Talking Ourselves Down

1251 Relax and Succeed - Toughness is no match for insecurityNEWSFLASH: It does not matter how strong you are, how smart you are, nor how educated you’ve become, nor how skilled. Those are all great thing, but all of them can quickly become worthless by being easily undone by a simple internal narrative of insecurity. Whether it’s a sport, an art, in business, or with others in our social lives, nothing will do more damage to us than our own egos and their neverending pursuit of whatever our current definition of perfection is.

We’ll go to the gym, we’ll invest energy in things we’re fascinated by, we’ll spend a lot of time learning about that subject either formally or informally, and we’ll practice it. The reason we’ll happily put in a huge effort in will be because we see value there. We don’t get clear-headed and generally peaceful by wanting to stop our suffering, we get clear-headed by valuing the peace we trust we can create.

There are kids who see practicing an instrument as torture while others see it as an escape. Our behaviours often point quite clearly to our real interests, and when we’re pursuing those our pure zeal leads to us to fill our consciousness with excitement about the thing instead of rolling it’s usually unconscious narratives. There is a great lesson in that fact.

1251 Relax and Succeed - It is easy to shield our bodiesThe voices in our heads are debates by for and with ourselves. It’s a strange thing to do when we get right down to it. It’s natural in that no one tells us not to fall into the trap of too much self-talk after we learn to talk, but by the time anyone’s forty they start to grasp that the unhealthy people overthink and the healthy ones seem inordinately calm.

Both groups will still have their big emotional highs and lows, but while one group is whipped around like a flag in the wind for however long the wind is blowing, the other group quickly shifts back to letting things flow around them, unimpeded by personal thoughts. It’s like our consciousness is actually a fast-moving river, and thinking about something too much is like dumping rocks into the water and making the water choppier and rougher. Just looking at a busy-minded person is like being able to see how busy the incessantly burbling thoughts are inside their head.

We must ask ourselves, when and why do we undertake this strange behaviour? What’s our own most common narrative of insecurity? Are we too short? Too weak? Do we need more money? More time? Do we use our narratives to hate others rather than advance ourselves? Do we see the world as against us? Do we tell yourself ourselves we’re unlucky, or doomed or stupid, or lazy or worthless?

1251 Relax and Succeed - Are you being nice to yourself

We can tell ourselves all of those things and they will act as actual barriers to our achieving all we can. Our other option is to actually learn to get conscious about what internal actions actually lead to our satisfaction.

If we do get conscious we’ll see that our pain comes from our thinking, and when we love our own life it’s because we’re too excited by it to take the time to build any self-limiting narratives. It doesn’t matter how much we go to the gym or read or practice something if our mind hasn’t found a way to embrace whatever it is we need to do. You must fall in love with wherever you are. This general caring about our life is what is often referred to as taking pride in our work, or being respectful or having the commitment to succeed.

We don’t have to work to reach this form of clarity. We don’t add to ourselves to find this peace. We take away our ego, our narratives, our insecurity, and we replace it with a peaceful mindfulness capable of drawing in information at a remarkable rate. Remember, we all learned to talk and walk before we were even three. That’s how smart we can be. But to be that brilliant we must consciously avoid using the words we’ve already learned, to undo the very confidence that enabled us to the learn all the words in the first place.

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.

Good For You

Good for you. Have you ever stopped to really think about that phrase? Think about when you say it; it’s always when someone’s had something good happen in their life. And the more they had to do with their success the more enthusiastic we are. We’re happy for lottery winners, but we deeply admire those with the talent to create success, and our admiration increases in proportion to how hard they needed to work for it.

Good for you. It’s a double entendre. On one hand it means that whatever has happened is good news for you and that you are to be congratulated. On the other hand it can also note a well-earned victory means that notable successes are drawn from notable efforts. All of that hard work is good for you, so the earned victory not only impresses us, it inspires us.

It is in these moments in which we can feel our interconnectedness. Our happiness for the other person is an experience we have within our consciousness. The other person doesn’t even experience that. They see someone in the act of loving and that in turn inspires them to essentially love our love for them. It’s like a feedback loop of love.

And who is unpopular? An ego. An ego considers only itself, just as an insecure person doesn’t consider themselves enough. You want to balance on humility, where you get to selfishly be you, but you’re developed enough as a soul that you understand that nothing is better for you than what is good for others.

How then should this impact our days? If we know an open channel can generate opportunities for valuable connections, and we know closing ourselves off selfishly creates a feeling of separation and emptiness, then why not watch for the former and ignore the latter?

Most people spend most of their day in their head, talking to themselves. And when I say, “talking to,” what I really mean is attacking, reminding, debasing, criticizing, and fearfully undermining their own sense of self.

Why fill your head with all of those busy negative words when you can treat your consciousness more like a Star Trek tractor-beam? You just lock onto something you know you want and you pull it closer. And closer doesn’t mean in a possessive way, it means in a oneness way. It means you start to feel the same happiness they’re feeling but it’s about something that happened to them, not you. That’s connection. We live for that.

So today, like everyday, you’ll go through life switching between the creation of personal narrative that confirm your egocentric impression of the world, or you’ll engage in a very active silence that seeks to pull in the universe in an act of loving awareness. It’s why on a “good day” almost everything seems sweet or beautiful or wonderful or kind, and on a “bad day” it seems like the world’s filled with jerks.

Don’t try to stop your thinking. Switch the energy you use for thinking into being. Reading is thinking another person’s thoughts. A picture isn’t that different from reading, and an actual face isn’t so different from a photo of a face, so it isn’t a huge leap to move from you thinking your personal painful thoughts, to thinking an author’s thoughts, to studying a portrait, and then on to looking at an actual face. That’s all reality, not your opinion about reality.

Thoughts can get so busy they can lead to us feeling like we’re drowning. Reasons to feel good are laying all over the place and they buoy us up. Your day is filled with moments. Take as many as possible, and fill them with the fruits of your observations rather than waste them on yet another stream of unpleasant, unproductive thoughts.

You only have so much time on this Earth, so stop trying to impress everyone else and start living as though your life is actually yours. Because nothing will impress people more than how loving you’ll be once your egocentric, wanting thoughts are quieted in favour of you engaging in loving appreciation.

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.

Making Sense

Order. Pattern. Sense. Understanding. Meaning. Our lives emerge from these things. In fact, you yourself are a pursuit. You are an action through the universe that skips and jumps and hops from here to there, all in an effort to construct or weave a life story that either makes some kind of sense to you, or that you will continue to work on in an effort to make sense of it.

It’s as though everyone is sitting around together weaving, and the threads are made of words that are then stitched into concepts that combine to create a life story. It’s like we weave the whole thing just to show it to other people who did the same. We’re just hanging out together, and yet what we weave takes on a life of its own.

It’s one thing to weave a lonely disconnected character but it’s another thing altogether to think that you are what has been woven. You are the weaving; not the weaver, not the thread, not the needle. You’re the action of weaving. You aren’t a dancer, you’re a dance.

That would be all well and good if you didn’t spend so much of your life wandering from person to person asking them what you should weave, and asking them to explain their own weaving. They will tell you what they’ve learned from their weaving, but only the basic principles are common to all weavers, so it’s not like they can really help you. Your job is to let go and weave what only you would weave, you’re not supposed to become some expert on weaving. Do you understand?

Look at how cloying your brain is about comprehension. You hate not knowing. You dislike confusion, or uncertainty. Your mind seeks order. It wants to understand. But the problem is the wanting, not the understanding. Your life is just a steady pursuit of understanding, but too often people are standing back looking at the shape of that pursuit as though it’s something to be judged. The path and the walker are one.

The good news is, this means your route through life has been neither good nor bad. It was merely the life that emerged from the choices you made, either consciously or unconsciously. Where it went in the end is irrelevant. What counts is that you felt the experience of being alive.

All great dramas are made of many kinds of characters and all play their critical role in the larger plots. Strangely, there is no more merit in playing the hero as there is in playing the villain. We need them all to feel like anything happened, and we will all take a turn (many times) in both roles.

As the comedian Andy Kaufman knew when he created a wrestler for everyone to hate, what we really love is the story. If we can learn to accept that we’re here to weave stories and not to do something important, then we can get on to the important act of weaving, just as Kaufman voluntarily became someone for you to despise. He wasn’t being a jerk. For our benefit, he was just playing one in the drama that is our collective lifetimes.

Stop looking for meaning. Like water, just flow naturally to your own low ground. The pool that forms will be what reflects your life exactly as it should. So stop striving, trying, or wanting. Simply be instead. Let yourself be yourself, and accept who you are, no matter what. Regardless of what your thinking says.

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.

Self Harm

1091-relax-and-succeed-the-mind-is-responsible-for-the-feelingsThis week we’ve discussed spiritual and psychological violence. You’ve worked on altering your external discussions to remove that sort of violence from what you say; you’ve worked on your internal discussions regarding how you judge others; and today you’ll work on the most damaging version: attacks on yourself.

The concepts of cutting or self-sabotage can be difficult for happy people to understand. But it is possible to use internal violence against ourselves so effectively that we also begin to believe we deserve physical pain as well. We start to use the pain to divert our attention away from the even-more-painful thinking. The point isn’t to stop the cutting, it’s to stop the thinking.

The illusion that there is something wrong with us is created through comparison. If your parents were verbally hard on you then they would have taught you to be hard on yourself within your thoughts and there will always be a comparison. If we’re not careful we can start to think the training for our thoughts is actually who we are, but just because someone judges you as something doesn’t mean that’s what you are, it just means that’s their style of judgment.

1091-relax-and-succeed-dont-let-your-struggleThe trick is, you can’t get back into a healthy mode by trying or changing or effort because it’s all an illusion. Everyone is naturally psychologically and spiritually healthy, but we can be convinced–and then we can continue to convince ourselves–that somehow we are not worthy unless we do this or that thing.

As strange as it seems to the person who’s made a habit of doing it, there’s nothing wrong with them other than they’re currently engaged in painful thinking. That’s why they still have friends and family that love them and are often confused. None of it makes sense unless you’re the person thinking the thoughts. They still see the same old lovable, potential-filled you.

When you look in mirror you don’t see you, you see a jumble of judgments about you. When you consider who you are, you don’t look at yourself very thoroughly; you’re more likely to cherry pick out all of your biggest challenges. But if you didn’t have those challenges you’d be perfect and that would be boring. You’re here to move around all that, not overcome it. Mountain climbers don’t chisel the mountain out of existence, nor do they want to stay on top. Their life’s joy is just trying a life of different routes.

1091-relax-and-succeed-i-am-made-and-remade-continuallyToday’s meditation is to compete with yourself or your partner to catch yourself internally using the words I and you, because that’s the two words you’ll often use when you talk to yourself. (e.g. If I don’t get this paper written I’ll fail this class; come on Sara, you can do it.) Keep in mind you do this all day every day so there will be lots of opportunities for you to catch yourself.

Just like you did yesterday with another person, today you do that with yourself. You listen to that criticism and then you find a way to rephrase it to yourself in more positive, encouraging terms. This can feel silly and meaningless, but that’s because you think your big problems need big solutions, but really you don’t have big problems, you just have an overabundance of  counterproductive thinking.

Don’t stop altering your external conversations; keep shifting those to be more positive as well. For every interior criticism you have about someone or something, rewrite it to be most positive. And today add interior and exterior criticisms of yourself. You’ll feel like you’re getting away with something or you’re letting yourself off easy, but in reality it’s that easy. Don’t add another layer of argument about that. Just do it.

Your reality is not made from things it’s made from ideas. The ideas that are real in your world are the ones you believe. Start believing in a stronger, more lovable version of yourself, because despite your very real concerns, that’s the real you. Believing anything else will continue to be a painful denial of that much larger spiritual reality. Bottom line, the universe doesn’t make mistakes and the universe made you. Anything else is just thinking.

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.

Beefs and Bouquets

1079-relax-and-succeed-the-first-rule-of-kindnessFriday’s meditation made you uncomfortable. It was awkward trying to act and think like you were sin and fault-free. Isn’t that sad? You’ve been taught to treat yourself as though you don’t deserve the same unconditional love that you bestow on the imperfect people you love the most. Why do you think your closest friends and family love you?

Those closest to you are aware of all of the challenges that you present just like you’re aware of theirs. But like you they don’t really care because you’re so easily worth it. You’re not supposed to get rid of your faults, you’re supposed to accept that everyone has ways of being and there are times and places where those ways are ideal, and there are times and places where those ways will be unsuitable for creating success. That’s not a fault, that’s just being an individual.

Everyone around you is doing this. Stop for a second and think about that. Whether you realise it or not, everyone around you is wrestling with things they call faults. What they really mean is that instead of doing something meaningful in the moment they are in, they’re instead busy sitting still so that they can think up an internal argument against themselves.

1079-relax-and-succeed-self-criticism-is-just-another-opinionWhat a giant waste of time. Why is anyone even bothering if no one is thinking about you anyway? They’re all just as worried about themselves as you are about you. That’s a whole lotta invisible brain-yakking for no good reason.

Can you imagined if we filmed a busy street and you could see and/or hear what everyone was saying? It would look crazy as we all passed each other trading useless barbs and comments with ourselves and others when all of that energy could have been applied to the sort of internal silence that is very healthy, or an external activity that is, in response, more enthusiastically engaged.

People in pain are stagnant. People who are creating new daily experiences in an active way are better off, even if their circumstances are worse. It is the lack of thinking that’s at the core; what naturally fills that gap is creativity. Sometimes that’s creating a healthy meal. Sometimes that energy goes toward some enjoyable time with friends, or studying to grow. But if all of your energy is spent worrying and judging, you won’t have much left for actual growing or living.

1079-relax-and-succeed-the-best-cure-for-the-bodyYou need to get more comfortable with seeing yourself as you, rather than as an imperfect potentially perfect person, (wouldn’t we all have a different idea of what that would like for you?). You are awesome at criticising yourself. You do not need my help in that regard. But you seriously have to start exercising the self-appreciation part of your brain.

This isn’t you being a narcissist, this isn’t you having some huge infallible ego, this is just you seeing yourself as the person your friends routinely see. You’ll all have different ideas about each other, but as long as those are positive then good things will emerge from those friendships. But only you can learn to look at yourself and truly see a worthwhile, capable, unashamed person who is deserving of love and respect.

Today’s assignment is a competition. You and your partner keep score. The idea is that you get -1 point for criticising yourself or any other part of the world, and +1 point for giving yourself some entirely deserved credit or for noticing something nice about the world. Keep track on your phone, on a post-it note, whatever. At the end of the day, you compare scores.

1079-relax-and-succeed-slow-down-your-thinkingThat score will be informative in some ways, but it isn’t nearly as important as your intention to win. That very intention creates the focus that allows you to filter reality through your intention, meaning you’ll see more things in alignment with that intention. This is otherwise called, going with the flow. Minus one and plus one. Whatever your score is it is. But be aware. Keep score. 

Even your general frame of mind and the events that happen around you will have a lot to do with your score. As you count your constructive things and criticisms; you’ll catch a tiny percentage of them right now, but that’s fine. Doing these exercises each day is like building up part of your mind. So watch for your insights, because they’ll congeal out of nowhere.

Now go have an aware and awesome day.

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.