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The Top Ten Things That Confuse Alternative Practitioners, Coaches & Other Heart-Based Entrepreneurs About Business

My next four month business growth program starts at the end of March. Yay! I hope some of you will find it a good fit and you’ll join me for a wonderful four months of growth, learning and healing (for more info, take a look below).

As someone who for many years was a “general practice healer” (and I still do that, too), why did I start focusing on helping people build their practices?

There are several reasons, but one of them is that I began to understand in a deep way what makes heart-based practitioners like us different, and how that’s wonderful, and also how that can make going into business tricky. Such practitioners often suffer unnecessarily, for reason really specific to them. But with a few re-frames (and some work!), it’s possible to find a better way that allows success in business and full alignment with yourself and your values.

Since I’ve found my way through that, I want to share what I discovered, so that all of you with such wonderful skills could share them with everyone else who needs them.

As I thought this through, I came up with my very first (and hopefully, only) “Top Ten” article for you to think about–do any of them apply to you?

The Top Ten Things That Confuse Alternative Practitioners, Coaches & Other Heart-Based Entrepreneurs About Business:

(Some of them are obvious, and some of them are pretty subtle. And, even if you aren’t self-employed and don’t want to be, you may find some of these apply to you, too.)

1. Many of these people have had little or no exposure to business (and their training schools didn’t teach them any business stuff), so the learning curve can be steep.

2. Many of them have little natural inclination to business, so doing it can feel boring, uninspiring, or irrelevant to the real work they want to do.

3. Healers often can’t stand seeing their work commodified (that is, have a price put on it).

4. Healers are often trying unconsciously to heal cultural or family ways of life that didn’t respect and support full human dignity. For some of these practitioners, business is permanently associated with what they are trying to fix in the world.

5. Many of these practitioners want to see a different economic world than the one we currently operate in, and it can feel unethical to seek proper financial security if one is committed to that alternative vision.

6. The world of business growth programs for so-called “conscious entrepreneurs” is overwhelming right now. It’s hard to choose amongst the baffling array of choices.

7. Because many of these practitioners are new to the business world, they may have a hard time evaluating various approaches and programs. They are often guided by a “good feeling,” and if scarcity consciousness is playing a role, they may pay a whole lot of money for something that is of poor value, not what they need at the time, or not a fit for who they are.

8. Many business coaches teach a way to success that was their way to success. So they teach a cookie cutter approach rather than the art of business. This works well enough when the client is in alignment with the cookie cutter approach, but if they aren’t, they can’t evolve another way to get to where they want to go, and they often feel as if they have failed.

9. Heart-based people usually have little tolerance for being out of alignment with their values for an extended period. If they are taught business principles that are out of alignment with their values, but they try to apply them anyway because an “expert told them to,” their unconscious inner wisdom often shuts down their progress. This is often interpreted as “an inadequate success mindset” or “not really wanting it,” when actually it’s inner wisdom trying to be heard.

10. When these people end up “failing” with a business program or coach, it can be immensely discouraging. They often blame themselves (especially if they are dealing with any lifelong self-esteem problems) rather than ask critical questions about the coaching they received.

How about you? Do any of these resonate with you? I’d be really interested to hear what “business” feels like to you.

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What’s the Pattern of Your Life Right Now?

I recently stumbled on a video of a presentation I gave at a new year’s event some years ago. At the beginning of the presentation, I invited people to remember where they were a year ago, in February 2012, which means the presentation took place in early 2013. At that time, “2013” was still hard to write in checks and felt weird. Now, “2013” feels old, normal, not weird, familiar.

It’s strange how hard it is to remember just how “new” feels. When it’s replaced with “familiar,” it’s almost as if we get amnesia about it. Similarly, if we are dealing with something new, like “2015”, then it’s hard to imagine what it will be like when 2016 rolls in and 2015 is as familiar as a favorite pair of worn in shoes.

At the risk of being trite, it’s about the cycles of life. Sometimes it’s useful to take a flight above ourselves, and see everything for what it is. So much of the time we are immersed–appropriately–in the urgency and intensity of “now” that rising above and seeing what we’re feeling so intensely as part of a larger pattern, rhythm or cycle is tricky.

But it is really important to do, time to time. Because in gaining some perspective, we empower ourselves in making the choices we’d really like to make about our lives.

The new year can be a good time to get this altitude. There are other times as well, and as mindfulness teachers remind us, the mature capacity to observe ourselves without judgement is essential to the happy, well-chosen life. But most of us can’t do this at the same level all the time, so it’s good, ritually, in community, to be able to do this.

What’s the pattern of your life right now? What’s happened recently, and what does that mean? What’s going on right now, and how much of that are you choosing? What is emerging, and how would you like that to manifest?

We all want a life that is congruent: one that is in alignment with our deepest sense of self, and the values that mean the most to us.

And, we get off course, inevitably. Old wounds from long ago and far away try to convince us that the past isn’t past and we need to defend ourselves from threats long gone. Family loyalties limit our sense of what is possible when it comes to love. Habits tell us that new discoveries aren’t familiar and can’t be integrated into our lives.

Take the time at this beginning to reflect, notice, and see if some other life energy might be present so that we can align our lives with what is most important to us.

There are lots of ways to do that, and one is coming up on Sunday:

New Year’s Clearing & Visioning Day: A Gift to My Clients, Friends, & Their Friends. This is a free event, my gift to you. For more details and to register, go to New Year’s Workshop.

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The “New Year” is a Friendly Invitation, Not a Rebuke

I admit it: I’ve never tried to have a New Year’s resolution, so I’m not in a very good position to say they don’t work. I’ve simply never been much attracted to them. If I am not already able to do something easily (enough), then applying renewed willpower has never seemed likely to work any better than it has until that point, and the truth? I’m kind of allergic to disappointing myself. ;-)

And yet, there’s always been something attractive about this time of the year. I have made it a practice for several years now to slow down, reflect, and see what might be revealed in a way I might not have noticed until now. I feel the presence of an invitation, and I feel inclined to find an authentic response.

As we all know, the timing of the New Year is fundamentally arbitrary. For the Chinese and many other Asians, the new year happens late January or early February. For the Jews, the new year is sometime in September or early October. But the cultural context has a deep influence, as we learn from any systemic point of view: the fact that most everybody is celebrating a new year at the same time takes us into that ritual space where we are, indeed, noting the end of one year, and the beginning of a new one.

In cultural anthropolgy, this is called “liminal space”: a threshold, an in-between-ness, that is very holy, sometimes scary, and always filled with possibility, new energy, and the likelihood of counter-intuitive reversals and topsy-turvy-ness. And, it’s not so much because of something “out there” (the arrangement of the stars and planets) but because as a community we are stepping into the space together in a ritual way, and that does something very powerful. (For more info on liminality, check out this very useful article.)

Having said all that, our shared community rituals are hugely impoverished. Watching the ball drop on New Year’s Eve, drunken parties, etc., all have their useful ritual elements, but because of our radical freedom and independence (mostly very good things indeed), we don’t have much in the way of rich, symbolic ways to enter liminal space together, find wisdom, and step into something new supported by the community.

Another aspect of this season is gratitude. It is typical to spend some time during this liminal period to look back, and while we might need to grieve losses, betrayals, crises, or disappointments, most of us also have some concrete blessings to give thanks for. Having made it through another year; the beauty we participated in; having enough (or perhaps an abundance); being touched, in some way, by other people; having work, or offering service to others, that was meaningful.

In addition to gratitude generally, this season has me thinking more and more about generosity, too. I like to think of myself as at least an average-ish generous person, but more and more, as my practice has grown, I’ve felt a longing to explicitly include generosity in my business.

So, these things come together: New Year’s reflection, stepping into liminal space with others, grieving losses, gratitude for blessings, and generosity. I invite you, wherever you are, to find your way to do this good, spiritual work.

And, as a way to start the year generously, I am offering one way to do that:

New Year’s Clearing & Visioning Day: A Gift to My Clients, Friends, & Their Friends. This is a free event, my gift to you. For more details and to register, go to New Year’s Workshop.

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Helicopters & Constellations

I live in Oakland, and I admit, happily so. The night of the decision by the grand jury on whether to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed Michael Brown, I was working with a client at my office. Like many of my clients, she had parents who did not keep her safe when she was a child. Working with what she most wanted about all of that, it became clear that the wisdom of family constellation work was what we needed.

Quickly, we made contact with the deep pattern of violence in the family that her parents were trying to honor, in a form of deeply distorted love for their ancestors. More and more, we came in contact with both the ancestral violence and the love that was trying to be expressed through all of it.

As we worked, we heard helicopters overhead. We knew what they were about. If you live in Oakland long enough, you know. The decision had come through a few hours before our session, and when it comes to issues of justice and protest, Oakland never shrinks back, for better or for worse.

We couldn’t know exactly what was going on–later we would hear about the blocked highways, peaceful protesting, and the damaged storefronts–but we knew it was important. And that what we were doing with her family system was important.

We live in a violent and fragmented society. Love comes through purely, and love comes through massively distorted. One important and beautiful insight of family constellations is that when someone perpetrates against your family, or your family perpetrates against others, these two sides become connected–they now belong to the same system, and healing must include both.

Blacks and whites in America are in a system together. It doesn’t matter if your people came recently, or had nothing to do with slavery, we are bound together, deeply. Our healing comes together, or not at all.

My client was able to automatically relax when we started to include the historical violators that were clearly part of her family system. (Needless to say, this isn’t something she could or should have done as a child, or in the context of continuing danger; this is something we do as adults with the dignity of our adult capacities.)

These ones are included not necessarily with approval–none of this has anything to do with liking or approving. But together we consented, acknowledged, and included what is deeply true about her family. When that happens, something paradoxically relaxes–everything we thought we were protecting ourselves against turns out to have a proper home with us.

Many are scared. Appropriately so. The truth of the relations between black and white America has been stunningly violent. It’s pretty frightening. And, what will happen when we welcome each other, as we are? What will happen when we find out how to do the hard work of seeing, naming our role, and waiting?

I have no answers, but the grace amidst the violence is obvious. Keep doing the work. Listen to the helicopters, and keep doing the work. And imagine what it will be like when the paradoxical relaxation–not completely comfortable, but welcome nonetheless–that comes from including the truth finally happens for us all.

6 Responses to “Helicopters & Constellations”

  • Hi Leslie, I have spent the last hour on your blog. Its soooooooo nourishing for me. I love family constellations work. Ive been working on a piece for a few years, (not in FC), mainly because I couldnt face it, but I found out that my nearly direct ancestors were Slave Owners in the US, which for little old me here in NZ was bizarre. But I could so relate to that pattern on my fathers side for sure. I spent most of my life feeling like I was a slave, feeling like Cinderella. I couldnt own the power of the Slave Owner. It was very much about ill-gotten gains and always having this glass ceiling financially for me.

    Anyway, Im now working through a piece about family violence, and I only came upon it yesterday, and I wondered what you meant by the distorted loyalty to our ancestors violence, what are some of the ways in which we can be loyal to violence?

    I have a VERY strong belief that the world is a dangerous place, I dont want to be out there. Im a hider and an avoider and very anxious in the world. I realised that my first introduction to a bigger family were my cousins who were scary boys. And violent grandparents. Angry father. I must be doing this dance with violence somehow.
    Love Kate xx

  • What beautiful and brave work, Kate, and great questions, too! I don’t have all the answers, but here is a presupposition of family constellation work: everyone who is a member of the family has a full right to belong–even the “perpetrators.” That doesn’t mean they belong without judgment or responsibility, but the family system instinctively includes all elements, even in the face of apparent day to day rejection, ostracism, and cutting off. When the family isn’t able to do this honestly, in the open, and with complete resolution about what may have happened, then the system tries to include them in other ways, usually not consciously and usually not very helpfully. A good example: the son who ends up becoming like the father he never knew, whom his mother disrespected because he was “no good,” because the son will instinctively want to include and love his father.

    When there is unresolved violence in the family, elements of the system will seek to re-include those parts of the family, unconsciously, and, as I said, usually unhelpfully. This can take many, many forms, but one is a lot of unexplained violence, and another form is an overreaction to the “dangers” of the world (the other side of the coin, so to speak). It’s possible you are resonating with these unresolved elements of your family. The answer is something I’ve written a lot about elsewhere: bow to those parts of your ancestry, accept the life you received, say “I honor the dignity of your fate,” and request their blessing as you choose a different way.

    That is a very shorthand approach; it’s often a sticky process, and family constellations is a lovely modality for helping us through to true resolution of these issues, so we can fully accept our ancestral strength…

  • It’s so beautiful Leslie, I love FC so much. Thanks for taking the time to explain it to me. I want to read what you wrote quite a few times, its so rich.

    I know instinctively that there are two members not included in the Soul of the family. My fathers father who was a violent alcoholic who was sent away by my Grandmother. (He died on the day JFK was shot, hows that for violence?) and the other side, my Aunt fled home at age 19 never to return in 50 years, as she didnt want to deal with my Grandmothers violence, when finding out that I was conceived (out of wedlock). I did have some contact with her in her last days, but I think this is very much about my Grandfather. He’s the shameful loose unit in the family, and I think my Grandmother died before dealing with it all. My father never spoke of his parents. This is the side where there’s violent men on down the line. The other side are the avoiders.

    Yes, I have a massive overreaction to the *dangers* of the world. It’s twisted me up like a pretzel. Thanks for helping me to get a sense of this all. xxxx

  • Haha Leslie, I googled *honour the dignity of your fate* to see if it would help me, and found and article on a random site. Its your article lol

    I was saying that sentence over and over and felt that the women of the family didnt want the men included,as if they were useless (my choice of men too) my grandfathers father died in a hotel fire, the reason for the fire was never established, I have an article in the paper about it, he was panning for gold. His wife married someone with the exact same name, was having an affair before he died, I did the exact same thing, two men with the same name lol Im hiding from the violence and its still following me, and its following one of my sons.
    Such rich material, I dont feel scared of it now. xx

  • Lovely work. And for everyone reading, you can ask yourself the same questions Kate is: who’s been lost or excluded that you may, unconsciously, be trying to re-include in the Family Soul through having some aspect of their experience? Deep territory indeed. Be gentle with yourselves at all times…

  • Thanks Leslie, I hadnt made the conenction, but my Aunt who left never to return was named Lesley. :) There are no coincidences. lol

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Is it ‘Self-Sabotage,’ or is it Your Inner Wisdom, Holding You Back From the Fire?


I often have clients  desperate for help to stop “self-sabotaging” themselves. I often sigh. It’s sad to me when a client starts out healing work with an implicit accusation at themselves. But it’s common.

There are certain situations that incline people to accuse themselves of self-sabotage. Some of them might be:

  • Procrastination
  • Not finishing projects
  • Awkward conversations at networking events
  • Chronic disorganization and lack of planning
  • Getting started well and then losing inspiration

See? I’m sabotaging myself! I guess it’s better than calling ourselves idiots or losers, but it’s only a little better, I think.

What if there is wisdom in this “stopping” behavior? What if your inner guidance system is like a mother, holding back the hand of her child when it reaches for the fire? Would you see that as sabotage? Or an attempt to love and guide the child safety, while it’s still learning?

Nonetheless, it’s important to acknowledge that this stopping behavior is frustrating our forward movement. It can’t be endlessly indulged if we intend to succeed in realizing our life’s hopes and dreams.

And some of us, we have to admit, feel like it has, indeed, been going on too long, which is really, really painful. This has concrete impacts on our ability to have a safe, secure and happy life.

This is especially true if you’re trying to establish a business, because this requires a consistent and successful capacity to take action steps so that a new creation can live and thrive.

But the first step is to notice if there is anything of wisdom in the stopping. In my experience, there are two sources for this stopping:

1. Old safety and family patterning that has outdated criteria for what is safe and what helps us belong. If this is the case, the stopping is trying to keep us well and happy. Healing this kind of stopping pattern involves, in part, noticing the way these patterns took such good care of us a long time ago, even though they are outdated now.

2. Our deep values and sense of integrity which has noticed, before our conscious minds have, that we are fundamentally out of alignment with the actions we’re attempting to take. Healing requires noticing that we are trying to make ourselves do things that violate our integrity, like marketing copy that feels slimy, or a networking event that doesn’t feel like we’re really getting to connect.

Both of these stopping patterns require some practice to notice and adjust. Most of us need help in learning how to see when something like this is happening, and figuring out the right approach (see last week’s article, If You’ve Got the Problem, You’ll Get the Wrong Answer).

Do you struggle with “self-sabotage”? Does it help to think of it as inner wisdom, trying to be seen? Please post your comments and questions below.

Next month, I am offering a Business Growth Series for Alternative Practitioners and Coaches who want to resolve obstacles to being successful. Part of that work is getting better and better at instinctively addressing those problems as they arise, so that security, confidence and joy in business becomes the norm. Sound interesting? For more information, scroll down, or go to Business Growth Series, and if you want to know more, please contact me.

One Response to “Is it ‘Self-Sabotage,’ or is it Your Inner Wisdom, Holding You Back From the Fire?”

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If You’ve Got the Wrong Problem, You’ll Get the Wrong Answer…

Problems arise in our lives, and for those of us in business, that’s where they show up. It’s part of the deal, right?

But some of the problems are especially difficult, the ones that pretty much stop us in our tracks. We’ve tried various ways to resolve the issue, but nothing quite works. This is a real problem.

We live in a time and a place where these kinds of problems are often just called “unconscious blocks.” That’s accurate to the degree the source of the problem is not conscious, and it’s blocking us. But it actually doesn’t help us figure out what we need to do.

First, we want to know what kind of problem it is. When we’ve figured this out, we can begin to find ways to resolve the problem. If a problem is labeled inaccurately, it’s possible that our attempts to solve it will actually make it harder to change.

Tragically, I see this a lot with people trying to build a business (but it can come up anywhere). For instance, someone can’t get moving in their business, and nothing they  try works. They can’t get enough clients, and they can’t get to an income level that is sustainable.

What’s the problem? Often, this kind of pattern gets labeled as something wrong with their success mindset: “Deep down, you don’t really want to be successful. Something in you wants to be small, and success threatens you. You need to step into your bigness and claim your success!”

Well, that’s possible. Certainly, many of us have childhood experiences which might make it really scary to have what we want and experience full success. But there’s also a chance that’s not what’s going on at all. And if that’s so, this diagnosis can be hugely detrimental to the cause of moving forward.

It’s like going to a doctor who sees a fever and always diagnoses the same disease. There are so many different things that can cause a fever, and getting it wrong can actually be deadly. So, what are the problems this person could be having?

In my experience, there are three kinds of big problems:

1. Unconscious safety patterning. This is the kind of thing lots of us are getting more familiar with. We have a pattern left over from childhood, or inherited from our families, that kept us safe once but is getting in the way now. When we address these, deep healing takes place, and people find themselves easily being able to do things they couldn’t do before. Two things usually lead to this healing: either an intentional investment in personal healing, or a personal crisis that shifts things very deeply and quickly.

2. Learning in process, or what psychologists call a “developmental” issue. Something isn’t working well because we haven’t gone through a cycle, or we need a new skill, or we just aren’t ready for that step (something else needs to happen first). Lots of problems in business and in life are inappropriately pathologized when they are merely learning issues. I’ve seen clients visibly relax when they hear that their problem is completely normal, and will resolve on it’s own if we give it time and the right resources. There’s no big issue to be healed.

3. Being out of alignment with ourselves. This is the biggest hidden issue that I see afflicts practitioners seeking to build a business. We can’t move forward when we are out of alignment with ourselves. We can’t “make” ourselves do things that aren’t centered in our values–any attempt to do so tends to derail us. Our inner wisdom puts on the brakes and forces a stop. For many practitioners, there’s an impression that business isn’t in alignment with their healing work. This can be compounded by well-meaning business coaches who instruct the clients to try business practices that just don’t feel good to them. In the end, it doesn’t work, because wisdom has forced a stop, but often this gets interpreted as our insufficient success mindset, or some other unconscious block, when it’s nothing of the sort. We just need another way to get there. The good thing in business–as in life–is there is almost always another way to get there.

Can you see how knowing which problem you’ve got could help you figure out what’s the right next step? When you think of a problem in your life or business right now, one that’s really got you stuck, which one do you think might be involved? (And yes, it can be more than one, although it’s usually predominantly one of them.)

I want to hear your stories of getting stuck, and which of these problems might be behind it. Please post your comments and questions on my blog here.

Next month, I am offering a Business Growth Series for Alternative Practitioners and Coaches who want to resolve obstacles to being successful. Part of that work is getting better and better at instinctively addressing those problems as they arise, so that security, confidence and joy in business becomes the norm. Sound interesting? For more information go to Business Growth Series, and if you want to know more, contact me.

2 Responses to “If You’ve Got the Wrong Problem, You’ll Get the Wrong Answer…”

  • Leslie-
    I LOVED this post, thank you so much. I primarily wanted to reply to #1 and #3 , having encountered these personally in my own business development and learning curve (#2 happens, but I learn pretty quickly…) . Thank you so much for speaking to #3 regarding business coaching and no “one size fits all”…yesysyesyesyes is all I’m gonna say. Those of us that are healers, artists, teachers, leaders creative types all are very individualistic and need the spaciousness to be both grounded and have freedom.

    Gratitude for naming this point.
    with love,

  • Yay, Asherah! So glad that resonated for you. As healers who are also in business, we need to find a reliable way to check in with our values so that we can develop business practices that are in deep resonance with who we are. In my experience, at that point, the trust in business can become very deep, and success starts to flow…

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The Unexpected Rewards of Going “Off Track”

Have you ever had (or known someone who had) a chronic and distressing physical condition? For people in this situation, it can be really difficult to figure out who, of the many, many healing and medical practitioners out there, can actually help them. It can take years of trying people who don’t work, and then when they find the right one, ah! it’s an amazing experience of relief, of being seen, of being in the right place.

In different ways, we all understand this experience, in some area of our lives. I certainly do.

A few years ago, as a new healing practitioner who knew nothing about business, I was desperate to figure out how to grow my practice. For those of you who’ve never had this problem, you may not realize the baffling and diverse array of “business growth” programs and services that are out there. It’s really difficult to figure out where to start, what to trust, what programs will pay off the substantial financial investment required to participate, and who can actually help.

Eventually, I ran into some really creative business growth people. I ended up spending a LOT of money for a program that, in the end, despite its creativity, really wasn’t a good match for me and my way of growing in business. A good match for others; not so much for me. Sigh.

I’d gotten seriously “off track.” I’ve been there in other places in my life–the therapist I thought would help, spending years, and finally realizing I just wasn’t moving forward; the chiropractor that was in so many ways amazing, but my back still kept getting injured anyway.

You know what I mean. It can be so demoralizing to make the big commitments, only to find that it really wasn’t the fit you thought it was going to be. Again, sigh.

Nonetheless, I am very, very grateful for this detour in business, now that I can see it from a perspective several years later. Because eventually, I found business coaches who were more in alignment with my values, preferences, sense of myself, and my goals, and I probably never would have found that if I hadn’t gone so seriously off course.

“Off track” can be a huge gift. When we finally figure out that we are on the wrong path for us, then often what happens is huge clarity about what really is the right path for us. It’s the contrast that makes it clear.

What we really want is to feel in our bones what it’s like to be in full alignment with ourselves. We want to be fully congruent, knowing we can trust ourselves, our choices, and the world we’ve chosen for ourselves. There’s nothing like it.

All of us have a place in our lives where we feel this alignment. Sure, most of us have areas in our lives where we just can’t figure it out–relationships, or work, or in our emotional lives–but we all also have areas in which we just know who we are, and that we are fine and that we are on our own side.

Take a moment, and think about that part of your life. What part of your life would that be? A piece of your work life that you are really good at and you know you’re good at? Maybe a sport. Or a set of relationships you deeply trust. Or perhaps it’s art that you do. Where in your life do you trust yourself completely (or completely enough)?

Now, imagine that that is a physical space around you. Imagine it growing larger and larger, including more and more parts of your life, so that more and more, you trust yourself and you are in alignment with what most matters to you.

No one wants to go off track. But when it makes clear to us our deepest values, and inspires our re-commitment to what  matters most, it’s almost worth whatever discomfort (and for me, money!) it involved.

What discomfort, what out-of-alignment experience, is currently teaching you about what matters most to you? 

One Response to “The Unexpected Rewards of Going “Off Track””

  • Love this, Leslie, especially ” that we are on our own side.” Lovely thoughts to meditate on in my daily writing to self reflections! I also love the image of that room of alignment getting bigger and bigger. I feel that gives me more and more space to play and to be myself.

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What is Your Relationship with the Heart of Your Work?

If you were to stand across from the heart of your work–your business, your vocation, your employment, your career–what do you think it would feel like?

These questions are part of a recent exercise that I developed that I’ve been using a lot with my clients. I adapted it from a prayer practice I learned from the good and wise people at The Heart of Business. I’ve adapted their prayer practice into a constellation exercise that has been a powerful tool for many of my clients wanting to heal or grow their work.

Why would this be so powerful? It’s important to remember: Your work is not you. It may be your creation, but it isn’t you. In the constellation field, it’s a separate representation, and therefore, it’s something you have a relationship with.

However, because we don’t tend to think this way, it doesn’t necessarily occur to us to check in with this relationship. And, even if it did, how could we? It turns out that constellations gives us a great way to do just that.

For anyone who is struggling in any way with their work, or who simply want to grow in their work, this exercise can be a great way to find out what’s really going on, and it can also begin to suggest ways of moving forward.

Here is the exercise; I invite you to give it a try! Take two pieces of paper, and on one write your name. On the other, write something like “The heart of my business,” or “The heart of my vocation” or “The heart of my career,” or whatever seems like the right language and a match for what your work is. Place these two slips of paper on the ground across from each other, perhaps a few feet apart.

In constellation work, as soon as we place our intention on exploring the field, the unconscious of a system–in this case, by putting down the pieces of paper– representations for these two are present, just as if you had two people in the room looking at each other. (For those of you who are familiar with this work, it’s something that you are already accustomed to. For everyone else, give it a try!)

Now, step on the paper that has your name. Allow yourself to settle into the field, and then just notice what you feel. Neutral? Happy? Nervous? Notice that there is “someone” across from you: The heart of your work. What does that feel like? Warm and trusting? Doubting, fearful? Just notice without any judgment how that feels. Then, step off of the paper for a moment.

Then, step onto the other paper. You are now “representing” (a technical term in constellation work) the heart of your work, standing across from you. As the role settles, how does that feel? Do you feel big? Small? Nervous, trusting? What does this relationship feel like to the heart of your work? Again, notice without judgment.

Just this is often a huge aha for my clients. They finally really feel what is going on, and they realize that staying in touch with this relationship is really important. For instance, a client of mine did this exercise and discovered that the heart of their business felt really small and needed a lot more support. Another one noticed the heart of their business didn’t really trust them, and realized that the issues of trust she had been dealing with her whole life were invisibly blocking her own business, which she loved so much.

If this exploration is all you do, that’s great. However, you can also continue to explore, going back and forth, asking questions, seeing if moving the positions changes anything, just seeing what’s there.

At the end of the exercise, do one last thing while standing on your piece of paper: Tell the heart of your work that you promise to stay in touch and grow this relationship. This is a very, very important relationship, and like all important relationships, it requires our commitment to stay in touch, check in, and create connection.

When you are done, you may wonder, what next? You may have had strong feelings, but what can you do about them? There are lots of ways to continue working with what you’ve discovered.

One way is at my workshop on August 23rd, which is going to be a day of constellations exploring the invisible structures of our businesses, and resolving blocks. It would be great to have you! Click here for more information.

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“The Problem is Really in Your Neck” Huh?

“Jill” is an especially smart, experienced and committed healing practitioner. She’s a master at what she does, and she’s motivated to work hard on her practice. Enough work comes through, but she never really thrives. She has the funny feeling that every time she has more than enough, something terrible will happen and she’ll be blamed for something. It makes it really hard to enjoy her work and feel like she’s got success.

Jill had been stuck for years with this pattern. She’s paid business coaches lots of money over the years to help her fix what’s broken and help her move forward, but although she learned a lot, it never really changed. Her business remained a struggle.

Does this sound familiar, in any way, to something in your life? Something unworkable that simply makes no sense? Not only can this be draining and expensive, but it’s ultimately demoralizing: Why bother? becomes the understandable question.

I’ve got persistent back problems. It’s a herniated L4, for you folk out there who know what that means. I’ve gotten all kinds of help, which indeed has made it better. I have a network chiropractor every once in a while for a “tune up.” And once in a while, she doesn’t work on my back at all–she works on my neck, because the tension and misalignment there is what’s actually fueling the lower back problems. And then, I feel much better.

As Jill paid good coaches to help her, it was like she was getting help with the area that wasn’t genuinely the problem with her. The problem was somewhere else, but where?

Jill comes from a family that had experienced deep and enduring poverty, and it cost them a lot to come to the U.S. and find a different life. Unconsciously, it was as if Jill was at a big dinner table with her poor, struggling ancestors with empty plates in front of them, and finding that she has no appetite to eat while her ancestors remain hungry.

Who among us could bear the unconscious guilt of that? And it turns out, most of us are struggling with unconscious guilt of exactly this sort. Which one might yours be?

If you’ve been reading my articles long enough, you know there’s a solution: bow to the suffering of your ancestors, honor the dignity of their fate, and ask their blessing as you choose another way. This is the respectful way through, creating more positive, strong connection, while allowing less negative influence.

For many healing practitioners and coaches, stuck in their businesses, this is one of many kinds of invisible obstacles that can be holding their businesses back. If you’re a practitioner, I invite you to join me for a day of uncovering these limitations, and creating new freedom for your business. For more information, take a look at this constellation workshop coming up in late August that is especially for alternative practitioners and coaches.

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If You Can’t Get “Traction,” Some Hidden YOU Needs to Be Seen…

I work with many clients who come in with a sense that they have been stuck forever; whatever healing they try, they can’t get “traction.” I’ve been noticing this pattern for a while. And I am beginning to notice two of the things that are often at the heart of it.

In one instance, people are stuck because they are in deep pain about not having the life they expected. Often this is the result of a dramatic event, the kind of thing that creates the sense of a fork in the road, when life is permanently changed, and the life they thought they were going to have is lost forever. A sudden miscarriage, going to jail, an accident leading to a permanent disability–these kinds of things almost feel like a theft of a life they knew they were going to have.

The other instance is when someone had a terrible experience of childhood that was especially lonely or unnoticed by others. For many of these people, to “move forward in life”–to become more healthy, or get work they love, or see their business thrive–feels unconsciously like abandoning their past, unhappy selves. Almost as if, to move forward, they have to tell their past selves that “it didn’t really matter.”

In both these instances, there is a version of you that is almost holding the present version of you hostage. In the first instance, we can’t move on because we only want the life we didn’t get to live; in the second, we can’t move on because we can’t bear abandoning our past self.

In both instances, when we look at the situation systemically (which constellation work makes possible), your parallel self (the life not lived) and your past self (the one who had it so hard), are both real elements of your system that have real effect on you and your life. We feel compelled to stop our life in its tracks because to do so is a betrayal of those other selves.

This is classic devotional patterning: the way we make our lives impossible out of love for someone else in the system. It’s just in this case, the loved one is an alternate version of ourselves. Bert Hellinger would say we are “entangled”: we are trying to include and love someone else in the system whom we perceive as lost or not fully respected.

So what is the answer? The answer is to consciously respect these alternative selves. In the first instance, see the version of us who continued living the undisturbed life, acknowledge that one, grieve the loss of that one, and ask for that one’s blessing. In the second instance, we acknowledge the younger one’s fate, and notice that things get better for our past self only when we allow that one’s future (that’s us) to get better.

There is no difference between this and honoring the ancestors properly. In this instance, we are respecting our multiple selves properly, and including them, giving them a place in our hearts (as Hellinger put it).

The important healing is coming into rapport with all aspects of ourselves; in this instance, our selves across time. It’s astonishing how stuck we can make ourselves when we are at odds with other selves in time. And it’s also astonishing how quickly we can move again when we find that rapport, the sense that none of our selves across time (even the times when we were most self-destructive) are against any of the others.

As a last movement, we can notice our future self, doing so much better than we are, now in full motion and happy about it. It’s important to see that one concretely. It turns out many of us, in childhood or at other critical moments, imagine that we have stopped having a future, because we can only imagine our future being painful. That can really help for a time (especially in childhood, when we have so little control, or in times of special, ongoing crisis), but eventually, we need to regain our future.

Because when we imagine a future self doing well, that one starts to have an effect on our system, truly, as another living representative within it. It inevitably affects us, and helps move us toward what we most want.

Are you unable to get traction? Take a look at your past and future selves, and see if some honoring and respect for all of who you are can help. And, if you suspect something like this may be at work, but you can’t feel it fully, connect with me, and let’s see if we can’t create life changing rapport across your life, for yourself.

3 Responses to “If You Can’t Get “Traction,” Some Hidden YOU Needs to Be Seen…”

  • Suzanne:

    I think you are on to something here, Leslie…
    I’ve got something to think about in a new way…and it’s making sense.
    I want to read your blog a few more times to “grok” it…but, yeah…it resonates!

  • Erika:

    Hi Leslie,

    this hit the nail on the head for me. I don’t know where to begin thanking you. I am truly grateful that you took the time to make this post, and get straight to the point.

    At the cross-roads I feel I am at now, all of what you addressed related to me. Whilst reading, I made my notes, and as I had previously been practicing prior to getting to the point of realizing that procrastination just wasn’t going to cut it anymore, I began to rephrase the nuggets you elaborated on, into the things I want for myself.
    I revisited that past me. I finally understood to what extent I was standing in my own way. I literally felt the weight lift off me and I felt proud and satisfied, after what seems like a long while. Truly understanding that I am who I am, because of the past me, was liberating and refreshing. I also now grasp why I fear and doubt and how those feelings came about. I can grasp the crippling-effect it has had on my beautiful life as it is now. I found my solution for feeling like I was losing traction fast, and now I can’t wait to lay in my bed and fall asleep tonight.

    Kind regards with oh so much gratitude and blessings to you.

    Erika (Germany)

  • So glad this had a powerful affect Erika. And delighted to hear from someone all the way in Germany!

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