I can do it

The I Can Do It Conference, brought together an eclectic group of author-speakers at Sydney Convention Centre in Darling Harbour on the weekend of 25 and 26 August 2012.

Louise L.Hay, Cheryl Richardson, Robert Holden, Doreen Virtue, Suze Orman, Don Miguel Ruiz, and Neale Donald Walsch inspired their audience.

Katrina Fox and Georgina Abrahams attended both days and have kindly summarised what they “heard” as the key messages.


Louise L. Hay and Cheryl Richardson

Day one kicked off with the grand dame of personal development, Louise L. Hay, the author of the renowned You Can Heal Your Life and many other books and CDs and Cheryl Richardson, her co-author of You Can Lead An Exceptional Life.

We learned that at 85 Louise has just started to take piano lessons and that she constantly reminds those around her to check their language to keep it positive. Instead of telling someone “Don’t forget”, ask them to “Please remember”.

The theme of the talk was that realising our dreams begins with our willingness to love ourselves and the two women offered 10 steps to love yourself:

1. Stop all criticism. “It never changes the thing, it just makes it worse,” said Louise. “Accept yourself exactly as you are and you will make positive changes. When you catch yourself doing something you don’t want to do, instead of criticising yourself for failing, say instead, ‘I caught it. I’m going to care for myself.’

2. Don’t scare yourself. If you go off on a negative thought pattern, catch yourself and think of something good. Louise recommended dissolving habits rather than breaking them because “if I break them, there are pieces of them around but if they are dissolved, they no longer exist”. Cheryl reminded us that our brains are wired to give us the answers we seek. “If you say, ‘How can I love myself today?’ your brain will look for answers”. A beautiful piece of advice from Louise was to hold our own hand with joy until the end. “You are with you till the day you die, so make your relationship with you the best,” she said.

3. Treat yourself with patience, gentleness and kindness. “It’s not uncommon to take one step forward and two steps back,” said Cheryl.

4. Be kind to your mind. “Self-hatred is really only thinking a thought and if you’re hating a thought you are thinking about yourself, a thought can be changed. Make your mind a gentle place to live,” said Louise.

5. Praise yourself. When faced with having to do something challenging, tell yourself beforehand that it will be easy and effortless, and afterwards tell yourself you did the best you could and that’s fine. Cheryl noted when we are being the best we can, it gives others permission to do the same.

6. Ask for help. “Most of us are afraid to ask others for help and so nothing gets done, then we are resentful because people aren’t reading our minds,” said Louise.

7. Bless your kitchen. This may sound a bit twee but the point of this step is to nourish your body and not fill it with junk food. This was the one section of Louise’s talk that was incongruent with her messages of love and compassion. We were horrified to hear her delight in creating “bone broth” and adding the “backs, necks or wings” of chickens to her meals. Without meaning to diminish in any way the groundbreaking and pioneering work Louise has done over the years, it was a huge disappointment to hear her supporting the torture and killing of sentient creatures. 

8. Love every negative habit we have because we created it for a reason, to keep us safe and protected. “Ask what is the benefit and can you do it in another way?” she advised.

9. Do mirror work – practise gazing into a mirror and saying loving and kind things to yourself – even if it feels uncomfortable at first. After a while it will create new neural pathways and you will start to believe your words.

10. Remember that when you love life, life loves you right back.

Cheryl Richardson: The Art of Extreme Self Care

Cheryl’s presentation was based on her book The Art of Extreme Self Care. She explained how her coach told her she was spending a lot of time making sure everyone liked her, so he gave her the task of “pissing someone off once a day for 30 days”. Cheryl gave the audience the same assignment. “We spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think and so little about what we think,” she said.

Asked by a TV interviewer in the US if she was encouraging people to be selfish, she responded with a definitive ‘yes’. “I decided not to defend it anymore,” she said, before asking the audience the question: “If your mother had taken better care of herself, how many of you would have had a better childhood?” Most hands went up.

“When I grew up I hated being disappointed,” she explained. “What happens? You don’t want to disappoint others. But in order to live a soul-directed life that honours the essence of who you are and expresses your gifts fully you must master the art of disappointing people, hurting their feelings and pissing them off – not in a malicious way, but there’s no way you can avoid disappointing someone when you make a choice to honour you.”

Cheryl also advised the audience not to encourage loved ones to continually dump their negativity on to us. “Every time you let a person dump their anxiety or negativity on to you, it doesn’t allow them to do something to change their lives for the better,” she warned. Instead

we should offer to help them do something constructive about their issue and if they decline, remove them from our lives.

She wrapped up her session encouraging us to let go of our need to continually control other people and making their way of doing something wrong. “Receiving is an act of generosity,” she said.

Robert Holden

Robert was, in our opinion, the most lively, funny and entertaining presenter on the Saturday. Robert explained some deep concepts of spirituality in an accessible way.

Using his book Shift Happens as a guide, he explained how we transform and grow into more of who we are through six principles or ‘shifts’.

The first shift is an inner one related to our identity and the idea that when we are willing to change our minds about ourselves it opens up possibilities in all other aspects of our lives. His key message was gold: “No amount of self-improvement can make up for self-acceptance.” This clearly resonated with the largely female audience. “While self-improvement is a noble effort, it is a phase we go through,” he continued. “Self-improvement is exhausting and endless. You begin and you’re just left feeling there is more to improve. You keep waiting for things to get better.”

We don’t have to change ourselves, we have to change our mind about ourselves. He explained the difference between the ‘learned self’ or the ego, and the higher or ‘unconditioned’ self which existed before we were born, is whole and perfect and is waiting for us to recognise it as such. “The goal of healing is to uphold the memory of wholeness,” he said.

The second shift is spirituality. What was refreshing about this was the way Robert turned the typical discourse around ‘God’ into a profound yet simple and comforting truth: “You don’t learn about god from religion, it’s about understanding yourself. It’s not an inquiry into something outside of us, but the essence of us.”

The third shift is based on the relationship between our mind and the world. In this section Robert presented various theories about existence: 1) determinism - we are just a conditioned reflex waiting for the world to get better before we can get better. 2) adaptation- reality changes when we change; and 3) creation – the world is an effect of what we bring to the world. “Stop and ask what sort of world you’d like to live in, and ask yourself, ‘If I showed up as my unconditional self, with an awareness that life loves me and the world is a state of mind, how would it be?’

The fourth principle is one of relationship and interdependence. “We’ve been suffering from ‘By myself syndrome…The days of independence are over. On the other side of

independence is creativity and oneness. The oneness can express itself through you, and you can be as unique as you want. When we we give up independence, we can trust again.”

The fifth principle is of letting go of the past. The key to this is forgiveness. “Forgiveness helps us remember who we really are,” said Robert. “It helps you to live in the present. If you have lots of complaints about the present, it comes from the shadow of the past. Forgiveness can take us forward and give us wings because no one benefits more than the forgiver. We don’t do it to be nice and spiritual, we do it because it sets us free.”

The sixth and final principle is one of growth. Here Robert talked again about the two selves and how the ego is constantly trying to reinvent itself where the soul just ‘is’. “The pressure to reinvent ourselves is terrible and we do it every day. We are trying to change ourselves before we have had a chance to BE ourselves.”

Robert ended his presentation with the message that it is never too late to stop playing small or be fully present: “When in doubt, live now, procrastinate later.”

Suze Orman

Saturday ended with financial expert Suze Orman, author of Women and Money.

Suze made the controversial argument that money is a physical manifestation of who we are – if you don’t have money in your life it’s because you are not happy with who you are. “Fear, shame and anger are obstacles to wealth. Until you have control over your emotions, no matter what you do with your money it will never work out for you. You will never be powerful in life until you have power over your money,” she stated.

Despite being a money expert, Suze acknowledged that money is not the true source of wealth. “The true wealth in your life is you. True wealth is that which does not diminish. You can’t take money with you when you die. Money plays the role of teacher.”

Key highlights from her talk were that women tend to undervalue themselves, people need to get out of debt “bondage” (ditch credit cards), diversify their investments, change the way they feel about money and accept that they are perfect.

She then outlined her laws of life and claimed that if we lived by them, we would have wealth of all kinds.

1. May every thought you think be etched in fire in the sky for the whole world to see, for in fact it is. Think great thoughts, about yourself and others.

2. May every word you say be said as if the world was one great big ear, which it is. Be careful about the words you use because people can pick up your thoughts and words.

3. May every deed you do recoil on top of your head, for in fact it will. If you do something to hurt someone else, you only hurt yourself.

4. May every wish you wish for another, wish for yourself. Wish others greatness, have generosity of spirit.

5. May everything you do, do as if god herself is doing it. It is up to us to change our lives.

Doreen Virtue

The second day began with angel guru Doreen Virtue. Doreen has a solid following in Australia and audience members eagerly interacted with her, hoping to get an angel reading to help them with insights into their issues.

She explained that angels communicate through numbers, you’re probably being sent a message.

Research she and her son had carried out, where they measured the vibrational frequency of positive and negative words, showed that regardless of language or culture, positive words such as ‘angel’ or ‘love’ had higher frequencies than negative ones. According to Doreen, the word with the highest vibrational energy, universally, is ‘peace’.

Angel readings dominated Doreen’s sessions – one woman was told she had Joan of Arc with her and that her purpose was to show women it is safe to be powerful. Despite the esoteric method of delivery, it was a pleasure to hear a decidedly feminist message, particularly as Doreen noted that women’s rights are under threat in the world.

Doreen offered a revelation to all: The angels want us to rest in September in order to get ready for October, November and December which will be “pretty wild” as the secrecy around UFOs will be lifted – they exist and are benevolent beings who care about our planet.

Don Miguel Ruiz

Don Miguel opened with a story of his heart attack in 2002 when he spent nine weeks in a coma during which he experienced some profound realisations about life and existence.

The author of The Four Agreements explained the identity we create for ourselves becomes the main character in our stories. Everything in our lives orbits around it. “Our identity is what we believe we are, such as our profession,” he said. “Others create their own stories in which they are main character and we are secondary characters. When we meet someone we project our identity; we tell them what we believe we are. When you tell your story to yourself, you’ll change it again and again; it’ll never be same one.”

Because we have created our personal stories, we and only we have the power to change them, he said.

He urged us to celebrate and express love. “Love is not controlling, needy, or wanting someone to dress and behave the way we want. The problem is not love but what we believe about love, the story we create – our opinions and judgements. Love, life, truth, god is synonymous – it’s the same thing.”

Neale Donald Walsch

Closing the conference was Neale Donald Walsch, author of the Conversations with God series and his recent book The Storm Before the Calm, which this talk was based on.

Neale was another highly entertaining speaker.

In an emotive preacher style, he said we all needed to be ambassadors for god – “the ineffable essence that is life itself. He asked the audience seven questions and invited us to answer them with consideration, before offering his own.

1. How is it possible for 6.9 billion people now living on earth to all say they want the same thing and to be unable to get it, even after thousands of years?

2. Is there something we don’t fully understand here about god and life, the understanding of which would make it clearer?

3. Is it possible there is something we don’t fully understand here about ourselves and each other and who we are, the understanding of which would alter our lives for the better?

His answers to these first three questions can be summarised as follows: We want the wrong stuff, such as houses, flash cars, jobs and so on, and we can’t get it because it is not ‘gettable’. We know there is something we don’t fully understand about god but this is considered blasphemy by many people, especially those who quote from holy books. And we do not understand that we are divine – that we are what we call god.

Neale was critical of the movie The Secret (in which he appeared for just 93 seconds) and its focus on manifesting physical notions of wealth. “The Secret said you can get anything from the law of attraction and what do they manifest? A great car, a diamond necklace! Yet in the entire movie, not a single minute was spent talking about the idea that if we are that powerful, why don’t we create world peace?”

He noted the irony of the director telling him he only got 93 seconds because he kept referring to ‘god’ and the director wanted people to think they had the power within them.

“The power is within you because god is within you,” he reminded us.

The other four questions he asked us to consider were:

4. Who am I?

5. Where am I?

6. Why am I where I am?

7. What do I intend to do about that?

His answers to these were: Each of us is an aspect of divinity, an individuation of god. We are in the realm of the physical, as opposed to spiritual; only in the realm of the physical can you experience who you are – you cannot experience it in the spiritual because in that realm there is only love where things are absolutely how they are, so you can know yourself as this but cannot experience it; and we decide what to do about it all.

According to Neale, if the motivation or reason for what we do is an expression of our divinity, the struggle for the ‘stuff’ would end. “As soon as you focus on the true purpose of your life, you don’t need to compete ruthlessly,” he said. “When you change your focus you may do the same things but for a different reason – every action you take, every hug, every word to your co-worker will be a demonstration of divinity in which you are saying ‘This is who I really am.’ If we all did this for one week, what kind of a change would happen on the earth?”

He reminded us that our lives have nothing to do with what we think we are doing. “What you are doing is a way to push ‘beingness’ through it, so people you touch know who you are and why you are here. Tell people when they ask what you do, that you have come here to remind them of who they really are. Serve the agenda of your soul and be the wonder of what you are. That is why we are here, that’s how we will get through the storm before the calm, which is a shift in global reality – an overhaul of humanity.”

Katrina Fox is a freelance writer and editor-in-chief of The Scavenger online magazine. Visit www.katrinafox.com and www.thescavenger.net.

Georgina Abrahams is director of Creative Womyn Down Under, a lesbian eco feminist spiritual activist and mother of two glorious children. Visit www.creativewomyn.net.

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