Ok, I have to preface this.
I have to preface this to say that I have always been the very first person in line to poo poo anything that stunk with the stank of self-help, particularly the kind carrying the new age/self-help dual diagnosis (books, CDs, movies like The Secret come to mind). I've rejected books and entire movements along these lines almost without exception, out of hand, and without ever even having read them or bothering to find out much about them. That's pretty close-minded, no?
Slowly, however, I've been opening little windows of my mind to allow space for some of these voices--the voices of self-help, even the voices of new age self help--to come in.
A few months ago my cousin recommended Eckart Tolle's A New Earth to me, which I listened to on CD and which helped me begin to enjoy my days at work a little more, just by focusing on the present moment with total awareness and thereby enjoying customer interactions a whole lot more.
Then, a couple of months later, my gal Kelsi began lending me CDs of the seminars by Esther and Jerry Hicks, known as the Law of Attraction movement (of which The Secret is also a part). I have to say I was pretty resistant to listening to these CDs at first, mostly because Esther Hicks, the seminar's main speaker claims to be channeling Abraham. Yes. The Abraham.
But then I started listening to the CDs with an open mind, and I really, really liked what they had to say. They are all about putting the intention out there of what you want your life to look like and living every day with the expectation that this very life you focus on is the one you will come to create. And I have to admit that Esther Hicks, even with her hints of old-fashionedness and her somewhat goofy way of talking--is a very endearing and talented speaker. She is funny, self-deprecating, quick-witted, and wicked sharp.
Sometimes it bums me out a little to think she had to claim to be channeling Abraham in order to get people to listen to her message, because I think her message is worth hearing no matter who it's coming from. Of course I can't disprove that she is channeling a centuries-dead man, but she can't prove it either, so we're at an impasse there. Wherever the message comes from, after the initial trepidation I really began to enjoy listening to those CDs and I now look forward to the chance to borrow a few more from Kelsi every couple of months.
Recently I decided I was ready to add another voice, another perspective, to all the other helpful voices swimming around in my head. Enter Mike Dooley. My parents told me about Mike Dooley because they've been listening to his stuff for years now, and I can say that watching the evidence of his method at work in their lives was the number one thing that opened my mind just a little ways to all this stuff in the first place.
Today's New Activity: Drive-Time Workshop on Infinite Possibilities
I know what you're thinking as you read that. Don't think I'm not WELL aware of how very Anthony Robbins/cheesy-evil that sounds. Don't think I wouldn't be snickering too if you were the one writing this and I were the one reading it. Just so we're clear on that...
About a year ago my Mom introduced me to Mike Dooley's website. She'd told me about the daily thought you could sign up to get via e-mail, which I've been receiving ever since. It's really kind of cute because when you sign up you mention a few of your dreams and every now and then the e-mail message you receive makes specific mention of them. It's always spaced out enough that you forgot having ever shared the info and for a second you go, 'whoah, how did this auto-message know I wanted to go to the tomato-throwing festival in Spain?!?!' (and then you remember). Dooley's writing is very cheeky at times, and incredibly poetic at other times. He knows exactly how much of each to employ, and when, in order to keep you reading the messages.
Anyway, for years now I have been watching my parents dream dreams, and watching those dreams come to pass. They go all out with dream boards and visualization, but the main part of what they do is to always think of the something they want in the present tense and in the positive (so instead of saying or thinking "I hope I can shake my fear," you'd say or think, "I am fearless." That's pretty powerful).
When I write it out like that, it seems as simple as positive thinking and the meditation on mantras. And it is. Mike Dooley's CD, which I listened to on the way to and from work today, did not make specific mention of any groundbreaking twist on this concept, he just said it in a different way and gave lots of examples of how it's been working in his life ever since he was a young college graduate and first dreamed of traveling abroad.
The main message he aims to get across is this: thoughts become things. And in the very first CD, he asks if you can think of any people in your life who seem to always get what they expect, either in the positive or negative sense. And of course I can! People with positive outlooks seem to always have good things happen in their lives, and even when bad things do happen, they don't seem so bad because those people don't focus on those events, don't exploit them, don't decide to adopt them as a way of life. And the inverse is also true. People who say things like, "with my luck..." always have crap luck. Their lives are just one big revolving door of misery and its company.
Months ago I was catching up with a friend from high school, sharing where I was with my then-recent separation and decision to file for divorce. He had been in a 12-year-long relationship that had ended perhaps two years previous, and I'd asked him how he came to terms with the end...how he accepted that this thing that he'd invested so much of his life in was over. He responded that he'd never thought of it that way. That is was okay for him to move on from that relationship (not that it never hurt, but that the acceptance happened) because he just always knew better things were in store for him and his life, and for that of his ex-girlfriend as well. And I know he's always thought of his entire life that way: always expected that good things were in store. I loved that, and it stuck with me. This friend in very successful in his career, has traveled all over, goes to all the exciting events that strike his fancy, and just last month got engaged to a gorgeous and intelligent woman whom he loves completely. I think he's a great example of the power of expecting good things in one's life.
And the thing is, it's not (of course) about just dreaming pipe dreams and waiting around for them to come true. There is work involved, action needed. But in the meantime--the meantime between the dream and its realization--you have to think about something. You are bound to think thousands of thoughts in that meantime. Why not allow them to be thoughts of hopefulness, of the absolute knowledge that you are worthy of your heart's desires? Seriously...what harm could come?
The second part of Mike Dooley's message is getting out of the way. He emphasizes that you won't always know how the thing you want will come to pass. And that sometime you have to let go of your attachment to the how that leads to the what. He advises focusing on the feeling you want to have and letting the details of how you get there be what they will. That's part of the adventure.
Maybe it's the place I am in life right now...open to new methods and new outlooks; maybe it's my age and the knowledge that I don't know everything and that there are plenty of people who have lived longer and can teach a thing or two; maybe it's that I'm just more new age than I ever thought or would have been willing to admit. I don't know, but whatever it is (or all three) that's led me down this path recently, I'm grateful for it. I'm happy to see where it goes...