Seeds of Advice

Parents want their kids to take their advice. Friends want their friends to take their advice. Teachers want their students to take their advice. Journeymen want novices to take their advice. And they are all very often frustrated to see the other person or persons not making any use of the advice they were given. We can keep the advice but let’s get rid of the frustration.

573 Relax and Succeed - Everything happens for a reasonFrustration is painful for you to experience and in cases like the ones above, a lot of frustration gets generated by your unmet expectation that the person would do as you suggested. But of course if you studied yourself you would know that you too have ignored most of the advice you were given. And it’s not that you or they are rude people. It’s that advice exists in the world of words. It’s an abstract mind-based concept. But we learn in the real world. But that isn’t to say that the advice is useless.

The simple fact is, we do need to go the wrong way before we can determine the right way. So it is often the heat of experience that germinates the seeds of advice. It’s when we’re suffering that we’ll recall advice we were given and—juxtaposed to our pain—we profoundly understand the advice. It is burned into our consciousness by the pain experience. That is the trade-off. Yes you experience pain, but in doing so you reduce your chances of repeating the same mistake.

When dealing with individuals, ideally I would wait for people to ask for advice before giving it, but there are obviously situational reasons where giving it is the only thing that makes sense—this blog being a case in point. But even if you do give it and the person appears to ignore it, you will have planted that seed. And in the right sun, with just the right moisture and fertile soil, that seed can suddenly take hold minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or even years later. These are the aha moments when we finally understand why something in our past was the way it was.

Don’t feel frustrated that your advice is rarely taken immediately. It’s a good lesson on how suffering is built on a bedrock of expectation. Just say whatever you feel a motivation to say and trust yourself. Then know that’s just the seed. Don’t even expect to see it for some time. Let it surprise you. And when it does, you’ll know you made a difference.

573 Relax and Succeed - Never think that what you have to offerLessons taught, lessons learned, and lessons understood are three different things. Too many times people want to immediately go from step one to step three with no gap in between. That is crazy. It doesn’t work that way. People need time to absorb new concepts. You’re no different. So we have to stop being in such a rush—just because we’ve made a new rule or got people’s commitments, things are still going to happen before we comprehend the advice well enough to be able to put it to truly good use.

Loving people is even better than advice, but caring via advice isn’t a bad substitute. Tell people what you want them to know. And then fully expect them to go bump into the universe in all kinds of ways that defy your advice. But if you are wise and if you’re not influenced by ugly past feelings, then the odds are people will pick up your advice and if anything, hone it further.

Care about people. Friends and strangers alike. This week I’m going to teach a new Canadian how to drive on snow and ice. It’s going to feel good knowing he’ll feel safer, and I might be able to save him from who knows what trouble. That sharing feels good. So share advice if you feel it’s warranted. Just don’t expect people to implement it until they can own it themselves, and the best way to do that is for them to have meditated on it long enough that they eventually see the same value you do. Now go have yourself an awesome day!

peace. s

Embracing Wisdom

My husband and are always fighting about the kids. He says I never listen to him on parenting but why should I when the things he says are ridiculous. If it were up to him even our boys would be pregnant and all three of the kids would have flunked out and be in jail. How can I get him to understand that I’m not going to listen to stupid ideas but I would really appreciate it if he would come up with some good ones because I’m really tired of doing all of this myself.

signed,
Married Single Mother

Dear Married,

Wow. You are busy. I could see why you would be wanting a slave. And that’s of course what your husband would be if he was raising his kids according to only your personal guidelines, thereby ignoring the value of his own wisdom and experience. Look, I’m sorry to be blunt but I had to rewrite your question just to tame it down for public consumption. Simply put: talking about your husband in those terms is unkind, unreasonable, unloving and most certainly unhealthy for your marriage.

421 Relax and Succeed - Hearing is simply sound wavesI’m sure you’re an able and dedicated parent and that you live your life always intending to do the best you can. But it is arrogant to assume you have a personal monopoly on all of the parenting skills. I guarantee that if I ask the kids they’re more likely to list their father as a guide more than you. Because just in the provocatively aggressive way you phrased your question I’m able to tell that you’re extremely likely to come across to them as a tyrant, whereas he would then be seen as a wise man deserving of pity. He may not be tough but he’s got good lessons on how to stay out of trouble.

Let’s talk about listening since that’s what your husband asked you to do more of. Listening is not just hearing someone and then comparing the shape of their thoughts to the shape of your thoughts and then telling them yes if the shapes are the same or no if they are different. You’re not here to judge anyone (yourself included). As I often point out to couples arguing over parenting, the person each of you is arguing with is the one person you chose to have children with out of a possible 3.5 billion other candidates. Surely that person’s as trustworthy as a $25 a night babysitter. You did choose to attach yourselves to each other for life. So maybe if you had that much confidence you could also believe that they might know a thing or two about how to deal with other human beings they deeply care about.

So you’re both worth listening to. And real listening is when you take another person’s idea seriously. You listen for what the objectives are, the potential, the challenges and the rewards and then you weigh that and decide whether or not to act based on your results, not on an initial rejection simply because the idea doesn’t line up with your preconceived notions of how things “should” be. Your opinion should be a flexible thing based on experience. So you can’t reject things because they don’t align with your current opinion, otherwise you would never have any experiences with the potential to change that opinion. If you don’t do that you’re essentially saying that you’ve prevented yourself from growing through experience.

421 Relax and Succeed - Where the ego singsDon’t just hear the words and then spew back your pre-recorded answer. Actually engage with what they’re saying. Take it seriously. Do thought experiments with it. Truly wonder if it could work. And if you’re unsure, feel free to test it. But you can’t say you respect someone if you won’t even try something that they are strongly recommending as being good parenting. Surely you both know that you feel the same way about your kids. They’re like extensions of yourselves. No parent has a monopoly on the feelings of love or protectiveness that accompanies having children. Both care deeply, and all advice comes from that place, no matter how much it might clash with your current beliefs.

Your spouse should be the (or one of the) most respected advisers in your life. And because you’re married, you will already align on most things. But the stronger your disagreement the greater the difference of opinion. So those are the cases in which both parties should be most prudent. Because if there’s enough to worry about that you’re going to actually get angry, then the price is high enough that it’s worth it to tread carefully and ensure we’re making the wisest decisions.

Our partner’s lives are deeply intertwined with our own. It therefore behooves us to take their thoughts into serious account. And to do that we really must learn to quiet our own judgmental inner voice and instead just focus on carefully listening to the wisdom that is being so lovingly offered to us.

Stop busying your mind thinking of replies or opinions when people are still talking. Just listen instead. Listen as an activity unto itself. Do this and you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve been missing, and how helpful it will be now that you can hear it.

Listen carefully. Enjoy your days.

peace. s

Losing Weight

198 Relax and Succeed - Shame graphicI’ve said it before: one of the most insidious forces in human consciousness is advertising. Add to that the limitless motivation of capitalism and you have something really dangerous to the human psyche. Of course everyone believes they aren’t affected by advertising, which is precisely why it works. People watch it assuming they can defend themselves against it, meanwhile the advertising is busy re-wiring those very same defense mechanisms in its favour.

A vicious example of this is diets. I recently came across a woman who spoke from direct experience, and when I read it I immediately thought that everyone would benefit from hearing her story—from seeing what things look like from the other side of the table.

With her permission, here, for you, is Iris Higgins piece:

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An Open Apology to All of my Weight Loss Clients

I worked at a popular weight loss company for 3 years. I loved my job there. I LOVED my clients. I loved making a connection and sharing my knowledge. And I learned a lot about nutrition, about dieting and weight loss and what works and what doesn’t. My job was to be a weight loss consultant, and I learned that job very well. I can design a 1200 calorie meal plan, tell you which activities are most likely to make the number on the scale go down, and how many carbs are in a cup of rice. I can talk the diet game like it’s my business…because it was. Volumize with vegetables. Don’t go too long in between meals. Start with a bowl of broth-based soup. Are you drinking enough water? Did you exercise enough? Did you exercise too much? Let’s look at your food journal…

This is not an anti-weight loss company post (although I could write that too). It’s a letter to each and every woman that I unknowingly wronged. My heart is beating a little bit faster as I write this, and so I know this needs to be said. The words have been playing in my head for months. Sometimes it just takes time for me to get up the courage to say the right thing.

So here goes:

Dear Former Weight Loss Clients (you know who you are):

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry because I put you on a 1200 calorie diet and told you that was healthy. I’m sorry because when you were running 5x a week, I encouraged you to switch from a 1200 calorie diet to a 1500 calorie diet, instead of telling you that you should be eating a hell of a lot more than that. I’m sorry because you were breastfeeding and there’s no way eating those 1700 calories a day could have been enough for both you and your baby. I’m sorry because you were gluten intolerant and so desperate to lose weight that you didn’t put that on your intake form. But you mentioned it to me later, and I had no idea the damageyou were doing to your body. I’m sorry because I think I should have known. I think I should have been educated better before I began to tell all of you what was right or wrong for your body.

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I’m sorry because I made you feel like a failure and so you deliberately left a message after the center had closed, telling me you were quitting. I thought you were awesome and gorgeous, and I’m sorry because I never told you that. I’m sorry because you came in telling me you liked to eat organic and weren’t sure about all the chemicals in the food, and I made up some BS about how it was a “stepping stone.” I’m sorry because many of you had thyroid issues and the LAST thing you should have been doing was eating a gluten-filled, chemically-laden starvation diet. I’m sorry because by the time I stopped working there, I wouldn’t touch that food, yet I still sold it to you.

 

I’m sorry because it’s only years later that I realize just how unhealthy a 1200 calorie diet was. I stayed on a 1200-1500 calorie diet for years, so I have the proof in myself. Thyroid issues, mood swings, depression, headaches…oh and gluten intolerance that seemed to “kick in” after about a month of eating the pre-packaged food. Was it a coincidence? Maybe.

I’m sorry because you had body dysmorphic disorder, and it was so painful to hear the things you said about yourself. You looked like a model, and all of my other clients were intimidated by you, asked me why you were there because clearly you didn’t need to lose weight. And yet you would sit in my office and cry, appalled that a man might see you naked and be disturbed by the fat that didn’t actually exist. I’m sorry because you should have been seeing a therapist, not a weight loss consultant.

198-relax-and-succeed-it-is-no-measure.jpgI’m sorry because you were young and so beautiful and only there because your mother thought you needed to lose weight. And because there were too many of you like that. Girls who knew you were fine, but whose mothers pushed that belief out of you until you thought like she did. Until you thought there was something wrong with you. And the one time I confronted your mother, you simply got switched to a different consultant. I think I should have made more of a stink, but I didn’t. I’m sorry because you were in high school and an athlete, and I pray that you weren’t screwed up by that 1500 calorie diet. Seriously, world? Seriously? A teenage girl walks in with no visible body fat and lots of muscle tone, tells you she’s a runner and is happy with her weight…but her mother says she’s fat and has to lose weight and so we help her do just that. As an individual, as women, as a company, hell, as a nation, we don’t stand up for that girl? What is wrong with us? There ain’t nothing right about that. Nothing.

I’m sorry because every time you ate something you “shouldn’t” or ate more than you “should,” I talked about “getting back on the bandwagon.” I cringe now every time someone uses that phrase. When did the way we eat become a bandwagon? When did everyone stop eating and become professional dieters? I’m sorry because I get it now. If you’re trying to starve your body by eating fewer calories than it needs, of course it’s going to fight back. I used to tell you that then, when you wanted to eat less than 1200 calories a day. The problem was, I thought 1200 was enough. I thought that was plenty to support a healthy body. Why did I believe that for so long? I’m sorry because I wasn’t trying to trick you or play games to get your money. I believed the lies we were fed as much as you did.

 

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And it wasn’t just the company feeding them to me. It was the doctors and registered dietitians on the medical advisory board. It was the media and magazines confirming what I was telling my clients. A palm-sized portion of lean chicken with half a sweet potato and a salad was PLENTY. No matter that you had “cravings” afterward. Cravings are a sign of underlying emotional issues. Yeah, sure they are. I’m a hypnotherapist with a past history of binge eating disorder. I KNOW cravings are a sign of underlying emotional issues. Except when they’re not. Except when they’re a sign that your body needs more food and you’re ignoring it. Then they’re a sign that your 1200 calorie diet is horseshit. Then they’re a sign that you’ve been played.

And that’s mostly why I’m sorry. Because I’ve been played for years, and so have you, and inadvertently, I fed into the lies you’ve been told your whole life. The lies that say that being healthy means nothing unless you are also thin. The lies that say that you are never enough, that your body is not a beautiful work of art, but rather a piece of clay to be molded by society’s norms until it becomes a certain type of sculpture. And even then, it is still a work in progress.

I owe you an apology, my former client and now friend, who I helped to lose too much weight. Who I watched gain the weight back, plus some. Because that’s what happens when you put someone on a 1200 calorie diet. But I didn’t know. If you’re reading this, then I want you to know that you have always been beautiful. And that all these fad diets are crap meant to screw with your metabolism so that you have to keep buying into them. I think now that I was a really good weight loss consultant. Because I did exactly what the company wanted (but would never dare say). I helped you lose weight and then gain it back, so that you thought we were the solution and you were the failure. You became a repeat client and we kept you in the game. I guess I did my job really well.

And now I wonder, did I do more harm than good? When I left, you all wrote me cards and sent me flowers. I still have those cards, the ones that tell me how much I helped you, how much I cared. But I’m friends with some of you on Facebook now, and I look at your photos and you look happy. And beautiful. And not because you lost weight since I saw you last. But because I see YOU now. You. Not a client sitting in my chair, asking for my assistance in becoming what society wants. But you, a smart and lovely woman, who really doesn’t need some random company telling her there’s something wrong with her.

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So I’m sorry because when you walked in to get your meal plan, I should have told you that you were beautiful. I should have asked you how you FELT. Were you happy? Did you feel physically fit? Were you able to play with your kids? There were so many of you who never needed to lose a pound, and some of you who could have gained some. And maybe sometimes I told you that. But not enough. Not emphatically. Because it was my job to let you believe that making the scale go down was your top priority. And I did my job well.

I am sorry because many of you walked in healthy and walked out with disordered eating, disordered body image, and the feeling that you were a “failure.” None of you ever failed. Ever. I failed you. The weight loss company failed you. Our society is failing you.

Just eat food. Eat real food, be active, and live your life. Forget all the diet and weight loss nonsense. It’s really just that. Nonsense.

And I can’t stop it. But I can stop my part in it. I won’t play the weight loss game anymore. I won’t do it to my body, and I won’t help you do it to yours. That’s it. End game.

Originally Posted at: http://www.yourfairyangel.com/index.html

                                                               
Love yourself the way you are. Have joy and curiosity and courage lead you through life, and let however you look emerge naturally from a life you love. That is true freedom. The freedom to be loved for who you fundamentally are.

Have a wonderful day. And let the beauty within you out. No matter what you weigh.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Ferrett Steinmetz: Dear Daughter

188 Relax and Succeed - If you love a flower
Thanks to a friend I recently stumbled on to a blog entry that demonstrated unusually high levels of character. Most people claim to have principles, but those will quickly evaporate if there is any social pressure applied. Our sense of belonging is so strong that our ego will often make enormous sacrifices to try to fit in—including being hypocritical about our principles.

If someone really believes in equality then they accept that their children will need to; suffer to grow; and they deserve to have the same shot at life that their parents did. Maybe an even better one if we all continue to develop our compassion through developing our consciousness as this father has. This is very simply an honest, loving presentation of how open and empathetic true love is and I invite you to enjoy this excellent piece of writing:

There’s a piece of twaddle going around FetLife called 10 Rules For Dating My Daughter, which is packed with “funny” threats like this:

“Rule Four: I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilising some kind of ‘barrier method’ can kill you. Let me elaborate: when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.”

All of which boil down to the tedious, “Boys are threatening louts, sex is awful when other people do it, and my daughter is a plastic doll whose destiny I control.”

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Look, I love sex. It’s fun. And because I love my daughter, I want her to have all of the same delights in life that I do, and hopefully more. I don’t want to hear about the fine details because, heck, I don’t want those visuals any more than my daughter wants mine. But in the abstract, darling, go out and play.

Because consensual sex isn’t something that men take from you; it’s something you give. It doesn’t lessen you to give someone else pleasure. It doesn’t degrade you to have some of your own. And anyone who implies otherwise is a man who probably thinks very poorly of women underneath the surface.

Yes, all these boys and girls and genderqueers may break your heart, and that in turn will break mine. I’ve held you, sobbing, after your boyfriend cheated on you, and it tore me in two. But you know what would tear me in two even more? To see you in a glass cage, experiencing nothing but cold emptiness at your fingers, as Dear Old Dad ensured that you got to experience nothing until he decided what you should like.

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You’re not me. Nor are you an extension of my will. And so you need to make your own damn mistakes, to learn how to pick yourself up when you fall, to learn where the bandages are and to bind up your own cuts. I’ll help. I’ll be your consigliere when I can, the advisor, the person you come to when all seems lost. But I think there’s value in getting lost. I think there’s a strength that only comes from fumbling your own way out of the darkness.

You’re your own person, and some of the things you’re going to love will strike me as insane, ugly, or unenjoyable. This is how large and wonderful the world is! Imagine if everyone loved the same thing; we’d all be battling for the same ten people. The miracle is how easily someone’s cast-offs become someone else’s beloved treasure.

And I would be a sad, sad little man if I manipulated you into becoming a cookie-cutter clone of my desires. Love the music I hate, watch the movies I loathe, become a strong woman who knows where her bliss is and knows just what to do to get it.

Now, you’re going to get bruised by life, and sometimes bruised consensually. But I won’t tell you sex is bad, or that you’re bad for wanting it, or that other people are bad from wanting it from you if you’re willing to give it. I refuse to perpetuate, even through the plausible deniability of humor, the idea that the people my daughter is attracted to are my enemy.

I’m not the guard who locks you in the tower. Ideally, I am my daughter’s safe space, a garden to return to when the world has proved a little too cruel, a place where she can recuperate and reflect upon past mistakes and know that here, there is someone who loves her wholeheartedly and will hug her until the tears dry.

That’s what I want for you, sweetie. A bold life filled with big mistakes and bigger triumphs.

Now get out there and find all the things you fucking love, and vice versa.

Ferrett Steinmetz
http://www.theferrett.com

True love looks and feels like freedom. Share as much of it as you can.

peace and love. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.