I re-learned an important lesson last week while on my morning jog. I was listening to Dave Stochowiak’s podcast, Coaching for Leaders – his interview with John Sanei, author of What’s Your Moonshot? https://coachingforleaders.com/podcast/366/
I shared the podcast with my family right away in hopes they’d be up for taking on the practice of coming from a place of “interiority” with people, vs. inferiority or superiority, which can slide into victim or perpetrator. We can all up our game by serving as mirrors and as compassionate “thought watch dogs” for each other. But it’s a moonshot, because changing our thinking is a huge feat.
I have done some inner work over the years on my “victim” identity, but this conversation with John Sanei has inspired me to do some more.
For those of you who put faith and practice in the new age concept of manifestation, through monitoring the positivity of your thoughts and intentions, you might find John’s insights helpful for this too.
John had great business success, then lost all he had earned in his late 20’s, early 30’s, and fell into a depression. His big aha was learning how his depression was a result of his victim mentality.
John shared examples of his own and others’ “arrogant inferior” victim responses. One example would be someone seeing a Ferrari drive by and whispering to themselves, “thief”.
Another example could be – someone got a promotion at work, and I judge that she slept her way to the top. These negative thoughts will then prevent or slow me down from ever having a Ferrari or getting promoted, because to do so would mean me becoming a thief or a prostitute.
John suggests re-programming the Ferrari example by transforming the “thief” thought to, “Well done! I’m looking forward to having a Ferrari soon too!.”
I was able to put this into practice moments after hearing it. My husband and I lost our house of 15 years to foreclosure in 2012. Ever since then, though I have enjoyed and learned a lot from my new rental and work exchange “living situations”, I have also been quite challenged by them and have truly missed having my own home – the convenience, autonomy, freedom, security, etc.
I realized in a clear moment that morning that at subtle levels I have had judgemental and resentful thoughts about the homeowners in our neighborhood.
The next neighbor I saw after hearing John’s Ferrari example was a man in his 50’s relaxing quietly on a bench in his front yard, slowly watering his lawn with the hose.
So when wisps of my old, quiet negative thoughts came up (they can be hard to catch!):
“what a lot of life energy it must take to maintain your home – feels kind of heavy” and
“why you, not me? Where’s mine?”
I re-programmed them into…
“Well done! I’m ease-fully creating my next beautiful home.”
Does this feel vulnerable? Yes! It’s so easy to then have negative thoughts about myself generating “foolish” positive thoughts! “Oh yeah, right. Keep wishing. That’s not how things happen…”
The funny thing is that my neighbor responded as if he had heard my “what a lot of life energy it must take to maintain your home – feels kind of heavy” thought. He looked up from his watering, laughed, and told me that he had just heard that “creatures who are lazy have an evolutionary advantage”.
I laughed, “Thank you – I love it!”
I wouldn’t feel complete and transparent without inserting a caveat here about the Ferrari and the American single family home.
As an environmentalist and as a “needs” specialist, needs literacy being the heart of my practice of Empathic Communication – I believe that we will all be more happy and peaceful by learning to reduce and simplify our material needs. As my stepmother and wise friend, BettyDear, used to request, “Live simply, so others may simply live.”
The evening before my jog I watched a documentary about rare mountain gorillas in Zaire that are dying off, due to rapidly losing their forest home to thousands of poverty stricken Rwandan war refugees who pillage and poach the forests for firewood and food.
I couldn’t help but see and feel the big resource incongruence between the tattered Rwandan refugee shelters I saw in the film, and my neighbors’ beautiful, large, siloed homes – the kind I long for:)
A belief system tied to our unsustainable housing habit was recently used against me. A neighbor complained to a third party about us having too many cars in front of our house. In other words, too many people are sharing one “house” resource. We have 5 cars in a household that includes 4 working adults and one retired adult, in a community with poor public transportation. I have empathy for my neighbor – I also prefer the look of a neighborhood with few cars.
I am processing his complaint through my newly strengthened “I am a victor” filter. I’m recommitting myself to another moonshot – the inquiry of how we can peacefully, sustainably, cooperatively, and respectfully help each other meet our core needs, so people and mountain gorillas can all be healthy and happy here!
Peace, positivity and prosperity,
P.S. If you are struggling in an important relationship and you think you need a moonshot to repair it, set up a complimentary session here to find out how you can! Breakthrough Conversation.
Catherine Cooley is a mediator and a communication coach. She has worked in environments of extreme conflict including prisons, the court system and local communities teaching what she calls "Breakthrough Conversations." She specializes in helping people foster clear, respectful, warm, cooperative relationships at home and in the workplace.
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