Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Law of Attraction and third world atrocities

On Rape as a Weapon of War, my Messy Divorce, and How Choosing to Take Responsibility for your Thoughts Makes Both of These Things Better.

I’m one of those “Twitter” people. I can’t seem to stop tweeting my every move – From coffee with a colleague to my opinions on Prop 8 – it’s all out there and I love it. So when I have a particularly clear or delicious though, you know I’m going to condense it into 140 characters and tweet it out.

Recently, I tweeted this thought:

“Believe it or not, neither the number on the scale nor your bank balance are inherently good or bad. You impose meaning w/ your thoughts.”

I wrote this just after I looked at my bank balance and thought: “Perfect!” as I wrote a check for $6,542, virtually emptying my savings account. And then I hopped on the scale and thought “253 pounds, Perfect!” exactly where I want to be today.

And then, I couldn’t stop laughing. I mean it was like I was sucking down helium balloons. Ask 10 strangers on the street and I’m pretty sure they would say 253 pounds is not a good amount to weight and $0 is not a good balance for a savings account. But for me, I loved it and I was empowered and invigorated by both numbers.

I love my weight right now because it provides the cleanest, clearest way I can communicate with myself at a time it’s extremely important I listen to myself. I am taking lots of risks and part of how I know if I am heading in the right direction is by the direction of my weight. As I move closer to my most authentic self, my body seems to be miraculously gravitating to a lower natural weight. I’m not stressed, not dieting, and I have never felt better or more beautiful.

When I wrote the check I was smiling. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend sixty-five hundred plus dollars and I LOVED that I could write that check and pay that bill. I felt lucky to be able to solve a problem by writing a check and I felt confident that money will continue to come to me and my savings account will be plenty full when I next need it. Money has always been easy for me.

Of course I didn’t say all of this on Twitter. I just quietly made the observation and moved on with my day. But that simple post got 36 comments. It was like a Washington Post article about Michelle Rhee

Here was one comment:

“So if you're penniless and massively underweight due to malnutrition, you can just think your way out of it?”

I thought about it and said: “In a way… you can: if you think "I'm penniless," for instance, you'll continue to be. If you can find ways you aren't penniless... Ways you are rich... And focus on them, it's CRAZY but you actually create more richness. Now granted... if your situation is so dire - you are in Sudan in a refugee camp - it's going to be REALLY hard to believe there's a way out. But it happens. Look at Super Model and former Sudanese refugee Alek Wek for instance. Point is whether you think you’re penniless or you don't, you’re right. What you dwell on, you create more of.”

And that opened up Pandora’s Box on “The Law of Attraction” and third world atrocities. I did this too when I first started with coaching with Brooke Castillo. She’s say some version of – whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. And I’d come up with 625 extreme examples to hold up as exceptions to the rule.

Now if you know Ms. Castillo you know that wouldn’t cause her to back down for a second, so she hung with me – through each raped, pregnant 12 year old; genitally mutilated 9 year old; and fire-wood-gathering Sudanese refugee. It’s not the easiest way to learn the law of attraction. So much better to manifest a cup of coffee and take it from there. But I didn’t want to learn the law of attraction, I wanted to analytically prove it wrong. And what I attracted were more analytical arguments about other things being wrong. But hey, if you are like me, and you like to take the long way home and understand how the law of attraction works in the most dire circumstances before you go applying it to your own life, you might be interested in my answer to this question I got in response to my tweet:

“Could you really tell someone who, for example, has had their limbs chopped off with a machete and been raped by Charles Taylor's crew that all they need to succeed is a positive outlook? Surely that's just an excuse not to help other people? (They don't have a positive outlook, they don't deserve aid.)”

Actually what I would say everyone in that position 100% deserves aid. But sadly there usually isn't enough to go around. I would say the more positive you are that you are your family will get the help you need the more likely it will happen? Why? If you think - this is horrible no one will ever help me you are likely to curl up in a dark corner and die. But if you can get your head to the place where you say 'F them! I am going to survive... You, scream, crawl, beg, or otherwise position yourself somewhere you'll get help. Same circumstance. Different thoughts. Different results.

For decades I have been trying to strategically and tactically with great strength, force, and will trying to rearrange circumstances... I mean, I've gone to Herculean lengths. And I'm really good at it.... AND ... mercifully... I am not even at the will of Charles Taylor and his men. But it still was not getting me the results I wanted. When I was able to change what I made the circumstances themselves mean to me, for me, and by me - with no change at all to the circumstances... I got what I wanted.

I have been through a multi-year divorce which has cost me about tens of thousands of dollars and has been going on for years. The divorce has been high in angst and drama. For a long time I made this circumstance mean something horrible - like wrong was done to me and I needed to tell everyone the details - I needed to make it right... I needed to get justice... whatever - I made it mean a lot of things... but when I changed the meaning, the entire circumstance seemed to change... Still in the divorce so no change in circumstance there... but once I turned the thought from

"This isn't fair and is driving me to the poor house." to "I already have what I want and it's just a matter of time until the lose ends are tied up." (but equally true by the way) the fact I have to go to court every once in a while became more of a hobby than a chip on my shoulder.

And now here's the funny thing... once I stopped being obsessed by how this experience was ruining my life (dramatic tone intentional) I stopped calling up my lawyer with new strategies and tactics... SO MATERIALLY something DID change... my monthly bills are going down because I changed my thought. Oh and another thing changed.... my ex and I have spent more time together and while I am not signing up to get remarried it was nice to take our kid to school together on the first day without any drama.

I want to be clear, this isn't about blaming the victim - a circumstance is just that - a circumstance. Certainly I have a lot of empathy for someone raped under the Charles Taylor regime but I can't change that someone was raped. I do know what can change by changing your thoughts is that tomorrow can be a better day.

I'm not trying to convince at all... but if you are up for it - try this wacky experience the next time you have a negative feeling about something. Let's say you have to go to a meeting you don't want to go to. The circumstance is ... 'there is a meeting'. Now you add on this thought: "I have to go and I don't want to". Ultimately that's not true, even if there was a gun to your head you could choose to go rather than risk having your head blown off or you could choose not to go and see if you get shot. If you can find an equally true thought that is an upgrade - not necessarily positive... but just change "I have to go to this meeting and I don't want to" to "I'm choosing to go to this meeting so I guess I do want to be there." and if you can really OWN and BELIEVE the upgraded though... See how it changes the circumstance for you. It's nutty, but I guarantee the results will blow you away. It works every time.