You’re Gay and No One Knows

Hi.

Welcome. I appreciate you checking in. You’re in the midst of one of the bigger moments in life and I don’t want you to feel alone. You’re safe here. You can be whatever you want, including being confused about what you want. I just want to give you a better sense of the context you’re in so you can use that awareness to help you make decisions about your life.

First off, you started off unsure if you were gay or not. That was hard enough in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s when gay people were just starting to be public, but at least then you were only choosing between straight and gay. Today you’re in the new millennium and you’re dealing with the erasure of all the lines, so now it’s harder to tell if you’re gay or maybe bi or is that a trans feeling…?

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter which one you are, they’re all okay. In reality we’re on a spectrum, we’re not all divided up into neatly named pie slices, so the words don’t matter. But if you’re anything other than straight, you’ll still have to figure out how to manage people that feel threatened by you.

By threatened, all I mean is that they were taught that the world is divided into pie slices and they believe that sexuality is just one big pie. There are no other slices as far as they’re concerned. And yet there you are, proving you exist. That’s pretty challenging for someone who has no storage place for you in their brain. It’s literally just as hard for them to imagine homosexuality as it is for you to imagine heterosexuality, (or possibly monosexuality).

Your family might respond lovingly and supportively. But if they don’t that doesn’t mean they don’t approve. Parents love their kids, so if the parent knows some other parents who won’t approve of their kid, then that scares them. They don’t want you to get hurt. And yes, they’ll worry about what people think of them just like you worry about what people will think of you.

They’re right to be afraid. Some people can be very ugly when they’re scared. If your parents or relatives were taught to be very religious, depending on how the religion manifests, you might find them the most frightened. They’ll not only be worried about you being physically attacked, they’ll worry for your soul in eternity. It’s a generous and kind motivation–to save your soul–it’s just misguided by some beliefs that many people don’t share. Focus on their intentions, not their reactions and it’ll be easier to see their true motivations.

Keep in mind, any time we’re in any kind of minority it can inadvertently lead to us believe that maybe we’re wrong. In a way it’s nice that we trust our fellow citizens so much, and yet generational changes mean that we can easily get confused about what’s acceptable to those around us. Trust yourself. If you only want to be yourself and you have zero desire to victimize anyone else, then you’re very likely on the right track.

Remember, these times are some of the most emotionally tumultuous that you will ever experience in your lifetime. These are likely your first huge emotions, so this will have some really roller-coaster parts to it. But don’t think when it’s intense and scary that it’s wrong. Life’s like that sometimes, especially during the big stuff.

Just like everyone else before you, you too will get your sexuality sorted out in good time. We all just naturally feel a little wobblier when we’re entering new territory, so it’s important to have faith in your very best guild: your self.

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.

MoK: Musical Chairs

1109-relax-and-succeed-mok-we-may-not-have-it-all-togetherWorry happens in two directions. We can worry about ourselves or we can worry about others and/or the outside world. Neither one actually is an action in the world, both are thought-spins that decrease our ability to act simply due the fact that worrying takes both time and energy.

If you study the concept of worry closely enough you will see that everyone worries about the same thing: belonging. Humans are pack animals, so belonging is at our core. Not belonging is both lonely and risky, whereas belonging is to thrive.

For a child, not belonging to their school social structures creates stress. The human mind knows it’s natural state is connection to others, so when a child has their belonging threatened they will experience stress. This can happen via a parent or teacher or a fellow student inadvertently communicating that a child will not belong to the successful strata of society unless their performance improves on some front; social, intellectual or physical.

1109-relax-and-succeed-mok-if-you-want-to-go-fast-go-aloneAdults are also prone to worry because they also believe that their appearance, their level of success or their social skills may lead to them never being accepted at work, in a relationship, or with friends. Essentially everything a human being does is designed to increase their level of belonging to society’s various groups. There’s safety in numbers.

Since you’re doing this and others are too, it becomes a bizarre game of musical chairs where everyone wants to sit, and yet everyone senses there aren’t enough chairs. This leaves people permanently on guard or, in other words, worried. So rather than try to be the best chair-sitter, today will be about how you can add more places to sit.

Group cohesiveness is a group activity. It doesn’t really matter who goes first, or whose need is greatest, the fact remains that the more people feel a part of a group the healthier they will be and the more important maintaining the health of the group will be to them. In short, giving begets giving.

1109-relax-and-succeed-mok-before-you-pass-judgmentTo use the musical chair metaphor, we can remove our own worry by surrendering the idea that we need a chair for ourselves. We can remove another’s worry by informing them that if they do not get a chair themselves, that we will offer them our lap, and if that isn’t enough to allay their fears, we can extend the offer to say that they can have the entire chair.

There is no guarantee that this will create belonging–sometimes it won’t–but precisely because we are all pack animals, cooperation is still the most likely route to increased cooperation and so, over time, people all end up coming to that conclusion. It’s just a matter of when.

If people can either have our lap or the whole chair, it then becomes difficult for them to not offer their own chair or lap to us. This isn’t to say they will offer it, but over time they’ll discover they can’t always win, and so the best safety net is ultimately to work together. If an entire room of musical chairs does this it essentially means no one is ever without a place.

Your job today is to find someone who is worried; about what doesn’t matter. Your only job today is to make it clear to that person that you will not remove yourself from their life. You simply have to find a way to communicate to them that your support for them is truly unconditional, meaning you don’t expect perfection from them. They’ll always have a seat with you.

1109-relax-and-succeed-mok-those-who-have-a-strong-senseWithout the worry that perfection is required they are free to relax into themselves, and that relaxation is the type of security that soon translates to generosity. If you have no worries about your own sense of belonging you naturally start proving your strength and capability by offering others the chance to feel that way too. It’s just human nature.

Today, when you see a person struggling with belonging, reach out to them. Offer them that unconditional support. In doing so you will prove you have enough because you can give, and by giving you will begin to build the bonds that successfully tie together a happy and confident society.

Find your example and act. Because anything you do for another is truly something you’re, in a wonderful way, doing for yourself. We’re all in this together. It’s time we started making that clearer. And don’t forget to enjoy the process. After all, you’re doing something very nice by alleviating another’s worry, so feel good about that and enjoy your day.

peace. s

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

The Disposable Life

989-relax-and-succeed-no-amount-of-security-is-worth-the-sufferingThe Paralympics are currently on. I actually liked when they were called the Special Olympics because to me it is notable and special when someone can do something with less than everyone else needs to do it, as was evidenced in this post from earlier in the year.  I’m not being nice to anyone by being impressed by all that, I’m deep-down inspired by what other human beings can show me we’re capable of.

This brings up the question of what moves us forward in life? At these Paralympics I see smiles and achievements and connections to teams and respect for competitors and lots of physical health and travel and excitement, and none of these things are contained in our limbs. Just as the blind know happiness, the deaf have heard grief. The experiences in our consciousness are what life is made of. Your body is what delivers you to the situations where those experiences take place.

The people who repeatedly choose negative experiences don’t recognise their choices. Once when I was living in Australia I met a very religious man. He was kind in the sense that he was very keen to warn me about all of the potential dangers in the world but those fears had made him extremely angry all the time.

989-relax-and-succeed-worrying-does-not-empty-tomorrowRather than be happy about his wife’s uncle building them a beautiful playhouse for the kids, he worried they would get up to no good in it and so he tore the door off and placed the playhouse right outside the back door of the main house. The kids naturally sought privacy so they mostly just stored things in it. They were only allowed to see religious films and read religious books. They never went out and only mixed with people from their church who were similarly cloistered.

This unfortunately turned the kids into huge outsiders at their school. They were teased for not being aware of anything really modern and they were afraid to participate in anything. They had however seen their father get angry a lot so they were both good at having hot, fast tempers. When they weren’t upset they were mostly depressed because they had no example of what joy or fun looked like. Their parents rarely spoke.

I was fully aware the wife was addicted to TV and profoundly unhappy to the point of abusing prescription drugs. The kids lives grew progressively worse as they matured and sought greater freedom of choice and their angry father soon had them on prescription drugs too. And yet it’s important to note, they had inherited money so they had no need to even work, and everyone was healthy other than emotionally. They could have travelled anywhere but chose to go nowhere.

989-relax-and-succeed-someone-is-happySo this is important: how is someone who lost their legs prior to a huge accomplishment crying at hearing their anthem played while they’re on a podium when this entire family is drugged and miserable and they have everything going for them? Because life doesn’t happen outside of us it happens inside of us.

The miserable family built a rigid idea of doing the right thing and they’re killing themselves contorting themselves into that preconceived shape. Meanwhile the happy group continue to be bold or even got bolder about life and they chased huge dreams. There are no dreams in that Australian family. There are only fears. While one group creates dangers to hide from the other group creates new space within themselves to allow for more expansion. One life goes up, the other goes down. The choice is always ours.

Will you make the most of what you have or will you hide from life? Because you’ll make that choice each moment of each day, and whether you like it or not, your lifetime is made of what you choose most.

peace. s

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

Something’s Gotta Give

971 Relax and Succeed - c'mon inner peaceWe’ve seen it reflected in elections and unrest around the world. We can see it in the fact that the world never really has bounced back from the economic card game that collapsed in 2008. Once people had maxed out their credit trying to survive the world hit a limit. With no more money available and no ability to work harder or longer, even in the richest countries there are a lot of scared people and frightened individuals create an angry and defensive society.

Added to the financial stress is time stress. Everyone’s rushed. Everyone’s phone now gives work access to them 24 hours a day and work will use that time if it can get it. Work isn’t human. Work is a creation of mankind. It is an animal that perpetually wants to be fed more and more every month, every day, every year. No sales manager ever told his team to sell less next month. If someone’s over 40 that’s really starting to add up to no personal life.

In the days where your landline waited at home while people were at work, people used to answer their phone maybe once or twice a day for a personal phone call. No texts. No instant messages. No collection of 20 messages at 10 different social media sites. No classes, just maybe the odd kid taking piano or in judo. Rather than organised sports most kids played pick-up neighbourhood games. Just remove all of those responsibilities from your week. That is a huge percentage of your day. And how much of that would you care about on your deathbed? None. You’d care if your kid was there by your side, you wouldn’t care whether or not they could play the piano.

971 Relax and Succeed - Dream more complain lessSo what did people used to do with all of that time and peace of mind? They used to pursue hobbies or took courses to expand themselves not to make more money. They didn’t need that money because they didn’t have to buy a microwave VHS Walkman CD juicer iPod monitor DVD gym membership X-Box Blu-Ray smartphone Occulus or 70% of the restaurant food now sold. They used to spend way more time with friends and family. Most people didn’t hire anyone else to build decks or fix a toilet or do basic work on their car. If they didn’t know how to do something they found a friend or neighbour who did and you know what? They had the time to help and they did and it was often very enjoyable time.

The challenge with the technological world is that it has created the image that we’re all connected when we’ve never been further apart and it’s not just grey-haired people that can feel that. I’ve taught college kids who were stressed by 25 that they couldn’t keep up with technology. Most people have given up by 35 or they’re stressed. So what’s it all for if we just want to surrender it later?

The pain tells us that it’s information. It’s not life going badly, it’s information about how life is going. Pain is like a gauge in your car. The thermostat isn’t overheating, it’s telling you that the car is. Pain isn’t you failing, it’s the universe telling you that what you’re doing isn’t working. The problem today is that a lot of people can’t figure out how to get enough time to eat or sleep let alone find a way to find some other path that can work for their life, so the problem isn’t the humans it’s the machine.

The machine distracts us from being human. Rather than looking at a face and hearing a voice we contort our hands into machine-shapes and type a message on a keyboard that appears on a two-dimensional screen in symbols that strip out the valuable human information that would be transmitted by having in a person’s eyes right in front of you. It’s shallow when what we seek is depth.

It can seem strange then that I might suggest giving as a solution but I don’t think I mean it in the way you might imagine. I know a lot of people would be almost angered by the thought: how is giving everything not enough!? But I’m not suggesting adding more giving, I’m suggesting that you alter where your giving goes. Only by reintegrating ourselves back into our communities can our communities reintegrate back into us. We must know our neighbour before we can do them favours, and if enough of us do that then we’re not doing each other favours, we’re cooperating on a larger goal to create a safe and healthy society. That’s how drops become a drink.

971 Relax and Succeed - It's not about havingWe’ve spent too much time being sold the singular, cool, proud, branded, I gotta be me; loaded with achievements and never needing help. That is not how humanity got here and it won’t be how it goes anywhere. You’re not broken if you’re tired and worn out. We accidentally built an inhuman world and you’re hardly alone. Even the so-called winners are often alcoholics and drug addicts to cope.

Start cutting the selfish in favour of the selfishly selfless. Rich and poor alike, we don’t need another app or another website or another tool of efficiency. What we need is some restful time where we’re connected to others, but that will not happen until you stop and do a serious assessment to figure out how your time can be better invested in your future happiness.

Set aside some time right now to do that this weekend. Look at a normal week and be brutally honest about where the time goes, even if it is frivolous. And then ask yourself where it could go? And if you ask long enough… I guarantee you’ll find something that’ll feel enriching and rewarding–something you’ll get excited about. I do hope you give yourself that time.

peace. s

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

Making Changes

Hello! It’s a holiday here a student had a very big breakthrough yesterday and it was so inspiring that I felt like writing to you even on a day off. Besides,we’re right in the middle of our discussion about slowing down our moments enough to allow us to escape from unnecessary egotistical suffering. Today we’ll draw meaningful distinction between suffering and pain. The former you can do something about, the latter you simply accept and feel.

869 Relax and Succeed - Be kind to unkind people

Okay let’s say you’re dealing with someone you love and care about a lot, but someone who often makes you angry. Maybe it’s your kid, maybe it’s your parent, maybe it’s a sibling or an important friend. These are the sorts of relationships where no matter when someone asked you, you would always know that in the end you would forgive the person. Maybe not the behaviours, but the person is ultimately accepted without conditions. Despite that they can still be exasperating for any number of valid or invalid reasons.

So you’re in the process of yelling–notice I don’t care about what. No matter why I’m doing it the route out is the same; you must alter the direction of your thoughts. You can’t go somewhere and ask for adrenaline and then take it and complain that you’re all worked up. You asked for it!

Same with the anger you’re feeling. Anger is always masquerading fear, so your anger is really worry that you won’t be able to keep paying these prices. You’re concerned your loved one will go beyond the limit of your life. It makes sense you’re afraid and that you’d have angry thoughts about how the person isn’t cooperating with something so obviously good for everyone involved. And that frustration would impact your voice. Fine. That still doesn’t mean you want to stay there. It’s generally not useful and it’s unpleasant for you. That’s suffering not pain.

869 Relax and Succeed - Be gentle with yourselfIf you’re going to think the sort of thoughts that are resistant to what is, what was or what may be, then you will suffer. To bump harshly into the walls of ego can be helpful though. For instance: you catch yourself yelling at the loved one. Your impulse is that you should make yourself stop, but instead I would suggest that you simply watch yourself getting upset.

Understanding will change your behaviour not effort. Your ego is yelling. With this meditation you’re focused on keeping some consciousness with the watcher–the real you, the creator of your ego. Once you recognize that the story you’re telling yourself is colouring your feelings about it, go back to recalling the connection you have and the person you’re angry with.

Look at them while you yell at them. Know in non-word terms that it’s true that you will always love that person. From there you will naturall realize that the current ugliness between you can only be a portion of your journey together, so why not make it as brief as possible for no other reason than selfishness? For no other reason than it feels better? Why not just take the pain but leave the suffering?

That is personal freedom. Taking responsibility for your thoughts to the point where your selfishness creates increased happiness, which increases gratitude, which in turn makes us generous and then our problems end up being solved in surprising ways by things like love.

869 Relax and Succeed - Yelling silences your message

Once you’re watching yourself semi-regularly you will be able to stay more aware by choice. You’ll have experience over time, so you’ll know with quick confidence that if you’re yelling you must be lost. I know it sounds strange but you can interrupt any emotion just by knowing you don’t want to feel it. Just that desire is like sticking something in the spokes of a moving bike.

If you’re thinking that desire into existence then you can’t be simultaneously using your thoughts to create the undesirable issue. That single step away from your ego allows you to redirect the course of your consciousness onto more productive things, no different than you tune a TV to get different types of shows. You never have problems. Your mind is just sometimes tuned to a painful channel.

As you get better, once you’ve stopped yelling and are in touch with some loving feelings you’ll be more able to take some action like call a friend, cuddle your pet, or dive into a hobby etc. Slowly your wisdom will creep in where the anger was taking up space and you will be able to move toward more thoroughly loving feelings. You’ll also find many more constructive ways to face your challenges.

Yes this benefits the person you’re yelling at, but do this because you love and care about yourself. I’m an action guy. You don’t get better thinking about how to be better, you get better by taking different actions than you have been. These are the actions to take within your consciousness. Fumble through them and learn them until they are entirely natural. That knowledge and practice is the never-ending path to peace and wisdom.

peace. s

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

People in the House

Parents see it as parents and kids, but kids too-often see it as humans and tyrants because too often it is. As often as I’ll see it in a boardroom I’ll see it in a family; a total lack of awareness of the state of affairs prior to introducing something new. The kids act like idiots just when Mom and Dad were already at the end of their rope with a rough day at work. Or the parents are bending over backwards to help and the kids are attacking them as though they are the lowest life form on the Earth. These reactions are counterproductive to our own interests.

697 Relax and Succeed - Speak in such a wayWith interpersonal leadership from the parents, kids can be taught to communicate their mental weather. If a parent is losing their temper they can say to the child at that time, “Okay, I did not have a great day with my boss and now I’m getting upset with you—let’s talk about this when I have more patience because I don’t want us to treat each other disrespectfully.” Of course they’re little and can’t uphold their end of the bargain but that doesn’t matter—you’re teaching them, not the other way around. You can explain to them when you’re grumpy or tired or hungry or worried and by doing that you will teach them to eventually do it too.

The people who live together need to be aware of each others state of mind. That is the context in which all events take place. It doesn’t matter who’s younger or older or who’s the parent and who’s the kid, everyone contributes to the overall personality of a household and unaware parents are just as damaging to that peace as unaware kids. But parents who strive to maintain emotional awareness will also teach that skill to their kids.

697 Relax and Succeed - I used to think I was overreactingIf you’re a teen it isn’t unreasonable if a parent comes home worn out and is hurt that you couldn’t show your love for them by helping start dinner. Likewise it isn’t unreasonable for a kid to be tense and easily upset if they’re being bullied all day and now their parent is all-demands. It isn’t unreasonable for a parent to be upset that something they worked hundreds of hours in after-tax dollars to buy, ends up broken by their children through pure carelessness. It isn’t unreasonable for a teenager to be tired in the morning—when that is essentially biological.

Yes, we can greatly mitigate reactions to daily experiences, but since we have the emotions to express negative things we will express them because that’s how the world is built. Otherwise nature wouldn’t have built those reactions. It’s just that before we’re enlightened we don’t like it when we inevitably have the less pleasant experiences. But that’s what Yin and Yang mean. Together they create the world. You can’t have one without the other.

No story can be all high notes. That would be boring to read, watch or live. Your life is a story. And your family’s life is a story. Use your awareness of that fact to make both yours and your family’s a truly a great one. There’s nothing stopping you. You are the author of your own pages. It is you who gets to write out an angry reaction—or an upset reaction to someone else’s angry reaction. But you can also write something more peaceful. You can see your character from a bit more distance which will allow you to make calmer choices. Over time we can take upset family members—and ourselves—and learn to slow the energy down, just as we’ve been inadvertently taught to speed it up by being impatient with anything short of perfection.

697 Relax and Succeed - How to really love a childDon’t try to win or get your way. Families ultimately want to go in fundamentally the same healthy directions, so focus on those commonalities and request that everyone keep in mind that everyone has their interior lives and that some graciousness and patience would go a long way.

Don’t shoot for perfection. Healthy families find healthy ways to deal with conflict by having to deal with conflict. As long as the parent leads and provides some time for mistakes and growth, this process can bring families even closer together. Even if on some days it feels like it’s doing the opposite.

The one thing you can count on is most kids turn out far better than their parents imagined they would and, in the end, that’s as good for the parents as it is for the kids.

Have a wonderful day.

peace. s

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

The Friday Dose #66

675 FD Relax and Succeed - Spend your life doing strange things

Today’s Dose will start off with the photographic project Exactitudes, which looks at the real meanings behind our fashion choices. Photographer Ari Versluis and profiler Ellie Uyttenbroek demonstrate that our selections are ultimately far less about our own individual identity and much more about belonging to a group:

Exactitudes

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Next we’ll listen to the story of Suzanne Crocker and her husband Gerard Parsons who left the hustle and bustle of Dawson City (pop. 1400) because they never had enough time for their family and their own interests. The two doctors took their kids into the wilderness with no running water, no electricity but no shortage of time. This interview is a fascinating look into what the parents and the kids experienced by being so unplugged. In the end everyone got closer and no one wanted to go back to the city. Here’s why:

All The Time in the World

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Many years ago I was involved in some research on Sensory Deprivation Tanks. It’s funny that the word deprivation is in there because you get so much from being in a tank. It was the great Dr. John Lilly (one of the world’s leading experts on dolphin human communication) who pioneered a lot of the research into the value that changes in consciousness can bring through the tank process. They even made a movie that related loosely to Lilly’s research called Altered States. Here’s Joe Rogan (who swears a bit) explaining some of the value of floating:

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And we’ll end with a stunning display of calm and self control. How a flock of geese can emerge from this incredible act is amazing. But you’ll realize as she finishes just how amazing Miyoko Shida Rigolo’s delicate skills really are. Super wow. This is almost unbelievable:

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Told you. Incredible isn’t it? Have yourself a fantastic weekend and do it by ignoring all of the crap in the world because there are plenty of amazing things that deserve your attention instead.

peace. s

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