Ways to Transform Challenges:
While you may not be able to choreograph all the outer situations in your life and make the dance exactly as you want, you can at least decide to choreograph your response to them. As part of this, you can begin to move away from what's not working in your life and to move instead in the direction you want to go. I have a three list process, originally inspired by a process I learned from Unity minister and author Catherine Ponder, which can help you do this.
List number one. What do you now choose to eliminate from your life?
Many times, when you experience a sudden or major transition, you notice what hasn't been working in your life. This is an occasion to grab hold and make some positive changes. Maybe you don't even have a choice. You have to change to respond to what's occurring in your life.
During this time, ask yourself what you would like to let go of in your life. List it in this first list. Include everything-from the most mundane item, like the clutter in your closet, to the most cosmic, like self-judgment, self-hatred or friendlessness-whatever conditions you are ready to release. You can even include health conditions. Your heart and soul will know everything that belongs on this list.
Why doing this list can be helpful is because setting the intention to eliminate and actually eliminating what doesn't work in your life makes space for what does. Nature abhors a vacuum. As soon as you get rid of those things, new good can come in.
When you complete the list, you then help empower the process by including this written statement at the end:
I thank these for the growth they've given me. I now release them, and they release me to my own highest good.
Making a huge list of everything you want to eliminate from your life can be somewhat intimidating. When, however, you thank what you're letting go of for the growth it's provided, you're essentially saying that you let go of the condition, but you choose to keep the growth and learning you've received. You're not letting go of everything. Some of you recognize what those gifts and learning have been. Others may not consciously know. You may find it beneficial to take some time as part of this to think about and write down what gifts and learning you've received from even the most difficult life challenges that you're hoping to release.
This statement is also important, because if you keep identifying what you don't want, you often become hypnotized by it. Writing "I release them" is the gesture of open hands saying "I let it go." By releasing your hold or fixation on them, they release you, too.
List number two. What do I now choose to manifest in my life? (bring into my life, create in my life-You choose the words that feel best)
This list encompasses everything that you want your life to include-once more from the most mundane to more expansive things. It can include things like positive attitudes, feeling states, and health. It can include situations like financial support and the types of relationships you want. Use the first list to help direct you. For example, if you write on the first list: "I now eliminate friendships or people that are toxic," you might write on the second list, "I now draw into my life friendships that meet me on a soul level, where we are healing for each other, and we grow together."
Relationships are an important factor to consider on this list because your life challenge may be inviting you to change the whole context of your life, and this second list can help you identify and focus on the types of people who can assist you in leaping forward into your next stage of greater well-being. You also need support during life challenges, so if you're letting go of draining relationships or lack of relationships on the first list, you might ask to draw in supportive contacts and friends on the second list.
Let this second list be wildly imaginative. Say what you really want, even though it seems unlikely you'll get it.
I've found time and time again, that when I or my clients put something on a list, it very often does happen. As a result, you have to be careful what you wish for and be fairly specific. It may be unwise to write simply: "I want to fall in love." A better approach would be: "I want to be in a loving relationship with someone who is really good for me and where I'm really good for them."
There may be some instances where you know what you want to let go of, but you don't exactly know with what you want to replace it. For example, you want to leave your current job, but you don't know what job you want next. Instead of writing down the specific work you want on your second list, consider the qualities or circumstances surrounding a job that you'd enjoy: What do you want to feel about your work? Do you want to feel glad to get up in the morning and go there? Do you want to feel like you can be yourself all day long? Do you want to feel at ease with your co-workers, manager and customers? Do you want to feel that you're receiving adequate money for your needs? Writing down the tenor of what you want, even when you don't know the specifics can still help draw something wonderful to you.
This list has an ending statement to empower the process, too:
May this or something better come to me through no harm to anyone and for the greater good of all concerned.
The "something better" is important because, at the same time you think you know what you'd like to have happen with your limited human awareness, the universe (spirit, god, higher power) might have an even better idea that you haven't thought of yet. You want to stay open to that greater will.
The second half of the statement-"through no harm to anyone and for the greater good of all concerned"-says that, as you generate your own greater good, you have a true desire that no one be harmed in the process and that you want your good to include greater good for the whole. We can feel positive when we receive what we want, because we ask that there be blessings in it for others as well. In addition, many of us don't feel worthy to have something good for ourselves, but when we affirm it in a way that's for the greater good, we relax and allow it, and it does indeed then bless others, which blesses us again.
Here's an example of how this second list can work. Once, I was living very rurally in a 17 1/2 foot yurt with wood heat and no running water. I wanted to move into town, so I listed everything I desired in a new home: a beautiful natural setting five minutes from town; a cozy but spacious feeling; roommates with whom I shared a lot and who grew together; a big workshop room; people with whom I would have an ongoing relationship; hot and cold running water; a wonderful bathtub; a swimming pool; a sauna; a hot tub-all by September 1. When I finished the list, I thought, Nancy, you're crazy. I put it away and didn't think about it again. That summer, I had an opportunity to give some workshops in a beautiful house, and the people who lived there asked me to be their roommate-as long as I could move in September 1. The house had every single thing I had written on the list. That was in 1984 and 15 years later, while I now live elsewhere, I still give workshops in the house and continue to be friends with the people who live there.
Clients with whom I've shared the list have found it powerful, too. Some have used it to get over phobias, find new jobs, and so on. One client shared it with her hairdresser who had left an abusive relationship with the father of her children. She was still suffering from low self-esteem, yet she went home and wrote down 81 things she wanted in a new partner. Within one year, she found a person who had 80 of the 81 qualities, so she said, "I guess I better marry him now." She did and they have a wonderful relationship. Most people aren't going to be that specific, but even three or four well thought out, personally meaningful items can be very impactful.
List number three. What I am grateful for.
Once more, list everything from the smallest thing that you're grateful for to the most cosmic. Nothing more than that. I encourage you to make this list at least as long as the others. I just did this three list process the other day, and I noticed that my manifesting list was very long, so I really pushed myself to do more on my gratefulness list.
For a long while, I was mystified as to why this whole process worked for so well. Now, I believe, that while each aspect is important to the result, including the act of writing itself, it's this last list that is the fuel of the process. I realized that if you have a list of what you don't want, but it still exists in your life-and you have a list of what you do what, and it's not here yet, you can feel dissatisfied or despondent. The gratefulness list helps you step into another level of awareness, where you're telling yourself, "Even in this situation or challenge, there are so many blessings in my life." As soon as you go to that place, your being relaxes, and it allows the universe to follow the flow of what you've culled in and culled out of your life.
Another benefit of making a gratitude list during times of transition and change is that it's a good antidote to despondency. You don't have to do it just as part of this process. I recently did a process recommended by a speaker I heard where I immediately wrote ten things for which I was grateful, then added one more each day for forty days. When I was finished, I missed the process, so I started it again. I was also captivated by Sarah Ban Breathnach's suggestion from her book, Simple Abundance, which she discussed on Oprah Winfrey's show. She suggested you write down five things you're grateful for every day before you go to bed, an act which Oprah personally found life-changing.
Create a Ceremony
Doing the whole listing process as a ceremony can be especially healing and empowering, because it makes what you're doing more real to the body. The very act of writing the lists themselves can be a ceremony if you take this action in the spirit of a ritual. It's as if you're taking these things out of yourself and putting them on a page. You're making a statement to the universe about what you want you want to release, blessing and releasing it. You're acknowledging what you want your life to encompass at this point and calling those things or something better in. You're expressing gratitude.
You can also take this a step further and create a more elaborate ritual. For example, you could paint all the things you're releasing on rocks with water colors. Put them in a stream and they'll get washed downstream or, at least, the water color will get washed away. Thank them for their growth and release them. During the same ceremony, call in what you want and make your second statement. Maybe you want to take something from that natural spot that symbolically represents what you're calling in.
Once you've done the lists as a ritual with yourself, I suggest that you put them aside for a few days. Then revisit them and notice: "Did I leave anything out? Do I need to add anything or change any wording, so that it really fits me?"
If you want, you can empower the lists with someone else. I invite my clients to bring their completed lists to a session and we read them out loud. We honor them.
Once you're happy with your lists as they is, that's it. You're complete. You don't have to keep looking at them every day or affirming or visualizing them. You've done it. You've sent the information all out to the universe, so you can simply set the lists aside in a drawer or some other place. In a sense, you've planted them. Now don't go dig them out and look at them every day to make sure they're sprouting. That disturbs the gestation and growing process. Plant them, let them grow and look forward to the wonderful surprises in store.
Don't feel badly if not everything on your list happens either. As I mentioned, sometimes we don't know what's for the greater good. At the very least, I see these lists as a clarification of your values. They clarify what you want to move away from and move towards. There's great power in what you say "Yes" to in your life and to what you say "No." I knew a woman who badly scalded her hand right before company was coming for dinner. She got very angry and forcefully shouted out "No"-refusing to accept the burn. When she looked down, it had disappeared! Forcefully saying "Yes" can have powerful results, too.
If things are falling apart in your life, think of these lists like sand bags. The flood is imminent. Maybe putting sand bags up will be enough to stave off the flood waters. Maybe it won't. But you have to try something. The lists can help sway the percentages in your favor. Have faith and expect a miracle. Doing so paves the way for energy to flow. Conversely, when you fear the worst, you can get in your own way. Research has shown how observers' thoughts can affect the finest particles of matter. At least focus your dreams and free will in the direction you want to go. At the same time, work on being okay with what is-whatever that is.
Most life challenges, whether you like it or not, come to you in some form that may feel like a death, where you're letting go of the form of life as you knew it. You don't know the new that's coming in or how to call this new to you. The three list process can help. Each list shows you what's important to you, and my experience is that the process and your intention truly do create and move things in your life.
Copyright 1999 Life Challenges. This article originally appeared on the Life Challenges website, which helps people face and transform adversity.
Whatever you have longed to do or dreamed you can begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it...
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe