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The Love of Your Life | Your Infinite Valentine

What was your Valentine's Day experience like? Was it fulfilling? Unsatisfying? Beautiful? Lonely? Reflective? I know I am asking a lot of questions here, but was it what you hoped? Did you go out with the girls to commiserate? Go out with the guys to prowl? Did you stay at home pining for a lost love and reminiscing and crying? You can have someone who can fulfill you. Someone who will always support you. Someone who will always be there. Someone who matches your values, interests, and vision for the world. That person is also looking for you. They love you. The question is, how deeply are you related to them? How much do you believe in them? How much do you love them? How committed to them are you? Because, you see, your life partner is right around the corner. Walk around the corner into the bathroom and look in the mirror and pick one eye and tell them you love them unconditionally. Do it until tears well up in their eyes. Until they are convinced. I mean it. Do it now. Your happiness and the possibility of your fulfillment is entirely within you. You are the love of your life. The completion you are looking for. And how can you have a fulfilling relationship with another until you are fulfilled within yourself? You can not. Not really. A truly fulfilling relationship can happen when you no linger need another [person, thing, possession, acknowledgment, reflection, compliment, lover] to be happy. One you have achieved that stage of egoic expansion, then you can have true love. Overflowing love. Unattached yet commited love. Once you realize that the source of your fulfillment lies within...and you expewrience that...then you are truly free. Not that we should not seek connection and greater levels of fullness in our synergistic inter-dependency with others. Indeed, we will. AND we will do it once we are full within ourselves and our cup can overflow without the need to have our thirst and hunger sated by another equally un-whole-sum being. The path is harder. It is more qork. It is more rewarding and leads to more sustainable happiness--that you can share with others should you choose. They will feel freer a s well as they will sense you do not need them--and that give them freedom. Well, unless they are basing their bvalue on your need for them, in which case, refer them to this article and my site. Heh. I started I.D.E.A. to give people access to emotional freedom. To egoic stability and solidity. To give them choice. And I am a romantic. I have had epic poetic love where rose petals were scattered about on many occasions. I have my heart to others and almost lost my soul to them more than once.
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How to Determine Your Fees and Get Paid What You Are Worth [Part 2]

You must be genuinely coming from assisting them in creating the life they want. You must not appear attached--and hopefully you do the intra-personal work to actually BE unattached. Otherwise you will seem desperate. And in romance, politics, and in business, desperation is not an aphrodisiac.

Whatever the truth of your situation and concerns, you must act as if you do not need them to sign anything. The best way to do that is to put your concerns out of your head, and focus on theirs and theirs alone for at least the time you are together. They are not paying your bills.

You are in service of them. Continue to help people attain what they envision for themselves, and you will eventually have everything you could want--including spiritual fulfillment

The organizing principle and the effective method is simple: you are not trading time for money--you are not really selling a service. What you are selling the prospective client on is their vision for how their life could and will be. If they achieved their stated desired goals working with you, what would that be worth? It is probably priceless. It is certainly worth more than your fees. And that is why I refuse to discuss my rates for services before we meet. If I tell them a number--whether it is $30 or $300 dollars it means nothing. I do not know what they want in full yet--and neither do they until they meet and I ask extensive question--they do not really know what I do as I have not explained it yet. And last I heard there was no "going rate" for an Evolutionary Guide except the one I am currently charging. They certainly have not considered what that would make possible and what it is worth. I have yet to meet someone after nearly 200 clients that has considered it before I inquire specifically.

Not only do the numbers mean nothing at early stages of the process--worse, they are comparing it, in their mind, to commodities they could buy with that amount of money. Are they "worth" the same? Of course not. You can not get more love in your life and connectedness and intimacy by paying a car lease, or buying groceries, or a new suit. You can not improve your embodiment of your spirituality by buying a second house.

Yet that is what we encourage them to do by telling them a number up front.

The outcome is inevitable. They start to price shop.

If you truly want to be of service to them in improving their lives, it is irresponsible of you to discuss money or rates before you meet, AND at the appropriate place during that meeting; near the end of that exploratory session. After they have met you, after you have inquired about their desires and outcomes in full. After you have then explained what your approach is--and how it can assist them in getting what they want. You are not selling there--you are just demonstrating competence and establishing unimpeachable credibility. And finally, after you have addressed any questions they have about the process or your offering, but before they see the agreement and your rates.

It is this approach that has me with a consistently full business of one-on-one clients [over 20 a week] and a 98% success rate of converting prospects to clients.

With the one-one-one clients it is my general policy to only renew them under special circumstances. I am not just renewing them. That means I go through this process at least 3 or 4 times a month with a virtual stranger. It works. And I want you to be able to have that kind of confidence in your results--and to turn your practice into a business so that you can live a financially prosperous life as a result of your spiritual principles and living a purpose filled life. Rather than in spite of or in conflict with your spiritual life.

In nearly 5 years of being in this business full time, I have never once had this backfire on me--no one has ever declined to meet me for an exploratory as a result of this policy. I have twice had people in which were not financially qualified, but they were not financially qualified for anyone. And that is the risk I am willing to take for the benefits of this approach.

So HOW do you use this organizing principle?

  • Have a firm and unshakable resolve to not discuss your rates. Put it in your FAQ and declare it to the world on your web site. Then, keep your word about it
  • Discuss rates only at the appropriate time--after they say what it would make possible in their life, and right before they are handed the agreement
  • Use these formulations to ask that question:
    • "If you had XYZ, what would that possible in your life?
    • "Once we achieve all of that together in this program, what would that open up for you in
      • Your relationships
      • Your emotional life
      • Your professional life?
Follow up with this question several times: What else would it make possible?

Get three or 4 out. Unless they go to something universal and spiritual that brings tears to their eyes--in which case, stop right there, it will not get any better than that. Also--be transparent. I usually add, "and that is the context you hold, and the value you are weighing this agreement against".

The more you hear the mind-blowing answers people give, the less you are fearful about raising your rates for new clients--and finally getting paid what you are worth; getting paid more in alignment with the differences you are making in their lives.

Of course, this is one small component of the larger structures you will need to have in place to become more effective at new client acquisition, but it is an important one. I look forward to sharing more with you and being your Guide as you turn your practice into a business in the 21st Century Marketplace.

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The Top 6 Mistakes Coaches and Practitioners Make [and Their Solutions] (Part 2)

We have already covered errors in philosophical grounding, lack of skill, and a failure of implementing a sustainable structurealready covered errors in philosophical grounding, lack of skill, and a failure of implementing a sustainable structure for your business--and for the scope of your clients' needs. What is next? More nuts and bolts rather than philosophical grounding or mindset:

Mistake: Having only 1 stream of prospects

Most coaches and solo-preneurs rely on word of mouth. Word of mouth is critical. In the 21st Century marketplace there are hyper-empowered and talkative people. This is good for you. However, it is not enough. Make a decision now to take control--to be the locus of responsibility--for the success of your business. While word of mouth is critical, it is only one of at least three prospect streams the successful solo-preneur must establish for themselves. What are those three? Solution:
  • Formalized referral systems [two of them]
  • Speaking engagements and free evening talks
  • Word of mouth
The two formalized referral systems?
  • An affiliate program with a percentage or fee for referrals
  • Write a referral clause into your client contract--requiring two if the client is happy with your services. While you do not want to be heavy handed about this, it does set their intention and focus their awareness on a more formal approach to referrals
The evening talks?
  • Make it explicit in your marketing AND in your introductory remarks that you are there for two reasons:
    • to provide value to their lives--first and foremost
    • to expose people to and offer an introduction to your services
Word of mouth?
  • Consider this a great backup and occasional unexpected icing on the cake when those unintentional or random referrals occur. And occur they will.
If you do this, and you consider them in this order of importance, you will always be in control of your flow of clients and prospects--and they will flow in. Your sustainable prosperity will follow.

Mistake: Failure to leverage contact points and the opportunity they hold

Solution: many
  • Consider any contact point you have with a prospect [be it an initial session, an email, or a phone call] an opportunity for you to leverage them beyond their current limitations emotionally or mentally--an opportunity for your to expand their world. An opportunity for you to be of service.
  • Do not give "free initial coaching sessions"
    • Many coaches and many prospects think it is beneficial to give away services or to experience the practitioner directly. I have never found this to be effective in a prosperous business. If you want to turn your practice into a business then offer a complimentary exploratory session--and consider it an information gathering session for you and a sales presentation for the prospect. Let them get a sense of you, but do not give them free coaching. You are not part of a buffet. You want them to commit to a more fulfilling experience. A full 3 course meal. Be sure to show them the menu and explain the dishes and presentation--be sure to demonstrate your competence, but be careful you are making sure your contact point is leveraged to its full potential--for their sake in finally having a better life--and for yours in creating a sustainable and prosperous business.
    • Have them make a decision one way or the other in that exploratory session. If you let them "think about it" then they will get less and less clear on what you presented, and therefore less and less clear on what it will make possible in their lives and their fear and limitations kick in. The very habit patters of the mind that they are coming to you to resolve take over. It is your duty to guide them to a choice in that session. Yes and no are both fine answers--but require an answer. I will often ask a prospect who wants to "think about it" if that is the thing that stops them elsewhere in their lives. That is usually all I have to say in those situations for them to sign the agreement in front of them.
    • Be respectful with their experience--set context--and make sure when you chat with them on the phone for the purpose of setting up the exploratory session that they are aware of the process--that they know you will clarify what they want, then explain your approach, and then if it is a fit--have them review a contract. Those contact points are critical for your guidance of the client to changing their lives.
  • When a client sends you an email raving about your contribution--or when they acknowledge you verbally communicating the difference you have made for them--ask them if you can quote them. Turn that acknowledgment into a testimonial for your marketing materials.
There are more examples I could give, but remember, if you want to have sustainable prosperity and truly be of service to a larger and larger portion of your community, and therefore be an agent of change rippling out to assist in creating a better global condition--consider every contact point an opportunity.

Mistake: Considering Your Service a Commodity

There is a reason I do not publish my rates. My services are not a commodity on the shelf to be price-shopped. And no one else does what I do, really. And consider that you offer something unique that no one else does. In discovering that you will not only feel better about your "fees", but you will also have take the first step in being able to communicate the value of your services to your clients and prospects in such a way that your fees seems insignificant and nearly irrelevant when measured against the value your service will bring to their lives. And really--just between you and me--do you really feel that a number, no matter how reasonable or how unreasonable it may seem communicates the scope and richness of the difference your service can provide in their lives? Unless you have nothing unique to offer--you do your prospects a disservice by buying into their mindset that they can price shop. I have never lost an opportunity or had a client not want to work with me as a result of this approach. In fact, it is one of the secrets of my success--selling from vision and value and having the money be a formality--but an afterthought.

Mistake #7: Did I say 6?

I guess there is at least one more: "Healing" that which you need to resolve in your self and in your own life by healing others

I am going to say something harsh here and say that I consider it unethical--yes, "unethical" for coaches, therapist, or "healers" to work on the same issues with clients that they have not resolved within themselves. While you may still be able to provide solutions--at least be honest with your client that you have not handled it in your own life. And make a choice now to only provide services that you feel competent, resolved with, and apply to your self in your own life. If you are a relationship coach--have a great relationship. If you are a coach around self-esteem, have a well developed ego [in the positive and healthy sense]. If you are an addict who is still smoking, drinking, or doing drugs, do not counsel others on that. Do not look to heal your wounds through the wounds of others. There is a danger of projection, and even more so--how can you charge someone to solve something you have been unable to demonstrate as being solved in your own life? I hope this article helps you in your desire for sustainable prosperitysustainable prosperity. Read, listen, learn, and thrive.
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The Top 6 Mistakes Coaches and Practitioners Make [and Their Solutions] (Part 1)

It is amazing how many coaches, solopreneurs, massage therapists, lawyers, etc. are competent at what they do--yet suffer financially. They are doing good, but they are not doing well--that is, they are struggling financially, mentally, and emotionally.

There are reasons for this. I have identified the top 6 reasons--and their solutions-that I have found in my experience in my own business as well as observing those who still have a "practice".

The first 3 are presented to you below. The next three will be in Part 2 in a couple of weeks.

A Lack of Integral Thinking: "Money and Spirituality are in Conflict"

For some, "capitalism" is a bad word. Which makes sense. "Capitalism" was a phrase coined by the biggest enemy of the free market and free enterprise to ever live--Karl Marx. Yet, we keep that inaccurate and pejorative moniker. We were taught for thousands of years that to profit was bad--and then this meme was punctuated by the evils of capitalism laid out by a failed mathematician who had no foresight into the services industry--never mind respect for private property and Natural Law and was therefore essentially a thief on a grand scale. Even though with the rise of capitalism in the mid-1800s, our standard of living has more than trebled, never mind that our life expectancy has doubled in a short time as a result...it...is...bad.

While there was a a time when one could only profit by exploitation and manipulation or by inheritance or plunder, this has not been accurate for nearly 300 years.

[Before commenting on this, please read my series of articles on Spiritual Capitalism, found here: Read FirstRead First || Read Second Read Second || Read ThirdRead Third.]

Maybe we should consider throwing off the chains of thinking birthed centuries before the Enlightenment and even before the founding of this Country and came to a head--and have been proven to be inaccurate, ineffective, and fundamentally broken in the last Century.

The truth is, it is not only possible to come from service and contribution in a "for profit" environment--that is to live a purpose-filled life--but also to profit well from it and to live prosperously. It takes some personal work--being mindful of your thinking, cleaning out your unconscious imprints of guilt and shame, and to constantly be of service while having sufficient esteem for your self to recognize the value you are bringing to another's life and to have them provide that value monetarily in exchange. It takes a lack of attachment to "closing that deal" and being more focused on service and "opening relationships"--and much more.

Actually, I have found what can be provided to our clients lives is priceless to them. Fees are insignificant when weighed against what the work we do in their lives will make possible. It is not a commodity. It is a gateway to greater freedom and happiness. We can live a spiritually oriented life--and integrate free-market, service-based principles into that.

By doing so, we integrate our spiritual and our financial life. This frees us from guilt, shame, and allows us to flourish spiritually while prospering financially.

Lack of Skill: Sales and Marketing

We have all had negative experience with sales people. Not sales professionals, but sales people--that is, people who want to "close a deal" rather than open a relationship. And most sales trainers teach techniques with little regard for a philosophical base or grounding. I do not support that.

I used to think sales was a dirty word. That was until I realized that until I could influence people to take action in their lives--leverage them beyond their limitations--I could never really do much good in the world. You can only be a positive agent for change if you can inspire others to move beyond their current thinking--the thinking that has them in their current life situation and has stopped them from being fully free and thriving.

Therefore--if you truly want to do good in the world, it becomes your duty--yes, your duty--to assist others in overcoming their limitations. That means learning to sell and market your services in a compelling way that comes from service and contribution while combining that with powerful tool of influence.

You must gain those skillsgain those skills if you want to make a difference and be prosperous.

While it may be hard to swallow at first [took me years to accept] you must be a sales person first--that is you must be able to enroll others in a vision--to live your purpose and prosper.

Error in Structure: Service, Sustainability, and Packages

One you are coming from service and contribution, you begin to consider what would best serve the client. Most practitioners have session-by-session practices or monthly packages, but they do not have comprehensive packages that have stages and phases in them. How many people out there have dabbled here and dabbled there and never really bucked down and did the deep work to reveal greater depths within themselves? I have found most clients approach their personal development this way. "Well, I have tried this and I have tried that...", [but I never really got what I needed that was deeper].

The best thing you can do as a coach or a practitioner is to find a way to create a compelling 3-stage or 3-phase offering that allows the client to reveal greater and greater depths or to attain greater and greater heights. For a massage therapist, this may mean something like:

  • Healing
  • Activating
  • Opening
For a Coach it may mean something like:
  • Clarity
  • Tool Gathering/Education
  • Purpose/Action
I am just pulling these out of my pocket and tossing them out there. The point is that if you truly want to be of service to your clients, you will develop a phased program so that they finally make a deep commitment to themselves--and they finally achieve that elusive transformation--mentally, emotionally, and perhaps spiritually, they have been looking for for years. In the process, you create a sustainable practice with monthly payments coming in--and you get to then relax and be certain you are always acting with integrity and acting ethically. People only get slimy when they are desperate. You owe it to your clients to create a deep compelling offer that is only offered with integrity--and you owe it to your self to be prosperous as a purpose driven helper. Everyone wins. And wouldn't you like to be in a position to say to to a prospect you really do not want to work with? Of course you would. Wouldn't you like to always operate with full integrity and ethics intact coming from service and contribution? Of course you would. Wouldn't you like to provide comprehensive solutions to your clients so you can make a deep and lasting positive impact on their lives? Of course you wouldOf course you would. [the next 3 top problems/errors and solutions will be handled in part 2part 2]
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Emotional Freedom Techniques [Part 2]

Be sure to read Part 1Part 1 here first.

Practical Steps to Emotional Freedom

Your practice, if you want to develop choice, facility, and ultimately, personal freedom and mastery over your own subjective experience, is the following: Make a decision right now to take 100% responsibility for your subjective experience. Every bit of it. Your interpretations, your feelings, your emotions, your beliefs—accept that 100% of your subjective experience is generated by…you. This will give you power and access to choice and freedom. It is also a spiritual and emotional truth with over 2600 years of testing, verification, and validation.  There are certainly things you will have to give up, self-righteousness and blame being to two big ones, but you have to decide if you want to be right, or be happy. If you want to be happy and free from the emotional matrix of self-generated misery...make the decision now. Having made that decision, then:
  1. Notice when you are agitated
  2. Notice how you are characterizing the events [is it descriptive, scientific, or is it a judgment or characterization?]
  3. Ask yourself what other possible interpretations there are [generate at least three alternative interpretations, making at least one fun] this will build in interpretive flexibility and assist you in taking on multiple perspectives--a critical faculty to build for your personal evolution
  4. Ask yourself what you know—scientifically, descriptively—and what you are making up or imagining—and separate the two
  5. Verify your interpretations directly with the party involved
In the unlikely event that your disempowering and/or negative interpretations are accurate, your work continues by being vigilant against the old habit patterns of the mind to then extrapolate out a generalized disempowering and/or possibly a “global” belief. I recommend conducting a sentence stem exercise to uncover some of your own beliefs—particularly the global or personally limiting beliefs. What are sentence stems and what are the guidelines for such an exercise? I am glad you asked. Some examples of sentence stems are as follows:
  • I am _________.
  • People are _________.
  • The world is _________.
  • I will never _________.
  • They always _________.
  • Men [are] _________.
  • Women [are] _________.
The guidelines for the exercise are to
  1. Finish the sentence in writing as many times as possible within 90 or 120 second—that is, 1.5 or 2 minutes.
  2. No less than 10 completions, no more than 20 is a useful range
  3. All answers are acceptable; no filtering, no reframing, no changing of any answers
  4. Let it flow—that is try to complete the exercise as much as possible without thinking about the answers.
  5. If they start to get “strange” or unexpected, you are on the right track.
  6. If they are all happy and shiny, redo the exercise focusing on the shadow side
What this exercise does is allows us to uncover beliefs from parts of ourselves we do not always allow to come through. Beliefs that are there are the time, and are running our lives; beliefs that may be limiting us, may be causing dis-ease and tension in our body, robbing us of possibility, connection, opportunity and prosperity, and ultimately health and well being. These beliefs, once we have scoured the world for enough “evidence” to support them become the glasses through which we view the world creating a clouded and disempowered experience-not to mention inherently inaccurate, at least in part. Begin to look for counter-examples. Notice your attachment to beliefs and how that only serves you short term, and stalls your personal evolution. Once again, as always, awareness is the gateway. Awareness of your sensations, is the first entry point. Are you agitated? Do you feel a sinking feeling in your stomach? Is there tension in your chest? Etc. From there, what are the thoughts and interpretations leading to those sensations? Are the labels you are attaching to those sensations even accurate? To what degree? How accurate are your interpretations of the events? Once verified, then ask, what did I make it mean? And then ask yourself, “what else could it mean?” The answers to that last question must be positive or empowering about yourself or about the world or about people. You get extra evolutionary bonus points if you do this even when you don’t have to—that is, when your anger is “justified” or your frustration is “understandable”. Be vigilant against this pitfall. While it may feel good in the moment--and there is a short-term pseudo-self-esteem boost [that is, pre-rational, stage 1 ego reenforcement], it does not serve your evolution in the long-term to indulge in the place of justification for your "negative" emotional states. Develop your awareness. Use the power of your mind to free yourself and to prosper. Prosper financially, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.
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Emotional Freedom Techniques [Part 1]

“We do not respond to reality. We respond to our internal representation of reality.”—NLP Presupposition

“Mind precedes everything. All that you are is a result of what you have thought.”—Buddhist Principle

People of great wisdom and insight in both the East and West agree. Our emotional experience has little or nothing to do with external reality. Oh sure—there are plenty of people, events, situations, and injustices that are easy targets for blame. Bad things happen. And while, often people’s lives are the sum total of their choices, often bad things happen to good people through no action or fault of their own. And less dramatically, unpleasant and undeserved things may happen. Only a fool would dispute that. Events occur. That we cannot change. What we do have tremendous choice over is our experience of those events. And yet, take 5 people and have something negative happen to them and they will all react, respond, and characterize it differently—if even slightly. They will have five different emotional experiences.

What is the difference that makes the difference?

One of my favorite examples is when someone does not call when they said they would or we expect them to. Or perhaps they are late or a no-show to some meeting or appointment. When we finally hear from them, how often are they blamed for our negative emotional experience? We say things like, “you made me worry”, or “I was about to call the hospital,” or something of that nature. Perhaps we are relieved when we hear form them. Perhaps we are angry. Perhaps we are both in succession. I love that—“you made me worry”. As if the person forced us to fantasize negative things. The responsible thing to say when we were upset by a lack of information is something like, “I was worried because I lacked facility with my interpretations.” Whether we are conscious of them or not, all of our emotions are a result of our internal maps of reality or our internal representations. How emotionally free are you? To answer that answer this question: how well do you accept or respond to unexpected events—and events that violate your expectations? Here is a simple equation to ponder:

X + Y = E

Where X is the event, Y is your interpretation of the event, and E is the resulting emotion. We have little choice over events. We can interpret them any number of ways. And we usually do—however we usually do it in a negative and disempowering way. That would be bad enough, but we do not stop there, do we? No. We then generalize it out and create a belief about ourselves, people, the world, etc. spreading the madness allowing it to be come one of the filters through which we view the world. To make matters even worse, we do not sort events looking for how they are different than our belief; we look for evidence to buttress it so we feel validated and our small ego gets some satisfaction. Our belief then becomes a conviction. Gather enough “evidence” and it becomes simply the way the world is, or people are. That is, it becomes the truth. Sadly, [for them] most people would rather be right than be accurate. That is, they come to conclusions and then sort for evidence that proves that they are “right” often ignoring evidence to the contrary—actually not even noticing it. Far better to look for how your belief may be inaccurate. Better still, to gather evidence and come to a conclusion after all the information is in. Even better still is to avoid creating global beliefs about anything and any one.

Anger and Stress are Immuno-Supressive

The person who is hurt the most by our lack of facility is our self. There is a greater and greater volume of research to validate the long-held understanding that negative emotions are a drain on your physical resources negatively impacting health and well being; that positive emotions are uplifting and create greater physical health and well being. I recommend The Molecules of EmotionMolecules of Emotion as a good start.

Practical Steps to Emotional Freedom...

 

Read the rest in Part 2 next week... Part 2 is now available herehere.
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Evolutionary Sales: Application Question: Phone Sales

Michael, an Evolutionary Sales listener asks:
My questions are what if the receptionist says that the decision maker doesn’t take incoming calls, you can only reach him by email or leaving a message with me? Also, if the decision maker says there not interested in a sales call, what do you do?
Good questions Michael. There is always a way. Maybe you need to dial another extension and play Columbo and say you were trying to reach so-and-so [decision maker]. You could also ask: what do I need to do to be interesting enough for him/her to take the call? If the decision maker says they are not interested in a sales call then you need to tailor your opening line. What would they be interested in? For instance: "If I could show you how to save 20% on lead generation, would that be interesting to you? Great. Do you have 15 minutes to discuss that?" It is implied you are making a sales call--and you have generated interest and received permission. Thanks Michael. Keep those listener questions coming!
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The Benefit of a Spiritual Practice [Part 2 of 2]

Be sure to read Part 1 of this article herehere.

Taking Responsibility

The more you take responsibility—for your emotions, your actions, your life the more you build self-esteem. It is not the person who upset you, it is that you became triggered—or that you lost facility. It is not that the cost of living is too high; it is that you are not generating enough income. It is not that someone treats you poorly; it is that you are ineffective at drawing appropriate boundaries. The locus of responsibility—and therefore power—is within you. Nothing is external. To blame someone is to give them tremendous power over you. When you forgo blame in favor of responsibility, you give up comfort, but you reap tremendous rewards—gaining power and building self-esteem. Sadly, I have even experienced people whose ego structure [development of self-esteem] is so insufficient that they will severely distort facts to make themselves look better—all unconsciously. That is, they are not even aware they are doing it. Their ego is so small and fragile it can not include possibilities that do not put them in the most positive light. They also cannot hear feedback. They take things personally that take great leaps of irrationality to do so. They will also have trouble telling the truth of their experience—they are too fearful. And they have a strong -- and at times desperate -- need for approval and acknowledgment from others.They are in egoic hell. Fortunately, the solution is simple. Not easy, but simple. And the more you do it the easier it gets and it is the only sure fire way to build your rational self-esteem; taking responsibility for your part in all things inter-personal. Seeing and examining your part—and ignoring the part the other person had to play in it. Blame serves no one. Responsibility gives you tremendous power.

“Do you want to be on the results side of the equation, or the excuses side of the equation? –Christopher Howard

Let’s leave that for now and move to identification. When you identify with an aspect of your experience: possessions, reputation, job, relationship, etc. you will experience extreme fear and perhaps panic if you think it may be taken from you or lost. You will then make choices and take actions out of a fight-or-flight state. Likewise, if it actually is taken from you or lost to you, you will experience loss, perhaps confusion, pain, at times even grief. Often depression and despair are not far behind. Both of these emotional experiences: fear and loss are clear indicators of identification; a case of mistaken identity. Who you truly are is that which is experiencing all of that. Pure awareness. The Witness.

The ultimate spiritual practice is dis-identifying from that which you think is you.”—Ken Wilber

Taking a step back, let’s look at this in more practical terms. The Witness is simply another perceptual position. As we discussed in the Rapport Module, there are at least 3 that you want to become facile in navigating: self, other, observer; or first, second, and third person perceptual positions. Witness is akin to an associated observer. I like to think of the first three as concentric circles, and the Witness as an intersecting circle that crosses all three. Mastery of this and the other perceptual positions will allow you to experience massive internal facility, emotional freedom, and the ability to relate to and understand many and multiple perspectives—even if you do not agree with them. You will have a greater scope of resources emotionally. You will have greater flexibility mentally. You will bounce back from unexpected events far more rapidly, and you will react less and less and respond more and more. Ultimately, you will foster the kind of flexibility and fluidity necessary for the 21st Century Marketplace and frankly, be happier, physically healthier, and more productive. Your clients and prospects will sense the difference—even if they lack the linguistic structures to navigate it or explain it—and that will translate to results for you. So that is what it is and why it is important, and what it makes possible…but how, Jason? How? You have to learn the set of skills that will allow you to observe your experience. That is: to have your experience without your experience having you. Just as in learning a new language, immersion is best at first if you are serious about learning the skill. There is a practice that I recommend. As in all things I recommend to you, I have either done it, am doing it, or practice it continually. I have experienced this particular immersion six times now. It is a meditative practice that has been working for the purpose of teaching witnessing faculties for 2,500 years now. No matter your religion, spiritual beliefs, or lack thereof, you will reap many benefits and those around you will take notice. And soon you will realize how critical a skill it is indeed and how positive its results can be. Find out more about scheduling this kind of immersion for yourself HEREHERE. And then you will truly be an Evolutionary professional.
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The Benefit of a Spiritual Practice [Part 1 of 2]

One critical and often overlooked element to a successful professional and personal life is that of a daily spiritual practice. Whether you are an Evolutionary Sales ProfessionalEvolutionary Sales Professional, an entrepreneur, solo-preneur, or the CEO of a global corporation, you will be more effective once you accept this and integrate it into your daily life. Some of you may be thinking, “I listenedlistened to Jason’s podcastsJason’s podcasts for 14 weeks, and suddenly he goes woo-woo on me!” I assure you, nothing could be farther from the truth. What I am about to lay out for you is just as critical a skill as rapport skills, or eliciting values, or finessing the “gatekeeper” on the phone, and is just as tangible a skill—the skill of navigating your own interiors. By “spiritual practice”, I mean a practice that builds the muscle of dis-identification. Let’s examine this together.

 

What is “Spiritual”? Given the current state of the world, I had best define “spiritual” for our purposes here. Typically when someone says spiritual, they mean one of two things:
1. An experience involving some epiphany or outside god or goddess. 2. The revealing of the highest or deepest within each of us
I do not mean the first. Nor do I mean something religious. I do not mean prayer, the lighting of incense, or the saying of some rite or ritual. I am not here to condemn those things—they are just not what I mean. What I mean is dis-identifying from that which you think is you and retreating into that which you truly are—pure awareness. Consciousness. The Witness. Let’s further examine this together.

“Know thyself.”—The Oracle of Delphi

In the professional domain: have you ever felt “rejected” by a prospect? Ever taken something personally in the business context? Have you ever felt dejected, depressed, or defeated as a result of some interaction or a failure to open the relationship as you had intended? Have you ever obsessed over that client you knew was not quite a fit for you or your organization? Have you ever lied about the results you were producing to make yourself look better? Have you ever been intentionally vague for the same purpose? Have you ever lost a job and were thrust into a period of confusion and depression? In the personal domain: have you ever stayed in a relationship after you were clear it did not serve you? out of fear of the social implications? Or out of fear of being alone? Or out of a fear of being uncertain who you would be without him/her in your life? Have you ever been afraid to tell the truth about your self or some aspect of your life, not for the wise practical reasons, but out of a fear of rejection? Have you ever considered suicide over the loss of a large sum of money, a relationship, or a major loss of social reputation? Or stayed in a marriage that was abusive for your familial “obligations”? Have you ever been upset because someone forgot your name? Or mispronounced it? Or could not remember meeting you? Maybe you answered yes to some of these, one of these, all of them, or some variation on the theme not listed here for the sake of expediency. These are all a function of two things [and usually both]:
1. Low self-esteem; an underdeveloped ego 2. Identification with that which is not you
Self-esteem I have written about before, and will continue to do so. Just a few quick thoughts here, now: Self-esteem is so necessary and so misunderstood. So misrepresented in popular psychology today. In fact, I often use the phrasing “esteem for the self” with my clients to set what I mean apart from popularized “self-esteem”. One common misconception is that someone else can be “bad” for your self-esteem. It is not the person that is bad for your self-esteem; it is your volitional choice to stay with them that is “bad” for it. We could go on and on deconstructing the misconceptions, but that is for another time. There is only one sure way to build self-esteem... Read the second half of this article next week.     Read Part 2 HEREHERE now. If you want more powerful distinctions to integrate into your life to immediately increase your professional results and access greater emotional freedom, explore that here:

 

Listen Now Subscribe with RSS 
Subscribe with iTunes And if you like it: Comment Digg it Review it in iTunes And create upward spirals for us all! Cross-Posted at Personal Life MediaPersonal Life Media.

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Self Hypnosis: The Voices in Your Head [Part 2 of 2]

Be sure to read Part 1Part 1  here.

 

Awareness is the Gateway

 

 

As always it starts with awareness. Most people are not even aware they talk to themselves. In fact, there are likely some of you reading this, saying to yourselves inside your head right now, “what voice in my head? What’s this guy talking about? I don’t talk to myself!” Others are aware of their thoughts and internal dialogue, but judge it, beating themselves up for negative self-talk. If ever there was an ironic twist to missing the point that would be it. Imagine that your unconscious mind is the five-year-old who is listening to every word you say as if it is Holy Scripture. Would you talk to yourself the same way? Once you develop awareness, then you must develop your facility with perceptual positions. It is only from the Observer position of that of Witness that you can give yourself clean feedback, and shift your thoughts to one of resource.
1. Practice awareness [meta-cognition] 2. Develop facility with perceptual position 3. Add positive and resourceful phrases and imaginings

Self-Hypnosis

 

 

To fully experience the power of intentional self-hypnosis, I recommend the following practice. Do it daily. Do it morning and night. Do it intentionally until it becomes the new habit pattern of your mind such that when you adjust your rear-view mirror, when you walk down the street, when you are about to go into a meeting, what is happening habitually and “naturally” is you are hearing positive thoughts and seeing positive images. And…you are aware of it all the while.
1. Pick 3 sentences you need to hear, believe, or accept. 2. Look in the mirror. As you do, pick one eye to stare into. 3. Say each sentence 5 times using second person language as if you are talking to the you “over there” 4. Notice how it feels [any resistance, incongruence or conflict, relief, joy, etc.
Some examples are:
  • You will achieve all you desire
  • You are on track
  • You will enjoy a long life and vibrant health
  • You can do anything
  • You are loved [or safe, etc.]
  • You’re awareness is becoming more and more acute
Pick your own. Which sentences you pick again depend on your particular outcomes, your needs, and your personal hurdles.

 

Optimizing Your Results

 

Use only positive language. Notice I did not say, “do not use negation” or “do not use negative language”. That is because the unconscious mind does not understand negation. If I say, “do not think of a pink elephant, with yellow polka dots, and a small palm tree growing out of its head”, what do you imagine? At best it is a two-step process, so always use positive language. One common mistake is to say things like: You will not fail You will overcome this illness I will not be rejected Etc. While these may seem like positive messages, the focus for your unconscious mind is on the problem; failure, illness, rejection. A simple way to train your mind to use positive language is to ask, “what do I want instead?” Some people ask, “Why pick just one eye?” You cannot look in both eyes simultaneously with a direct gaze. If you switch back and forth, uncertain or unable to choose just one, that is also less direct. A direct gaze is more powerful and more hypnotic. The suggestions go in more easily and deeper. Try it all three ways, you should feel a tangible difference when choosing just one and gazing directly. If you do this daily, it will become a habit. Your self-talk—your internal dialogue—will become more and more positive. Self-doubt will melt away more and more. And you will find yourself being hopeful, optimistic, and engaged in positive self-hypnosis as if it were second nature. You will reap the benefits and experience the results. Cross posted @ Personal Life Media Personal Life Media
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Self Hypnosis: The Voices in Your Head [Part 1 of 2]

When most people hear the word “hypnosis” they get a little unsettled. They usually get unsettled as a result of some fantasy about what hypnosis is or is not. Some associate it to stage hypnosis and the Vegas show world. Others are afraid of what someone might do to them when they are unconscious. Still others are afraid of clucking like a chicken when the phone rings. Others my simply roll their eyes thinking that hypnosis is more mumbo-jumbo for the woo-woo set who wear patchouli oil and live in Northern California or in Boulder, Colorado. So what is “hypnosis”? For our purposes, hypnosis is simply the use of language and imagination to direct experience. If you have ever watched television and felt enraptured in a show, you were in a hypnotic trance. When it seems like time flew by, you were in a hypnotic trance. If someone has ever told you a story and you began to visualize aspects of it, you were in a hypnotic trance. If you have ever fantasized about someone or something positively or negatively, you were in a hypnotic trance. If someone has ever asked “how are you today?” and you took a moment to truly consider it, they had put you in a hypnotic trance. And the list goes on.

The truth is, we are in a state of hypnotic trance more than we are out of it.

That is the good news. Once you notice it, and have enough facility to intervene in the process, it becomes a tremendously powerful opportunity to harness the power of your mind. Once you notice it, you can be more respectful of other people’s experience and avoid adding anything negative. The truth is, we are directing each other’s experience all the time. We are hypnotizing each other all the time. Are you adding beauty and joy? Or are we directing people to their internal struggles or pain out of ignorance and “empathy”? One of my favorite jokes to play in a partially full elevator is to look at the floor, placing both my hands on the side of my head, slapping lightly while say, “Shut up. All of you shut up!” What fun. However, there is an unfortunate kernel of truth in this joke for most of us. Recent studies have indicated that over 77% of our self-talk or internal dialogue is negative. This is a stunning number. That is also an average from largely untrained minds.

You Notice What You Think About

The Law of Attraction has been one of the mainstays of personal development since its inception. That is, that we are likely to get what we focus on. Like a search engine, we put something in it, hit return, and we get ranked results. Our mind goes looking for what we often unintentionally tasked it with. And yet, we are often telling ourselves and our minds things that are negative, will not help us realize our potential, and will not serve our ultimate happiness. There is a resurgent interest and focus on this Law as a result of the movie The Secret. There is no magic to this. When we set our intention or focus on something, our reticular activator goes into action. A part of our mind and biology left over from hunter gatherer years. Some common examples:
  • You decide on a new car you like and want to purchase; suddenly you see that model everywhere
  • You make a decision to start a new business venture, and you overhear a stranger at a restaurant who may be helpful
  • You make a commitment to a change in your life change and within the next week you see and/or hear multiple marketing messages offering solutions to the very problem you have decided to overcome
People who do not understand the science of the mind and body behind this will say things like “I manifested that/them”, and similar formulations that say more about their stage of developmenttheir stage of development that any particular objective reality, After all, we interpret the world through--and react from--our stage of development and its accompanying filters and value memes. The truth is, the thing we suddenly see or the opportunity that arises was already there, we just notice it now. As a function of our biology, our senses have to reduce and filter out over 50% of our stimulus for processing. That is, over half of the information coming to us through our sense tools [eyes, ears, nose, skin, taste] is filtered out. We do not have the ability to process it all. Particularly visually and auditorally in an urban environment. So our mind notices what we have consciously or unconsciously set it to notice. I recommend the conscious option as much as possible. :-D becoming more and more intentional about this tool rather than leaving it to chance. How do we train this powerful tool? How do we harness the full power of our minds for our benefit, rather than allowing it to run roughshod over us? How do we leverage this aspect of our consciousness to create a life in which we thrive? ...read about that in part 2 in a few days. Find Part 2 HEREHERE now.
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The Need for Experimentation and Detachment | Organizing Principles

"There is no such thing as failure--only feedback for course correction."

It is rumored that a missile is of course over 90% of the time. That the purpose of its guidance systems are to constantly course correct, course correct, course correct. Most of the time, with an effective guidance system, we know that even given that necessity for course correction, the missile hits its intended target with a reasonably high level of accuracy.

You are that missile.

Just imagine if scientists, upon the first major failurefirst major failure of the Unites States' manned moon missions looked at the fire, balled up their papers in front of them and with a great wail, shreaked "We are such a failure! We better not try to explore space! It is God's realm--not meant for man!" Actually you can bet some of the general public did. Thankfully, the general public does not reside at Mission Control in Houston. Your job is to be a scientist of results, communication, and your own experience. To be fascinated by it. To have it, but not to be so in it, that it has you. Have your experience, but do not allow your experience to have you. What this means is that you are experimenting, noticing your results, gathering feedback, trying again, and again, and again.

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." -- Thomas Edison

There are many skills necessary for mastery of the internal navigation of your subjective experience. However, one of the major components is self-esteem. As previously discussed in Evolutionary Sales, it is your immune system for life and for results. It will give you the ability to look at your results practically, and adjust. Rather than taking it personally and making it mean something about your very worth and value in the world. Be a scientist of subjective experience. A scientist of results. Ask not "is it possible or not", but rather, "what do I need to do to achieve the result I desire; what do I need to learn, acquire, do, be", etc., etc., ad infinitum. Your mastery is an asymptote. You will master your mastery and then realize that there are such subtleties that you have only begun.-- And then you have reached an integral level of evolution and the game of development and personal evolution becomes a fun game indeed. Cross posted at Personal Life Media.
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The Importance of Self Esteem

As I mentioned in an earlier episode of Evolutionary Sales, it is impossible to over-estimate the importance of Self-Esteem, or as I prefer to say: "esteem for the self".

Why would I assert it is impossible to over-estimate the importance of Self-Esteem?

Its viability is your immune system for life--and the antidote to most of your day-to-day emotional and interpersonal struggles and challenges. Whether you take things too personally, fail to rebound from rejection quickly enough, have nagging self-doubts, seek validation, or question your ability to create the life you want...it could be considered a self-esteem issue. In fact, whether it is true or not, it would be useful to consider all upset as sourced in self-esteem or insufficient ego development.

Self-esteem is one of the most important, yet most overused and misunderstood concepts in popular psychology today.

What Self-Esteem Is and Is Not Nathaniel Branden, PhDNathaniel Branden, PhD Copyright © 1997, Nathaniel Branden, All Rights Reserved This article is adapted from “The Art of Living Consciously” (Simon & Schuster, 1997). Four decades ago, when I began lecturing on self-esteem, the challenge was to persuade people that the subject was worthy of study. Almost no one was talking or writing about self-esteem in those days. Today, almost everyone seems to be talking about self-esteem, and the danger is that the idea may become trivialized. And yet, of all the judgments we pass in life, none is more important than the judgment we pass on ourselves. Having written on this theme in a series of books, I want, in this short article, to address the issue of what self-esteem is, what it depends on, and what are some of the most prevalent misconceptions about it. Self-esteem is an experience. It is a particular way of experiencing the self. It is a good deal more than a mere feeling—this must be stressed. It involves emotional, evaluative, and cognitive components. It also entails certain action dispositions: to move toward life rather than away from it; to move toward consciousness rather than away from it; to treat facts with respect rather than denial; to operate self-responsibly rather than the opposite. A Definition To begin with a definition: Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness. It is confidence in the efficacy of our mind, in our ability to think. By extension, it is confidence in our ability to learn, make appropriate choices and decisions, and respond effectively to change. It is also the experience that success, achievement, fulfillment—happiness—are right and natural for us. The survival-value of such confidence is obvious; so is the danger when it is missing. Self-esteem is not the euphoria or buoyancy that may be temporarily induced by a drug, a compliment, or a love affair. It is not an illusion or hallucination. If it is not grounded in reality, if it is not built over time through the appropriate operation of mind, it is not self-esteem. The root of our need for self-esteem is the need for a consciousness to learn to trust itself. And the root of the need to learn such trust is the fact that consciousness is volitional: we have the choice to think or not to think. We control the switch that turns consciousness brighter or dimmer. We are not rational—that is, reality-focused—automatically. This means that whether we learn to operate our mind in such a way as to make ourselves appropriate to life is ultimately a function of our choices. Do we strive for consciousness or for its opposite? For rationality or its opposite? For coherence and clarity or their opposite? For truth or its opposite? Building Self-Esteem In “The Six Pillars of Self Esteem,” I examine the six practices that I have found to be essential for the nurturing and sustaining of healthy self-esteem: the practice of living consciously, of self-acceptance, of self-responsibility, of self-assertiveness, of purposefulness, and of integrity. I will briefly define what each of these practices means: The practice of living consciously: respect for facts; being present to what we are doing while are doing it; seeking and being eagerly open to any information, knowledge, or feedback that bears on our interests, values, goals, and projects; seeking to understand not only the world external to self but also our inner world, so that we do not out of self-blindness. The practice of self-acceptance: the willingness to own, experience, and take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, and actions, without evasion, denial, or disowning—and also without self-repudiation; giving oneself permission to think one’s thoughts, experience one’s emotions, and look at one’s actions without necessarily liking, endorsing, or condoning them; the virtue of realism applied to the self. The practice of self-responsibility: realizing that we are the author of our choices and actions; that each one us is responsible for life and well-being and for the attainment of our goals; that if we need the cooperation of other people to achieve our goals, we must offer values in exchange; and that question is not “Who’s to blame?” but always “What needs to be done?” (“What do I need to do?”) The practice of self-assertiveness: being authentic in our dealings with others; treating our values and persons with decent respect in social contexts; refusing to fake the reality of who we are or what we esteem in order to avoid disapproval; the willingness to stand up for ourselves and our ideas in appropriate ways in appropriate contexts. The practice of living purposefully: identifying our short-term and long-term goals or purposes and the actions needed to attain them (formulating an action-plan); organizing behavior in the service of those goals; monitoring action to be sure we stay on track; and paying attention to outcome so as to recognize if and when we need to go back to the drawing-board. The practice of personal integrity: living with congruence between what we know, what we profess, and what we do; telling the truth, honoring our commitments, exemplifying in action the values we profess to admire. What all these practices have in common is respect for reality. They all entail at their core a set of mental operations (which, naturally, have consequences in the external world). When we seek to align ourselves with reality as best we understand it, we nurture and support our self-esteem. When, either out of fear or desire, we seek escape from reality, we undermine our self-esteem. No other issue is more important or basic than our cognitive relationship to reality—meaning: to that which exists. A consciousness cannot trust itself if, in the face of discomfiting facts, it has a policy of preferring blindness to sight. A person cannot experience self-respect who too often, in action, betrays consciousness, knowledge, and conviction—that is, who operates without integrity. Thus, if we are mindful in this area, we see that self-esteem is not a free gift of nature. It has to be cultivated, has to be earned. It cannot be acquired by blowing oneself a kiss in the mirror and saying, “Good morning, Perfect.” It cannot be attained by being showered with praise. Nor by sexual conquests. Nor by material acquisitions. Nor by the scholastic or career achievements of one’s children. Nor by a hypnotist planting the thought that one is wonderful. Nor by allowing young people to believe they are better students than they really are and know more than they really know; faking reality is not a path to mental health or authentic self-assurance. However, just as people dream of attaining effortless wealth, so they dream of attaining effortless self-esteem—and unfortunately the marketplace is full of panderers to this longing. People can be inspired, stimulated, or coached to live more consciously, practice greater self-acceptance, operate more self-responsibly, function more self-assertively, live more purposefully, and bring a higher level of personal integrity into their life—but the task of generating and sustaining these practices falls on each of us alone. “If I bring a higher level of awareness to my self-esteem, I see that mine is the responsibility of nurturing it.” No one—not our parents, nor our friends, nor our lover, nor our psychotherapist, nor our support group—can “give” us self-esteem. If and when we fully grasp this, that is an act of “waking up.” Misconceptions about Self-Esteem When we do not understand the principles suggested above, we tend to seek self-esteem where it cannot be found—and, if we are in “the self-esteem movement,” to communicate our misunderstandings to others. Teachers who embrace the idea that self-esteem is important without adequately grasping its roots may announce (to quote one such teacher) that “self-esteem comes primarily from one’s peers.” Or (quoting many others): “Children should not be graded for mastery of a subject because it may be hurtful to their self-esteem.” Or (quoting still others): “Self-esteem is best nurtured by selfless (!) service to the community.” In the “recovery movement” and from so-called spiritual leaders in general one may receive a different message: “Stop struggling to achieve self-esteem. Turn your problems over to God. Realize that you are a child of God—and that is all you need to have self-esteem.” Consider what this implies if taken literally. We don’t need to live consciously. We don’t need to act self-responsibly. We don’t need to have integrity. All we have to do is surrender responsibility to God and effortless self-esteem is guaranteed to us. This is not a helpful message to convey to people. Nor is it true. Yet another misconception—very different from those I have just discussed—is the belief that the measure of our personal worth is our external achievements. This is an understandable error to make but it is an error nonetheless. We admire achievements, in ourselves and in others, and it is natural and appropriate to do so. But this is not the same thing as saying that our achievements are the measure or grounds of our self-esteem. The root of our self-esteem is not our achievements per se but those internally generated practices that make it possible for us to achieve. How much we will achieve in the world is not fully in our control. An economic depression can temporarily put us out of work. A depression cannot take away the resourcefulness that will allow us sooner or later to find another or go into business for ourselves. “Resourcefulness” is not an achievement in the world (although it may result in that); it is an action in consciousness—and it is here that self-esteem is generated. To clarify further the importance of understanding what self-esteem is and is not, I want to comment on a recent research report that has gained a great deal of attention in the media and has been used to challenge the value of self-esteem. By way of preamble let me say that one of the most depressing aspects of so many discussions of self-esteem today is the absence of any reference to the importance of thinking or respect for reality. Too often, consciousness or rationality are not judged to be relevant, since they are not raised as considerations. The notion seems to be that any positive feeling about the self, however arrived at and regardless of its grounds, equals “self-esteem.” We encounter this assumption in a much publicized research paper by Roy F. Baumeister, Joseph M. Boden, and Laura Smart, entitled “Relation of Threatened Egotism to Violence and Aggression: The Dark Side of High Self-Esteem,” published in the “Psychological Review” (1996, Vol. 103, 5-33). In it the authors write: Conventional wisdom has regarded low self-esteem as an important cause of violence, but the opposite view is theoretically viable. An interdisciplinary review of evidence about aggression, crime, and violence contradicted the view that low self-esteem is an important cause. Instead, violence appears to be most commonly a result of threatened egotism—that is, highly favorable views of self that are disputed by some person or circumstance. Inflated, unstable, or tentative beliefs in the self’s superiority may be most prone to encountering threats and hence to causing violence. The mediating process may involve directing anger outward as a way of avoiding a downward revision of the self-concept. The article contains more astonishing statements than it is possible to quote, but here are a few representative examples: “In our view, the benefits of favorable self-opinions accrue primarily to the self, and they are if anything a burden and potential problem to everyone else.” “By self-esteem we mean simply a favorable global evaluation of oneself. The term self-esteem has acquired highly positive connotations, but it has simple synonyms the connotations of which are more mixed, including … egotism, arrogance … conceitedness, narcissism, and sense of superiority, which share the fundamental meaning of favorable self-evaluation.” “[W]e propose that the major cause of violence is high self-esteem combined with an ego threat [which is caused by someone challenging your self-evaluation].” “Apparently, then, alcohol generally helps create a state of high self-esteem.” Observe, first of all, that there is nothing in the authors’ idea of self-esteem that would allow one to distinguish between an individual whose self-esteem is rooted in the practices of living consciously, self-responsibility, and personal integrity—that is, one whose self-esteem is rooted in reality—and one whose “self-esteem” consists of grandiosity, fantasies of superiority, exaggerated notions of one’s accomplishments, megalomania, and “favorable global self-evaluations” induced by drugs and alcohol. No definition of self-esteem or piece of research that obliterates a distinction of this fundamentality can make any claim to scientific legitimacy. It leaves reality out of its analysis. One does not need to be a trained psychologist to know that some people with low self-esteem strive to compensate for their deficit by boasting, arrogance, and conceited behavior. What educated person does not know about compensatory defense mechanisms? Self-esteem is not manifested in the neurosis we call narcissism—or in megalomania. One has to have a strange notion of the concept to equate in self-esteem the trail-blazing scientist or entrepreneur, moved by intellectual self-trust and a passion to discover or achieve, and the terrorist who must sustain his “high self-evaluation” with periodic fixes of torture and murder. To offer both types as instances of “high self-esteem” is to empty the term of any useable meaning. An important purpose of fresh thinking is to provide us with new and valuable distinctions that will allow us to navigate more effectively through reality. What is the purpose of “thinking” that destroys distinctions already known to us that are of life-and-death importance? It is tempting to comment on this report in greater detail because it contains so many instances of specious reasoning. However, such a discussion would not be relevant here, since my intention is only to show the importance of a precise understanding of self-esteem and also to show what can happen when consciousness and reality are omitted from the investigation. So I will conclude with one last observation. In an interview given to a journalist, one of the researchers (Roy F. Baumeister), explaining his opposition to the goal of raising people’s self-esteem, is quoted as saying: “Ask yourself: If everybody were 50 percent more conceited, would the world be a better place?” [1] The implication is clearly that self-esteem and conceit are the same thing—both undesirable. Webster defines conceit as an exaggerated [therefore in defiance of facts] opinion of oneself and one’s merits. No, the world would not be a better place if everybody were 50 percent more conceited. But would the world be a better place if everybody had earned a 50 percent higher level of self-esteem, by living consciously, responsibly, and with integrity? Yes, it would—enormously. Awareness of What Affects Our Self-Esteem Self-esteem reflects our deepest vision of our competence and worth. Sometimes this vision is our most closely guarded secret, even from ourselves, as when we try to compensate for our deficiencies with what I call pseudo-self-esteem—a pretense at a self-confidence and self-respect we do not actually feel. Nothing is more common than the effort to protect self-esteem not with consciousness but with unconsciousness—with denial and evasion—which only results in a further deterioration of self-esteem. Indeed a good deal of the behavior we call “neurotic” can be best understood as a misguided effort to protect self-esteem by means which in fact are undermining. Whether or not we admit it, there is a level at which all of us know that the issue of our self-esteem is of the most burning importance. Evidence for this observation is the defensiveness with which insecure people may respond when their errors are pointed out. Or the extraordinary feats of avoidance and self-deception people can exhibit with regard to gross acts of unconsciousness and irresponsibility. Or the foolish and pathetic ways people sometimes try to prop up their egos by the wealth or prestige of their spouse, the make of their automobile, or the fame of their dress designer, or by the exclusiveness of their golf club. In more recent times, as the subject of self-esteem has gained increasing attention, one way of masking one’s problems in this area is with the angry denial that self-esteem is significant (or desirable). Not all the values with which people may attempt to support a pseudo-self-esteem are foolish or irrational. Productive work, for instance, is certainly a value to be admired, but if one tries to compensate for a deficient self-esteem by becoming a workaholic one is in a battle one can never win—nothing will ever feel like “enough.” Kindness and compassion are undeniably virtues, and they are part of what it means to lead a moral life, but they are no substitutes for consciousness, independence, self-responsibility, and integrity—and when this is not understood they are often used as disguised means to buy “love” and perhaps even a sense of moral superiority: “I’m more kind and compassionate than you’ll ever be and if I weren’t so humble I’d tell you so.” One of the great challenges to our practice of living consciously is to pay attention to what in fact nurtures our self-esteem or deteriorates it. The reality may be very different from our beliefs. We may, for example, get a very pleasant “hit” from someone’s compliment, and we may tell ourselves that when we win people’s approval we have self-esteem, but then, if we are adequately conscious, we may notice that the pleasant feeling fades rather quickly and that we seem to be insatiable and never fully satisfied—and this may direct us to wonder if we have thought deeply enough about the sources of genuine self-approval. Or we may notice that when we give our conscientious best to a task, or face a difficult truth with courage, or take responsibility for our actions, or speak up when we know that that is what the situation warrants, or refuse to betray our convictions, or persevere even when persevering is not easy—our self-esteem rises. We may also notice that if and when we do the opposite, self-esteem falls. But of course all such observations imply that we have chosen to be conscious. In the world of the future, children will be taught the basic dynamics of self-esteem and the power of living consciously and self-responsibly. They will be taught what self-esteem is, why it is important, and what it depends on. They will learn to distinguish between authentic self-esteem and pseudo-self-esteem. They will be guided to acquire this knowledge because it will have become apparent to virtually everyone that the ability to think (and to learn and to respond confidently to change) is our basic means of survival—and that it cannot be faked. The purpose of school is to prepare young people for the challenges of adult life. They will need this understanding to be adaptive to an information age in which self-esteem has acquired such urgency. In a fiercely competitive global economy—with every kind of change happening faster and faster—there is little market for unconsciousness, passivity, or self-doubt. In the language of business, low self-esteem and underdeveloped mindfulness puts one at a competitive disadvantage. However, neither teachers in general nor teachers of self-esteem in particular can do their jobs properly—or communicate the importance of their work—until they themselves understand the intimate linkage that exists between the six practices described above, self-esteem, and appropriate adaptation to reality. “The world of the future” begins with this understanding.

Do yourself a favor and go and purchase The Six Pillars of Self EsteemThe Six Pillars of Self Esteem and read the book in the next two weeks...

Then read it twice a year for the rest of your life. Like anything else, you will experience it differently each time you read it--as you will be deeper, you will be ready for things you are not ready to hear currently, and you will see a different aspect of it each time you read it, especially as you add more aspects of yourself to your life--and reveal more of yourself in all contexts of your life.

This is true of all information; books, audio products, workshops, etc. As I have said before, "repetition is the mother of integration" for more reasons than three.

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Evolutionary Sales: Episode 1 and 2: Your Foundation for Your Success

As I have written recently, there has been a shift in the marketplace. In the 20th Century marketplace sales people talked about "closing deals" at best. At worst they talked about "shooting their prospects down like they were ducks in a shooting gallery". This is not exactly a metaphor we should be living into as we evolve as a culture--and not a metaphor the leading edge of the marketplace will any longer support in the profit centers of the global marketplace, or the Functioning Core, as Dr. Thomas Barnett would say. I actually had a CEO [my boss] one time tell me that I should "pound their door down" to get a meeting. While people who watch me walk often ask if I was a football player, I responded: "how 'bout I dance my way through it?" He barked back: "I don't care how you do it, just get the client!" That CEO had a team of incredibly skilled top producers from other organizations. All of us were highly developed and into personal development as a lifestyle. Some of us had already led courses--even though we were barely 30 years old. We all left for other endeavors as a result of his management style. Not long after the company was in disarray and its assets and database had to be liquidated. That process only took two years once he had assumed control and had the sales team report directly to him. Welcome to the 21st Century Marketplace. Evolve and come from a foundation of support and contribution, or wither away. I have even recently heard sales trainers speak of manipulating your clients or "hypnotic" sales and other language that speaks of your treating prospects and clients as if they were objects, rather than a trusted adviser and powerful guide in improving their life, department, results, etc. Rather than a guide in assisting them in making their own dreams a reality. This subject-object way of relating to people is old thinking and it is sales for the last century. I talked at length in the prologue about this shift in the marketplace--as well as the foundation you need to come from to be at the forefront of sales professionals and the evolving 21st Century Marketplace. Be sure you have listened to that prologue to get the most from the Evolutionary Sales podcasts. You may even considering listening to it over and over again. In Episode 1 and 2, I talk about your emotional foundation and give you powerful tools that have been developed over the last 30 plus years to rapidly shift your emotional state to be of service to your clients and prospects. Not that your life still will not have ups and downs--it will--but you will be able to more rapidly move through them. Move through them more rapidly than many people even think possible. And for what purpose? Obviously, so you can produce greater results. But for what purpose? And what is "Evolutionary Sales"? Evolutionary Sales is defined as such: "inspiring another toward their vision of what is possible, and using advanced tools to leverage them beyond their limitations". Once you are in service of a vision of what is possible with your product or service that comes from their own mouth, it then becomes your duty to leverage them beyond their limitations. That, my friends, is Evolutionary Sales. This foundation allows you to use some of the most influential linguistic and interpersonal dynamic skills currently available while still being of service to them--and they will feel, see, hear, smell, and taste the difference. At least for now. I envision a time in the not-so-distant future when truly effective sales professionals and trusted advisers will need to be capable of truly trans-personal states. But that is another story for another time. Why should you care? You may already be very good at motivating and influencing people such that you prosper well. The reason you shoul care is if you are already good, you will inherently be involved in improving, developing, and yes, evolving your self. But even beyond that, you will feel more fulfilled and frankly happier if come form the deeper structure of the Evolutionary Sales Process. That is the purpose. To have a more fulfilling experience for yourself and provide a more fulfilling experience for your clients and prospects. Move from success to signifigance. Move from subject-object thinking to relational thinking. Move from the 20th Century Marketplace to the 21st Century Marketplace. Want to start now? Subscribe to these podcasts. Don't want to wait a year to get all the information? Buy Evolutionary Sales now and own the whole system as well as an opportunity to have me coach you directly on how to integrate it into your daily sales practices. Whether your challenge is how to be comfortable on the phone or how to increase your opening [used to be close] ratio, I would be honored to be your Guide.
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Emotional Freedom Part 4: Guilt and Shame

Be sure to see parts one, two, and three herehere, herehere, and herehere respectively. In this piece we will examine the assumptions that lead to guilt, the structure of shame, and the antidotes to both. Guilt Q: “I often feel guilty for things I have done.” A: [S.N. Geonka ] “Guilt has no place in Dhamma [the path to enlightenment or ‘the law of nature’].” I assert that guilt serves no purpose in inter-personal relations. No legitimate purpose. Some say “if the person feels guilty or remorseful, then I can be assured they will not repeat this terrible wrong they committed against me” or “ I am assured of their good character”. Is this accurate? Let’s examine this together. Sharon slept with another man, violating the monogamous covenant she shared with her husband. She felt “bad” and out of guilt, told him the truth. She swore it would never happen again. Seeing how badly she felt, her husband felt assured this would not happen again and stayed with her and the marriage commitment. A few years later, Sharon was unfaithful a second time and in fact, carried on an affair with another man. This time she felt she best not be honest with her husband. How many chances would he give her, really? Unfortunately, he found out about it through some carelessness of hers and some direct questioning which followed. Again, she was authentically remorseful and felt guilty for misleading and breaking her husband’s trust—she did not feel bad just for getting caught, rather she felt authentically guilty for what she had done. They separated, sought counseling, and eventually divorced. Far from Sharon being a fiction of my mind for the purpose of illustration, this story is real, and the name has been changed. And, this is just one example of many I could give of patterns of behavior, remorse or guilt, and repetition of the problem behavior. Guilt is unreliable [at best] as a guarantee of future behavior. We have all seen people apologize and be guilt-ridden, yet commit the same acts repeatedly. I go so far in my own relations as to let people know very clearly that their guilt and apologies hold no currency with me. I WANT them to feel free emotionally about any “wrong” they may have committed against me. At the same time, I may not want them to commit the same act against me again—I do want assurance of a shift in behavior and an honest and earnest intention by them to do so through learning. For that, guilt does not help. In fact, it is a hindrance What is simply needed is their acknowledgement of the mistake and their pledge to not commit the act again. If it happens repeatedly, then there are practical choices to be made: do we continue to invest time and energy with this individual? In essence, they need to demonstrate they have learned from the mistake. Not because we made them feel guilty by berating them subtly or not-so-subtly, or they made themselves feel guilty by beating themselves up, but because they noticed their own lack of integrity, or perhaps they did not live up to their own standard, or perhaps that the results that they produced by this mistaken action were unpleasant for all and should be avoided and in noticing that, they self-corrected in a clean and rapid way. Of course, we can simply take note and shrug our shoulders knowing that we are all on our own path. They are on theirs and I am on mine. And there are times, certainly, on the other end of the spectrum, where I choose not to associate with the person any longer. What is important through all of it is clarity, cleanliness of interaction, and grace where possible. Wanting someone to feel guilty or remorseful is one of the most selfish and ego-centric implicit demands we can make. It speaks to wanting the misery to be spread even further than it already has for our own short-term gratification. Whatever the case, the guilt simply clouds clear thinking, delaying the appropriate resolution of the conflict, and is therefore unnecessary and undesirable. Additionally, it is suppressive to the whole system and can lead to immune problems, which leads in turn to health and well-being problems. Why would we want that? As mad as it may seem, we do want it sometimes, don’t we? Not as above where we think Sharon “should” feel bad. But rather, one darker step further—we want her to feel bad. We enjoy it. Take pleasure in it. We feel it is deserved and appropriate. That it is “just”. We want it because they harmed us and we experienced misery and so we want them to feel miserable too. We want them to share in our misery. This is clearly madness. One person in misery is enough. Why expand the scope if not for dynamics of power and control or to exact a psychic price. Is this the world we want to create? Are those the dynamics we want in our relations? Again, what is ultimately important is not how the person feels about what they have done—but they take earnest steps to learn from our mistakes and integrate the leaning into our behavior. We want assurance that the event or act will not happen again and we have clearly seen that guilt does no such thing. Demanding guilt will only add more misery and heaviness in the air. And what about that? In an even clearer situation, what about “guilt trips” where we have done nothing “wrong” but we have not met someone’s expectations or social conditioning and they attempt to extract guilt, or worse, shame us? I will simply say that they are the crudest tools for influencing someone I have ever experienced and to reward someone for using it by allowing it to be effective only feeds the wild animal. Additionally, if we try and use guilt heavy-handedly when someone has overcome great fear to tell us the difficult truth, as Sharon did in her first transgression, we only assure ourselves they will feel less inclined to tell us the truth in the future, as we made it too painful. And in doing so, we have just killed off intimacy. Guilt, however, has a close cousin that is more complex and worthy of closer examination… Shame Shame is even more interesting to me than guilt, and its structure is more complex. Shame has several components:
  • A compressed sense of time
  • A case of mistaken identity
  • An evaluation that is a confusion of logical levels
Time I have written beforewritten before about our unconscious sense of time. When I work with clients who are experiencing shame, they invariably have a compressed sense of time. That is to say that their focus is limited to an act, an event, or a small series of events. Often, consciously expanding their sense of time while pointing out to them that that this act, or series of acts will not define who they are--which leads us to… A case of mistaken identity “The ultimate spiritual practice is dis-identifying from that which you think is you—objects in your awareness.” –Ken Wilber Who am I, who are you? What aspect of our lives are we identified with? Literally, we think [unconsciously] that we are our behaviors or our thoughts or our finances or our sexuality or our social reputation or our looks, or relationships or our…etc., and on and on. We can know this of one of three conditions are present:
  1. we have extreme fear about losing something
  2. we experience extreme misery or despair of one of these things is taken from us or we “lose” it
  3. we experience shame if it is jeopardized by our behaviors
Which leads us to… Behaviors, capabilities, beliefs, identity, spirit; logical levels of experience. If we have a confusion of logical levels, we will often confuse our behaviors, our capabilities, our beliefs, or our constructed identity with who we truly are, and therefore mistakenly judge ourselves by one of these levels. I behaved in XYZ manner and therefore I AM _______. But who we truly are is god, is radical spirit is pure consciousness or awareness, or even a learning being, a force of creativity, etc. Given all of that, what are the antidotes to guilt and shame? The antidote to guilt requires partnership: you must co-create clean relating with those willing and make explicit agreements around guilt and learning. Specifically that guilt holds no currency and learning holds a pot of gold. Guilt is “out of bounds” either self-imposed or demanded. It is that simple. It may not be easy, but it is simple. The antidote to shame is more complicated, and more rewarding, in my opinion, and has more lasting benefits that ripple out to all areas of your life. It requires several steps of skill acquisition, and therefore continual practice:
  1. Develop emotional awareness; notice when you are in the shame
  2. Develop perceptual flexibility; step out and notice your emotional state thereby dis-identifying from it [NOT disassociating, but rather dis-identifying]
  3. Expand your focus to include other positive representations of your behavior, and consciously expand your unconscious sense of time
  4. Remind yourself that whoever you think you are [behaviors, etc.] you are more than that.
  5. As always ask yourself: “how am I responsible” and “what can I learn?”
  6. Add resources and imagine yourself behaving with these additional resources in the future
As you read this, and review it in your mind, you can begin to imagine, even now, how these practices and skills would give you choice and eventual freedom—and not just from shame, but with full integration, from all unnecessary negative emotional experiences. Join me in creating the kind of world in which we all want to belong. A world in which unnecessary negative emotional experiences are known to be just that—unnecessary—giving us access to a world of choice, and through that choice, joy and freedom, and through that, beauty of unknown richness. *acknowledgements: as usual, these I.D.E.A.s were inspired by [but may not be reperesentative of] workwork by minds greatergreater than mine.
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Emotional Freedom Part 3: Anger and Resentment

[Note: While this is not a discussion of egoic development, we can not stress enough the foundational necessity of true esteem for the self for emotional freedom. So many upsets, be they anger upsets, shame, fear, etc., can be traced to a lack of esteem for the self—that is pre-rational or early-rational egoic development. From anger to shame, the variable of one’s egoic developmental stage is undeniably an important factor. But that is another discussion for another time. I have written briefly about egoic stage development and will occasionally refer to these distinctions in this discussion.] Be sure to see parts one and two here and here, respectively. Now that we have covered interpretations and extrapolated meanings, what of specific dynamics within each emotion? What of anger? Resentment? Guilt? Shame? What other variables lead to negative emotions aside from lower egoic development? For it is through this knowledge, using our self-reflexive awareness and meta-cognition, that we can notice these dynamics as they are happening, and choose a different path. Anger. Anger has at least two components.
  • Indicator of a crossed boundary
  • Blame
Often anger is “just-ified”. That is, with respect to justice, we are “right” in being angry. Maybe someone has violated our person or property. Perhaps they have broken an agreement. Perhaps they have deceived us intentionally. We have little choice around the action of others. They will do what they do, as we are all on our own path. However, when we are angry, often we are blaming them for what they have done. This is different and separate from holding them accountable, which is appropriate, but goes further into a game of pre-rational ego. Let’s say that I had my car stereo stolen. I come out in the morning and I notice it gone and the dashboard area around where it was previously installed is damaged. I call the police and I wait seething in my anger. “what a low-life thief”, I say to myself along with numerous other colorful expletives. Once the police come they ask me a few questions: “Do you have a car alarm?” Yes, I tell them. “did you hear it go off last night?” No, I tell them, regrettably I did not set it last night. “Were the car locks damaged?” No, I tell them…the car was unlocked… We can quickly see where this is going. While the crime of the stolen stereo is indeed a crime and may be punished and is an unfortunate violation of my person by the extension of my property, the responsibility is mine to lock my vehicle, set my alarm, and care that my car is secured. Once I begin to take responsibility by asking the two key questions:
  • How am I responsible
  • What can I learn or gain from this that will allow me to release the anger completely?
The blame will dissolve and the anger will begin to fade away. The truth is, no matter what has happened to us: assault, theft, harsh words thrown at us, fraudulent deception, broken agreements, or unrequited love--no matter what has happened, there is something we can take responsibility for and something, or many things, we can learn that once learned will release the anger entirely. And no, learning that “all men are jerks” is not the kind of learning I am referring to. It must be something insightful or positive and empowering about yourself or about the world. There are times when we get angry with others for not meeting or violating one of our expectations. Often, these are implicit, unstated expectations. In this case, the only responsible thing to do is notice this, take responsibility for it, and make a request of the other person so they are more fully informed of your expectations. [For a fuller treatment of the ideas of rules and fair play see relationdancing.] We must stress, however, that no matter how “just”-ified the anger is, it is still not useful for anything other than dynamics of control and dominance. In fact, one must get through the anger first to see things clearly anyway, to see through to justice, rather than demand vengeance and retribution. Again, the way to accelerate the process until one is emotionally free is to ask the two key questions above—and we do it for ourselves. Not for the Other. The first question, “how am I responsible?”, shifts the focus from blaming Other to a more responsible “I” and as a result, assists in building true esteem for the self as any responsibility-taking action does. It builds our sense of self. The second question, “what can I learn?”, turns the event into a learning experience and a gift and the conditional clause “that will allow me to release the anger completely” assures that our mind will give us a deep learning. The deeper the learning, the more fortunate we are to have unfortunate events occur to us. I know this from an abundance of first hand experience. In the case of anger—and indeed in the case of all unpleasant emotions—the Evolutionary uses their self-reflexive awareness [which we have all been practicing daily] to notice when the anger arises. They observe the sensations and then ask the two key anger questions and notice the internal shift in their sensations after answering the questions. The idea is not to never experience anger [although you will find after daily practice and rigorous application that fewer and fewer things will anger you]. The goal here is to simply shorten the duration for which you experience the anger. Shortening and shortening and shortening the duration until it is mere minutes and then mere seconds rather than hours, or days, or for some of us still in an emotional prison: weeks and months…or longer. Resentment is a little different. Resentment still requires blame, as anger does, however it has an interesting residuary element. It builds and builds even after anger is experienced and expressed or released. I like to think of it this way—it is an indicator that the person I resent is overdrawn on their emotional bank account with me. Not that they are to blame—it just is so. Where then can we take responsibility such that we can release the resentment? What is usually the case with this residue we call resentment? It did not happen overnight. It built over time. What else can we say about resentment? There were perhaps [and probably] many points along the way in our dealings or interactions with the person we feel resentment towards when we wanted to say no, and we chose to say yes for various reasons. In other words, we failed to honor our internal voice, knowing, instinct, or intuition—our inner desires or wisdom. We failed to honor ourselves. In doing so we were irresponsible indeed. Over time we built resentments, and then we blame them—essentially—for our inability to honor ourselves and say no when we knew it was best for us. The madness continues. [In part 4 we will explore guilt and shame]
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Development, Transformation, and Evolution

There is so much good work being done in the world today. It is astonishing how many people are dedicating their lives more and more to helping others. The human potential movement has spawned organizations and individuals committed to bringing change to the world through changing the individual. When Ghandi said “be the change you wish to see in the world”, he probably could not have imagined how many people would take up that call and attempt to make the world a better place by making themselves better people through self-reflexive observation and intentional changework. As a result of the richness in the field that we can now experience, it is useful to distinguish among the many offerings. There are three basic approaches I have noticed, experienced, and participated in directly. They are: 1. Development 2. Transformation 3. Evolution These are each useful in and of themselves. They are “good”. And yet they have limitations that come along with their benefits. Let us examine this together... Personal Development is a huge and ranging field. Workshops exist for skill acquisition that are readily available in every major metropolitan area in the United States. Corporations, having long recognized that their only asset that increases in value over time is their people, send their people to workshops to accelerate that process—to increase their value. You can attend workshops on money management, communication skills—be it negotiation, sales techniques, relationship models, etc.—health and fitness and well being, and the list goes on and on. What all of these workshops have in common is that they focus on one domain of your life. We could think of it as a vertical line—or multiple vertical lines—of development. When we acquire skills or we “develop” ourselves in this area or that area, we increase the level of that vertical line of development in that domain. Development takes time, investment, and persistence if we are to become developed in any particular area—in other words, to become competent in some area. Skill acquisition is necessary to be successful in this world. We all want to be more effective at something, and most of us recognize the value, benefits, and at times...need...to acquire more skills. And yet, mere skill acquisition will not solve all that troubles us. We can have all the skill in the world and have those around us not like us, be miserable or demanding, and generally unhappy and unfulfilled. Development may be necessary, but it is only a partial view of what we need as humans. Why is that? Development is a one-dimensional experience—the increase of one vertical developmental line. Increased “heights”, if you will. Yet, human beings are multi-dimensional. Skill alone will never suffice. Out of this limitation arises “transformational technologies”. A level that is deeper and more complex than mere development. Transformation is unpredictable and at times, instant. It does not deal with any one particular domain, yet it can apply to all domains at any given moment. How is this done? By bringing a different way of being to a situation, something completely new and wonderful can arise out of a "breakdown"—that is a situation where there is an outcome that has been blocked by some circumstance or another. Frankly, transformation is very appealing in today’s marketplace. It promises instant results in any given moment and gives people tremendous choice, empowerment, and responsibility...leading to more choice, empowerment...responsibility, and this loop feeds on itself with often wonderful results. But not always... Transformation is often reliant on breakdown and breakthrough patterns. In other words, we have some breakdown...and through that, we get to experience transformation of the situation or the circumstances or the dynamics or in ourselves...or a “breakthrough”. This often orients us towards breakdowns. Being humans that we are, we can become attached to experiencing that cycle—or worse...identified with it. I have actually heard seminar leaders who deal in the world of transformation say that “you will begin to look forward to, and at times even create, your breakdowns”. While it is useful to see “breakdowns” as an opportunity so we can be more resourceful around them, rather than submerged in a “crisis”...building in a mechanism that has people seek out breakdowns has obvious limitations and can be problematic--not to mention hard on the core of the being. At times even causing internal dissonance rather than resolving it. And while transformation is certainly useful...it is only a two-dimensional phenomenon. Height and breadth, if you will, being that transformation can be applied in multiple domains. But again, this will not fully suffice, as human beings are multi-dimensional beings. Out of this limitation arises Personal Evolution. Evolution is not very sexy. It is an infinite and life-time game. There is no goal to reach and no "journey" to complete. It requires a life-time commitment. Regardless of which stage you have reached or how much depth has unfolded, there is always another stage and a deeper level. However, evolution is also the most fulfilling, and most complete of the three. It trickles out to all domains, making transformation possible and accessible as well as the development of skills even easier. It serves the whole being. Evolution is about the ever-widening of identity. It is about ever-deepening, ever more complex, and increasingly expansive levels of order. How does evolution occur? Evolution occurs when the current stage a person is at become inadequate to deal with their life circumstances. We may experience chaos, confusion, or at times, even disaster or tragedy. When this happens, there are two choices or “directions”: evolution or regression. If we evolve, what actually occurs is that our very Self—the core of our being—moves to a new level of order. There is a widening of Identity [capital I]. The Self becomes more expansive, deep, complex, and at times and certainly eventually, more open and more flowing. I stress, this happens in stagesstages. It is slow. It is creeping. it is a process in the largest sense of the word. However, it is something that affects all domains in your life. Relationships, money, sex, career, family, politics, health, value spheres, world views—all of it. When the very core of who you thought you were and who you truly are evolves, then your experience and the way you relate to everything around you also evolves. It can be no other way. And we all interpret the events in our lives through our current stage of development...it can be no other way. Personal Evolution is truly multi-dimensional. It has height, breadth, and provides--and at times demands--increasing depth. It is an organic unfolding of the core of the being. Exposing ever deeper levels. And in the process, the being experiencing this evolution...this unfolding...comes ever closer to who they truly are. They become closer to Spirit itself until that stage where all separation and what they used to call “God” dissolves and they become Spirit itself. They become the divine. If we pause there and we look back on this very piece of writing, we can see the process of evolution represented right her on this page. The evolution of the human potential movement. Out of wanting better results, we created personal development rising to a new level of order. Then we realized, consciously or unconsciously, that development itself was inadequate to address the demands of being human. Out of that confusion and chaos we rose to a new level of order and transformational technologies came into being. This was useful for some time for some outcomes and addressed more of the being...yet we bumped up against the limitations of this level of order soon enough. Out of the realization of those limitations, a new level or order emerged—personal evolution itself. Evolution of the person and the personal. The organic unfolding of manifest divinity and our personal and internal manifest destiny. Evolution is there. Unfolding is there. Divinity is there. Will you participate in it...or regress? We are faced with that choice literally every day of our lives. We all choose one at times and the other at times. The key is in choosing consciously...even now.
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Emotional Freedom Part 2: Emotional Choice

[Note to the reader: as this series is comprised of excerpts from a book draft, is it not meant to be complete. Some ideas will be developed and others will be left for a later time. Moreover, some of you who are familiar with my work will wonder why I am not covering a certain concept or other. This is for the same reason. It is my hope that in revealing these excerpts free to you now, that these I.D.E.A.s may begin to make a difference in your life...even now.] *if you have not yet read Part 1: Emotional Imprisonment, you can find it herehere. Once we have taken full responsibility for our emotional life and reactionstaken full responsibility for our emotional life and reactions, the next step is to accept and educate ourselves to the fact that our experience is not some amorphous mass—that it has structure. This is one part education and once educated, one hundred parts exercise and daily practice. It is important to note here that developing facility is not a matter of acquiring this skill or that skill and then you suddenly “have facility”. In technical terms, it is not a binary or digital experience; it is not on or off. It is an analog experience; it is experienced in varying degrees. It is like building a muscle. When building a muscle, you go to the gym or work in some way you have never worked before. At first, you can lift a small amount of weight. After trying this new behavioral pattern, you may be sore. Some people give up at this point. They say, “Oh—this muscle building business is not for me”, and they go back to their old habit patterns. However, for those who continue to work at it, they notice they can handle ever-increasing levels of weight or demonstrate more endurance. They become stronger and are able to handle more. Eventually they lift large amounts of weight with seemingly little effort. So it is with facility with self. To develop the muscle of facility with self, one must first develop the foundational skill of self-observation or self-reflexive awareness. This is not [just] the ability to self-examine—that is to examine one’s past choices or behaviors after gathering feedback and being truthful about one’s character, faults, and achievements. While an important exercise, that is not what we are discussing here. Self-reflexive awareness is about being able to experience the self from a detached place of observation in the moment, moment to moment…even now. We all have this ability, but seldom exercise it, or exercise it poorly…or worse, exercise it to our detriment by using it as a tool to loop on our less desirable behaviors and judge or shame [shame is covered in later installments] ourselves—thereby destroying any possibility of receiving the gift. I have even seen some begin to hate their mind—hate the way they think about something—because they have yet to harness their mind and use it for their own benefit. It is important to do this with evenly hovering awareness—an awareness free from judgments of value and worth. Let us practice together. Even now, as you are sitting at your computer, and you are reading the words on the screen, you can begin to notice that…now…you can imagine the back of your head. And as you experience that, you can notice that… now…you can project your consciousness even further and imagine yourself, now, from across the room. See yourself...now...sitting at the computer “down there” or “over there”. And now, having experienced this, you can begin to practice it daily; observe yourself at the grocery store. Observe yourself on the public transit. Observe yourself while you are talking to someone on the telephone. Observe your physical self. [I do not recommend doing this while driving—in fact, I warn against it]. Now let’s turn that same skill toward our thinking—our mental self—and see how our thinking creates our emotional experiences at the gross level [in later installments we will explore the subtler levels]. Some call this “meta-cognition”, or the ability to think about our thinking. We will explore many ways to think about our thinking in this series. While every emotion has a different dynamic—both inter-personal and intra-personal—associated with it, which we will explore together later, right now we are concerned with the blanket generalization of “negative” emotions. After all, few people, I imagine, are desperate to rid themselves of their joy. No. We are looking to be free from anger, upset, sadness, ill-will, hatred, guilt, shame, depression, and the like. Even though our focus is the base negative emotions, it should be mentioned that it is equally as useful and important to exercise these practices around joy, love, excitement, triumph, pride, and the like. So while I write in this of “negative emotions” many of these principles apply to emotions per se—universally. There are two major variable components to negative emotions. There are other components, but for now, we will limit our discussion to the points where the most immediate choice can be exercised. These two components are: •Interpretations/Evaluations •Extrapolated meanings Have you ever had an event occur, had some interpretation of the event and been inaccurate once the facts or more information was known? Of course. We all have. Someone does not call when they were supposed to. We begin to worry. What are we worried about? Well, what if something happened to them?! And suddenly we begin to imagine all of these negative possibilities—these fantasies—and work ourselves up into a frenzy. When they finally call, we asked them what happened and they tell us their cell phone battery had run out and they did not know our number by heart and could not call from a different phone. Then what do we do? We call them inconsiderate saying they “made us worry”, as if they got inside our heads and made us imagine all of these negative fantasies. So we blame them for our own ignorance, and spread the misery. Madness. And then, after interpreting their actions as “uncaring and inconsiderate” we then extrapolate that out to mean something about them or about the relationship. “They do not really care” about us. “They are an inconsiderate person”. They are XYZ. And now we have created a full-fledged drama through our ignorance and lack of facility. More madness. However, the truth is, we all interepret events through our stage of emotional and egoic development. It can be no other way. The Evolutionary rarely gets into this mess in the first place. And when they do, it is often [not always, but often] very brief. They have already exercised and built the muscle of auto-self-reflexive awareness. They notice the minute they are having an unpleasant emotion through the bodily sensations. They explore the interpretation that is causing the emotion if they do not already know what it is. They then determine whether the known facts support that interpretation, or whether it is a fantasy. If it is a fantasy, or even if it could be just an inaccurate fantasy, they then choose at least three alternative interpretations, making sure at least one is absurdly funny to remind themselves of the silliness of negative fantasies, and choose the most empowering interpretation until the facts are known. Once the facts are known, one must still be cautious to create an empowering meaning. For instance, using our example above: by the cell phone battery being depleted and our friend not being able to communicate with us, we could extrapolate that out to mean that they are unreliable or forgetful to the point of untrustworthiness. Or we could take on the meaning that they provided us with another opportunity to exercise the muscle of facility. They helped us on our path to full emotional freedom and liberation. Knowing this, we could even thank them for that opportunity. Another critical underlying orientation employed above is to seek out assumptions, presuppositions, or beliefs in the language of our extrapolated meanings or characterizations of events and examine it to see if it serves our happiness and thrival, or whether on the other end of the spectrum it supports our cynicism and our pre-rational ego. What do we assume? What do we believe? What do we presuppose? Is it positive and empowering/expansive? Or is it disempowering and limiting/constricting? Remember—it is our own emotional freedom we are after. We are not being gracious for the Other, for to be gracious if it is beyond our level or stage of development will create resentments that will build and eventually explode hurting both parties in unpredictable ways. No. What we are doing is being positively selfish by taking on this empowering meaning. We are avoiding unnecessary negativities in our own bodies. This…is good. While you are angry or bitter or resentful at that other person who “did XYZ to you”, regardless of how heinous, the only person you are truly harming is yourself with these emotions. That does not mean you are not justified in feeling the way you do. You probably are. What it does mean is that while you may be right, by being angry or resentful or bitter you are only harming yourself. Action [justice/rational] may still need to be taken, but the reaction and re-enact-ion [pre-rational looping] does not. But then…this would easily slip this conversation into anger, resentment, guilt, and shame--all experiences we will discuss in Parts 3 and 4.
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Emotional Freedom Part 1: Emotional Imprisonment

“Liberty requires responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”—George Bernard Shaw Most of us are in a prison. A prison we create with our own minds. We often do it unconsciously and automatically—not realizing the damage we are doing to ourselves and others. Not even realizing we are in a prison. Not realizing how limited the area is in which we allow ourselves to roam. Fortunately, once we become aware of our imprisonment and the limits of our confines, we can appeal to ourselves—for unlike a real prison, only we can free ourselves from these confines—to be let out on parole, giving us more choice and more access to the real world. The more we exercise this choice and the more our mental habits improve, eventually we can discharge ourselves from parole and enjoy true freedom, true peace, and true happiness. What is the greatest achievement we could all experience? What do we all ultimately want? Whether through our goals, our relationships, the recreational experiences we choose, the standards we hold for ourselves, the books we read, or the spiritual paths we walk—regardless of the context—we all are ultimately striving for the same thing: happiness. We could say that this is the human being’s purpose in life—to be happy and to live a life in service of real and true happiness according to our nature. And yet, misery and unhappiness is universal--even accepted in some philosophical circles as the human condition. Suffering, they say, is the natural order of things. Or “simple pain—the pain of everyday life”. Or “misery is there”. I disagree. I assert our natural right—our inherent nature—is one of joy and creativity. One of emotional freedom. One of happiness. One of liberation. And yet, so few of us are truly happy. So few truly free. And in the West, the idea of being emotionally free is often scoffed at, or worse—taken as a sign of a lack of “emotional intelligence,” or “denial” or a “lack of authenticity” or still worse: “inhuman”. This is compounded by the confounding fact that most people connect more deeply through their pain than their joy. For those who thrive on attention, comfort from others, and are desperate for connection, being in their misery gives them all too much secondary gain—that is, the underlying gain from keeping a “problem”—to do otherwise. Regardless of how much care and compassion we may have for the “victim” of some situation, and no matter how understandable their emotional suffering may be, simultaneously such ignorance, abrogation of responsibility, obvious projection of one’s own limitations onto another, and/or gross self-indulgence is painful to watch, regardless of what has happened to the person—to us—for we know not what we do and how much damage we are actually doing to ourselves out of ignorance and short-term gain. Far from being inhuman—far from becoming an automaton— once emotionally free, we are actually free to be fully human. What does it mean to be fully human? It is to consistently experience joy, creativity, beauty, grace, inspiration, love, and freedom. There is ever increasing levels of play, spontaneity, positivity, and a massive unleashing of creativity and creative energies. “Take refuge in nothing outside of yourself.”--Buddha The path is long, requires diligence and immense personal responsibility, and is well worth the daily effort. And daily [even hourly] effort is required. The first step is to unlock our prison cell. There are two keys required to open our prison cell. They are: •Responsibility •Facility Nothing emotional is sourced outside of ourselves. Once we take full responsibility for all of our own emotional reactions and experiences, we begin to receive the gift of choice. With this, we can then begin to educate ourselves about how our mind works and begin to exercise facility. Without responsibility, we will never develop facility and if we never develop facility, we will never have choice, and if we never develop choice, we will never reach the final goal of full emotional freedom. This becomes obvious when we examine the pre-rational [pre-responsibility] linguistic structures that people use when describing their emotional life: “I was wracked by guilt; I fell in love; I was gripped by fear; I was overcome by anger; I became overwhelmed by shame; a dark cloud of depression came over me…” What do all of these phrases have in common? What is their common denominator that demonstrates a lack of responsibility, self-ownership, and wisdom of the working processes of their mind? If we examine them, we see that they all indicate the emotion is somehow outside of the speaker. The emotion takes on the mystical/mythical life of some roving spirit that strikes at us causing us misery. We are at the mercy of the “god” of emotions. We do not have our emotions at this stage…rather our emotions have us. It does not have to be so. We can have choice, and we can have our emotions, rather than them having us. The truth, as it is in all of us, is that we create our own emotional experience. We do not experience reality, we experience our internal re-presentation or coding of our experiences in pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes, and smells. Something arises in our awareness—perhaps a sound, or a sight, or a taste—and we re-cognize it. We then interpret it. From that interpretation we get a bodily sensation or a “feeling” that is usually labeled as XYZ emotion. We then react accordingly. While learning not to react is a wonderful practice that I recommend and practice daily myself, we can go further down the line to earlier choice points making an even bigger difference in our own emotional life and by extension, the lives of those around us. We will see this in later installments of this series. There is no choice you say? We are run by our limbic system? Let us examine this together. How many of us have ever had an experience or witnessed an event with a friend, family member, or loved one and they remember it differently than we do? We all have. How many of us have ever had an experience or witnessed an event and had a different emotional reaction to it than the person we were with? We all have. And why is that? For precisely the reason laid out in the process above. We either re-cognize it differently than they do or we interpret and evaluate it differently than they do—both leading to a different emotional experience than they have. We do this unconsciously most of the time. Knowing all of this, we have no conscious choice other than to take full responsibility for our own emotional life and begin to learn more about this “coding” in our senses and to develop the conscious faculties necessary to be more conscious, more mindful, and therefore have more emotional choice for our own sake and for the sake of those around us. While it is understandable to be upset or hurt by certain genres of events and it is predictable to experience joy or happiness with others, this is not hard-wired. Additionally, the events of life and their practical implications are often challenging enough to deal with. Sometimes downright difficult. To manage these events and their implications and to effectively deal with the practical impact, we need a clear mind. If these events are already difficult enough to deal with, and the negative emotional reaction is—as we will demonstrate—often necessary and we have tremendous choice in the matter, why not exercise that choice? And we have choice to the exact degree we take responsibility and exercise learned “facility with self”. And as we develop the muscle of choice further and further, we eventually reach emotional freedom—real happiness, real peace, real harmony. It is your natural right as a human being. I hope you will join me in seizing the fruits from the tree of your own mind.
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Collapsing Behavior and Identity—Mistaken Identity and Spiritual Practice

Who am I? Who are you? Who are we? Do I “know” you? The ultimate spiritual practice is dis-identifying with that which we think is us—objects in our awareness. It may be our possessions. It may be our finances. It may be our looks. It may be our intelligence. It may be our social reputation. It may be our behaviors, our sexual orientation, our beliefs, or ideas. And yet we are none of that. As the Buddhists would say—we are the pure witness. As Mark Michael Lewis would say—“We are not [XYZ], we are that which is experiencing [all of it]”. As Ken Wilber would say—“[You are] the witness, the original face you had before you were born—before the big bang…is not a thing or an object. It is a feeling…an atmosphere”. I would agree with all of that—indeed, the ultimate spiritual practice is dis-identifying with that which you think is you—anything other than pure awareness—pure witness, and add: before we can dis-identify, we must first recognize when we are identified—when we have a case of mistaken identity. Yet even before we can recognize this, we must have developed self-reflexive awareness. Simple, but not easy, as in the moment [any moment] when we are in our experience, we are often IN our experience—That is to say our experience has us, we do not have it. AND, to the degree we have built the muscle of self awareness and self-reflection by being able to take our very self and make it an object in our awareness is the degree to which we have choice. Even further, to the degree that we have “meta-cognition”—that is the ability to think about our thinking—is the degree to which we have choice around our thinking. And as most of you know, how we think about something creates our emotional experience around it. The more we exercise and build the muscle of witnessing, the more we move from misery to emotional choice and finally to emotional freedom. How do we know if we are identified? If you imagine anything being taken away from you and you experience a high degree of fear or anxiety—or if it has been taken away from you and you are in grief or misery—you are identified. You have a case of mistaken identity [or a “confusion of identify location” as I like to phrase it]--and you are identified with something other than who you truly are—pure witness; radical spirit; God. Yet we judge ourselves [and often go into shame] when we do not attain what we think we should with the objects in our awareness. We are judging our degree of success with them as us—as our very Self. All this is sad enough, yet we don’t stop there do we? We go even further and we judge others [and indulge in self-righteousness] with the same case of mistaken identity. We judge them for their dress, their speech, their intelligence, their attractiveness [or lack thereof], their possessions, status, sexual orientation, political affiliations or positions, etc. etc., etc. While it sometimes makes sense to judge behaviors [and even at times to insist they stop or are dealt with from a justice standpoint] we do not judge just the behaviors—we judge the being at their core for a behavior. Something external to who they are truly. This is all too easy to do and too often indulged in to feel superior or reinforce our fears or… The bottom line is that collapsing behaviors [or any other object in our awareness] with identity is a gross confusion of logical levels. To do it to ourselves creates misery in one form or another. To do it to others allows us to feel superior or reinforce our self-indulgent fears—or both. To free yourself from this trap is the ultimate spiritual practice. To do so means taking on five simple steps: 1. Develop self-reflexive awareness 2. Notice how you are thinking about yourself or others [meta-cognition] and whether it serves your ultimate happiness and thrival 3. Recognize when you are identified [fear, anxiety, misery, loss, or grief in specific contexts] 4. Notice that it is not really you—there is the noticer—behind what you are aware of is that which is aware. This is you. 5. Take this on as a daily spiritual practice And as an additional exercise, step into the belief that we are all in evolution and are therefore always deepening and changing and therefore we never really “know” anyone. As a result we must take on the practice of continually updating our internal representations [our interpretations] of others. Continually looking to increase and update our accuracy in who we think they are. But that is another thought to flesh out at another time. May you be happy and free. -- For more on dis-identification, read The Key in the Darkness, which can be found at The Priest and the Punk The Priest and the Punk.
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Past, Present, Future; Our Relationship to Time

"it's okay to lose, so long as you learn from every game you choose..." “If there is no future, and there is no past; if all we’ve got is right now, then…let’s make it last.” "Remember your dreams because your dreams become the life you lead..." --Prince Human beings have a strange relationship to time. We sometimes get stuck in moments and replay them over and over again. We often fail to live in the present—not hearing the person right in front of us. Some of us are so focused on our goals in the future we often fail to enjoy them when we attain them—rather, setting new, bigger, more impressive or more challenging goals without ever pausing to enjoy the view from this new height. Then there is this idea that there is only “the now”-- which is certainly one way to think about it. At the same time, while the past and future may only live in our minds, so do so many other things. Does that mean they do not exist? Memories? Fondness for someone? Plans for our future? They are indeed “real” even if they are strictly intra-subjective experiences. If we declared they were not, we would have to say intentionality, compassion, hope, love, our memories, etc. were not “real”. Aside from the most dogmatic scientific materialists, I know very few who are willing to support that argument. What then is the most appropriate and useful relationship to time that we could cultivate, such that we accelerating our personal evolution? How can we use our internal representation of time for emotional choice and ultimately, emotional freedom? The Past The past, in the context of accelerating our evolution, is really only useful for one thing: learnings. It is a treasure trove of opportunities for learnings and therefore evolutionary advancement. If, while we review past events, we simply ask two questions: 1. How am I responsible? 2. What can I learn? ...then our relationship to the past is a healthy one. That is, it is one that supports increasing our spiritual depth and emotional freedom while building on mistakes in a useful way. The first question builds esteem for the self as all responsibility does, so long as we are taking responsibility responsibly—that is free of shame. If we use it instead as an opportunity to shame ourselves or judge ourselves, then we have been irresponsible in this exercise and defeated the very purpose of it. The questions must be answered with a positive or empowering forward look. In the case of a “failure” or a negative event, or perhaps in exhibiting behaviors that are out of alignment with our values: what can I learn such that this will not happen in the future? Or, What will I do differently in the future? In the case of “successes”: what can I learn such that I can continue to model this behavior? How can I increase my effectiveness even further? The Present People often speak of “staying present” or “being present” or “being in the now” as if we were somehow absent. We are always present—the question is, “what are we present to?” Often when people are not paying attention to what is in front of them, they are paying attention to their internal representations. Their internal thoughts, fantasies, imagery, or internal dialogue. Building the muscle of mastering our minds such that we are present to what is in front of us when we need to be—fully present without atemporal or past-related thoughts—is one of the critical components of the game of Personal Evolution. There are times when we are not even aware of our internal representations. We must bring these into consciousness so they can be managed appropriately and responsibly. Once we become conscious of them, it may be necessary to use certain mental shifts and practices to “shelve” these thoughts to be dealt with later when it is more appropriate for our lives. Sometimes it is a matter of learning to simply quiet the mind through meditation. Or both. The Future Often when I work with clients and they are in despair, I elicit their internal representation of time and find it compressed. They are seeing perhaps only two weeks into the future and the events that are occurring in their present are unpleasant. When we extend their sense of time out to include another 100 years these feelings often turn into convictions about what needs to be done. The truth is that regardless of what is occurring—everything has a nature: it arises and passes away. Nothing lasts forever. This is especially true for human beings. In the greater scheme of things, or in the larger view, or with an expanded sense of time, as we literally zoom out, we become more emotionally free from whatever may be troubling us at that one moment in time. Once the events become objects in our awareness and we are no longer identified with them, we are free form them and can use the events for learnings and make more appropriate choices. This practice is especially useful for fear and anxiety. The structure of fear and anxiety is that we are imagining some future event with a negative result or outcome. However, since we know that the future exists only in our minds [although in our subjective experience it is very real] then we can bring that imagined future into consciousness and change it to a positive one. Given that neither is more “real” or “true” than the other, the evolutionary master of their own mind will change the imagined future to a positive one and “live into” that—thereby aligning their consciousness around it. While a high level of facility is required, we can all build the muscle of a more responsible and useful relationship to time. Just like all exercise, at first It may cause soreness. So we start off light. We increase the frequency of our exercise gradually. Eventually, we are lifting heavy weight indeed and are excited about how are new habit is transforming the way we experience ourselves and how we feel. And it is then, that we are becoming free.
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Insight and Integration

“...how can you tell your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself don't see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the log from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck of chaff that is in your brother's eye.”—Luke 6:42 There is always a gap. A gap worth turning our attention to in every moment if we are to live with integrity, as examples, and to be most effective in contributing to others. It is a gap worth shrinking. It is the gap between our insights and our integration. It is the gap between our vision and our ability to demonstrate our ownership of our understandings. It is the gap between our intellect and our application of the principles we know to be universal truths. We have all read a book, been to a workshop, listened to a spiritual teacher, or received advice from a friend that we considered to be sound advice. If the goal is to be in this process of the upwardly spiraling and ever-expanding and ever-greater embracing path, then the primary focus needs to be bringing our lofty insights, our visionary experiences down into our bodies—to em-body them. The focus of constant and intentional behavioral integration of our insights will serve us in all aspects of our lives. Rebecca had a friend who was “going through a rough spot” in her marriage. Her friend needed support; needed a shoulder to cry on and needed advice from someone who had her best interests at heart. Without thinking it through, her friend came to Rebecca with tears in her eyes, uncertainty in her voice, and pain in her heart. Rebecca was compassionate, loving, and did indeed have her friend’s best interests at heart. Rebecca offered her wonderful advice. Sound advice. However, as a result of her lack of integration, the unfortunate truth was, Rebecca’s relationships did not demonstrate the soundness of this advice. Because of this, her friend went away uncertain and untrusting. Her friend’s best interests were not served as a result of what some would call Rebecca’s hypocrisy. Jeff had just finished a great book on relationships. He had begun to incorporate some of the distinctions and models for communicating included in the book into his daily life and had experienced a renaissance in his relationship with his girlfriend. They continued to deepen their intimacy and understanding of one another. It still required a great deal of awareness, conscious partnership, and grace from them both, but their integration of the insights offered in the book was obviously increasing. Having noticed this, Jeff’s friend Rick came to him much like Rebecca’s friend did, frustrated and hopeless about his own romantic relationship. Aware of his need to even further increase his integration, Jeff offered advice to Rick while acknowledging he was in no way a master of these insights, but told Rick that when he did apply them, it had a dramatically positive impact on the outcome of his conversations in his intimate relationship. This created an opening for Rick that had him not only buy the book, but created incredible breakthroughs for him in his own life in other contexts. Jenny sat before her spiritual teacher. What had drawn her towards him was not that he taught love and compassion, and contemplative techniques for transcending unnecessary misery to achieve happiness. What drew her towards him was that, without fail, he demonstrated love and compassion for all beings and seemed to be always happy and had perspectives that effortlessly maintained all of this. The gap between his insight and his integration was so slight that only he could perceive it within the subtleties of his own experience; his own self-reflexive and self-reflective thoughts. As a result, he was able to not only live an emotionally liberated life, but was able to positively impact all of those who chose to be around him. Integrating new distinctions is often like building a muscle. When we first make the movement with the weight, it is perhaps awkward. Sometimes we get sore as a result of our efforts. However, sooner or later it becomes second nature, we increase our weight load and begin to take on ever more complex moves. If you decided to go to the gym tomorrow for the first time in your life [or for the first time in a long time] you would not expect to be able to lift as much weight as if you’d been there for a year diligently working away. You would also not walk away from it tomorrow in despair if you were unable to do so. It is the same with insight and integration. Integration is not an event. Integration is a process. A process worth every sore muscle encountered along the way, as the pay-off is not only fuller liberation, but the ability to contribute to others as an example of a life worth modeling. There is always a gap. It is the gap between our insights and our integration. It is the gap between our vision and our ability to demonstrate our ownership of our understandings. It is the gap between our intellect and our application of the principles we know to be universal truths. A gap worth turning our attention to in every moment if we are to live with integrity, as examples, and to be most effective in contributing to others. It is a gap well worth shrinking. Join me in the effort...
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Taking Responsibility; Offering Grace

Often, when we think of “being responsible”, many of us think of paying our bills, attending family gatherings, being on time, going to work, paying our taxes, etc. While that is accurate, there is a deeper level to peer into. One that affects each of us every moment of every interaction we have with others. And the question is, what does responsible communication look like? What does it mean to take responsibility in our interactions? A woman was out eating at one of her favorite restaurants. She ordered a dish and made a request for a modification—she wanted feta cheese instead of cheddar. Seemingly, a simple change. When the dish came, the modification did not. She immediately blamed the waiter saying, “I told you feta”, quite indignantly. The waiter became defensive and clumsily blamed it on the kitchen, apologized, taking the dish back and soon brought out a new one with the feta cheese. The rest of the service cycle remained tense and curt. Perhaps the waiter was in error. Perhaps it was the kitchen. Perhaps she did not speak loudly enough when she made the request. What is certain is that she chose to blame rather than take responsibility. If communication is about attaining some outcome, we could say that on the surface, she was successful; she got what she wanted. Or did she? Every moment, we are faced with a choice to increase consciousness or decrease it. Something happens and we can either become more aware—rising to the occasion, or we can blank out. There is a more subtle aspect to this choice—we can either blame or we can take responsibility. Both choices have consequences: the underlying ability to build or undercut self-esteem. At the same time, both choices have underlying dynamics: blame causes people to contract and defend. It can cause them to regress; to withdraw to more stable ground. And it supports pre-rational ego while undercutting the development of true self-esteem—for both parties, actually. While taking responsibility increases true self-esteem while necessitating the transcendence of pre-rational ego. It requires expansion, and gives both parties room to grow and evolve; to transcend. Blame=causes regression=contraction Responsibility=requires self-transcendence=expansion Imagine the same woman eating in the same restaurant making the same request. The waiter brings the dish, having made the same mistake, and this time, the woman makes a different choice. She notices and, taking responsibility for the effectiveness of her communication asks, “Did I forget to mention that I wanted feta?” The waiter, feeling the space to take responsibility says, “You did. I am terribly sorry, let me fix that for you straight away.” The waiter brings it back with feta and informs her that dessert will be on the house. Instead of tension, there is a sense of openness and rightness and equitability in the sequence of events. Each and ever day we engage in communication cycles with other people. Each and every day we consciously or unconsciously experience the dynamics of those interpersonal interactions. They impact us and impact others. The example in the restaurant is a mundane example. But you can begin to notice even now, having turned your awareness to this aspect of your experience, how often you can make this choice in very meaningful contexts. How often have you blamed [explicitly or implicitly, subtly or obviously] your lover, friend, husband, wife, mom or dad, when something did not go the way you wanted it to? How much has your intimacy with them suffered as a result? How many times have you not achieved some outcome because you were righteously indignant with a service representative, rather than gracious? The truth is that most of us are not even aware of the costs of our behavioral choices in intimacy and frustrated outcomes. The added stress and tension. The inflated ego and undermined self-esteem. Given that self-esteem has been called the immune system for life, it is worth caring for. Strengthening. Supporting. Every moment we each have a choice: increase our awareness or decrease it. And once there we have another choice: take responsibility or blame. To regress or transcend. What will you choose?
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Discolored Vision

Have you ever noticed how some people’s perception of the world seems more accurate than others? How some people’s perception of you seems more accurate than others? Have you ever stepped out and noticed the degree of accuracy of your own perceptions? Have you ever had the experience of badly misjudging someone’s motives, being, intentions, behaviors, or character—thereby noticing your own inaccuracy? How did you account for this discrepancy? Have you ever noticed that you are more accurate about some people than others and how some people or some people’s behaviors trigger you and other’s do not? What would your life be like if you were freed from disproportionate emotional responses and you could see the pure and innocent core of others? It is commonly known in the world of platform skills training that most feedback tells you far more about the giver of the feedback than the recipient. In other words, if I do something in the world, like give a talk, or write something such as this piece you are reading, or even simply tell a joke in a public a small percentage of the feedback I receive will be solid, objective feedback. A larger percentage will be a demonstration of the person’s level of development, prejudices, beliefs, and—at worst—unresolved emotional events form their past and their issues of esteem for themselves. Why? The Buddhists speak of using Vipassana meditation to “clear away the clouds so you can see the sun”. The sun is always there—as it is. But in your perception, it is grayed. It is blocked. It is obscured. The word “vipassana” actually means to clear things away to see them “as they are”. Not as you would have them be, believe them to be, or think they are—but as they are. There is this I.D.E.A. of cleansing your vision. Giving your Self clarity of vision. How is this possible? We are lead to believe in our world of post-modern philosophy that this is not possible. There is only our skewed subjective experience. Yet simultaneously, many of us seek out coaches, gurus, leaders, and friends who have this very clarity. They “see” things—accurately and clearly. And these people are widely respected, valued, and many acquire great wealth in the process. Be it wealth of spirit or community or material wealth—or all of the above. How is this accomplished? How can we clear our vision such that we see things more accurately and can relate with others in a space of clarity and presence? To answer that we need to back up a bit… The first step is noticing. Do I have a preconceived notion about the person/organization/community? Am I dealing with and relating to them right now? Or am I dealing with my internal representations of them? Have I verified my interpretations of them/it? Do I have “disproportionate” emotional responses? Do I experience anger, guilt, shame, blame, fear to a degree that stops me from being fully self expressed in the natural disposition that the spiritual warriors of Shambhala teach, which is the natural disposition of pride, joy, and a general upright posture and attitude? Do the “little things” in life bother me? Do I judge others as bad and wrong rather than experiencing compassion and wisdom for them and if so, to what degree? Disproportionate emotional responses typically have two sources: unresolved past experiences that we have coded as “negative” in our subjective experience. These may come in the form of parental “imprints” or they may come in the form of a “gestalt” of negative emotions rooted in our childhood when we did not have the wisdom to see the positive learning or meaning in the pain. Meaningless pain leads to misery and agony and creates a deep gouge in our emotional consciousness. This can be resolved with any number of technologies and turned into a gift. Self-esteem is the other primary source of a disproportionate emotional response. Using the definition that self-esteem is the knowledge that you are competent to handle life’s challenges and the belief that you deserve to be happy [self efficacy and self-regard] then what happens when one has insufficient self-esteem in any given context? One responds with fear, uncertainty, and this can often appear as anger or some other disproportionate response. A person with high self-esteem can respond with graciousness, clarity, and ease. The higher degree of self-esteem one has, the more gracious one will be. Unresolved events and disproportionate emotional responses can actually “color” or skew our vision—and actually alter our internal representations. We have all heard of the “green monster” of jealousy and “seeing red” when one is angry. An excellent example of this was a client I worked with had their visual sub-modalities colored as red in memories where anger was present beginning at an impact experience when they were 4 years old. In other words, when they visualized the events, there was a red tint to the image. Once we worked with the events using Time Line Therapy™, all of the events had lost the red tint and they were now seen in black and white. Of course, even to get to a place where one would choose to clear their vision requires self-reflexive awareness and a certain degree of personal responsibility; it requires the ability to notice and assess one’s own behavior and an acceptance of the truth that we are all responsible for our own emotional life and a desire to evolve one’s self. This in and of itself is a monumental breakthrough for most who experience it. The next step is to take the necessary action to clear one’s past and begin to build a strong sense of self, a large component of which is healthy self-esteem, and then to begin to generate a new compelling future—one of your own design that will inspire, uplift, and draw one to new heights unburdened of the past habit patterns. From this place of freedom and generative creativity nothing is impossible. It is your natural born right to live a joyous and free life full of love and happiness. All that stands in your way is a choice. The choice of course belongs to you. What will you choose?
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E[go]volution

Ego is the source of most of the ills in our society. It is the thing to dissolve as you become more spiritual. It is something to be noticed, sought out, fought, and destroyed. Ego is bad. Or is it? Ego is largely misunderstood in our cult-ure. As Eastern Spiritual traditions are imported into the west with greater and greater rapidity, it is misunderstood even further. Rather than looking at it and understanding it for what it is, it is further collapsed, fused, and maligned into one mass of experience generally labeled “it-is-bad”. Those who judge it as “bad” are missing the point of transcending attachment through craving and desire, which they pre-suppose is generated by ego, as they are creating aversion, the darker sibling of craving and attachment. They are engaging in the same dynamic. Ignorance and fear are largely at play here. All of this is due to a lack of understanding and poverty of distinctions with respect to the nature of this phenomenon we are labeling “ego”. And all of this is also due to a lack of wisdom about the nature of evolution and this game that we, as conscious beings, find ourselves in, which I am terming Personal Evolution. To find more clarity, we need to turn to integrative thinking. Ego is not a static “thing”. It is not fixed. Like all manifestations of consciousness it is dynamic. It is fluid. And, contrary to popular belief and common misconception, it is ever evolving—as consciousness can do nothing else. Let us look at one model of the evolution of ego so that we can better and more fully understand its nature, its complexities, and from what position it is most misunderstood and from what level of development it is most oft misperceived. As a preface to the model that is about to be presented here, think as these “levels” less as “steps” and more like waves or spirals. In other words, they are not discreet (in the mathematical sense) levels. They are more flexible and fluid than that. And, unfortunately, due to the current linguistic limitations, we are working with “levels”. Pre-rational This is the most fundamental of all levels of the ego. At this level, one often engages in moral pronouncements of or about the Self. There is also a larger percentage of self-to-other comparisons “I did X and I am therefore a good person. In fact I am better than you”, or on the opposite end of the egotistical phenomenon: “I failed at Y so I am therefore a bad person, and in fact, compared to you (who succeeded at Y) I am worthless.” Whatever the case, with pre-rational ego present, there is judgment in the pejorative sense, that amounts to something being “good” or “bad” bringing with it a disproportionate (from a rational and certainly from a trans-rational perceptual standpoint) amount of emotional “charge”. At this level of development, there is self-congratulation in the extreme—hubris and arrogance. There is also self-flagellation—self-hate, self-doubt, and in the simplest terms—“beating one’s Self up”. Rational Rational is the “middle ground” or “half way” point in this model. At this level in the development—or evolution—of the ego, one begins to be focused on competence and results. For instance, “I am more competent than you at X, therefore I can produce better results than you”, or “I am less competent at Y than you and therefore you can produce better results than I.” Moral pronouncements begin to drop away in the higher realms of rational ego. One may feel positive or elated about one’s accomplishments; one may also feel deflated or negative about one’s failures, but there is no “I am therefore a “good” or “bad” person as a resultant meaning or extrapolation about the Self. One other benefit provided by this level of development is that one begins to engage in self-to-self comparisons through time, rather than static, two dimensional self-to-other comparisons, which are inherently a slippery slope. Why are they a slippery slope? No matter what the context, no matter what your level of skill or development, there can (and arguably IS) someone more developed or skilled, or less developed and less skilled. Ergo, these comparisons are foolhardy and easily deconstructed. Given that this level is the Rational level, one can easily see the inappropriateness of these comparisons with ease. The ability to self reflect and self examine becomes easier and achievement becomes important Trans-rational This level is where the juice is. Where the verve is, in the artistic sense. This is where the artistry of the Self (and in fact often art, poetry, and the highest expressions of the Self begin to emerge. This is also where the ego begins to “dissolve”. I put “dissolve” in quotes in this context because it only appears to be the dissolution of ego. It is the expansion of ego. It is the expansive Self. At the highest levels of trans-rational states and development, one becomes god by becoming one with all. One with everything and nothing. This is already and always happening, but it is only at a trans-rational level of development and awareness that one becomes cognizant of this reality. At this level of development, one becomes fully-self reflexive in that one is able to fully self examine. One’s own mental processes (meta-cognition) becomes paramount as the evolution of Self come into full awareness. One begins to develop the qualities of the Buddha and the Christ mind—love, compassion, wisdom, radical and accurate awareness of self, of the world around you, and of Other, although the desire to “change” or “blame” other is not present. The desire to assist others in evolving is. The desire to serve others and be a resource for others is. While some posit that further distinguishing and putting more and more linguistic “separation” into our experience creates separation and rails against the very I.D.E.A. of attaining non-dual levels of reality, again, while the Buddha mind points at the moon they are focused on his finger, which is doing the pointing, but not the reality and the experience of what he is pointing to. They are, in our popular vernacular, missing the forest for the trees. Why? Because non-duality contains duality. Everythingness and Nothingness contains all. How could it be otherwise? Part of understanding developmental models is understanding that a being can only truly appreciate a level they have already developed through, beyond, and transcended. A child can not understand the wisdom of their parents until they are old enough to see the truth and positive intention in the direction given by the parents. Someone driven by and mired in their pre-rational emotions can not understand (and will often state it is impossible) having emotional mastery at the trans-rational level. Someone who still feels violence or the law of the jungle is the best way to handle disputes cannot see the value in a codified rule of law, where disputes are handled by an objective party. And the list goes on. At the same time, once someone transcends a certain level of development, they can see and understand both the benefits and limitations of each level. They can begin to think in integrative terms: differentiate, distinguish, transcend, and include. Now, imagine how someone who has a pre-rational understanding of ego or is stuck at the pre-rational level of ego development experiences a rational ego. They will think this person is arrogant when they are not. Why? Because given the givens, and the same scenario of achievement, the pre=rational ego minded individual would be arrogant. They cannot see how someone else could not, not understanding more developed levels. And often, they will judge the rational person as bad to safeguard their own fragile sense of self. And so on. I could give many more examples (and I imagine I will in the future) and for the sake of brevity, I will not. Every day we are faced with the choice to live and make choices one of two ways—consciously or unconsciously. The choice is entirely yours, mine, ours, humanity’s. What will you choose?
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All One; All Different [Addressing Spiritual Reductionism]

“We’re one, but we are not the same.”—Bono, U2 Once I was in a train station waiting for a train with a friend. He pointed to a steel and cement column and said, “at the sub-atomic level, this column is mostly air. So are you. So am I…”. And he went on to state we were the same as the column—no difference—and no different from one another. He went on to imply that there was, therefore, no meaning to anything. I stretched my arm out, made a fist, and pushed my fist at the column until it stopped with a thud. I looked at him and I said, “that may be so, AND at the same time, the world we move through is not the sub-atomic world”. Often we are addressed with reminders, assertions, and at times even pleas, that we are “all one”. We are all human. We are all the same at some level. We all bleed red. At the sub-atomic level, we are all made up of the same stuff. In fact, at the sub-atomic level, at least at our current level of knowledge [see String Theory for an interesting hypothesis about how we may be very different from one another indeed], not only are we all “the same” as beings, we are the same as a rock, dirt, plant life, our dog, the wall, etc. Eastern Spiritual traditions remind us that at the ultimate level, it is all vibrations, all wavelets. "Validated" by science, at the “ultimate” level, we are all the same—“just” sub-atomic particles. And yet, anyone with eyes, ears, a tactile sense, and a mind can tell we are all very, very different. I challenge anyone who says that the ultimate level is the only important level (“we are all one”) to Zen his or her way through me the next time we meet. The problem with this is that most people cannot seem to contain both I.D.E.A.s intellectually, experientially, or spiritually, so then end up ignoring one or the other, or collapsing the informational and the practical. Does our having the same sub-atomic structures mean we are all the same? Are you “the same” as a murderer? A rapist? A child molester? A terrorist? A priest? A politician? A man? A woman? A tribal leader? A shaman? A grocery clerk? A Fortune 500 CEO? Are you and I “the same” as Mozart, Bill Gates, Socrates, Thomas Jefferson, or Ayn Rand? Of course not. And, yes. We have differing sets of skills, intelligence, symmetry, size, shape, and color. And yet...to paraphrase Ken Wilber, “while we are all perfect manifestations of the divine—of Spirit—yet how we demonstrate that is bound by our current level of development; we are limited to our current depth”. Spiritual reductionism [we are all one and we are all perfect and we are all love] is usually accompanied by moral relativism. No act is inherently better than any other act. No world-view is more true than any other—and they are arbitrary. I disagree. Setting aside the performative contradiction (if no world-views are any more true than the other, then neither is that world-view—and thus it is false), compassion is better than anger because it possesses greater depth. Love is better than hate for the same reason. Grace is better than vengeance for the same reason—it requires an awareness of greater depth to exercise those choices, therefore, it is better. Liberty is better than tyranny. Free Enterprise is better that centrally planned economies. In both cases they produce better results. Measurably better. Different beings possess different levels of awareness; different depths that that can reflect back by the development of their own depth. In this, we are very different indeed. Is there utility in thinking we are all one—all the same? Perhaps. It can assist us in bridging potentially explosive differences in a world where differences in ideology can kill and maim. At the same time, in a world where ideologies can kill and maim, we had better keep the differences in mind as well. In all things, be discerning, but not judgmental. Keep your mind open—but keep it working. Never allow someone to demand you turn off your common sense for their imagined utopia.
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Cult of Classification

We, as a people, seem to love classifications. As humans, it is what we do best: identification. It separates us from primates. We can identify and classify things into systems, genres, classes, subclasses, and so on. This is a great skill; a skill that could even save your life some day as you classify “dangerous, not dangerous – deadly, not deadly”. The ability to identify (what is it?) and then extrapolate accurately (what does it mean?) is indeed a critical skill. A skill no less critical even as we get more and more civilized. In fact, it could be argued that the dangers get ever more complex and demanding of this skill the more complex our society becomes and the more knowledgeable we become. When this gets interesting is when we apply and over apply this skill to other human beings where physical safety is clearly not a concern. We have all sorts of categorizations and systems of classification. We have race, sexual preferences and orientation, political party affiliation, zodiac sign, political orientation or leaning, class separation, high school cliques, enneagram number, etc., etc. These are all tools we use to classify, to categorize, and to put people into some box or drawer. At first, it may seem like we use these tools to gain a better understanding of who they are, really. Is that how we typically use them, in actuality? The way I have seen myself and others use them is as I described above. We put them into a box. We now think we “know” them, or at least that portion of them. They are a democrat or a republican and all of a sudden, we now “know them” politically. They are a 3 on the enneagram, and all of a sudden we “know” what to expect of their behaviors; their light and beautiful side and their darker patterns. We put them into a box and we can then relax, or tense, or whatever, but some part of us relaxes. We know them; we can now relax and move on to putting another part of them into a box. Are they heterosexual or homosexual? Ah, they are bi-sexual. We can now relax (or tense [laugh]) because we now “know” who they are sexually. But do we? (It is fascinating to see someone feed their ego when they think they have “nailed” someone’s zodiac sign or enneagram number by guessing at it; excited about putting someone in a box.) Once we put someone into a box, we then stop relating to who they are as a unique and beautiful being -- we begin to relate to the box. We begin to fit all of their behaviors into that box or view their behaviors through the filter of said box. Sure, we are more comfortable ourselves once we have classified them, but the real relating begins to die a slow (or rapid) death. We now stop relating to who they are in this moment, right now, and begin to relate to what we read about them in a book, or what we see about their “type” on TV, Etc. Then what began as a tool for greater understanding and deeper relating has ended up as a wall or a barrier to greater and truer understanding – a barrier to more intimate relating; a wall around the heart. A wall and a filter we are often not even aware of. And what are human Beings anyway? They are manifestations of the divine. Can we really classify that? Human Beings at their best and most inspirational are creative, spontaneous, dances of improvisation, which is completely unpredictable, and if we get too caught up in who we think they are, we may miss a glimpse of god as it dances right before us, right within our grasp. While these tools for classification are useful to a certain point, they are only useful to a certain point, where if we want true relating, true intimacy, they must then be cast aside. If we truly desire peace on this planet, it will take something like this, from all sides, from all perspectives, from all lands. From the heart, guided by the head, enveloped in Spirit,
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Evolutionary Love

Someone once asked me: "Do we ever really fall in love with another person, or are we falling in love with the idea we have of that person. In essence, are we then not just narcissistically falling in love with ourselves?" Some Baghwan or another said, "it is more accurate to say, ‘I experience love when I am with you’, than to say, ‘I love you’”. What they both bring up is interesting, and I think it is accurate. Accurate, but partial. It presupposes love is always rooted in the pre-rational level of development in s/he who is seeking or finding love. For it is in the pre-rational that narcissism is rooted and fixed. The need to have ourselves reflected back--approval from external sources given—is narcissistic. A need to be admired. Liked by Other. At all costs. There is also a great deal of evidence in developmental psychology today that "love at first sight" is often the result of similar childhoods--parental histories specifically--somehow recognized at the unconscious level. Recognized and drawn to. A frightening thought as we look at most romantic archetypes and culturally trained patterns. How many times have you seen people shape their behaviors so they can be loved [validated] by another? How many times have you done it? How many times have you subtly or not so subtly engaged in a dynamic intended to have them alter their behavior to fit your notion of how the love “should” look. Unfortunately, as a culture, be it in our poetry, in the love stories, in romantic film, or in pop music, it is only the “I would die for you, I cannot live without you, I am nothing without you” [all pre-rational] that gets all the play, limelight, airtime, etc. True (rational And beyond) esteem for the self is rooted in the rational. Self-esteem defined as the knowledge that we are fundamentally competent to handle whatever life throws at us and that we are appropriate to life, or that we deserve to be happy. There is a very real sense in which the depth of love you can give to another is limited [only] by the love you have for your Self. At the rational level love often follows from finding people who embody your ideals. They may embody them more than you even. Is this narcissistic—which is loving your own reflection back with moral valence of "I am therefore good/bad; right/wrong"? I do not think so. I think this is gravitating toward that which you feel is worth emulating; that which you have determined produces worthwhile results in the world. Truly rational. And the trans-rational and transcendent, where compassion, love of all sentient beings, and unconditional love begin to emerge. This does not mean the love of all behaviors of those sentient beings, but the ability to look beyond behaviors--to not confuse identity and behaviors, as they are different logical levels--and to love the being still. Love the being in the face of uninspiring--and perhaps even heinous--behaviors. Of course, the challenge for us all is that as we develop through this spiraling ascent (or deepening of the Self, if you prefer) we can only understand the level of development we are at and below. At best, we can understand that which we have experienced. We may have experienced it for but a moment, giving us some inkling of the next level, or deepening. But that peak experience is required, in the least, to perceive it. Perception often, truly is projection. We can only reflect the depth we have achieved and we can only reflect back the depth to which we can see. It is in this knowledge that we must look on others with fresh eyes, peering into their depths, knowing we may not be able to see all that they are…yet.
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