Our Potential is Limited by Insecure Thinking

1295 Relax and Succeed - When you feel fantastic

Once we gain the ability to see people unconditionally, it becomes painful experiencing someone turn in on themselves. Humility is attractive, but self-criticism based on insecurity is like watching someone slice their own soul open. If only people realized how incredible they are.

When we feel fantastic and when we feel awful, it is the same us generating both of those identities. We have to stop and really think about that.

We can’t let our sense of our selves or the quality of our days be left to chance. Yet, that’s what most people do without ever realizing they have an option. If we don’t become aware that we can conjure large parts of our lives with our intentions, we will view the world largely out of habit.

The danger in habitual thinking is that it means that if we are unhappy we will stay that way. People who think they’re going to have a bad day are going to be able to find one lurking within every day for sure because nothing is ever perfect. But the same goes for bad days. None are perfectly bad.

The variable quality of our lives is influenced, but how it feels will ultimately depend most on how hard we’re inclined look for evidence of things that inspire us, versus those that don’t.

This awareness of our ability to choose not only inoculates us against long term suffering, but it also promises the potential of an exalted life. Just like a sad or angry life, a wonder and love-filled life also exists in potential for almost everyone. But it is we who must consciously enact that life.

1295 Relax and Succeed - Real success is feeling good

We should be wary if we feel the urge to hide from our own lives. We are not failures, we are human. And each of us is the only person out of billions assigned to live our particular life. Every role is part of the larger whole, so if we consider our successes and our failures as part of a larger duty to the universe, then even our mistakes become important, impersonal contributions to the universal flow of yin and yang.

The world transfers energy between positive and negative sources. We shouldn’t panic if we occasionally and accidentally find ourselves the agents of the universe’s need to also express negativity. If we don’t like a feeling there’s little need to add guilt. We’re already motivated to change by how bad it feels.

The point is to avoid creating negative space within our own consciousness by taking action or changing the course of our thinking. At the same time, we must do this while still accepting that negative feelings are an integral part of life. They too make life worth living. The wisdom comes through experience in managing the balance.

Real success is feeling good about being who we are, struggles included. When we can bestow that kind of unconditional love upon ourselves, we are given the capacity to perpetually heal. When we can bestow unconditional love on others, we develop the power to inspire those with whom we share our lives.

peace. s

Reactions to Failure

Staying conscious is being mindful. If your head isn’t full of self-conversation then much more of the world can get inside you. You notice more and that’s helpful. So when a friend and I were recently disagreeing about an important issue we were working on I noted quite clearly that in the middle of the discussion of the good friend said, “have you eaten?”

972 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes when things are falling apartMe being upset lead to a friend asking if I’d eaten, meaning she had related my mood to my food. I trust her so we ate and I did feel better as my body chemistry regulated. It turned out I just needed some sugar. You could leave it at that but if you’re going to think don’t ruminate, meditate. So I spent the next two days meditating on how that happened.

In that meditation I recalled another similar experience where I had snapped at a different friend for very little reason. At the time my reaction had been so strangely immediate that it registered with me. I remember meditating then on the fact that I loved the friend so it didn’t make sense, plus I hadn’t been thinking any relevant negative thoughts. So what was the cause? My disappointment over how I treated my friend was what motivated my meditations.

After more consideration I realised both situations reminded me of when I got upset really easily for about eight months when I was in my late teens. I was going through a growth spurt and my off-balance chemistry gave me a different personality for a short time. And now here was a friend responding to me being unreasonable by asking me if I’d eaten. Food relates to body chemistry. Can you see if you’re more aware that the truth becomes obvious? The question was, how did it happen?

972 Relax and Succeed - Never regret anythingSometimes the big challenges in life are so obvious and huge in our lives that they cause us to miss some of the smaller implications. A few years ago I underwent my life’s most difficult period where rather than an 8 hour day and a 40 hour week I needed a 40 hour day and a 280 hour work week just to avoid disasters, but that in turn lead to a series of sub-decisions that were far less conscious. Life can deliver us more than we can handle. That happens.

There is no good way to prioritise the very serious and absolute demands presented by very elderly and sick parents, a book deadline, your life’s work, the needs of clients and the business that pays your equally important mortgage, or even your basic life obligations like the fact that you need to eat, drink, sleep, grocery shop, and personally groom, plus you’ll have needs relating to everything from house and yard work to necessary car repairs or maintenance and of course there’s the never-ending administration that life requires.

I knew during that time that I would be letting friends down and I accepted there would be a price. I worked with my doctor on a plan for so little sleep and so much work and I developed a special diet, but even then I accepted there would be both a price and a limit. I worked off an insanely inhuman schedule that I still can’t believe I maintained.

972 Relax and Succeed - A friend is someone who understandsDespite all that effort I was still constantly letting everyone down, including myself. I never had enough sleep and I had quietly developed terrible eating habits over time. I was still eating healthy, but I would often go to bed at 2am realising I hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 5am the previous day. And there in my mediation was my answer: In my busy-ness I had accidentally learned not to eat.

Because historically we can be chased by wild animals the desires to eat and to pee can be deferred to later. Pain stays, the desire to eat comes and goes. I got so used to dealing with not being able to eat that it became an unconscious habit to just immediately dismiss the desire. I needed to get conscious about food again.

For the next several weeks I watched myself closely. Sure enough, once I was watching I caught myself tons of times deferring the desire to eat. As often as possible I would remember to respond to it and I’m currently about half way to re-teaching myself to eat when I’m hungry. That’s how busy-minded we can get: we can forget something as basic as eating.

972 Relax and Succeed - Don't deny what's occurringSo can you see that I’m now glad the friends reactions were pain because I care about them? And I’m glad one defended herself by asking me if I’d eaten? Without those signs that I was off the path how could I have rediscovered the path? I needed those ditches to help me find the road. Of course we always want to treat loved ones well, but part of love is that they can help us make it through tough times like that and then we can do the same for them. That’s how love serves.

So now I’m grateful that the universe has taught me to appropriately value food and that my friends were patient and now that I do have the time to eat I’m getting conscious enough to actually do it. So this can help you too if you remember that if you have a problem don’t focus on the problem itself, ask yourself what its source is.

Believe you are a good person that is lost not a bad person that needs changing because that is the greater truth. If you approach your mistakes that way you can see your innocence and then make the change without guilt. Speaking of not feeling guilty, another great truth is that I’m hungry right now so, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to get something to eat. In the meantime, you have yourself a stellar day. Bon appetite.

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.

Your Internal Guidance System

You implore the universe to help you. You beg it, beseech it and are left bereft when it does not. But maybe it answered before you were even asking. Maybe it knew what you would need and it made sure you had it. Maybe the thing you thought was making you sick is the same thing that can make you healthy…..

819 Relax and Succeed - Everybody is youI’ve written about it before and it’s important enough that it gets its own section in my latest book. You have to stop seeing your life as this event that is happening to you personally and you have to start seeing the signals you’re getting as being human. Those were put within you because the universe knew you would need them.

Like the Dalai Lama recently said about the world, “We cannot solve this problem through only prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.” Indeed. Wanting is an ego-based activity. Action is the nature of the universe. But we keep mistaking its guidance for its results.

The universe will be bountiful and generous but you must go out and meet it in all its forms. Nature, other people, art, culture etc. will not come to you–you must be active in the creation of your more positive, emotionally successful life. You must recognize the signs that God or the universe provides you and you must use them to your advantage. Not so that you can undermine other aspects of nature or the universe, but so that you can become alive within your own life.

819 Relax and Succeed - loneliness is a requestYou can actively choose to move away from suffering and toward something better. And that’s important because getting to that place is not nearly as important as the personal effort to get there. That’s where you derive your satisfaction from living–from your movement. You are an aspect of the universe. Where you are dormant the universe is dormant.

Look at how brilliant you are: Loneliness is a request for connection. Anger is a request for safety. Frustration is a request for assistance. Sadness is a request for fun and Love is a request for more love. Nothing happens if you look at the emotion and say, Look what God brought me! God didn’t bring that.

God or the universe created everything. Including all of the smart cells that make you up. Including the ones that produce the chemistry for your brain. All you need to do is stop seeing your emotions as the end result and instead see them as the universe speaking to you. You’re not a spectator. You’re a participant.

819 Relax and Succeed - Everything you do is based on the choices you makeYour emotions are not meant to be destroyed they’re meant to be employed. Don’t add to them by complaining about them. They are requests for action. You can’t sit in your home every night alone and then complain that your life is bad. It’s not bad. You’re not living it. Every day you get delivered tons of information about what would help you but you keep waiting for life to arrive rather than understanding that it is an action.

Start listening to your emotions. Use them to motivate your life. Use them to move you towards love and away from indifference. There is nothing greater that you could do for the universe than simply manifesting your greatest self. Ready? Of course you are. You were born ready.

Let’s go! s

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

How To Be Sad

Here’s how lucky I am: even on the rare occasion that I actually feel low, I still get to be grateful, which in turn makes low not-so-low. Because a lot of my students are seeking a strange uniform sort of happiness they tend to feel relieved when they learn that I’m more like them than they might imagine. So me feeling bad helps them feel better, which in turn makes ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????me feel better—which is why I never stay there for long. I would guesstimate that I would have about two or three notably sad periods a year. I’m sad more often that that, but I’m talking about the times where I’m sad and I wish I wasn’t. They never even last a full day—usually about 4-5 hours, and they’re generally brought about by extreme conditions like extended periods of little sleep, poor diet and maybe pain.

I’m currently waiting for dental surgery, my schedule’s been intense, and that busy-ness has lead to me losing about 4-5 kilos (10 lbs) over the last couple of weeks. Those things combined to lead me to sad thoughts, which I entertained for about an hour before I noticed them. I was about to switch out when I realized that it was a rare occasion and that it could be quite useful for my writing—hence this. It’s not often I get to write to you when I’m feeling low so this is a great opportunity. The only trick is, that realization makes me grateful, and that’s already starting to take me out of this state of mind, so I’d better be quick.

When I’m feeling the way I usually do, I see other people’s lives from their perspective. The writer in me instantly imagines—if I wrote that character, what kind of reaction would they logically have? This is why I’m compassionate when someone’s suffering, and also why the world looks so wonderful to me. Many exciting and incredible and fortunate things happen to people all day long, so if that’s what you’re focused on, you’re connected to those people and to those positive experiences.

On the other hand, when I’m feeling like I have been the last hour, I instead look at other people’s lives and I think of me. So rather than focus on their good fortune, I focus on how I did not experience that good fortune or that I’m not currently experiencing it. The creation of an 541 Relax and Succeed - When I am buried“I” to have suffered is contained in that narrative. I build me by telling myself a story about how I am lacking this or that. In short, I create a me and that me can only exist in a context of wanting. (I’d read those last two sentences again and make sure you understand them.)

Hey, this is going pretty good. I wouldn’t have thought of putting it like this if I wasn’t feeling low. See? By engaging with my low-ness openly (as opposed to defining it as undesirable), I don’t make it real-er by self-talking it into reality by opposing it. Instead it’s just another part of life. And in other parts of my life I don’t have this strange belief that I can’t change from this emotion to that one. I can recognize my freedom if I’m picking sandwiches. But I lose sight of it when I’m making choices that I perceive are more important to my happiness.

Is this making sense? Because I’m quite pleased with this explanation of a very abstract concept. Sadness is comparative. You create a you and then you define a want and in the crux between those two ideas is your suffering. That’s the fabric from which you weave your narratives of disappointment and loss and regret and jealousy and and and. And you get the neurochemistry that goes with that thinking and that’s why you feel the way you do. Fortunately it goes the same going the opposite direction.

541 Relax and Succeed - On particularly rough daysJust do what I’m doing. It might feel easier to me because I’ve been doing it so long, but you’re entirely capable of this. Spend less time allowing your mind to discuss you and more time focusing on the good fortune that others around you are experiencing. Trust me, there’s plenty of good things going on in this world. If you’re focused on those you will feel incredible.

Happiness is no big deal. Neither is sadness. Don’t be overwhelmed. It’s a moment by moment choice to think this or think that. And if you find yourself in a negative loop, don’t panic. Just watch the loop and get to know it and witness how you’re actually creating a you to suffer through your comparisons of that you to others. You’ll wish you were married, or that you had kids—or that you weren’t married and that you didn’t have kids. You’ll wish you were born into a rich family or that you weren’t so shy, or that you were smarter or that you had bigger boobs. You’ll compare. And it’ll hurt. So instead, pay attention. The world around you is bountiful, exciting, inviting and worthwhile. But it’s always doing its thing. It’s you that has to stop focusing on your internal egocentric narratives and instead be in this world at this time to have these experiences. Do that and you will love your life.

And now I have to stop because I’m not the least bit sad anymore. Love you guys. Take care. And thanks. 😉

peace. s

Trying Not To Hate

I can’t stand a woman I work with. All she does is complain all day about everything and everybody. I’ve sat next to her since I started a few weeks ago and it doesn’t matter who she’s talking to the conversation’s all negative. She criticizes all of us and she has an opinion about every subject in the world. I’m starting to hate her and I know that’s not a good thing for me. What would you recommend I do in a situation like that?

Trying Not to Hate

Dear Trying,

How wise of you to be proactive about the feelings you were experiencing throughout your work day. I’m very impressed. And your situation is a common one so it’s good that a lot of people will be able to read about it and we can start to change everyone’s days for the better.

382 Relax and Succeed - I have decided to stick with loveFirst off, of course we all know people like this. They won’t talk about the fact that the warm weather’s a day away, they’ll tell you that the cold weather has lasted over a week. And if it’s been warm, they won’t talk about enjoying that weather, they’ll tell you about how they dread what’s coming. Essentially any subject will be referred to in critical, judgmental, opinionated, habitual ways. Early on in life too many things got wired into negativity. These are people who are very unlikely to have had healthy home lives. Essentially what you’re hearing and seeing on the outside is a direct reflection of what’s going on in the inside too. One is the shadow of the other.

Of course the person this bothers the most is the woman herself. By repetitively and consistently choosing that course-of-thought she guarantees herself a steady dose of the sort of brain and body chemistry that is hard on a person. Stress is not a good thing. To be negative is to not accept what is. It is pushing back against the Tao—the current of life—and it feels like swimming upstream because, in a cosmic way, that’s exactly what it is. She’s torturing herself with chemicals and she isn’t even aware of it. The problem for us is that she’s infected you.

At least the fix is easy. You have to reinvent her in your imagination. You have to see her a different way. Right now you’re turning what she is as being about you or having something to do with you. Such is not the case. She just is. Everyone is just a marionette for their thoughts and she’s no different. So don’t let her get you thinking in negative terms. Instead, watch her like an entomologist might watch an insect. (I don’t mean that derogatorily, I just want something we wouldn’t have cuddly feelings about.) Be passive. The scientist doesn’t think the insect is putting on a performance for him. It is simply being what it is and he is watching it in an attempt to understand it better. Do that with her.

382 Relax and Succeed - It's all about loveActually learn to watch how she forms the negativity. Understand how she hears things and what word choices she makes. You’ll see that she’s not negative, she just sees the world through very dirty glasses and so she’s just calling it as she honestly sees it. You’ll also catch her doing it to herself. Or maybe you’ll catch her doing the exact oppositeshe’ll never say anything negative about herself because she just can’t stand that anymore. But whichever one it is it will have grown out of how she was treated when she was little.

As you watch her more closely you also might notice that her life is very small and repetitive. Angry negative critical people don’t get invited out a lot, and not many people want to be their friends except other angry negative critical people. But they’re generally quite isolated both literally and figuratively. You may spot a sign of some kind of passion flickering under the armour. And it will be something warm. Something gentle and kind. Plants, horses, a faux romance with a movie star, romance novels, cats. There will be some attempt to find some warmth. Which is the basis of Step Two.

In Step Two, now that you’re not taking the way she is so personally, you can choose to make an attempt to impact your environment in a positive way. There’s no guarantee it will work because she has to actually change her thinking and you don’ t control that. But you can influence it. At this point the fact that she won’t attract a lot of friends will mean it will be easier for you to have an effect.

382 Relax and Succeed - Water is the softest thingAll you have to do is engage her in those one or two subjects where she can find joy. Talk about those with her. Build a positivity bond between you and her so that when she sees your face she associates it with happiness. Because there will be chemical bleed. If she’s just been super happy because she was having a discussion about Arabian stallions, then if a co-worker walks up and asks her something, rather than her being in her usual negative state of mind she’ll be in a positive one and so her first response is far more likely to be warmer. That’s how we all work.

So watch her, find out what makes her happy, engage her with that and then continue to watch her learn to see things in more positive ways. The great thing about it is it will help keep you mindful too. Because if you’re watching her then you won’t be creating a you with your thinking. You’ll simply be Being. And in that state you’ll notice a lot. So use what you learn to keep things steered toward the positive and you’ll slowly start to rewire her understanding of the world to include more positive responses.

She’ll be bad at it at first and you’ll feel like you’re failing but in reality it takes a while to build speed. It’ll start off that you’ll be excited to hear anything positive. And then you’ll get bits of days where she’s pretty good. And it will build and build (with the odd tumble backwards too), and within about three months you can have had quite a shift happen already. And if you maintained it she would be pretty nicely rewired within a year. She would still have times where she was down and negative, but once people have been truly happy they don’t want to stay in negativity anymore. She only stays there now because she’s never truly known happiness. But after she changes, she’ll let herself be negative for a while, but she’ll eventually shift by choice simply because she’ll know how. Because you’ll have taught her.

That’s a pretty good bet anyway.

Good luck with it. Negativity is an insidious thing. I’m glad you’re being proactive about defending your life. It’s too short to waste any of it hating anyone. Give her my love.

peace. s


Scott’s Favourite Blogs of 2013: #3

265 Relax and Succeed - Change your thoughtsAs the year winds down I wanted to take some time to recognize some of the blog entries that have really stood out for a variety of reasons. The text might be the same but the reader is always changing, so even if it is one you’re familiar with I would urge you to consider reading it again. It just takes a few moments and you might just be surprised at how different a reader you have already become….

I’ll break them down into three sections: one for my personal three favourites of the year, another for my three favourites from external sources, and then I’ll end with a countdown of the 10 most popular Blogs-of-the-Year. Today I will begin with my #3 pick for my personal favourite blog of this past year:

Making Magic Tea

Imagine an ocean of consciousness. Imagine a teapot submerged within this ocean. That teapot defines what will be us. It contains the portion of total consciousness that is our sense of individual consciousness. While it never leaves the ocean, when the teapot rises to the surface it loses contact with much of the universe, and our very first sense of separation is what marks our ‘birth’ into the physical world.

Mental health versus mental struggle are determined by how much of our teapot feels ‘outside’ of the ocean. Do we feel we almost submerged and connected and healthy? Or are we barely touching our spiritual reality and understandably feeling isolated and vulnerable as a result? We’re always connected, but we can think we’re not.

When we are born our water is clear and our minds are like sponges. We grow by observing everything very closely, including the other teapots near us. We notice how they fill themselves with types of tea so –for better and for worse– we learn how to initially make tea from those around us. Families are our first culture.

How this works is that we’ll find a central person to mimic and one we’ll deem as living wrongly, and we’ll often try to do the opposite of what they suggest or do. Everyone else we like we still mimic, just less than those central sources of identity.

265 Relax and Succeed - Each morning we are born

If that person in our family gets angry a lot we’ll either be motivated to make that angry tea too because it’s familiar, or if they’re the person we think suffers for being wrong, we’ll actively avoid getting angry because we will have noticed its negative effects because we were watching for the person for that and negative effects are always there simply due to the duality of nature. There are no one-sided coins.

In the end, whether we copy or oppose them, those close to us will largely dictate which cues will lead us to prepare –or specifically not prepare– this or that particular emotional tea. Spiritual growth is when we begin to selfishly take conscious control over the preparation of our own tea. In doing so, we become more present and less unconscious.

Our consciousness is like the water. It’s an opportunity. The life-force convection of our very Being allows us to make any tea we choose. But to drink deeply and to really taste the tea of life we must take ownership of the brewing process. We must consciously choose to make the tea we wish make to flavour the experience of our lives.

The biggest challenge to that is that we often losing track of our sense of choice. Fortunately, that is where our taste comes in. We have to actually start thinking about what flavour various parts of our day have.

If we just throw in whatever tea our Dad or Mom made in this or that situation— then we’re not really actively alive at all. We’re not choosing our life at that point, we’re just following a script they accidentally set. We’re just drinking whatever we were told to drink like we’re Pavlov’s dogs.

That kind of reaction can lead to things as minor as crying at weddings to as serious as domestic abuse. But even if we like crying at weddings—it would be much better that it was us choosing that, and not our history dictating it.

Fortunately we have great intuition when taste-testing teas. If we don’t like how a tea tastes then that is not our tea. That is all individuality is: personal taste.

179 Relax and Succeed - What sort of experience

Other people can tell us that chamomile is amazing, but if we don’t like it then it’s not for us. The fact that it tastes bad to us is what’s supposed to prompt us to stop drinking it and stop making it. It’s a signal to change emotional teabags. It’s a signal to change the contents of our thinking.

That change is contained within our consciousness. That’s why as conscious beings we really can’t blame others when it’s us that’s drinking something we clearly don’t like. Old habits die hard. But if we take responsibility for an ugly flavour, that also means we’re assuming control. We’re recognizing our control over our choice of teabags –control over our life experience.

We all make tea all day long. We just go from this moment/sip to that moment/sip. But we are always having some tea, even when we sleep. So we are better to stop complaining about it as though someone hands it to us. If we don’t like the tea we have we’re free to pour it out and replace it.

When it comes to living with wisdom, it’s really only a matter of practice. The more we consciously change tea bags the better we get at changing tea bags. That ability is an expression of being conscious. After we have that skill, knowing what we like to drink (from the choices available) is easy. Our tea is the tea that tastes good to us.

It is good for us to get conscious of the process of being alive. This is our short-lived opportunity to be a tea-maker. We should not feel ashamed to make some terrible teas. Drinking those will be what teaches us that the tea-making is ultimately our responsibility.

Over time we experiment with other people’s tea choices and a few of our own and eventually we figure out which teas are truly our favourites. From there we simply have to remember to brew those every opportunity we get, while also knowing that forgetting is a part of tea-making.

Over time we replace the triggers we have to make emotional teas we don’t find productive in our lives. We’ll still have emotional challenges because life ensures pain. But if we stay conscious we can make the sort of teas that reduce our suffering.

Before we know it we will casually remember that we are mortal, and that the pot of consciousness that is us will eventually drift back out into the larger ocean of consciousness that surrounds it. And that will be the end of the tea held in the shape of what we think of as us.

At the end of our lives, freed from our vessel, the real essence of us is finally free to flow and mix without judgment, as the former us melts and become an integral part of the vast and infinite ocean of consciousness from which new tea pots will be scooped up to be reincarnated as other individuals with their own opportunities to choose the teas that will flavour lives of their very own.

peace. s