Egos and Salespeople

Richard and Alice didn’t even want to be there, but they had been in an accident and they needed to replace their car. They tried being stealthy but the salesman’s training took care of that. He was ready. Everything about his training taught him how to take full advantage of whatever kind of personality was in front of him.

Alice was just as shy as Richard but, for little more than sexist reasons, she pushed–and Richard accepted–the lead shy person’s position and so he’s the one that talked to Sammy. Richard immediately tried to play his cards close to his chest, but all that he and Alice talked about were safety features, so Sammy figured out that scaring them into buying it was the fastest, surest way to sell them a new van that was more expensive than the one they came in for.

Sammy talked about features, but he was sneaky about always adding in little references to how his van had this or that feature that kept them safer than other vans. Half the time Sammy was making the name of the feature up, and he had no idea what the competitors vans had for safety or features, but he knew if he said his was safest and the customers trusted him, then they’d never check. Besides, Mac was the kind of salesman that told the truth about that sort of thing and he was always in trouble with their managers for reading research instead of selling. Sammy didn’t need that hassle. He wanted to be a good employee.

In a short time Sammy had them scared into dealing with him only, and he had scared them into his van specifically, and then he scared them into a price. Of course his manager started them far higher than the monthly payment number they gave him, but that’s how Sammy’s boss contributed to the psychological assault. And that way Richard and Alice are so off balance that they never even noticed that the monthly payments added up to a lot more than the van plus the interest.

For their part, Richard and Alice are legitimately scared. They can’t deal with those other lying, thieving salesmen. Good thing Sammy warned them about them. And it has to be the D-Lux model, not for all of those expensive features, but rather because that’s how they get the best safety equipment. Besides, Sammy had got them such a great deal. (Sammy also made sure they felt in line to have several more accidents during their driving history.) So they felt they had no option except to nearly double their original monthly payment budget.

Once they’d agreed to that, Sammy handed them over to Polly. She’s the dainty, cute girl that works in the finance office. She was going to take care of the “paperwork” with Richard and Alice, and Sammy had told her about his good friends Richard and Alice, so innocent-looking little Polly also knew to tell a bunch of really frightening stories as she recommended various insurance or protection options. Totally scared of theft, accidents, death and every projectile imaginable, Richard and Alice doubled the price of the van again.

Finally they get word back from the bank but now they’re scared again! After all of this work and planning, the bank won’t approve the loan. Oh no! They can’t let the van go now! It’s the last one like it! Of course none of this is true, but with Sammy, Polly and their manager saying it, Richard and Alice panic. Yes, of course they’ll pay more!

Boom. Polly got her bonus–because had they not been willing to pay more, then the interest rate problem would have suddenly been solved by Polly’s genius instead or Richard’s wallet. So in the end, Richard and Alice got the van that will destroy their future finances and they’re even relieved to have it. They’re so grateful to Sammy for focusing on their safety and not their wallets that they’re planning on sending him business.

On a sidenote, when they picked up their van, Richard and Alice were so excited and happy that they didn’t even notice Mac, the honest salesman, being escorted out of the building with his belongings. Which was too bad for Mac, because the next day he ended up missing out on the free cake to celebrate Sammy’s win as Employee of the Month.

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.

The Guru

1093-relax-and-succeed-my-love-is-unconditionalYou can become conscious of externalised thoughts and act in the moment. You can become conscious of your judgments of others and you can meditate to create more understanding. You can silence your own attacks on a thought-created identity you mistake for the real you. And you can understand that each of those actions are subdivisions of one universal action.

The only remaining step for meditation is to be challenged. This can come through text, as it does here and through books, or even through visual and/or auditory means. But each of these will be generalised deliveries. And like young monks, that is plenty as people first begin to shift their awareness.

Once that initial stage is over it is common for people to feel motivations to connect. This is a healthy impulse emerging from the person’s sense of certainty. There is a point where people have crossed the line from wanting the world and ourselves to be better, to taking responsibility for reality and ourselves and then learning to manage that. It’s a very big moment of spiritual maturity.

1093-relax-and-succeed-sometimes-one-createsOnce people have lived in this new way for three or four years they can easily tell the difference between the many false guides who use the right words, versus the few who speaks from knowing. They sound almost exactly alike from a position of ego, but nothing alike to people living with clarity. How’s that for some spiritual irony?

Watch for humility. It is the balance point between confidence and ignorance. In humility we know what we know and we also know what we don’t know–and we’re entirely fine that both realities exist because they are merely expressions of the idea of yin and yang. At the same time, you will hear a particular confidence in the voice of someone who sees clearly.

Even the “wrong” guru can be a worthwhile aspect of your search in that they will eventually trigger your wiser self and you’ll feel it as a sort of resistance. Your denial of true responsibility might upset you, but deep down you’ll know a real guru’s correct shortly thereafter. The other kind of upset will build over time because the process itself will feel either too organised and general, or otherwise it tends to feel as though it lacks direction.

1093-relax-and-succeed-i-cannot-but-see-you-as-myselfYou could find a guru in any walk of life. Some are professional and some not. They can also be in traditional uniforms of knowledge. Over the years I’ve worked with a variety of counsellors, doctors or psychologists or psychiatrists on their own challenges, and yet I would submit they could be very useful guides. As someone further down the path of their own earnest discovery process, the person doesn’t need to know the whole forest to know the way in certain parts of the forest. And some of them know the forest well.

The opposite of that is seen when I get reports back from readers about their counsellor, doctor, or even religious leader presenting these very posts as modified versions of their own work. This unwillingness to engage in humility is a sign that the person may be a useful example for learning from, but the people confirming with me are correct to sense the person is likely not a legitimate guide. A real one is happy to use whatever is helpful in conveying aspects of the otherwise invisible reality at hand.

Contrary to that are the professionals who love to expand to their own awareness and connections. They feel almost childlike in their excitement. That innocence and enthusiasm is always a good sign. You’ll see some of those people commenting on various blogs here and elsewhere. There is no end to discovery within this infinite realm. You’re just looking for someone who understands how to see it, not someone who can see it all at once.

1093-relax-and-succeed-take-a-smileThey won’t have to be near you, they won’t have to be anything like you, but when you feel the compulsion to connect regarding your journey, that is when a guide should be sought. They will never have difficulty metaphorizing their wisdom for you regardless of who you are, and while you absolutely will feel challenged by them, you will just as certainly feel cared about.

More important than which meditation you do, and more important than who you do them with, is simply that you do them. Maintain your commitment to this week’s awarenesses and you will notice a shift in your understanding. And that shift, will bring increased peace. That shift is what you’re really looking for.

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.

Internal Interventions

You have done the meditations and you’ve started to learn the act of switching emotions, the patience to decide if the emotion should be changed or experienced, and then you’ve gotten to know how your emotions impact your physical self so that you have clear indications of when you’re happy and when you’re otherwise.

872 Relax and Succeed - Dear uncertaintyWe’ve talked about using your posture, a smile, a tone of voice, a manner of walking–that would all incite activity in the parts of your brain where you’re better wired up for happiness. This is like when they teach little kids to have a happy place. As we’ve discussed, you can have some go-to thoughts that you like, but don’t go adding to your negative narrative if you miss the opportunity to take those reigns.

You have to learn several things: a general awareness of yourself, an emerging understanding of how your psychological self emerges within your physical being, and the possibility and wisdom of making those changes. Changes that may have been otherwise seen as needing external intervention rather than internal intervention.

It is still perfectly useful to you to become aware of an emotion in this way and not do anything about it. If you’re initially upset you didn’t escape your unnecessary bad feelings then that means you have fully accepted that you can change them–you just haven’t refined your switching or your acceptance. Just your awareness is a bigger part of this than you realize.

Yes, the change feels really nice pretty much immediately, but even when you make it you’ll be on tilted ground. If anyone did anything that you felt exacerbated your issue, your recovery might well slide backwards immediately. That’s fine too. I want you to come to know this landscape. To slow it all down so you can see it more naturally. This is where you really live.

872 Relax and Succeed - Those who don'tAs you study yourself your knowledge grows and you will find yourself intervening–sometimes in surprising ways. These weren’t things you calculated with brain knowledge, but more the things you know through a more immediate wisdom. It knows what to do in a profound way, but it does need access to the steering wheel. If your ego is busy trying to steer around pain then it can hog the wheel all the way until you fall asleep. And in the end it won’t avoid any pain, but all that useless weaving will create a lot of suffering.

See the “emotional you” as someone who is very simply addicted to the chemistry for their Dominant Negative Emotion. It’s why people with an abusive parent will date abusive people, or even why people will frighten themselves intentionally etc. Everyone’s hunger for each chemical varies, but our Dominant Negative Emotion is one worth doing an intervention with.

By changing or even muting that emotion some percentage of the time you will instill in yourself this capability. Over time it will become so ordinary and everyday that instead someone will describe your ability as your personality. You’ll be referred to as extremely patient, or extraordinarily compassionate or forgiving, and that will feel good. But again, this isn’t about you looking good to others, it’s about you being authentic.

872 Relax and Succeed - If you want to liveIf you’re truly free then you won’t be as willing to bow to counter-productive social norms. Others might see you as difficult or arrogant, but really what’s happening inside is that you’re focusing on the things that matter. Yes, the wrapping paper says something. But that’s messaging. The contents are what ultimately count. It’s fine to wrap something up beautifully. But only if it isn’t to disguise the fact that it’s not really what it purports to be. People’s wisdom will eventually figure that out.

See your ego as more separate today. See it as a literal other person. Enhance that distance. It will help you see that your ego is your shadow. You can’t do things by changing the shape of your shadow–that’s all just spinning in place. You must alter what is happening within yourself. Therefore you will behave in a different way and thereby cast a different shadow. (The only question will be, what will you do when a healthy state for you gives you a shadow you’ve historically avoided..?) 😉

Spend today and tomorrow focused on body awareness and listening to your ego as a separate entity. Catch yourself a few times doing each and you’ll have done well. I know some of you have post-it notes to remind you at your desks, so if you’re serious about doing these meditations you will already have advanced your awareness considerably. You deserve to feel very good about that. Now go create a great day.

peace. s

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

The Movie We’re Making

In film your shooting ratio is how much footage you shoot relative to how much of it you end up using in your finished production. Back when we shot on film and had to worry about hairs etc. getting into things during film-loading, and there was no way to see what you had just shot, we still shot a small fraction of what people currently do. What does this have to do with your mental health? I’m getting to that.

829 Relax and Succeed - Have much and be confused

Today a 25 year old can literally have a 30 to 1 or even 150 to 1 ratio, while people in their 50’s will often have ratios closer to 1.4 to 1 or 2.8 to 1 etc.. An actor’s director like Clint Eastwood doesn’t like to wear out his cast, so now that he can see what he just shot he’ll often only shoot a single take and he’ll do that for 30 to 40 percent of the film.

This is a good metaphor for minds today. Bombarded with much shorter edits in the media their minds get trained on, add many more distractions and responsibilities, not to mention and overall busier lives everyone’s leading, with many more schedule activities, texts etc. etc, many young people today are understandably taught to hyperthink, leaving them to be tortured by their own whirling thoughts. There’s so many decisions in a day now; so many things outside of us and our control that demand our attention, that it’s as though the Editor that works in our memory is overloaded with footage and it’s getting hard to tell the useful stuff from the stuff we’re better to leave on the editing room floor.

So how do we feel better? We slow things down. We don’t give our Memory Editor a deluge of stuff–especially if it’s negative–because it wears us out. Even funny scenes get tiring if you have too many of them. So in the real world of mental health we’re not so much looking for fun scenes as much as we are looking for absorbing ones. As long as you’re thoroughly involved you won’t even notice the time passing regardless of the scene content. You just need to be present and in the Now.

829 Relax and Succeed - Reasons my wife is cryingAnother way to help out is to take control over your Director of Photography regarding what you’re going to commit to film. For the filmmaker the film isn’t so much in the showing of the film as it is the making of it. So your day is what you shoot. And the lens is like your attention. Where you focus it will tell you what kind of shot you’re going to get. If you shoot sad scenes expect a sad experience. Likewise for happy ones etc. etc. etc.

In daily life everyone around you is performing improv so life is less like a movie and more like “Reality” TV. The reality TV that currently gets watched focuses its lens on tension, conflict and challenge. That’s what appeals to the most common part of all of us. But again, you have been the viewer but this is about breaking the wall and inviting you behind the screen, where you can Direct.

If you focus on conflict-laden scenes then that’s what your day will be made up of and that’s what you’ll have to review in the editing room at night. But if you focus your attention on what you’re grateful for, then that’s what you get to spend your night with. And if you want those nights to be peaceful then don’t overshoot footage during the day. Don’t comment on things that don’t benefit from your opinion. Don’t judge yourself or others. Have a quiet mind. Have a low shooting percentage.

Remember, Clint Eastwood can have a seemingly risky though Zen-like shooting ratio and yet the proof is in his record: he’s Directed five different actors to Academy Award wins and he himself has been nominated for a dozen and won five. And he’s known for liking his Set quiet…

829 Relax and Succeed - The bird in a forestClint will still film both joy and sadness, pleasure and pain, gain and loss. Again, the profound living is less so in the content and more so in the depth of our appreciation of that content. Even in the sad scenes we can authentically feel that Clint loves his work, he loves the people he works with and he loves his stories–and it all shows in his incredible track record. Your life can be the same.

Don’t shoot too much, shoot a high percentage of footage that is enjoyable to experience whether that’s someone jumping out of a plane, getting a new puppy or enjoying a great conversation. And if you’ve gone out and shot a bunch of depressing footage then don’t be surprised if you and your editor end up depressed. And that’s not good because it makes shooting the next day harder, and you’re going to be more likely to develop a habit of shooting the crap instead of the beauty.

Start today. Focus your attention on the film you want to make, not on the one you’re afraid you might make. And the healthiest choice after shooting is to do like a lot of big cinematographers and never see the finished film. That’s the healthiest of all because then you know for sure that you didn’t make your film for anyone else but yourself, and that was entirely the point. Because replaying our own films is just memory-based ego. But the making of our films is our lives. So it is worthwhile to be mindful of the movie we are always making.

peace. s

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