Internal Interventions

We have done the meditations and we’ve started to learn: 1) the act of switching emotions; 2) the act of patience taken in order to decide if an emotion should be changed or experienced; and 3) we’ve gotten to know how our emotions impact our physical self so that we have clear indications of when we’re happy and when we’re otherwise.

872 Relax and Succeed - Dear uncertaintyWe use our posture, a smile, our tone of voice, or a manner of walking–anything that is likely to incite activity in the parts of our brain where we’re better wired-up for easy happiness. This is like when we teach little kids to have a happy place.

As we’ve discussed, we can have some go-to thoughts that we like, but if we don’t manage to grab those better thoughts in the heat of a moment, we must make sure not to add to our negative narrative by scolding ourselves for having missed the opportunity to take those emotional reigns.

We have to learn several things: a general awareness of ourselves; an emerging understanding of how our psychological self emerges within our physical being; and the wisdom necessary to know when to change to how we feel, versus the wisdom of knowing when to accept things as they are.

It is perfectly useful to us to become aware of an emotion and still not do anything about it. If we’re initially upset that we didn’t escape a ‘technically unnecessary’ bad feeling, then that means we have fully accepted that we can change them. We just haven’t refined the skills associated with switching, or our acceptance in cases where we don’t switch.

Just our awareness alone is a bigger part of this than we realize at the start.

When we change emotional tones it does feel really nice pretty much immediately. But even when we succeed at that, we’ll still be on tilted ground and we’ll have to stay conscious to stay balanced. If we sense that an external source did anything that we felt exacerbated our issue, then our recovery might well slide backwards into ego emotions immediately.

But that’s fine too. We have to come to know this landscape in order to master it.

872 Relax and Succeed - Those who don't

We don’t need to change or alter our emotions as much as we need to just slow them all down so we can see how they form more naturally. Our emotional state is effectively where we live so we should know our own currents and eddies.

As we study ourselves our knowledge grows and we will find ourselves intervening with ourselves and others –sometimes in surprising and seemingly unintentional ways. It’s as though wisdom is speaking or acting through us.

These aren’t pieces of wisdom we calculate using brain knowledge, these are more the things we know through a more immediate wisdom. These are those moments where we suddenly ‘get’ something, or the way we know we’ve fallen in love.

Even in less profound situations than finding love, by quieting our thought-based emotions, our wise self often knows what to do in a profound way. But it does need access to the steering wheel of our mind.

If our ego is busy trying to steer around pain then it can dominate the steering wheel for so long that the real us falls asleep –which is problematic, because in the end our ego won’t really avoid any pain, but all its useless swerving will create a lot of unnecessary suffering.

We can benefit by seeing the ’emotional us’ as someone who is very simply addicted to the chemistry for our Dominant Negative Emotion. It’s why people with an abusive parent will date abusive people, or even why people will go to horror films to intentionally frighten themselves, or date perpetually sad people.

Everyone’s hunger for each chemical varies, but our Dominant Negative Emotion is one worth knowing because we will subconsciously seek it whether it is good for us or not.

By changing or even muting that emotion some percentage of the time we will instill in ourselves this capability. Over time it will become so ordinary that someone else is likely to eventually describe our ability as our personality. We’ll be referred to as extremely patient, or extraordinarily compassionate or forgiving, and that will feel good.

But again, this isn’t about us looking good to others, it’s about us seeing the truth and being selfishly authentic. We act in accordance with feeling ‘right’ with ourselves. The byproduct happens to be that it leads us to generally be good others. But that part was up to the universe, not us.

872 Relax and Succeed - If you want to liveIf we’re truly free then we won’t be as willing to bow to counter-productive social norms. Others might see us as difficult or arrogant, but really what’s happening inside is that we’re focusing on the things that matter instead of pleasing others to no meaningful end.

Yes, the wrapping paper on anything says something. Politeness has value. But that’s messaging. The contents are what ultimately count. It’s fine to wrap something up beautifully, but only if it isn’t to disguise the fact that it’s not really what it purports to be. People’s wisdom will eventually spot the fakes.

We should see our ego as more distinct from us. We should see it as a literal other person. Enhance that distance. It will help us see that our ego is only our shadow. We can’t do things by changing the shape of our shadow, we must alter what is happening within us. When we see the world differently we behave in a different way and thereby we cast a different shadow.

Let’s all spend the next few days focused on body awareness and listening to our ego as a separate entity. If we can catch ourselves a few times doing each, then we’ll have done well. Even if we need some post-it notes to remind us of our objective, if we’re serious about doing these meditations then we will already have advanced our awareness considerably. We deserve to feel very good about that.

Let’s go have a great day.

peace. s

Parental Limitations

Our mind could have any habits or choose to recall any part of its past, but our very sense of identity means that we get up every morning and load the same software-us into the hardware-us. That brain could be bold instead of shy. It would just have to do one instead of the other. But we generally don’t. We generally surrender that freedom and instead we play out the role we’ve unconsciously written for ourselves. That’s what our ego’s for—it recites who we are to us. If we’re not constantly reminded about our limitations who knows what we might try?

677 Relax and Succeed - A teacher is never a giver of truthI was fortunate enough to have two parents that didn’t really set limits for me. They were stricter than most of my friends parents in most ways, but much more relaxed and open in the most important way. I was expected to live up to commitments and carry my own share of the family chores and pass in school etc. etc., and rather than an allowance I had to pay room and board, but I was not pushed toward any sports or any grades or any post-secondary or employment choices. My parents spent more time asking me who I was as opposed to telling me who to become. That’s huge. That, in my experience, was the biggest fundamental difference in how I was raised. Now, when I asked Mom about this tremendous wisdom, she simply said,“Oh we learned from your [much older] brothers that you can’t really tell a kid what to do.” So they focused on principles and let me find my own way and that has lead to a fantastic life that I’m very happy to have lived.

As with many parents mine each took on different roles. Mom was the one who taught me to follow rules and Dad taught me to question who made the rules and their value. Mom taught me to be polite, Dad taught me to respect others. Mom taught me to vote, my Dad taught me to care for others just as much as for myself or those I loved. Mom made sure I lived up to my commitments regardless of my personal resistance and Dad made sure that I understood that apologies helped people feel better. Mom wanted me to be responsible. Dad wanted me to have fun. Mom wanted me to be a good citizen and Dad wanted me to be a good friend.

677 Relax and Succeed - The rules for being amazingI routinely get all aspects of this wrong but I nevertheless know that I’m always genuinely pointed in a loving, caring direction and so I live without regrets or a sense of judgment. I respect others so much that they are welcome to not like me. If I’m going to be a specific way it only makes sense that I won’t mesh with some people. Meccano can’t be Lego. My parents acceptance of whatever I did as long as it was respectful means that I feel good as long as I am respecting other’s perspectives as much as my own. I may not always agree, but I’m free to have my views and I have no conflict with them having theirs. People are welcome to have their conflicts with me but I do not have any with them. It’s very peaceful.

People could easily look at my life and see that I could have used the skills from my accident in a different way. They can see that I could have done more of this or that, made more money, been more famous or had more status or whatever. But in this weird subtle way, the way I was raised didn’t lead to any of those desires. But it did create a real value around the idea of freedom, respect and openness. I like that I never hold grudges, never hate people, and that I find it easy to forgive. I can’t imagine what money or fame could get me that would equal the value of just thinking enough of others and of myself that I essentially have no real quarrel with anyone. It’s a nice, simple, clean way to live.

We can teach kids how to manage money and understand how loans work and we can teach them to change the flapper in their own toilet or the oil in their car. But if we don’t teach them to value their own life enough to enjoy it then we have spent all of our time paving perfect roads that ultimately lead nowhere. Life is not a destination. There is no particular perch from where it can be lived in total happiness. But at least if happiness is a priority then the child builds a life around what brings them joy rather than what brings them externals. A nice car is only there to bring joy anyway, so why not skip the expensive middle man and go straight to the joy? But that’s not even on the menu unless someone has separated the idea of the car and the joy. One is to get the other, it is not the other itself.

677 Relax and Succeed - My philosophy isIf you want the best way to teach a person to value joy, value it yourself. Laugh more, do more things that are frivolous but joy-filled. Stop teaching kids how to protect themselves from bad things without telling them how to go and get good things. You need both for a successful life. What you don’t need is a cookie-cutter pre-conceived idea of who your children are. Let them be known to you and support the life they choose for themselves just as you wish the people around you would have been fully supportive in whatever you chose. I had that in life. It feels fantastic to have that support. It breeds a lot of confidence and that’s also where a lot of happiness resides.

Don’t worry so much about loading your kid up with every possible skill. They’ll get hurt terribly just like you did. Everyone does. But that’s okay as long as they know what to do between disasters. As long as they wring some joy out of those in-between times they’ll be fine. That’s a lot of life. Most people die without ever having even started to live. So just love and respect your kids and teach them to value their own enjoyment of life and a lot of the rest will just sort itself out. The best thing you can possibly do is be the best version of yourself that you can. Enjoy your own life. The rest is osmosis.

peace. s