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We can’t help what we’re drawn to. A musician can’t stop hearing music. An accountant can’t stop crunching numbers. A hairstylist can’t stop doing mental hair makeovers. A talent agent can’t stop looking for talent. A comedian can’t help but see the lighter side to things. And a writer never stops writing. It’s only recently that I’ve stopped telling strangers at social gatherings that I am an “event planner.” Seemed like an innocuous choice of profession. No one really wanted to delve into the details of my latest event. And that’s just the way I liked it. They were satisfied when I said I planned corporate parties—we were free to move on to more interesting topics of conversation like Manny Ramirez or the Prius.

I learned the hard way that when I told people I was a hypnotherapist I had to be ready to spend the next half hour of my rare night out listening to their problems or I had to hoist my protective shield for the barrage of questions or strange looks and lame jokes like “You’re not going to make me quack like a duck are you?” Then I spent the next half hour explaining myself. “No, really, hypnosis isn't weird. There’s nothing bizarre about it. I’m not that kind of hypnotherapist. Hypnosis isn’t like that. It’s really just about using a different part of your mind to solve your issues. It's actually a natural dynamic. You enter the state daily without thinking about it....” I felt put in the hot seat, defending the field and myself and fighting myriad myths shrouding this odd profession.

It’s understandable—the misconceptions. Hypnosis isn’t exactly commonplace. The way it’s portrayed in film and television and stage shows has led to some unfortunate labels. Used to be those who practiced hypnosis were old scary guys who looked more like crazy magicians with bad hair; today the impressions aren’t much better. Hypnotherapists are thought of as new agey, airy-fairy women dressed in lavender. Me, I don’t look good in purple. And I’m 100% left-brain. Although I must admit I’m a sucker for Nag Champa.

In my twenties I wrote a book on A Course In Miracles that never got published. When people asked me what I was writing about I told them: “A Course in Miracles.” When they asked more about it I told them. “It’s a spiritual path in the form of a self-study book. There’s a text that you read, a workbook of 365 lessons, one for each day of the year that shifts your perspective and helps you find some peace. Most people think of it as a spiritual psychotherapy.”

But as soon as I said it used traditional Christian language—God, Holy Spirit—I saw and heard the judgment. And then it would start. “No really, it’s not like that. It’s not Christian. A Course In Miracles uses traditional Christian terminology in very nontraditional ways. It has nothing in common with Christianity except the language. In fact some Christians consider the A Course In Miracles blasphemous. It’s just using a familiar language because the terms need to be reinterpreted to what the A Course In Miracles considers their original usage, such as in the Gnostic texts....” “I was raised atheist,” I would proclaim.

Blah, blah, blah. There I went again, defending A Course In Miracles and myself. After years of this, it got to the point that when asked what I was writing I just said, “It’s sort of a self-help book.” Nevertheless, nobody really said anything after that. Self-help=Innocuous. Like “event planner.”

I was initiated into Transcendental Meditation at seven years old, forced to meditate each day before dinner. My whole family meditated as per dad’s house rules. I remember having friends over after school and my dad, who never cared what anyone thought, would yell through the house, “It’s time to meditate. Everyone out.” I was horrified. My friends looked at me as if I was part of some crazy cult. Ushering them to the door I would plead, “No, really, meditation is not weird. It’s just a way to relax....”

Oh, how I wished we just went to the Lutheran church up the street. Oh, how I had longed to be a second-grade school teacher, or something cool like a designer. Even an event planner. But I’m not. Some crunch numbers in their head, others hear music, I view life through the lens I was born to look through. It’s not better, but what I’ve come to understand is it’s not worse either.

We can’t help what we’re drawn to. It’s been a life long lesson for me to learn that to live with integrity is more important than approval. I was never one to wear spirituality on my sleeve, I’d much rather talk about the latest Judd Apatow movie or how they’ve discontinued my favorite magazine Domino. But something's changed. Maybe the shift was due to waking up each morning and being determined to see things differently. (See previous post.) I’ve now come to understand that I had it all wrong. I thought I was misunderstood. But I misunderstood. There’s no one out there whose acceptance I need. Only my own. It’s all in my mind. It’s all been all in my mind. The judgment I perceived in others was nothing more than the judgment I had about myself. Nobody misunderstands us as much as we misunderstand ourselves.