Monthly Archives: February 2011

Bozos on the Bus (Repost)

This is repost of one of my favorite posts on this blog. I use this concept in sessions a lot, because ALL of us feel like this from time to time. I’ve posted this a couple of times, but it’s been a while. . .

I’ve just begun to listen to the audiobook BROKEN OPEN by Elizabeth Lesser, and it’s blowing me away. Now I read (listen to) a LOT of audiobooks – mostly spiritual and some “self-help”. I love doing this because they lift my day and inspire my work. But for some reason, this particular book is really hitting me where I live. No new concepts for me – but a unique way of explaining things I try to help others understand.

Here’s an example: Elizabeth speaks of Wavy Gravy (Hugh Romney) who was the MC for Woodstock and has spent the rest of his life inspiring others through humor.

One of his one liners is how we are all “Bozos on the Bus” – in other words, we are all vulnerable, human, have problems and occasionally make huge mistakes. Direct quote from the book:
“We should welcome our defects as part of the standard human operating system. Every single person on this bus we called earth hurts. It’s when we have shame about our failings that hurt turns into suffering.”

When we’re engulfed in our shame, we assume there’s another bus. One whose passengers are all thin, healthy, happy, have fulfilling jobs and are from loving, functional families. These passengers never do mean or stupid things, get all the great jobs, and generally just manage their lives appropriately – living happily ever after.

“But we are on the bus that says BOZO on the front, and we worry that we may be the only passenger on board. This is the illusion that so many of us labor under- that we’re all alone in our weirdness and our uncertainty; that we may be the most lost person on the highway. Of course we don’t always feel like this. Sometimes a wave of self-forgiveness washes over us, and suddenly we’re connected to our fellow humans; suddenly we belong.

It is wonderful to take your place on the bus with the other bozos. It may be the first step to enlightenment to understand with all of your brain cells that the other bus – that sleek bus with the cool people who know where they are going – is also filled with bozos – bozos in drag; bozos with a secret. When we see clearly that every single human being, regardless of fame or fortune or age or brains or beauty, shares the same ordinary foibles, a strange thing happens. We begin to cheer up, to loosen up, and we become as buoyant as those people we imagined on the other bus. As we rumble along the potholed road, lost as ever, through the valleys and over the hills, we find ourselves among friends. We sit back, and enjoy the ride.”

Shutting Down our Thoughts

In my business, it’s not unusual for clients to come in consumed by emotion, feeling stuck and unable to find their way out.

People experience emotions in different ways. Some are completely overwhelmed and taken over by the emotions. Others are totally detached from them – an effort to avoid feeling them at all. Although we all probably lean more towards one or the other of these, neither extreme is healthy for us.

As always, balance is the key – somewhere in the middle is the healthiest way to deal with our feelings. Emotions are a part of being human, but they are only part of us. If we can recognize this, and allow ourselves to feel them without getting caught up in the memories of the events that brought them on, we will be able to move forward. If we can experience the physicality of the emotion without staying in the story that is tied to them, we can usually move through the emotion much quicker than we ever imagined. THE THOUGHTS ARE WHAT GIVES THE EMOTIONS ENERGY.

Most of our thoughts just blow through our minds – sort of like the ribbons that scroll across our TV screen when we’re watching the news. We have to choose which one we’re going to pay attention to. If we choose one that makes us feel bad, we can change our mind and choose another one that makes us feel a little better.

But some thoughts have been around for so long that they seem to find a corner and set up house in our minds. These are usually those core negative beliefs we’ve developed over the years. Often they were taught to us by our parents or society, as a social meme, and we’ve fed them until they gained weight in our belief system. They eventually develop into patterns of attitudes and behaviors that usually don’t serve us very well. But because they’ve become so much a part of how we see ourselves, we don’t think we can rid ourselves of them. We can – but we have to make a conscious decision to put our energy toward different, more positive thoughts.

One way to find the middle ground in our experience of emotions is to imagine stepping outside ourselves and becoming the observer of our lives, almost as if we’re watching ourselves in a movie. This allows us to feel what we need to feel, yet remain a little more objective and in control of our behaviors. It gives us that distance to recognize and own the feelings without letting them take over our decisions.

Even though our emotions run deep, our thoughts are on the surface. Finding a way to shut the thoughts down – through meditation, relaxation, visualization or even just soft soothing music – can help calm us and connect us to our inner strength. We’re similar to the ocean. On the surface it’s often very dangerous and chaotic with huge waves and turbulence. That turbulence is our thoughts – the intellectual violence. But if you go to the ocean floor (shut down the thoughts), it’s calm, quiet and peaceful.

I’m on the Highway

As some of you know, I recently had another birthday. It wasn’t any big milestone – I just turned 61.

Any more, I use birthdays to reflect briefly on what I’ve accomplished and set my focus again on where I want to go. I no longer beat myself up over things I should have done, or thought I would have done by this time in my life. I recognize that I’m doing what I’m led to do. It’s one of the things I ask every day as I meditate – “Guide me today as I move along this path and bring the people to me that need my help”.

My husband teases me that I think I’m going to live forever. Yes, I do – the real me will live forever. My body is already deteriorating some. That’s just the reality of our physical beings. But I made the decision years ago that I was not going to let an old person move into my body.

I was discussing this with a friend a couple of weeks ago, and she shared a cute comment one of her daughters made: “Mom, you’re on the highway and your exit is coming up!”

While I hope my exit isn’t coming for a little while yet, none of us knows when that’s going to be. Which is the point of this blog!

I don’t want to have any regrets when I come upon that exit. As long as I keep my vehicle on the highway, and don’t look in the rear view mirror while I’m driving or go off on too many detours, I’ll be OK.

I Forgive Myself

‎”I forgive myself, and then I move on.”

You can sit there forever, lamenting about how bad you’ve been, feeling guilty until you die, and not one tiny slice of that guilt will do anything to change a single thing in the past. -Dr Wayne Dyer

It’s Possible!

The conversations I had with several clients this past week was about how we make changes in our lives. It’s my belief (Gospel According to Patti) 🙂 that sustained change can only take place when we change the way we perceive ourselves. When I was running substance abuse programs, I could always tell when a resistent client was going to be successful in the program – they began to change their appearance – cut their hair, started wearing business clothes or bought new clothes – and started to carry themselves with a little more confidence.

But another step to change is to be able to imagine what we want – and to begin to believe that it can happen.

My “bud”, Wayne Dyer (I can call him that since I met him in October and we talked for a whole 5 or 6 minutes – conversation ending with a hug) often shares this part of a quote by Thomas Troward:

“The law of floatation was not discovered by contemplating the sinking of things . . .”

The point he’s making is that things don’t change if we continually tell ourselves it can’t happen – or “I could never do that”. If you want to be able to have enough money to pay your bills, for instance, you first have to imagine that it’s possible! If you continually tell yourself, “I’ve never had enough money” (or “I can’t get a job that pays enough”) so I have no reason to believe that I ever will,” then you probably won’t.

I’ve personally had experiences where I was sure there was no way I’d be able to scrape up enough money to do something I really wanted, but I’ve reminded myself that when I need it, the money always shows up. Not always as much as I need, but enough to get me through. There have even been a couple of times when I could see how everything had fallen into place in a way I could never have imagined – in fact, it was almost miraculous how well things had worked. (In the program, we call that “a God thing”)

So, when I catch myself doubting if something I want to accomplish will ever happen, I just say 2 words: “It’s possible!” That puts me on the path of looking back at all the things I have already achieved in my life and a feeling of gratitude for those accomplishments. Then I begin to visualize what I want to do, which eventually leads me to the belief that I can! That’s a much better feeling place than “I can’t” – and I want to feel good, so I stay there.