Episode 229 | December 8, 2020

The Gift of Maybe with Allison Carmen

A Personal Note From Orion

“Maybe it’s for the better.”

“Maybe something amazing is waiting for you in the future.”

“Maybe the universe is preparing you for what you asked for.”

Sometimes there is good in life’s maybes. The unknown shouldn’t be so scary after all. We hear the words “in these uncertain times” so often lately, we forget the fact: nothing is certain. 

We don’t have control over anything. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow or five minutes from now. All we have is the present. Whatever action we do right now affects our future. So be wise and don’t worry. Worrying will only rob you of today’s peace. 

In this episode, my guest Allison Carmen sheds more light on how to deal with uncertainty, how to let go of things we can’t control, and most importantly, how to stop the kind of worry that cripples you. According to Allison, it’s okay to worry about the future. That is human nature. What’s not okay is when we fear it so much we forget to enjoy the moment. 

Allison is a business consultant, business life coach, and the author of The Gift of Maybe: Offering Hope and Possibility in uncertain times. Without further ado, on with the show!


In this Episode

  • [01:07] – Orion introduces Allison Carmen, an author, business consultant, and business/life coach supporting your needs and desires in all different aspects of your life.
  • [05:01] – Allison recalls a moment where she realized there is no certainty in life and shares how to embrace everything about it.
  • [11:07] – Allison talks about watching your thoughts for today, and when you’re in the future, always think about the idea of maybe.
  • [16:54] – Orion talks about the gift brought by life’s pain and challenges to make us a better person.
  • [21:52] – What are the types of maybes Allison told herself?
  • [26:49] – Allison shares how surrendering everything on the outside world can make you feel authentic, strong, and connected to your higher self.
  • [30:51] – Orion asks Allison how she handles parenting during this time of the pandemic.
  • [37:15] – Orion and Allison discuss parents’ challenges of being attached to their children and letting them experience what life can offer.
  • [40:50] – Allison shares the books written by her friend, The Art of Jin Shin: The Japanese Practice of Healing with Your Fingertips.
  • [43:52] – Visit Allison Carmen’s website at allisoncarmen.com to listen to her podcast, learn more about her, and check out her book.

Jump to Links and Resources

About Today’s Show

Hi, Allison. Thank you for being here. And welcome to Stellar Life Podcast. I’m super grateful to have you here.

I’m so happy to be here today. Thank you so much for having me.

The Gift of Maybe by Allison Carmen

Thank you. So before we start, why don’t you share a little bit about how you found the passion for maybe, that idea of The Gift of Maybe?

Well, quite honestly, it was not a path that I expected. For most of my life, I was very anxious and worried. But that’s just how I grew up. It’s all I knew. And what I would try to do is I try to write stories about what needed to happen in my life for me to be okay. And this big story that I wrote in my life was that I was going to grow up and I was going to get a job at a really large law firm, I was going to become a lawyer, who’s going to marry this great guy, and all my worries and fears would go away. And I pursued these things with all the worry and the fear. But I kept pursuing my goals. And I went to law school, graduated, got a job at a large firm, married a guy who I thought was great at the time. And I remember walking to work my first day thinking I’ve arrived. And I believed that when I achieved this, I’d be set and there would be certainty. And I wouldn’t have this feeling of dread and doom and fear. And I remember being at work my second day, and my officemate came in and said, “Hey, Allison, did you hear they’re gonna fire half the first years?” I was a first-year. 

At that moment in my life, because I had banked on it, so many of us do that we bank on this one thing happening, and we swear, if it happens, we’ll be okay. And I remember that moment. And I just kind of went into a tailspin because I realized that there’s no certainty. And I had been trying to manage it my whole life. And the minute I had that moment, I kind of fell apart, I stopped sleeping, my immune system became more compromised. And they didn’t fire me. But it didn’t matter. It was just that moment where you felt like everything I believed in might not always be there. And so I went on this crusade to try to make myself feel better. And I changed my diet, I meditated, and I did yoga. But no matter what I did, when something unexpected happens, I would spin out of control. 

Then one day, I was practicing qigong, and I went to my qigong teacher, and he told me the story. Some of your listeners may have already heard this story, but I will tell it anyhow, it’s about a farmer. And he had a horse and his horse ran away. And his neighbor came by and said, “You have the worst luck.” And the farmer said, “Maybe.” But the next day, the horse came back with five mares and the neighbor came by to the farmer and said, “You have the best luck.” And the farmer said, “Maybe.” And the next day, the farmer’s son was on the horse, and he fell off and broke his leg. And the neighbor came by to the farmer and said, “You have the worst luck.” And the farmer said, “Maybe.” But the next day, the army came to take the son to war, but they couldn’t take him because his leg was broken. And the neighbor came by to the farmer and said, “You have the best luck.” And the farmer said, “Maybe.” And this story is a Dallas story. So it’s supposed to mean that things are not good or bad. 

Uncertainty is our best friend. If you want your life to change, it has to happen in the unknown. Click To Tweet

But for me, because I was always stressed and worried it gave me peace because I never imagined that if the horse ran away, he would come back with five mares. I never imagined if I lost my job, I can get another one. I never imagined that I didn’t understand that things come and go. And this idea of maybe gave me hope because it made me see that life is always continuing. There are always new beginnings. And so I went home years later, because I’d left that job and I became a business consultant. And I started to play with this idea. Like, if I didn’t have enough clients, I’d be like, “Well, maybe that’s okay.” Or, “Maybe that’s meant to be.” Or, “Maybe something will happen tomorrow.” And it might sound so simple. But this little word of maybe always opens me up. It takes me from fear and worry, and reminds me that I don’t know everything. And that’s good. 

Because that means uncertainty is our best friend. Because if you want your life to change, it has to happen in the unknown. So this little word takes you from this constricted place where you think things can’t work out. Things can never change. Things can never get better. And it brings you to this wide-open space, where sure you still have your fears. But you also realize, “Hey, I don’t know maybe things can be different.” And the hope comes in and when the hope comes in, your mind opens up, you’re more present, there’s less stress, there’s less worry. And it just changed my life. And so maybe for me has been a lifesaver. And it enabled me to have faith because people who have faith are never worried. They always say, “Well, I know the best is always happening.” But when you live in maybe you get to hang out in uncertainty. And with people who have faith, so it’s, you live with less fear, and less worry. And it’s very liberating. And it’s kind of cognitive in a way because you’re using your brain to get to faith. But when you feel free, and you feel joyous, and you feel hopeful, it’s just a beautiful way to live. 

Yes, it is. The idea of certainty. We had this idea of certainty before COVID. We thought everything’s gonna be the same. And we were so certain about everything, and then COVID hit, and now there’s like travel restrictions and lockdowns and everything that’s going on. And we are facing how uncertain our lives are. I mean, even before COVID, we never knew if we’re going to wake up the next day, or what’s going to happen, because life surprises us. But now, we are more aware of how uncertain everything is. And I think when people see that, it’s easy to lose faith. Yet you say that if you have faith, you have less fear. What are some steps to get into faith from fear?

Yeah, well, it’s so interesting, you said that life has always been just as uncertain as it is today. What we were doing is we were writing stories about our lives that they would always be the same. And we would use the stories of our lives to make us feel safe and secure. I’ll always have this job. My kids will go to this college and everything will be okay, I’m going to retire with this amount of money in the bank, right? And we would use these things in the outside world.

I will forever be fit.

Yeah. Right? But that’s what was making us feel sturdy. And that’s not a very stable way to live because things in the outside world are always changing. So all we’re going to do is keep writing more and more stories about what needs to happen for us to be okay. And then if it happens, we’ll be okay for a little while. And if it doesn’t happen, we’re going to spin out of control. What COVID has done is, it let us see that life has no certainty in it. How do we live with that? How do we live with those thoughts? For me, that’s why this idea of maybe is so beautiful because the reason why this moment frightens us is not always the moment. Right now, the two of us, we’re both in our homes, we’re both safe, we’re both okay. The worry comes from what’s going to be tomorrow, what’s going to be next week, what’s going to be next month. And again, that’s a projection. And for some reason, if we don’t like what’s happening today, our projection is always doom and gloom. And we don’t realize that this moment is where we create the new tomorrow, but also, we don’t know what’s going to happen. 

Especially during hard times. For me, that is the most liberating thought in the world. If I don’t know, that means things can change. And if I don’t know, that means things can get better. Or maybe there’ll be a vaccine, or maybe the world will be kinder on the silver, maybe this will force us to look into the event, we don’t know. And so we have to watch ourselves. It’s our thoughts of doom and gloom into the future that’s disabling us today. So the first thing is that we have to watch where our mind is, right here, right now, just for today. All those thoughts. You take care of this moment. And when you’re in the future use maybe, use that idea of maybe, because maybe it’s going to bring you back to the moment and make you realize that you can’t be certain what’s going to happen tomorrow. Thank God. Right? Thank goodness. And because you don’t know there’s hope and possibility. And because that fear goes away, you hang out with people who have faith, you can’t force someone to have faith. 

Make peace with the fact the only permanent thing in the world is change.

I always say, maybe it’s like a cognitive faith. Because you start hanging out in uncertainty and you stop being scared of it and you start becoming friends with it, you’re like, “Well, if I want to achieve my goal, it has to happen in the unknown.” If COVID is going to end, it has to happen in the unknown. So you start to look forward to this not knowing and you start to see it as more of a place of hope and possibility. Just because something is true today, doesn’t mean it’s going to be true tomorrow. And things always change. For me, that’s how I’ve cultivated. It maybe brings me back to the present. And if I find my mind, floating too far into the future, I use things like, “Just for today, right here, right now.” And then the maybe statement, and then if I’m thinking too much about the past again, I’ll say, “Well, that was yesterday, but maybe something is here in this moment for me to enjoy. Maybe there’s something I’m not seeing because I’m so busy in fear and worry.” So all these thoughts just center us, and they bring in the hope and they bring in the light. And that’s I think, the best we can do. But there’s every reason to be hopeful because life keeps changing.

Yeah. I have been reading and watching lots of conspiracy theories that have been proven to, they’re not conspiracies, and they’re not theories, it’s happening right here right now, everything people talk about a few years ago, that’s going to happen, it’s happening right now. And you see the reality of what’s happening. And you see people with masks everywhere. And this dystopian future that we are already here, it’s already here. And quite frankly, I’m frightened. I don’t want my son to be growing in a world where people are afraid of each other or afraid of touching each other, of where people wear masks and he cannot see people’s faces, where he’s gonna study via Zoom and not have interactions with his classmates. So I’m looking at what is right now. I’m having a hard time centering myself into faith and into, “Oh, maybe everything is gonna be okay.” Because there is a battle between my right brain and my left brain.

The first thing is, I think it was Viktor Frankl I’m not going to be able to quote him exactly. But he says that suffering happens, and when it happens, it’s like a gas and it just fills up a chamber, whether a chamber is big or small.  So it’s all relative. We’re suffering right now. Right? So it’s filling your consciousness, it’s filling your mind. But what’s happening is that you’re taking that and you’re saying, just because this exists today, it means it’s gonna exist tomorrow. And it’s going to exist in 10 years, and it’s going to exist in 20 years. So yes, you’re saying, “Well, my logical mind is saying, this is how I’m feeling.” Yes, you can’t deny the reality in the moment. You can’t deny your feelings. You can’t deny your thought. But what you can do is realize, just because this is happening today, doesn’t mean it’s going to be like this forever. 

I mean, if you look at other pandemics, you look at other plagues, things pass, things change. People were wearing masks during the Spanish flu, and after two years, three years, they stopped wearing masks. So I think that what’s happening is, it’s the projection, you’re so sure you know what today means for tomorrow, and we can’t possibly know. What I like to do is, do your best in this moment. What can I do to make the situation better? How can I take care of my son? How can I help society? What can I give back to the society that will help us get through this? But then realize, beyond this moment, everything else is a projection in your mind, you really can’t know. And that’s where we get caught. We’re like, I’m so sure, my logical mind knows. 

But if you look back at your life, I’m sure you’ll see so many times where you didn’t see something coming, whether good or bad. And it’s surprising. There are miracles, there are unfortunate events, things are always changing. So thank God. So it’s not maybe doesn’t make us devoid of reality. It just says, “This is what’s true today. But I don’t know what this means for tomorrow. So there is maybe and I don’t know what that means. But because there’s maybe there’s hope. So I’m going to hold that hope within myself, I’m gonna have to deal with my feelings, I’m gonna have to deal with my emotions. I can’t deny them.” But maybe it’s like a little open window where you could just let some air in and say, “Okay, just because it’s like this today, doesn’t mean it can’t change.”

I like what you said about the bigger picture. Where things can happen right now and they look so painful. It looks like the end of the world as we know it. I mean, it happened a few times in my life, where bad things happened, and I couldn’t see why. But now I know that I am stronger, wiser, put on the right path because of it. Because sometimes things happen that are bad. And we can see the gift in it because it’s like a gift with a bow on the bottom. You can’t see it and then a few years down the road, you look back and you can unwrap that and say like, “Wow, that pain that I went through was truly a gift. And now I’m better because of it.”

When hope takes place, your mind opens up. You're more present, less stressed, and less worried. Click To Tweet

And maybe this is that gift for our society for a better world, for a different world, we just don’t know. We don’t know. You know, it’s almost sometimes I think like COVID is making us almost squint our eyes and focus on this one thing, and we forget that at the same time, there’s something larger, like when the sun is over a field. There’s more happening than we see. And I guess that’s the issue of the faith. But that’s why maybe it’s such a great tool, because it’s hard to have faith, unless you have a strong belief in God. That’s why maybe is so beautiful because it allows us to hang out in the unknown, even if we’re scared, even if we’re worried, even if we can’t see our way. 

There were times I remember when the pandemic first started, that all I wanted to do was figure it out. I would read these articles, when is this going to end? Is it going to be April? Is it going to be May? Is it going to be June? And then I’d read these articles about how this vaccine will work. And I just threw my hands up. And I said, I can’t figure this out. I’m not supposed to figure this out. I’m supposed to be present. I’m supposed to connect, be kind, be loving, and living in maybe. And know that I might not know the answer, but things are going to change. And I want to be awake and centered and calm, to be part of that change and be so open to welcome beautiful things into my life, into my family’s lives, into the world. And I just stay in that centered place the best that I can. 

But we can’t figure this out. And it’s so funny. We could never figure things out. But because they look familiar, we think we can. I’m going to do this. And I’m going to do that. And then this is going to happen. But we don’t ever know. Right? So in a way, we’re in the same situation we’ve always been in. But we don’t realize that and so light, love and maybe, that’s how I’m looking at this time in the world?

And what kind of maybes have you been telling yourself lately?

First, before I do that. I would love to give you the exercise so people can do it. What you do is you ask yourself your biggest fear. What is your biggest fear? The pandemic is not going to end, things will never be good again, my child’s always gonna have to wear a mask. And then you ask yourself, “Am I certain those statements are true forever? How do I know?” No, we can’t be certain. So what else is there? So that’s how you begin the exercise. And then you start with very large, maybe statements. Maybe everything’s gonna get better. Maybe everything is still okay. Maybe there’s a way that we could live like this. Maybe there’s a future that I can’t imagine that would be better than it is today. 

And then specific things like, what could you do in this moment? Maybe there’s something in this moment that I’m missing because I’m so busy thinking about the future. Maybe my child will be okay learning on Zoom. Maybe it’s not what I wanted but maybe we could find a way to deal with all of this. Maybe I need to do more service work. Maybe I need to get involved with a political issue. Whatever it is, if you sit there for 15 and 20 minutes, and you write these maybe statements down, you’re going to feel better, because you’re going to realize that we’ve gotten so tight and rigid because we think we know. And the minute we realize that things can change, and life still has hope and possibility until your last breath, you have maybe. And so that’s what I do. 

To be honest, I wrote the book, and I still do the exercise when I need it. And through COVID I did it a lot at first, until I was able to get to this place of hope and possibility and not need to write it down. But I always have a maybe mantra in my pocket. Always but there’s one. Maybe there’s something left for me to experience at this moment, I realized that I keep giving up today to figure out the future. For me, that’s no way to live. Because I’m sure right now if you look around you, you might be safe in your home. You might have a beautiful cup of tea. You might have your family, your son, that’s real too. So I don’t like to forget those things because that is the meaning and that’s the foundation and that’s where all beautiful things flow from.

Today’s decisions affect tomorrow’s outcomes.

So what type of maybes did you tell yourself?

One is that maybe there’s something else for me to experience in this moment. And maybe everything is going to be okay. Maybe everything is okay. Those are my favorites. And also when I’m really in a better mood, I always think maybe the best is yet to come.

Nice. It reminds me a little bit of Byron Katie’s The Work, The Four Questions.  Is this true? Do I know that it is true? What will my life be if I didn’t have this thought in my mind? And there was another one. But it’s interesting because our mind keeps chattering all day long.  I did a brain scan at the Amen Clinics just because I was curious. And my mind runs, like, I think fast. There’s a lot of red going on. And especially I feel like these days, it’s like tsk, tsk, tsk. We need to question this monkey mind. And we need to question our questions and ask a better question.

Absolutely. You just reminded me of one of my favorite maybe statements. Maybe those thoughts are not true. I always have that automatically. It makes me see that, why am I believing this thought?

Because it separates you. And you look at yourself from a place of the witness, and you’re not eating the mess that you created. You take yourself out of yourself and you can look at yourself and you look at your thoughts. And then you have space. You have space to breathe, and you have space to think about better questions and to think about better outcomes. 

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg

Yeah, there’s this great book I’ve been reading called Nonviolent Communication. For him, it’s about how we communicate with others. But for me, I’ve used it internally because the first thing he says is, in the moment, are you evaluating it? Are you observing it? Right? If we’re evaluating it, what we’re doing is we are thinking about what this moment means for the future. What this person thought? What does this mean? But if we’re observing it, we just see it for what it is in the moment. And then he says, look at your feelings, how does what’s happening make you feel? And then he says, beyond the feeling, what’s your need? So I guess when I think about the pandemic, think about if I just observe it, there’s a pandemic. I don’t think about where it’s going, where it came from. There’s a pandemic, how does it make me feel? Well, maybe I feel isolated, or I feel scared, I feel worried. 

And then I look at what’s my need, my need is maybe I need to take better care of myself, or maybe I need more security. But then I see that those things come from within myself. And then the inspired action is internal. There are only things we could do, but at the end of the day, it’s our inner landscape. It’s always been our inner landscape, giving ourselves love, giving ourselves security. Like we want the world to make us feel safe. We want the world to make us feel loved. But the only way we are going to have that stability is to love ourselves. Trust that we’ll be okay no matter what. It’s inside. And when we just work on the inside and know that we have what it takes to handle what’s coming our way, we’re not on the roller coaster anymore. We’re like, “I’m gonna be okay. I’m okay because I am.” And then you connect to the higher source. And that’s, I think the best way to be living in this time period.

I think this is a time of… I used to hate the word surrender. I thought it would make me weak to surrender. Surrender for me, I have a strong warrior energy. So surrender sounded to me like a failure. And I was in a really bad relationship. I got hurt. It was really hard for me to find my soulmate. And there was one moment where I surrendered. And I prayed to God, it was a breakdown and a breakthrough. I told God, “Listen, I can’t do it on my own. I can’t find my soulmate on my own. Please guide me. Please help me.” I surrender at that moment. And I understood the beauty of surrendering because it’s not surrendering, giving up. It’s surrendering to your higher power, to your God, to your Creator, to guide you. And after I did that, I met my husband 48 hours later.

See? But why is that moment different than this moment?

It’s not. 

People who have faith are never worried. Click To Tweet

Exactly, it’s the same. And to be a warrior is to surrender. Also, surrender is giving up everything in the outside world to make you feel authentic, to make you feel strong, to make you feel trust. So surrender also is going back to ourselves. Because there’s nothing to hold on to. Right? If it’s only our inner landscape, right? That’s surrender. We’re saying, “I surrender that everything in the outside world does not control me, does not own me. I surrender to who I am, I surrender to all that I am.” And then again, that’s when we connect to our higher selves because that’s who we truly are. So that moment is the same as this moment. And when we remember that, see, the fact that you have that point to go back to, for you is always so powerful. That’s a memory point for you in this moment, we calibrate right now. Well, if that’s true, this moment is just the same. So we surrender to it, we surrender to all that’s going on in the world, we connect to our higher selves, we take care of our inner landscape, and we have everything we need in this moment.

Right. Because if you’re always in a place of fight or flight, it affects your immune system in a time where you need it the most. And then your body feels tight, and everything feels hard, and everything is a struggle, and everything is war. You talk about self-love, and I also connect self-love to self-care and self-care to moving our bodies and stretching and breathing. Because when we have flexible bodies, we can have flexible minds, because together, it helps. I think this is the time to instead of fight everything and be so scared of everything, to nurture ourselves and give ourselves, like a warm bubble bath or a nice stretching, breathing, going for a walk, hugging a tree. All those things. 

I have this beautiful park near my house with a stream and it’s green. And there are eucalyptus trees and grassy areas and ducks and everything’s really pretty. And I don’t know what happened. But I felt like I had a moment of awakening, I was walking alone and I just felt the trees were vibrating. And the land was vibrating.  I had those moments of awakening in the past. It just happened. And it brought me back to, “Wow, there is so much beauty around us.” I think we’re so up here in our heads, sometimes just going to nature and putting your feet on the ground, and doing grounding work. You ground yourself to earth. And you take in the wisdom of the earth and the trees and the flowers. It’s a great place to center yourself.

That’s beautiful. You know, it’s so funny. I was at my sister’s and I was walking and I didn’t have that gorgeous experience you had. But I was just walking and I noticed that the earth doesn’t care about the pandemic. Like the trees are still there, the ground is still there. There’s something so deep about, what is this moment? It just reminds you what’s real. We think that all the things that are happening outside of us are all real, but I don’t know when you’re walking. That’s real. Right? That moment. That was your reality at that moment. But for some reason, we don’t own that reality as much as we own all the other realities.

Yeah, I had this funny thought. I was like, I wonder what the dogs think about us humans wearing masks now. Like, why are all humans covering their faces now? I don’t understand.

How are you handling parenting during this pandemic? How are you helping your kids with all the uncertainty?

I have to say that that’s the most difficult thing for me. I laugh sometimes that being a parent, for me, is the biggest spiritual challenge that there is. Because I think you get to a point in life where you’re like, “Okay, I can handle whatever happens to me.” But we’re attached to our kids. The Buddha said, “All sufferings come from attachment.” And I have never met a human being who’s not attached to their children. So we know there’s going to be some level of suffering when we’re a parent because we need our kids to be okay. But what I’ve learned is that our addiction to certainty makes it so much harder. What I mean by that is, the minute we believe that things have to be a certain way for our children, we’re going to suffer. So I apply this idea of maybe to them as well. 

Since nothing is permanent, even the bad days go away. This too shall pass.

But watching them deal with disappointment, I have one daughter, who’s in college, and the college is closed. So she’s living in town there and watching her isolation and her struggles. And my other daughter was a senior in high school, and she’s learning online as well. And she’s isolated. So it’s challenging to see their disappointment, their heartache, but I also stay in maybe. You can’t negate it, you can’t negate suffering, suffering is real. But what you can do is you can put it in perspective, you could look for the good things, you could look for the good times, you could try to raise things as much as you can, make things as pleasant as you can. But also, no projecting into the future. 

I find the time I suffer the most is like, what this means for their future. I don’t know what it means for their future. And they still have hope, and they still have a possibility, and they still have maybe, and I take it day by day. And you know, I practice gratitude. And like I said, I try to be as upbeat as I can and realize that things will change, and we make the best of every day. But the key is to apply maybe to their lives, and realize that this situation is not forever. I believe eventually they will go back to school. I believe that society will find out a way to function. So we just have to go easy a little bit with our thoughts. And just pray. I pray as well.

Yeah. And I like what you said about you can’t negate suffering, I think the worst thing to do is to say, “Oh, I’m not in pain. Oh, I don’t feel my emotions, everything’s good Lalalalalala, I’m just gonna focus on the good.” You can’t skip that. Because the only way to the other side is through feeling your emotions. When I went to India, I spent some time with the monks there. And they say, “Let the tiger devour you.” Meaning, feel your feelings and let that tiger devour you, just don’t stay there for more than 10 minutes. That’s what they said. You can’t ignore the suffering. It’s just a part of your path. Like I said, that the only way to the other side is through feeling your feelings. There is suffering, there is pain in the world right now. There is a lot of uncertainty. And that’s okay. And you feel your feelings. And then slowly, slowly, you go to a place where you can feel okay, and then you can feel good. And then you can feel great. You can’t just jump from, “Oh my god, the world is coming to an end” to “Everything is amazing.”

But you could feel both. You could also feel both. I’ve seen in my life like right now. I feel sad and suffering on some level. And on the other way, I feel joyful and hopeful. And they both exist. Yeah. And I think that’s okay too, it’s both ends. And I think that experience with our children. We can’t ignore the fact that they’re having some suffering and some isolation. But there’s also joy and laughter and hope and research projects they’re doing and still times with their friends in the park, whatever it is. Both end. And I think we fight, we think we have to be one or the other. And that’s not true. And yeah, we have to allow our feelings but I also noticed too that you could allow your feelings but our thoughts create our feelings. So even though I allow my feelings, sometimes I shift my thoughts. I’m a little harder on my thoughts than my feelings. I would never stop my feelings. But I tried to shift my thoughts.

Yeah, of course, you don’t want to stay there. Just acknowledge and then do whatever you can. Use your thoughts, use your logical mind, use whatever you can use to find a way out.

To be a warrior is to surrender. Click To Tweet

And maybe, for me, is the logical way out because that’s a thought. Maybe my thoughts are not true. Maybe things will change. Whatever it is, what it does it recalibrates my thoughts, and then it changes my feeling. But I think you’re right, we have to allow how we feel both ends. And it’s okay to have both. And I think if we push ourselves too hard, like, we were talking about before. For me, I find the need for positive thinking is an addiction to certainty because we’re pushing ourselves to think a certain way. And I think we could just be easy on ourselves a little bit and question our thoughts. Maybe those thoughts are not true, why am I believing that thought? That’s when we get into the juice of it, we’re not forcing ourselves, we’re allowing ourselves to have a different experience. 

And I often find that something is going to appeal to you, like some thought that’s different, you’re like, “Wow, you’re right, I don’t know what’s gonna happen next. And maybe things can get better.” Or, “Maybe I want to do this today.” And all of a sudden, my feelings are starting to shift. But at the same time, I’m not going to ignore the suffering of my neighbor, or the suffering of my child. I might choose to look at it as temporary but I have to acknowledge that too. So I think it’s all happening. But I think that’s what makes us deep, beautiful human beings, that this is part of the experience. Joy comes and goes, pain comes and goes. I just think the more ease we are with the ebb and flow of life, the more peaceful we’re going to be.

Yeah. And about attachment. I can understand the attachment between a parent and a child. I never knew that I can love so much or care so much. I also have to remind myself that my child is an individual. And his soul came to this world to have its correction, its spiritual journey. And if I’m always taking away their suffering, if I take away the suffering of my child, then I’m robbing him from his gift and his experience. So I’ll do whatever I can as a mother, and at some point, I’ll have to remember to just let go and have him deal with whatever his soul came here to Earth to deal with.

Yeah, challenging. Honestly, that is challenging. It’s funny, I wrote a book actually, I didn’t sell it. I’m still holding it about parenting, and maybe it is a challenging stuff. You’re right. And for me, I think I’m gonna work on that for the rest of my life.

Yeah, me too. I’m just at the beginning of my journey but it’s beautiful. 

What you’re saying is true. And I do think that probably will help you a lot. And you know, when you master it, give me a call. I’ll take that class

Maybe we’ll talk in about 80 years or so. I don’t think I’ll ever master it. But I’ll do my best.

Yeah, it’s true. What you’re saying is beautiful and true. For sure.

Yeah, that’s something I learned from Kabbalah. I studied Kabbalah and they talk about that correction and soul correction, they talk about the idea of the bread of shame. Let’s say, a 16-year-old is getting a Lamborghini. So yeah, he got an amazing gift from his parents. But that gift is robbing him of whatever experience he needs to experience. So that gift takes away from him in a way. It’s the idea of having them work for what they need to get, and having them learn their lessons. Because this is the best gift that we can give them. There is a saying, I’ll probably butcher it. But instead of giving them the fish, you teach them how to fish.

Yeah, that’s true. You know, as my children have gotten older, I find that I can allow them more to make their own decisions, to be their person, to be independent. That the part I find very tricky is when they suffer. It’s hard not to suffer with them. And the only thing I’ve been able to do is to use maybe, and to realize that life always changes and uncertainty brings beautiful things. But when they suffer, my heart hurts, but I could stay hopeful. And that’s the difference between the person I am today and the person I was years ago, that my relationship with uncertainty is in such a better place. That I know that when they’re having hard times and when they’re suffering, that there is still hoping for possibility. For me, the best thing that I’ve done in the parenting realm is to live in maybe, with my relationship with them, and live in maybe when I think about their life and their future.

You can't negate suffering, but you can change your perspective. Click To Tweet

Do you have any daily rituals that you do? Things that make you happy?

Oh, that’s good. Lately, I go more for peace than for happy. What I do is I do Jin Shin in the morning. It’s a Japanese self-healing technique. And there are so many beautiful YouTube videos on it. And I have this great book. And so I do that every morning. 

What is it? What is it like? What is it like to do that Jin Shin?

The Jin Shin. What I do is, it makes me feel more peaceful and aligned. And it’s just you know, what I love about it, too, is that you could do it yourself. I love things that you could do on your own. So like, I love acupressure. Especially now, I’m so happy I have all these techniques because I live in New York City. So I haven’t been going out that much. But Jin Shin is a great practice. And what I find is that it opens up the meridian points and kind of aligns you more, and it’s very peaceful. I’m also a Reiki practitioner. I’ll do Reiki on myself everyday. I keep a lot of books around, spiritual books, so I could just open up a page during the day, like on a five-minute break to remind myself of God or center or love or peace. Exercise is super important. I also do Gua Sha with a stone. I also use that as a ritual technique. 

No, I never heard of it.

It’s like people use stones. And what you do is I use it on my face. Every morning, you put oil on your face, and it kind of just tones your skin. But for me, it’s also like lymphatic drainage. So that’s also a great thing that I do. Also, I just tried to stay in maybe as much as I can and stay present.

Wow. Well, I’m glad I learned about Jin Shin and Gua Sha. I lived in Japan for three and a half years and never heard of it.

The Art of Jin Shin by Alexis Brink

Oh, it’s great. My friend wrote this great book, The Art of Jin Shin. And you could get it on Amazon. And it’s great because if you have an issue with your heart, or your lungs, or liver, or whatever it is, it’s just a great book. And all you have to do is place your hands in certain positions and your body kind of recalibrates. 

Wow, that’s amazing. 

Yeah, it’s not for everyone. But I find it to be a really beautiful centering practice. And the fact that so many of us are home, it’s not something like the Reiki, where I had to go for training. This you could just pick up, whenever you want. So that’s why I think it’s a great practice for now.

That’s awesome. Thank you. And thank you for everything you shared. It was lovely. Before we say goodbye, for now, I have two questions. The first one is what are your three top tips to live a stellar life? And the second one is where can people find you?

Well, of course, I’m going to say maybe is probably the best thing I would offer people, and I know it sounds so simple. But the next time you are stressed or you’re worried or life’s not going your way, give it a try. And you’re going to feel in that moment where you have this little opening or more hope or a little more freedom, you’re going to understand how powerful that is. I also think that a lot of people talk about gratitude, but it matters. Because we get so scared and we get so frightened about what’s going to happen in the future, that we don’t see what’s around us. And like you talked about hugging the tree, or taking a walk, or being with your children, or someone you love, or a cup of coffee. There are so many blessings around us and it’s often the foundation to kind of give us a little more opening and hope and positive feeling that will help us have better thoughts and better feelings throughout the day. And kindness. I think that kindness and service. When we are kind and we serve others, it fills us up as well and it makes us less worried and less fearful because love comes before anything else. So those are my three things. 

And if anybody wants to find me, I have a great website, AllisonCarmen.com. I have my podcast, 10 Minutes to Less Suffering, it’s a short 10-minute podcast, and it’s weekly. I have great tips every week for people to have less stress, less worry. My book, The Gift of Maybe, was published by Penguin Random House in 2014. You could find it on Amazon and all major bookstores. And I have a new book coming out in July. So that’s super exciting as well. And if someone just checks into Amazon, they’ll see. It’s gonna be released on July 6, I think.

What is it about?

It’s more female empowerment. Uncertainty is in there as well. 

We should talk again before the book comes out.

Oh, absolutely. Because everyone says, “Oh, you know, you’re equal now,” but we’re not quite equal. But there’s the power within ourselves to step into this world. There’s an opportunity now for us to succeed, before years ago, there wasn’t. But now, there’s enough opening, if we’re able to kind of deal with the stuff that we have inside. And we can empower ourselves deep within, we could step out into the world and start new companies and create new opportunities and possibilities, and I think to make the world a better place. So it’s about the inner landscape and how we could take that out into the world. So I’m super excited about the book.

Yeah, it is very exciting. And thank you so much, Alison, I appreciate you.

Thank you so much for having me. It was a blessing and a pleasure to be here today.

Thank you. And thank you, my sweet listeners. Remember the next time you are stressed, try maybe. And remember that gratitude matters. Be kind and have a stellar week. This is Orion until next time.

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

{✓} Make peace with the fact the only permanent thing in the world is change. There is no certainty. Anything can shift in a second. Instead of living in fear because of that, treat every day as a blessing. 
{✓} Believe in the value and health benefits of rest. Take a short break once in a while. If it’s doable, taking a sabbatical can even be a smart move.
{✓} Focus on the present moment. It’s alright to look into the future. But always remember, what matters most is what’s happening right now. Today’s decisions affect tomorrow’s outcome. 
{✓} Have faith in a higher power and trust the bigger picture. Believe that everything happens for a reason. If things seem murky and uncertain today, maybe it’s the universe preparing you for what you’ve been asking for. 
{✓} Stay hopeful. Since nothing is permanent, even the bad days go away, too. This too shall pass.
{✓} Try changing your perspective when you feel stuck. Sometimes the answer is right in front of our face; we just have to look from a different angle to see it.
{✓} Be mindful of your thoughts and inner dialogue. The things you say to yourself eventually become your driving force. Stick to kind and encouraging words rather than being too critical. 
{✓} Aim for a better world. You can change the world in your own simple way. Start by mastering your day-to-day habits. Then move onto bigger causes.
{✓} Try the “maybe mantra” whenever you find yourself in the middle of feeling uncertain. “Maybe there’s something else for me to experience at this moment.” “Maybe the universe is trying to prepare me for the life that I truly want.” 
{✓} Grab a copy of Allison Carmen’s book, The Gift of Maybe: Finding Hope and Possibility in Uncertain Times.

Links and Resources

About Allison Carmen

Allison is a business consultant, business, and life coach, and the author of The Gift of Maybe: Offering Hope and Possibility in Uncertain Times. O, The Oprah Magazine included the concept of Maybe as an example of mind-blowing new definitions for everyday words and cited it in their new and improved Dictionary to Enlightenment. Allison’s work has also been supported by Mata Amritandamayi, known as Amma, the hugging saint.

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