Posted by Misha Henckel
Seems like we are walking through times that are filled with all sorts of difficulties, and it is quite universal. Almost everyone I know is feeling it in one way or another, whether in their pocketbook, their significant relationship or marriage, their health, or with the loss of their job or of a loved one.
It is not fun when our lives are shaken up by change. We humans really, really like certainty and security. But these are clearly not the times for that. So what are we to do? The challenge of intense change is here. How should we respond?
I have been contemplating this very deeply, of late, for in my case, I have been facing the recent, and very unexpected death of a younger brother. In the midst of the pain, the sadness, the discomfort of dealing with this loss, the answer is clear: I must simply accept what is.
This is vital for me right now, and for everyone who is faced with difficult circumstances. Acceptance does not mean resignation, giving up, or not taking needed action. Acceptance means we are connected with reality. It means that we are not pretending, avoiding or sticking our heads in the sand. Only when we accept what is, can we take the next step and make the necessary response.
I have a client, an amazing and gifted woman, who is dealing with the loss of a parent and of her job in the same month. Impossible stuff! But by staying in the moment, by not giving into fearful interpretations of what is happening, and mostly by completely accepting what is, she is rapidly moving into a place where she is able to create new possibilities for herself.
We can spend a lot of time arguing with reality, “Why is this happening to me?”
Or fighting with ourselves, “How could I be so stupid!”
We could get stuck in worry, self doubt, or negative thinking and believe the world is crashing down around us. But none of that is of any use, it only makes matters worse. Simply accepting the circumstance or event, without making up stories about what it means, is the best, first-response to a big life challenge.
Acceptance means being present. It means breathing in and out. It means feeling the feeling, whatever it may be. And acceptance allows us to act potently.
El Malei Rachamim is the traditional memorial prayer wherein we ask the divine to reclaim the soul of our departed loved one. It is a prayer based on the deepest acceptance of the true nature of life. And as I found out, it is a most powerful, most remarkable prayer for wholeness and completion.
Yes, acceptance is the foundation for transcending whatever challenge we may be facing. For as much as it may seem otherwise, we are not victims of life. Within us, resides our soul, that divine spark that can fill us with the inner strength and courage we need so that we can accept change, move forward, create anew.
Misha Henckel leads workshops and advises business leaders and world changers. Follow her on Twitter @mishahenckel. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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September 23, 2010 | 1:29 pm
Posted by Misha Henckel
When you get right down to the nitty gritty of actually forgiving someone, what you’re really doing amounts to a change of heart.
That’s right! Forgiveness means changing the condition of your heart.
When we judge someone, or we hold a grudge, when we are bitter or resentful, we carry those feelings in our heart. Our hearts are affected by the feelings we carry in them. They become hardened, walled up, cold.
Imagine that! The most important organ in our body, the center of our inner strength, the portal of our soul – shut down by anger, bitterness or resentment.
That’s just no way to live!
Our hearts are meant to be radiant and powerful, filled with love, and with the light of our souls pouring out. Our hearts are meant to be used to make our lives and the lives of those around us joyful… wonderful.
Of course, there will always be people who hurt us, in big and small ways. That’s just part of the human journey. But then it’s for us to do the work to release that person from their act of hurt, to free ourselves from the entrapment of bitterness, to get right down to our hearts and open them up again to life.
That’s the real work for us humans – to forgive, to transform the pain, to change our hearts, to let love flow. Everyday of the year!
September 15, 2010 | 6:49 am
Posted by Misha Henckel
Forgiveness is something we need to be practicing all year round. Without it, how could our relationships possibly survive? Truth is they don’t. So many of our relationships are barely alive, the light in them snuffed out by the toxic baggage of suppressed resentment, anger, or even rage. We may be walking through our days and our relationships just going through the motions, having long given up on the other person, having long given up on ourselves. They have hurt us, we believe, not necessarily in big ways, but unrelentingly in small ways. They do not see us for who we really are. They do not hear us anymore. They believe they know us, but they don’t. And that’s the pain – it’s what the numbness inside now hides.
Deeper forgiveness, the forgiveness for the little things, this can breathe life back into relationships. When we forgive the other, we are able to see them with new eyes and hear them with fresh ears. And love can flow again - Love, the healer of all things, the bringer of new possibilities.
This season of repentance (and throughout the year) Dear G-d, let me give of forgiveness to all, that I may be able to look at those in my life anew, that I may once again share love with those that I love. Amen.
September 4, 2010 | 6:14 pm
Posted by Misha Henckel
This is the time for repentance, return, transformation – and the key to it all is forgiveness: Asking for forgiveness, and forgiving.
We ask forgiveness of G-d and of others, and we can forgive others.
To engage in any degree of forgiveness takes real work, digging deep, being willing to be open, and opening for transformation - the stuff of real growth. At this time of year, this “real work” awaits us with a greater degree of urgency and we become more aware that we must forgive. What we may not know, what we may overlook, is that not only must we forgive others but we must forgive ourselves.
The transformation, the healing, the wholeness that forgiveness brings is not complete unless we are willing to release the anger, judgement, guilt, or shame that we hold against ourselves. Forgiveness finds its fullness when we ask for and find the capacity to grant ourselves forgiveness.
I have found that if I am struggling to forgive someone, what works is to first forgive myself for whatever went wrong. It doesn’t matter that you may perceive the other person to be the wrongdoer. Forgiving yourself allows a deeper inner openness, a release, that allows you to let go and more easily forgive the other. It also allows the forgiveness to be true and complete.
How many times have you “forgiven” someone only to find that the hurt is still there, that you still hold a grudge, that you are still angry and not free of the past? Forgiving yourself can help complete the forgiveness process and allow you to truly break free of the past and open to new beginnings. Forgiving yourself may be the key to healing a long broken relationship, or to transforming hurt and pain and becoming available to more wholeness.
At this season of deep inner work may we find the willingness not only to forgive all who’ve hurt us, but to forgive ourselves, that we may move forward with greater freedom and wholeness.
July 27, 2010 | 11:45 am
Posted by Misha Henckel
So and so lost their job, has cancer, is getting divorced, has a child with autism, lost their sister in a car accident, lost all their retirement money in the downturn…
Used to be that bad things happened to “other” people, and we believed we were somehow immured from the “downs” of life. Today, those illusions are gone. “So and so” are you and me. These past few years in particular, Life has been intent on waking us from our delusions of self. We have been provided an endless array of challenges, with each person getting just the kind needed to rip through our defenses, bring us to our knees and force us to face reality.
But why? Why couldn’t it all just be a wonderful flow of happiness, prosperity, and good things? Loss and pain is a part of life, but why has it intensified?
It’s not because Life is out to get us, or that we are being punished for our sins, or any such pessimistic view. Through the right lenses these challenge-full times can be the doorway to exactly the life that we are seeking, and happiness, true prosperity and all good things may very well await us. Should we cease resisting the path and embrace all that we encounter, we may find that we are learning to live in a new way. And that new way provides all that we could ask for.
In accepting our “loss” we are able to release the shenanigans of the ego. As we are freed of the ego we come into the present moment.
Living in the present is the answer to whatever we may be facing. It is the new way of being required to live on this planet.
In the present, our souls can come through… And isn’t that what we’ve all been waiting for? The power, the joy, the genius of our soul.
June 17, 2010 | 10:36 am
Posted by Misha Henckel
If you’ve ever felt stuck, helpless, like your life has come to an end and you do not know what to do, you do not know what comes next, or you do not know which way to turn, then you know exactly how I had been feeling for a while. It’s quite horrible, really, and so there’s a term for it - psychological IMPASSE. It’s as if everything you know no longer applies. It just no longer works. So you try harder, put in more effort, give it your all and still nothing happens. Living has become impossible. As if the rules for Life have changed and no one saw it fit to tell you.
I know I’m not the only one who, in these past months, has felt something akin to this.
We are in this period of intense global change – multi-paradigm shifts, all at the same time. The result in layman’s terms – the (bleep) is hitting the fan. And everybody is affected either at a macro level or more directly in our personal lives. For me it’s been the ending of one phase of my life and the need to begin a new chapter. Took me a while to figure it out, but then it was clear that it was time for me to really be getting on with what I know I’m meant to be doing.
Easier said than done!
When the change around us is comprehensive, we need to change ourselves. As I was working though my own need to change myself, my modus operandi, and my beliefs about myself and the world, I came across a rather remarkable book: Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths by Timothy Butler (Harvard University Press). It is brilliant and perfect for the time, and I strongly recommend it for anyone and everyone.
According to Butler, one of the signs of IMPASSE is the feeling of self-doubt that begins to creep up on you. Life as you’ve done it is no longer working and you are beginning to doubt yourself. Maybe you made the wrong choice. Or, maybe you don’t have it in you; you’re just not good enough. I found myself questioning things I had never ever doubted before. Maybe I was in the wrong profession after all. Or maybe, it’s impossible to raise kids single-handedly and do things I wanted to do. You know, take my work to a whole other level. Perhaps I should just wait till they grew up… Or maybe I should chuck it all in and get a “regular” job.
My “old” ways of doing things were no longer working, and I couldn’t find the way out. I certainly could not create new possibilities with old methods, beliefs, or ways of thinking. This is a classic symptom of IMPASSE, according to Butler. A trigger event (usually some significant change or loss) brings us to a dead end and we are forced to look at life differently because if we continue to “use the old ways it will just mean more pain.”
While it can seem like a traumatic experience, one to be avoided at all costs, IMPASSE actually is a very powerful means toward “breakthrough.” It signifies the coming to an end of one chapter of life, or of a particular role, or way of being. When we are caught in an IMPASSE crisis, we are required to let go of the old and step into the new.
It is unquestionably human nature to sink into the comfort of the familiar, even when we know in our hearts that it’s doing nothing for us. The pain of IMPASSE forces us to awaken, to be open and vulnerable, to release the clutches of past habits and patterns and to embrace the path forward – even when we don’t know what to do, or how to do it, and there are no guarantees.
For me, IMPASSE was forcing me to give up patterns that I had used all my life. Those patterns had always “worked” for me. But now, for what I wanted to do next, for where I needed to go, those patterns were the problem. I have always been the self-sufficient, I can do all by myself, let’s take on the world and win, kind of person. And that had to change. Moving forward, I am going to have to really open up to input, guidance, and support from others. Lots and lots of it! It’s my new path… Write and tell me about yours. email@example.com
June 3, 2010 | 9:25 pm
Posted by Misha Henckel
Like so many others, I have been deeply disturbed and quite despondent over recent events in the waters off of Gaza. I wanted to write something here, but was loath to add to the wanton opining from a distance by many who seem so ready to add fuel to an already raging conflagration.
Then earlier today, I received some words of wisdom from my friend Rabbi Ken Chasen - guidance that I believe provides both the perspective and the intention we need to have in response to the crisis. I have shared them with you below:
Ever since we awakened on Memorial Day to the awful news regarding the Gaza flotilla tragedy, our hearts have been heavy with concern, both for the dead and wounded and for the future of Israel and its neighbors. As we have attempted to sort through our own feelings of despair and outrage, we have been immersed in a sea of conflicting accounts, opinions and condemnations, all of which have served to confuse more than to clarify. We will surely need to display some patience in order to understand the specifics of what did and did not happen on that ship off of Gaza, but in the meantime, we do not have the luxury of patience as we seek to do our part in charting a course that ensures a democratic Israel living peacefully with its neighbors.
In the aftermath of Monday’s events, one thing is clearer than ever before – the status quo which produced this standoff simply cannot be perpetuated anymore. With great pain, we have seen yet again that the status quo neither creates long-term security for Israelis nor affords proper human dignity to Palestinians, especially in Gaza, where the suffering is undeniable. Nobody is winning this war, yet both sides seem unable to choose a different course of action.
At this time of deep frustration and fears about the future, I hope you will join with me in advocating for a bold change of direction in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. It will require courage to choose a different future. There are many reasons to question the safety, fairness or practicality of the various alternatives to the status quo. But we already know where the road upon which we are currently traveling leads. Monday provided only the latest evidence. To continue down that same road and expect a different result is irrational and, as we have seen again this week, endlessly destructive.
May we look back years from now and remember this tragedy as the catalyst that led at last to a better tomorrow. If we want it to happen, we must join in making it so.~ Rabbi Ken Chasen (excerpt from an email to the congregants of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles)
May 25, 2010 | 9:06 am
Posted by Misha Henckel
We all have them or have had them. They’re the ones that drive you crazy, that trigger you no matter how much you have resolved to stay calm and in control. And when you have decided quite emphatically that you are done, they’re the ones that keep pulling you back, sucking you into the same circular drama that never seems to end.
So why, and what is to be done about them, these impossible relationships?
Having had my fair share, I am firmly of the belief that an impossible relationship is not the kind you should run from. Chances are you will repeat the drama with someone else. No, these kinds of relationships have a very important hidden message, one that is the key to us making progress, moving forward, getting to the next level of our life. They show up, not because life is out to get us – the contrary. They are there for us to become the person we are meant to be, or at least a better, more whole version of ourselves.
Impossible relationships hold a piece of the puzzle of our inner selves, and when they show up the best response is to open up to change and new possibilities. Welcome the growth and then get on with the inner exploration needed to find your balance. If you take the position that the relationship is there to challenge you to become more whole, you will have the perspective you need to see behind the surface and understand that it’s not about what the other person did or didn’t do. It’s more likely all about you growing up, you honoring yourself, you valuing yourself, you doing what you need to do for you.
The secret to cracking the code of impossible relationships is to treat yourself the way you want the other person to treat you. Then and only then will you be able to successfully move on, or finally create a more healthy version of things.