Category Archives: Wisdom/Philosopy

Other People’s Opinion of Me Is None of My Business

Other people’s opinion of me is none of my business. Intellectually, this is a statement that we can believe. Since you cannot control other people’s thoughts, and since neither people nor their thoughts are perfect, then it really makes no sense to live your life based on your flawed impressions of other people’s flawed impressions of you. Got it? Great! I would stop right now, except for one thing.

Emotionally, as a species, we are built to care about what other people think of us. Except for people who have personality disorders or are sociopaths, we are hard-wired to care what people think of us. It’s part of our social-being biology. Because of this hard-wiring, we operate under the scrutiny of an imaginary audience which social scientists call our “generalized other”. Some of our “others” give us a daily dose of warmth and encouragement; some can be witheringly cruel. Even if your “generalized other” is mean and cruel, you cannot just will yourself to be indifferent to it.

The key to ending the tyranny of this “generalized other” is to spend some time really hearing what is going on in your head the next time you try to step out of your “norm” and dare to do something different. If you feel afraid, or shut down, pay attention to the voices you hear that are being critical. Often these voices are from very real people in your life, usually from your childhood. We develop this sense of the “generalized other” very haphazardly, especially during childhood, and tend to pay the most attention to the cruellest people – people who hurt our feeling or shamed us, or undermined our dreams. We allowed these people’s voices to become part of our “generalized other” so we could avoid attacks from them. As children, we obsessed about living up to their standards so we could be safe. And unless we consciously have made changes, these wicked trolls still live in our heads and try to control us! So, as adults, even though we know that what “they” think of me is none of my business, these mean folks are still alive and kicking in your head.

So what to do about this? You fire them….give them their pink slips and kindly thank them for their input, but explain you are now headed in a new direction. But your key to success is to reassemble a new committee to represent your “generalized other”. Remember, as social beings, we need the committee. But choose wisely.

The new “chair” of your committee needs to be one who loves and accepts you unconditionally. If you don’t know any accepting people, you must find one. This person doesn’t actually have to be alive…or even human. If you’re stumped, think of someone who has treated you with respect and kindness (a teacher, grandma, relative, or even a furry animal!). It can be a writer or a spiritual teacher, or a higher power. But, please reject any idea of an insane, jealous God who loves to hand out one-way tickets to hell. You’ve probably had enough of that. I am referring to a loving presence in your life who wants nothing but your happiness. Do NOT offer a seat in the committee of your “generalized other” to anything less than a loving presence. Then, start adding a few other positive people – living or deceased – to your “committee. You only need a very few people to represent the whole world to the irrational and emotional part of your brain that allows other people’s opinions to control you. Just be sure they are all on your side.

Finally, the most important step….you must consciously connect with these new committee members every day for at least 30 days. Longer than 30 days is better, but I don’t want this to seem overwhelming. Connect with your new “committee” (ie., generalized other) by spending time reading their words,, meditating, Facebooking, watching, and/or physically interacting with your new loving, accepting, encouraging Committee. It will feel weird at first, but if you stick with it, positive changes will occur.

So, if you continually do things that hold no joy for you, never feel you are good enough, believe that deep down, people don’t really like you very much or at least wouldn’t like you very much if they REALLY knew you, then do yourself a huge service. Oust your internal critics who say you’re not good enough, that you are on the wrong track, that you’re not very cool or smart. Choose to be watched over by people who forgive your errors and believe in you. And….if this makes me a bit crazy in your eyes, or just plain bonkers, that’s ok. It is really none of my business.

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Affirmations and The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction still gets lots of attention these days, originally becoming well-known via the 90’s film, “The Secret”. I think the law is real but very misunderstood. Most people have a superficial understanding of it. Most people I talk to about it think that if they sit and visualize what they want long enough and vividly enough, it will happen. That’s wrong. That’s magical thinking. If you have any unconscious beliefs about what you want, those unconscious beliefs will cancel your visualizing efforts. You have to rid yourself of your mental interference before you can attract what you focus on.

In other words, you attract what you believe (often unconsciously), not what your conscious mind states. The Law of Attraction works, but it matches your inner beliefs and expectations. For example, if you state you want more money in your life, but unconsciously think money isn’t spiritual or you are undeserving, you will not manifest more money. You will not see the ideas for making money that others can sometimes see.  Your blinders will prevent it. Then you will say affirmations and The Law of Attraction is rubbish; that the Law doesn’t work. But it is working.  You are getting what you really believe. You must get clear of these limiting beliefs first, which requires knowing yourself very well.

It simply is not true that you do not have to do anything, just visualize something and it will appear. Visualizing is indeed important, but that is what leads you to take an action. I do believe that stating an intention is a very powerful thing, and that by doing this events can seem to rearrange to help you attract your intention. But things just don’t appear out of nowhere. Life is a co-creation, and generally you have to do something once the opportunity presents itself. Action is a crucial part of the process. Believing that you just think it and it appears is a form of self delusion and ultimately, self sabotage.

You attract things by thinking about what you want and allowing your mind to see opportunities and then acting on them. The action part is very important. But the more you can remove the limiting beliefs that filter out what your see, the more you will see the opportunities that were probably there all along. People take action – or not – based on what they believe. Beliefs create our reality. If you want more opportunity and goodness in your life, take the time and do the work to clear your limiting beliefs about yourself and your world. Then, your actions will seem natural and effortless and you will see real magic in your life.

 

Making Room For the Right Things

Happiness requires that we’re not constantly “spinning our wheels” and doing the same wrong things over and over. There is a saying – usually attributed to AA – that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. Most people, myself included, agree with this statement. Yet surprisingly most people, myself included, have done this very thing. Yes, more than once.

When I keep doing the same behaviours, but expect different results, usually at least two things are happening. The first is that I am not living in the Now (see my last post) so I’m not conscious and present with myself. The other thing that is always happening is I am lying to myself about something….even if the lie is that I don’t know what else to do. If you find yourself spinning your wheels and frustrated with your life, stop and take a deep breath and an even deeper pause. More activity is not going to help. Take a breath before you get to the breaking point, and make a date with yourself to explore what you are doing every day to block happiness from yourself. To help you get started, here are a few things to consider stopping and eliminating from your thoughts and from your life.

1). Stop Focusing On What You Don’t Want To Happen: Spend your time focusing on what you DO want to happen. This sound ridiculously simple, but most people focus their thoughts on things that they don’t want to happen. Every morning when you get up, picture what you DO want to manifest in your life….the big picture. Then, throughout your day, remind yourself of this picture and take at least one small step towards this every day. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every success story. Keep the thoughts of what you DON’T want out of this picture.

2). Stop Spending Time With the Wrong People: Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the life out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make some space for you. You should not have to fight for a spot. If someone wants you in their life, they won’t criticize, belittle, or judge you. Walk away from these people!  Do not jostle for a position in someone’s life who continuously overlooks your worth. Spend your precious time with people who leave you smiling, not crying.

3). Stop Holding Grudges: Stop living with hate in your heart. This is poisoning you. I promise you, you will end up hurting yourself far more than the people you hate. Forgive these people, and remember that forgiveness is not weak. Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay with me.” It is saying, “I am not going to let what you did to me ruin any more of my present moments.” If you cannot forgive and lay down the heavy burden of your grudges, you will let the person ruin your happiness forever. That, my dears, is giving someone a whole lot of power over your life and happiness. Liberate yourself!  (If you need to forgive yourself, give yourself this gift and know you will do better next time. Then, move one!)

4). Stop Blaming Others For Your Problems: The extent to which you achieve your dreams depends upon the extent to which you take responsibility for your life. You are denying responsibility for your life when you blame others – and giving them huge power of your life.

5). Stop Doing the Same Things Over and Over Without Taking a Break: You cannot be at your best when you are tired, fatigued, and burned out. The time to take a deep, slow breath is the exactly when you don’t have time for it. If you keep doing what your are doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. At times, you need to take a step back to see things clearly.

6). Stop Trying to Be Someone You’re Not: It is often a big challenge to be yourself in a world that seems to want to make you like everyone else. Be yourself anyway. Those with the least confidence in who they are may criticize or judge you, but you really don’t want these people in your life anyway. Don’t press yourself into a mold so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will be drawn to you and like you for who you are.

Maybe you can think of other things that you need to stop doing. If you keep doing the “wrong” things – those things that burn you out, cause resentment, make you like yourself less, then there is far less space to allow the right things into your mind, heart, and life. Practice, starting today, to make room for these right things by eliminating one “wrong” thing at a time from your life.

 

A Note On the Power of Now

I’ve caught myself complaining a bit in my thoughts lately and was reminded of something Ekhart Tollee wrote in The Power of Now. I searched for it and want to share that with you. I do lots of personal and deep work as I’m sure you do as well; if I can sink into complaint and feeling sorry for myself I’ll bet you can as well. Here are Ekhart Tolle’s priceless words:

“See if you can catch yourself complaining in either speech or thought about a situation you find yourself in. What other people say or do, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. See if you can catch yourself complaining.

For to complain is always non-acceptance of what is and it invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. So when you complain you make yourself a victim.

Either leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness.”

Let this sage advice sink into your bones, as I have mine. It may not be “easy”, but you know what to do.

 

 

Death Is an Illusion – There Is Only Life

Not long ago was the four year anniversary of my dearly loved sister’s death. This prompted lots of thought about death in general, including my own death and the death of other people I love.

Lots has changed regarding how I think of death now as compared to when I was young.  While in my 20’s, there was often a swift thought in the back of my mind that coloured everything I did or even thought about doing. This thought was different versions of “Hey – you’re going to die anyway, so what difference does anything you do make? You’re just going to die anyway, so why bother?” I remember being in French class thinking, “I’m just going to die anyway, so who cares if I ever learn French?” I would dabble in yoga, and even though I enjoyed it, still this sentence was there….”what difference does this make”. Of course it didn’t stop me from living life, but it definitely put a damper on things.

Over a period of time, thoughts like these started to shift for me. I started having experiences and insights that began to illuminate for me that life is actually ongoing….that when someone “dies”, that death is an illusion because life is eternal. Can I tell you exactly what happened that was the catalyst for this change in thinking? Not in a couple of paragraphs. But even before I started an ongoing meditation practice, and after I proclaimed myself an agnostic, I had experiences that began to demonstrate to me that this continuation of life after one dies made far more sense to me than clinging to a belief that this human life is all there is.

When I discuss this with friends or family, there is a reluctance to open up and let ideas really flow about the eternal nature of life. Perhaps this is because so many zany faiths have told so many lies and made belief seem ridiculous. I remember telling someone after a particularly horrendous incident had occurred who was trying to comfort me with some statement about “God’s will” that any God who would allow such a thing to happen was a sadistic prick so it was better for Him that I didn’t believe in Him. Yes, it shocked the poor soul who was trying to comfort me – I’m sure that was my intention. Keeping in mind the huge deceptions that many religions have put out there regarding “God”, not to mention the many atrocities committed in his name, it’s not hard to see why a thinking, caring person would decide God doesn’t exist. I no longer believe that God doesn’t exist but I do not define God in the same way as my early training defined God. In truth I no longer believe that defining God or debating the existence of God is important or even helpful. My direct experience of the God of my understanding through seeking a more spiritual life has been helpful and illuminating; dogma has never helped or illuminated me in any way.

Death is an illusion – it is not real. It can be awkward to talk openly about this, probably because there are a few religions saying the same thing that also say lots of other things I cannot align with. However, over the course of my life I have had experiences and received insights which began to illuminate for me the fact that life is on-going and eternal. What looks like death is an illusion; your existence continues after death as you shed your body like an old set of clothes. The simple shift of perspective from death is the end of my existence to death is the continuation of my existence has made a huge difference for me. Suddenly it makes so much sense to get involved and participate in life, and the more involved I get the more interested and curious I get. Life has become more meaningful and even more fun for me with this consciousness of life. This realization of the continuation of life has brought me intimately close to the interconnectedness of all life in a way that my former unquestioned assumption in the reality of death never could. Death is an illusion. There is no such thing. Life is forever new and is always morphing into fresh expression.