Transforming Hopelessness #1

Hopelessness—it hits most of us, one time or another. Sometimes I feel like most of my clients are trying to convince me that some part of their lives is hopeless.  They have all kinds of reasons that they can’t have the relationship, the career, the health, the money or the peace that they want.  At the same time, a part of them desperately wants to know that it is actually not hopeless after all.  It’s like a clash of the two movies “Reality Bites” and “Field of Dreams”.  One part of them is despondent and depressed, and the other part is hoping beyond hope that if they build it, they will come. Which role do I hold?  I hold a place of possibility and belief.  I believe completely and fully that my clients can have what they want out of life.  I believe what they dream of is possible. But let me just say, I am not coming from a magical thinking, “if they just say a bunch of cheesy affirmations it will all just happen” perspective.  I know that there is practical work that we all need to do, in order to accomplish our dreams.  I also know that there truly is hope.  It is possible.  Let me say that again: It is possible. How do we live with a sense of possibility?  How often do we listen to our friends and community from a place of believing in what is possible?  How often do we bolster the dreams of those around us?  Or do we align with people’s fears?  Do we agree with them, and help them grow doubts? I notice the pattern of agreeing about hopelessness a lot with women when they are talking about dating.  One woman might say “yeah, there are just not a lot of good men out there” and then another woman say’s “yeah, you are so right about that.”  Ladies, how is this supposed to help at all?  Of course there are great men out there; I meet them all the time.  The world is full of great men; there are literally hundreds of thousands of them. Okay, so how do we start moving out of hopelessness into possibility?  The easiest place to start is often with other people.  For some reason, we are generally able to support others better than ourselves in the beginning. Start with how you listen.  Did you know that how you listen to someone can dramatically change their experience?  If there is a friend that is struggling with something they might feel is hopeless, as you listen to them begin to imagine what it will look like when their situation is resolved.  Imagine them capable, worthy and competent to solve whatever is plaguing them.  Imagine all the possible ways that their situation might get worked out.  Imagine them happy and joyful. Hold all of this possibility while you are listening to them compassionately.  Then, if it makes sense, tell them how you can see them getting exactly what they want.  Tell them about your image of them being capable and worthy of all they want in life.  Share with them the image you have of them fulfilled and happy. Then, notice what happens.  How do you feel speaking these possibilities to your friend? What kind of reaction do you get?  Does it lift your mood at all? Practice listening for possibility, and let me know how it goes! Read more »

The Dragon’s in Our Lives

I love this poem from Rilke: “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” I think about it a lot when I am working with my clients.  So often we have strong feelings of pain, jealousy, disgust or rage that seem like awful feelings.  In a way, those feelings are dragons.  They seem gnarly and evil, snarling at us to pay attention to them.  They also feel out of control and like they are causing havoc in our lives. But most of the time when one of these “dragons” come up for my clients, my response is “Great!”.  Usually the person has something that needs tending to.  And that’s where the princess that needs saving is.  Usually under all of the rage or pain, there is a helpless part of us that never got his or her needs met.  It might be a lonely 4 year old, or a scared 7 year old huddling in the corner. So what do we do with that little prince/ss inside that needs saving?  Save them of course! We are after all, the hero that we have been waiting for.  It can be a little tricky sometimes, but if we can see past the dragon of feelings, to the younger part that needs saving, we can often soothe that young part.  We can identify what that young part of us needs to hear and say it to them. So, you might be thinking “What do you mean Sefora? Talk to myself?  Isn’t that a bit strange or psychotic?” Yes, I do mean talk to yourself.  Although this doesn’t have to be out loud.  And if you think about it, you are probably already talking to yourself all the time–just critically.  I mean how many of us have internal dialogues that say “you really shouldn’t have done that” or “come on, get your act together!”  So I am suggesting that you try saying some nice things to yourself.  But specifically, saying something to the sweet, little, young, scared part of you the things that it needs to hear.  Examples are “I see you”, “you’re safe”, “you’re loved”, “you’re beautiful” etc…  It helps to actually imagine a young child you that really needs assurance. If you can soothe that part of yourself, then you really do become the knight in shining armor.  Over time, the need to have someone else save the day lessens as well. So go for it.  Be the roaring dragon, be the princess needing saving, and the prince all in one swoop! Read more »