Clients often come to me with a problem wanting to know how the Principles, uncovered by Sydney Banks, can help them to solve it. Some of the problems they want to fix are:
- Feeling insecure
- Feeling stuck in their business
- Wanting more impact with clients
- Relationship challenges
- Parenting challenges
- Too much stress
- Leadership challenges
- Wanting to change a behavior
The truth is, the Principles don’t offer a solution to any of these things. They are a description of how we work as spiritual beings having a human experience. They are a way of pointing to the innate potential of who we are. They do not offer a prescription for how to fix anything. And they don’t need to because the description they offer points to the truth that each one of us has the answers we need inside of ourselves. Sometimes we just need a little help in remembering to look in the direction of our own wisdom and resilience.
It is such a gift to work with people and see them remember this. I was meeting with a client recently who started off feeling troubled and concerned. It looked to him that he had a problem he could not figure out. He had been trying to change unwanted behavior for years and had been unsuccessful.
Fortunately, I know that answer is not going to be found by looking at the problem. The very fact that it looks like a problem lets me know there is no perspective to be gained looking in that direction. So I shared with him a recent conversation I had with George Pransky.
George was explaining how coping mechanisms are always perfectly aligned to the person’s level of suffering. He said that a person never uses a coping mechanism that is more than they need. He used the analogy of NyQuil. If you are feeling great and take NyQuil you don’t feel good, but if you are sick and take NyQuil you feel better. I saw the wisdom and perfection in this. And it reminded me that coping mechanisms are solutions not problems. The problem is not the habit or the behavior. That is that person’s best solution for their suffering based on their understanding at that moment.
I shared this with my client, and he saw something new. It helped him to see the wisdom in what he was doing. Together we looked in the direction of his wisdom. He saw his behavior with fresh eyes and recognized he was simply doing his best to take care of himself. I could have told him this a thousand times and it would not have mattered. What was important is that he saw it for himself. All I did was point in the direction of how his wisdom was presenting itself, and he had his own insight.
Previously, he had been obsessively focusing on his behavior judging it as wrong and judging himself as bad because he wasn’t changing it. All this did was create more internal pressure and suffering. It is not surprising the coping mechanism wasn’t changing.
When he saw the wisdom in what he was doing he felt freedom. He realized he did not have to fix his behavior. I watched his face light up as he shared that he felt the weight of years of struggling to change lift off of him.
He saw for himself the logic of when suffering goes down coping mechanisms naturally shift on their own. And he saw it was unkind to expect a coping mechanism to go away without his suffering going down. I agreed and shared not only is it unkind to expect that but also if a coping mechanism is restrained by willpower, while suffering stays the same, functioning goes down until a new coping mechanism is found. That is why in AA they talk about trading one addiction for another.
My client got to see he wasn’t flawed or broken because he had not been able to change his behavior. He saw how his suffering had been amplified not decreased by all of the pressure he had been putting on himself with all of the judgments he had been making against himself because he wasn’t changing. He recognized his behavior was his best attempt to clear his mind and give him some respite. Seeing this, he felt tremendous relief. He recognized it wasn’t on him to change his behavior. And with this greater level of internal freedom and understanding, it is only a matter of time until the behavior shifts.
And in the meantime, independent of the behavior, he no longer feels the urgent pressure or need to change. He doesn’t see his behavior as a problem or something he needs to focus on. He recognizes his wisdom will lead the way. As George said, human beings don’t use coping mechanisms stronger than they need. When understanding goes up and suffering goes down as a result of this, the coping mechanism will naturally shift. Sometimes it shifts abruptly, sometimes it happens more gradually, but its days are numbered.
The Principles don’t offer how-tos for changing behaviors and habits. The understanding offers something far more powerful than that. It points to what the real source of suffering is and offers greater internal freedom simply from understanding this. The only thing that can take us out of our experience of our natural state of peace and wellbeing are our thoughts. When we see that and understand the fluid, transitory nature of thought, there is nothing to do. All experience passes because all thoughts pass. And we can naturally drop into the experience of our true nature. That is better than any coping mechanism.
If you are interested in learning more about this, enrollment for Dr. Amy Johnson’s Little School of Big Change opens next month on March 11th. I highly recommend her school if you are looking for freedom from a destructive habit. Click here for the link. This is not a paid endorsement. I have the greatest respect for Amy’s work and have spoken with many people who have benefitted from her school.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couples' intensives that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.