Getting Out Of Your Own Way

I used to teach Love Yourself, Heal Your Life workshops, inspired by Louise L. Hay. I made several dear friends in those classes. One evening, one of them, Jane, came to my house to lead three of us on an interesting mediation.

In the exercise, we climbed up a mountain and visualized a spiritual mentor. Each of us asked our mentor very specific questions. In my case, one question was, "How can I become more successful and achieve more of my goals?" The answer that came to me really took me by surprise: "Get out of your own way."

At first, that one didn't make sense to me. Then, I realized that the number one reason I was not reaping the benefits of my efforts was that I was in my own way. I was either trying too hard or I lacked faith that I would ever succeed and I was not making the attempt at all.

As I considered this advice, I recalled examples of just how effective I could be when I was unconscious about the result. Like the time when my twins were ten-years-old and I took them to Cedar Point. Within a few minutes they were each trying their hands at one of the toughest games on the midway: trying to land a small rubber ring on one of many bottles set up in crates. The bottles were fairly close and just being the slightest bit off guarantees that the ring will bounce off and fall to the ground. They weren't doing very well. No one was. So I said, "Here, let me help" and casually tossed a ring at a bottle. Bingo! It landed dead center and I won a five-foot white gorilla in our first half hour at the park. Before you say, "Wow! You must have great hand-eye coordination," let me assure you: This was something I could never have done, had I made a big goal of it. I succeeded because I was not actually trying.

Two years later, I was in a medical taping class as part of my martial arts training. I finished the wrapping assignment, used up the tape and tossed the empty roll at the wastebasket across the room. It shot right in. Again, had I carefully aimed and "tried" to make the shot to impress my colleagues, I would have missed.

I recalled similar incidents involving my aim and the result was always the same. My aim is phenomenal when I am not trying and mediocre at best when I do. And then I began thinking of things, like why is it that when you don't care about the impression you make, you always make a better one than when you try too hard? (For example, remember your first crush?)

More recently, I have noticed that when I close my eyes while talking to clients on the phone and simply say the words that come to me, they often respond that I am expressing exactly what they are feeling inside and telling them just what they need to hear in that moment. I am not talking about legal advice; I am talking about life advice. I have no idea what I am going to say until I say it. Each time, the client responds that my words are right on target.

I would venture to say that many people have similar experiences, since we are all divine manifestations of life and filled with the greatness that is in God. So how can we get out of our own way to achieve the things we really want in life?

Oftentimes people use substances to shut out the conscious mind; or as my friend Jane would call it, the "chattering monkey." In "Life or Something Like It," an older movie my sister Nancy just gave me, Angelina Jolie plays a brittle, pretty, blonde reporter who was perfectly coiffed at all times. She worked out constantly, ate like a bird and had the perfect career. Yet her career didn't really take off until after she was told by a crazy prophet named Jack that she was going to die the very next week. That prophecy led her to examine her relationships, her values and herself and when she did, she saw hollowness. In the midst of her soul-searching, she forgot to be perfect and showed up drunk, in plain old clothes, without make-up, to do a news story on some striking transportation workers. She joined in with the striking workers and began singing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction." She ended up being shown on every channel and was offered the "plum" job of a network reporter, something she had always longed for. Once there, she again wowed viewers (this time sober) by refusing to ask the scripted "softball" questions and asking real ones instead.

Of course, I am certainly not advocating substance abuse as a way to silence the "chattering monkey." There are much better pathways and more rewarding too: but the point is to be fully in the moment, while being detached from the result. People do that easily under the press of extreme situations, such as childbirth, war or other times of crisis. For Jolie's character, it was the thought of her own imminent death that made her "get real" with herself.

In my experiences of success, the common feature was that I acted without thought of whether or not I could do it, what would people think if I did, what were the probabilities and so forth. I forgot myself, focused on what I wanted to do and did it, without thought of my own success. Each time, I hit the bull's eye, so to speak. And I have found this to be true again and again. In fact, all of those activities have the same thing in common: being present in the moment, yet detached from the result. Whatever the experience, whatever the endeavor, the individual who succeeds is the one who gets past the tyranny of the conscious mind and breaks through to "mindless" action.

My friend Les Brown used to say, "Leap and the net will appear." Yes, you can take that truth too far, but we can take it for the truth that it is. Just like the little girl who leaps into her daddy's arms without regard to whether or not he'll be there.

In the final analysis, the antidote for getting in our own way, is trust. Trust yourself. You have a direct line to innate wisdom and so you know what is most important for you in this moment. Trust your family and friends. They love you. They want to help you; so let in the love they give you. Live as truthfully as you can, without sugar-coating your feelings or putting a good face on them -including when you're upset, frightened or hurting. This will put you in harmony with God's plan for your life. Above all, trust the primacy of love. You are surrounded by it, like an ocean. You can ignore it, but you're still engulfed in it every time you breathe. Send it to your loved ones and love them back. Remember: You were created by love and, when it's time, you will be recreated by love. Trust life. It's a gift. That's why even the worst things usually turn out to be a blessing, though we may not always be able to see it at the time. Eternal wisdom is so much bigger than we are. We cannot understand all its workings, but all the power that ever was or will be, is here now. Therefore, we are all safe.

A few months ago, my dear sister Nancy came over to visit and brought a DVD of the old Motown classics. I remembered how much I loved that old music and I just cut loose and started dancing like a crazy woman, right there in front of the TV! Nan sat there, bemused and watched. It was a fun night.

Yesterday, we were together and Nan told me that one of her fondest memories of me was that night I danced to the Motown oldies. She said, "The minute the music came on you immediately got up and started dancing as hard as you could and never stopped until the DVD was over." Well, that's just me, sis, getting out of my own way. And I'm just warming up.

Mindy L. Hitchcock