Maybe and the Moment

A few months ago, I was working with a client named Lisa.  Lisa hired me to help her figure out whether she wanted to leave her current job and find a new direction for her life.  One day when we were on the telephone, she told me that she was going to Florida to see her mother who had been ill on and off the past few years.  At the moment she was fine and Lisa thought it would be a good idea to spend some time with her mother.   Lisa and I had not yet worked with the idea of Maybe and her story about her mother reminded me about a time when my mother was sick.

When my mother was diagnosed with cancer the thought that she might not recover was unbearable.  I remember every bad scenario going through my mind.  I was exhausted and depressed from all my stress and worry, but I needed to fly down to Florida for my mother’s operation.  Where would I find my courage and fortitude?  There were decisions that needed to me made and I needed a clear mind not filled with worry, but instead with wisdom and good judgment.  I found what I needed with the idea of Maybe.

I realized that I did not know what the future would bring, but Maybe everything would work out or get better.  What this thought did was bring me back home to the present moment.  Yes, my mother might not recover, but Maybe she would recover and that was enough hope for me to find strength. With the idea of Maybe, my story of everything bad that could happen was neutralized with all the other possibilities. My mind had nowhere else to go but to the present.   This way, when I was with my mother, I had no story. I just had hope and enough presence to experience life with her in the moment.  I shared this story with Lisa right before we got off the phone and she left for her trip.

When Lisa landed in Florida she got an emergency call that her mother was in ICU.  Her mother had pneumonia, her lungs were filling with water and she was very weak. Lisa’s mind started to race and she wanted to go into a ball in the corner and cry.  Her mother needed her, but the fear and anxiety that her mother could be dying was overwhelming her.  In that moment, she remembered our conversation a few days earlier about Maybe.  She took a deep breath then and realized that she had no idea what the next moment would bring and Maybe her mother would not die in the ICU that evening and she became very present.  Even though death was a possibility, the fact that other possibilities existed gave her strength in that moment to have hope and most of all presence.  She found the presence to sit with her mother for three days by her side and really be with her without thoughts of the next day or next month.  She thought “I have my mother now and Maybe I will have her tomorrow.”

Lisa’s mother did recover from her pneumonia.  Lisa says it was the idea of Maybe that gave her the strength to persevere for those three days.  Lisa also said that she had no idea how much more time she had with her mother, but Maybe would continue to allow her to calm her mind and enjoy every moment that they would share together.

Why waste another moment in our lives projecting what will be, when the present moment offers us time to feel life and be with the ones we love?

Just, Maybe.

Understanding Anger

When a storm comes, it stays for some time, and then it goes.  An emotion is like that too.  It comes and stays for a while and then it goes.   However, just like a storm can cause damage, the emotion of anger can cause us to say and do things that create pain and turmoil for ourselves and the people that we love.

At first, anger may seem quite justified when someone hurts our feelings or disappoints us.  Our spouse snaps at us after a long day at work or our children are disrespectful or fail to listen. Our knee jerk reaction to these behaviors is often to lash back with anger. However, our reactions often cause the situation to escalate and then there is suffering on both sides.

So how do we stop this cycle of anger and suffering in our ourselves and our relationships?  We know we shouldn’t suppress the anger that arises when someone hurts our feelings, but Maybe we can take a moment for ourselves and take care of our anger before we speak or react to the other person.

How can we possibly do this in the midst of the emotional storm? We can do it if we are willing to acknowledge the anger when we feel it coming on and repeat the simple word of “Maybe.”  In this moment we can contemplate that Maybe there is another way to deal with this emotion of hurt and disappointment.  Maybe we can just sit there and breathe and feel our breath? Maybe we can sit there and try to slow ourselves down and see what is really going on.

All we are doing in this moment is offering ourselves another way to process this anger and deal with the situation.  Sometimes, this new way can even turn our anger into understanding about ourselves, as well as the person that we love.

As we cool the flames of our anger, we may realize that the person that just hurt us is suffering too. Maybe he or she is having difficulties at work or school, maybe he or she is afraid or worried and doesn’t know how to process his or her emotions? Maybe he or she allows their anger to grow because he or she does not know how to make it thorough the emotional storm and process the onslaught. If this is true, then if we don’t help our loved one, who will?

Our loved ones are still responsible for how they act towards us, but Maybe our understanding of their suffering creates a dialogue and a new way for us to communicate.  Instead of lashing out, we can offer them understanding and compassion and allow them the space to settle their own anger.  This way we can talk and hopefully resolve the situation in a more loving manner and over time create a more stable and joyous home.

Just, Maybe.

How Can You Stop Worrying?

Before I adopted the practice of Maybe, I used to get immediately stuck whenever something happened that I had not predicted or expected.  I wasted so many hours, days and nights thinking and worrying about how things might work out negatively that I was oblivious to the present before me. I missed the joy of family occasions, the joy of accomplishment, and even the simple sunrise in the morning. No matter what I did my mind would just not stop assuming  the worst was on its way.

In an attempt to alleviate my thoughts of stress and worry, I decided to learn to meditate. I went to the Deepak Chopra Center in California to learn transcendental meditation and as I sat in a beautiful meditation room I began to feel like I was going to pass out. The more I tried to breathe and follow my breath or my mantra the farther my mind wandered and the more negative possibilities took shape. My thoughts ran something like: How am I going to afford a new home? What if my parents die? Will my husband lose his job? Will I win the motion I filed with the court before I left town? What will happen if the meditation teacher doesn’t like me?  I actually got dizzy sitting there and had to open my eyes repeatedly to clear the chaos from my mind. My mind was racing around like a car in high gear, and both my feet were strapped to the gas pedal.

My inability to keep my mind centered is not a knock against meditation. Meditating is an amazing tool both for remaining in the present and for attaining peace of mind. However, at that point in my life, I was not able to stop my mind from worrying no matter what I did.

It was only the philosophy of Maybe that saved me. Accessing Maybe allowed my mind to sit in neutral without the fear, stress or worry. It lifted the burden of what I feared because I realized Maybe my fears might never come to fruition, and in that moment I found that I had space for other prospects. My mind finally went quiet because the story of everything bad that could happen just stopped as I sat in the Maybe of all possibilities. I could feel the joy of not knowing and I was able to be still in a moment of peace and enjoy the space in front of me.

So today, whether you are facing a tough problem at work, a challenge with a family member or just feeling overwhelmed, try to remember this idea of Maybe.  We truly do not know what tomorrow will bring,  but within that uncertainty is the possibility that Maybe our lives can improve, we can accomplish our goals or improve our relationships. Maybe can become a constant in our lives always reminding us that there is hope that whatever we are experiencing today it will change and may be get better.

Let Maybe ease your mind so you can enjoy the moment!

Do Children Need to Fail to Learn?

There is a real buzz in the media right now about how we need to let our children fail for them to learn how to deal with adversity.  The belief is that if we protect them too much they will not have any experiences to rely on or have any coping skills when they get older.

Although I find the premise interesting, I think it misses one of the most basic points.  What coping skills will they learn from their failures? I know many people that faced a lot of adversity when they were young and now they have a really difficult time dealing with life as an adult.  So maybe it is not as much about our children failing, but more about teaching them a life philosophy that will guide them through anything that they may face in life.

I believe one of the biggest gifts we can give our children is the Philosophy of Maybe.  We can teach our children that for every given situation they face in life there are numerous possibilities of resolution and within those possibilities exists a hope for them that “it could be good” or  it could get better.”  This way when they get an unexpected poor grade or they did not make a sports team or they have a problem with some friends they will understand the cycle of change is never-ending.  Every outcome offers more possibilities that lie ahead.

It will help them understand that just because something happened that was unexpected or was not their desired outcome, it does not mean that they can’t still accomplish their goals. That is the beauty of Maybe.  It builds an inner system of hope and faith for our children that even though the answer is not clear, it doesn’t mean that they can’t find their way.  It allows our children to explore new territory with the knowledge that Maybe they will find what they are looking for and if they don’t find it immediately, then the next moment brings new possibilities once again.

With Maybe our focus becomes less on failure and more on teaching our children to be possible thinkers.   Lets help our children say MAYBE!