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Posts tagged ‘personal power’

You’ll See It When You Believe It

Change the way you look at things, the things you look at change

“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”

One of my all-time fave philosophies. Change. It’s powerful beyond measure, and also crippling as hell. Sigh. There’s been another death in my life.

I shared in a recent post that my Mom changed residences from her comfy loving home here on earth to somewhere, hopefully, even more wonderful. For you straight-shooters: she died. I wrote of how for me, Mom’s passing was a positive, enlightening experience and I have felt very little of the grief that I had been forewarned of and feared most of my life – and I LOVED my Mom! I valued my relationship with her greatly; she was a beautiful spirit that brought only good things to my life – the most obvious being my heart, lungs and brain! Read more about my ‘positive’ experience here, but to reinforce the sentiments of that post: today, fifteen weeks later and the day after her birthday, I’m still just revering Mom’s death with a smile! My world has felt a bit off its axis for sure, and her absence has me a wee bit out of sorts: but contrary to my fears, her loss has brought little pain. And let me say again clearly: I loved that woman dearly.

Best teachers help you find your own pathSo why then, has the death of someone I have never even met left me heartbroken?!? Psychologist, philosopher, author, speaker, “father of motivation” and master of the above “Change” quote, Dr. Wayne Dyer, passed unexpectedly on August 30th, 2015. Wayne’s work influenced every field related to mental and physical health, motivation, personal development, professional development, spirituality, education. Any of those things relevant to your life? Then so was Wayne.

I wrote a post on Wayne a while back so I won’t regurgitate his bio and deets, rather, I’m just so curious as to why I, alongside millions of others, felt such shock, sadness and utter loss upon hearing of Wayne’s passing. Clearly, he was a teacher for me. I’ve often been asked: “what teacher impacted you the most growing up”; questioners expectantly awaiting a gushy, grateful idolizing of one of my public-school teachers. I could indeed provide a high-school teacher’s name: Mr. Toews. Pronounced “Taves”. My Grade 9 Social Studies teacher. Why? Because he had a mini-guillotine on his desk and would behead a pencil if I walked in late for class. Still echoing in my soul, Mr. Toew’s sinister voice: “Loughlinnn!!!” CHOP! This anchored to my young psyche forevermore, that being late wasn’t necessarily a bad thing: the flying pencil-head was pretty cool. Otherwise, not a damn thing resonated under Mr. Toew’s tutelage; and it has really bothered me not to be able to name a single school teacher who even slightly inspired me. I’m sure I came out of public school with a decent memorization Off with your head!of some useful (and a lot more totally useless) information and some handy skills, however, no galvanizing direction, having never been approached by anyone in the education system – EVER, offering me personal context, incentive, or even a bolstering of curiosity as to how this ‘education’ could be harnessed “to be anything I wanted to be“. Ditto for college: strong contributing factors as to why it took me so long to identify my calling, me thinks. Wayne Dyer impacted my life greater than any “formal” teacher I’ve ever had: encouraging me to shift my definition and means of education; to shamelessly pursue my tribe, fulfillment, joy; and, most importantly, inspiring a desire to inspire others. And I’ve never met the man.

You got some 'splainin!

CONT’D: So why tears for a stranger, when I barely shed them for Mom? And…see how Wayne made me a believer in the ‘afterlife’!
PLUS: Are You A Self-Help Whore?? (page 2)

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Are We Over Thinking

I'm so over thinking.Alrighty now, lets do a little summary of some of the things we’ve been exploring about “thoughts”:

~ We are not our thoughts. We are the awareness.

~ Our thoughts are not the truth – just thoughts. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral.

~ Thoughts can sit dormant in our subconscious and spring to life at any time, without any warning- and may in fact feel like a brand new concept that we might even think we’ve never thought before.

~ Our brains and bodies can’t tell if a thought is based on real-time activity, subconscious memory… or pure imagination.

~ Every single thought you have can be assessed in terms of whether it strengthens or weakens you.

~ A single negative thought can change the course of your life.
So can a single positive thought.

~ Change your thoughts, change your life.

Crikey – who’s in control here?!! It sounds like I have power, I can change my thinking and therefore myself; and then it sounds like thoughts can divebomb me at any time and my brain and body might respond with behaviour patterns that I created years ago!?! Huh – I don’t get it: what do I need to know or do to manage my thoughts to live the life I want??

Examine the thought itself - not the content.I guess we’re not quite over thinking yet! So far, I think the biggest message around this subject is awareness. When you catch a thought or thought pattern that you know or suspect is not serving your best interest, you can stop and take a look at the thought itself – not just the content of the thought. For that matter, whenever you are feeling stressed, upset, fearful, unsettled, confused: it’s a pretty good clue that your thoughts might not be serving you. Thoughts that serve you feel safe, secure, peaceful – even if they’re negatively manifested, for example, yelling intuitively at a stranger invading your personal space: you may not know if a stranger is danger, however, your instincts know what you need to feel safe, and it’s quite natural and okay to enact those responses. (You can always soften the blow after the fact should you feel compelled!) Likewise, foundationless or forced Pollyanna thinking could hint at denial or limiting beliefs, which will also feel unsettled or unsafe.

Righty then: you’ve busted your thoughts for making you feel unsettled… stuck on repeat… going nowhere good. Now what? Well, that’s a very big discussion… ranging from simple thought-stopping tools and techniques right on through to in-depth cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). One of my favorite simple tactics for understanding the sabotaging nature of thoughts and thus managing them (learned first from a therapist then reinforced by good ol’ Dr. Phil) is: follow the thought right through to the end. Basically, identify if a thought is true or false. Take the common stressful thought: I hate my job. This one could give tornados a run for their money! Here we go:

Thoughts of the dread of having to get yourself out of bed and go into work even one more day spinning and spinning, slowly picking up whatever thought debris is in its path: nasty bosses, horrible commutes, the raise you didn’t get, how tired you are when you get home, guilt at not being home for the kids, how bored and unfulfilled you feel…
A little momentum and: what can I do, I can’t quit, I’m unappreciated, I’ll never make enough money, is this all there is for me, will I ever find my purpose, can I ever find a job that I’ll like, I don’t know what to do, I’m stuck, what do I do, I can’t talk to my boss… (and on to REPEAT:) he’s nasty, my commute sucks……..

That’s a lot of clutter for one little thought: and each acquisition of debris comes with it’s own little storm! That’s adrenal suicide, and thought overload.  Here’s the same thought, following it through to the end:

I hate my job – I dread going in to work everyday.

So, what if you quit your job.
Well… I need to make money.

So, what if you need to make money.
Well… then I’d have to find another job.thoughts aware3

So, what if you have to find another job.
Well… it will be hard, I hate job searching!

So, what if you hate job-searching.
Well… I need to make money, I’d just have to do it.

So, what if you just have to do it.
Well… I’d have to get some help.

So… what if you have to get help.
Well… I don’t know where to look.

So… what if you don’t know where to look.
Well… I could google or ask people.

So, what if you have to google or ask people.
Well… I’m sure I would find some help.

So… we can conclude: you’ve identified that you have help (if not some really good friends!) to find a new job that you don’t hate and make the money you need?? Next.

Yay! You now have positive thoughts, a basis for an action plan to a desired outcome, happy chemicals flowing, increasing energy, a sense of safety knowing that you are in control – and one less worry.  You get it: follow the thoughts Positive thoughts positive life.through and at the end of the day, you’re not dead. I refer to it as free-floating thought: thoughts that are going nowhere because you haven’t followed them through to the end to see if you end up dead. Free-floating thoughts take up ENORMOUS head-space and energy and the sooner you nip them in the bud, the sooner you will take away their power by understanding that the anxiety and falsehoods of your imaginings are always worse than actual facts/reality. Following thoughts through will dead-end them with some kind of answer – generally a positive one, because you won’t stop the “so what if’s” until you’re somewhat happy!!

My other most favorite simple tool is talking to my thoughts – giving “thoughts” an identity. When I feel uneasy, anxious or unfocused, I stop and see what’s going on with my thoughts at the time: where are they leading, are they based on anything real or useful?  Giving them a role separate from “me” gives a sense of control: I can take a step back and realize that thoughts are simply popping out randomly from my collective memory – “I” am not necessarily choosing relative or productive thoughts. It helps me see thoughts as simply a tool the body uses to offer up potential ideas for something that has yet to solidify a pathway to a peaceful action/feeling, or duh, I would have taken it without all of these lingering thoughts! As stated, if I feel dis-ease, my thoughts are not useful, so I might have a conversation with them that goes something like this:

Caught you again you sneaky little thoughts: you’re really not helping me much right now!!
I appreciate that you conjured yourselves up to let me know that there’s a better way of creating what I want – so you can go away now!! No, really – you can go now: I’ll clear my mind or choose affirmations or
Manage your thoughtsthoughts that are more empowering and create the right kind of chemicals in my body to allow me to better move forward in a way and in a direction that is healthier and more peaceful for me – so you can go. Thanks again for making me check in with myself – I’m good: beat it! 

Yes, I actually do speak to my thoughts like that – though often I can get away with a good “scram”! It’s taken some practice to be able to firmly and concisely tell my thoughts that their current employment is over, and stop them trying to bargain their way back in; and really, what that’s about has nothing to do with vocabulary and everything to do with gaining confidence that I really do have power over my thoughts. I can now catch my thoughts quickly, laugh and have fun busting the little guys – and can pretty much discipline misbehaving thoughts in one good talking-to! This is totally based on the “change your thoughts” theory of Wayne Dyer;  and giving thought a personality separate from me nurtures the Eckhart Tolle thought vs. ego ideology.  Keep in mind, this is not about simply denying all things negative, it’s about choosing a route to create the best likelihood that you can move in your desired direction, by changing brain and biochemical responses that enable you to capitalize on what your body has to offer to do so: primarily neurotransmitters and hormones that calm you and support you to both feel better and take productive action.  It’s amazing how well thought-talk works to raise your consciousness and get you in a positive frame of mind and body, once you get the hang of it! (I also talk to my aches and ailments!) Anyway, what do those rampant, churning, directionless, idiotically repeating, cortisol-producing, brain-path hijacking, negative thoughts do for you – absolutely nothing! EXCEPT: remind you, you have power!!

Soft dandelion flowers macro border over sky blue backgroundI’ll do a few more posts on managing thought before I move on to another topic: rest assured, we will be revisiting this subject often! “Thought-stopping” has many permeations and techniques, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. Even the simple tools above take time and practice: do not despair (and they payoff in spades)! Negative thoughts will always be a part of human behaviour. I’m just a firm believer that being raised with a solid sense of self, and a lack of a need for comparison regarding self-worth or success, will take a lot of the ammo away from our minds. Identifying thoughts and their power, and maneuvering them favourably, should be second-nature.  Where we stand now though, we could ask: can manipulating your own thoughts have a down-side? I love the thousands of studies that accompany all of this new research on mind/brain/body: you can’t imagine how far rats and fMRI’s have gotten us recently!  For your amusement, here’s some nice light research about thought suppression and its effect re: forbidden romance, your golf swing, and…Basil Fawlty?  Sans rats!

Next: 8 Ironic Effects of Thought Suppression (page 2)

School of Thought: Pre-K

Man, I just re-read that article on thought in my last blog and it was pretty intense. Some good basic info… but just enough abstract stuff to lose me at times: you?? I’ll try to break future articles down into more manageable bites! (Although my warning stands: this topic of “thought” is some thought-provoking stuff!!  Just take in what resonates for you right now!)

Thinking CapI guess one of the big concepts around “thought” that we don’t learn in kindergarten is: WE are not our thoughts.
Eckhart Tolle for kindergarteners: hmmmm?! 
Without the benefit of any teachings on this concept, there’s a general assumption that the voice that we hear in our heads is a private “Mini-Me”: sitting in there and directing our lives through silent conversation so as not to have to share everything with everybody until we darn well choose to.  Mini-Me takes everything in, filters it, edits it and then instigates action that represents who we are and how we want to live.  Not so fast:  that little rogue also makes stuff up!! He doesn’t default all input through our “values” sieve so that only the good, healthy stuff gets through to create our outcomes; he throws his two cents into the mix – whether reasonable or not!

Lost? Let’s see if we can paint a picture:

You’re a university student trying to finish a term paper by tomorrow. Your current dream is to become an engineer; you’ve worked hard to get to this final semester with decent grades and this paper is important. You’ve set your good intention and you’re gonna work your a** off all night – get this done and do it right!!! 

But wait for it — here it comes… a THOUGHT: “Hey, let’s go to the pub for one drink”.  Now if YOU were your thoughts you’d put that idea right through the “likely-to-produce-good-results vs. likely-NOT-to-produce-good-results” funnel, which is directly connected to your values sieve and the outcome would most definitely be: you WOULD NOT be going to the pub tonight.

Mini-Me, however, reshapes this whole concept: this time, driven by a scent that just wafted intothoughts mini me your dorm room, subconsciously reminding you of that “hotness” that you’ve been crushing on all year and the high likelihood that they’ll be in the pub!  All of a sudden: there’s room for a change of plans in tonight’s professedly rock-solid schedule! Even though YOU are pretty clear on your current direction and priorities, YOUR THOUGHTS can hijack the situation- without you even being conscious of it (i.e. that sneaky smell).  Mini-Me presents with something resembling a reasonable idea worthy of consideration, yet… “where did that come from”?! You weren’t even slightly contemplating anything but homework tonight!!  That rascal!

It’s actually quite a simplistic fact when you think about it: how could we be our thoughts when they are so malleable and can be so easily manipulated: can you say flakey much??  And if some of our thoughts are sub-conscious, then reason says: we can’t possibly know ourselves very well – and yet it is entirely possible to know yourself inside-out!

This article from Inner Frontier introduces us to “automatic thought” (now also being considered amongst the idea of “cell memory” in some of the new neuroscience research). It brings awareness of our unmanaged and “mindless” habits of thought; and gives a little peace of mind that our learning curve around changing our thoughts and behaviours come by us honestly! Whew!

Read More: The Value – or Overvalue of Thinking (page 2)

Why Do We Mess With Perfect?

us3_say_what3

In the comparison game, your biggest archenemy, your greatest source of envy, competition and judgement is without question: YOU. You constantly compare yourself to you.

Now hold on a minute: didn’t we just decide a few posts ago that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, rather, the healthy behaviour is to measure ourselves against our own measuring stick?  Ya,here it is:

 

Compare me to me.

Well, seems like there might be a catch in that plan too! It’s the right concept, however the starting point of that measuring stick may need to shift, and in fact, remain fluid.

Now that doesn’t seem right?? How can I measure against something that doesn’t remain static – it can’t  possibly give me any realistic accuracy for comparison!?!

Bingo! Everything is made up folks! Starting points, end points, what is better, what is worse… it’s all been made up.  Some things are somewhat more factual than other things e.g. the sun will rise again — or willllll it… do we really know it is rising… isn’t that just the theory-du-jour until some new discovery gives us another option?  Okay, okay, we’ll leave Philosophy 101 for another day – back to human behaviour: some things are adapted more universally in an effort to make societies collaborative and function cohesively; things such as laws, policies, school systems. We don’t need to look too far to see how malleable those things are though: I live in BC Canada virtually on the Washington state border, and if my legally-married-here gay friend put one tippy toe on the south side, it would constitute societal disaster in that demographics’ decree. Our two societies grew up virtually identically, yet evidently, a fence in a field can dictate self-worth.

It reminds me of the seemingly innocuous Sunday roast yarn:
Mom makes the best roast beef in town. Every Sunday since forever you’ve watched her skillfully prepare her prime cut: trimming both raw ends off, lovingly Mom's the best cooksalting it, ladling the juices over the brown beauty every 30 minutes as it cooks to mouth-watering perfection – everyone says so. One ordinary childhood day, you go to your neighbour Steve’s house for dinner and you watch his mom plunk the familiar rosy beast raw into the pan, throw it in the oven at 375° and then tell you kids to have your hands washed by 5.
Ew yuck! There’s NO WAY you’re sticking around for dinner – that’s just plain wrong how she’s cooking that beef!! That’s it, these folks are officially not good cooks and over time, relegated as weird inferior people generally; and you masterfully avoided Steve like the plague for fear of being invited to dinner again. The measuring stick had been firmly planted; and eons later when you invited your Mom and Grams to Sunday dinner in your own home, you proudly began the well-practiced routine of cutting and salting, ladle at the ready. Grams pipes up ” why are you spiking all our blood pressure with that dang salt – and whaddaya rich or something lopping off the ends of yur roast like that, geez, must be nice!” With patronizing glances between you and Mom, you reply in a diplomatic: “remember Grams, that’s the way a good roast is made – just the same as you did it for Mom when she was little, and how she did it for us when we were little!”Burn the Beer
“Ya – til you dang kids moved out and I got a new pan and a new oven! That dang pan was never big enough for those dang roasts, and the dog needed feeding anyhow. And salt was the only way I’d have any chance of gravy drippins the way that dang oven kept overheatin! All’s you need to do to cook a roast is throw the dang thing in the oven and pour me a glass of wine!!”

Wowzer wow wow! Fancy that. One ill-conceived idea of right and wrong set your guide for comparison completely arbitrarily. Hmmm. Wonder what the spinoff of lost opportunities or re-directs might be in any one simple conclusion we draw. At the very least here, you might have scored a few more freebie dinners with the neighbours whatchamacallems  – oh ya, the Jobs.

Our versions of good- bad, right- wrong, strong- weak, successful- loser are very much sculpted by where we grew up, who we grew up with, what we were taught – and of course in which era we grew up in. Sprinkle all of this with a little bit of our own personal biology, disposition, and interpretations of what we experience and you have a pretty fickle foundation in which to anchor any measuring stick. And now I’m really gonna mess with you: some of these rules, attitudes, behaviours, conclusions whatever we call them are completely unconscious: we file our interpretation in a nice little internal hiding spot with the autopilot switch on.  We have no idea that some of our behaviours are actually choices, they are so embedded – just so… the way it is.  Not even a notion to ask Grams about.

Now as a part of normal growth and maturity, of course, we diligently take stock of our lives at sensible intervals, checking in with the standard questions:

  • what are my goals and dreams now, what do I want to do to advance them;
  • who is in my life to support me, where am I giving;
  • is this society I’m in one that I believe in and that is best for my goals;
  • what are my philosophical and spiritual beliefs now, do I need to see more of the world to find a better fit for me…

Whaa-huh? Come on – you do this, don’t you, every few months, years at least?? I don’t know about you, but that wasn’t on any of the tests I took in school; and in my family, my circle of friends, you just jumped on the one-size-fits most conveyer belt and you were off . Re-evaluate life? Nope, definitely not on the assigned reading list.

Context is the basis for everything and context is fluid. Some people were nurtured with this ideal, some have it inherently. For all though, at any point in time we can adjust, change, toss or add any rule or measuring stick you want. That may mean seeking new people, jobs, environments, societies etc. that work with your new definitions – and there is a reality factor attached to what you can anticipate with your choice, but it is that, a choice.

More permeations of our core beliefs, inner critic, thoughts and choices to come….. MUCH more really!  Here’s a perspective from Janet Robinson-Gillmore’s blog expanding on “context” from family behaviour:

And p.s. in my dictionary there is “perfect” – no need to politically-correcticize it with synonyms intimating that nothing is perfect and imperfect is perfectly perfect. My dictionary might be updated hourly, but it’s MY dictionary. Go get your own.

Read More: The Undoing of Being (page 2)

Could You Be a Scarcity Model?

 scarcity2

“The real reason that you find it necessary to compare yourself to others, is that you’ve fallen under the spell that says: good things are always scarce.”

I came across this statement when I was exploring the psychology of why we feel the need to compare ourselves and our situations in order to assess self-value. It’s referred to, in a behavioural sense, as “the scarcity model”, and at its centre is the perception that unless you “have” – and stockpiled, somehow you won’t survive.

Hmmm… It’s an interesting concept, born presumably from our oldest reptilian brain remnant, the amygdala, originally facilitating our escape from dinosaurs or tigers.  The functioning of the amygdala has most recently been accused of being somewhat “dysfunctional” in it’s fight-or-flight talents, not having adjusted yet to what this means in civilization today, and triggering limitless hormones and neurotransmitters at every stressor – real or imagined. It might make sense then, this connection to being less than, and therefore, requiring more.

Never run out.

Ahhh, all is well!

I can definitely think of examples where I have felt the need to “stock up” – never knowing when the bottom might fall out: be it t.p. when my money is low, or seeking some validation when my spirit is low. I suppose I’ve compared things a little: I’m sure my friend so-and-so would never be so irresponsible as to run out of t.p. (i.e. funds to buy it); my friend what’s-his-face must be totally secure owning his own business, nice house, dining out whenever, wherever – but thankfully, those thoughts are few and far between! I’m so much happier and at peace since I’ve established a definition of success that works for me: and I am successful!  I no longer have a need to compare my life to others, and don’t give these comparisons a second more credibility than acknowledging that they are imagined and meritless thoughts: I have a nice little chuckle at their persistency to sneak back into my consciousness, and then boot their butts back into oblivion where they belong! I know now that everyone has their own challenges relative to their own definitions of success; some completely aware of this and doing their own butt-kicking of those momentary doubts; but all too many, completely oblivious to what brings them fulfillment, and stuck in deep-seeded comparison games to validate that they are really happy!

One of my fave speakers and behavioural psychologists, Brene Brown, has written about “scarcity” in two of her books, The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly, a relevant quote from the latter being:

“Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress. It happens when we’ve been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability) we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats.”

In an interview about The Gifts of Imperfection, Brown elaborates:

These are anxious and fearful times, and everywhere we hear the lexicon of scarcity. We are not rich, thin or beautiful enough; we are not safe, perfect or powerful enough, and ordinary lives are completely dismissed. But success and high achievement will not gratify us when our self-worth is tied to the mindset of scarcity. We think the opposite of scarcity is abundance — more time, more money — when really the opposite of scarcity is “enough.” Just enough.

Another duo, behavioural economist Sendhil Mullainathan and the cognitive psychologist Eldar Shafir have written a whole book on the feeling of scarcity, brilliantly comparing it to the realities of scarcity in purely political or economic terms – a very interesting read!

Scarcity mindset.

So what are we really talking about – what is the “scarcity model”?  To tippy-toe into the concept, here are excerpts from a few recent articles I’ve come across, and then a link to a more detailed article on the Mullainathan/Shafir book.

splat

It’s Time To Give Up The Scarcity Model

The scarcity model says that if the person that you’re comparing yourself to is (arguably) more attractive than you, then that person has grabbed up too much of that thing called attractive and now there’s less for you. Same thing goes for

Next: Comparison Battle – More on the Scarcity Model (page 2)

Amazing vs. Insanity. Your Choice.

Here’s a challenge for you:
Go outside and find the best possible stick.

Why aren’t you going? Perhaps because the request is ridiculous. What do I mean by “the best possible stick”? For doing what? Digging? Toasting marshmallows? Poking a weasel? A stick that’s ideal for one purpose might be useless for another. And that is why the “comparing mind” is:

insane green2

If your energy and time is spent just being a little bit better than the next person, you miss out on getting to be better for you.  Being better than someone else keeps the bar low and keeps you from exploring the depths of what you can be:

YOU’LL NEVER KNOW HOW AMAZING YOU CAN BE!

Last week we talked about fruit salad and not comparing the sweet vs. the tart, the colourful vs. the bland: just enjoy how every different juicy morsel brings a new surprise in every single bite, and contributes something special to the overall tasty satisfaction. Life can be sweet or tart; you may be colourful or bland: together, your inherent nature and the nurture of your thoughts will drive your future – with a few choice choices from you.

Martha Beck has a few choice words for you; and I like what blogger Tera Warner has to say:

Who cares what they say about the things you should do or say and how you should live your life?!  Be inspired by the lives of others, but do not follow their path and pretend it’s your own. The most valuable be you SUPERDOGthing you have is not your health, it’s not your time, it’s not your purse, your car, your fancy pants designer jeans or even your friends.

It is your self-determinism – your ability to choose the path you take in life, make your own decisions and stand for the things that you believe in. In a world where we’ve been fed a deep-fried, glitter-coated version of what Life should be, how it should work, and told to whom we should defer our power, creativity and authentic expression, it takes some serious [insert male/female sex organs here] to think for yourself! Question what you hear and stand in your truth, no matter how lonely it feels to do so sometimes!

Are You an Apple, Orange or… Bananas?

If you can’t stop comparing yourself to others, you’ve got a case of what Asian philosophers call “monkey mind”, and, honey, it will only drive you bananas.
adapted from article by Martha Beck

Our ability to rank-order things is invaluable in making choices and setting priorities. But problems arise when comparing mind is the only mode of perception we access. Every gathering, conversation, or friendship becomes a stressful contest: Will I “win” in this situation, or will someone else turn out to be prettier, smarter, richer, thinner…in a word, better?

This way of thinking is absurd, because outside the realm of human perception, the concept of better is MEANINGLESS!  This makes comparing mind a setup for failure. Even if you can be the world’s best at one thing, you’ll be the world’s worst at something else, case in point:

Supermodels make pathetic sumo wrestlers.

A brilliant orator who speaks only one language
sounds like a babbling fool in another.

If you spent your life mastering all languages, you might still suck at engineering, croquet, watercolor, etc. Since comparing mind hates being less than best at anything, you lose. Always.

Comparing is insane.It seems that no matter where you are on the planet, the competitive madness was bred into your cells and reinforced in countless social interactions. But you can learn to watch for comparing mind or “monkey mind” to appear, and to notice when it starts tainting your life. Like a virus, it generally sneaks up on you unseen; what you’ll observe are its symptoms. Here are some telltale diagnostics:

Next: Is Your Mind Going Ape? (page 2)

How Do YOU Measure Up?

compare orange

Well, first question is: How do you measure measuring up?

Second question: Why?

There are indeed very valid reasons for “measuring” ourselves in life. A look at human or societal  “norms” is quite useful in setting personal ambitions; however, the dominant measuring standard should be our own selves – and according to our own goals.

We have evolved, sadly, into a society of comparison for ego’s sake and entirely fabricated definitions of “status”; and it is undoubtedly my biggest life pet peeve. We’re born unique and happy – and then very quickly, we are pitted against each other. The how is fairly simple to dissect, and with motivation and time (lots of time!), I have faith in a course-correct; but the WHY? Seriously: WHY???

“To love is to stop comparing.” Bernard Grasset

How to shift this useless and loveless comparison nonsense? One step at a time, starting with you. Here’s some food for thought:

The Losing Game

By Sonya Derian

Comparison: joy thief.

Take a moment to think of a time when you compared yourself to another person, where you were the one on the LOSING side; maybe you were comparing yourself physically, comparing intellects, speaking ability – whatever.

Think of that moment, and take a minute to notice how it feels in your body. It doesn’t feel very good right?

Now, take a moment to think of a time where you compared yourself to someone else, and you came out on TOP; how does that feel in your body?

Maybe it feels a little better… or maybe not at all. That’s because viewing life as a competition, where you have to constantly be better at whatever — how you look, how you parent, how you write — doesn’t feel very good.

In essence, comparing yourself to others is ALWAYS a losing game.

We all do it – or have done it, at some point in our lives: we compare ourselves to others and gauge where we are based on what we observe them to be doing.

If this was simply an observation, that would be one thing, but in comparing ourselves to others, we often end up judging ourselves: and there’s no worse judge!

If you have ever noticed, it doesn’t matter how many people are on your side, cheering you on: if you can’t get on your own side, you never get past “go”.

The thing about comparison is that there is never a win. How often do we compare ourselves with someone less fortunate than us and consider ourselves blessed? More often, we compare ourselves with someone who we perceive as being, having or doing more: and this just leaves us coming up short.

compare gates

But our minds do want to quantify; our minds want to rank and file and organize information. Our mind wants to know where we fit into the scheme of things: we need to give it something to do. So, instead of training it to stop comparing altogether, why not simply re-direct the comparison to a past and a present self—and keep the comparison within?

We are always becoming more. Who you are today is a result of the decisions you made yesterday. We are always in a state of creation. We decide – and then we decide again; and the direction is always toward expansion. It is our human nature to expand.

compare to no one

So, when you catch yourself comparing yourself to another: stop for a moment and re-direct the thought. Instead of submitting to the temptation to compare yourself to someone else, ask yourself a few questions, instead:

Next: Q’s to Ask Yourself (page 2)

Trusting Life: Just Could Be Your Big Break!

We hear repeatedly from people that they would not change their past for anything – even in the case of tragedies. The reason most given: the lessons learned brought their life to a beautiful place that they never could have even imagined. Do we really need to go through some of these experiences – over and over, to learn some of our lessons?? (I can think of a few I wouldn’t have minded skipping!) I believe the answer is in fact: NO- if we had been living more consciously to begin with… and had identified the first warning signs. But alas, paraphrasing Oprah: first you hear the whisper, then the nudge, then you get a brick upside yo’ head – then the whole damn brick wall falls down all around yo’self!!! Our intuition and our subconscious sees and feels things that aren’t right for us before our conscious mind does, and either creates or tunes into the warnings. If we are living mindlessly, we miss the signs again and again; with practice at being still, listening to our souls, checking in with our bodies, we become more adept at sensing these signs, and believing them the first time!

I came across this fun story of Mark Schulman, a philanthropist and renowned drummer for folks like Foreigner, Billy Idol, Pink, and a situation that he found himself in that could have sent a brick wall tumbling on his career. His story of grace is a reminder of the power of intuition and our choices, and how attitude really can break us – or bring the big break to us.

Mark Schulman

Aaay Oh…Attitude of Opportunity

by Mark Schulman

Be independent of the
good opinion of others!

-Dr. Wayne Dyer

I was rehearsing at the infamous and now defunct, Leed’s Rehearsal Studios in 1992, hired by a local artist with money to do a showcase. While rehearsing, I befriended the manager of Leeds who suggested I audition for Foreigner. I had been a big fan of the band years earlier. At the time I was also touring on and off with an R& B artist named Bobby Caldwell who was known for writing, producing and playing every instrument on his big hit, What You Won’t Do For Love. I loved playing with Bobby. I am a hard hitting drummer and Bobby actually asked me to play harder at one point; I have loved him ever since.

I auditioned for Foreigner in this big airplane hanger. At the time, it was just Mick Jones (the guitar player and founder of the band) and Johnny, the new lead singer/bass player. I was happy with my current situation, so I felt no sense of the desperation or urgency musicians sometimes feel when they are between gigs. This gave me an advantage because I decided to have fun instead of feeling pressure to get the job. This lack of attachment to an outcome was empowering. Because of this Attitude, I just had fun. We jammed on all new song ideas. Mick was not interested in hearing me play any old Foreigner tunes, he just wanted to see what we could create now, and how much fun we could have. I had no idea at the time that the session was being recorded.

Yes you!I also had the Attitude that I was auditioning them. This may sound strange, but by then, as I was in a fortunate place at the time, I decided to be only interested in situations that suited me.

I decided to be more selective about what I allowed into my life.

I believe they sensed this. I also believe that it made me more appealing to the band.

When we listened back to the recordings, we were rockin’. We hung out a bit more, I thanked them for the experience and I left. Within a few days, I got a call from Foreigner’s management telling me that they had narrowed it down to me and another drummer. They wanted to bring us both into the studio for a full day of recording to see how our talents translated on tape. The following week, I went into a studio in Silverlake, California and recorded for about 12 hours. I had fun, they had fun and apparently they were quite happy with my Attitude, Behavior and the recorded tracks. A few days later, I got a call from management to let me know that I was the new drummer for Foreigner.

Strangely, a month passed with no word from Foreigner’s management. Glad I had kept all of my current irons in the fire. I kept working with Bobby Caldwell and playing gigs and sessions in L.A. Finally Kevin Jones, Mick’s brother (and road manager) called with the news that the original singer, the infamous, Lou Gramm was returning to the band. The silence was because they were negotiating the details of his return.

At this point, I was genuinely excited! Lou was the voice of Feels Like the First Time, Hot Blooded, Urgent and I Want to Know What Love Is…This situation now became quite an opportunity for me. The band renegotiated their deal with Atlantic records and hired new management. They had grand plans to record and release a new record and put together a world tour. Additionally, they wanted to make me and the other sidemen, Bruce, Jeff and Thom, actual band members! Up to this point in my career with signed acts; I had always been a hired gun, an employee. This was actualizing one of my childhood dreams of being in a famous band. Then things got strange.

ForeignerAgain, I didn’t hear from the Foreigner camp for many weeks. I was the new drummer of Foreigner, but I heard on the street that Foreigner was recording some new tracks. When I heard this, I immediately called Kevin Jones to find out what was happening. Kevin sheepishly confessed that they hired a producer named Keith Forsey to co-write and produce some new tracks. Keith was the original drummer for Donna Summer in the Disco era and became the protégé for famed producer, Giorgio Moroder. His first major production project was a new solo artist named Billy Idol. Keith facilitated Billy’s success and co-wrote and produced some of Billy’s biggest hits. He also played the drums on Dancin with Myself.

Keith had not heard of me and as a drummer himself, he was quite discriminating about the drum tracks. He chose to bring in his preferred recording drummer, Tal Bergman (a fantastic drummer/producer who has since become another friend of mine) to record with Foreigner. As you can imagine, I was floored to hear this. I felt like my girlfriend had just cheated on me and everyone know but me!

This turned out to be a defining moment for me,
a moment of reaction versus opportunity.

In as much as I felt like screaming, kicking and punching someone, I chose to ask Kevin for Keith’s number. He was a bit caught off guard, but he gave it to me anyway.

I got off the phone and called Keith before my mind could come up with reasons not to! I figured that by now, he must at least know my name. I was on a mission. I believed that this gig was mine and I was going to do whatever I could to own it. There were many things out of my control, but there were definitely things within the realm of what I could do…

Next: Aghh! What Happened to Mark?? (page 2)

Shed Some Weight: Toxic Friends

Let go of dead weight.

Last week we spent some good time looking at our primary relationship and having a heart-to-heart with ourselves as to whether or not our primary relationship was really working for the future we want.

While we’re cleaning house, what other relationships are weighing you down? A lot of the same rules apply when assessing any meaningful relationship, the ultimate question being: does it contribute or contaminate??

To give our primary relationship – and our lives in general, a fighting chance to blossom, let’s consider pulling a few toxic weeds. Here’s an article from IVillage that I found amusing- and useful, in taking a close look at who you might want to turf out and significantly lighten your life:

Time To Break Up: 20 Toxic People to Kick Out of Your Life — Stat!  

Toxic Friends

We all have one or two “friends” who drag us down instead of make us better. If you have someone in your life who’s taking more than they’re giving, it might be time to go your separate ways.

The Office Gossip
Sometimes, it’s nice to take a break in your day to hear the scoop on who’s ass-kissing who and who’s getting the pink slip. But is the office gossip stopping by your desk way too often?Gossips
“The office gossip can be a very destructive force, even if it seems just peripheral; and any interaction with this person calls your own integrity into question in the eyes of your superiors and co-workers,” says Karen Hylen, Ph.D, primary therapist at Summit Malibu Treatment Center. “Engaging the gossip on any level, reinforces a workplace house-of-cards, where perceptions are hugely distorted. Without this type of person in your life, you can focus your energy on your role and make your own assessments of what affects your performance and growth.” It’s deceiving how powerfully this toxicity clings to us outside of the workplace, even when we don’t think we are giving it much merit – beware!

The Ex who Calls for Sex
Sure, it’s nice to have a sex buddy on speed dial, but is their presence in your life adding or taking away value?
“Keeping an ex in your life purely for sexual reasons is essentially building up a barrier to your own happiness,” says Hylen. “By cutting this person out of your life, you can move past old feelings and emotional attachments and in turn open your heart and mind to new experiences and relationships.”

The Sad Sack
You don’t really like them, but you get together out of guilt. The truth is, that’s not good for them or yourself.
“People experience emotions on a very visceral level, taking in their surroundings and feeding off others’ energy,” says Hylen. “It’s more effective emotionally for you to have people in your life who exude positive energy, rather than those who can drain you of the vital life energy you need to maintain your own quality of life.”
The painful truth: You have to give the Sad Sack some space and find friends that are on your level.

Put a ring on itThe Date “On the Fence”
He says he loves spending time with you but he won’t put a ring on it — or even let you leave a toothbrush at his place! She commits to plans only in the n-th hour – when it seems nothing better has come along.  It’s time to tell yourself that you’re worth being “the one” — if not to them, then someone else.
“Being with someone who won’t commit to you on any level or take you seriously as a human being can result in low self-esteem and depressive thoughts or behaviors,” says Hylen. “You are better off being with someone who does not deny you those emotions, which are critical to overall mental health and well-being.”
(SNL version of Beyoncé’s video “Put a Ring on It”, above, is a hoot! – yes, that’s Justin Timberlake! See the entire sketch here: Justin Timberlake parodies Beyoncé. Don’t overlook Zach Galifianakis shaking his booty in the backgroundOMG!!!)

The Pitier
There’s always that sibling, cousin or aunt who is forever trying to fix your life. They mean well, but seriously… buzz off! “A pitying relative who tries to help you in various areas of your life can lead to a belief that you are not self-reliant or independent,” says Hylen. “Not having this person in your life will allow you to make your own mistakes and be accountable for them so you don’t repeat them in the future.”

The Half-Assed Friend
They forget to return calls for months, don’t acknowledge your special occasions and is generally MIA. When you do make plans, they’re always rescheduling at the last minute or showing up super late. “You should dump this ‘friend’ because they do not respect your time or your life,” says Jessica Leroy, psychotherapist and founder of Center for the Psychology of Women. “You need to spend that time with those who do appreciate you as a friend and who are interested in your life.” The verdict: Time to move on to someone who has friendship to give.

The Frenemy
They’re your friend, but also your arch enemy. How is this fun? “People deserve friendships in which they support each other’s triumphs as opposed to bringing each other down,” says LeRoy. “Some people who are a bit more insecure may believe that they deserve this type of friendship, or that this is normal behavior. In reality, supporting each other makes us feel much better about ourselves and our friends.”

The “Old Friend”nothing in common
Maybe it’s a friend from high school or a different time in your life, but if all you have to talk about is the past, it can get old pretty quick. “It’s great to have friends from your past, but if that is all you have to connect on, you’re not moving forward with your lives or making new memories,” says LeRoy. “Live in the present and spend time with people you would like to make new memories with.” The next time they call to make plans take a pass and spend the time with someone in your present -tense!

The Schemer
From asking you to help spy on an ex to involving you in get-rich-quick schemes, they’re always trying to make you an accomplice to shady plans. You might want to spend your time with someone who has more lofty goals and aspirations! “What are you really gaining from this friendship?” asks LeRoy. “It sounds like this person only wants a sidekick who will take the fall with them. You have better things to do with your time.”

The Bad Influence
Sometimes a bad influence can be fun, but this person just brings out the worst in you — from bad eating habits to low-self esteem. “When you only have one thing in common with a friend, and that one thing is not very healthy, it’s time to ask yourself: Is that how I want to be spending my time?” says LeRoy. “Why not spend time with people who you can indulge with occasionally but you also connect with on other levels?” Next time you befriend someone ask yourself: Does this person raise me up or bring me down?

The Hot Mess

Hot mess, where wonderful meets terrible. The type of show you can’t decide is incredibly disgusting, unbelieveable and embarassing or
if it’s plain genius.

Hot MessYou’re always scraping this friend off the floor — literally and figuratively. A night out with them is full of surprises — in a bad way. “If you’re the one always bailing your friend out of difficult situations then you’re the one dealing with the hot mess, not them,” says Barbara Neitlich, L.C.S.W., a Beverly Hills psychotherapist. “Once you release this type of friend out of your life, you will truly recognize how this individual often drew the mental (and sometimes) physical life right out of you.” Remember, you can’t fix friends’ lives until they’re ready to help themselves.

Your Gazillion Facebook Friends
If you’re spending all your time on the computer, chances are you’re missing out on real life. “Shut off the computer, get off the couch and jump into this game we call life,” says Neitlich. “You are better off having a few true friends that you can confide in rather than a bunch of Facebook friends you barely know. Your true friends will stand by you when you really need them. Your Facebook friends may simply log out!” Facebook is a fun pastime, just be sure not to let those online friends take the place of real life ones.

The Broke Buddy
Whether it’s a friend always asking you to spot her at dinner (and never paying you back) or a relative who expects you to pay for his life, remember you are a person and not an ATM. “Get rid of those who don’t pay their way,” says Neitlich. “In time you end up building resentment for always having to be the one to pay. Cutting the cord with these folks allows you to stand your ground as someone who is savvy and mindful of her money!” Think of all the things you can do with that extra cash once you get this person out of your life!

The Office Husband/Wifey
One or both of you are married but you have a pretty serious flirtation going on. “Set boundaries,” says Neitlich. “Stop engaging in the playful banter. You’re better off moving away from this type of temptation, as it almost always ends in disaster.” Even if you swear you’ll never act on your feelings, it’s better not to go there in the first place!

judgemental twats

The Snob
They make you feel bad about your clothes, your car and your staycation. Friends don’t let friends feel like less-thans! “When you consistently allow someone to make you feel badly about yourself, you turn a great deal of mental power over to them,” says Neitlich. “Most of us are pretty critical of ourselves. Do we really need a ‘friend’ who is so critical of us?”

The SWF/M
They wish they had your looks, your relationship, your adorable children…your life. Um, creepy. “This person is a time bomb waiting to go off because they can only take so much envying over what you have,” says Carole Lieberman, MD, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist and award-winning author. “They will change from sucking-up to stealing your cool stuff…or even your partner.”

The Judge Judy
They give unsolicited advice even though you’ve politely asked them to stop. There’s no reason to continue being held in contempt of their court. “Too much time spent in their company will make you doubt every decision you’ve made,” says Dr. Lieberman. “They want to give you a life sentence of insecurity without parole.” Find a friend who’s cool with letting you make your own choices — even if they disagrees with them.

The Bitter Bob/Betty
Everything is negative in their life and spending time with them makes you feel like life sucks. “Bitter people are bad for your health,” says Lieberman. “If you want negativity in your life, you can read the headlines and do away with them.” Life’s too short for this type of attitude. It’s time to break up!

Did they just say that?The Backhander
They give you compliments that somehow also take you down a notch. How do they do that?! “This so-called friend is passive-aggressive and not to be trusted,” says Lieberman. “They’ll smile while they’re twisting the knife in deeper.” The next time they give you a backhanded compliment, show them to your front door.

The Competitor
Whether it’s who took the nicer vacation or who has better parenting skills, they’re always trying to one up you. “It’s exhausting to try to be friends with The Competitor — and not really worth it,” says Lieberman. “They’re just using you to try to feel better about her poor, pathetic self.”

Seek out friends who support you and you’ll be a whole lot happier in all aspects of your life.

 

Friends reflect you.

 

Relationship Choices: Get Real or Get Out?

Purge.YIKES!!  What do you do if you’re in a relationship and you really can’t decide if you should leave it or not?!? It’s gut wrenching: is it a case of intuition – simply recognizing that you want and need more from a partner… or is it a badass case of “the grass is always greener” syndrome? Truth is, I think you really do know.

There are times to grow within a relationship and times to cut loose: you need to dedicate time to focus on this – and of course, mentors are a perfect and safe sounding board to help keep bad behaviour patterns in check during this vulnerable time.  We can enter relationships from a place of health, or with immature ideals, but either way, change occurs – and we have the skills and the desire to go with it or we don’t.  Can you see potential within your relationship for more or different communication; do you have a joint vision; do you know your partner’s needs; do you REALLY know your own needs – and your fears? In my experience, the “grass is greener” thing is most often a sign that you have more self-discovery to do: face it, your needs are either being met or they’re not. What are your dealbreakers?? (Refer back to the postings on  wanting a primary partnership, are we ready, and choosing a partner.)

This is not a one-size-fits-all subject, although I caution you NOT to think your relationship is all that “unique” – that’s where you can get messed up and waste waaayyyy too much time, as in a lot of human nature issues. There really is a universality in human relationships and the more you can relate to and trust this, the more simply your path is revealed. You don’t need to figure out males/females, or your partner – just you. Then speak your truth.

Live for you.Rather than doing several weeks of blogs on this subject, here are five links to articles with slightly differing perspectives on evaluating relationships to get you thinking. Also following: two of my favorite videos re: common couples issues raised in my mentoring sessions.

And just for a little variety and provocation, I’ve also included a “reader” question on The Daily Love blog recently, asking “should I stay in my marriage” and peer-answered by some very wise people, including me! Ask yourself, what would you tell the reader? (Better yet – write the reader: it just may be a letter to yourself!)

Note: the following information: it is based predominantly on situations not involving young children. It is all very transferrable information in any scenario, however, there will be additional considerations when children are involved.

Articles

http://wp.me/P3mvZM-B0 11 signs You Need To Leave Your Relationship; this is the most all-encompassing – read this one if you only read one!

http://wp.me/P3mvZM-AW 20 Signs Your Relationship is Going Nowhere Fast (Sorry); more relevant to relationships rather than marriage

http://wp.me/P3mvZM-AY Love Is Not Enough for a Healthy Marriage; Emotional & Life Skills Necessary for a Healthy Marriage

http://wp.me/P3mvZM-B5 When Is It Time To Leave The Relationship; from more clinical perspective “DiscoveryHealth.com”

http://www.oprah.com/relationships/When-Its-Time-to-Leave-a-Relationship_1; scenarios from 5 couples faced with making the decision to stay in their relationship or not

Videos

 

Next: Question from TDL Reader: Should I Leave? (page 2)

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