Stories of Learning from Teresa's Files

There are those who have touched my life with their willingness to shed their ties to old behaviors by setting their sights toward their destination: joy. (The identities of these teachers have been protected. No real names have been used and some of the circumstances have been changed to insure privacy of the individuals.)



I feel lost, without a purpose

Beatrice was suffering from “empty nest syndrome.”  In the summer of 2000,  her youngest daughter went off to college in a distant city.  Beatrice began to wander around the house, trying to find her place. Her two older children had left a few years before. Her husband was involved with his job.  She felt nobody needed her.  She began to look for a job, but her skills were outdated.  Beatrice had left the workforce when she was pregnant with her first child, back in 1974.

I tried to get Beatrice to talk about herself, her talents, her dreams and wishes. But her topic of conversation kept gravitating toward her husband and children’s talents, dreams, and wishes.

Beatrice had based all of her worth on her children and what she did for them.  She had forgotten herself.  She hardly knew who she was anymore. At one point she even joined a group of other empty-nesters, but felt she had nothing in common with the other women except loneliness, so she stopped attending sessions.

In my conversation with Beatrice I found out that she had a degree in art and that at one time she had enjoyed oil painting. I asked her to show me some of her work, but she couldn’t find any of her

paintings. They were buried in the attic somewhere under boxes of stuff that her children were supposed to pick up one day.

I encouraged Beatrice to try to recapture that part of herself by visiting art galleries. I soothed her feelings into finding excitement in the idea of buying canvas, easels, paints, and brushes, everything she would need to begin painting. She made one of her children’s bedrooms into her studio, covered the floor with an old carpet, and timidly, she began to paint again. She felt insecure and didn’t want anyone to see what she was painting. I expressed to  her that it didn’t matter what anyone thought of her paintings. Her own opinion was the only one that she should seek.

Through her community she found a painting class and enrolled in it. Much to her delight, she met other classmates about her age and quickly made friends. She received praise and encouragement for her painting.

By  reviving the memory of an activity she had once enjoyed, Beatrice began to see herself as a person separate from her husband and children.

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My son was given a scary diagnosis

Julie was crushed when she found out that her nineteen-year-old son was HIV positive.  She wanted to pay for whatever treatment was available.

But her son wanted to have none of it.  He wanted to continue living as if no diagnosis had ever been made.  He said he felt fine, so he wasn’t going to take any medication.  He was a happy young man with many interests, and according to Julie, his words were:  “I’m going to die one day, just like everybody else.  I’m not going to start now by restricting my life, having constant tests, and counting pills.  I want to live my life to the fullest.”

Julie’s son is a powerful creator.  He doesn’t think of the diagnosis as death sentence. In fact, he doesn’t think of it at all.

I told Julie of a client I had who was diagnosed back in the early 80’s.  He had a period in which he had no “T” cells to speak of, and his

 mouth was full of sores.  He never took the drugs available to extend life.  He instead began meditation and took regular trips to the beach. In a few months, his sores disappeared, and he never again went back to check his blood.  He is in his late fifties and looks much younger.  He never thinks of AIDS or HIV.

I told Julie about the one thing she could do for her son that really works.  She had to stop worrying about him.  But that is a very tall order for a mother.  It took some time of her taking incremental steps toward feeling better. S he learned that whenever she thought of her son, she would imagine him happy, vibrant, healthy.  She learned to kick those other thoughts out as soon as they entered her mind.

Two years have gone by since Julie came to me.  Her son is very well, and so is she.


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I don’t think I love my children enough

Jack had separated from his wife and was sharing custody of his two very “spoiled and demanding” children. Of course, Jack blamed his former wife for their children’s behavior.

Jack had recently begun a new relationship, and he felt his children were in the way. They spent every-other weekend with him, an arrangement that seriously impinged on his time with his girlfriend. Both he and his girlfriend worked hard during the week and counted on the weekend to go hiking, biking, or just plain hanging out. But the children were not welcoming his girlfriend into their lives and wanted to spend time alone with their father. Jack felt guilty for resenting his children. He felt selfish, and his feelings of guilt were beginning to have repercussions in his relationship.

As he spoke it became clear to me that his children were doing what so many children do to make the best of their parents divorce. They were taking advantage of both of them by making each of them feel

 guilty for not doing enough. It wasn’t just his former wife who was a factor in this behavior.

I helped Jack see this, and began to teach him to find a good feeling place. By feeling guilty, Jack was communicating to his children his powerlessness in the face of their demands. As long as Jack felt guilty for not doing enough for his children, he could not do enough for his children.

As Jack began to feel better about celebrating his relationship whether his children were present or not, the situation began to change. His children began to respond to Jack’s cheerful disposition, and they became more attuned to his new lifestyle. They made less demands on Jack’s time, and were happy to join him and his girlfriend on hiking and biking trips. Because of this, Jack’s relationship with his former wife has improved, helping their children feel more secure.

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Why do I have these dreams?

Rose was a self-labeled insomniac. At first I tried to help her by telling her not to try to sleep. I recommended she get out of bed as soon as she began to toss and turn. Since the bed had become a place of worry and anxiety, she would do better by getting up and going to the living room to read, and if slumber found her there, so be it. This usually works quite well for those called “chronic insomniacs.” But I have long ago divorced from the word “chronic.”

This did not work for Rose, so I went back to explore her present situation. I asked her a few questions and finally got her to admit that she was afraid of her dreams. For over a year, Rose had experienced a recurrent dream that never varied. She was especially afraid because usually, her dreams came true. She had once dreamed that she had to have a tooth pulled, and in a week she developed severe pain in one of her back molars, and it had to come out. Later she had dreamed that she would have a car accident, and she did. Fortunately she wasn’t hurt, but her car was totaled. This time, her dreams announced her inevitable death. A dark figure would appear at the foot of her bed and, in a deep voice, told her she was going to die.

Rose was truly terrified of dying.

It took a while for Rose to accept the idea that her dreams are of her own creation. There is nothing magical about them. They came from her fears. To explain her other dreams that came true, I explained to her the law of attraction, which says that that which is like unto itself is drawn (Abraham-Hicks). As she gave attention to her dreams, she was creating them into her reality. Rose became very anxious when she thought she was attracting death for herself. I soothed her by telling her that nothing was written in stone and that all she had to do is replace those thoughts and worries for something different. I recommended that she watch pleasant films or read funny stories before going to bed. She should wait until she was truly sleepy before she put the book down or turned the TV off.

Rose, perhaps due to her fear of dying and her tendency to worry, followed this advice very closely. As a result, her dreams of an announced death stopped waking her up in the middle of the night. Rose developed new habits of thought. Whenever she found herself worried or panicky about something, she would reach into her extensive video library and find a funny film to be the last thing she thought about before going to sleep. From now on, Rose will only improve.

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I want a lasting relationship

Silvia wanted a lasting relationship. She felt compelled to tell me about the many relationships she had had and failed. She was almost relishing the energy she derived from proving to me that her case was unique. But it wasn’t a good energy. She was vibrating to the universe a message that came through loud and clear:

“I do not have a relationship. My relationships haven’t worked. I never have lasting relationships.”

I told her that the universe was sending her way exactly what she was asking with her vibration. Silvia resisted by saying that she never dwelled on it. It was just so. She wasn’t lucky in love.

I asked her what a lasting relationship was to her, and she said that it would be for life. Who’s life? But Silvia was becoming impatient with me, and I decided to show her the easy way out.

Silvia told me, at my urging, of the many aspects that had worked about the past relationships. She told me of a trip to Hawaii with one of her boyfriends. She had been so happy that whole year! Another

boyfriend had built her a beautiful cedar chest that she still treasured.  Another one taught her scuba-diving.  And the list went on...

Her relationships had worked after all! She could finally understand that! She could place herself at those happy moments with her former boyfriends and feel happy. It didn’t matter who he was! She was who she really was, experiencing joy.

In time, Silvia learned to consistently substitute her feeling of powerlessness at not being able to keep a boyfriend and get married with the feelings of companionship and fun she had felt with different partners. Her moments of sadness and loneliness became shorter and far between. She had found the key to feeling as if she already had what she wanted.

And she soon got what she really wanted.

She went to Hawaii on her honeymoon, she and her husband scuba-dived, and she now keeps her cedar chest at the foot of their bed.

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I want to be healthy for once

Raphael was fifty-two years old. He told me of a long history of health problems that I really did not need to hear. But he was on a roll.

I was impressed by one thing after he was finished with his string of surgeries. He was tough. But more than that, wellbeing ruled for him in spite of it all.

Raphael had four different doctors! Four! He had an internist, an orthopedic, an allergist, and a cardiologist! He took six prescription drugs on a daily basis! And he looked just fine to me. 

Raphael’s habits of thought were old and well rooted. He seemed to actually become more animated when he spoke of his health troubles than when he spoke of being well. I wonder if I could teach him to think differently. I banked on one phrase he had uttered at the beginning of our first session. “I want to be healthy for once.” We started there.  

That “for once” did not help him. I got him to say it without the “for once.” Then I asked him why he wanted to be healthy. But he went into the things he did not want. He said he didn’t want to spend so much on medicine, that he didn’t want to be prodded and poked by doctors, and so on. He had to start all over again, this time telling me why he wanted to be healthy. He finally got it. He wanted to run, and ski, and dance, and drink at parties, and to have fun!

Raphael was now on his way. He knew what he had to do to change his way of thinking.

He still goes to the doctor when he needs to go, but he only has one doctor now. And he takes no prescription drugs. He has learned to mix exotic drinks to amuse his friends, and he is learning how to tango.

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I have never had abundance in my life.  How do I create it?

"I have never had abundance in my life." This declarative statement was not working for Ben, obviously.  It did not matter how much he asked for his situation to improve, it didn’t.  Why?  Because he did not believe it could.  He had worked hard, he had started businesses that did not get off the ground, he had associated himself with others who were as “unlucky” as himself, and he was deeply in debt.  I helped Ben see that in spite of the rosary of misadventures that he was willing to recite to anyone who cared to listen, he had thrived.  He wasn’t where he wanted to be, but he had found ways to survive and keep trying.  He had an abundance of energy and he was not afraid to risk something.  But in his haste to see results, he was forgetting that the joy is in the journey.  It took some time for Ben to change the way he looked at his life.  But as soon as he did, the right people appeared and he began to see the abundance that had always been at his fingertips. 
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Updated 02/12/2009
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