What if…?

The what8737004032_01a5c1435f_o

These 2 words run my life.  I constantly fill in the dots afterward with doom and gloom.  It is never a positive question.  But I am rarely proven right.  Actually, I am never proven right.  My imagination is always much, much worse than any reality.  But it is my imagination that runs my mind rather than the evidence that sits in front of me.  The “what ifs” range wondering what new emails are in my inbox, to areas around my health, to my future, to my physical appearance and where my life is headed.  Left alone to my own devices, I can let my imagination blind me to any accurate analysis of what is actually happening in my life.  But like I said, these invented outcomes rarely occur.  And if they do, they are never as bad as I trumped up or I have the resources and capacity to deal with them.

I associate New Year’s resolutions with a waste of time.  I thought they were mostly for weak people who wanted to do some grand gesture based on an impulse and muscled through with will power until shortly into their venture, they ran out of strength and collapsed back into their own ways.  However, I was reading something lately that took a different spin on starting a new year.  It wasn’t about creating something new, but rather asking what was worth leaving behind.  And that struck a chord with me.

I have many things that I would like to embark on or create, but they easily get belittled by those 2 words “What if?”.  When I read the idea of leaving something behind, it was these words that instantly came into my mind.  I want to leave them.  Or at least use them appropriately.  Actually, no.  I want to cut them out entirely.  I want to take their ugly lens off my mind and just do.  Think, yes.  Plan, yes.  Accept consequences, yes.  But in that order and not simply jump to improbable consequences.

So that is my plan.  I know it takes effort and training, but if I can catch myself in the trap of worst case scenario thinking, I know my life will improve.  It will improve.

The How

  1. Daily Meditation
  2. Gratefulness
  3. Plan my days
  4. Do what I want and not what others want.
  5. Do what others want and look past myself.

That is my list to start.  Any process is personal and always needs tinkering, but that feels like a good place to start.  Also, a steady dose of the WTF podcast by Marc Maron keeps me grounded and brings me back to what is important.

What about you?  What should you leave behind?

 

10 thoughts on asking for help

8461114451_ae837e12f1_z1.  You don’t need to know what is wrong.  If you have a feel that something is, that is all you need to start.

2.  You don’t need to have a solution.  That is what the help is for.

3.  Help is not for other people.  It is for everybody.  It is for you.

4.  Help is not weakness.

5.  Asking for help is a sign of strength.

6.  Being afraid or uncomfortable before, during and possibly after asking for help is normal.

7.  Being brave is not without an element of fear.  Being brave is acting despite of that fear.  Be brave

8.  Crying is not for girls.

9.  Asking for help will make life better in the long run.  Trust in that.

10.  If you don’t ask for help, what is the alternative?

I hope that helps.

How do deal with your ego and it’s ugly cousin, impatience

3254923387_ca4d070d0c_zWhat you want to do versus what you think you should be doing

When you first starting something new, like your own personal development, there is a strong tendency to want to progress and be at a certain level almost immediately.  Nobody likes to be a beginner, or the new guy/gal, but being the rookie is a vital stage that helps us learn essential lessons and skills.

If you could take time and be OK with going slow and appreciate every step of the process, then you go much deeper into your understanding of yourself and strengthen the benefits of what you are trying to do.

But believe me, it is not always easy. I tend to rush things and want to improve quickly.  Being conscious of slowing yourself down is a skill and like all skills needs practice.  In this case of growing patience and valuing the process, your biggest obstacles (OK, let”s just say it, your enemies) are ego and impatience.  Here are some insights on that will help you cultivate a relationship with your ego, understand impatience and realize that the happiness and change you are seeking is right here today in the process and not at a hopeful endpoint.

Ego

To be honest, in personal development there is no end point.  This is a quote that I not only like, but really illuminates the moment in your thoughts when your ego gets the best of you.  The quote is by Darren L. Johnson and reads “Anytime there is a struggle between doing what is actually right and doing what seems right, then your ego is interfering with your decision”.

This is the moment when we know what we should do, but in order to preserve our appearance either to ourselves or others, we choose to protect our image rather than do what is best for us.  This same voice is the one that convinces to stop doing something when we are tired, finding it more and more difficult and perhaps increasingly more monotonous.  Ego is the voice in your head and the uneasy sensation in your chest and stomach when you think you’re not doing enough, being enough and/or moving fast enough.  Some examples of when your ego starts to talk (if not scream at you):

  • The mileage in your daily runs is not progressing enough in the preparation for the marathon
  • Your hamstrings are not loose enough in yoga
  • Your blog has fewer visitors than you think you should have
  • Your relationship is not where you think it should be
  • You are not cutting down any longer in smoking.  In fact, you want more.
  • Those desserts are not getting cut out like they were last month.  You are now even cheating.

All of these are based upon where you  “think” you should be rather than where you actually are.  So where do these thoughts come from?  The ideas that your ego has are put there by you. You’ve determined the point that you should be at by comparing yourself to others OR to some mythical idea in your head.  This comparison of where you are versus where you think you should be has brought out your ego loud and clear saying: “WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!”

This then leads us into impatience. 

After the ego has been chattering and telling us to hurry up and improve, it is natural to become very impatient.  This quote by Charles Caleb Colton sums it up by saying “Patience is  the support of the weakness; impatience is the ruin of strength.”

If you could support the areas that you view as weaknesses or shortcomings, then the strength that allowed you to try in the first place would not be ruined.  You allow yourself to keep going. 

However, your ego can be very persuasive and when it speaks, your natural defence is to become impatient.  This immediate feeling of impatience is your ego’s way of trying to lessen the gap between where you are and where your ego thinks you should be.  This strong desire created by your ego to quickly have you become the image it has starts you pushing, the beating yourself up, and the operating with very unrealistic expectations.  This powerful combination of ego and impatience can either make your work miserable by placing you in a constant state of catch-up or frustrate you into quitting.  Either way, your work falls by the wayside just to silence your ego and get rid of the suffocating panic.

How to move past ego and impatience

Once ego has spoken and impatience is running rampant, there is a very simple choice:  learn to work with them and move your work forward.  I suggest the latter. 

If you can let your ego do it’s talking without reacting impatiently, the question changes from “Why am I not good enough?” to “How do I want to choose to show up to the situation?”  This keeps you in the game.  This prevents you from starting many things and ultimately quitting them and This is a big shift.

A questions to work with

Work gently with yourself and ask “Am I driven by where I think I should be in the process rather than appreciating where you actually are in the process?”  It is important to work from reality and not an invented future.  When you make this shift, notice what happens.  It might be hard to accept at first in some cases, but I guarantee the leanings from an accurate view of reality are much more powerful than a reality tinged with ego.  This topic is the basis of my ebook.   I”d love to hear your feedback and comments.

Tearing up the contract: How to be your true self and end outgrown friendships

Tearing up the contractThe Facebook Unfriend Dilemma

When Facebook first came out, one of the first friend requests I received was from an old second grade classmate.  I think we all got a lot of those.  So in next days and weeks after I accepted her friend request, I was inundated with images, her thoughts and just a general intimacy of somebody that I didn’t know.  To be honest, I never really knew her in second grade.  

I can’t remember if I didn’t know how to or it didn’t yet exist, but I wanted to hide her and couldn’t figure out a way.  So after really wondering how I could get out of this new “relationship” and thinking I was a horrible person, I just deleted her.  And despite initially feeling bad, it felt pretty good, pretty quick.  

We have contracts with people

At certain points in our lives, we have a specific types of a relationships.  In some cases, they are our best friends, spouses, partners, peers, casual friends and even those in our lives that we don’t care for.  These relationships are often unspoken but defined by our actions and the energy we spend on maintaining them.  Some are enriching, some are neutral but often many are draining and regardless of what they contribute to our life, they take up energy.  The question is “Do we want to spend our energy on this?”

However, as we change in life (as do they) it also makes keeping that initial contract we have with them difficult.  It is like 2 business partners that agreed to open a vegetarian restaurant, but then ended up running a slaughter house.  The initial bond that brought them together has disappeared yet the only thing holding them together is an outdated sense of loyalty, fear and/or an unwillingness to look at their current reality.  All that is left is an outdated “signed” contract.  

Avoiding old patterns

When we keep showing up to that person out of respect of how things once were, we are potentially creating a great deal of stress.  We end up reverting to old patterns of the way we used to be and not our true, present selves.  Of course, if we go into the relationship with the aim of positive nostalgia, then it is completely healthy.  However, if the relationship is one that makes us behave in ways that we no longer enjoy, find possible, drags down our positive improvements and/or unconsciously (perhaps even consciously) impedes our growth, then it is time to tear up that contract.  In short, we deserve better.

Obviously, it is not as easy as the “unfriend” option on Facebook, but nor is it usually that complicated.  The key lies in speaking our truth and when we do, one of two things will happen:

1.  The person will adapt to our present self thus creating a new contract or, 

2. The person won’t adapt and they will start to fade into the past.  

Be Honest

The key here is being honest.  If we don’t agree with what they say, then speak up.  If we don’t want to do something, then don’t.  If our whole reason for keeping a bond with a person is simply out of obligation, then it is not a relationship. It is a job.  So the choice then becomes, do we want to redefine our contract or quit.  If we speak our truth (a tall order I know), then the rest quickly falls into place.  

The Heath brothers in their book Switch talk about keeping our environment as resistance free as possible.  In some cases, that resistance is people that no longer deserve our attention and energy.  If we use truth and honestly as our method of cleaning up the path, we then minimize the resistance and ultimately stress in our life.  

How to stop living in the shadows

How to stop living in the shadowsDenying your own existence

I’m not fully owning what I do. I don’t think I’m alone. 

I either down play what I do, “jokingly” use self depreciation or deflect attention away from myself.  What I claim to love and do does dominate my mind and energy, but I feel I need to continually down play it to others and operate in the shadows of their presence.  

Why?  Good question.

I’ve not lived a very traditional life by the standards of where I am from, and frankly I’ve felt bad about it.  Perhaps not bad, but definitely like a misfit, and out of place and sadly, at most times like a failure. 

I feel that what I do and have done is better kept quite because it is not the norm.  I let others take over the conversation about shit that I don’t care about.  But then pretend that it is the most fascinating thing ever.  I prod people with questions so they can’t ask me.  I put them in the spot light and recede into the shadows.  Worse yet, I let them keep me in the shadows. 

Whose norms?

I’ve been thinking a lot about not only what I think my norms are but also how I act in response to what I think my life should look like.

I’ve let so many other definitions of what a quality life should be that I’ve ignored the fundamental question of “What is my norm?” 

And I think it goes further.  My speech, actions and mindset put what others are doing on a higher or more acceptable plane.  I’ve gone to bed down, woken up to go to the bathroom with sense of “wtf” about my life, and when my eyes open in the morning, despite looking forward to what it is that I do, still degrade it. 

Like I said, I don’t own it.  I might as well of fallen in love with a beautiful women but never go out in public with her.  Or get married but refuse to wear the ring. 

Into it

So, the challenge to myself and you the reader, is to own it.  To say fuck it to what others tell us the norm is.  To really put both feet into what we are doing because nothing great ever happened with somebody working 50% at it.  Let’s face it, most great things require more than 100%.  So if we are not willing to really bleed for what it is that we want to do, then why do it?

I’ve been tired of myself.  I’ve been tired of not stepping out of the shadows and into the light.  You can’t take a bath with just one leg in the water and then claim you are clean.  Likewise, in the situations that I claim to be “into” in my life, I generally have a backup plan.  And that energy and effort of coming up with ways out, just pushes me back into the darkness. 

How to step out

The good news is that the light is always there.  And the amount of shadow that we let cover us is entirely our own decision.  And we control it with what we say, how we think and how we interact with people.  

When I realize that I am playing it safe (let’s rephrase that to dishonestly), I start to work with the following questions:

  1. What is an area of my life that I love but I downplay to either myself and/or others?
  2. I ask the hard questions to myself or with the help of a quality listener as to why?
  3. I start to monitor the words, thoughts and emotions I use around it when sharing it with others?
  4. In conversations or interactions with those that I let take over or push me into the shadows, I start to be selfish.  I unapologetically share my passion or choices  I actually view it more of educating them. 
  5. I’m honest with others when I don’t have a clear cut answer or description.  What I do and love doesn’t need to fit into a nice neat package or box.  Nor do I need to bare my soul.  But I don’t have to cover it up either.   

Our shadow is just that.  Ours.  Self deprecation, pretending it is less than it really is or giving others more importance casts a longer, darker shadow.  Like I said, the light is always there and stepping out of the dark is our move.  Nobody else’s

Our self imposed limits

ElderlyA beautiful, powerful reminder by Susan Sontag:

A lot of our ideas about what we can do at different ages and what age means are so arbitrary — as arbitrary as sexual stereotypes. I think that the young-old polarization and the male-female polarization are perhaps the two leading stereotypes that imprison people. The values associated with youth and with masculinity are considered to be the human norms, and anything else is taken to be at least less worthwhile or inferior. Old people have a terrific sense of inferiority. They’re embarrassed to be old. What you can do when you’re young and what you can do when you’re old is as arbitrary and without much basis as what you can do if you’re a woman or what you can do if you’re a man.

 

The mechanics of listening

ListeningIf you watch a very good mechanic, they often just listen to an engine.  This audible peak into the health of the engine gives the mechanic incredible feedback into what needs attention. 

On the path of becoming your true self, you have to let your self simply idle much like that of an engine and listen to what is inside; what is on your mind, the cadence of your breath and how you feel in your body.  You don’t need to judge or run away, but like that mechanic hunched over the hood, just give it your attention. 

Start small with a minute.  Close your eyes.  See what comes up.  See how you feel.  See where it leads and why.