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 People

It can seem so clear. They approach you. They talk to you. They use your name. They refer to things you know about or that they want you to know about. They’ll even ask you questions! And then they’ll either directly or passive aggressively attack you. What is up with that?

804 Relax and Succeed - If you are willingMaybe it’s your Mom and she’s just been grinding at you. Maybe it’s your brother who’s usual daily bullying has turned cruel. Maybe it’s someone at school or work who is running around gossiping about you to others. Or maybe it’s a total stranger and you barely know what they’re talking about, (as it is with almost everyone, all day, who works in customer service).

So how do you handle these people? What do you do to get them to be reasonable? How do you get them to leave you alone? And what is their problem anyway? How do those customer service people do this all day?!

Okay, so the first thing the sanguine customer service person realizes is that when people approach and talk to you specifically, what it is really happening is that they’re approaching and talking to the person their thoughts compile into you. So they have ideas about who you are and if that’s who they think you are then that’s obviously the only person they can attempt to talk to.

So if your Mom’s having her new boss over for dinner and you’ve messed the house up and she’s yelling at you, understand that she is pointing at you, using your name, but her words are not being used to describe you when she says phrases like you show no respect, you don’t care about how hard I work for us, you’re like your father you’re such a slob and now you’re in serious trouble. But if she’s not talking to you who’s she talking to?

804 Relax and Succeed - People think you're crazyShe’s talking to the situation. And in her fear and helplessness she may blame you, but in the end what she’s really describing to you is what her experience legitimately is. So rephrased it would be:

You didn’t respect that I cleaned up before work because I knew I wouldn’t have time afterwards. I’ve really been stressed and I’ve been underperforming at work. This dinner was supposed to save me and now it’s going to feed into the image the boss already has of me that I don’t get my work done, when that’s not actually accurate if he watched me all day. So now our income is in danger and I know you going to university after school was important to your Dad. But he wasn’t an organized man and that meant he never did take care of any life insurance so now we’re poor and I’m terrified that if I’m unimpressive to my boss that we’ll lose everything.

And all that comes out as an angry version of you show no respect, you don’t care about how hard I work for us, you’re like your father you’re always so lazy and now you’re in serious trouble.

804 Relax and Succeed - I am responsible for what I sayIn the case of your brother, he’s got a new girlfriend. She does drugs and she’s gotten him secretly into them. So when he’s coming down or wants more, he’s particular irritable and the drugs affect his brain chemistry, so things he would do are suddenly influenced by the drug. Particularly with things like cocaine and meth this can turn the person into an unwitting asshole. They can be mean and cruel and they’ll think they’re cool. But once the drugs wore off when he got clean–presuming he did–then things like the cruelty you’re describing will be some of the hardest things for the addict to remember because they recognize it as so unlike the previous version of themselves that you got to know.

And in the case of the gossip at work, who knows if it’s that they feel threatened by your skills or appearance or friendships, or maybe you remind them of their high school bully just by chance. Or maybe they just watched their Mom gossip every single day from their stroller, and then they watched the same thing at the playground and then later at the dinner table. So that co-worker or schoolmate doesn’t think that talking behind people’s backs is gossip, they just think it’s what people do, and the reason some people don’t like it is because they think they’re pointing out a universal truth when in fact it’s just their own filtered perception–just like you have of them.

And if it’s a stranger that’s attacking you then they’re focused on what you represent. Your company, the delays in traffic, their fears about cultures they don’t know and understand. Like all of the above, each case is the person wearing a mask you see them in, and they speak to a mask they see you in. And if they think your mask looks stupid or unfair or lazy or whatever, then that’s how they’ll act. Likewise you are looking at a mask of theirs built from your own thoughts about them–and those will also be based on almost no real information.

804 Relax and Succeed - He who does not understandThe point in all of this is that they are never talking to the real you. That is always their ego addressing your ego. It’s two masks talking. It’s ridiculous in the end. And it’s unnecessary. Silence is much more valuable than filling space with useless thoughts. And when the time comes you’ll recognize soul-to-soul communication when it happens because it creates those connections that are so rare today that they often last a lifetime.

You cannot reconcile other people’s views of you with your view of yourself. You both built your ideas of each other out of your personal thinking. And while you might have attached the thoughts to each other, they can be massively different thoughts about who you each feel you are. That’s because the other person’s view will be based on their experience of you, just as yours of them is. But they spend all day with themselves and you do the same with yourself, so everyone’s always generating their views of other people based on a warped perception of a tiny percentage of the other person’s life.

It’s the same reason you think your mother’s crazy cleanliness standards, or your brother’s new bad attitude, or your co-worker’s negativity are all things about you. Because that’s what happens when you’re with them. But really that’s just the tip of a much larger iceberg that was created long before you showed up. Yes, you might trigger something in them that’s fairly consistent, and they might hold you responsible for their trigger, but you do that to others too. It’s the only way to live in ego and most of the world spends almost all of its time in ego.

804 Relax and Succeed - Maturing is realizingSo when people approach you and they’re upset, just deal with what’s actually going on and respond to that instead of all of the language around it. If it needs no taking care of then great–you can just forget it. But you will make yourself very unhealthy if you continue to retell the stories of those events to either yourself or to others. The replaying of that mental tape will only lead to suffering and it will also serve to solidify your own opinions into more permanent judgments that you will come to believe. And those beliefs are what take you further from the truth that leads to peace.

Getting along is mostly just letting people be where they’re at. If that’s unreasonable then you have to find somewhere else to go. But asking people to react to the person you know as you is impossible. Everyone will always be treating you like who they believe you are and those beliefs will be based very little on who you actually are. Forget trying to reconcile this–it’s the agonizing battle most people engage in most of their lives. Surrender. Realities are separate. If you truly and deeply accept that fact you become a witness to the world in a very special way. And in that way you can enjoy almost any person or experience as exactly that–just another interesting experience.

Be like water. Let other people’s ideas flow through you instead of hitting something solid. Be flexible. Allow them to have their state of mind. They’ll have it anyway and the allowing will feel really good for you to do.

peace. s

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

Scott’s Top Other Perspectives of 2014 #2

716 OPY Relax and Succeed  - The path through trouble

You get to vote on your favourite blogs at the end of each year, but those aren’t always the ones that I felt were my best work. So this year, to ensure your summer reading is of high quality while I’m on my break, I have decided to use now to reveal my personal favourite blogs of last year. To that end, my second-favourite Other Perspectives of last year was all about how much easier life is when you have a mature concept of love.


Winner: Scott’s Top
Other Perspectives of 2014 #2

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.

The End of Defensiveness

We’ve all been there. There’s these moments in our past—these things we said or did either in the heat of a moment or out of confusion or a lack of maturity—and we really hurt someone. Or someone hurt us. Maybe they never properly understood due to the heat of the moment, or maybe they were confused or immature, Or maybe they’re reacting to something we never even did. Or maybe someone slandered or libelled us—leading others to believe things that are not true for purposes of their own. We’ve all got things we’re defensive about, be they things we really did or things that people believe we did that we didn’t do.

634 Relax and Succeed - Can all your worriesWhat happens is that we tend to re-live these moments in our life in vain attempt to rewrite them into something we feel is more honest. We want people to understand the state of mind we were in at the time, or we want them to have a perspective that is ours. So it gets replayed and replayed in our memory, turning those circuits into super-highways. The energy around our brain finds those like water finds low ground. So if someone hits on a part of our brain that we have spent a lot of time defending ourselves in, then it’s no wonder our reaction is quickly and strongly defensive. It’s our go-to reaction when we encounter that event, meaning people witnessing us in that state of mind are likely to come to the conclusion that we have overreacted to the current events.

So how do you get over a profound regret? How do you forgive cruelty and surrender the fight? These things visit you a lot because you think about them a lot. They’ll always be a part of your life experience, but they don’t need to be accessed that regularly. That’s what mental health is—spending time in the healthier parts of your brain rather than trying to retell a past narrative (or worry about a future one). So when you encounter those kind of thoughts you’re best to simply feel how lousy they feel and then respond very naturally to that feeling and set the idea down. It’s like a bicycle made of words. It goes nowhere unless you peddle it.

We’ve all had angry exes lie about us. And the people in school we bested. Anyone who was jealous of us—and if you’ve ever had a stalker they’re unlikely to say nice things about you. Anyone with opposing views will colour and hue any tales of you. And then there’s how our 634 Relax and Succeed - If you don't have enemieswork impacts our human relations. I used to be the head of creative at a TV network. I’d get over 1600 submissions a year and I had enough money to develop about 25 and shoot about 6 of varying sizes. 30 things out of 1600 got money before my budget was gone. So I disappointed a huge number of people and these creative works are understandably like children to them. So their very real feeling is that I crippled a child of theirs and it makes sense they don’t like it.

I’ve been slandered. I’ve heard rejected writers and producers tell complete fabrications that make me look bad, but an older wiser friend who had the same job with another network warned me about this eventuality. This happens in much the same way that anyone who’s ever been a boss knows that it’s unlikely that people we fired or scolded are going to be going around saying nice things about us. Which is why you can’t care. Because you still did what felt wisest at the time and you have requirements other than just nurturing their ego. So when people say that stuff—those people have agendas. Your ego would too if you started defending yourself. So don’t. Surrender to the inevitability and relax. None of that fluff ever affected your real friends anyway.

634 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes letting things goSure, when they initially happen those experience can sting. It feels unfair for people to describe us as exactly what we are not. That kind of thing hurts anyone. But the point of this blog is that you can’t let those inevitable events bother you. Even in the worst cases I won’t indulge thoughts about whatever’s happened to me for too long—maybe 90 minutes.

After the most recent attack I can recall happening to me, I called a friend and told him I needed an empathetic connection. He’s a wiser sort who knew to give me a quick connect via empathy and I was ready to move on. Forget about the events—I didn’t like the feeling I was experiencing so I switched to thinking about something more enjoyable. I wasn’t going to harbour discontent. I understand that people do that sort of thing all the time. I’ve done it. We shift responsibility for our guilt. Who wants to own that? So I accept that people are human and that egos all do some giving and we all do some receiving. But those experiences are painful, so I’m not interested in replaying them repeatedly. And nor should you with your versions of similar events.

The same applies to things you actually have done. I’ve written before about the eight people I was willing to hurt to elevate my own status. I wince every time I think of going for a laugh and sacrificing their feelings. I literally get physically sick with shame. I’ve found five of them and apologized. But rather than waste my life feeling terrible, I use the unpleasant feelings to 634 Relax and Succeed - Don't expect apologies on big betrayalsmotivate me to notice that if I’m bothered by hurting people then that’s actually a sign I’m a good person. I feel bad about doing something that hurt people. Only good people do that. And so I forgive myself because as I said, we all give and we all receive. And then I endeavour to do better. I don’t ruminate and regurgitate those thoughts. I leave them in my past and use them as platforms to build a bigger, better, more inclusive and loving me.

We cannot live with a desire to have a good reputation. Because that is impossible due to perspective: Gandhi was a freedom fighter to many but he was a terrorist to the British rulers in India. Jesus disrupted the Roman Empire. The Chinese want to de-legitimize the Dalai Lama. Extremely attractive people are often hated by other people. Smart people are derided for making less intelligent people feel insecure just by their presence. Everyone’s being judged unfairly. You have to go by your own character. That’s why it’s so important.

You can’t try to get everyone to like you, you have to find a way to be where you like you. Where you have a set of limits—a set of guiding principles that you apply to yourself as well as all others. And those limits define your character. If you’ve never really thought about those limits then you do not yet have character because character is what you believe in overall, not what you think about an individual circumstance. It’s why I 634 Relax and Succeed - Don't carry your mistakessometimes have to agree with people who are abhorrent to me. Because despite their hateful discourses, my character is that I value quality information. So I cannot dismiss quality information because of the source, despite my person feelings . Because character is above personal feelings.

Forget being defensive. Recognize your mistakes, apologize whenever you’re able, and forgive others their immature and cruel moves, and move on yourself. Move on to a new moment and a blank slate. Start fresh each moment with an aim toward realizing your character and you will have no reason to revisit your worst days for much time at all. Save yourself the daily agony and invest yourself in loving people today instead. It feels great and it’s probably the most productive thing you can do.

Love you all. Have a great one.

peace. s

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

Ugly Secrets

There’s been a recent news story in Canada that has many people polarized and it speaks to the power of perspective. A prominent national radio host has been fired and he claims it is because he has been defamed by what he describes as a former jilted lover who is now claiming consensual BDSM sex was in fact non-consensual. Naturally any woman who’s endured the horror of anyone using any means to obtain non-consensual sex will be immediately reminded of the intense level of violation that they experienced. Similarly, any man who’s been falsely accused will also be reminded of their own horrors in finding it impossible to defend themselves against 538 Relax and Succeed - We all have secretsunprovable he-said she-said allegations that will echo throughout the rest of their lives.

It’s just a horrible situation all-around and while I felt the sting of it because I myself have experienced such an attack, I simply have no idea regarding who might be telling the truth. There are additional alleged victims coming forward who may be able to back up the original story, and yet the host is wealthy and popular and there is always the possibility that people do have ulterior motives. All I know is that something terrible happened, I just don’t know which parties have been wronged and I wish I did because I would extend my compassion because any of those positions would be agonizing to be in.

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the host himself but I am an unabashed fan of the show and I will even give the host props for being a far above-average interviewer and many superstars agree. He’s often gotten interviews from people famous for not giving interviews. And at the same time, those skills don’t mean he can’t have horrible ideas about how to relate to women and it is entirely plausible to me that his fame could have tipped an already potentially dangerous personality into a literally dangerous one. If he has been hurting women then I’m glad it’s come out so he can be stopped and so they can be supported.

Because I cannot know, I don’t give the matter much thought because that would be little more than painful ruminations to no good end. But others are jumping on all kinds of bandwagons and their views are informed by their histories and beliefs. Some say there’s no chance several women could all be lying and yet it would be easy to find examples of such things. 538 Relax and Succeed - My parents divorcedLikewise, people can like the host and hate the idea that they were aligned with a rapist and so they can easily be defending him as a way of avoiding their own guilt-by-association. People lie for all kinds of reasons, and my point here is that the reason we should not take our opinions seriously is because they are based on beliefs and not on some hard reality.

You might be familiar with the website PostSecret. This was a clever idea for a site started by Frank Warren. The premise is that people mail in anonymous postcards containing secrets that they find difficult to maintain because they are so meaningful. Of course some of the cards themselves can be faked so the fact that they exist is no guarantee that they are true. And yet at the same time, doing the work I do, my sofa is a bit like a PostSecret seat where people admit to me secrets that they are sometimes suicidal about.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering what kinds of things I mean, so I’m using some actual PostSecret examples here in the photos to illustrate the kinds of things I mean. The worst example I can recall from my own practice is from many years ago. Two sisters who—when they were tweens—fabricated an affair for their father because they were angry at him. The whole thing rolled out of control and the parents divorced, leading to the mother being deeply depressed where she has in turn fallen into abusing both painkillers and alcohol. The younger sister came to me nearly a decade later concerned that her older sister was suicidal over their mother’s increasing self-abuse.538 Relax and Succeed - I said I miscarried

I’m sure you can see that as young kids it was easy for them not to extrapolate out what kind of things might unfold in an adult mind. I know for sure they never planned on causing their parents to divorce. They destroyed their own home and pushed their heartbroken mother to the brink, all over something that never actually happened. It’s tortuous to them that their father still loves them even though they know he is livid over what happened. He feels entirely violated and cannot believe anyone would be so heinous as to do such a cruel thing, and his own daughters often hear their father angrily describing the villain(s) in the worst possible terms, without him ever realizing that he is telling the story to the perpetrators. They routinely hear him describing the worst kind of person possible and they know he’s describing them. In essence, what took a few days to concoct has now lead to four people leading hellish lives for over a decade. That’s 40 years worth of suffering all for one childish lie. That’s a big one.

Now we can judge these girls for not coming clean. We can say it’s their responsibility, we can say they were clearly wrong, but they were eleven and thirteen. This was raging hormones combined with intense anger meeting naive minds and clever technical abilities. It was the perfect storm and it took down what otherwise had been by all accounts a great marriage—which is in part why it was so devastating to the mother who had thought her husband was incapable of such a thing—and indeed he likely was/is.

538 Relax and Succeed - I'm in too deepIf you don’t think they’re paying for it, think again. One has a drug problem and the other was suicidal. They live with this every single day. Everything they do reminds them of it. They are thoroughly self-hating. Imagine listening to your beloved father describing what he would like to do to the person who set him up when you know he’s describing what he would like to do to you. That if your own father knew it was you, he would want to kill you. It’s just heartbreaking and there’s no reason to think the truth would do anything other than make it worse. At least both parents love their kids. If they know the truth they’ll lose that too.

Please don’t assume you know things because people have told them to you. Everyone lies for reasons that make sense at the time. And sometimes these stories roll wildly out of control. I’ve had clergy admit that they stopped believing in God but still preach because they need the work. I’ve had people admit they accused people of horrible things that were not true, even though those accusations ruined the person’s life. I’ve had a grown man crying in front of me because he was so lonely after his wife left him that he kicked their beloved dog when the animal wanted to leave the room. He was just so hurt that the dog didn’t want to love him when he needed it so badly. After that,he organized everything in his life around the needs of the dog all in an effort to alleviate his guilt.

538 Relax and Succeed - If you didn't hear itPeople are logical once you know what the details and the values in their psyche are. But because we don’t know either the details or the values, we can only guess if what they are presenting is accurate. And as the examples above indicate, that includes the people closest to us, and even if they sincerely love us dearly. Life is much more complex than the movies make it seem.

So how can we live? By surrendering. By accepting our inability to know. By living in the mystery rather than desiring certainty. Because that permits a certain kind of clarity. It’s why I can hear both sides of the debate about the radio host and I know that almost every theory I hear could be true. And I also know they could not be true. So rather than having a useless opinion about the subject, I prefer to do what I can to inject the world with some love and positivity and I leave the rest to the universe. Because I cannot do anything about what did or didn’t happen. But I can choose to invest myself in sweeping in front of my own door, and in doing so I can hopefully inspire others to do likewise. And if we all do that the whole world may not be perfect, but it will be better.

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

The Friday Dose #38

509 Relax and Succeed - The first principle is

Today’s Dose will start off with a list of Psychological Life Hacks. I’m not sure who created the list, but it’s pretty good. The value of Yoga is primarily that it makes you more self-aware. This list is likely to do likewise. It’s the kind of thing people are likely to print off and hang on their fridge:

Psychological Life Hacks


They say seeing is believing, but that’s an example of a saying as opposed to a truth. Optical illusions prove that we can’t trust our eyes, and science has pulled every manner of trick on every sense we have. So it’s important to remember that as you’re looking at the world and the people and events in it. Keep in mind that you are interpreting reality not experiencing it directly. Your very act of being is to interpret the world as the perspective that is you. So in the end, you can’t even trust yourself so you might as well relax. This piece of the Dose is dedicated to Zilla Van Den Born, who did a social science experiment by convincing her family and friends that something was true when in fact it was not:

Zilla Van Den Born’s Clever Lie


And finally we’ll end with ZeFrank’s lesson in trust via two Cirque du Soleil performers, Alaya Titarenko and Gael Ouisse. Enjoy:


The world is not what it seems. So you might as well relax, trust the universe and yourself, and move toward whatever feels right to the person you are being in the moment that you’re in. Have a great day!

peace. s


The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Focus on these and change your mind. Enjoy.

Other Perspectives #23


426 Relax and Succeed Quote Rebuttal - Live in such a way.

Hey, I get the sentiment here and it’s a nice thought. And I’m all for people leading “good” lives. But to me that is a life you love, because those kinds of lives include joy, laughter, sharing, compassion—all the makings of the easiest type of life. But have a great life selfishly, because it feels good for you, not to influence people around you. Only you experience your thoughts about your life, so what other people think is entirely irrelevant. Everyone lives in their own separate bubble of judgmental thoughts. That’s what the world is to all of us: our ideas about the world. And the people in it. So no matter how you lived, there would still be people who would have hateful thoughts about you. If you were perfect people would hate you for being perfect. Remember, Nelson Mandela was in jail and Martin Luther King and Gandhi were both shot. So no matter how “good” you think you can be, there’s no way to please seven billion people, so just relax and selfishly do what feels right to a happy and connected. You and everything will be as good as you each can be. We can’t seek perfection, we must realize ourselves authentically in as many moments as we’re able to stay conscious for. If you demanded a definition for goodness, that’s what I would use. Because that is the purest form of us in the spiritual sense. And that is Truth in motion. That is the universe being. And there is nothing “wrong” in that.

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.