Texting and Relationships

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #8

1036-relax-and-succeed-a-mom-text-messageI think texting was invented by marriage counsellors as a job-creation program. More and more struggling couples come to me because they’re looking at breaking up because of a bunch of text messages. Twenty year relationships being undone in 140 character bursts. It’s crazy.

As I’ve noted before, I often used to ask my college students if they knew what I meant when I said, last night I shot a robber in my pajamas? They would always say they did, but they can’t; because that sentence has four meanings. I never state who’s wearing the pajamas or if someone was murdered or photographed. And yet all the students are sure they understood. This is how weak and frail words are at capturing the fine details of the human condition. So hinging a relationship on some text messages is the flimsiest sort of reasoning there is.

Let’s begin with the fact that people will often take things out of context. If a woman gets a text at 7pm from her sister and all it says is, I got a run she might skip right past the idea that her sister might be playing a card game and she might immediately think that her sister is referring to her baseball league, when in fact she is trying to discreetly ask her sister to rush to her room to get her some new stockings for the date she’s on.

1036-relax-and-succeed-texting-is-a-brilliant-way-to-miscommunicateThere are examples of ambiguous meanings, assumptions about tone, context, meaning, there’s bad auto corrections, tech issues and then there’s stuff like this… why not just cave paint to each other? It’s probably got less room for misunderstandings, because whenever couples show me these texts I just cannot see all of the drama they do. They load the tiniest and most innocent of phrases up with massive amounts of meaning. It’s crazy.

Texts are for some basic data. Grocery lists, times, notifications that you’re waiting downstairs, etc. You should not be discussing your relationship on text. If you’re that anxious that you need answers immediately then you need to get more mature about your anxiousness before you’re ready to be in a healthy relationship. Seriously.

The fact that a couple can be in love in the morning when they go to work and ready to break up by the time they get home when they haven’t even spoken once should be a clear sign people have lost touch with what’s reasonable and healthy. Use texts for what they’re for and save your relationship issues for in-person discussions when you’re both in a positive frame of mind. Otherwise you’re just asking for trouble.

1036-relax-and-succeed-between-what-is-said-and-not-meantTruly, I don’t like seeing people for reasons this frivolous. If you’re actually making relationship decisions based on text exchanges then you’re not mature enough for a healthy relationship. Real couples that make it through real challenges do so by staying connected, and that means their communication lines are open.

Actually commit to no longer texting about emotional issues. Save them for times, dates, lists, and decisions about times and locations, but not about important issues. If it’s important enough then it’s important enough to hear your partner’s voice or to wait until you can. Anything else disrespectful to both of you. You simply cannot expect good results from trying to deal with the most important thing in your life in 140 character increments.

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.

Anxiousness vs Authenticity

You feel uncertain and anxious but it’s not your fault. You are however the only one that can get you out of that trap, but to do that you don’t need to change yourself, you just have to recognise that the only reason you feel uncertain is because long before you, humans created language and we used words to assemble ideas of right and wrong (as opposed to what we personally preferred). For the first time there was a way for a human being to be unacceptable.

In school you were taught this correct thing and that correct thing and you got big red X’s for anything that wasn’t correct. The problem is, later in life it turns out those same educational experiences taught you to always look for answers outside of yourself. A line was drawn between you and your natural wisdom. You were inadvertently taught to seek external approval, meaning you literally, subconsciously learned not to trust yourself, like a mechanic trusting a computerised scanner over something obvious to their own eyes and ears.

So here’s your lifelong problem; you spend your whole life searching for the parts that will make up a healthy you when you were whole right right the start. Yes you might need to add to some knowledge to do some specific thing, but after that you have to trust yourself in life. It’s like that trust exercise where one person falls backward, counting on the person behind them to catch them? This is like that except you’re both people. You need to trust you. You just also have to remember that sometimes even the catching part of you also falls. It just goes like that sometimes. For everyone.

1027-relax-and-succeed-stop-trying-to-fit-inYour life isn’t over. It hasn’t even started. Understand that the world still has a lot of cool directions to go. That’s all highly acclaimed art and science are; it’s art that not only was fantastic from a craftsmanship perspective, it’s the stuff that is more like a philosophical treatise, like when Picasso created cubism. Most breakthrough science entails uncovering new knowledge that couldn’t possibly have been learned by looking at what already existed. We must have faith in the infinite nature of the universe. Trust me, if you had a better appreciation for how vast it is you’d feel more comfortable with the idea that it has enough space even for you to be a genius.

What’s you being your own genius look like? I dunno, maybe you’re a working mother who deeply would rather stay home and raise your kids like you were raised, but you and your husband need the money for the mortgage, plus if you’re not working then other women will think you’ve lost your mojo or something. But think about it: these are your kids and they’re only kids a short time. Better you shape a tree when it’s young. It’s not crazy to prioritise family over work, but how brave have you been about making something work?

Can your ego accept a smaller house and the lower payments that would allow you to be a stay-at-home mom? Could you trade the joy of what feels natural and the upsides to your kids for whatever thought-based reputation you have among your friends and co-workers? Is what anyone thinks of your decisions really important when those judgments only remain place in the conscious of often unimportant people for a short time?

You can afford to be braver. We all have plenty of headroom in that regard. But you can’t second-guess yourself using egocentric, word-based thought because if you’re scared you’ll always be able to rationalise your decision not to take action. You are not that voice. That voice is just something you do instead of taking action.

As I’ve written about before, there’s a guy whose ultra-religious family lead him to rebel by creating super creepy art featuring blood and skulls and snakes and things and he’s rich and lives in a castle and has superstar clients. What would you have done if that’s what you wanted to do? Surely you have an easier calling being a stay-at-home mom, or whatever your authentic choice yours is. Just don’t expect to live in a castle, because that’s not the point. The point is that he’s happy with his life and he does what moves him and somehow that either works out to be wonderful or it’s some kind of valuable lesson. Either way you win.

Stop worrying and create more original living in your life. You don’t have to read the right book or take the right class or meet the right person or get the right job; you just have to be yourself and your place in the world will be known. And then wherever you are you’ll always feel comfortable because you’ll always be comfortable with yourself.

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 #128: Loving Relationships

1008-fd-relax-and-succeed-what-destroys-an-intimate-relationshipI’ve written about it many times. You can’t ask another person to create a great relationship for you. Those things come from the inside. If you’re always in a state of want, if you always have something you need from that person then who are you to them? You’re a burden. But you weren’t a burden when you were falling in love. You were practically willing to be a servant!

1008-fd-relax-and-succeed-to-come-upon-love-without-seeking-itWeird isn’t it? It’s counter-intuitive at first, but not after some meditation. If we’re always asking others to live for us then they are forced to defer their own life to lead the one we claim we need. But if I’m a servant I’m always helpful and worthwhile and valuable. If I’m so picky about how the house looks for company that I torture my family with anal-retentivity then is the beautiful home really valuable at all, or is it now just a source of abuse?

Some people have huge insecurities that lead to jealousy, leaving partners having to live their entire life in their partner’s fearful context when that’s not their own context. It is literally a form of being a prisoner. All actions are dictated by that identity. The same with people with tempers. If your spouse blows up the moment something goes wrong then you stop living your life and you just start trying to make sure nothing goes wrong, even though that’s inevitable. It’s a life on eggshells.

It is not other people’s jobs to live to your script. No one made you the screenwriter, director and producer of the film of all of our lives. We are not co-stars in your movie, our jobs are not to get things the way you want them. We are individuals and we have hopes and dreams just like you and they’re just as important as yours. Healthy partners don’t ask, they offer. We can all take turns at being unhealthy, but if someone lives their life in that state then that is not their partner’s problem to fix.

Have a great weekend everyone.

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.

Other Perspectives #54

Winner: 2015’s Other Perspectives of the Year

616 OP Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Parents need to fill a child's bucket

Here’s a great one for the world today. People are always talking about having self-esteem and humility, when in reality they are demonstrating ego and pride. Ego is when you think you’re important because you process the world through only your own perspective. And pride is a certainty that your own view is an objective truth. So from a mindset like that you don’t engage in empathy. You never even try to comprehend what the experience is like for another person, you just want them to accept your experience as theirs. Self-esteem and humility are nothing like that. Self-esteem is a kind of resilience. Self-esteem allows someone to comfortably hear an opposing opinion after which they can then make a choice in that moment to either maintain an existing belief or to create a new one based on the new information or understanding. But if we are not actually open to change then we are locked in ego. Self-esteem doesn’t need you to be anyone in particular—it’s more flexible than ego—but it does need you to fully and authentically be whoever it is you have chosen to be. And humility isn’t at the opposite end of the spectrum from pride. Pride is at one end and insecurity is at the other and humility is the fulcrum in between–you know what you know, but you know what you don’t know too. So you stay humble, then you’re fully aware that you’re always only seeing things from your perspective. So the idea isn’t that you tell your kid that they’re the greatest (which of course also means that they are separate and alone at the top), because that idea cannot accommodate sharing or genuine connection with others. Instead, our parents should encourage us to prioritize the development of those valuable and beautiful connections, rather than suggest that we are somehow better or more valuable than someone else. By helping us to feel that our perspectives are no less or no more valuable than anyone else’s, a parent helps to create a very fertile foundation for the growth and development of a very strong, generous, beautiful and very lovable adult.  Enjoy your day.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.00 Relax and Succeed - Other Perspectives Footer

Influencing Children

Yesterday I covered the culture of fear that has been created by politics and the news media and how that affects parenting and the brain development of children. Today we’ll talk about how social media and advertising combine to create an entirely new set of forces that are 608 Relax and Succeed - You decide who you areshaping your children’s minds in ways that have never been seen before. Some of it is exciting and awesome. Some of it is troubling and dangerous.

Again, it’s important to remember how different the world is than just a short time ago. A surfable smartphone didn’t exist until 1996 but due to capability and production limits they weren’t really in our consciousness until about 2001. Facebook was created in 2004, and Twitter in 2006 (even Google was just getting started in 1998), so at the time of this writing none of the people who’ve grown up with these influences are even adults yet so researchers can’t study the effects.

I heard a stat the other day that either this year or last year, 90% of the photos taken in history had been taken that year. That is a huge indicator of how incredibly important cameras have become. I have maybe 50 photos in total of me from a baby to age 25. Some friends whose parents were more technically motivated used cameras more often and they would have more, but it was expensive processing pictures back then very few people went crazy. But the fact that 90% of photos were taken last year shows how insanely different the numbers are today. A child will have more photos taken of them in a month than they would have had in a lifetime. And so that lens—that eye—becomes one of the eyes they understand they should pay attention to.

How this plays out is that if you’re talking to someone and you hold your camera up to take a photo, they’re quite likely to mug for you, or give you their best angle. So just the very appearance of a camera changes the social setting and people interrupt their human conversation for a machine-based ego-focused interaction. We all see this with text messages 608 Relax and Succeed - The most precious giftwhen we’re having lunch with a friend as well. It’s now common for people to not look at or pay attention to their tablemates for large percentages of their time at the table.

What this does is get the kids who are watching believing that phones are more important than people because that is exactly the behaviour everyone is actually modelling. So what I’m seeing now is kids who will choose to look at a camera lens or cell phone screen instead of looking at the people they’re with. So rather than learning how to socialize and read facial and body language cues, instead they learn how to look down and spend time in a place that exists only in their imagination—a place called cyberspace.

It’s very important for parents to remember that we all live where our consciousness is. So if you’re sitting on a beautiful beach alone thinking about how 10 years ago you were on this beach with a love you have since lost—despite all of the pleasures available on the beach today, the person will be sad because in their consciousness they are reliving 5 years ago and comparing it to today.

608 Relax and Succeed - We are living in a worldThe same is true for kids except they travel less in time and more in space. I walked to school with all of my neighbourhood friends. Kids today primarily get driven or take the bus so they can have friends that live two buses away. So they might be physically at home because their parents never let them go anywhere without some detailed plan, but in reality they’re meeting their friends in cyberspace. The important part about that is that if your kid can always meet their friends in cyberspace then, in a way, it’s like their friends are present for every single thing that happens in your house. Technology has changed society much more than people currently recognize.

Privacy for all intents and purposes no longer exists. By 16 every kid knows your email can be hacked, friends can choose to share photos they were never supposed to share, there’s revenge porn sites and robots are crawling through everything you write and post in an attempt to understand you well enough to help advertisers sell to you when you’re most vulnerable. There’s even video and audio systems that detect crying so that they can respond. Do we really want robots responding to crying?

I’m hardly anti-technology. I was the first person I knew with a digital watch, the first with a programmable calculator and both a video recorder and a video camera. I was the second person I knew to get a computer and I started a large BBS system before the internet even existed. So I’m pro-technology in many ways. But with all things we must weigh the advantages against the costs. And the costs of social media are almost as high as the costs of advertising.

608 Relax and Succeed - If you find yourself constantly tryingSo where politics and the news media lead new citizens to be unnecessarily afraid, advertising leads them to be insecure. Secure people don’t need a product to fix their insecurity. So when I was young everyone thought teeth should be teeth-coloured and so no one would have put harmful chemicals in our mouths to whiten them. But today kids will feel stressed if their teeth aren’t unnaturally white. Go backwards and my mother never knew mouthwash until she was older. And her mother never even knew tooth-brushing or that breath should smell “fresh” until she was ten years old because advertising had not created that insecurity yet. The entire tooth-brushing fresh breath movement emerged out of advertisers testing the idea of whether or not a fear could be created and leveraged into a product. Obviously it worked and now every kid has a huge list of things to feel insecure about.

Advertisers need you to think the jeans you bought last year aren’t good enough for this year. Same with your hair style and your shoes and your purse and your car. There is always a new way to be acceptable or impressive to others. There’s always something new to buy. But do you see what this is telling the brain? The brain is being told that the person is not okay being who they are they must be someone else in order to be accepted, which in other terms means that the love they receive is conditional. It is based on their alignment with what advertisers have deemed acceptable rather than being loved just for who you are right from birth. The idea that you have to add to or change yourself before you are worthy is as unfortunate as it is dangerous.

608 Relax and Succeed - If a mother values herselfYou don’t need different jeans or a different hair colour. You don’t need different music or to like different movies. You just need to love yourself. Because you’re parenting when you’re living. Just like those kids watch smart phone screens because you do, they also worry about their hair and weight because you do. So if you really want to parent in an amazing way that will strengthen and support your kids to be all they can be, then stop worrying about the bad things that might happen or the judgments they might face, and instead focus on realizing the natural greatness that lives within yourself, because that will teach your children to look for that strength and capability within themselves. And that’s all they need to do. Because it’s always there waiting.

Your kids live in a sea of other people telling them who they should be. Be the one person who stands out for not telling them who it would be good or positive or healthy to become, and instead just ask them who they would most like to become and then help them do that. Because if Michelangelo’s father had had his way his son would have been a bricklayer and we wouldn’t have the incredible Statue of David. So don’t get in the way of your kid’s David. Don’t help frighten them into being small and worried. The world is too awesome for that and it will only be made more awesome by the contributions of you and your children.

Thank you.

peace. s

Other Perspectives #1

When I began this blog it ran six days a week. As it progressed I realized I needed more time for my telephone and in-person students, so I culled it back to five. Meanwhile on facebook I was doing Saturday postings of Quote Rebuttals. These were quotes that people had innocently created in an effort to create healing or strength, when in fact they were inadvertently promoting ego and insecurity. These rebuttals have become more popular than I expected because I had previously failed to notice what extra value they offer.

When a photographer is working with sunlight as her light source she has two choices. She can reflect more light in using a shiny surface, or she can absorb more light away by using things like black velvet flags. This is why mogul skiers prefer runs through the evergreen trees when the light is very flat. The trees subtract light from the situation and thereby provide shape to the slope. So whereas my regular blogs were reflecting light in, I’ve come to realize that for many of my on-line students, the rebuttals act to take energy away from ego-based ideas, thereby making the truth more visible.

That being the case, and because I have a lot of readers who aren’t fans of social media, I have decided to agree to the repeated requests to add the rebuttals to the blog. Starting today Saturdays will feature a Quote Rebuttal. If we can create even more awareness and insight through this combination of changing the angles of the light while simultaneously removing energy away from unhealthy ideas then that’s obviously the direction we should go.

So, without any offence intended to the originator of these quotes, I offer you this clarification of what it actually is that I’m imparting here on my blog. Enjoy.

194 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Dear guys if you really like a girl

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.

Fly Like an Eagle

Winner: 2013’s Blog of the Year

You’re sitting there trying to figure out which road to take. Are you this, or are you that? Should you be in school or at a job? And what job? Working for who? And who should you be in a relationship with? Or should you be in a relationship at all? Should you choose this city or that one? This car or that one? Should you have skipped this party to be at that other one? Should you have said this or that? Blah blah blah goes your head.

79 Relax and Succeed - Your wings already existShoulda coulda woulda. If your aunt was a man she would be your uncle. Why are you even thinking/talking-to-yourself about what-ifs? Your speculation is meaningless. Stop using your thoughts to want to be somewhere or someone else. Stop using your internal conversations to discuss a different history with yourself. Can’t you see that your life is sitting still while you have those incessant internal conversations?

There are no wrong choices, there are only the choices you make. Be Present where you are because no amount of planning will give you a safe and secure path through life. You being safe and secure is not the point. You being alive is the point.

Your life is not a set of events. Read that again: your life is not a series of events. Your life is a stream of experiences. Stop trying to manage the events and start trying to manage the experiences. Because two people can be at the same event and have vastly different experiences. The difference between them is not where they were or what was happening outside of them, the difference was what they chose to focus their attention on within themselves.

That choice—the choice of what you invite into your awareness—is what forms your life experience. So stop thinking about how you wish you could fly, and start re-imagining yourself as someone who already can, because the only thing keeping you grounded is your belief that you can’t fly.

79a Relax and Succeed - Wake up and be awesomeYou’ll see me post Tony DeMello talks on the page occasionally. Tony was a Jesuit Priest, but more importantly he was an enlightened psychologist and a hilarious guy. He used to tell a story about you. I’ll paraphrase it from memory, but it’s in his excellent book Awareness, and I would highly recommend reading it. Tony was an excellent guru.

Someone once took an egg from an eagle’s nest and placed it under a barnyard hen. A chicken sat on the egg and eventually it hatched. All his life the little eagle grew up with chickens, and he did as the chickens around him did. He walked around pecking at the ground for worms and insects, clucking and cackling, and like them he occasionally fluttered his wings for a short hop through the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he was pecking away with all of the chickens in the yard and a large shadow passed overhead. The barnyard eagle looked up in awe at a magnificent, giant golden eagle. It hovered effortlessly over the farmyard, held aloft by only a small breeze. The little bird asked his chicken-friend, “Who is that?!”

The other chicken looked up to see the eagle floating majestically, high above them. “That is the eagle. He is the king of the sky. He has the freedom to fly wherever he chooses.”

79 Relax and Succeed - I believe in myselfHe’s magnificent,” said the eagle. “I so wish I could fly like he does.”

Yes, that would be nice,” replied the chicken. “But the eagle belongs to the sky. And we are chickens, and chickens belong on the ground.”

And so the eagle looked back down to the dirt in the barnyard, where he began scratching and picking at the dry ground again. And in the end the eagle never did fly. Instead he lived and died just like all of the other barnyard chickens. Because that is what he thought he was.

***
You are not a chicken. You are an eagle. So stop looking downward in some panicked effort to find more or better seeds than your neighbour. Forget competing with the chickens of ego. Stop using the weight of your own judgmental thinking to hold your spirit down. Instead, use the wings of your imagination to lift you to heights you previously did not know belonged to you. You’ll not only have a much greater perspective, but your freedom will be an inspiration to all of the other chickens.

There is no right or wrong way to fly. There are no good or bad paths through the sky. There is only flying. Now go be an eagle.

peace. s

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