Close Your Identity and Open Your Consciousness

1234 Relax and Succeed - I'm drowning in a sea

People tend to suffer because they believe in a fixed identity. They believe deep down they are someone–the person they imagine–and they try to tune themselves to that internal ideal. Other people will certainly disagree as to our assessments of ourselves just as we would disagree with their assessments of themselves. We often disapprove of ourselves too, because most of us are about as hard on ourselves as we are on our enemies.

Seeing one’s developing self as an enemy that must be destroyed is largely why people are in so much pain. How can any of us enjoy the experience of our life if our experience takes place in our consciousness, and our consciousness is occupied with attacking our illusory, thought-based selves? It’s like our consciousness’s internal puppet show where one hand is hero, the ideal us; while the other hand is the villain, constantly and painfully measuring the distance between our ideal and our pathetic self.

It is possible to have an ideal for a target and yet not live a life of internally disappointed measurement. Rather than destroying ourselves we must kill that idea of measurement. It’s not part of the natural world so it cannot survive without our attention.

1233 Relax and Succeed - If you're using your thoughtsOnce we ignore our own thinking long enough we start to feel how ephemeral and meaningless thoughts are relative to action. Once we have that, we develop a better sense of time, where we realise we cannot possibly change things from the past, and so thinking about painful mistakes in the present makes little sense. If the thought stings then the experience has done its job and we have learned. We don’t need to add beating ourselves up with our word-based thoughts. By feeling badly we’ve proven that’s not the direction we’re naturally inclined to go.

We must also recognize that our thoughts are not our own, they were cultivated by our society. We’re encouraged to think certain things about ourselves and discouraged about thinking other things. Our entire egocentric life is made of those silent rules. It’s why you feel self-conscious when there’s a stain in your shirt even though everyone’s spilled food on themselves in their lifetime. The problem really isn’t you, it’s that culture of measurement; of judgment.

This can really impact us when issues become particularly emotional. Because we will all self-reinforce our identities; the more time we spend with people who share a set of beliefs that we share, the more certain and extreme those beliefs will become in the absence of respected disagreement. Most of the major problems now seen around the world are linked to this idea.

1233 Relax and Succeed - Commander Locke to Morpheus

While most of the world is pretty flexible and could live happily under many different systems in many different societies, some feel more threatened and are therefore more defensive, and that leads to anger. This effect can be see from ISIS to the Westboro Baptist Church to the KKK to the do-gooder mobs that destroy the lives of people who make big or small mistakes that violate–or appear to have violated–the social ideal; like the attacks on celebrities, or those on people over their food choices, or even through well-intentioned political correctness.

Let’s take a half hour of our lunch today and review our own lives. How many different points of view do we listen to? Are we in a feedback loop, where our microphone is too close to our speaker? Are the opinions that form our world just loops of ideas that go out of our microphone to be amplified by those who already agree with our ideas? Because that just makes us shout even louder into our microphone and the whole thing just gets louder and louder until it’s a frenzy. Those get built one person at a time, they can only be taken apart by each individual becoming conscious of their previously unconscious involvement.

If all of our friends live like us, share a lot of our beliefs and perspectives, and rarely disagree with our views, it’s almost certain we live in an ego feedback loop that will generate lots of suffering for each member because we will begin to mistake each other for the world itself. Conversely, healthy people are attracted to new ideas that challenge how they see the world. It’s a sign of the confidence they have in their true self. They remain open to the idea that they are big enough to be able to flex toward any idea that makes good sense to their being, because they rightfully see themselves as worthwhile aspects of the universe.

Let get out of our bubbles. Expand our minds. Any fear is a trick. It’s only misinterpreted excitement. We should go lovingly toward what challenges us. Especially including the people we assume we disagree with, because even if we don’t ever become friends with them, we will have both have learned more about both finding and making valuable friends.

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.

According to Who?

1034-relax-and-succeed-just-because-you-are-rightYou’re right, you’re flawed. You don’t have a bunch of the downsides you think you do, but you do have some. Or, if you’re like some of us, you either can’t comprehend a lot of social choices; or you do but they feel inauthentic, which makes us appear even more flawed. I say appear because when we say we’re flawed; according to who?

Whether it happens in your mind or someone else’s, ephemeral opinions and beliefs about you should not be seen as being the same thing as the real you. Those are spectres in your mind. They are created in your theatre of thoughts and only you see your stories. Other people see theirs. So even if you’re happy with the way you live, you can be sure others won’t be.

Just like every religious person has a different idea of their religion, and just as a soldier, a politician and a bureaucrat will have somewhat different ideas about what it means to represent their nation, every person you meet and lots you’ll never meet will each have their own opinion of you and it will have far more to do with them than you.

1034-relax-and-succeed-dont-be-surprisedThat’s what society is: a big criss-cross intersection of all of our cooperative and conflicting ideas and beliefs. That is the landscape you navigate every day as an ego. That is the mess that things like traffic laws and communications protocols and democracy all try to loosely corral.

It isn’t possible for you to manage all of those varying personalities in their varying moods going through various things in their life. They’ll hide how they really feel, they’ll lie, they’ll unintentionally mislead you or you’ll just plain misunderstand them; but the more you try to understand it all the more complex it will all become. Thoughts beget thoughts.

You don’t have to get everyone to understand you and you don’t have to understand the universe you just have to understand yourself, and how you–like everyone–has thoughts about things but those thoughts are not those actual things. You can call rain bad but without it you’d die, so clearly it’s not actually all bad, but you can paint it that way for yourself inside your own head; just like people can paint you and just like you routinely paint them.

1034-relax-and-succeed-i-am-aware-that-i-am-less-than-some-people-preferFree yourself from caring about something meaningless. If they’re your boss and their opinion has some impact on you that you can’t control, then you can’t control that anyway so you’re better to not care about the opinion and be your usual self.

It’s like the friend of mine who rhetorically argued with every caller on a call-in radio show he had playing in his car. He said I should be upset too but I told him it didn’t look either enjoyable or productive. I asked him if he agreed that on every issue as big as the one being discussed, if most people would have their own opinion. He agreed. He also agreed that every opinion from crazy to crazy would be included. So I asked him, if he knew that, why he was surprised to hear them call in? Why was he angry? Why wasn’t he just going; oh it’s that guy.

Funnily enough that made simple sense to my friend and he could actually listen to the show seeing it that way. He felt better and he listened better too. That change spawned this blog. I hope you find this helpful too. That way, the next time someone meets you and doesn’t like you, you can just say I knew there had to be a bunch of you somewhere. It’s nice to meet you. Sorry to disappoint you with who I naturally am. I’ll do my best to not let that taint my view of you. It’s authentic, it’s open and caring, and trust me, people will think it’s weird. But who cares what they think anyway, right? 😉

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.

Other Perspectives #81

761 OP Relax and Succeed - There are two sidesThere’s two sides if there’s two people. There’s three sides if there’s three people. And four for four. etc. etc. No two perspectives are identical. You’ll even change your own perspective over time because we all unconsciously edit our memories based on our history, which is always changing. We each learn to see the world in different ways because we’re all focusing on different things and we’re all giving them different values. So is a concert good or bad? That question has little meaning because it can be someone’s favourite band, but if they broke up with their longtime partner just beforehand then the concert is reduced to a painful reminder of a lost love, whereas for another person this is the first show they could ever afford to go to and they don’t even care which band is playing they’re just so excited to even be able to afford to go. And those individual perspectives will cause them to see absolutely everything differently. They might even use the same words and sound like they mean the same thing, but words are extremely flexible ideas. Is “justice” punishment, revenge or rehabilitation? As always–everyone will have their own view. So when you hear someone tell you what happened, what they really and truly mean is that they are giving you their impression of–or perspective on–the parts of it they were able to even perceive. And while they may not be lying, the fact remains that their personal view has no way whatsoever of ever being able to represent a larger truth.

peace. s

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