Betrayal

When does the truth expire? Maybe your friend said they’d make you Assistant Manager when they got made Manager. Maybe your parents promised to let you participate in something and then prevented you from attending. Maybe someone said they love you and now they don’t. Why did these people lie to you?

933 Relax and Succeed - With gentleness overcome angerThe truth is they didn’t lie to you. They said whatever they honestly felt at the time but for this to make sense we must lose the false notion that people are their names. Names are labels. In the moment people are their behaviour. So people in a state of ego will easily assume that you are not your history but rather you are your most current behaviour. Friends are the people who see past that to who you generally are.

In the case of the friend at work, their professional identity is suddenly completely transformed and so then is their relationship to you. That’s also when they start to find out the responsibilities and limitations that go with their new job–and that might or might not include hiring you despite what they may have wanted to do or thought they wanted to do.

In the case with the parents I’ll use me as an example. My parents were strict but fair and their rules were reasonable. One night–thanks to a pretty girl–I was out past my curfew and my parents decided I couldn’t go to a drum clinic I had bought a ticket for and really wanted to attend because it was being taught by a musical hero of mine. No go.

933 Relax and Succeed - I never knew how strong I wasMy parents hadn’t lied to me when they made that promise. The difference was, when I asked them the question I was following all of the house rules like my siblings. Later I wasn’t. And so the other me who was theoretically home on time still did theoretically have the ticket. I just currently wasn’t that kid to my parents and I accepted that I deserved the adjustment in the definition of me.

In the case of a relationship the trick is that the changes often happen slowly. A couple marries because they have fun together and they say their vows sincerely. But after a few years of nightclubs she wants to have kids and be a stay at home Mom, which is great, but after a few years goes by you have a wife at home desperately missing the adult time that work provided and so she’s not looking or feeling very sexy or fun.

Meanwhile the husband is stretched financially and his schedule is crazy. He’s always frustrated or upset and he gets impatient and disconnected. Slowly she becomes bitter about the lack of help and attention and he becomes bitter about the lack of gratitude and affection and suddenly they look at each other and see a completely different person; someone they’re not in love with. No one means for that to happen but without vigilance it will. Our relationships with other beings should always be very conscious.

933 Relax and Succeed - Unless you're one ofBy being more receptive and less punitive we will encourage a more secure environment in which people can risk making their apology. And until we all get there as a culture,it’s a lot easier to survive a hit of betrayal when we learn that the vast majority of it is really just a misunderstanding created by the concept of time and the vagaries of a symbolic language.  There are genuinely deceptive people but you can feel sorry for them. It just keeps catching up in all sorts of weird ways. But most people are sincere when they make a commitment to you, so before you get upset it might be worthwhile to look at both what society and the relationship have been going through. It might just place events in a temporary context where they make more sense.

Betrayal can be dangerous because it can play on the mind for many years if permitted. Because these stories involve people close to us we run into a lot of links to them in our memory all that time. That just gets us to replay and replay the same angry narratives and all it does is eat us away. We are better to never develop the feeling, but to do that we must not blame another person when we feel that urge. Instead we must keep an open mind that everyone may be innocent to a degree.

We all need to carry less fear and anger and hurt and blame and we must seek out more excitement and joy and compassion and connection. Look at your life and see where you spend time invested in negative energy and instead of just replaying those old stories yet again, consider looking at what happened again from the other person’s perspective. You might just find that seeing things their way could be what gets you feeling better. Happy meditating.

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.

Other Perspectives #81

761 OP Relax and Succeed - There are two sidesThere’s two sides if there’s two people. There’s three sides if there’s three people. And four for four. etc. etc. No two perspectives are identical. You’ll even change your own perspective over time because we all unconsciously edit our memories based on our history, which is always changing. We each learn to see the world in different ways because we’re all focusing on different things and we’re all giving them different values. So is a concert good or bad? That question has little meaning because it can be someone’s favourite band, but if they broke up with their longtime partner just beforehand then the concert is reduced to a painful reminder of a lost love, whereas for another person this is the first show they could ever afford to go to and they don’t even care which band is playing they’re just so excited to even be able to afford to go. And those individual perspectives will cause them to see absolutely everything differently. They might even use the same words and sound like they mean the same thing, but words are extremely flexible ideas. Is “justice” punishment, revenge or rehabilitation? As always–everyone will have their own view. So when you hear someone tell you what happened, what they really and truly mean is that they are giving you their impression of–or perspective on–the parts of it they were able to even perceive. And while they may not be lying, the fact remains that their personal view has no way whatsoever of ever being able to represent a larger truth.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, mindfulness instructor, coach and communications facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Friends for Life

A good percentage of people have a fix-it parent; that person who perpetually offers advice that no one asked for. They’re generally people who try to create peace by trying to create predictability outside of themselves. They couch it all as advice, but really they’re the type of personality that is often more comfortable when its telling other people what to do. It’s all well-intentioned and in all likelihood a lot of it is useful and true. But all that advice doesn’t add up to what a friend can give you in no time.739 Relax and Succeed - friendship will not stand the strain

Deep friendship is a state of unconditional love. Unconditional love is love without conditions. Conditions are limits or rules or things we’ll tell ourselves a story about. And we’ll do that right up until we exact some kind of cold-shoulder revenge after which we’ll stop telling ourselves that story and we’ll start telling ourselves a more satisfying one. But those narratives, rules and limits are all creations of the mind. They are all thoughts you have about the other person and your situation but they are all based on your personal perspective and priorities.

Friends love us enough—they see enough good in us—that we are invincibly connected. They can make it through any external disruptions because they believe in the core of us. They know where our balance point is, even when we’re profoundly off balance. As soon as we stop moving violently they step in and hug us with words, silence, or arms and soon we are at peace and are gaining perspective. This is the great value of friendship: their peace of mind leads to enough space for us to go through an experience and come out the other side without feeling judged.

739 Relax and Succeed - Maybe the most helpful thingDo you see how love works? You don’t need to build bridges of love toward people. You need to take down your barriers of judgment. Right up until you get to the last one: the idea that you have to know the person. Friends are great examples of how powerful we are because they are the only people we listen to for listening’s sake. And if we’re real friends the only time we offer advice is when we’re specifically asked for it.

A lot of people say their spouse doesn’t listen to them. Well then you probably don’t listen to yours, but you do probably listen to your best friend. Start paying attention to where your brain is at with the friend. Because that open non-judgmental state of mind is what allows the love in you to shine through unimpeded. Practice knowing that feeling. Know it well and conjure it up in other areas of your life. Before you know it you’ll be facing lineups, flight delays and irritable people with grace and humour and everyone will be talking about what a great listener you are.

When we look at it closely our friends are our friends less for what they give us and more for what they accept from us. If two people can still see the best in each other during their darkest times then there is no real reason for that relationship to ever be undermined. Fairweather friends need you to behave in ways that they find acceptable. They’ll be great right up until you disagree with them. But a true friend loves and accepts you regardless of your views or behaviour. And that simple lack of judgment is at the heart of what makes any relationship great.

Call your best friend, thank them for doing what they do and then have yourself an awesome day.

peace. s

Other Perspectives #61

651 OP Relax and Succeed - Hurt me with the truth

We say we would prefer to always have the truth but we only say that during those times when we’re stressed by the act of not-knowing—when we’re stressed by our own wandering imaginations. In day-to-day experience we learn early-on in life that we’re likely to be punished for wrong answers. So people learn to give no answer, or intentionally ambiguous answers, or they state outright lies—yes, you included. You couldn’t find one person on this Earth who hasn’t done that. It’s human. Life is complicated. And people are fundamentally decent and we cannot always see their changing motives. So the real truth is, if someone has a choice of telling you the truth, but that means they have to watch you be hurt or angry because you’re hurt, then they’re not going to want to do that. Not when they could lie to you and have that pain deferred to a later date. None of these acts are horrible in that they are always motivated by an effort to get along. Yes, it’s true that these actions can inadvertently be cruel. Nevertheless, it’s still an inevitable part of life. People can make us all of the promises in the world but we won’t really know what anyone will do until we watch them live any particular moment. Because that is when we all decide how to live our lives, and in real-time people are far more likely to avoid your pain than incite it. If we accept this as fundamentally human it seems less like a failure and more like the poignant recognition of a basic human frailty. After all, we’re talking about the birthplace of many of music and literature’s greatest artworks. It’s important to forgive others because we’ll need that same forgiveness on occasion. So don’t try to live in a world made of ideas and don’t ask others to live there either. Live with human beings instead. It’s messier in many ways. But there’s still nothing better. 🙂

peace. s

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

Brian Williams Lies

Brian Williams, the highly respected national news anchor has been ridiculed for a lie he told regarding being in a helicopter that was hit by enemy fire. Williams did lie—he was actually in a group of helicopters and one of the choppers from the group ahead of his was hit. So a helicopter in his mission of of helicopters was hit, but even then, each grouping wasn’t 622 Relax and Succeed - We meet ourselves time and againnecessarily close to each other.

The details don’t really matter because those will all have come from interviews with witnesses and they’ll be as flawed as Mr. William’s version. Because there’s actually nothing strange about what Williams did. You’ve done it all your life and so has everyone around you. Remember, I’m that weird kid who was laying in a hospital bed after a massive brain injury and my only entertainment was watching adults have conversations over my brain-damaged body. The most useful part was that they always spoke as though they were the only two people in the room. So by the time I had left that hospital I could figure out that a) the point of life was to have as many rewarding and enjoyable moments as possible before we die, and b) that people lied a huge percentage of the time.

These aren’t conscious lies. Those are pretty rare. Those are the ones people start counting. But all of these other ones are lies too. Which is why researchers apparently said adults lie a lot. Of course, those researchers and their participants have no way of knowing that other lies are permeated into the person’s identity, and so to me the number is still way too low.

622 Relax and Succeed - Without wearing any maskThere are two main reasons that people are comfortable slipping adaptations into their personal narratives. The first is that you don’t even notice you do it because you’re usually just solving an immediate problem. As a friend said, “My resume says ‘responsible for department payroll.’ The truth is I blindly sign time-sheets at the end of every week.” Time proves that some of those stories snowball out of control, but they are useful enough that they still get told. The second reason is that your highest self knows that you are not actually separate from anyone (or anything). So the more enlightened you become the less your own identity weighs. Empathy becomes so profound that it almost becomes a form of transference, where you literally feel a part of the other person’s experience. So later, you can easily describe it as something that has happened to you and nothing will signal you to the fact that you lied because you will have travelled through a legitimate experience you really did have.

Our memories are much more flexible than we realize. As we recall them, just as when we first had them, they will be influenced by our current context and our mood. I know you like to think you don’t lie that much—but most of these are so embedded into your life that even you’ve forgotten you’ve invented them. But if you could find them all and if you witness them being built, you’d be forgiving of yourself. Because you usually lie to be kind or to tell a larger truth. But yes, there are those times where you’ll feel insecure and you’ll elevate. You’ll simply rewrite yourself to seem better or worse because you’re feeling as though you’re doing poorly in some comparison.

622 Relax and Succeed - I am not what happened to meFor all we know the adjustment to William’s story may have been made during a macho conversation between journalists, and it happened on a day where Williams wasn’t feeling secure and so this story got this minor inflation—which was to take some details away in fact. It would have been very easy to phrase as a completely true statement that he could be almost certain would be misinterpreted. And it was to solve an insecurity problem today. But then someone overhears it and re-tells it and now it’s awkward to undo it so Williams doesn’t peddle the lie but it spreads nevertheless. Then he hears people assume it and makes use of it on another insecure night and a gentle creeping motion happens until this event gets assimilated into his original memory and even he believes it to be true when he says it. But, you stop and ask him if it’s true and he goes and looks at the memory in detail, that can be the first time the person even realizes the story isn’t true.

622 Relax and Succeed - The fear of rejectionYou’ll think you don’t do this because you’re not a braggart. But there are many reasons to lie. Avoiding responsibility would be a huge reason, but we also live in a victim society, and so there’s probably far more lies told about how badly someone’s doing rather than how good. People will torque their stories to elicit more sympathy so you’ll invest more of your time and attention on them (these are the two most valuable things in society in the new millennium). But people will also lie for you.

They will change what party an event took place at because you weren’t invited to the other party and if t hey tell that story you’ll be hurt and ask why you weren’t invited. Or you’ll tell them you like a haircut you don’t. Or maybe you’ll use one thing to communicate another. This blog is a hybrid between numerous true stories, and the reason they are melded is because they most effectively help communicate the important underlying theme I’m attempting to convey. And so I collect a bunch of true things and I reassemble them in a way that never happened as a way of more finely pointing to the truth of what did happen in all three melded stories. Make sense?

622 Relax and Succeed - Pretending to be a functioning adultA good example of a daily sort of lie that people tell very often is like a line from my last film, The Pharmacist. The main character’s best friend is helping him get over a decade of no dating by setting him up with her equally nice friends for some blind dates. Every girl asks when his last relationship was and she says “six months ago,” which is 9.5 years too few, but when you see the film you realize that to say 10 years would give the women the wrong impression of him, whereas the lie actually communicates more of who he really is. So in essence she lied to tell the truth because she understood that her friend’s underlying question wasn’t how long has been single? It was: is there some reason people aren’t dating this supposedly great guy?

As a kid I got to use this weird ability that came as a fluke from my accident, and ultimately what came of it was an ability to see through people. And that in turn made me even more compassionate. Because I did realize that people rarely lied to elevate themselves. They almost always did it to protect themselves, elevate someone else, to cover up a mistake they thought would be painful to own, or just as a social lubricant. 622 Relax and Succeed - The more I see the less I knowBottom line, even the sweetest lady at your church has told you tons of lies. I’ve been contacted by people who’ve informed me that their doctor presented a blog of mine as his personal experience, or that a corporate trainer did likewise. I’ve had priests claim their sermon was based on their life when my readers knew it was from my blog. Yes, sometimes you need to act on these things, but most times don’t let their lie bother you, because you’re being told them all day long by your employer, your kids, your parents, your friends and even strangers. Maybe even moreso for strangers because they have more freedom when you don’t know anything about them. So relax. During your lifetime some big lies will be exposed and you’ll feel silly or even stupid, but even then, you’ll eventually get old enough that you realize there’s a wisdom in aging that helps you become more accepting simply because you’ve seen more things and you really do realize much of what you believed in your life ultimately wasn’t true.

People often have excellent reasons to lie and it is only because we have invented the word truth that people presume that’s what we’re doing all the time. We’ve made honesty equal good and lying equal bad, but that would be a mistake because human interactions have never been that cut and dried and there are many times where a lie did far more good than the truth ever would have. That said it’s important to also note that intentional lies for personal gain will often have brutal and horrible consequences and these should be avoided at all costs.

Don’t get so worked up about people’s flexibility with the truth. It’s hypocritical on your part, but even more importantly it steals time away from you discussing things that feel good. And that is a far better use of your consciousness than you being a policeman for everyone else. So try to be more forgiving. Life is complicated and no one gets out without some scars. But that does not have to stop you from having an awesome day, so with that I will let you get to it. Enjoy.  🙂

peace. s

Secrets and Lies

People are telling the truth when they tell you they don’t lie. That’s because they honestly believe they don’t. But they do. We all do. We all do it all day long. We either lie or we spread someone else’s mistruths. We do this selfishly, although it’s a sweet kind of selfish where all we really want is to be part of the group. And 532 Relax and Succeed - The greatest prisonsince the group values information, we want to have valuable information, which is why secrets are the most valuable—because so few people know them.

Of course, it’s the secret part that has the value, so a fake secret is just as good as a real one. People will exaggerate to generate excitement. Every teenage boy knows the best mechanic, martial artist and computer hacker in the world. And then of course there’s manipulative lying, where people are sharing mistruths in an attempt to influence the person they’re speaking with. Since everyone naturally wants to be a part of the tribe, if the friend you’re talking to doesn’t like someone then they have to get you to not like that other person too. Because otherwise you and the other person might form your own group and exclude the friend. It’s like the Peter Gabriel lyric, “How can we be ‘1n’ if there is no ‘outside?'” 

Humans like to be involved. We like to be in situations where lots of fellow tribesmen are affirming our inclusion, which is why fame is so appealing. We just want to belong and we’ll tell any story that will help us. That includes hiding our weaknesses.

There’s a video I recently saw on the web of a couple in a car who are angry at a one ton truck driver for whatever reason. In their attempt to get revenge, they speed up in front of the truck on the highway and then they brake-check him. The truck weighs too much so it’s physically impossible for it to slow down in time, so he smashes into their rear end. It’s revenge gone 532 Relax and Succeed - No one knows what goes onhorribly bad. They’re fine, but their car is destroyed and there’s film proving it’s their fault. Now what story do you think that couple will tell their friends?

By the time friends hear that story, all of their culpability will be explained very reasonably, whereas the truck driver will be painted as an even bigger jerk than he may or may not have been. They very genuinely won’t want to own their own mistake and so they will largely subconsciously construct a version of events that keeps them in the tribe. A story that has them as victims and not as assholes. But no matter how you slice it, if you brake-check a truck you’re not only lacking in an understanding of physics, but you’re also not a victim. You went out and aggressively sought your accident. But when have you ever heard that story? The one where the person admits full fault and takes responsibility? It’s rare, we all know it. And it’s rare because we hardly do it. Because we lie instead.

I’m not making a judgment call here. I’m not saying people shouldn’t do it. They can’t help but do it. It’s simply a byproduct of who and what we are. Human ego, language and the natural desire to belong all combine to create this strange world where we tell each other we’ve done work we haven’t done, that we’ve visited gyms we didn’t go to, that we’ve slept with people we didn’t sleep with, and that we like people’s cooking and haircuts even if we don’t. We lie to save face, to save time and to save money. Ironically, we primarily do it to get respect.

If you think you don’t lie you either haven’t paid attention or you’re lying right now. As that little five year old in the hospital, it was the first thing I noticed. All the staff that came into my room lied to all the other staff that 532 Relax and Succeed - Atelophobiacame in the room. And they all did it innocently. They didn’t see their lie as a bad thing. Addicts and cheaters feel genuinely guilty and so they lie and create extra-nice things they’ve done to cushion the dirty secrets they know they’re hiding. People lie to conceal other big mistakes they’ve made as well. They lie so you’ll think they’re smarter, tougher, more experienced, more connected more more more. They’ll lie so you think more of them. And you do the same thing.

Start to monitor your lies. That’s your ego at work. Watch it manipulate things. Observe your lies and determine their objectives. Come to understand yourself better. The great part is, not only will you benefit from greater personal understanding, but you’ll also be much more forgiving of the lies you hear from others. And some empathy and compassion is always good for the world.

Have yourself a wonderful day. And I mean that. I really really really do. 😉

peace. s

Other Perspectives #40

528 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - promise me that you'll

It’s a beautiful thought, and I think anyone who starts dating should have the idea in mind that you have genuinely found the best person you know. And that’s how marriages stay healthy—by people reminding themselves of their partner’s qualities. But even then, always remember that a promise is just a word and not a thing. We can use words to make all the promises that we want, but what will decide the future will be the decisions we make in a progressive collection of Nows. You only live Now, and so you cannot say for certain what decision a different you might make at a different time. So go ahead and make your promises of intent. They still have value. But if you end up on the wrong end of a broken promise don’t think some terrible inhuman thing has happened. It’s pretty routine. In fact, kept promises might be the smallest category of all. Look, people can easily make sincere and heartfelt promises and still have valid reasons to break them. You’ll do it in your life so try not to be so judgmental about others when they do it to you. I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt. It can hurt like hell to have people lie to you or break a promise. But that’s all a part of life. Feeling is what you do. You’re a creature that feels the universe. So like a great movie or book, feel everything. Sadness, tragedy, lust, joy. One’s not better than the other. But you get the ones you choose. So accept promises but don’t expect them. Then life will have fewer disappointments. And that makes room for more joy, so go for it. 😉

peace. s

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Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offence to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.