The acid test: family of origin

I just got back from spending ten daysRode family in Puerto Vallarta with my mother and father at a resort in Puerto Vallarta.  I was invited by my father in August.  He has been inviting me for years, but since resorts and family aren’t my idea of fun, I’d always said no.  This time I said yes.  I was committed to expanding my receiving and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.  His time-share sleeps four and the plan was for other members of my family like my brother, nephew or niece to come.

While it might have been nice to spend time with my niece, I was mainly interested in opportunities that might open up as a result of being at a resort.  As it turned out, the other family members could not get time off from work and in the end my mother got invited.  My parents have been divorced for forty years and, while not close, they do share family holiday get-togethers.  It was not too surprising she was invited, but if I had known I would not have agreed to go.

As you all know from my book, Deconditioning Ground, I have done extensive work on my relationship with my mother and feel a sense of completion around my issues with her.  Still, she is not someone I would choose to spend ten days with.  I entertained the possibility of choosing not to go.  In the end I opted to go through with it.  This could be an acid test to demonstrate if I really had complete resolution around the issues I had with her.  I have heard many people come to “resolution” in parental relationships only to find another level surface months or years later.  I had cycled through many layers myself.  I wasn’t looking forward to being triggered, but accepted the possibility.

As it turned out the trip was fairly uneventful in terms of parental stuff.  For the most part it was easy to be in equanimity around my parents.  And when I reacted to what they were doing or saying I was able to catch myself before acting or speaking or at least before getting sucked into their reality too deep. Many times I watched them misunderstand or misinterpret things around the resort and choose to not get involved as they worked it out.

My solace?

I kept asking, “What is really possible here?”  and reminding myself that their situation, lifestyle, state of health and etc. was their choice.  I choose not to care-take.  I was pleased with my ability to maintain a peaceful state of mind.

Instead, I was triggered by the general resort environment.  Since “not-liking” something represents a judgment and a block to receiving I became aware that I am limiting possibilities in my life.  I watched my mind formulate opinions about the body types I was seeing, the way the employees treated me, and the overall organization of the resort.  I became exhausted as my subconscious mind went into overdrive trying to figure things out: Why did people choose to be obese, and why did people choose to completely expose themselves at a pool, and why was I unwilling to expose myself at all, and why was shuttle system so completely inefficient, and why did every employee have to greet and salute me every time I walked by, and why did I not like that, etc.

It is not surprising that I chose this trip, since I am working on moving beyond judgment and increasing my capacity to receive.  Since 80% of my mind was busy with judging and trying to figure things out, I decided to give it something else to do.  I used these:

  • How does it get better than this?
  • How can I use this to my advantage?
  • What else is possible?®
  • What is this?  Can I change this?


My mind calmed down and gave up the futile activity of trying to make sense of it all.

What is it going to take to get rid of all this judgment?  Trying to get rid of judgment does not work.  Trying to act as if I am not judgmental does not work.  Trying to pretend or ignore my prejudices does not work.  Perhaps what will work is being aware of all the judgment arising and simply observing it without agreeing with it or disagreeing with it.

Can I acknowledge my opinion, judgement or point of view without being judgmental about having a judgment?  What is beyond judgment?  What can I choose today that will create my future without judgment?


What else is possible? is a registered trademark of Access Consciousness.

Minted values

In 1999 the US Mint launched the 50 State Quarters Program.  My daughter was eight.  Something about having a young child and the excitement of a new look to our old quarters got me to start saving the different states.

state quartersAfter several years, when I started shopping for a case to put my “daughter’s” collection in, I came to my senses.

My daughter is blessed with a complete disinterest in material things.  The special collectible coins meant nothing to her.  When she was eight she did not place inherent value on things for sentimental reasons.  It was actually quite refreshing.  Such a value, must be a learned behavior and I had failed to impart it.

If I was going to get a case, I would need to get my daughter to buy into the idea.  But, why would I do that?  I took a moment and moved my mind forward fifty years.  I imagined the entire coin collection in the future and its value.  It wasn’t hard to do.  I had coins that my parents and grandparents had given me.  They were simply a burden.  Something that I had to lug around every time I moved.

Why did I hang onto them?  They were valuable – that is what my relatives had told me.  In truth they were not worth very much at all.  The reality is that my relatives had passed them on to me and I was carrying them in order to pass them onto the next generation.  It is as if they had passed their values and hopes onto me and I had mindlessly accepted their burden.

There are countless values and beliefs that my relatives passed on to me.  Some have had more damaging effects than the value of collectable coins.  When I confronted myself, I found I really didn’t think saving coins was a worthwhile activity.  I was merely holding that value as a way to honor my grandparents.

What I have found invaluable is to constantly question my motives for acting.  It is amazing how much lighter I am now that I am getting rid of other people’s values and my habitual ways of acting.  I am able to honor my grandparents without carrying their values, beliefs or things.

Those quarters are long gone.  I stopped even looking at the new states as they came out.  I no longer had a motive to spend my energy that way.  My personal insight had set me free of an activity that did not really serve me.