Long overdue greeting my Hypnolings,
Just when you thought it was safe to go back onto the internet, up I pop again.
Actually, it has been a period of great upheaval and a TON of work and learning, and you, my Hypnolings have always been in the back of my mind. In fact, there were a few times where I was on the brink of letting my ire overrule my compassion when I thought, “How are you going to explain THAT in your blog?” So there; you did a good deed and didn’t even know it.
The first story I knew I was going to have to tell when I got
back to the keyboard, involves the Trip from Hell and the lesson of a lifetime.
I will go into details in future blogs, but let me set the stage. It’s late February and I am getting ready to go to Las Vegas to speak at the ICBCH conference. In the previous three months we had experienced a death in the family, numerous trips out of state to the family home, literally days behind the wheel of one vehicle or another, and all of it during ice storms (I’m not kidding, every event that involved travel during that period happened during its own ice storm). Of course, during all of this, the Center still had to be run and the practice still had to operate. In spite of a lot of intentional deep breathing, I was down to my last nerve.
The presentation I was going to Vegas to give actually represented the findings of my entire life’s work in hypnosis. I was getting ready to go before a gathering of my professional peers and say, “Over the past 45 years, here’s what I learned and what nobody teaches in training. We might want to change the way we think about this.” I was just a teensy bit nervous.
The day in question involved freezing rain and a three-hour drive to an airport that should have only been 45 minutes away. A late takeoff and late arrival at our hub. Missing our connection and having to go through Customer Service in O’Hare at noon on Monday. Slowly moving through the throng of other stranded travelers, when a ‘Customer Service’ rep loudly declares he’s going to lunch. Nearly causing a passenger uprising and getting thrown onto the next flight to Vegas. I never lost my temper; I did enough deep mindful breathing to fill a hot air balloon; and I was seething underneath, but I held it together. Although, I also guarantee that I was not good traveling company.
So there I am on the plane; crammed into a window seat in the butt-end of the plane when my phone slips out of my breast pocket and slides under the seat in front of me…the one which is about a foot away from my face. I had to contort myself and my arm to try to retrieve the phone when, thanks to an old military injury, my right shoulder…loudly…and painfully…pops out of joint. I lost it on the inside!
I was feeling my anger build to the exploding point, folks, I was actually scared that I was going to become that guy I have been working so hard to burry, when that silent space within me asked, “With whom are you angry?” (No kidding, my inner advisor speaks impeccable English).
I had to take a second, but the answer was, “I’m not angry with any individual.”
“Then at what are you truly directing your anger?” it asked.
That’s when the obvious hit me like lightning. I was angry because reality wasn’t agreeing with my preferences. To make matters worse, I was making matters worse by trying to force the way things were into the way I wanted things to be.
As I sat there with silent tears of frustration, rage and pain, I realized that I was throwing an emotional tantrum and when I was done, the world was going to be exactly the way it was, with or without me. That’s when I realized I could continue to make myself and everyone around me miserable, or I could accept the way things were and move on with it.
That moment of Radical Acceptance was magic. I accepted that I was just plain screwed and that I was the one who had screwed myself into that place. I accepted that all my wishes and preferences were not going to change the world at that moment so, denying it would only cause more pain. I let it go.
The moment I realized that the pain, frustration and anger were all of my own making, they went away. OK, the pain was still there (that shoulder is still stiff as a board), but the rest of it just didn’t matter anymore. Once we landed, I knocked my shoulder back into place and hit Vegas with a purpose.
The conference itself was one of the most informative and enjoyable I have ever attended. My own presentation was very enthusiastically received and has led to two journal articles and a largely expanded network of colleagues.
So my friends, my hard learned lesson I give to you for free:
You may be able to influence events that occur in the future, but the only control you have over the Now, is in how you choose to perceive it.
Do or do not. The choice is always yours.