…. Continued from Spark of Love [PART I]:
I am SO blessed that I rarely live in REGRET HELL anymore – regret about how I am spending my time… my money… my words… my actions… or my love.
Because I am no longer hugely plagued by that idea that there are ‘wrong’ outcomes, I am simply no longer hugely plagued by that kind of fear (the fear underlying so many other fears): That of falling into a bottomless pit of REGRET HELL.
But lately REGRET HELL has been raising its sneaky head in one place: GROWING A SMALL BUSINESS! (Well, parenting can sometimes be a close second; and there there’s ALL relationships….but I’ve come SO far in that realm that I’m OK with my progress!)
Trying to start a business or any challenging endeaveor can appear to undo all our gains and threaten re-entry into the potentially eternal fire of REGRET HELL. I love being in a place where I get to help people transform such horribly painful and out-of-sync responses to life (like REGRET HELL), into greater peace and freedom. How cool is that?
And yet, the radically helpful nature of this work makes me SO motivated to share what I’ve got that it puts me back in a place where the stakes feel very high and the outcomes feel very real (i.e., “I need to ‘reach’ the people who want or need what I have”–even if they don’t know it yet).
Nothing in this business-building endeavor has pushed my buttons more than the last month of broadening my reach by writing to you with time-sensitive material. I seem to have steam-rolled right over my comfort level.
I Shouldn’t have Sent It!
So, within minutes of hitting the SEND button on last night’s email, I dove head-first into REGRET HELL. I saw so clearly what I “should have done differently” and began re-living what “would have been better.”
“What I sent will alienate the new people!
“They will all unsubscribe.”
“They won’t ever really know me.”
“Why did I change the subject line?”
“That subject line sounds too ‘markety!”
“It will drive away the people who know and love me.”
“They will unsubscribe.”
“Both groups will hate it!”
“They will hate ME.”
“They won’t ever get the benefit of what I have to offer.”
So there I was, sitting in a deep tub of hot water in my beautiful bathroom with lit candles at midnight–big soft snowflakes falling outside–and I was drowning (in REGRET HELL). Instead of relaxing and enjoying the triumph of completing a mission, I was flogging myself with the images of what “could have been” and the horrible things that “will be.”
While REGRET HELL can happen around any topic, those of you in the small business (and parenting) world know that these endeavors can bring out whatever last shreds of co-dependence are left. By nature, they put our monkey minds over into other people’s business – it even feels like ‘our business’ to be in the business of what other people think – which can take us completely away from loving ourselves ‘as-is’.
It sometimes feels like their love, approval and appreciation is in charge of our survival. I am finding that it is a powerful and benevolent teacher; benevolent in that I can depend on it to show me where I the thoughts I’m believing have led me to abandon myself in the most cruel ways.
BUT NOW, the difference is….when I DO slip into REGRET HELL, I know what to do. I love that I simply don’t stay in emotional pain for very long now. In fact, I rarely need to do a full-blown inquiry in The Work to ‘see through’ the thoughts that put me there (although it has even bigger gifts when I do).
How did I get out of REGRET HELL in 5 minutes?
I just needed to find my own innocence. And as a result, I only spent about 5 minutes in REGRET HELL–rather than lying awake and still hating myself days or even weeks later.
“You found your own innocence.” But what does that mean? How does it work?
It means I went back in time and looked to see what I was thinking in THE EXACT MOMENT when I changed the subject line and thought it was the best timing to hit ‘SEND.’
I saw that there were no malicious motives. I saw that I was just innocently believing a thought, which I didn’t even plan to believe. It was more like a spontaneous ‘happening.’
I witnessed that – in that unfolding – I truly felt that changing the subject line and hitting SEND was a vote for both me and the people receiving the post! In THAT moment, I truly believed it was the best thing.
Seeing–and Loving– The Innocent Believer
The ‘Shawn’ of that moment–the one who believed whatever she happened to believe in the convergence of ALL THAT IS in that moment–was simply acting out of that belief. Without a great deal of conscious awareness that we are not our thoughts, we can not do otherwise.
There was NO other reality from which to act given the set of beliefs that converged in her mind at that moment. That little excited, scared, well-meaning soul–The Innocent Believer that was ME back in that moment–was absolutely doing the best she could, given what she was believing.
THAT IS WHAT WE FORGET WHEN WE GO INTO REGRET HELL.
In fact, the belief that was driving the bus was full of loving intentions for me and for those I was writing to, even if it was driven by fear or anger. It was me coming up with a way to ‘make things better.’
It was SO easy last night (once I stopped doing the hindsight game) to see that all is well. To stop putting my faith in whatever outcomes I THOUGHT I wanted from sending the email, and start putting it back into the unfolding of ABSOLUTE GRACE that comprises life.
The reason going into REGRET feels so much like internal hell to us is that It is the little ‘innocent believer’ we are beating up. The one that is absolutely doing the best he or she can, given what we are believing.
Every time–no exceptions.
No wonder I felt so little and scared and in need of affirmation from ‘the grown-ups!’ Part of what I had been believing was that I needed to hear from others that I was OK. But I found that the only one that innocent believer needed to hear it from was me.
I needed me to give me permission and validation and love for showing up EXACTLY the way I did. I needed ME to understand me. And I was complelty unavaible for that little one. I was off worshiping idols–images of what ‘could have been.’ This is the kind of idol worship that truly separates us from the divine unfolding.
The SPARK OF LOVE
We don’t CHOOSE to believe the thoughts we find ourselves believing in any given moment – it is just a convergence – neural networks firing in habitual patterns, societal programming and old stories we may not even believe any more when we look at them more closely.
While there are ways to undo the beliefs that put you in REGRET HELL, the short and very sweet undoing of it is to look further and find what I have stated calling the “Spark of Love” (another new book title of mine).
It’s radical that if you KEEP LOOKING, you will always find the really good-hearted motive behind the most dastardly deed.
Often it is love for ourselves, because that inner ‘little one’ is scared and making an effort to protect ourselves from some old story or fear. Either way, it is grounded in good intentions. I cannot find a time when I haven’t believed I was helping myself, my child, someone else, the organization or family I’m part of, or the planet.
I haven’t been able to find a truly malicious motive in anyone else either.
Even in the cases of retaliation, people BELIEVE they are doing the most loving thing for another or for themselves. The slightly ungrammatical thing hanging on my bathroom door quotes Buddha as saying, “You, yourself, as much as anyone in entire Universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Sometimes we say that making a choice on our own behalf is “selfish” or “bad!” But, if you believe what Buddha says there, then you can love and affirm the part of you that was doing something “Bad” (even if that something hurt someone else in an effort to protect yourself). That was still the “spark of love”–love for yourself.
But HOW, really, did I find that innocent one–did I discern the SPARK OF LOVE and fall in love with myself and my circumstances when I was in the throes of believing I was all wrong and hating myself for it? Since I promised shorter posts, I will continue that part tomorrow (really).
I did it by asking what may be “the Most Transformative Question of my Life.”
I will share it in Spark of Love [PART III}: The Question that Stops Regret Hell in its Tracks.
More sooner than later,
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