Monthly Archives: May 2012

Controlling the System

For most people life is just one reaction after another. In fact we are so controlled by our circumstances that our happiness hinges on what happens in the world around us. This is the root of stress, since stress is 100% about perception. Think of yourself as a computer in standby mode, with the cursor flashing on screen, awaiting input. Something happens in our environment (input), and voila we are feeling a certain way, and then behaving accordingly (output). Where does free will come in to this equation?  The biggest joke of all is that we think we really do have free will. Watching people behave and think as though they believe they have a say in their output is a hoot. You always choose according to how you feel; if it feels right you will do it, if it feels wrong you won’t. If you know you shouldn’t, yet feel you should, you will; if you know you should but really feel you shouldn’t then you won’t. Even those carefully considered choices where you exercise as much free will as you can muster will eventually go the way of what feels right to you. So who decides how you feel? You do of course, according to your filters and programming, it’s pretty much automatic though.

How would you like to learn to take more control over that process and choose how you want to feel? When you understand what I am about to tell you, NOTHING will have the power to drag you down again. You see, there is a huge difference between reality and the truth. I know reality may seem pretty substantial to you, but it really isn’t. Reality as you see it is merely perception, and you very rarely (if ever) see the whole picture. Your reality is not the truth, but rather your opinion of the facts as you perceive them. On the one hand you have the facts, and on the other you have your opinion of the facts.

Facts never have an effect on us; our opinion of the facts is where the power lies. Have you ever stopped to consider how much of your “reality” is made up of what you think is there and what you think about what is there? We attach our own meaning to things, and it is that meaning that causes the good or bad feelings. You feel what you feel because of the fantasy (good or bad) you live in. We are shadow boxing all the time. The control comes in to play when you start choosing what meaning to add to the event. An event is never good or bad until you attach meaning to it.

So you get cut off in traffic, now you know why you get angry (it’s the meaning you attach to the event), how about choosing a different, and more positive meaning. You will never know why the person cut you off, but if you can attach meaning that will leave you better off, then why not? Learning to separate fact from opinion can help you in this regard. Fact: the person cut you off; opinion: everything you think about that event. Fact: your husband/wife forgot the anniversary; opinion: everything else you think about it. You see where this is going? If everything you think about a fact is opinion, why not choose the thoughts that feel good rather than the ones that feel bad?

I find that taking a deep breath and then talking to myself about it, “What is fact? What is opinion? What other opinion could I have that serves me rather than brings me down?” helps a lot. It takes practice though, and initially you may find yourself jumping back to the un-serving opinion, after all, you are used to doing that. Eventually you will start looking for the best possible opinion automatically.

The place to start is to separate facts from fiction, and to remind you: The facts are what happens, and the sequence of events. The fiction is all the thoughts and judgements and feelings and opinions you pile on top.

Spot the Scammer

I am sure that you all have won numerous lotteries, been asked to help with dozens of investments, and been told by banks that your account is suspended (even though you don’t have an account with them). If you fall for these schemes, then I reckon you must have just gotten email for the first time.

A scam is usually something that is too good to be true but looks real enough to fool us. Most of us don’t fall for email scams, we are savvy to them. We veterans of cyberspace aren’t fooled so easily, yet scams still abound. Some are not so easy to spot though, email scams give us time to think, but we are scammed every day in many ways because we are simply pushed too quickly.

A scam doesn’t need to be a big bucks con, legit businesses will even try to scam you just a little bit in order to get your business, politicians will try to scam you a LOT in order to get your vote, it seems that the wheels of capitalism are greased with a little scamming.

Time to wise up I think. I got a call yesterday, and I knew it was a scam even though it appeared legit up until the moment we said goodbye, Google confirmed my suspicion.  How did I spot the scam? Well first of all it was directed at a soft spot (money is always a soft spot) and second, I was pushed to make a very fast decision and was met with resistance when I put the brakes on. Now, not everything you experience in this way will be a scam, but if someone wants you to make a decision NOW they are not really thinking about your best interests.

There are two types of people you do not want to do business with: a con artist, and the person who doesn’t have your best interests at heart. Here is how I weed them out; it’s all about how they respond. When pushed to make a decision I reply, “If you want me to answer right now, then the answer is no. If you give me time to think about it, then the answer may be yes.” If they get aggressive and pushy, it is your cue to back off, simply state, “Well then, the answer has to be no.” If they give you time to think about it and you go and do your homework and you STILL fall for the con, then shame on you. How would someone still fall for a scam after all this? Well, if you make an emotional decision, a decision based on fear, then the chances are that you won’t see what you need to see. This happens all the time in relationships, we are afraid to be alone so we fall for it every time. The promise to change is usually a scam.

In a world where we are expected to cough up first and get the product later, it is easy to get scammed. I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask for a show of good faith first. Sure, most companies won’t do that, but do you want to do business with a company that is more interested in your money than you as a client?

Another reason we fall for scams so easily is that we want it all now. We cannot stand having to wait for something, so we will pay up quickly and without much thought. So desperate are we for what is being promised that we don’t bother to do our homework, living under the false notion that “It will never happen to me”.

I suppose the core of this is that if you are not able to slow down and think, or are not given that option, then tread very carefully. Someone who is rushing you is often someone with something to hide.

The Road to Relational Hell

If you really want to screw up a relationship and be miserable in life then here is an easy way to do it: First of all have expectations, nothing will make you as miserable as being disappointed when they are not met. Secondly, have expectations and don’t tell anyone what they are, that way you can be miserable and judgemental and blame everyone around you for what is going wrong in your life. Taking responsibility for what goes right and then blaming everyone else for what goes wrong is a sure fire way to be completely miserable and head down the road to living hell.

Having expectations puts the power of your happiness in someone, or something else’s, hands. The trouble with this is that if something or someone has the power to make you happy, then it (or they) has (have) the power to make you sad. Flip a coin. I don’t want to live that way.

The major problem with expectations is that they are unfinished sentences; the reason why we expect certain things is because we don’t have them. If I have it, I have no need to expect it. So the unconscious message is, “Hey I don’t have this thing,” so the universe allows for conditions of “not having” to persist. Also, what we focus in becomes commands for our conditioned minds to follow, so expectations put the focus on what we don’t have and then our conditioned mind ensures that we continue not having it, since that is what we choose to focus on.

 Expectations have to be in the top five in the list of relationship assassins. They cause us to demand perfection and then act imperfectly when it isn’t delivered. Show me a relationship with expectations and I will predict its end. Have all the desires you want, but when your happiness hinges on those desires happening then you are asking, nay, begging for trouble. You will get it.

 Expectations throw thorns on our paths. I know we have the right to expect certain things, especially if you are exchanging coin for goods or services, but rather than connecting so much personal emotion to it, learn how to ask and get what you want.

 Taking charge of your own happiness and robbing expectations of their life crushing power is the best gift you can give to yourself, one of them at least.