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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.  

The first essential step we all need to take

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 2.10.45 PMIn the book Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa (who is Pema Chodron’s teacher) he wrote “Habitual patterns allow you to look no further than 3 steps ahead of you.”

Brilliant.

Simple.

100% accurate.

The start of the path to our true self is seeing our true environment, both inside and out.  And it starts by analyzing our habitual patterns and then letting them go.  

Once we’ve let them go, the path then gets longer and brighter.  We can see more than our next fix. We see more than 3 steps.

A tall, but very rewarding process.

How to move past the hopelessness

Acknowledging how you feel

HopelessI’ve often found myself with a very heavy sense of hopelessness.  In some cases, feeling a very powerful sensation of not having a way out and I need to be very proactive in keeping this emotion in balance.  If I’m not careful, I can easily jump to many worse case scenarios that can overpower my current thoughts and cripple me into inaction.  At that point, I’m not going anywhere and moving more into my true self is halted.

Therefore, I work very hard with myself and clients to find bright spots.  Bright spots is a term coined by the Heath brothers in the book Switch.  Simply put, it is noticing what exists in your life when you feel things are working, and then replicating it in all areas of your life.  So for example, if I feel good at the end of the day, I often ask myself “What was different about today?” Or if I had a good conversation with somebody that really challenges my patience, I reflect up on what made this encounter special.  It is finding those mindsets, attitudes, situations and feelings deep from within and applying them to all areas of your life.

How to start

  • You have to be honest.  Gentle and kind, but honest.  A true moment of honesty produces very moving results.  
  • If you feel nothing is working, then find the areas of your life that are the least uncomfortable and analyze them.  They might not ideal, but they are more so than others, so deconstruct what it is that allows you to feel better about these areas.
  • If your life has a real range of sensations and feelings, then target those true bright spots.  Put them under a magnifying glass and see why they are so special to you.
  • Start to feel areas of your body as you think.  Notice where your emotions settle into your body and how the body changes depending on your emotional state.
  • Spend more time alone or at least quiet.
  • Take away judgement.  Think “no thought deserves a gold metal or a reprimand”.
  • Be gentle as you apply the bright spots to the dark ones.
  • Go slow.  Change is slow but the process can very be enjoyable if you give yourself a reasonable timeframe.
  • Keep at it.
  • Keep at it.
  • Keep at it.
  • Be frequent with your reflections and don’t shy away from it when it is uncomfortable.  That is where the really good stuff is; where all the learning happens.  You can learn more about yourself in a  few minutes reflecting on the challenging issues than a life time on the easy ones.
  • Be emotional.  Let yourself cry (even if your a guy.  Especially if you are a guy).
  • Look at your language.  How do you label events in your life?  How do you talk to yourself?  Others?
  • Get support.  Other people can listen, offer support and insight.  A change in perspective can jump you in an instant to a completely new way of thinking.

We are not alone in sharing a sense of hopelessness.  It is a very valuable emotion.

However, like all emotions, it needs to pass and not become a lifestyle.  Start the work and uncover the learnings that hopelessness has offered you and enrich your life with it’s teachings.

Developing life skills requires patience

Skills are not instant

Learning how to either develop new habits and/or leave other ones behind takes time.

Creating your own Personal Development and Sticking with itI know that might seem like an obvious statement, but one of the most common things I hear from people is: “I tried that once and it didn’t work” or “It was way too hard, so I just stopped”.  Having “it” not work or feeling that it is too hard needs your re-evaluation of how you are going about it.  You need to think of it as developing a skill. And like all skills, it requires that you:

Go at a reasonable pace where you are challenged, yet not frustrated.

Pick a starting point that represents your current abilities and tolerance for change.

Realize that it is not an all or nothing endeavour.  There are shades of trying and it does not need to be like a light switch where it is either on and bright or off and dark.  Your efforts are more like a dimmer switch for that light.

Consistently keep trying and growing

If you were teaching a child how to dive into a pool,  would you take him/her to the top of a cliff and say “After you jump, just make yourself go in head first”?  Of course not.  You would start slowly at the edge of the pool or dock and encourage him/her to take steps that challenge them but that do not frustrate them to the point of quitting.  Over time, you will see their skills increase and with diligence everyday, they will be able to dive from much higher up.

Your development, your skill

Whether you’ve wanted to start yoga, quit smoking, drink less, write more and/or just be nicer to yourself and others, ask yourself this: Have I thrown myself off the cliff when starting change? Or have I treated it like a skill and slowly but very steadily tried to increase it?  I have a book out entitled “Creating YOUR Personal Development: How To Do It Everyday and Thrive“.  It is an eight chapter guide that works with you to create, sustain and continually grow your personal development endeavor.  It is available on Amazon.  I’d love your feedback and hope that you find it a valuable tool.

3 ways to create the most important moment of your day

The only thing between the ideas in your head and creating a reality is the act of starting.  It is a humbling process of letting go of your ego and preconceived images of perfection and simply getting messy.  And messy to the point where you can only laugh at yourself.6132262825_faaa3647f2_z

You see, we each have ideas of what we’d like to be doing or be, but in reality, they are just not happening.  Whenever I personally have problems with doing, or I”m talking to others who keep starting sentences with “I wish I could…”, this is what always works:

1.  Be OK with a “rough” start.  The important thing is starting so don’t worry about how it looks.  In reality, most people are so caught up in their own lives that nobody is paying attention to you anyway.  So if you want to start something new or stop something old, then do just that. 

And let it be less than ideal because the act of starting isn’t so much about actually doing something well.  It is about getting into it mentally.  That act of actually feeling the process start releases a tidal wave of motivation, a sense of accomplishment and kills the dread.

2.  Say “Fuck it” out loud (I know serious bloggers shouldn’t swear, but Fuck it).  Seriously.  Do the best you can with what you have and release the judgement of it all.  It is not perfect so fuck it.  It won’t ever be perfect ever.  Just. Try.

3.  Don’ think past the start.  There is a time to plan ahead and look up at where you are going, but sometimes looking too far ahead can paralyze you.  The idea is to let your brain act on some of the ideas you have in your head without worrying where it will take you.  Let your brain indulge and if it is happy, then you can start to look at step 2 and 3 and 4 and 5……but right now, all you need to enjoy is step one.

Don’t over think it.

Let it be ugly.

Let is be imperfect.

Do the best you can in your current situation and focus on starting.

When you are done, go about your day.  Then sleep. Then get up and start again.

The rest will come; if you keep starting that is.