Other Perspectives #95

Yesterday was about what real love is really like. Today I’m using an Other Perspectives post to discuss the dangers of where most of us start with love, and why we have to shift our beliefs before we can have a mature healthy relationship. Keep in mind that when I say “start” I mean when our egos start, because few of these requirements are associated with true love.

The need for 100% Honesty is based in a fear that we really don’t have the person on our side in a meaningful way, which is largely true in every youthful relationship and all jealous ones. We worry it might not be true when they say I love you so we constantly need to check. Also, as the hilarious hemorrhoid scene in the film This is 40 illustrates, later in life we realise we often don’t really want full honesty….

Where it is right is Forgiveness. That is the best skill one could hope to have for a relationship. 100% is impossible, but you can get pretty close. Great Communication helps, but there’s some couples that remain quite private by nature, choosing internal reflection over a lot of sharing. These people often feel most comfortable with someone just like them. It’s not for everyone, but it’s valid love.

Trust is okay–you want to aim to always feel trust–but there will be times where you’re insecure and you just won’t be able to help worrying and you’ll need some reassuring, as most women who experience breast cancer or men with testicular cancer quickly learn. Even putting on weight or losing one’s hair can do this. That’s all okay if it’s temporary or fleeting.

Faithfulness is far rarer than people realise. Not that it isn’t natural for some, but as many experts, including Dan Savage, often point out; most marriages actually survive thanks to some monogamish behaviours that can strangely remind us of the value of our long term partners. Patience at 80% is hopefully where you’ll get to, but don’t be surprised if your maturity won’t allow for it until you’re at least over about thirty five.

Similar Values at 50% is one of the few that’s backwards, That one should be closer to a high percentage because as you age you realise that don’t people divorce because one likes golf and the other likes marathons, it’s because one will cheat at golf whereas the other would never do that in their sport.

Time Apart at 20% only happens when you’re young and before your adulting starts. After that it is impossible because you’ll be at work for a third of your day so you’re already over, not to mention one parent spending their evening at hockey with one kid while the other’s at dance with another. Romance at 100% is the funniest. You will quickly learn that life gets too busy for things to stay romantic, which is fine. It actually means more when it’s mixed into a life that has other responsibilities.

Again, we’re back to agreeing on 100% Friendship. You can’t love the person’s appearance or style or identity because those are guaranteed to change. You have to be with someone who will be a good life partner and roommate more than a good romantic one. On the contrary, Zero Selfishness isn’t healthy. You need to put yourself first. You can’t give your partner what you don’t have. And Playing Games also comes with people dealing naturally with their discomfort around being totally honest. But it’s the last two that are most important.

Nearly the entire list is primarily immature, Unrealistic Expectations, and one of them is expecting yourself not to spend time dealing with Insecurities, which is an entirely unrealistic expectation to put on yourself or your partner. Again, think of breast cancer or testicular cancer survivors. It makes sense that would take some adjustment to get comfortable with. Besides, there can’t be a peaceful psychological and spiritual path unless there’s a not-path. Not-path is ego. You can get good at keeping it at bay, but to not have it at all is to miss out on a valuable aspect of being human that incites healthy growth.

We all start with unrealistic beliefs that were created by culture, so I’m sure they’ll sell a lot of these shirts. But inevitably, over time, as we age, the shirt will seem more and more ironic as we attempt to apply it to the messy edges of the real world. Which is why the real keys are the Friendship and the Forgiveness. Forget the rest. Focus on getting good at those and you’ll be headed toward the most successful kind of relationship there is.

peace. s

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

MoK: Marching For Peace

Yesterday’s act of kindness was an important one. I’d like to think all of you participated in being kind to yourselves even though that often feels difficult and unnatural. It’s a shame we’ve constructed society in such a way that we find something that healthy to feel that unnatural. Similarly, it’s a shame we find making amends with others difficult to the point where, if it happens, it’s usually only half-intentional. Today is about becoming fully intentional.

As the old saying goes, except for a few cases in life, you’re better to be happy than be right. Being right implies that the other person must be wrong. This reinforces that subject-object division between you and the rest of the world with which you are otherwise naturally unified.

The separation between you is strictly made of thought–it’s made of your beliefs about what is right and wrong, and about your perceptions of what really happened. In addition, let’s face it, we all have those examples where, deep down, we actually know that we’re at minimum complicit in the confusion, if not entirely at fault.

In some cases we even feel guilty, even though we still come across as defensive about the issue. What hurts is that we are good people, and so when that happens we know our words and actions lacked respect or integrity. We feel that lack of responsibility as the pain that leads to our defensiveness.

Our job on todays assignment for The March of Kindness is for us to find one of these examples and to let it go. Even better if we can actually settle the disagreement formally, and the ultimate goal would be to apologise–even if it’s for something small. The point is, if it requires real effort and challenge then we’re overcoming something and we’re benefitting along with the person we’re apologising to or forgiving.

Find your example, examine your reactions and your behaviour and really come to a better understanding about how your personal, ego-based motivations overrode your natural integrity and personal nature. Reinforce your own goodness in this way. Maybe you say something, maybe you don’t. Maybe you write something, or send a card or email or even a text. Maybe you just stop being passive-aggressive towards them.

Even if your apology or forgiveness or act of letting go is silent, or even if it’s done with full knowledge that the other person really was in the “wrong,” make this an active and meaningful act of kindness. This isn’t just about you, it’s about the world. It’s about the other person and about creating more peace within one or both of you.

By accepting our responsibilities to create peace we also gain empowerment over our actions. By being able to forgive or apologise, we become more expansive and capable, and by letting go of our disagreements and grudges, we not only free ourselves, but we all make an important contribution to there being less discord and more harmony in the world. And after all, that is the entire point of The March of Kindness.

Thanks for your participation. Much love.

peace. s

Gradual Growth

1073-relax-and-succeed-we-can-live-without-religionIsn’t it strange learning something in a non-linear way? I have to do it that way because I’m showing you something that you can’t understand by processing it in the usual way. In fact, that usual way is what causes you all the trouble, so I have to work around it by doing things your logical mind can’t fully understand.

Today’s meditation involves the reason you’ll feel like you have problems and how it often connects to your ideas about time. The brain is decent at storing things, but it’s best dealing with now because in reality that’s the only place you can ever really be or act to change your life. It makes sense that if you have something you want to solve, you need to deal with it around the time that you perceive the problem.

Our focus today is, was that really a problem? Or was it simply a lack of understanding? What is a problem?

Problems are things that we think might cut us off from others. Connection is natural and anything that threatens that is something to be dealt with. So if someone’s mad at you, what does that imply? Your problem is their anger and so you want to explain so you can fix it. Or maybe their problem is that they feel you betrayed them and you want them to understand. Or maybe they want something different than you so you have to explain how they should want what you want.

1073-relax-and-succeed-the-practice-of-forgivenessThink back to three people you’ve been upset with in your lifetime; three people who you now have forgiven despite the fact that they never apologised or maybe even changed. Some little things are fine, but include at least one big thing. Ask yourself what changed between when you were mad and when you let it go? Did they change or did you?

If you look closely, your forgiveness would have come easily once your understanding and empathy increased. Once you either understood the world or yourself better you adjusted your judgments. This is no small thing. This means you can change others by changing yourself.

People are not fixed points in a fixed universe. They look different from every angle, like Earth might from different directions in space. Look at it one way and it’s the Pacific, another and it’s the Himalayas. How you saw others would be like aliens looking at the Himalayas and concluding that the entire planet was a mountain range that reached up over 6,000 meters (20,000 feet). But you need a broader, more well-rounded perspective before you can really say you have even a basic understanding of Earth. The same goes for people.

1073-relax-and-succeed-the-future-is-something-which-everyone-reachesFind your examples. Note your forgiveness and see that it was acceptance. Note how they didn’t change, you did. A change in your perspective changed who they are to you because there is no truth. There is no hallowed ground to stand on. Everything is a perspective. This is about abandoning the desire for certainty to live in the reality of mystery. You think you don’t like mystery, but over time I will prove to you that you really do.

What I do is weird, I know. But if you read the testimonials on my website or talk to people who’ve worked closely with me, they’ll all tell you that they too were lost before they were found. This isn’t linear knowledge, it’s more a congealing of truth. It’s harder to measure, but it’s happening.

Despite the fact that it’s difficult to perceive for you right now, I can guarantee that doing these exercises this week actually changed who you are. Over time those will add up and one day you’ll look in the mirror and you’ll suddenly realise that you’re a different person. And much like understanding others from the distance of time, that’s when you’ll understand what I’m doing now. In the meantime, congratulate yourself on making changes and have a great weekend.

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.

Stretching Our Spirit

Relax and Succeed - Nature is busy creating absolutely unique individualsThere are a lot of ways to be beautiful. Like many things in life though it can take time to come to appreciate certain kinds of beauty. Much like young people start off entirely selfish and grow towards ever-increasing empathy (if they’re healthy), when we’re young we also start of with relatively shallow ideas about beauty and (if we’re healthy), we expand those ideas to include more and more things and therefore people.

It’s natural for a child, tween, teen and young adult to recognise physical health as is manifested by our genes and our habits. If someone 10,000 years ago was too lazy to hunt that would be reflected by being underweight, whereas being able to eat a lot would be a sign of success in a  pre-money pre-symbolism world. And if you’re raising kids, obtaining food is the bottom of Maslow’s Pyramid. You do that before anything so it makes biological sense that we would want to be with someone who can look after themselves

To actually have a child a woman would be in competition for a mate with other women and therefore the qualities that denote physical success would be more attractive to the men who also want to see their lineage move forward in that wonderful way nature has.

977 Relax and Succeed - You are beautifulAs we actually attempt relationships we find out they’re about more than just the sexual attraction and the food. That can get a person pregnant but if sharing the food only lasts a short time then the children are in jeopardy, so having a male who feels dedicated enough to stay long enough to protect those offspring also makes sense. So then commitment to the relationship becomes important.

Again we grow and we realise that commitment only comes from certain temperaments reliably, so now we’re looking for the right personality. How nurturing is someone? How courageous? How enjoyable?

Eventually the child-rearing years are over and now the commitment does not have the bind of the children which is why a lot of divorces happen within a few years after the kids are independent. But if things prior to that have been so enjoyable and secure it can be in both parties interests to stay linked. This is based on appreciation.

977 Relax and Succeed - The more we can appreciateIt is possible to move quickly through this evolution if we can come to grasp these individual ideas as a larger concept: we get that people stay because we treat them well and we treat them well because we appreciate what they bring into our lives. That’s why when we’re young we can wonder how a woman can be attractive with stretch marks and yet when we’re older we see those as signs of life’s greatest achievement.

The problem comes in when we compare because everyone is viewing things from a different perspective. Like the old Indian stories about the four blind men studying an elephant, one can think its tail is like a rope, another can find the legs like a tree, another finds the tusk like a spear and the last finds the trunk like a snake. A younger person does not yet have the capacity to appreciate the larger meaning of a stretch mark and so they can see it as a scar rather than a symbol. So the problem isn’t the stretch mark on the older woman, it’s an illusion created by the younger person’s limited ability to appreciate due to having less experience in life.

It’s much the same with anything. Men can historically look at moneymaking  (aka food-gathering) as the main skill, but as we come home from some hunts wounded we come to realise that care and support after the hunt can be what enables us to hunt better tomorrow. In this way people grow toward each other in mutual interdependence, which is a form of appreciation–the highest form of awareness. Meanwhile in a thought-based comparative world where two people are less skilled at appreciation they will end up co-dependent, thereby making the relationship unhealthy for both the parents and any children.

977 Relax and Succeed - You will b e too much for some peopleDo not apply the perspectives of others to views of yourself. You have no idea by looking at someone where they are on that shallowness-appreciation spectrum. You were on it too so don’t lament that someone else is, but don’t apply it to yourself any more than you should use your thoughts to compare yourself today to your younger self from an earlier time. The comparison itself is what generates the pain. It is the result of a thought-calculation. There is no comparing in appreciation. There is no room in our consciousness for anyone or anything other than what we’re appreciating.

Love yourself wherever you are on this spectrum. There is no need to hurry or to cling to any point. We each move at our own pace which is fine, because if we don’t use our thoughts to generate the judgments and comparisons then we’re not anywhere on any spectrum–we simply are. And that is the very best place to be.

Go be. Go be whoever you are now. Trust me. That person is beautiful and perfect.

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.

Translating Love

If you go to enough Christian weddings there is a high degree of likelihood that you’ll hear a reading from Corinthians. As a young person it was often the only thing that would cause my attention to prick up. Despite not being religious myself I thought it was particularly practical and beautiful. The thing about enlightened love is that its lofty romantic parts are actually the same as its practical everyday parts.

744 Relax and Succeed - CorinthiansBecause it’s essentially a lesson in having a good relationship I figured it was worth it to try translate Corinthians into modern daily terms. Sometimes people include the portions before and after this section, and there are a lot of slightly different versions, but here’s an example of the English “original:”

Love is patient: this means that as much as possible you will earnestly try to let your partner function at their own natural pace, whether that’s getting up in the morning, sex you’d like to have, or deciding to have a family. You don’t like people making you go faster or slower than is comfortable for you either. So no verbal jabs at someone just for being themselves.

Love is kind: this obviously means that there should be kindness in your loving relationships. I know it sounds like I shouldn’t even have to mention it, but in most marriages this is the thing that disappears first. The absence of basic kindness does a lot of damage and it can and will lead to a marriage breakdown. It should be easy for you to remember lots of recent examples of kindness you expressed to your partner.

744 Relax and Succeed - The words you speakLove is not envious: this means you’re happy for your partner when good things happen for them and you don’t compare what you got to what they got. It also means you don’t compare what you were given to what they gave someone else. It also means you aren’t upset when they’re getting suitable attention.

or boastful: there is no need to elevate yourself around someone who loves you because true love denotes full acceptance. There is no need for striving—for ego. If we feel we have to impress our partner we’re working in the wrong realm and you need to get reconnected not more impressive.

or arrogant: even if your partner’s views aren’t as informed, they remain valid. Don’t assume you know what’s better for them. Allow them space to have their personality and their views. There are people who think a conversation is nothing more than them telling others how they should live, even if was no question asked and no problem was stated.

or rude: show your partner basic respect. Let them tell their own stories, let them learn from doing things wrong without sticking your nose into it. And if you have a criticism it’s really a request, so just skip the negativity and just make the request.

744 Relax and Succeed - Well done is betterIt does not insist on its own way: this means you don’t assume that what you want for you as a couple is the same thing that your partner wants. A lot of couples will have one person who innocently but unfortunately assumes that everything they want to do is a couples idea. You don’t need to pick your partner’s clothing or hairstyle or holidays unless they ask you to. More importantly, don’t assume you know what’s better for your kids. Assuming you’re the better parent is a very dangerous thing and the kids rarely agree with the parent who makes such a bombastic claim.

It is not irritable or resentful: as much as possible try to keep petty complaints to yourself and when people do display them do not resent it. You too will need the latitude when you’re ornery and looking to pick a fight.

It does not rejoice in wrongdoing: easy—no I told you so’s.

but rejoices in the truth: be grateful to your partner for sharing difficult things that are emotionally challenging. Those are difficult to bring forward and if we react negatively to honesty we will only promote dishonesty.

744 Relax and Succeed - Being deeply lovedIt bears all things: no matter what should enter the marriage—financial challenges, sick children, family deaths—these are inevitable parts of life and if we’re not prepared to bear each others challenges then we’re not prepared to be in a mature true-love couple.

Believes all things: do not doubt your partner. Yes they may lean hard on you when they are low, but the confidence you show in them will be reflected in the quality of your relationship overall. When a spouse is weak a good partner doesn’t attack them, they double their support. And that’s because they remember who the person fundamentally is so they don’t mistake weather for geography.

Hopes all things: of course you should want the very best of things for your partner. If you’re really evolved you’ll even want them to have the best partner possible—even if that’s not you. That keeps you on your toes and reminds you that we need to re-win our partners back every few years just as they need to do with us.

Endures all things: tolerance. Within a decade a person will go through a huge range of fortunes. They hardest thing is when you’re both down. But when one’s up and one’s down, the one who’s up must show patience and understanding to the struggling partner because one day the tables will be turned and we will need the help.

744 Relax and Succeed - You don't need someoneSee? No matter what religious background you’re from that is a pretty good guideline for most relationships. But it can’t just be words you hear in a church on a wedding day. Whether it’s your wedding or someone else’s, that passage should remind you that your relationship is a verb—it is an action you take in your life.

You don’t get married and stay married. You fall in love and you continue to nurture the love or you don’t. That’s the difference between marriage and divorce the vast majority of time. It’s not that the people that can’t be together. It’s that they’re not being together.

Again: it’s a verb. Don’t forget you’re on a team. If you have a list of how your partner could make the relationship better then you know you’re lost. If you have a list for yourself (and its not overly critical or negative), then you’re on the right track.

Here’s to many happy relationships.

peace. s

Other Perspectives #71

701 OP Relax and Succeed - Don't flirt with someone else

As you get older you can read quotes like this and you can usually guess the age of the writer within five years. That shows you how much the same we all are. We’re all moving through patterns of behaviour as we move through our seven ages of man. Listen, I know that seeing someone you love being with someone else is something that really hurts. But there’s a great lesson in that. Because I promise you that the pain is not coming from seeing them. It’s about looking at them and then thinking. It’s the thoughts that hurt. Because if they’re happily with someone else, you can’t go quickly get someone and make them jealous. Because if they left they left for a reason of theirs and they went to this other person for a reason of theirs. So they might look over at you and feel a short temporary jab, but because their thoughts will shift to the better position they themselves feel they are in, they will feel fine. That’s why the leaver always does better than the leavee. The leaver either wanted someone else or they wanted more freedom but either way their thoughts will be less commonly on the past and more on the future, whereas the leavee has to rip themselves away from the future they’d imagined so they can start living in the present moment they’re in. So if someone’s flaunting just to hurt you then that’s just childish. Maybe in the future when they’re more mature, but for now, if someone is vindictive or possessive then they’re still immature and you don’t want to be in a relationship with an immature person. So just live your own life. Don’t keep your thoughts on inappropriate things. Learn to do this early in life and you will bring yourself great salvation later, I promise. Good luck.

Much love, s

Other Perspectives #56

626 OP1 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Other Perspectives #56

Do you see that if you do something just because someone told you that you couldn’t, that you’ve still let them control your actions? This is why teenagers often come into conflict. A very low percentage of them will be aware of the fact that in their brain’s attempt to feign independence (no happy person is every truly independent), all they are doing is simply the opposite of their parents, teachers, coach whatever. They have no choice but to just choose the opposite because they are too young to have any nuanced references on what all of their choices must even be—and so they start at the only place they can—the opposite of whatever their oh-so-uncool parents would choose. And so if you want to be like the relatively short Martin St. Louis, and win the Most Valuable Player in the series that wins your team the championship, then that’s great because you’re using another person’s opinion to motivate you to achieve a goal that’s yours. But if you’re just doing it because you were told not to then that is what immaturity still looks like. If you want to know just how different the world can be just do some travelling. And if you’re too young for that, just start dating. If you’re in North America you’ll know something’s up as soon as Thanksgiving rolls around and you learn that your date’s Mom puts (or doesn’t put) raisins in the stuffing. Dating is usually the first real comparison we get they helps us understand how individualized the culture in each family actually is. So we don’t want to choose things just because they’re the opposite of what another person would choose, but we do want to become aware of as many of our choices as possible so that we can use all of the wisdom gained by all the world to help you find your way to the source of deep and abiding peace. Have a wonderful week!

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.