Last week a couple of people asked me — but what’s the point of this work? There are so many ways this could be answered, and here I share a couple of the primary shifts I’ve seen for me, and that I see for clients, which make the world of difference.
“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.” Desmond Tutu
So these were the kind of ‘what’s the point?’ questions I was asked:
‘There’s nothing there — how does that help me at a practical level?’
‘It’s intangible — how can I do anything with that?’
And so, for a very fundamental ‘point’, I would just go straight to Desmond’s quote at the top there and say — this. This right here is the point. Because we’re so busy scurrying around in the downstream content of life and trying to fix things there, that we’re not looking to where it’s all coming from.
But let me expand on this.
Because these questions I was asked are the beautiful questions of the sandbank self, which equates to when life is living through the left hemisphere as primary, who’s attitude we’ve all been trained and conditioned to laud and revere in this Western self-oriented society.
The left hemisphere’s / sandbank self’s primary attitude and questions are ‘How do I do something with this? How do I fix, control and manipulate this into usefulness for me?’ because its focus is the content of life — the stuff we see in front of us — with an objective of ‘how do I stay safe and alive’?
This is a useful focus. I value this focus for all us if we’re ever in a life threatening situation. But, in over-doing it with this left hemisphere way of being, it’s not so great for the planet and our fellow humans because it means we’re walking around in selfish, lack-based, got-to-get-what-I-can-and-quick headspaces.
What’s the point #1 — you get more connected
Thankfully these days you’re very rarely in a life threatening situation, which enables you to open your mind and ask — what else is there to me than this?
You especially come to this question when you see the predominant sandbank-self approach to life leaves you exhausted — chasing your tail in ‘doing’ or ‘controlling’ the world to meet your expectations. ‘What’s the point?’ is a great question that can appear at this stage because it comes from a giving up. A letting go. An inner recognition that how I’ve been taught to be isn’t bringing me more love, connection, balance or fulfilment.
And the instant you let go in the despair of ‘what’s the point’, there is space, and movement, and fluidity, and possibility. Open-ness.
That open-ness doesn’t ask ‘what’s the point?’ it just asks ‘what could this be?’, ‘how could things be?’, ‘what else is available?’ and it views the world as fulfilled wholeness. A connected space of relationships to be enjoyed. Not a place to be used in order that…
So through this work the left-hemisphere gets rightfully demoted from its attempts to drive the bus of our life and returns the right-hemisphere to its position as loving leader, with the left increasingly aligning to work in service to that.
So ‘what’s the point’ #1 — you get more connected. This is the fulfilment you’re looking for. Connection with Self first, and then connection with others and the world naturally follows.
What’s the point #2 —you get real
I was invited into a lived experience of this today, as if to perfectly bring me evidence for this post! More about that later, but first, notice how it’s easy to think that, once you’ve awakened, or set out on the path of enlightenment, you will reach a point where it’s all sunlight and roses, where you float through life on a flatline of bliss.
In the last Book Group (see playlist of videos here), that was a big discussion point in the early stages of The Greatest Secret when having a life of endless happiness was being offered — and something in us said…really? That doesn’t sound real, or human, to always be happy.
And it’s not. Not in the way we normally think of happiness.
It can be a tricky word here because we imagine Polly Anna style grins slapped on people’s faces. And so instead, ‘contentment’ or ‘OK-ness’ can often be more resonant with the actual experience. And yes, we feel happier on the surface too — but not absent of other emotions — because we are designed for all of it, and now all of it is underpinned by this contentment.
If anything, you get more real, with more emotions.
Oh lord! That sounds so terrible to the mind that’s been trained to keep emotions under control. To keep calm and carry on. To look capable, professional and ‘on it’.
But, again, how exhausating that is. Because it doesn’t mean you’ve got your emotions under control. It just means you’re suppressing them.
You might be reading this thinking that’s not you. I would have said that too a few years ago — I thought I was pretty sorted and had my emotions well under control. Unflappable, that’s me! Except…with my kids. Oh yeah — definitely not calm there. Definitely flappable there. Oh and if I’m running late — pretty stressed there. And if I feel I’ve got too much to do — yep, eruptions happened there too. And joy? Well, that was pretty absent. In the suppression of the ‘negative’ (btw: it’s not really negative) we also suppress the ‘positive’.
What I see now is that my emotions weren’t ‘under control’ they were just being kept down and then occasionally spilling into life.
From that perspective, emotions do look pretty terrifying
Wow! These emotions do bad things to my behaviour and to those around me. I really don’t want more of them!
But this isn’t the natural way of emotions. It’s like they’re a bottle of bubbly drink being shaken and shaken and then the cork bursts out.
Our natural way with emotions is to ride smoothly over the waves of them, like a surfer on their board waiting for the next big wave, and when it comes, riding it with strong-cored grace. Wooping with delight or terrified by the height but knowing we’re OK.
And the only way to get to there — to the strong cored grace — is to look to what we are before any of the changeable wave-like stuff in the foreground. To look to the intangible, empty nothingness before thought.
And to see through the un-truthfulness of the thoughts themselves, that lead to the cork-bursting moments.
The more this is done, the more you become ‘more surfer, less cork bursty’.
And that doesn’t mean, always happy. Waves go up and down, emotions go up and down. We do happy and sad. It’s just that emotions get less scary so we don’t need to push them down anymore.
The example that came into my life…
…perfectly for this post, was my daughter not wanting to be at school for two days. Lying in bed, not getting up because she dislikes the school experience so much.
For the first day I felt fine with it. It’s happened before, she had a rest day and then she was back. But on the second day, and she looked so fed up, I started to feel more concerned, and — being real — scared. What if I can never get her back to school again? What if she’s so unhappy with being forced through this archaic system that she completely loses all the joy and free-spirited-ness that we knew her for when she was younger. What if this is the beginning of depression?
The incredible creative capacity of the mind to imagine terrible futures, make them look convincing, and then scare us with that convincingness.
At the time, I wasn’t aware of the narratives particularly, it just looked bad and, when school got in touch to ask if they could help, tears flowed out of me. A release of the fear. Touched by the beauty of them offering help, and allowing the recognition that, yes, I do want some help with this. I’m scared.
I can’t know of course what I’d have done if this happened 3+ years ago but I have a hunch that the fear would have been internally overwhelming. All of it running through my head, being taken as fixed and definite, and being layered up with further story about what that means for me — what this says about me as a parent — just to add extra fizz to the shaken bottle. And then the cork of emotion would most likely have burst out at her, in anger, as though she was the cause of me feeling so fearful.
Back then, I wouldn’t have even known I was scared, I’d have just thought I was angry, and rightfully so.
And that’s OK — that’s why this work is so kind
Because it reminds us of the non-judgemental space of our essence. That seemingly ‘intangible nothingness’ that appears to have no useful or practical purpose in this ‘real’ world, is in fact the unconditional love you’re looking for. It’s the non-judgement you’re looking for. It’s the compassion and understanding you’re looking for. And it’s not ‘out there’.
And that. Knowing that, and where that is — changes the game entirely.
So ‘what’s the point’ #2? We get real with what’s going on. We stop throwing blame out there when it’s our own scary stories that are upsetting us. And we become the surfer in the waves.
Always OK — and now we can ride all the emotions.
So I’ve shared just two of a plethora of ‘the points’ of this work. But trust me, all of it is what you want. And all of it is already available. In you.
Tell me what occurs to you? Does this seem worth spending time understanding?
With love, Helen
We began the Book Group for Amy Johnson’s “Just a Thought” on 3rd Jan 22. You can still get the read-along content and resources by becoming a member on any tier here.
I coach and guide smart, passionate, curious people who care about improving the lives of those around them. Often coaches and leaders, they’ve worked hard all their lives to be the ‘best’ them and it doesn’t seem to have delivered the happiness, security or freedom they expected. Now they’re wondering what else is available. I guide you back, prior to stories, to remember the real you because that’s what you, me and the whole world really wants! Find out more here.