My husband, Angus, and I are on our way back from the Pransky and Associates Working With Couples Training. It was a wonderful experience. I have greater compassion for myself and a deeper trust in the kindness of the innate intelligence guiding me to make the best choices I can based on my understanding in the moment.
I am more clear that any chronic and persistent feelings of shame and guilt I experience are the result of distorted thoughts that get in the way of my ability to have an open mind. As George Pransky said, they are noise in the system, and the noise does not support growth and learning. I do value my conscience and its ability to give me the feedback of thoughts that result in feelings of shame and guilt in order to wake me up and help me to learn, but I see more clearly how there is no need to flagellate myself, and in fact, this self-punishment is detrimental to learning.
I have a new appreciation for my best effort being good enough, and can see how I wasn’t being fair with myself previously by holding myself to expectations and standards that were beyond my level of understanding. I can also see how I would at times judge my husband and children’s behavior as not their best effort, when really I was simply measuring their behavior against my capabilities rather than their own. This prevented me from seeing their efforts as good enough.
It is both humbling and freeing to experience a greater level of compassion and understanding for myself and others. It is a relief to realize that my best effort is good enough and so is everyone else’s. Just this morning when Angus left the bedroom door open when I was lying in bed at the bed and breakfast where we were staying with friends, I was incredulous that he did this, but then I realized this was his best effort. I made a joke of it when he came back rather than being annoyed and irritated. This is a small example, but it helped me to see the many ways I can avoid the trap of irritation, by seeing the innocence of his behavior and by recognizing he is always doing the best he can and that is good enough.
I am also grateful to have a deeper appreciation for the innate intelligence and wisdom in my psychological design that does not require the use of punishment and pressure to get me to perform and bring out the best in myself. I have a deeper trust in my capacity to have fresh thought and see that as the source of moving forward and progressing rather than feeling compelled to pressure myself. I have a greater respect for my wisdom and am less likely to let my fearful and anxious thoughts drive my behavior.
All of this learning gives me greater personal freedom. It helps me to relax and be myself, rather than trying to improve myself. I feel a greater acceptance of the full package of my humanness and my divinity. This gives me a more profound appreciation for what is and who I am in this moment.
This ultimately is a huge gift for relationships. When I have an open-heart, I see my husband, my children, and my friends through the eyes of love. I have room for their humanness and do not take things personally. I see unkind behavior as a reflection of suffering and feel compassion rather than threatened by it.
With an open heart, I can approach any differences that need to be resolved with an open mind. I am willing to see the other person’s perspective. I am open to being moved by their view. I have flexibility. An open heart opens my ears to the wisdom beyond what I think is right, to a deeper knowing that is new and fresh, and beyond my position. It is this territory of understanding that promotes a synergy that supports solutions emerging that work for all parties.
I see the practical power of love to bring people together so they can see beyond their differences to a common ground that can only be seen from a greater level of understanding. I recognize how the consciousness of love resolves internal conflict as well as external conflicts in interpersonal relationships, and can even extend to resolving national and international disputes.
Our capacity to see clearly and to think creatively and productively is the result of an open heart. They go together. An open heart gives us access to the deeper wisdom that we are all capable of. When we get stuck in a problem, we often go to our intellect and what we know to try and resolve it, rather than listening more deeply and opening more fully to something we haven’t seen before.
The Einstein quote, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” makes sense, but how do we improve the quality of our thinking?
What I saw this weekend, is that it is through not dwelling on the details of what is not working and past memories of failures, but instead, looking in the direction of the human capacity for new thought. By zooming out from the minutia of the personal to the big picture of the universal, we gain perspective. We see the universality of how the minds of human beings work, and realize we really all are in the same boat.
This philosophical perspective naturally allowed me to feel more compassion for myself and others. Simply by looking in the direction beyond my personal understanding to the impersonal nature of how the mind works, I felt my wellbeing rise. My love and empathy were more present and palpable. I realized this is where answers come from – from this feeling. It is a state of mind that is practical. It is where solutions come from. I can’t force myself into this level of consciousness, but I can look in the direction beyond my personal thinking and what I know. I can be curious about what emerges from there. I see the reliability and predictability of this even if I am not in control of when fresh thinking comes in.
The more clearly I see this, the easier it is for me to point myself in the direction of my heart when I am feeling stuck, struggling, or am in conflict. Solving problems is easy when I have greater perspective because with a deeper understanding, the problems reveal themselves to be made up of the illusion of my own thinking. Once I see this, the problem can no longer be seen as out there and it can really only be resolved by a change of heart and mind.
Rohini Ross is passionate about helping people wake up to their true nature. She is a psychotherapist, a transformative coach, and author of Marriage (The Soul-Centered Series Book 1). She has an international coaching practice helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of wellbeing, resiliency, and success. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, watch her Vlogs with her husband, Angus Ross, and subscribe to her weekly blog on her website, www.rohiniross.com.