“A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” – John F. Kennedy, politician
“I’m terrified that Trump might win it!”
Allen had been doing a lot of work on managing his stress by resolving several key illusions he had carried around since his childhood. Allen was a career civil servant who was currently working in payroll administration. He was a slight man of average height and presented an energetic, friendly manner. He had a daughter, Alana, with his wife of twenty years, whose name was Alice. Alana had just started high school.
We were talking about the progress Allen had achieved in our past consults, when I asked him what was his biggest current stressor?
He gave me a strange look, like when someone is not sure they should tell you their secret. That look of momentary confusion while they decide whether to take the inherent risk. Then, he replied,
“Ken, I grew up in the States…in Boston, Mass. But, I took out Canadian citizenship when I married Alice. So, I have lots of relatives and friends who are Americans.”
“So, have you been thinking Yanks have more to worry about than Canucks?” I teased him.
He smiled at me, then a serious expression dropped over his face, like the closing curtain in a stage play. He replied, the stress emerging in his voice as it went up an octave.
“I’m very worried about the upcoming presidential election. I’m terrified that Trump might win it! Can you imagine the havoc he could create as president, not just for the U.S., but for the entire world?”
“… just the amount of bad and good leaders we needed, to ensure our getting to here!”
“So, you’re worried about who will get the job, Trump or Clinton? Allen, it actually doesn’t matter because there are no mistakes in nature!” I replied with a certainty that seemed to surprise him.
A second curtain dropped across his face, one of shock. And, it landed with an almost audible thump! He said, “Are you serious?”
“I’m very serious, Allen!”
“You seriously think if Trump wins the presidency, there won’t be more chaos as he tries to bully the world?” he asked, the incredulity in his voice still echoing his face.
“Allen, nature ensures there is a balance of chaos and order in the world to enable our species’ evolution. That’s how we got to be here as a species. We had just the amount of chaos and order, just the amount of bad and good leaders we needed, to ensure our getting to here!” I said.
“Are you suggesting there are no bad leaders?” he said, getting more upset and confused.
“Just like each person gets just the amount of challenge and support it needs to ensure its survival and evolution, so also do countries. A country gets just the leader it needs to take it the next step in its evolution. The United States has been doing that for quite a while. The current leader sets the stage for the next one.”
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
– Plato, philosopher
“I’ve never witnessed anyone getting dumber, only smarter.”
“Do you mean Bush created Obama’s opportunity?” he asked, playing with the idea.
“And in Canada, Harper created Trudeau’s opportunity!” I added as another example.
“So the real question may be, is Obama creating an opportunity for Trump or Clinton, for a male or a female, or perhaps, for a backward focus or for a forward focus?” I offered.
“Who do you think will win?”
“There is never a winner who doesn’t lose and a loser who doesn’t win…it’s that support and challenge law of nature, again. But, we are designed by nature to learn, not unlearn. I’ve never witnessed anyone getting dumber, only smarter. That suggests whoever gets the nod in November, gets a lot of power and prestige but also a lot of responsibility and accountability. So, whoever has the most skill at protecting the country’s future will get the position of president…that’s nature’s way and it has worked so far.”
He said, as if thinking out loud. “That really makes sense, so, why am I so worried about it, I wonder?”
“Great question, Allen! What is going on in your world that is being triggered by the US election?”
He paused at this comment, kind of went inside himself for a moment, and then replied.
“Ken, I guess it reminds me of other things I can’t control!”
“Like what specifically?” I asked.
“… I still feel guilty for how hard they had to work to get me through high school.”
“It’s about our daughter, Alana. She’s in high school now. I remember my high school years… ‘booze and broads’ …that was how we talked about it back then. I’m worried she’ll do something stupid…like I did! Then, she will regret it just like I do today!”
“Allen, are you saying you have a high school memory which you still only see as a one sided event? And, you’re afraid Alana will have a similar regret later on?”
“Ken, in my last year of high school I had a French teacher who I despised. His name was George something. He was rude and disrespectful to the entire class, and especially to me, because I challenged him. It got so bad I started skipping his classes and was failing the course which I needed to graduate.”
“What happened? Did you miss your graduation?”
“No, I ended up getting a tutor to get me through the course. But, it cost me a lot of extra time and my parents a lot of money which wasn’t easy to come by back then.” he said.
“So, you are remembering all the pain that was going on back then for you, is that what you’ve been doing, Allen?”
“Not just for me! Also, for my parents who had to find the money for the tutor and had to get me to the tutor’s home. I still feel guilty for how hard they had to work to get me through high school.”
“You haven’t yet uncovered the benefits to you, and your parents, to having that French teacher…is that where you are at this point?”
“That sizes it up exactly!”
“George, just lost it…he blew his stack screaming and yelling at me…”
“OK! Allen, I want you to remember your worst moment in that French class with that teacher, George. When was it? Where was it? Who else was there? And, what exactly happened at that very moment?”
“That’s easy! It was the second class we had that year. There were about twenty of us there that day and I was sitting up front because I knew I needed the credit.”
“What happened that day, at that moment, Allen?” I asked.
“George decided he was going to call each of us by the French version of our first name…so he said he would be calling me, ‘Alain.’ It was no big deal to me. But there was another kid in the class who took offence to his name being changed into French and was quite upset about it.”
“Do you know why?”
“As I recall he was a new Canadian and it had something to do with his culture. He viewed what the teacher wanted to do as disrespectful to his parents who had chosen that name for him. Anyway, Amil, that was his name, was really upset and almost in tears. But, George ignored his protests.”
“What happened then?”
“I raised my hand and told George I didn’t want to be called ‘Alain’ either…trying to offer a bit of support to Amil. George, just lost it…he blew his stack screaming and yelling at me…calling me a ‘trouble-maker!’ And, that’s how he treated me every class after. It was like he took an instant dislike to me!” Allen said, the confusion and hurt still evident after all these years.
“There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.” – Andre Gide, writer
“Look carefully and I’m certain, you’ll find it!”
“Allen, freeze that moment in your mind’s eye. Close your eyes for a moment and go back there right now and hear him calling you a ‘trouble-maker.’ At that second, what happened that changed your life forever such that, looking back now, you have no regret how you behaved that day?”
“Do you mean it somehow benefited me at that very moment? I don’t see that at all!” he replied.
“Look carefully, it has to be there…because you are here today. You must have gained some insight, some advantage, some benefit…to counterbalance the hurt of that moment. Look carefully and I’m certain, you’ll find it!”
Allen first gave me a skeptical look. But, then he closed his eyes as he remembered back to that day in the classroom with his teacher, George and his classmate, Amil.
I waited knowing the counterbalance is always there, but sometimes out of our awareness, until we look for it carefully. After a few moments, he opened his eyes and said,
“Ken, what I remember most clearly is how angry I felt at that second and I wasn’t going to let him disrespect me or treat me like I was just a stupid kid.” he replied with certainty.
“That was the moment I started to consciously stand up for myself…”
“Interesting! And, why was it so important for you to have the opportunity, at that point in your life, to stand up for yourself and for others?” I asked, to see if he could link it to the rest of his life.
He looked at me as his eyes grew glassy. He looked down for a second and then turned up to me and said,
“That was the moment I decided I would not allow authority figures to disrespect me because I was a kid. That was the moment I started to consciously stand up for myself with authority figures whether parents, teachers, bosses…whoever!”
“Allen, it sounds like that was the day you started to stand up for who you are as a person! Sounds like a very important day in your youth, eh?”
“Looking back now, I see how it was when I started asserting myself with authority figures who bully people. That’s why Trump was a trigger for me…I see him as bullying the American people into fearing everyone around them. I get it now!” he said with a half smile.
“Do you still think it was ‘stupid’ to deal with that teacher that way, looking back now with your new level of awareness?” I asked him.
“It’s what I had to do to be true to myself. Looking back now, it was really a smart strategy and it really has influenced my life ever since in useful ways.” he said.
“… can you see how George was the perfect teacher for you that year…”
“Allen, that same principle applies to every event in your high school career you previously perceived as ‘stupid.’ The evidence is in the fact you are sitting here talking about it. This demonstrates every event you termed ‘stupid’ in high school actually enabled you to learn whatever you needed to get you to here. There were no mistakes, no stupid decisions without smart insights. You just need to go find them!”
“As I look back, I can see what you mean. I can see how my rebelliousness was really me learning to be myself, learning how relationships work and learning how life works, too!”
“Do you think your daughter, Alana will not have similar challenges to assist her to grow her sense of herself? Do you think Alana can actually make a mistake, do something ‘stupid’, with it also being an opportunity for her to learn what she needs for her future?” I asked Allen, to determine how far he had taken his awareness.
“I see what your saying. Alana will need to meet her own challenges and learn from them just like everyone else, eh?”
“Bingo! And, can you see how George was the perfect teacher for you that year, given how you used that relationship, to evolve yourself to be who you are today?” I asked to close the loop on his memory.
“You are only afraid if you are not in harmony with yourself. People are afraid because they have never owned up to themselves.” – Hermann Hesse, writer
“Now, it just looks like an interesting event to watch!
“Yes, I can see that now, Ken! And, that memory feels so different to me, now! It’s no longer a nightmare. It’s just…a memory! And, I think if I met George today I would be OK…maybe even a bit appreciative of having been in his course. Go figure?”
“That’s called wisdom, Allen! And, can you begin to appreciate the role Trump is playing in the history of the United States…yet?” I asked, to see how far he could take the idea of no mistakes in our past.
He paused and then laughed while replying,
“Well, maybe he will announce he’s secretly working for the Clinton Campaign!”
Then, he went on, “But seriously, he is certainly motivating the Republican Party to clean up its act; and he is motivating the average person to be less insular and more international in their perspective; and he is probably driving many people in the US to define more clearly what it means today to be an American…and there’s probably more.”
“Allen, taking that new perspective how does the upcoming US election appear to you now?” I asked him.
“Now, it just looks like an interesting event to watch! I see each side’s strategy with a calmness I didn’t have before. It’s amazing how when we learn more, we become grounded more. I guess that’s why seniors are usually calmer than youth, eh?”
“Eh!” I replied with a smile.
‘“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.” – Dorothy Thompson, journalist
Until Next time…
Now you know, whatever you fear outside of you is a trigger for a one sided perception you carry from you past. Identify the trigger and recall the event in detail so you can uncover how it served you at that very moment in your life. (This principle is considered by some as one of the greatest discoveries of life.) Then, you will see how it has continued to serve you ever since. Then, notice how the fear you had for the original trigger event has disappeared to be replaced with appreciation for the same event.
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Namaste, (I salute the grandly organized design of the universe, manifested in you!)
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