When They Don’t Want Your Help

Truth Byte #46

 

“Not everything is your business.”

 

I am a helper.  Always have been and probably always will be.  So when I hear a cry for help, even a silent cry for help, I spring to action.  I want to heal your pain, solve your problem, and make you smile again.

 

But this winter I have learned that not everything is my business.

 

I come from a very close-knit faith community.  Whenever I go to one of our gatherings, even if I am in a totally different country than where I usually live, somebody in the group will know someone from my family.  We are a community of adventurers, explorers, and pioneers, that left the pain of our poverty behind as we forged new vistas.  We are an immigrant community with international roots, and even though my great grandchildren will likely know little of the cultural ancestry that I have subconsciously marinated in, the rhythms and flavours of “back home” run deep and strong in the caring way we interact, our collective, hidden anxieties, and how we dance and laugh with reckless abandon on the big days of celebration.

 

We have come a long way, both literally and psychologically, and we have a lot to be proud of.

 

But as an intimate, caring community, we are also painfully aware of those who are struggling.  When tragedy strikes in one family, the ripples run quickly through our networks and reach the farthest corners of this planet, all the way to the lands where we came from. Long before the click of a button, our collective information travelled quickly, often with well-meaning embellishment and loving prayer along the way.

 

So when something bad happens to someone in my community, I feel it.

 

And I want to help.

 

But there are millions of us spread all across this blue/green globe. And I can’t save everyone.

 

This winter, I have learned that not everything is my business.  I have sat with people in pain, and allowed myself to be uncomfortable with my impotence.  I have watched the inevitable unfold and been powerless to change it.  I have realized that you can only help someone who is willing to grab on to your hand as they are falling.

 

I now unnderstand that sometimes people unconsciously prefer pain over change.

 

I know this not only as an observer, but as someone who used to live there.  There was a time in my past where I thought I knew everything about myself.  I thought I knew every nook and cranny of my inner landscape, and I had unearthed even the darkest of demons.  I was emerging from an intense few years of personal transformation, and I felt shiny and perfect.

 

And suddenly, the people around me, the people I considered my community, started exploding.

 

Marriages fell apart. Careers were in shambles. Children got seriously ill and injured. Addictions took hold. Friendships deteriorated. Hearts broke. Life just generally sucked for multiple people in my life simultaneously.

 

And I couldn’t save them.

 

I couldn’t fix it.

 

I had all this incredible knowledge and training and experience, and yet I couldn’t help the people who mattered the most to me.

 

Because they hadn’t asked for help.

 

And when they finally did, I wasn’t the one who could get through to them.

 

So years ago, I had to step back.  I had to look around at all those I loved, and I had to make a choice.  Would I spend the next decade furiously trying to fix it, or was there another option?

 

Perhaps I could gently turn back around to the people in my world who were thriving. Could I focus on building something that would last, rather than constantly trying to salvage bits of hope out of rubble of the personal tragedies around me?

 

Even though I kill plants on a regular basis, I know about the fundamental law of gardening: what you focus on will grow.  I was ready to focus on what was already growing, rather than trying to fix what needed repair.

 

And as I shifted my attention, the seeds of hope took root in my heart once again, and my life began to unfold organically. The people who could benefit from my particular flavour of care started knocking on my open door, and the results were incredible.  I was making a real and lasting impact on lives. And those who I couldn’t help also, somehow, began to find their way.  By letting go of the “how”, I stepped aside and the Master Teacher in each person light their own path.

 

Today, my community thrives. The leaders have woken up to the depth and complexity of the issues, and have found solutions that address root causes rather than handing out the sparkly band-aids of the past. I have found my place as the quiet listener who sends prayers and heart and referral letters. And when I hear those calls for help, even the silent ones, I trust that I am not the only one listening.

 

I challenge you this week to take a step back.  What are you assuming about the people in your life who you think need help? Are you giving them enough credit? Can you see their path, even if it’s difficult, as a spiritual unfolding rather than simply a tragedy? Can you focus on their resourcefulness, their resilience, their capacity for recovery? Can you, from a place of true care and compassion, put them in the hands of their Creator, and take a break from playing God?

 

That simple shift will probably make the holidays a lot more enjoyable for all!

 

Questions? Comments? Email me at connect@talktosaira.com

My Two Voices

Truth Byte #31

You are being too hard on yourself. 

 

Judgment is a curious thing.  Very little children don’t judge.  They ask questions (Mommy, why is that man wearing a dress? Daddy, what is that chair with wheels for? Grandma, why doesn’t Maya have a dad?) but until they are taught, they don’t really know what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, what is the “right” answer and what is just plain wrong.

 

Adults and older children teach them that. 

 

Not too long ago in Western history, children were taught that people of certain skin tones were naturally inferior to others.  They learned that “fact”, grew up believing it, and then their actions as adults demonstrated those beliefs.  It was their children and grandchildren who challenged those judgments and their great-grand children who are still advocating for ethnic minorities and people of colour in the West.

 

Not too long ago we believed that it was dangerous to women’s health and the family’s stability to teach women to read.  When I told my seven-year old that little historical tidbit last month, he laughed out loud in disbelief.  “If moms and teachers aren’t allowed to read, who is going to teach the kids and help them with their homework?” he asked, incredulously.  He then told me that there is only one male teacher in his entire elementary school, and he is a substitute.  “Boys and girls both need to know how to read so they can understand life and not be tricked,” he said, with finality.

 

Judgment has a very dark side.  We have been reeling from the intergenerational impact of mistaken judgment.  For decades we have been trying to dismantle the institutional discrimination it supported.

 

So what happens when we turn that judgment inward?

 

Too many of us live our lives with a toxic inner critic as a companion.  Sometimes it feels like we can never get it right, never do it right, never be or have enough. When that happens, know that you are listening to that Voice.

 

I was looking around my home the other day, and it seems no matter where I went, there were things out of place.  I would finish with one part of my house and the other part of the house would be a mess.  My friendly inner critic showed up, never missing a beat, and went on to explain to me how I was a failure, and how if my single mom who worked three jobs could keep a tidy house, why couldn’t I, (an entrepreneur who makes my own hours and has a loving, supportive husband at home) have a presentable home?

 

Within moments of that corrosive inner talk, I was hollering at my young children about how I am not their maid and I am going to donate all their belongings to kids who deserve them if they can’t keep their spaces tidy.  They cleaned up slowly and silently, without making eye contact, and I internally kicked myself.  I should have just put on the "clean up song" like I do every afternoon when I want them to put their things away, and they would have known the drill.  Instead, my own inner judgment seemed to make it okay for me to lash out and act like a ten-year old.

 

We all felt terrible after and I went to bed that night with a migraine.

 

The critic thrives on comparisons, and won’t quit until you have lost it.  Which will give you one more thing to feel bad about.

 

There is always someone that Voice can find who is managing better than me.  Someone who is in a tougher space yet is somehow seems to be coming out roses.  And when She can’t find someone real, She will start making comparisons to caricatures and Hollywood/Bollywood starlets who seem to have it all and not be breaking even the smallest sweat.

 

(Speaking of sweat, when I first started attending Zumba regularly, my inner critic told me I was clearly not doing it right because everyone else was sweating more than me. It’s always something!!)

 

I have tried all kind of strategies to deal with my critic.  And I have found only one that works:

 

Listen to a different voice.

 

Alongside my Critic, there is another voice.

 

This voice is quieter, more loving, and always gives me the benefit of the doubt.  This voice reminds me that everything of this Earth will perish, and there is only one vibrant part of my that will survive after my last rites: my soul.  I like to think of this voice as the voice of my Spirit, that voice that speaks to me through the breeze in the trees and the waves on the sand and the twinkle in the eyes of my children.

 

This voice reminds me that even in my weakest moment, I am strong. 

 

This voice reminds me who’s child I really am, and that my true Mother/Father can never leave me.

 

This voice is much softer than the critical voice, and so it’s often harder for me to hear.  I have to be still to hear this voice, and I have to be willing. But once I notice it, the voice of my Spirit is persistent.  It points out all the things I am doing right, and reminds me that even if I did nothing “right” for the rest of my days, the fact that I am kind and caring is enough.  More than enough.

 

This voice reminds me that whether anyone else knows it or not, I am loveable. 

 

This voice makes it easier for me to breathe.

 

Today, I challenge you to get still, and to be willing.  You have this voice too, (you have probably already heard it once or twice) and it has something to tell you.  I know that other voice, the critical voice, seems more real most of the time, and it’s easy to join in the self-attack wholeheartedly. And yet, that is not making you happy, is it?  Make the switch today, and let me know how you do listening to this new voice.

 

To access this other voice, and be able to listen to it more regularly, it helps to be around others who are on the same path.   Join our tribe by subscribing to my newsletter or attending a workshop. Email me for more information at connect@talktosaira.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Secret to Having It All: Revealed!

Truth Byte #22

You really can have it all. 

 

Yesterday, I had a moment.  It was one of those moments I always imagined my “lucky-bitch-self” to be having.

 

I had the usual part-time working mom morning with lunches to pack and beds to make and assisting with tooth-brushing and picking out clothes for my seven-year old boy while negotiating outfits with my three-year old girl and serving a nutritious breakfast and making sure their backpacks had all their treasures contained safely inside in the “right” pockets and signing the field trip note and throwing $5 in a Ziploc bag with the note and then into the garage to put on shoes and coats and grab umbrellas and rainboots "just-in-case and I think I squeezed a shower in there somewhere too.

 

Just as we were leaving for school and preschool/daycare, my house-cleaner arrived and started her work.

 

Whew!

 

After dropping off the various children to the various locations, I went to the gym.  Best Zumba class ever, and one of my friends even showed up! Then off to grab a few essentials from the drug store and finally home to a sparkling house.  The cleaner left, and then it was just me, in my gym clothes, after an incredible workout, a leisurely window shopping outing, and with no papers to write or meals to make or laundry to do or presentations to prepare or website to work on or clients to respond to.

 

I had nothing to do but sit on my favourite chair and look around at my clean house.

 

Nothing to do.

 

At all.

 

And this was my moment.

 

This was the moment I always imagined I would have as rich woman, or as Denise Duffield- Thomas calls it, a lucky bitch.

 

And it happened.

 

I had nothing to do, and nowhere to be.  I had no interest in eating or watching television or posting on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter or going for a walk or journalling or scrapbooking or busying up myself in any way.

 

I just sat there.

 

And relished in having it all.

 

My husband often warns me about saying that out loud.  “You have to have humility,” he says.  And I agree.

 

I know there are millions of people out there who don’t have what I do.  I used to be one of those people.  And so it’s not from a place of I-am-better-than-you.  It’s simply from a place of if-I-can-do-it-so-can-you.

 

Because I was a damn slow learner.  If I could get this, anyone can.

 

So today, I want to let you in on my recipe for having it all.  It’s just seven transformational ingredients.  Follow these an add your own personal spice, and you will have it all too.

 

  1. Know what it is that you want.
    • Not what other people have or what you think you should want, but what YOU really want. Is it peace of mind? Is it joy? Is it a clean house? Is it a fitter body? Is it free time to do nothing? Write down everything you really want and then keep revisiting that list.  Your mind will start finding ways and attracting opportunities to make it happen.

 

  1. Block and delete haters.
    • Haters love to hate. They see you shining, and they will rush right in to tell you it’s not going to last.  Or they ask you how you can be so content while atrocities are happening in your own extended family or in your neighbourhood or some other random place on the planet.  I usually put on my extremely expensive invisible noise-cancelling headphones when they start talking.  Just let them fade out of your life, because otherwise you are wasting precious manifesting energy in countering their arguments in your own head.

 

  1. Feel it now.
    • Instead of waiting for the outcomes to bring you happiness, commit to happiness now. I had to embrace happiness when I was 80 lbs. over-weight and with a freshly shaven head (shaven with a Bic razor, I mean, that hair was gonzo!) and only then was I able to start transforming my body and mind to let that fat (and all the emotions it carried) melt away. So be happy now, and more good things will show up for you.

 

  1. Refuse to make excuses.
    • If you are not doing something you want to be doing, please don’t blame it on time or money or other people. You aren’t doing it because you haven’t prioritized it.    I know smokers who constantly complain about being broke, but can always find $10 (plus tax!) for a pack of smokes.  If you want something, you will find a way to get it.  If you are late for something or you let someone down, just say sorry.  No excuses.  Excuses suck.

 

  1. Build your tribe.
    • The people who knew you and loved you ten years ago were the right people for you then. If they have not grown or changed or expanded since then, chances are they will be an energy-suck.  Lovingly, and graciously let them go, and stop chasing them.  You will always have those sweet memories, but you don’t need to continue to be a sounding board for their drama.  Your tribe will be people who get you today and who have a shared vision for big things in the future.  They will support you even on your crabby days and will hold you accountable.  Don’t worry about recruiting them.  When you are ready, they will start showing up.  Acknowledge them when they get here, and celebrate how far you have come through noticing who you spend the most time with.

 

  1. Remind yourself why you came here.
    • Each one of us incarnated onto this Earth with a very specific purpose. For some, it was to spread joy.  For others, it was to bring beauty or music or art.  Some of us came to be incredible parents or siblings who would make other people’s lives richer.  Whatever you came to do, do it.  If you don’t know, think about what you use to love to do when you were six years old.  Was it riding your bike with the neighbourhood kids or playing with your dog or doing cartwheels or doing arts and crafts? Start doing those things again and you are on the path to understanding your real mission here on the planet.

 

  1. Say thank you often and mean it.
    • There is so much you already have to be grateful for. I know that can seem like a stretch sometimes, but chances are if you are reading this on an electronic device, you are already richer than the majority of the people on the planet.  Say thank you to your parents for the big and small ways they made you into the person you are. Say thank you to your kids and/or partner and friends for putting up with your temporary insanity moments.  Say thank you to yourself that you made it this far and you are determined to have the life you always wanted.  Say thank you to the powers-that-be for all the hidden ways you are loved and protected everyday.

 

So that’s it, my secret recipe to having it all.  Try it out, and make it your own.  You really can have the life you have been dreaming about.  You just need to move on now from the dreaming phase into calling it in.

 

For more practical ideas on how to have the life you deserve, visit www.talktosaira.com and tune in to my weekly talk-show Today is Your Day.  For a deep dive into the life you have been waiting for, join us for a transformational seminar, or book me to educate and inspire your team at your next event!

 

 

The New Four-Letter Word

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