by Katherine 'KOOL KAT' Farnham
What do you feel is your biggest challenge right now?
Many of us in 2020 and 2021 have dealt with many external challenges and frustrations. One of the biggest problems I see consistently however at any time with people is just simply focusing on the work. Why? There can be so many distractions to this that sometimes one can get off the path. Not only that, there is discomfort associated with growth so if you are growing sometimes you may be uncomfortable and this can cause delays and upsets. What can be done?
The simple act of refocusing on one's progress is very important. Regardless of what may be going on around you, or inside you if you are serious about making progress you've got to find a way to keep working on your own development. Your path is YOUR unique path. It isn't anybody's else's path. Although there are similar lessons for most of us, everyone has different strengths and challenges.
The intention of this article is to hone in specifically on some of the potential pitfalls I've seen and to help you understand them so hopefully you can avoid them and keep learning and growing. Learning and education adds value to people's lives and reduces suffering. That is a positive in any year!
This is a big one. If you are having trouble developing solid discipline with your practicing routine for example, try and identify what is getting in your way. Do you practice in a noisy room or area? Turn off your phone. Turn off your computer during that time. Secure pets in another room. Arrange the space for at least one hour so you can be alone if possible and do your work. Practice time is time for YOU.
Talk to family and friends (and even the cat or dog) if they seem upset by you not giving them attention during that time. Explain that you'd like their support! Explain how important this is to you. Reassure them that you love and care for them and that by focusing on your own self-discipline you will be a stronger person to be there for them.
Once you feel your habits are solid, you may decide to allow pets in on a limited basis now and then. You may invite a friend or family member to listen in (quietly and respectfully, without excessive commentary) if you are comfortable with that.
DON'T MAKE THINGS PERSONAL
Many students try and make things personal when they are having trouble in their growth process. However, most of us have to humble ourselves, do the work, develop discipline, overcome bad habits and obstacles and grasp an understanding of what our true talents and strengths are. This is how you become of service. It's not about you. It's not about the teacher. It's about the process of sharing and developing wisdom. It is one of the most rewarding processes available to someone! If you know how to work it successfully, it will add tremendous value to your life.
Everyone has issues to deal with. It's how you manage yours that counts.
Don't get overly involved in your personal issues. Don't get overly involved in your teacher's issues either. This can really damage or even destroy a relationship. Be positive and friendly but maintain healthy boundaries. If there's confusion, set aside time and discuss everything face to face if needed. Focus on the part of the journey that you're on right now. If you're having trouble, try and articulate what the trouble is. Keep trying.
I find this issue comes up during the Intermediate Level or whenever a student is having difficulty in some area of their training. The difficulty causes the mind to circumvent and get distracted to avoid the pain of doing the work! However, if your teacher and you have good communication (and this takes both of you and a relentless determination to solve problems), eventually you should be able to isolate the source of the problem and work thru it.
If you need a referral to another professional, such as a chiropractor, massage therapist, physician, voice doctor, social worker, counselor, etc. then a good teacher should eventually be able to make some suggestions if the two of you continue the dialogue. Don't quit! Try and move thru trouble spots until you achieve a resolution.
MAINTAIN HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
As mentioned above, maintain healthy boundaries. If something is bothering you, set aside a time to discuss it respectfully. There is no substitute for continuous communication. No relationship can be maintained without it.
AVOID THE NEGATIVE
The more successful a person is, the less time they have to deal with negative statements, negative conversations, negative situations - and negative people. All conversations - even when devoted to talking about a problem should be solution-oriented.
Sometimes we have to leave negative situations and people behind. Sometimes people just have different needs or perspectives and forcing the issue never works and just creates more problems. If you've tried your utmost to talk through something and it hasn't helped you may have to move on.
Wish everyone well but realize that we aren't always meant to walk with people the entire journey. This can be very painful to realize. Some people and situations may only be there to get us through certain rough patches. Sometimes it is better to accept that everyone needs to move on - and to hold gratitude in your heart as you leave.
This does not mean that you did not care - or do not still care about the people involved. You may even be aware consciously - of a deep love you carry for certain people even when you are no longer a regular part of their life. As hard as this lesson is, it doesn't mean you don't love them. It may just mean needs are different. Try and move through these lessons as gracefully as you can, and realize around the corner there will be new people to meet that will fulfill your expectations and needs when you learn to detach.
Love often means staying - for a few special people in your corner that you commit to. Love however - can also mean leaving - if you know that is what is best for both. Be compassionate, understanding but also look to your own needs as well. If you are not strong, you cannot serve anyone else.
By being honest about your own needs, you may help others to eventually find what they truly need as well. Work hard, and don't give up when there is simply a true challenge to face and work through - but don't compromise yourself either.
Try not to get stuck in negativity at any time.
When discussing problems, try even then to shape your words to downplay the negative and stress the positive. For example, instead of saying, "You know I am experiencing alot of tension in this passage whenever I sing this and it's really frustrating me!" - try this instead - "You know I am experiencing tension in this passage and I was wondering if you've ever experienced that yourself or have any suggestions for improvement." So - you clearly state the problem but you move forwards directly and quickly in searching for a solution.
When tired or stressed, most of us occasionally fall back into non-optimal speech patterns. Don't beat yourself up if you are not perfect, but begin to train yourself right now to speak positively whenever possible.
We live in a diverse time where many people have many different perspectives. That is part of why I feel communication should be one of the top priorities in any trusting, working relationship. If you do not understand where a person is coming from or why they feel the way they do it can be limiting.
Try and be flexible and see other points of view besides your own.
Regardless of what is going on, keep at it!
You can do it!
Much Love & Gratitude,
(c) 2021 Katherine Farnham
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