Many years ago, I came across the teacher Stuart Wilde whose humour and straightforwardness really appealed to me. The first book I read of his was Weight Loss For The Mind. When I was given the book by a friend, I didn’t read the title right and thought she’d given me a weight loss book. I was about to be offended when I read the title again and laughed.
Stuart or Stu, as he liked to be called, was a much-loved Hay House teacher and self-help author in the 80s and 90s who toured with Deepak Chopra and Louise Hay. A mentor and friend to well-known teachers Wayne Dyer and Denise Linn, his most famous book was The Trick To Money Is Having Some.
One of the key concepts Stu talked about was how to be in control of your life and create personal power. Not power over others, but inner power which is power over yourself and your energy so you can create meaningful change in your life.
In order to build inner power, he said, you had to make your word law. That’s to honour your promises, to yourself and others. I took his words to heart, as he seemed to have created great change and success for himself. He also seemed to be helping many others do the same. He came across as wise, sharp, insightful and kind in his writing and his irreverent British wit made his books so much fun to read and his audio recordings as entertaining as listening to a comedian. He was able to take very complex subjects and spiritual teachings and make them simple to grasp and feel within your reach.
He was also tough like the old-school gurus who taught that discipline was the basis of spiritual growth. He’d trained himself by undertaking disciplines of the body and mind over long periods of time. Special diets and spiritual practices to overcome the hold of the ego and personality. For one whole year, he got up every day at 4.30 a.m. to walk in the forest. If his teacher said that they were to meet at 8 p.m. at a certain location, he would be there, every time on time. Regardless if it was in a different country. He made it his discipline to show up on the dot.
He said that you had to go about your spiritual path like you were at the bottom of a pool and you’d run out of air and needed to get to the surface to breathe. That kind of momentum and persistence was necessary for you to really make it.
I followed his advice and made it my discipline to keep my word and show up.
If I make a promise to meet someone, I show up even if I don’t feel like it or don’t really want to go – short of being unable physically or emotionally to do so. If I say ‘I’ll be there’, I make it a priority to be there on time. I write down appointments in my calendar in my phone as soon as I make them, making a note of the address. I search the address in advance of an appointment so I can plan my travel time and be punctual. It’s not about who I’m going to be with or what I’m going to be doing so I don’t make more of an effort if I want to impress someone or am going to meet someone who can help me. It’s a sacred pact I’ve made with myself to make my word my bond that drives me to be on time and show up.
When I borrow something, I make sure that I return it. If I say to someone I’ll email or call them, I do it. I avoid gossip and endeavour to speak only sentiments that I mean. I won’t agree to any social gatherings to be polite if I don’t intend to show up. I won’t utter social niceties so as not to dilute the power of my words. If I’m invited somewhere that I want to go to, maybe even more than the appointment that I’ve already made, cancelling my plans is not something that I do lightly, if at all.
I learnt to stop bargaining and asking for discounts to honour the word of others, especially in third world countries or where people don’t earn very much or live on low wages.
In a group situation where there’s a shared bill at a restaurant, I make sure to pay my full share of the bill. I don’t owe or borrow money unless absolutely necessary, and when I do, I make sure to pay it all back as soon as possible. A friend of mine commented once that I’m the only person he’s met who actually chased him to pay him back money.
It took time, but I eventually saw the results of my efforts as I created change in my life and achieved my dreams of meeting Stuart in person on a life-changing trip to Brazil then again in the South of France. As I developed inner freedom and fulfilment from my personal spiritual practices, I too began helping others on their journeys of awakening and self-mastery.
But in a way the external results are a pale comparison to what it feels like for me to have faith in my word, to trust that when I say something, I mean it; to know that if I want to create something in my life, I can, because I believe in myself and my ability to follow up when I say I will do something.
In the 20 years since I decided to make my word law, I’ve come to temper this discipline with compassion and perspective when I feel unwell or change my mind because my circumstances have changed or I feel unsafe. On occasion I do cancel or change my plans. But it’s not a frivolous or flippant change, it’s always mindful and comes from an equal dedication to and discipline of self-care and self-respect. I wouldn’t change plans because I thought I now had something more interesting to do or even a family event to attend – unless of course, it is an emergency. I wouldn’t make an appointment just to fill my time or to keep busy then cancel or not show up because something more fun came up. Keeping my word is one of the main pillars that hold up my sense of integrity and belief in what’s possible for me and my life.
I’ve now built a belief in my ability to create change and for my actions to match my words and intentions. This has helped me attract opportunities and engender trust and goodwill in my relationships since the people I interact with know that my word means something and they can rely on me. It’s also helped me to build up my confidence and self-acceptance by feeling more at peace within myself.
I also notice that when you show up, other people show up though not always the same people that you showed up for. But I’m truly blessed now to have rock solid relationships and continued support in my life. If there’s any confusion or struggle in a relationship, I know that at least I’ve done my part in showing up so I can better drill down to what the other issues are that need to be addressed – this helps bring clarity and balance into my relationships and life.
There are still things that I’m working to change or develop in my life, but I’m not doing it because I feel powerless. I’m doing it because I believe in my power to effect change and because I feel in control of my life and hoping to better root the happiness that already exists so it grows even more.
I have to say thanks to Stu, for helping me learn this valuable teaching by explaining it so clearly and compellingly. He was a big part of my journey in the early years and helped me see that genuine personal power only come from having discipline and inner congruence.
If you’re feeling powerless or out of control in your life, if you feel like you struggle with self-acceptance or feeling at peace within yourself, I would advise you to start to make your word law as Stu would say. My guess is that when you do that, you’ll see how living in integrity and with honour toward yourself and others brings a life that not only makes you happier, more relaxed and peaceful but helps create the same for those around you too.