Managing Your Consciousness

I don’t know why you pay so much attention to the outside world. If you pay attention to your personal interior world you’ll see that when I say that you live within your consciousness I’m not speaking figuratively or metaphorically. As I’ve said before, Stephen Hawking’s body might have been bound to a wheelchair but his consciousness has touched the edges of the known universe. And that rule applies to all of us. We would all applaud a surgeon cutting our bodies wide open to repair us just as long as our consciousness isn’t present to notice.

658 Relax and Succeed - Not my circusBecause your emotional experiences take place in your consciousness via your thoughts, it is a beautiful thing to be able to genuinely wish the best for someone who would traditionally be categorized as an enemy. Because any hating or resentments or anger would be taking place in my consciousness not theirs. I would be experiencing it not them. So I can love an “enemy” and they won’t even know I’m doing it and yet it allows me to feel much better than I would if I was hating them. That’s totally in my control and the good thoughts are guaranteed to feel better than the bad ones.

Likewise, when other people are upset with you that’s something that happens in their consciousness. If you start to consider and re-think and wonder about their thoughts then you can injure yourself because now those are your thoughts too. People have lied about you to get things they wanted, or to accomplish things they thought were important, or to hide a mistake they made etc etc.. And people have given you credit for things you didn’t do, or they’ve had overly generous opinions—in the end, good or bad, every opinion of you is just that: an opinion. So there is no need for you to invest any of your lifetime in trying to manage the interior of everyone else’s consciousness.

Opinions are ideas about who you are and even the most detailed ones are based on shockingly little information when you think about the complexity of a human life and all of the reasons you did this or that thing. So someone can know someone for two months and decide they’re “slutty” when in fact the person is just going through the tail end of a divorce and it’s enormously common for most people to be a bit slutty during that am I still attractive? phase. So is that person casual about their sex or did someone see 1/10,000th of their life and paint an entire picture based on it?

658 Relax and Succeed - Never explain yourselfYou’ve all had this happen. There are all kinds of opinions out there about all of you and they differ wildly. So you can’t be all of those people so who are you? You are the thinker of your own opinion of you. You too have an idea of who you are. And keeping that version of you healthy already requires a lot of your attention so there’s no need to cripple your awareness by considering every other opinion about you.

In the end the closest thing to who you are is what you do under given circumstances. So pay less attention to what people think about you—bad or good—and focus on what your friends know about you by watching you live your life over time. Because most people’s judgments will have been gotten second hand so they can easily storm up and combine to “define” someone’s reputation. And yet those views are ultimately nothing more than a collection of thoughts in a collection of heads. Those don’t matter. Half the time people have misinterpreted your motives even if they do get some decent facts. So you can’t live your life trying to have a good reputation. You have to live your life fully as yourself, unafraid of judgment, because that is where real bravery, real character and real respect reign.

Now go have yourself an awesome day.

peace. s

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

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

Bathwater Babies

Hey everybody slow down with all the judgmental thinking. Everyone’s gotten very absolute recently. Increasingly since the 80’s there’s been this polarization of everything. Politics is more divided and vehement. People’s uninformed opinions about child-rearing will be offered 617 Relax and Succeed - It is the mark of an educated mindaggressively to total strangers. People argue about the environment and art—particularly music. It used to humbler. More often it would be I like this or that band, and now it’s become my band’s genius and yours shouldn’t even exist.

People will talk like nations will collapse if certain governments got into power and yet if the news didn’t tell them who won an election the vast majority of people’s actual lives would have virtually no indications of which party was in power at what time—because life really changes more due to what’s going on immediately around us than by what government is in power.

Even in friendship things are upside down. I was horrified to hear about a study that demonstrated that modern students minds see a strong link between friendship and likes. Yikes. Your best friend isn’t the friend that always agrees with you. That’s a lap dog. Everyone’s unique so if you talk long enough you’ll have opinions that differ from even those closest to you. But your best friend isn’t just a cheerleader. They are also the person that will speak up on your behalf even when you won’t and no one else will either.

617 Relax and Succeed - These days respect meIf you’re drinking too much and people at the office are starting to smell it, then it’s not the people that smile and pretend they don’t know. Those aren’t your friends. No, it’s the guy who takes you into your office, closes the door and tells you that he’s concerned about your drinking. That guy gets hated. You hate that guy for telling you that because you know it’s true and you wanted to keep living the way you were. Plus the office will hate that guy for causing a scene. But he doesn’t care about that because your friend cares about you. And he can see your life from the outside and so he knows you’re heading for disaster. And so he speaks up, even though it will likely cost him the friendship. That’s how much a best friend loves you. They’ll break their own hearts just so that you benefit.

People get into camps now. They try and win. The other side is stupid. Anti-Vaccine Pro-Vaccine, Pro GMO Anti-GMO, Protect Animals Eat Meat. Honda Toyota, Pepsi Coke, it goes on and on. And so few people can see the other side as being in any way reasonable. Too many people are just shouting and no one’s listening. There’s some good arguments to be heard on both sides of most issues. But you have to actually listen for them. You cannot tell them.

617 Relax and Succeed - Listening does not meanOther people know things you don’t and so you have to listen to them to find out what those things are. Because if you can listen to both sides evenly and you have a decent mind for reason, then you’ll be fine. But, if you’re deciding based on dogma—and you don’t even really examine any other ideas—then you can’t really say that you’ve come to the conclusion that your answer is the best one. You’ve voluntarily left data out, so in essence you are guessing. Science checks. Logic checks. Mathematics checks. There’s no absolute reality. But the measurements of science are the closest thing we have to a shareable reality.

If you’ve only voted for one party your entire life, and you’ve never supported an idea by any other party, then you can’t really say that you chose your position through examination. You adopted it culturally maybe, or you inherited it, or your society insists on it, but again—it isn’t a conclusion if it’s never changed in 40 years. Come on, not only do you change a lot in 40 years, but every party accidentally elects at least one unqualified person every 40 years.

Most of your opinions are entirely unexamined regardless of what they’re about. If you were actually questioned on any subject on which you’d offered an opinion in the last week, you would freeze up as you realized you know almost nothing about it. Not the court cases in the news, not the headlines on facebook, not even about subjects you probably should know 617 Relax and Succeed - Compassion can be put into practicemore about, like all of the important the rules of the road or how to look after your health, or what breed of dog best suits your lifestyle.

We all have to stop having knee-jerk opinions that see babies thrown out with the bathwater. We’re throwing too many good ideas away in our attempt to oppose the other. Instead we use our ability shape our media landscape and so now we build egotistical shrines to our own opinions with our choice of shares. We must open our minds. We must begin to listen to people we have marginalized or blocked out. It’s not like the world couldn’t use some new ideas that would create opportunities to grow and learn and expand.

If we all spend a bit less time judging and a lot more time having fun, life will be even more rewarding going forward. But we really do have to stop focusing on any differences and focus instead on the fact that we all want fundamentally the same things out of life—namely love, joy support and inspiration. Ready? Less judging more compassion: go!

peace. s