Going Deeper

We have ideas of ourselves. And we can look at our lives and find examples of us being that person. But how often are we that person? For instance, how far does our compassion extend? We can say we’re compassionate because we care about the plight of young girls in 674 Relax and Succeed - If it looks like a duckAfghanistan or Nigeria, but are we compassionate in our own daily lives?

This is never fun to confront, but our egos live by opinion. So you have an idea of who everyone you know is. You have a thought-based framework around which you interpret everything they do. So if you think someone’s snobby but they’re really shy, you’ll see all of their shy behaviour as snobby behaviour. That’s how the brain works. It fills in gaps it can’t see. And in an egos life the gaps are much bigger than the glimpses of any greater truth.

If you don’t like people it’s usually because you don’t like their solution. People’s actions are solutions aimed at the problems they perceive. So if you’re hungry you walk to the kitchen, open the fridge and get an apple. Problem solved. If you’re really hurt by something and you just don’t know how to react, you’ll copy whichever parent you witnessed do that same thing—and you won’t even notice you did it. Maybe that’s getting angry, maybe that’s getting sad or maybe that’s getting drunk. But you won’t recognize it as pattern-matching a caregiver. You’ll just be solving your problem.

674 Relax and Succeed - To be aware of a single shortcomingThese solutions extend much deeper as well. You can look at a girl’s clothes and behaviour at a party and see a slut, whereas you could incorporate more compassion so that if you told yourself any story about her it would be a charitable one. You could use her as a meditation—a study on separate realities and what it’s like to see the world from other perspectives. You could see her as a slut or you you could see her behaviour as being directed at solving her problem, which might simply be that she’s insecure and like many of us needs the approval of others.

If it were me and I was in a judgmental state of mind and felt myself doing that, the story editor in me would think backwards to what her problem might be. Why would that be her strategy? And in looking at her more closely and in listening to her talk maybe I would notice her large breasts and her innocent manner. I could imagine a young girl with a heavily overworked but dedicated single mother. Life with a kid is busy and tough and so guys don’t stay. But this little girl might have longed for a male role model as most kids do. And if she developed at a young age she would have realized that her physique could hold men’s attention. So long before she would have had any sexual feelings of her own she’s already mimicking sexualized behaviour 674 Relax and Succeed - Opinion is the lowest form of human knowledgesimply as a way of getting that time with male role models. So should she be judged and disliked because as a kid that was the approach that actually worked to some degree?

In another example of trading judgment for compassion—you might look at a slow-moving grey-haired bagger at the grocery store and think to yourself that he should quit if that’s as fast as he can go. And I might think, gee, most people that age have wanted to retire and yet this guy’s still working—he must have to. It must be his solution. Plus people his age have arthritis and yet he’s picking up stuff with his hands all day. No wonder he rubs them between customers. So I feel connected to the guy through compassion whereas egocentric thoughts build a wall between the other person and ourselves and this hurts us as much as them.

We have to become more generous. If we want more love we have to give more. You’ve got to get serious about this. You can’t just read this blog and post some quotes and that’s it. Enlightenment is a verb. It’s an action. And it takes you being far more conscious than just taking your own narrow interests into account.

Start thinking less about yourself and more about others. And do so from the perspective of compassion. Where you really meditate on the challenges of being a single mom, or all the challenges that would go into a special needs child, or a job that had you travelling every 674 Relax and Succeed - Humility is not thinking less of yourselfsecond week, or how difficult it would be to be morbidly obese or have a beloved spouse who was gravely ill. Noticing these realities will allow us to more easily see our own good fortune. And in seeing that we are immediately made grateful and grateful people are generous and kind.

Be grateful. Get out of your head and out of a constant alignment with only your own goals and aims and desires and start getting behind other people’s. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to have a good day if you seriously take action to invest in the objectives of others. Maybe that’s just letting them into traffic. Or maybe it’s something bigger. But no matter how big or small it is, both parties benefit from compassionate generosity so practice it with wild abandon. Because in the end any giving you do is like giving to yourself.

peace. s

Check out this video of people reacting differently to kindness and compassion and see how lost many of the “successful” people in our culture really are:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZvYvOkqxA8]

Life Phases

In 1969 Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote the book, On Death and Dying in which she defined the five stages of death. She was careful to point out that it was not necessarily a comprehensive list, or that it would apply to absolutely everyone, but she was—like I am—more interested in what makes us the same than the few factors that make us different.

560 Relax and Succeed - Denial anger bargaining depression acceptanceKubler-Ross eventually noticed that these stages applied to any powerful personal loss from a job to a relationship, and for each of us the process is much the same. Can you see how, despite the fact that you can feel alone and different and insecure, that you are ultimately just like all of us? That the experiences we traverse throughout our lifetimes have—internally to our consciousness—all been very much the same? When we recognize this fact, empathy rises. We don’t see another person’s situation from our perspective, we’re able to see it from theirs.

Of course there are similarities like this all over the place. That’s all my accident allowed me to notice—was that there was patterns in human behaviour and interaction. Humans can all seem quite messy and illogical when we view it from our ego’s perspective, but if you can detach the ego and look at it all long enough and carefully enough, it always makes logical sense. We’re all just following patterns of behaviour that are the logical results of what’s happening just like plants try to find light and water.

We all want to achieve a conscious sense of belonging and to achieve it we first must develop a sense of being lost separate, and only then can we learn to consciously return to the state of oneness that we all experienced as infants. And even if we never reach that ultimate realization through awareness and meditation, we will still achieve it shortly before death at which time you return to being what you were before you were born.

560 Relax and Succeed - It feels good to be lostTo help make the point clearly, I’ll give you another example. I’ll often have people come to me after their divorce because they’re concerned about their own behaviour, which feels erratic, variously cloying and closed off, and especially the ladies will be concerned about their sex lives. The reason this is a pattern in my practice is because it’s a pattern for all of you. Whether you got left or did the leaving, you’re either shocked at where you are or you just feel you’re away. Away from the bad marriage. But only in those cases where someone left their partner for another partner does the person know for sure that they will be accepted into another relationship. The rest of people suddenly realize that they now have to do the same things they did in high school and university—namely be attractive enough in a variety of ways to appeal to someone that you would actually find appealing.

This all leads to a period of longing. A desire to have your desirability affirmed. A need to be held, to be told we’re beautiful, to feel like we could be accepted again. How this translates is usually pretty slutty. A lot of guilt disappears when someone finds out that having one sexual partner for 25 years and then 15 in one year is actually quite normal—it’s just most people don’t talk about these things in public. At least not about all of them, because you will get pretty needy at times and your radar for partners will start to sweep a lot wider to find someone. And it’s understandable that people would not want to be judged for a “weak moment.”

After slutting around a bit, another phase kicks in that involves reality. There are financial implications to being alone and this is when people usually start to realize that, even if it was them that left, their problems are not over because their marriage is done. They still have bills, and those are even worse as one person. Likewise with child care. And now you have to fit dating and all the stuff your partner used to do for you into your schedule. Life can feel pretty overwhelming at this point, which is usually when I get a call.

560 Relax and Succeed - Do not feel lonelyAgain, this is a phase, so eventually you figure out how to be alone and that’s when people usually start entertaining truly healthy relationships that build on the knowledge they gleaned from their previous relationships. I know I’ve been increasingly better at how to find a good match for me as I’ve matured and, while I wasn’t a super terrible husband, there is no doubt that every girl after my divorce got the treatment my ex-wife actually deserved had I recognized those elements of a marriage back then.

Life is phases. A lot of what I do is contextualize my clients experiences relative to being human. They find real comfort in my acceptance of where they are as perfectly fine, no matter where that is. My job doesn’t care where you start. We all go the same direction using the same awareness, so it’s really a matter of downloading your ideas about what you think is happening and instead making you aware enough that you can see what is truly happening so that you can respond to that instead of an illusion.

You are not alone. The feelings you are feeling have been felt by billions and billions of other people and probably most animals too. Don’t lament these phases any more than you would lament the sad or scary scenes in a good movie. They are all a part of a great story—yours. So live it fully and deeply and with the least amount of second-guessing possible.

Now go have yourself a wonderful day.

peace. s