliable way to watch everything shift by taking those same three 3 simple steps when you are beating yourself up–
- to go back and find the innocence in what you were believing when you acted the way you did,
- to know how to address and disempower what you fear most about the consequences of your actions, and then
- to shift into the mode of giving to yourself what your monkey mind has you believing you need from others.
HAPPY FREEDOM and FAITH IN WHATEVER UNFOLDS TO YOU!
I wrote this special in-depth story/theory blog, which also serves as a real-life introduction–to celebrate the official release of my new EBOOK today–at a time when I was sitting in that faith and that pain. I HAD NOT YET worked my Wheel of Self-Love–on what felt like a ‘life-or-death’ once-in-a-lifetime regret when I wrote it on Christmas Eve morning — 2 years from the anniversary of my mom’s passing — from a place of real, acquired, logical faith that I would re-emerge from the pain into greater peace.
Instead, I needed to sit in this place and write from here, because I haven’t had a gut-wrenching episode of REGRET HELL like this one in a while. I had the sense that maybe I was almost done with the ones that don’t fall away with a quick questioning of my thoughts; however when you recover it doesn’t mean your challenges won’t come up again. It just means you have stumbled on whatever thinking is still left that wants to be cleared up. So it is important to me, as a teacher of peace, to go more deeply into sitting with the feelings (see Beyond Mindfulness Map) and observe what really happens in my psyche when I have that horrible “kicked-in-the-stomach” feeling. (We go back into present tense now, since I wrote this yesterday from that painful place):
SO while I am desperate to get out of this place, I also want to understand it and write to you while I am IN the place, a place where I can’t see my situation in any way that isn’t painful. Defensiveness and regret are direct lines to illuminate the specific ways we were wounded as children, and the things we came to believe as a result, now that we also then have the power to finally heal them. I see very fuzzy images of that now…. No direct memories of when I feared I had done something to make my mom mad or drive her away emotionally (i.e. when parents are stuck in their own place of anger or self-loathing, and therefore feel unavailable; children often determine it is their fault I and their responsibility to fix it). I can see how I learned early on to leave myself and get completely over in her business, mercilessly striving to undo whatever I had just done that I believed was the cause of her pain or upset.
So it is even more special to celebrate the official release today of my SPARK OF SELF-LOVE ebook, since today is the anniversary of the night she became our Christmas eve angel. I have no regrets or blame about the dynamics between my mom and I that led me to be a person who went easily into regret, self-doubt, and indecision, because she also gave me the love and tenacity and never-say-die attitude to find my way out of it, so I can now share these life-saving strategies with you.
Based on the fact that the well-meaning phrase “should have” is used liberally in our society (conveying the notion that we could actually go back and re-write history if we just beat ourselves up enough), it may have become easy for you—as it was for me–to spend much of your adult life beating yourself up. So you may be able to relate to the regret and self-blame that I went into after a recent decision.
While we don’t really have a clue what we are doing here or what ‘should’ happen in the totality or the minutia of any given moment, our propensity to create an identity for ourselves that is bolstered by the false illusion of control actually ends up creating much more pain for us than it solves. Our well-meaning but immature minds (the ego) learned to take on and grow the role of ‘all powerful one who knows best.’ In a running internal commentary that compares the reality we have with the mind-made conditions we have come up with, it tells us what ‘should be’ and ‘should have been’ (in a constant comparison with actual reality). And when we believe, we project much fear onto ‘as-is life’ and potential future outcomes of our actions.
In my own case, the relentless regretful moments I could never UNDO, no matter how many times I flogged myself with the wishful re-living of them in my mind, became the most painful aspect of my life that separated me from others and life, and from receiving the divine blessing that is ME, exactly as it shows up in each moment.
GRIPPED BY A VISCERAL, LIFE-THREATENING FEELING
Mostly I write these blogs from an “already healed” place and mostly I get to now LIVE in that already healed place (yay!), especially when compared to the REGRET HELL I used to live in. I am BOWLED OVER that I am almost completely free of this crushing habit of regret. I do not fear its recurrences, as I know how to USE them to lead to more freedom FROM them. However, today I write while I am still gripped by the visceral, life-threatening feeling I call REGRET HELL and the fear that accompanies it.
The fear that accompanies that state, may be more intense than any other fear I experience. Our reaction to regret is powerful. That is because our story of having ‘done it wrong’ feels like it will NEVER go away. Once it kicks in, there was no conventional wisdom I had been taught that helped—except to affirm that everything will be OK, which doesn’t help when you are gripped with the belief that it won’t—and it is all your fault.
We had never known, until recently, what to do with it, so we experience it as a bottomless pit that will only worsen–deepen with time as we descend further into the hell of never being able to forgive ourselves. Our only company from that place is what I consider to be the devil made incarnate via the cruel thoughts and words we direct at ourselves:
- “Why did you do that?”
- “You screwed up and will always regret it,”
- “You can never get that chance back; It was once-in-a-lifetime,”
- “You are just making things worse,” and
- “You have only yourself to blame.”
It is a state from which we believe–when we are in it—that we will never recover. The old story tells me I will stay on the endless hamster wheel of the wish to “take it back,” plunging back into regret every time I visualize the choice that ‘would have been perfect.’ I truly believe I will never be able to think about the recent choice I made again without hating myself. And I engage whole-heartedly in the gut-wrenching feeling of abandoning and failing to love and support the ‘littlest me’ who was doing the best she could in that moment.
A CONDITIONAL KIND OF SELF-LOVEI make ‘that me’ wrong–bad–the worst! I hold her responsible for any ‘bad’ outcome. And while being in the painful state of the judger/hater, I am also the receiver of that internal crushing lack of forgiveness–which erodes my self-worth in a way that it feels I am deserving of such loathing. Finally, the fear of returning to this place, creates ever-increasing self-doubt and indecision via a belief that if only I “make the right choice” I can avoid this Hopeless State.
This dependence on outside proof that things will ‘turn out OK’ is a very conditional kind of love–the kind I am largely free of now because of the ‘SELF-SOLIDARITY’ that has come of my own deep pain and self-inquiry. What it has yielded that can also help you shift, via Happiness Hacks (ESP The Wheel of Self-Love and The Work) has also led me to a place that most of my clients enjoy: we have questioned our stories enough to no longer believe there is such a thing as a “bad” outcome.
THIS FEAR IS A ‘DOOZY’ FOR ME–NOT SEEING THE OTHER SIDE YET
But I AM believing the ‘bad outcome’ story now, and it is a doozy. It is about believing I made a wrong or bad decision yesterday. I postponed a trip I had recently booked to Florida so that my daughter, Jamie, could see her grandpa again (since he is in a very dangerous and deteriorating state in his Health with no reason to “bounce back” like he had so many times). He is not hospitalized, does not function as sick or seem to experience himself as sick, and is just so sweet and lovely and fun to be around that I wanted her to go soon. But I also wanted to be responsive to her reasons for not wanting to go right at that time, and saw that it wouldn’t have been the best time for the folks in Florida, so when I saw a chance to change the ticket after the fares dropped, I moved it to 5 days later. YAY!
Then I gradually went into fear that we would now be going too late. Or that he would be too sick by the time we got there for her to enjoy him. Suddenly I saw the whole thing through different eyes and I plunged full body into REGRET HELL. My stomach now has a huge foot lodged in it. My mouth is turned down at the corners. I can’t think of anything else. I have visions of him going downhill and dying before we get there, or the weather getting worse as it does in January and us not being able to go at all, either one constituting proof that the timing would have been prefect for Jamie’s last visit with him if only I had left the first reservation I had made.
I can make myself feel sick, and may even engage you in my fearful story, as I go down the list that makes my stomach turn and makes the postponement look like a decision I could regret forever. I suddenly hate the fact that one of my strengths—being very flexible and excellent at generating creative options–caused me to generate a new one that went against my own intuitions. I tell myself I ignored what I knew to be best in my effort to respond to others’ perceived needs. This familiar second-guessing is a state that is always worse around anything where my mind defines it as a once-in-a-lifetime, no going back, chance and I blew it.
THE CRUX OF ALL OUR EMOTIONAL PAIN
Whether you engage in self-hatred in this or another way, the crux of all our emotional pain–and our separation from others and from Life as it unfolds–comes down to the specific ways we separate from our dear ‘always doing the best we can’ selves. We let our view of and connection to our most trusting innocent selves be contingent on external forces that are TOTALLY out of our control.
In this case, I have set it up now in my mind where I have to wait and see if I am an ok person or the world’s worst depending on what transpires. I could be redeemed from my current “worst person” state if it turns out they my dad is in a very good place when we arrive. And my daughter will be much more ready to enjoy and support her Grandpa, having focused on the priorities that were important to her. Then I will say, I’m so glad I made that decision. All will be well and I will once again be the savior I was aiming to be in my heart of hearts, rather than the destroyer. But for now, I am gripped by fear that the data will prove I am a despicable person, and that I can never forgive myself for making this decision.
In my work watching people every day free themselves from this kind of conditional thinking, I see how our tenacious internal scripts communicate to the littlest most trusting part of ourselves that we are only OK if others react well ot us or if things come out OK (i.e., we base our level of peace on our minds’ limited definition of what would constitute the ‘right’ outcome).
But there is another way. Freedom from that conditional, circumstantial love is what I have discovered these last few years via the experience of deep unconditional self-advocacy, love, and forgiveness that I call SELF-SOLIDARITY. It is the only way out of REGRET HELL that is completely UN-conditional; it does not rely on external proof nor is it based on a mind-made definition is what is OK and Not OK. I trust absolutely that the 3 simple steps in the Wheel of Self-Love—once I stop to work them–will not only rescue me from this place I described above, but will absolutely reconnect me to safety and the humility that allows us to trust the perfection of all the way we are showing up–without condition. It will strengthen my connection to everyone in this situation and to Life, exactly as it unfolds–even if that includes suffering and death.
None of what we fear is worse than what we do when we leave ourselves via this conditional approach to self-acceptance and love. We ourselves are the only ones who can stop that internally imposed suffering—now that we know how. When we no longer turn on ourselves and close our hearts to others and to Life, there actually is NOTHING to fear.
BEYOND ERADICATING FEAR OF FEAR ITSELF
Churchill’s statement is so true: “The only thing we fear is fear itself.” But I want to take it further to say that the fear of what we do when we blame, shame, and abandon OURSELVES, is not only the worst kind of fear, but the kind we now have the tools to address. These tools are what people are getting from my new EBOOK, The Spark of Self-Love: 3 Simple Steps to Turn Regret, Self-Doubt, and Indecision into Radical Self-Love, Confidence, and Power.
Our very own pain and the stories behind it serve as the threads to embrace our inherent non-duality (i.e., we are one with our divinity) by letting us witness and identify the specific parts of ourselves and others that we have arbitrarily placed outside the “sphere of lovableness.” That separation is the real source of emotional pain.
We are each the caretaker of our own wonder–the one ultimately responsible to undo the programming and re-connect our spirit to this earthly reality. That is all Jesus and other great spiritual teachers are doing and saying: YOU are the one whose imperfection you are here to learn to love, in a forgive-full, no-matter-what kind of way. There is no purpose on earth greater than completely loving ourselves by undoing the learned concepts that separated us to start with. This turning it all over to something well beyond the limits our intellect and ego is what allows us to love others and life as it shows up.
FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT IN 13 MINUTES
I rolled over and dove back under the covers, suddenly sleepy again in the relief of beginning to take my own part via this writing, and knowing they once I had worked the 3 simple step on my own Wheel of Self-Love, I would at some point in the near future feel whole again–excited and curious about the life I have, including this decision and the idea that I have nothing to say about when my fathers’ life will end.
I looked at the clock and it was 6:57 am but still very dark! Dark from the combination of the short near-Solstice Winter day and from the heavy rain and storm cloud hanging over us. When I emerged from under the thick comforter only 13 minutes later, it was quite light out (see pictures). Still a tiny bit overcast–like my heart–but with the promise of a new day and enough light to find my way back to peace and trusting life EXACTLY as it unfolds. That is how long it took me to put the Wheel of Self-Love’s 3 steps to work:
- I found my innocence,
- I faced my worst-case fears, and
- I am starting to give to myself what I thought I needed from others or life.
The gift I am so driven to give the world is the one I have been gifted via all my own physical and emotional pain. I am now thankful for the ways I learned so early and so exquisitely to “give it all away”–even at great cost to myself.
YOU AS MUCH AS ANYONE IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE…..
When we truly grasp the idea that we are fully responsible to be the one who loves, forgives, understands, and advocates for the littlest self that we were in each moment–the one that is always doing the best we can given what we were believing in that moment–we come home and are free of fear regardless of what happens.
Whether your regretful moment happened 13 minutes or 50 years ago, you can return home to inner peace, freedom, and love without conditions. From that place, I leave you two very personal gifts:
1.) The slightly I grammatical scroll hanging on my bathroom door:
“You, as much as anyone in entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
2.) My loving invitation to find this dependable peace yourself by gifting yourself your new Ebook, The Spark of Self-Love! It not only Introduces The Wheel of Self-Love, but walks you through each step and how to apply it, using a true “REGRET HELL” story, ‘Hell in a Candle Lit Bath’ from my own adventures in Entrepreneurship. Just click this link to purchase it:
Have fun. Happy Chanuka and Merry Christmas!
PS—You might say, “Wait, that is not a gift! You are making my buy the f—ing thing!” And you are right, but that is because I know my gift to you all year long has been to provide very substantive and cutting edge content for free. And I also know that the folks who invest in themselves get the biggest gifts of freedom, peace, and unconditional love, as evidenced by the HUGE happiness shifts in those who attend my retreats or commit to the year-long mastermind group. So this invitation to invest $7 on a future-changing gift to yourself IS my gift to you! I often stand for my clients more than they stand for themselves, because I know what is possible. My love goes with you this Holiday Season and the most precious gift I have to offer to usher in a bright new year: CLICK HERE to start on your Journey into the Science of Self-Solidarity via this short, colorful Ebook. xox