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Getting the consequences of our actions

We started this week exploring what it is like to anticipate something good, to look forward to things. Now it is the end of the week, how has your week been? Has it worked out as you expected?

Things can have a curious way of working out the way we think they will. Not that that may always seem to be the case, if you think about how the seeming unexpected can suddenly crop up out of the blue. It’s worth thinking about, how our persistent line of thinking about matters tends to produce consequences in line with our thinking. The Law of Attraction has a lot to say about this: we get back what we put out, at some level. Even the unexpected can fit in with our thinking, if we reflect on it. For example the unexpected could be something we were afraid of happening, and so have thought about before. We’ve given energy to it, and drawn it to us, perhaps unconsciously.

This often mystifies people, the idea that we get the consequences of our actions, even those we don’t intend. “Why,” you might think, “do I get what I don’t want?” I mean, why would you do that?!

The point of this line of thinking is that “like unto itself is drawn”, birds of a feather flock together. What we think about, happens. An easy test is to notice how what you are thinking about suddenly tends to be going on. You notice it more! It becomes figural, as we would say in Gestalt. So, what you fear you give energy to, and thus draw the experience to you, even if you don’t want it!

The key is to shift the feeling, and the thoughts too but especially the feeling, and let it go.

So as you reach your weekend, if this article is resonating with you, maybe it would be good to notice, become aware of, those things in your life that you don’t want, and think of ways to shift your thinking, and crucially your feeling, about those matters. The weekend is a good time for letting go. So, practice letting things go. After all, it is a crucial self-development skill to develop

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Are you looking forward to today?

Do you start your week in eager anticipation of what is coming up? Do you look forward to things that are about to happen?

Or is it more of feeling anxious about what is coming up, or a dread even? Or do you wish it wasn’t going to happen, that you would if you could stay at home, doing what you’d prefer?

Lots of us, for example don’t like the jobs we do, or don’t like particular situations that we know are coming up and we’re going to have to deal with. In work, we might have meetings coming up, which might be very negative for us. Or people we have to deal with that we don’t like dealing with. And then there’s the resumption of a familiar grind of the same old thing, week after week. Look at the tendency for people to “pull sickies“: one in three in the UK admit to having done it, which is huge.

Many know very well the “Monday morning feeling”, a sort of individual and collective “ugh!”, a sort of collective revulsion. In the UK I guess many of us associate it with cold, wet grey mornings, plodding to work in one form or another, crammed into overcrowded trains, or stuck in traffic queues. It’s interesting how a very negative association plants a powerful negative image in our minds, with which we repeatedly associate similar events in the future.

I can often remember looking forward to what was coming up. I remember certain phases in my life when I was excited by what I was doing and how the future might, or more certainly really would, show up. For example I loved being at university in Oxford, amidst the “dreaming spires”, with that wonderful, slow resonant sound of Merton College clock bell chiming the hour. All that knowledge to acquire. All those stimulating ideas to explore. Or teaching, actually (yes!) looking forward to delivering those (to me) interesting lessons I had planned, and working with those bright young people who really wanted to learn (yes!). Or later, travelling to different parts of the country or overseas to deliver some program to some group of people who needed a turn-around in their lives: who knows what might be there or what might be needed. Excited curiosity, promise, potential, something new, abilities put to good use, passion communicated, lives impacted.

There’s something really powerful about being on purpose, doing what you’re passionate about, living in line with your values, contributing in ways that utilise effectively your particular sets of skills. There’s something in there about accessing what’s inside, what needs to come out and be expressed in whatever unique way you or I are capable of. Which of course presupposes you’ve worked out what that is.

So, ask yourself, are you saying “yes” to what is coming up, or are you averting yourself? And what do you need to do to change that, to get back on purpose, or to discover it. What in you needs expression?

(One of my specialist areas of coaching is helping people develop their careers. So read more about career coaching here)

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Do you look forward with hope?

Do you look forward to your weekend with pleasure, like anticipating the arrival of something better? Is the weekend better than what happens during the week? Or are they the lesser of two evils. Or is none of it any good?

How we anticipate the future, such as looking forward to things optimistically, is a useful test of our outlook on life. It raises some fundamental questions, such as our belief that things will get better, that life has some good bits to it, that all is OK. People have often told me they remember when they used to look forward to life, with a “glass half-full” attitude, but that various events in life have knocked the shine off that. So they might say that each day for them is an effort, that they have nothing to look forward to, or that when they looked ahead they didn’t see any hope.

Of course that may in part depend on your circumstances; you might even say “a lot.” One might think that if you are alone, having a partner would make a difference, or if your finances are dire or if you are out of work then some improvement in those areas would make a difference. Then you might feel better about life if you are ill or have had a sudden change in circumstances or many of the other things that happen that can suddenly alter your perspective on life.

The Buddha taught that circumstances in life were impermanent, that nothing stays the same. In Gestalt, we say that the self is always in process, things move on. People say that the one constant in life is change. Yogic philosophy teaches that the circumstances of life are illusory. It is our efforts to keep things as we want them, to resist change, that gives us trouble.

So it can help to think about having an approach to life that accepts what occurs, that does not look back with regret or resentment to the past or is fearful of the future, and accepts that present as it is. So often we want things to be different, which is paradoxical given the above. One way forward is to learn to know our core, Who we really Are, since that doesn’t change. It’s to see through the flux, change and upheaval to the constancy of the Self within. In that space, there’s a sense of constancy based on an inner stillness and “centredness”, a kind of inner knowing that all is OK. And you find that by doing your inner work. Then you can know the true meaning of non-attachment to the fear of and resistance to change.

So, maybe spend some time this weekend reflecting on what is going for you, what you have that endures and has value despite the seeming change at the superficial level. If you meditate, look within to that core within you that is still, aware, and constant. Mediate on That. You might even find you are looking forward to it.