If you’ve ever experienced disappointment or disease, betrayal or bereavement, rejection or reversal of fortunes, then John Castagnini has a message for you. John is the creator of the Thank God I… book series (Thank God I: Short Stories of Inspiration for Every Situation, Vol. I and II), seminars and online community (www.thankgodi.com) dedicated to the proposition that all events are perfect, even if they don’t always feel perfect at the time, and that adversity can be a doorway to inspired living. A prolific author, poet, musician, teacher and entrepreneur, John also speaks frequently to audiences of network marketers about rejection and how to find balance in the emotions of building a business. — J.D.M.
How did you come to this study or this issue or this practice of balancing emotions?
My degree is in biology. I went to chiropractic school. My studies have been in the areas of physics, and I had been studying Eastern philosophy and the world’s religions for a long time, seeking to understand the great laws governing our universe. I looked for them in philosophy, theology, quantum physics and all different areas. I wanted to understand how the universe worked.
There are a few laws we have found to be consistent. One of these is the first law of thermodynamics, which says that energy and matter cannot be created or destroyed, they just change form.
In fact, we perceive that everything is constantly changing from form to form.
The Taoist concept of the yin and the yang, which dates back to Confucianism, says the universe is made up of complementary opposites. There’s the feminine side, the masculine side, the good side, the bad side. And inside each of these complementary sides there’s a tiny little dot that represents the opposite, the significance of which is that the seed of one is creating the other.
So there’s this dance going on between opposite polarities, and this understanding goes back for thousands of years.
Within my own life, it became clear to me that there are also complementary-opposite emotions. There’s happiness and sadness, peacefulness and warfulness, we experience highs and lows—and these opposites create one another.
This is the cycle of life: we go up, we go down, and up, and down.
In network marketing people often experience this as rejection and acceptance.
I wanted to see if it was possible to control how fast we go through a cycle, so that we could balance out our highs and lows to maintain what is often referred to as the middle road or middle path.
I discovered that whenever we are able to balance out these highs and lows, we pass through a state of inspiration. And the more we are aware of this process, the less we get caught up in emotional cycles.
How did this “Thank God I …” formulation come to you?
I was working with women who were victimized and violated. At first they were very angry and blaming, but as we worked with their emotions, they got to the point where they were able to say, “I thank God for that situation.”
God being the grand, organized design that is, they were able to say, “I’m thankful that this happened, because as a result of it I became stronger, I met new people, I learned sympathy, I got deeply touched by emotions, I got touched by spirituality…” or whatever it was in each person’s case.
What they realized is that they were able to find a lot of positives as well as negatives. When they were able to balance the negatives they already knew with these newly discovered positives, they reached a point where they genuinely felt, “Thank God I was victimized.”
It makes quite an impression to go to your site and look through all these people and their topics; it’s like a parade of paradox.
I wondered myself, could we really put out something with the title, “Thank God I Was Raped”?!
That is pretty intense.
I went on a national television show about a year ago, and they wouldn’t let me say it. They had me change it to, “Thank God I Was Victimized.”
When I asked the women about whether we could really use that stronger phrase as the title of the book, they told me they wanted to write it. They wanted to write their story the way they really saw it. “Who am I to stop you?” I said. “Let’s publish it!”
Then we saw this applies to every experience: you truly can thank God for anything challenging. Some people went through a death, some through cancer, or divorce—whatever it was, we realized that you could get into the state of thankfulness and appreciation for it.
We soon found people from all over the world—from Israel, South Africa, Australia, London—who had their own stories, and we put together a whole series and an online community, which has been growing ever since.
Also, around this time my mom passed away. She was only fifty-six years old and she was my best friend.
Seven days after she passed, I was looking for the perfection in her death. “I know that everything’s perfect the way it is,” I told myself.
If there’s a perfect intelligence that exists and permeates the universe at every moment, then everything’s perfect at all moments. We buy into pain and pleasure based on our own nightmares, fantasies, adrenaline rushes and so forth—but no matter what we think or feel, it’s still perfect.
Okay, so where’s the perfection in her death? What would be the disadvantage if she had kept living? What were the advantages of her dying? How did she transform?
I began listing all the qualities she represented for me. Knowing that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed but just change form, I looked at all these qualities and asked, where were they now? Who was now representing those qualities?
As I kept looking for where and how those qualities had transformed, I also had the sense of honoring her presence more and more.
There’s a story about this in your book.
That’s right. A month later, I’m in Florida and I meet a lady named Loraine. My mom’s name was Loraine. This woman is fifty-six years old; my mom died at fifty-six. This person is from New York City, just like my mom, and she’s smoking a cigarette, just like my mom.
I turned to my girlfriend and said, “I guarantee you her birthday is January ninth.” This was the date on which my mother had passed.
I had just met this woman minutes before, but I looked her straight in the eye and said, “Excuse me, ma’am, do you mind if I ask, when is your birthday?”
And she tells me, “January ninth.”
Given the work I was doing, I understood that I was literally manifesting the form of my mother right before my eyes!
I think anyone can grasp this idea of balancing complementary emotions in the abstract. But when you’re in the experience—not even death or rape or disease, but even just the everyday sufferings of self-doubt, rejection or humiliation—how do you stay in contact with this noble idea when you’re in the muck of it?
Like anything else, practice makes perfect. It’s about following this thought process and finding enough evidence so that you get to the point where you see, “Oh my gosh, everything really is perfect the way it is.”
The universe doesn’t screw up. And anytime that we perceive it as being screwed up, it’s taking the ownership and responsibility to say, “Well, this is because of the way I’m looking at the world.”
It’s about practicing this perspective enough so it becomes your primary way of looking at the world, even when you’re going through the emotional experience.
Like everyone else, I go through emotional experiences. In fact, I honor more of my emotional experiences because I’m more focused on becoming aware of the emotions when they come up, as opposed to denying that they’re there.
So, you’re not heading for a bland, neutral, zoned-out state, but quite the opposite.
Quite the opposite. In fact, you become more in touch with your emotions and feelings as they come up, and more in tune with what’s going on inside yourself.
We have this saying in this business, “Every no gets you that much closer to a yes.” It’s a nice pat idea—swallow the bad pill because it gets you to the good pill—but I get the sense that’s not what you’re talking about.
I would say that there’s no good pill or bad pill, there’s just a pill.
In the network marketing arena, people are often looking for acceptance and not wanting to deal with rejection. But when you look at some of the most successful people in the business, they are able to see rejection as something that just makes them stronger—because inside their minds they’ve got enough positives to balance that.
It’s people who only see negatives around rejection who want to run away from it.
In fact, here’s the amazing thing: for the person who constantly has their buttons pushed by rejection, until they can see that it’s just as perfect as acceptance and can be just as thankful for both, they will keep attracting the same kind of people, places and circumstances into their life.
So in a sense, they’re creating those rejections.
Over and over again. Even if they leave their network marketing company, it will keep happening in other areas of life until they bring themselves to balance on whatever they have a charge about.
That just hit me like a two-by-four: even if they quit the business, they’re going to bring that same dynamic with them into some other part of their lives.
There’s no way not to. We’re biomagnetic electrical fields. We’re made up of protons and electrons vibrating at frequencies. Anything we have an emotion about is a half-sided charged state that attracts its polar opposite like a magnet.
Whatever we have a charge on, we’ll keep repeatedly attracting the opposite until we balance out these complementary-opposite sides with gratitude.
When you say, “I thank God for this experience” because you appreciate both polar sides of it, then you’re turning two into one.
What do you say when someone says, “I don’t get it. What’s positive about people saying no? What’s positive about my people quitting?”
I’ll say, “Well, it makes me stronger in my thought process, it makes me look deeper within myself to see how I can communicate better, it makes me stronger in my convictions, it will make me more adaptable to different people’s behaviors…”
I’ll sit there and literally list all the positives that might come from being rejected, until I can see that there are just as many positives as there are negatives—and then I no longer have a charge on being rejected.
Then I would also look for the negatives in acceptance, so that I see that there are just as many negatives there as there are positives.
Then you’re not attached to the outcome.
The Buddhists talk about being attached; the Christians describe it as being in judgment.
Judge not …
… and be not judged. And once you’re not attached and have no judgment on the good or bad of it, you are in a place of being inspired to share what you love to share.
Those are the people who are most successful in this business: they are just sharing their inspiration from their heart, as opposed to being swayed back and forth in their minds between rejection and acceptance.
As I practice this sort of mental/spiritual posture and start to have this bigger perspective, how does this change my ability to interact with my prospects and customers? Do they start to experience me differently? Am I becoming a different network marketer?
You become a much more evolved network marketer, because the most successful salespeople and marketers are those who learn how to communicate in terms of other people’s values.
Being able to share or care or sell—they’re all the same to me: selling is sharing, and sharing is caring—is all about understanding other people’s value systems and communicating in ways that relate to them.
The clearer you are on your own emotional charges and hot buttons, the less likely you are to get caught in the trap of communicating from a place of simply reacting.
In other words, the best salespeople are those who listen more than sell. You become much more able to listen for your own emotional inflections and your prospect’s emotional inflections.
So if I get myself electrically grounded, I’m not discharging my static all over them.
That’s a great way to express it!
When you’re speaking from a place of inspiration, from your heart, people follow you. They want more of what you have to say, because you’re saying things from a place of inspiration, meaning in spirit, that is found in between these complementary/opposite charges.
The more you express yourself from this place of centered balance, the more the person in your field of vision knows that are you listening to them.
In this business, there are two main classes of the rejection experience. One is when your prospect says, “I’m not interested.” The other is when people on your team quit. That second kind almost hurts more, because you’ve got a bond with this person and you care about them. So the same principle would apply?
Yes, except that in that case you might be seeing that as a betrayal. Is that what you mean?
I hadn’t thought so, but now that you say the word, it rings a bell. I think that’s exactly what people often experience.
One thing to do in both cases is to ask yourself, “Where have I rejected other people?” so that you own this as something that exists inside yourself. And, “Where have I betrayed other people? Or who thinks I’ve betrayed them?”
It comes back again to judge not and be not judged.
Then you go through the process of asking, “How does this betrayal serve me?” Because everything serves, everything’s perfect the way it is.
And then, realize that since energy-and-matter can’t be created or destroyed, it only changes form, there can’t be a loss without a gain. So if you are experiencing a loss, how fast can your mind find the gain?
And that’s clearly a skill.
It’s a skill set of the mind. If I’m experiencing a loss because someone left my team, who’s the person replacing them?
The more time you spend in the illusion that you had a loss, the more time you postpone or avoid seeing the gain. How long do you want to spend there? A minute? A month? A year? The faster you’re able to see it, the faster you’re able to act and work with that new person on your team. But you have to look for it.
Here’s a more realistic way to look at this: realize that while you may have the perception of betrayal or rejection, the only thing people are really committed to is their value system. They’re not committed to you or your company, they’re committed to their values.
So if someone leaves your team or declines to join your business, it’s only because you haven’t communicated effectively enough to match their value system.
Do you find yourself in great demand these days because of what’s going on in the economy?
There is a tendency during tougher times for people to look for answers, to take a step back and look for some kind of higher power.
But I don’t really look at these as unfortunate economic times, because we both know that most of the multimillionaires made in the United States over the past century were made right after the Great Depression.
We have a similar situation going on now. Prices are down in almost every area. There are an enormous number of options and opportunities right now: to open your mind to a new business or form of creativity, or to get very cheap money or buy things very cheap, or to align with other people who are in a transition, looking to do something new.
I think it’s great that people are stepping out of their routines and asking some deeper questions, seeing that there’s not much stability in jobs, so it might be a good time to find some way to work for themselves.
I think these are really inspiring and exciting economic times!
Right after 9/11, for a year or two, there was a similar kind of stepping back and looking at our deeper values.
It’s easy to get lazy. When you’re green, you grow; when you’re ripe, you rot.
There’s nothing like a little bit of chaos to shake us up. The maximum evolution of human consciousness really happens right at the border of chaos and order, right when you’re in the middle of both.