Please Universe, just smack me!

I have a friend who is often frustrated by the lack of clarity and specifics she receives in messages from the Universe. She’s not joking when she says, “I can’t understand what I’m supposed to do. I wish the Universe would realize this and just smack me upside the head with its message. Clearly I’m not getting it.”

If you’ve ever asked the Universe (or God, or Higher Self, or whatever Higher Power you believe in) for guidance or direction when you feel lost, you might know how she feels.  Sometimes even when we write down questions and ask the Universe for answers, what gets written down in our journals in response might be encouraging, but it’s oftentimes so cryptic we can feel sure it didn’t come from our (ego) self. What is the real message? How can we take action? If you’re anything like my friend and I, that’s what you really want right? Tell me what to do already!

One example of a Universal smack

I have a recent example of such a smack that I’d like to share.

There is someone in my life here in Austin who I primarily consider a wise teacher and mentor, and in addition of course, he is a friend. I respect this man very much, and expect that there is so much more I could learn from him. Well, in an email exchange over the course of several days, he noted that what I said (either in email or in passing while in person) really resonated with him. I seemed to say what he needed, without knowing I was having such an impact. I think this really struck me when he invited me to meet sometime soon, to ask me for input because he respected my opinion.

Now this really threw me. So much so that I went back through some emails, and staring at the screen could still not understand what I said that was so significant or meaningful. Still I’ll admit, I always feel good when I can help people, so of course I agreed to meet with him and offered to help if I could. (My confidence level on that isn’t very high, mind you, but I do recognize that sometimes an outside perspective to helps us extract our own answers is all that’s really needed.)


Off and on over those same few days, I had also been talking with someone about something I’m apparently still very passionate about: the importance of a good user experience in software design. My intent was to point out several confusing issues and things that were broken, which of course affected my interest in paying to use this system. Even though I’m very tech savvy, I struggled to use it and felt for the users who would blame themselves when they couldn’t get simple tasks done. There were also lots of little fixes I could see to make a good idea work much better for people. In addition, the difficulties I encountered caused me some concern for my friend’s business.

Unfortunately, I learned that this person was taking my comments (over the course of the few days) very personally and felt as though he was getting beaten up by them, until he outright told me so. Ouch. People may not remember what you say, but they remember how you make them feel, right?  I do tend toward speaking my mind (often too much), and I don’t often sugar coat reality. This type of communication isn’t generally well-received in a place like Texas; add some incredulousness and frustration, a lot of passion, and the fact that I felt a “kindred spiritedness” about this person, and I suppose it is no surprise that I didn’t come across as being very nice about it.

But it was a surprise.

In fact, one again I couldn’t understand how what I said about a system could be so impactful to this person. Just like the situation with my mentor, I felt very confused (in addition to many other emotions).

The insight that comes with reflection

20560266_sAs I sometimes do on Fridays, I decided to take a “tech-detox” day. This means as few screens as possible: no HGTV, no Facebook, no iPhone-based task lists, and no online games. Conveniently I also had zero classes, zero clients, and only one commitment (which was an “offline” kind of thing anyway). It was the perfect kind of day for this kind of thing.

Of course the negative story I wrote about previously swirled in my head for most of the morning. Still not getting it, somehow my mind landed on something someone had said to me years ago. I was leaving a job I’d been at for several years. At least 2 people that I can recall, in wishing me well, ended up telling me a story about how something I’d said had a great impact on them (one positive, one negative). I remember also being very surprised at this. Hmmm. So this has happened before.

Whether it’s due to my own low self-esteem, my own lack of awareness, or something else, clearly what I say (in written and verbal form) has more impact on people than I myself understand. Whether or not I believe it should, it does. And I have clearly not learned this lesson, so the Universe has thought to smack me with another (more recent) positive and negative example to get my attention.

What to do?

The action plan

Keep some attention on this fact. I’m not going to change how other people perceive my communications, but I can have some awareness that there is more power behind my messages than perhaps I intend.

So step 1: recognize that, and hold some awareness of it.

Also I know that when I’m low in energy (which I happened to be in the latter example), I might have much fewer reserves in place for step 1. I’m somewhat familiar with isolating myself when I don’t feel well—and the amount of isolating I’ve done in recent years has increased a lot as my health has declined. Many people would say isolating yourself is not a good thing to do. However, it might in fact be the kinder option.

So step 2: if feeling unwell or depleted, limit social interactions until some energy can be devoted back to step 1.

Did you see what happened here?!

If not, I’ll summarize:

  1. Two situations occurred in a short amount of time
  2. I noticed that those situations were somewhat different (i.e. positive vs. negative spins)
  3. But also similarly affected others (i.e. the power of my words to make them feel strongly)
  4. And that these two situations similarly affected me (i.e. feeling surprised and puzzled)
  5. I had some quiet time to reflect on what happened, which in turn
  6. Allowed past, similar situations to come back into my awareness
  7. I re-recognized that I can’t change others; only myself
  8. Some possible ways to change myself came into my awareness (which seemed to make sense and felt OK to try out)

Did the Universe smack me upside the head? Did it shoot a lightning bolt down in front of my feet? Did it drop down a page from the sky outlining my action plan?

Well, no and yes.

What Getting Hit over the Head by the Universe Looks Like
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