25 March 2016
Most people believe that their actions have consequences but don’t think through the implications of that belief. But Steve did. He believed, as I do, that it is precisely by acting on our intentions and staying true to our values that we change the world. ~Ed Catmull, President of Pixar Animation, referring to Steve Jobs in Catmull’s book Creativity, Inc.
This week I’m thinking about how I can give away my agency over my own life without even realizing it. Along with this, I’m thinking of the flip side — how to claim and own my life more strongly and definitively.
It takes courage to stay in our own lives and act with conscious attention and intention. It’s often seems easier to blame, judge, shame. It’s often feels safer to hide, numb the pain, gloss over.
But these behaviors inhibit the active creation of life. They are reactions that appear to defend me or serve me in some way, but in fact detour me away from the greater desires I have for connection and compassion.
It’s clear that there’s lots of places where I have no influence over outcomes. Which makes it even more important that I focus on the areas I can affect and practice the skills that help me shape myself and my life.
Byron Katie classifies the affairs of life in a way that helps me remember where my efforts can be most effective. She separates situations into three types of ‘business’. My business. Your business. God’s business.
God’s business is weather, earthquakes, when I’ll die. Your business is where you go on vacation, how you handle your finances, when you mow your lawn. My business is what responsibilities I take on, how I navigate my work, when I mow my lawn.
If I spend my energy on God’s business and your business, I restrict the energy I have left for my business, the place where my attention and intention can make a difference. Being in God’s business or your business can make me feel frustrated and powerless because I have no actual authority in these areas. Putting myself in my business, gives me a chance to act with clarity and effect.
Sometimes I want approval or validation from the world. Sometimes I need support from my husband or a friend. And when I don’t get those I can move into a defensive or blaming posture. But there’s an opportunity in times like this to tend to myself, to my business, by aligning with internal guidance and focusing my energy where I can mobilize it constructively.
It comes down to a choice. Do I want to cherish hurt and blame? Or nourish a life that aligns with my heart?
Focusing on being the person I want to be is all up to me. And, like all the big things in my life, this is a practice for me. Some moments I manage it. Other moments, I remember I can begin again.
More on Byron Katie’s three kinds of business.