A Fear of Embarrassment Limits Our Lives

1303 Relax and Succeed - A Fear of Embarrassment

Most of the times where we find ourselves held back from following our nature, what holds us back is our habit of re-thinking thoughts relating to judgments made about us by others. These can be very debilitating.

It is true that sometimes judgments by others can have serious repercussions in our lives. But it is also true that most times, all that would happen is that we would possibly get in some form of trouble or even more likely, just be embarrassed.

But what does being embarrassed even mean in a world where we are guaranteed to ‘make mistakes?’ That’s like saying we’re not allowed to be human. Embarrassment might help us steer ourselves to better cooperative behaviour, but who can take a demand for zero mistakes seriously? Embarrassment doesn’t denote a failure, it is simply a step on the path to who we will be.

If past criticisms or our mental replaying of those criticisms leads us to feel embarrassed then it’s critical for us to remember that those thoughts are our responsibility –they are not forced on us by the situation. We must take responsibility for choosing to think those thoughts over all of the other potential thoughts we could just as easily have focused on. Those debilitating beliefs about ourselves are what create our resistance to life.

Let’s all spend the the next few days trying to source our own resistance in our daily situations. Well often find we’re really only afraid of being embarrassed, yet we also make mistakes at things we’re good at. So why are we okay with those mistakes but not the others?

1303 Relax and Succeed - Birds aircraft and human beingsIt’s worthwhile to ask ourselves; why is doing this or that thing quite difficult for us when that same thing isn’t difficult for others? And why are some things that others find very hard, so incredibly effortless for us?

It’s good to notice those differences and ask those questions, because we’ll come to see that all people are more alike than they might otherwise seem. We are less notable than embarrassment often makes us feel. Everyone screws up.

Each idea in our heads will have a source that will have shaped what that idea means to us personally. It’s why we like certain kinds of movies but not others, and why other people disagree about our views of them. They simply have a different set of thoughts about the things in the movie. This is what it is to be an individual.

Regardless of the sources of our individuality, judgments about our Selves that limit us must be seen for what they are: nothing more than thoughts. Self consciousness and embarrassment are states of thinking that can be changed.

Unfamiliar situations can rightfully make us feel uncomfortable, but our thoughts have no actual power to stop us from taking action in our lives despite the internal blabbing of our egos.

We can’t let our thoughts stop us from realizing all that we are. Because that person is far too expansive and powerful for a definition in mere words.

Let’s all enjoy our day.

peace, s

Pain versus Suffering

People often start off on the wrong foot by coming to me thinking that their friends recommended me because they’re so happy. They think I make people happy. Sure, they end up happier, but that’s almost the exact opposite of what I actually teach them.

599 Relax and Succeed - We do not see things as they areI teach them to suffer. Only I teach them to suffer wisely.

Wise suffering? I know, weird eh? Who knew I was going to bump into such truths when I stumbled into figuring this out. So how do you suffer wisely? The answer is acceptance. Because if you meditate on the subject more closely you will see that it’s not really the pain that bothers you, it’s the concern that your suffering will linger or even stay.

As I’ve noted many times before, if emotions were actually good or bad then theaters and bookstores would be empty. No one would offer to pay perfectly good money to buy a book, bring it home, put some time into reading i, and then have it deliver to them the very thing that they tried to avoid all day—whether that’s fear or worry or profound sadness. But no, we’ll break our own hearts with Ivanhoe, or sit in dread with Stephen King, and we’ll even pay for the privilege. So in the end your own life proves to you that emotions themselves are not good or bad.

So what’s with this lingering-staying-suffering part? Please pay attention to the fact that everything I’m talking about here takes place entirely in your consciousness. And within your consciousness, because you choose to believe that some emotions are bad, when they show up in your life your reaction is to panic. You start to think to yourself, “Oh no, not sadness. I don’t want sadness again. Why do I keep dating people? It’s always painful! I’m so stupid! No wonder no one wants me,” etc. etc. Okay, so the realization of loss was something your pre-thought non-illusory mind experienced. But because your society trained you well, 599 Relax and Succeed - One day things will get betteryour brain immediately sought to categorize that thought into separate ideas that you describe to yourself using labels called words.

What you need to grasp is that it isn’t your breakup from two weeks ago that’s making you cry for days on end. The pain of loss and the occasional recognition or reminder of recent loss will understandably trigger the sad feeling we think of when we think of losing someone. The pre-word, pre-thinking feeling. But if you fully feel that without hesitation—and if you’re not afraid of any emotions—then you simply move into the next moment and feel your thoughts about that. These are those times when you might say that it felt good to cry. So if you’re only crying when you actually want to cry, then you just have to deal with the occasional painful feeling that gets stirred up when your consciousness is unexpectedly reminded of your past.

If however you choose to think a streaming narrative similar to the one I created above, then you will experience that as your emotions. Feelings come before the words, after the words it’s emotion. It’s why babies can feel love but not jealousy. One is before words so babies can feel that, but they can’t build the one after words until first they learn words. So what’s actually hurting you two weeks later isn’t your breakup, it’s your thoughts about the breakup. It’s the words. Because if you wouldn’t keep telling yourself stories about how it could have gone or how it should have gone, then those words would go quiet and you would feel what you were experiencing in the current moment—like the view, or a sound or smell—instead of chemically constructing a past or future experience out of unpleasant, judgmental words.

599 Relax and Succeed - We cannot control the windIt’s no different than reading a book. If your consciousness is considering a painful idea you will experience pain, just like when your consciousness is intentionally focused on the most rewarding thing you can find—then you feel exalted. You don’t feel what happened, you feel what you’re thinking about in this moment. So can you time travel and choose to think about painful things from the past? Of course. It’s how most of the world manages their sadness. But just the same you can manage your happiness too. You can choose to focus on what you’re grateful for.

This is all actually quite easy to do, so if you’re telling yourself I’m being flippant or that I’m wrong, understand that what you’re trying to do is off target. Because this is incredible easy. Remember at the start I said that people got happier by suffering wisely? Okay, so now maybe this explanation will make more sense: To suffer is to choose to think unpleasant pain-engaged or pain-resisting thoughts (they both involve pain equally), and all of this gets done in the hopes that the pain will somehow magically go away because we’ve suffered enough. So you have to put work into this. You have to choose to go in that painful direction—there’s effort #1—and then you have to put effort #2 into creating all 599 Relax and Succeed - If you want to be happyof the narratives that pedal the bicycle of your ego.

My way you just stop thinking, focus your consciousness on the most enriching, pleasant thing you can find and that naturally feels good. But to do that you have to accept the unpleasant feelings first. You can’t be thinking you live in some dream-world where the pain might possibly stop because you want it to, or that there is some magical way to live where you’ll never be in pain again. If you don’t work to hold those crazy beliefs then you only have to experience the feeling of actual pain but not the daily suffering of ego. (Things like being offended, or thinking people are wrong about their politics or art. It’s all very taxing.)

599 Relax and Succeed - The journey is the rewardYou will suffer. Many times. So stop trying to worry it away from your future, or regret it away from your past. Be present instead. If a powerful feeling is appropriate then feel it. But don’t use your ability to think in words as a way to torque a feeling into an emotion. Be sad when it’s appropriate to be sad. Be fearful when it is wise to be fearful. But the rest of the time just let your consciousness relax in silence—which is otherwise known as… happiness.

peace. s

 

Other Perspectives #15

378 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Learn to admit your mistakes

Admitting to mistakes I’m all for. We’ve built cultures that are so aggressive, negative and punitive that we’ve discouraged people from being honest. So yes, admit your mistakes and in doing so own them and learn from them. But if you think you can stop people from exaggerating, embellishing or even downright lying about you—then think again. You have virtually no control over the actions of others and if there’s anything egos thrive on, it’s gossip. Egos feel it’s far better to sit and judge other people’s behaviour rather than making efforts to influence and direct their own. Let’s be clear: people will say things about you that aren’t true. They’ll say them for reasons that have nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. They’ll say them because they don’t want to take responsibility, or they don’t want to be seen in a bad light—they’ll even say them because they’re jealous of your success or ability or confidence. You can’t spend your life worrying about that. That’s like worrying about rain or wind. It’s going to happen regardless, so why invest so much time pretending you can do anything about that? You’re far better off to focus on building your Self and your sense of the world than you are in defending yourself against hollow accusations. In the latter case you gain nothing, in the former you expand your very being. And in the end, there’s no greater victory than that.

peace. s

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offence to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

 

2013’s Blog of the Year #7

The responses I get most often from students and readers is that they find my guidance extremely practical. I may use metaphor, but it seems that in their studies many other seekers previously only found more questions, whereas with me they’re finding concrete actions to take to move in an enlightened direction. This pleases me greatly because I am tired of people being told that enlightenment is difficult or hard or as though it’s some kind of achievement. Egos achieve. This isn’t an achievement. It’s a relaxing into what really Is. It is Acceptance and Surrender. What we need to do is natural. And it’s what we need to stop doing that leaves us where we want to be.

274 Relax and Succeed - Everything you are running fromOut of all of the blogs I wrote last year this one has to be in the top ten for clarity of action. Its instructions are super clear. If you want to run but your knee is in such pain that it prevents it, then you know you’re body is communicating that it’s not a good idea for you to run. You will hurt yourself even more. Same with your emotions. They are a simple signalling system that people have misunderstood. If your emotions hurt, then stop running around that subject in your head. It really is that simple.

If this blog wouldn’t have ended up in the Top Ten I would have put it on my list of my favourite blogs of the year because I likely got more mail on this one than any other. People found it extremely helpful and I certainly hope you do as well. To that end, Ladies and Gentlemen it pleases me greatly to re-join our countdown by presenting you with the 7th Most Popular Blog of the Year:

The Pebble In Your Shoe

The journey through your life is comprised of individual steps. These Moments are each distinct and unique aspects of the universe, but you will use your consciousness to string those individual steps together into what you call the journey of your life. So to be unforgiving is like walking with a pebble in your shoe. Each step of your journey you re-remind yourself that you are in pain. And rather than stopping and removing the pebble from the shoe of your conscious identity, you instead continue on, getting angrier and angrier at the pebble.

So it also goes with love. If you look for your former lover’s face in every passing stranger, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you constantly think about how you were wronged in the past by someone or some institution, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you watch the 274 Relax and Succeed - Be careful how you are talkingworld for the next impending disaster, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you hate someone for teasing or abusing you, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you focus on your spouse’s key faults rather than their key strengths, then those faults will be pebbles in your shoe.

Don’t be upset by the pebbles themselves. They will have gotten into your shoe by nature. There’s no way to avoid them. Just the act of walking will kick some up, and every now and then one will make it inside the shoe of your conscious identity and eventually it will find its way to somewhere painful. So it getting there is inevitable. But you continuing to walk on it is choice.

People will be self-critical and they’ll blame the pain on who they have become—on what shoes they chose to wear—and yet everyone walking the Earth will necessarily have shoes, and there’s no way getting around the fact that all of them kick up pebbles to be walked on.

People will sometimes be upset with the pebble itself, and yet it got there through natural means. It’s not like the pebble was looking for a foot to irritate. It was just laying there on the path of life and it happened to be one of the ones that ended up in your shoe. If it wasn’t this one it would be another one. So there’s no getting around the fact that we will end up with the pebbles. There’s no way to avoid that. So the real question is, what do we do when we become aware we have one?

That’s where the advantage of the pain comes in. The whole reason it hurts is because that is the universe communicating to you that you have a pebble of thought in the shoe of your identity, and that thought is rubbing your identity the wrong way. If we’re wise, that notification will be used as an opportunity for you to stop what you’re doing, pause, and then consciously choose to take off your shoe and dump out the pebble. That is the purpose 274 Relax and Succeed - 10 to Zenof the pain. It’s a notification system regarding your thoughts.

We all had to pick a style of shoe. Maybe we’re aggressive like an athletic shoe. Or maybe we’re open and free like a sandal. Maybe we’re pointed and sharp, like a business shoe. Or maybe we’re a casual shoe—something we can’t run in, but at least they’re easy and comfortable. But no matter what shoe-identity we’ve put on, they’re all susceptible to different kinds of pebbles. So don’t be surprised when the pebble ends up back in your shoe. But the process is still the same. You simply notice the pain, stop walking and you remove the pebble. Notice your emotional pain, stop thinking about that subject and replace those painful thoughts with something nicer. It’s that easy.

Eventually we learn to walk in ways that discourage a few of larger pebbles from getting into our lives. But don’t lament their existence. They are an integral part of the path you are walking on. They comprise the surface of the path of your life. Most times they carry your weight. But when they do get under your foot and generate an irritation—don’t start thinking you’re on the wrong path. Because a wise person doesn’t change paths. A wise person just gets really good at pausing and removing pebbles.

Don’t complain about emotional pain. Recognize it as your own thinking and get conscious and change it. Because if you can get good at letting thoughts go, then you will have minimized the amount of suffering you will do on your journey. And that makes for a beautiful walk through life.

Enjoy.

peace. s

Welcome Suffering

169 Relax and Succeed - Your past has servedYou will forever give birth to yourself. There is no done, there is no finished, there is no complete. There is only the road, there is no destination. There will be points where you pause to reassess your direction, but these aren’t corrections as much as they are realizations regarding opportunity. They are more expansion than improvement.

There are facts, and then there is context. Until we see the fact in the context, we have no idea what we have engaged with. (e.g. you might think you know your child; until you see a recording of them with other kids.) Once we have those new facts, we then have the necessary perspective from which to make decisions for the new person we have become as a result of the experience.

Using the example above, you may have gone from an identity of a parent who was confident in your parenting style to being a parent that is suddenly uncertain and worried about what else you don’t know. The awareness of that possibility may initially feel unnerving, but this expansion of understanding is a natural process and it is good to become comfortable with its unfolding.

169 Relax and Succeed - All great changes

An aspect of anyone’s unfolding will be dissatisfaction. This is a signal either that we are failing to fully engage with a subject, or that we have fully engaged with it to such a degree that we are ready to shift our consciousness to other things. But dissatisfaction does not mean that we have gone the wrong way in life—it means that we have gone as far in that direction as we were intended to go and we should use those feelings to signal ourselves to watch for what feels natural to the newly expanded person we are.

These stages of becoming wave through us in time and space. To mix some metaphors, we coast downhill, with wind in our sails and confidence in our gait. We smile easily and generosity comes naturally. But even chocolate gets unpleasant if we have too much of it. Caviar, wine, and even sex too. And the nature of the universe is change. If we have the same experience for too long our naturally creative nature urges us to expand.

As an ego, we unfold our experiences as a narratives which we then judge as our life. We begin to question our direction, our intentions, our actions, and for these acts of thought we suffer. To narratively struggle against reality is suffering. To accept the pain of struggle with the knowledge that it is only half the experience of life, and that it provides us the wisdom necessary for us to shift ourselves into periods of joy and comfort. But we must be willing to travel the entire road to get to that peace.169 Relax and Succeed - There is no coming

Be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Be okay with not being okay. Appreciate that part of finding oneself is that you must begin by being lost. And since you will find several selves during your lifetime, you will also become lost several times. So don’t turn each difficult experience into some giant identity-creating story. Even if it’s a huge event, leave it where it is. Do not drag it forward in time with your thinking. The sooner you let the weight of that story go, the sooner you can float upward into where you have the space to be the wiser and stronger you.

Do not lament the ebb and flow of life. Without one you would not know the other any more than you could see these words without the white background. That is the Yin and Yang of life. Relax into it. Don’t argue with it. Feel the pain knowing it will pass as your thinking changes.

You don’t need to struggle against life. Yes its flow will naturally bring you into the rocks occasionally. But that’s still far less painful than swimming upstream for the entirety of your existence.

Stop thinking. Float on your inner silence. Listen to the universe around you and it will share its secrets. You’re always welcome there.

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.

Managing Relationships

34 Relax and Succeed - Love people most

If you know someone who is uncharacteristically irritable, distant, or in any other way unlike themselves, then it is compassion and not complaint that is in order. People will hide things from us as an act of love.

They won’t want to worry us or let us down, or cause us or themselves to feel unloved. People also hide like that because we get angry when they worry us. We tend to lead them toward feeling guilty when they let us down, and we can withhold affection in spiteful ways.

Like an angry dog walker illogically screaming at their dog to come toward the furious person, we literally teach people not to come to us when they’re feeling uncertain.

We can tend to think of what their struggle does to us than what it does to them. We don’t enjoy seeing them in pain, so we want them to rush through the hard part. But if people are struggling, there will often be signs that we should not be adding the weight of  our expectations.

Rather than get angry about negative changes in behaviour, we would be better off being aware, open and compassionate. Negative behaviour will always be born in negative thinking. To change the thinking we must create a safe environment that will encourage others to share their burdens with us, thereby lightening their own load.

35 Relax and Succeed - See the light in others

Once people know they are loved without conditions then they can relax and begin to alter their thought patterns. But to do this we must be prepared to offer our best when dealing with people at their worst. We must not judge. This can be a challenge.

Life is hard and everyone has periods when they are carrying very heavy loads. The next time we want to get mad at someone for letting us down, maybe stop to ask if we haven’t possibly let them down by expecting the best of them when they do not have the necessary resources.

It’s important to remember, we generally can’t tell much about what’s going on just by looking at the outside of someone. The important stuff is on the inside. They’ll only share that or deal with it, if they feel safe.

Do not encourage people to feel badly about being dishonest regarding subjects that they are sensitive about. We all do the same thing. Kindness works better. Rather than forcing something out of someone, we’re better to invite them into life alongside us –as an equal. Plus, no matter how it goes, it feels better to share so both parties win.

When in doubt, always go with love.

 

peace. s