“Rachel, what are you pretending not to know?”
Several years ago I had a wonderful mentor who refused to answer my questions or give a stitch of advice. Whenever I was circling around the same question and tripping over the same pile of it, he would invariably ask me; what are you pretending not to know? He didn’t say this in a condescending tone as if he already knew the answer. That was the the thing about him. He stubbornly believed that he did not know what was best for me. He was convinced that the answer was already within me. I just had to be willing to dig deep and be ruthlessly honest with myself – stop pretending like I don’t know.
I kind of hated it when he said that. I wanted him to give me advice and all the answers. Tell me what was right and wrong and what to do next.
I get it now. I needed to learn to trust my own gut, my own intuition, my own wisdom. If I was going to act on what I knew to be true about my life, then I needed to recognize the strength and significance of my own experience. And whenever I let someone make decisions for me or tell me what I should do or how I should feel, I give my power to them. I put off on to someone else what is truly mine to do or be about. Depending on my mentor for advice and strong direction took the pressure and responsibility off of me and on to him, thank goodness he refused.
There are plenty of people who love to give advice and believe themselves to be helpful. I know that feeling. Sometimes it is really hard not to give what you think is helpful and not harmful advice when you see someone flailing and asking for help. Don’t do it. Trust that they already have the answers they need, and stay with them while they ask the same questions over and over, wrestling with what they know to be true but are just not ready to see.
At the next Daily Bread Yoga retreat we are going to consider all the power for change and new life within us, and all the ways we reject, ignore, cling, and give it away. And maybe running through the back of your mind will be that haunting question; what are you pretending not to know?
Know that it will be a completely “Should-Free” zone. So, if you tend to ask for lots of advice and ask people what you should do… stock up now because you won’t get it that day. And if you hand out advice as if you’re being paid…practice sitting on your hands and offering your confident, curious presence, but not your shoulds.
And there will be at least 2 full hours of yoga in the midst of this, lest you forget!
The next retreat is Saturday, November 8th, 9a.m.-noon at Philo Presbyterian Church. The cost is $20. Please let me know if you plan to be there and how many friends you are bringing.
Peace on your head,