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The Free Will Myth

1135097_49004906webLast week in Johannesburg, South Africa, just up the road from where I live, there was a road rage incident. A driver and a motorcyclist lost their cool and had a shoot out, leaving one in hospital and one dead. It amazes the calm people that angry people don’t ask “What am I expecting when I pull this trigger?” It made me realise that free will does not exist. All of your choices, behaviours, beliefs, and values are not yours to choose. Every decision, from who you vote for, what you wear, who you are friends with, to who you marry, is not yours. I know what you are thinking, you are pretty convinced that you have the freedom to choose, and indeed you do, but you still aren’t the one making the choice. The bad choices you made weren’t yours, but neither were the good. You should feel no shame and take no credit.

How can I make such a ridiculous sounding statement? Because, like the two men who had the shootout, and certainly would never have “chosen” to do what they did, everything happens within a context. The truth is that nothing happens in a vacuum, and you are inseparable from your environment. Still to say that your choices are not really your own is to suggest that you are a puppet, a glorified robot.

Let’s take a closer look, a simple (for some) decision, what to wear today. You stand at your wardrobe and think about it. The choice is yours, so you think, but when you consider all the influencing factors you realise that it really isn’t. What are the influencers? What you are going to do that day, what you personally prefer (which has the entire history of your life behind it), who will be seeing you, who you will be seeing, what has been said to you, what you have worn before that got attention, and so the list goes on. Change any one of those influences and you will make a different choice.

Consider that red shirt that you love to wear because it suits you, what if someone said it looked ugly on you, would you make a different choice? Probably. So it goes for all the choices you make, your ego based fears are possibly the biggest influencer. That person you marry – is he just like your father? Does she feel like a safe choice? Does she have your tastes? Is he accepted by your friends and family? There are boxes that must get ticked, but change a box and the choice changes.

The entire history of the world happened the way it did so that you would make the choices you make. This is what makes religion (not spirituality) such a strange thing, your religion is chosen for you, if you consider what your parents do, what you have been taught, what your friends do, what will get you the most acceptance, you realise that there really wasn’t much of a choice at all. This is the thing though, our choices are usually those that we think will give us the most shine, get us the most acceptance, or on the other hand, the ones that will keep us safe, another way of putting this is that we do what we do to either get pleasure or to avoid pain. Even these motivations are wholly dependant on history – our experience and what we have been taught.

Think of each decision and behaviour as the outcome of complex theorems, or the result of a computer program, then you realise that your decision making process is not as free as you once thought. The chances are that if the variables stay the same, then you will make the same choice. So you are where you are by design, as a result of your history and programming, but you are far from helpless to do anything about it.

This is why prisons fail though, why drug addicts relapse, why children stay unruly, and why your own attempts at behaviour modification always fail. So many personal development things fail because they are an attempt to fix the result and not the programming or environment that causes the result.

So how do you fix things? Well here is where your free will comes into play, forget trying to change decisions or behaviour right now,if you try to do that I will guarantee that you will hear yourself saying, “I never meant to say/do that!” You need to realise that your decisions and behaviour are a response to, and a result of environment and influence. so in order to change things you need to focus on feeling good. By feeling good I am referring to that, “all is right with world, I am at peace” feeling. I am not talking about a hedonistic “If it feels good then do it” way of living, but a way of living that seeks for balance. Eating to support life, exercising to support life, pursuing spirituality to support life, relating to others in a life supporting way.

The way you feel when you make life affirming choices results in the kind of “good feeling” that I am talking about here. Hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure for pleasure’s sake) ironically is not life affirming, but rather seeks to avoid that which is life affirming. Hedonism is a direct response to the pain of life itself, an attempt to distract oneself or an attempt to just rip the tops of the weeds off leaving the roots intact.

When you make life affirming choices in all you do (choices that build and don’t destroy), you face the cause of the pain head on, you tackle the roots.  In other words choices that increase health in all aspects of life, this will lead to a feeling of wellbeing, when this is your context, the content must follow. Surely one of the most life affirming choices you can make will be to surrender that which is cause you so much “death”?

You cannot fix the self, as the one doing the fixing is the very self that needs fixing, but what you can do is surrender the obstacles to this wellbeing. I will teach more about raising consciousness in posts to come, raising consciousness is about changing the context which will change the content, so forget about behaviour modification and the like, it might work in the very short term but not in the long term. You will be amazed at how quickly your behaviour and decisions change as you change the context (internal and external context).

Here’s to raising consciousness,

Anthony.

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Lifting Ships

1306682_86475666It is safe to assume that if you are reading this, and by virtue of the fact that you subscribed in the first place, you are interested in personal development. Perhaps for some of you that is putting it lightly, for some of you is it more like “Stop the bus! I want to get off!” Allow me to shed some light as to why most of you are feeling the urge to evolve.

Most of you, as I calibrated (if you want to know what that means then I encourage you to buy Dr David Hawkins amazing book – Power vs Force), are on consciousness level 125 – desire. What this basically means is that you will tend to view God as the one who has it all but is denying it from you. In other words, pray all you want, it ain’t gonna happen! Your view of life is that is it mostly disappointing, if there is a good life then it is avoiding you. The primary emotion that you are experiencing is anxiety, and the life process you will be experiencing is enslavement. In other words, you feel like you are missing out, stressed out, and trapped.

Your reality is how it is because of the consciousness level you are on, as your life will reflect your consciousness level. It is really good news, as it means that there is hope and change is a reality. SO how do you change your life? There is the way you have been trying to do it, and there is the way you don’t want to do it.

Most of the work you have been doing to change your life has been that of the ego, and as you will have discovered, it hasn’t brought any lasting sense of happiness or fulfilment. The ego has this crazy idea that inner happiness comes from the outside, so it sets you off on a mission to try and achieve this happiness by rearranging the pieces, like arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.You may feel a bit better but you are still sinking.

So it seems that happiness will come when you fix yourself, but fixing yourself is very hard work and largely unsuccessful. Even most life coaching fails over time because it focusses on making the ego more comfortable within you, and when you challenge the ego it strikes back and you find yourself right back where you started.

Trying to fix yourself and circumstances is like trying to lift yourself by your shoelaces, and I know so many of you have tried to fix things, perhaps seen counselors, a psychologist, or even a life coach, and none of them have helped. I know lots of you have read books that promised so much, and tried the “law of attraction”, perhaps made dream boards, used affirmations, and so many other things. I bet you saw some progress but over time found yourself back where you were.  Is this you?

What you have been trying to do is the equivalent of “lifting ships”. If everyone who read this blog got together and we all went to the harbour and tried to lift a ship we still couldn’t do it. Trying to fix our lives by working with the content just can’t be done, because if the context of your life stays the same the content will too. You will find yourself constantly putting out fires.

Since it is the content that causes so much trouble people rarely think that the context is where the problem lies. Think about it, plant a seed and try to force it to grow on your terms, it won’t happen, but provide an environment where growth can happen and it does. Think of your consciousness level as the container and the “stuff” of your life as the content, as it says in the Bible, “you can’t put new wine in an old wineskin,” so trying to get better content in the same old container just won’t happen. Einstein put it this way, “You can’t solve a problem with the same level of thinking that caused it,” so in order to change your life, you need to change the environment it is happening in.

No, you can lift a ship (fix the content), but you can raise the level of the ocean and then lift all the ships. So the key to changing your life is in raising your consciousness. As your consciousness level rises, so does your experience, or rather, perception, of reality.

So how do you raise your consciousness level? There are two simple ways, and you need to do both: Sacrifice and love. People think sacrifice means giving up what they like –  living a painful life in order to experience spiritual good, but this is not so. Sacrifice in this case means consistently surrendering everything to the Higher Power, knowing that you don’t know it all, that you need outside help, and that you are not smart enough to know what is best. You surrender what is causing you pain so that you might know peace, and you surrender that which is making you happy so that you can experience what is even better. It is unconditional, and it means leaving things up to the Higher Power. The job here is not to try to fix yourself, but to surrender yourself. You surrender it by intending to do so, “I surrender this to….” and then you quit worrying about it, or wrestling with it.

Then there is love, you love everyone and everything as though it was yourself. You quit judging and criticising and you start loving. You accept that everyone is doing the best they can even if you don’t like it, and you treat everyone like royalty. You will be amazed at the result. I practice this myself, and I get the best service and so many free gifts wherever I go. You don’t do it for that reason though, you do it because it is who you really are.

Essentially it means allowing the rain to fall where it will and seeing everyone as divine beings and not in terms of their standing in society or behaviour.

When you consider how you have been programmed to live, it is not hard to understand why we struggle in life in terms of consciousness levels. Most people judge, criticise, and blame other people, and they allow their reality to dictate who they are instead of the other way around. It is the difference between living from the inside out or from the outside in. It’s the difference between embracing the world, or pushing it away.

Sleeping Giants

1359625_70184374webIt is a handful of people who make a quality decision to change their lives, and commit to that ideal. I take my hat off to the small percentage that does that and sticks with it. In my coaching practice I have clients who commit and see it through, and clients who give up early on for whatever reason, and go back to the life they know. There is always a valid excuse, be it time or money or just plain old “naafiness”. If you don’t know what NAAFI means, it is simply a state of “Ambition and F**kall interest”. The thing is about excuses is that they are lies wrapped up in reasons.

Let me break some news to you, you are going to fight to stay in that comfort zone that you are stuck in, no matter how badly you want to get out. Comfort zones are always comfortable after a fashion, and here is why: There is a little almond-shaped collection of neurons in the brain called the Amygdala which has the purpose of managing and maintaining your comfort zones. A comfort zone is nothing more than a condition you have accepted as normal in your life, and the Amygdala is there to ensure that you stay within what is “normal” because “normal” is predictable, and predictable is safe, supposedly. When you start to move out of your comfort zone your Amygdala goes to work and orders you body to release hormones that make you feel all kinds of bad, and following those feelings come the rationales that it would indeed be better to just simply go back to what is “normal”, and you are seemingly powerless to do anything about it. In fact, the Amygdala succeeds in making your comfort zone look good and preferable to change.

Change is simple, but it isn’t easy, and that is why so few people do it. We are forgetful creatures, and it is so easy (thanks to the Amygdala) to just forget that you are in a bad place. “It’s not so bad after all,” you tell yourself right before you fall back asleep. This is why it is the rare individual that breaks free and shines, while the rest of the population calls them special, admires them, and goes on sleeping.

If you think this brief stint on earth is simply “A job, a car, a house, a grave,” then you are mistaken. There is nothing wrong if you want just that, but it is a tragic waste. Still it is your choice, stay asleep or wake up.

So where are you now? In his book “Power vs Force” Dr David Hawkins states that there are 17 levels of consciousness, ranging from shame to enlightenment, here is the list from bottom to top:

  1. Shame
  2. Guilt
  3. Apathy
  4. Grief
  5. Fear
  6. Desire
  7. Anger
  8. Pride
  9. Courage
  10. Neutrality
  11. Willingness
  12. Acceptance
  13. Reason
  14. Love
  15. Joy
  16. Peace
  17. Enlightenment

Personal power only makes an appearance at level 9 – courage. It is my experience that a great majority of people are somewhere between levels 1 and 8 inclusive. Hawkins confirms in his book that upwards of 85% of the world’s population is below level 9 and than any meaningful human satisfaction cannot even commence until level 10 where personal power (or self confidence) begins to emerge. It’s no wonder then that people stuck between 1 and 8 inclusively can’t change their lives; there is no power to do so.

When a client comes to me, they are usually stuck on one of the lower levers, and coaching helps them to move to level 10 – neutrality, this is where the client becomes flexible and non-judgemental towards life.  Once personal power makes an appearance the client starts to become their own coach, once the client reaches level 11, then my role as their coach becomes supportive and the client is now their own life coach.

If the client quits before then, and it is quite easy to do so, they will likely just go back to where they were before they made the decision to change their lives (the place where the problem wasn’t yet too painful) until the pain of existence increases and they feel the call to move again.

You can move yourself forward though, and at least get to a place where you let yourself be helped, and stick with it! Recognise that all the junk that you are experiencing is symptomatic of lower level consciousness, it offers you an opportunity because once you recognise that dissonance, that experience of what you don’t want, then you can declare what is it that you do want, and if you don’t know what that is then just say the opposite of what it is that you don’t want. Make a commitment to yourself that you are ready to do whatever it takes, write your desire and your commitment down – “I declare that I no longer want………What I want is………And I am prepared to do what it takes to get there!” Of course, there is no guarantee that you will stick to it; in fact you might not, so it will take a few more moments of recognising the dissonance and declaration. I would strongly recommend coaching, but that is only for people who really want to change their lives and that isn’t you, is it?

Here is to waking up!

Anthony.

http://www.imagineif.co.za

The 79th Organ

334551_7761aThere are 78 organs in the body, that’s what medical science tells us. Today I want to tell you about the 79th. The trouble with medical science is that much of it is based on Newtonian physics, that is to say that the human body is a machine and it is separate from the environment that is in. There is you and then there is everything, and everyone, else “out there”. It is strongly suggested that there is no real connection between you and what’s “out there”. Thankfully not all science agrees with this, and the rest of science is slowly catching up. Spiritual traditions have long taught that there is no “out there”, and that may in fact be true.

How do you know what is “out there”? How do you know what your reality is all about? How do you get to experience it? What you “see” is information in the form of light entering the eyes and then being passed on to the brain for processing. What you “hear” is sound entering the ears and the getting passed on to the brain for processing. What you “smell” is particles coming in through the nose and then being passed on to the brain for processing. What you “taste” is particles coming into contact with the tongue and then being passed on to the brain for processing. What you “feel” is contact with the skin being passed on to the brain for processing. Basically it all happens in the brain.  We call the result of all of this processing “perception”.  “Out there” is actually all happening “in here” so to speak. Your experience of reality is nothing more than perception, and it all happens in the brain. It is next to impossible to prove that what is “out there” is really “out there”. It is possible to hallucinate, to imagine, to dream, in such vivid ways that it is believed to be “out there”.  I can only take your word for it that you really exist, but I cannot prove it beyond reasonable doubt. My entire experience of you is nothing more than what my brain is processing, you are really just “in my head” so to speak.

Two people can experience the same thing in different ways. One person can love chocolate ice cream, the other prefers vanilla. Your perceptions are truly unique, they are what makes you “you”. Perceptions are made up of your beliefs and get developed over time, they are capable of change and are constantly evolving. If perceptions are the product of our beliefs and reality is determined by those perceptions then reality must perfectly match our beliefs. If those beliefs are changed then reality must change as well. I propose that the the working of our perceptions make up what I call the 79th organ.

Imagine for a moment that reality, as you know it, is an organ in your body. I could assume a number of things from this. Like any other organ in your body your reality can be healthy or sick. Your reality can be affected by the health of the rest of your body. Your reality has certain requirements if it is to be healthy. Your reality also serves a vital function that is crucial to the wellbeing of the rest of your system. Your reality contains so much information but it will require you to slow down and stop in order to learn from it. Like zipping down a highway you miss so much that you drive past, but being in the passenger seat in a slow moving vehicle makes you go “Wow, I never saw that before.” I have a wonderful metaphor that will help you understand just how your reality is simply a part of you and not really separate from you.

You are reading this blog on some sort of computer right? What you see on the screen is not the computer, but a representation of what is going on in the computer. If you had to look at the raw data it wouldn’t make any sense to you at all, it would look like this 1011011000111010110101101….except in electrical form. Yet on the screen you can see information about the health of the computer and you can even use the information given there to diagnose and fix the computer. So it is with your reality, it is a representation of your personal energy presented to you in a form/s you can understand. Or, should understand. The trouble is that we have been taught that reality is separate from us and outside of our control. We have been taught to fear it, and rely on it for our happiness. In truth, you have learned to serve your reality, when reality should actually be serving you.

Reality is information. It is there to serve you and lead you to a life of well being. The trick is learning how you use that information. When you get an error message on a computer then it is either a problem that can be fixed in the software (on the screen) or it is a hardware issue (a physical repair). This means that reality will give you information that will lead you to change your beliefs or change your lifestyle. There are changes that will specifically affect the way you think and changes that will have a specific impact on your physical body. We can look at this another way as well. Driving is all about safety and peace, but there are things that can alert us when this is not so. Perhaps there is a light on the dashboard that tells you that you need petrol or oil, or the car is overheating. Perhaps the traffic is bad on the route you are taking and you need to go a different way. Basically, you will either need to work on an internal matter or change something externally.

In life you will be faced with all kinds of situations, you can either choose to use this information to improve your life, or you can be a victim and cry foul. Guess which one will serve you better? If you choose to use the information then you will always have one of two choices: work internally or change something externally. Here is an example: Your boss is always irritable with you. Most people would complain and grumble, but if you use that information then you could do something like this:

Is my boss irritable with me or is he irritable with everyone? If it is everyone then he may have problems I don’t know about and I can choose to not let it affect me and show some understanding. Let’s face it, we all go through stuff and behave badly sometimes, that’s not to excuse bad behaviour but a little tolerance for the human condition please. If he is just irritable with me, then I either need to fix my behaviour or I need to fix something in the situation – perhaps confront the boss or get a new job.

Sounds incredible simple doesn’t it? We do you know how to change a belief or fix a behaviour? Do you know how to constructively confront someone? Do you have the courage to quit your job? It may just open up a world of learning for you.

Nothing is ever wasted in nature, not a single thing. Everything is used for growth and well being. Since you are a part of nature it would serve you well to live like this too. Most people sleep their way through life and miss what their reality is teaching them, and then they get stuck and wonder what has happened. When you understand that reality is there to serve your highest good, no matter how terrible you think something is, then you can stop reacting, slow down, and pay attention to what is being communicated. You are only ever where your decisions have taken you. Wake up, accept the help being offered, and start paying attention. Your life awaits.

Keep the shiny side up 🙂

Anthony.

Need help?….go to www.imagineif.co.za.

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What’s Love Got To Do With It?

heart_1289Love has been given a bad name, it’s not love’s fault as love didn’t do any of what love has been accused of doing. It’s more a case of mistaken identity. If it looks like love, sounds like love, feels like love, and smells like love, then it must be love right? Trouble is, it still isn’t love. We have confused love with neuropeptides, and put the cart before the horse.

Remember that I mentioned last week that the “Law of Attraction” is a group of laws working together to produce a result? I also said that knowing the laws is one thing, how to work with them is another. Love is the thing that makes it all work, so if you don’t understand love, then you have a problem.  Before I tell you what love is, lets look at what love isn’t.

How do you know you love someone or something? The answer would seem simple, because of how you feel. We have even coined the phrases “to fall in or out of love”, and we can declare that the spark is gone, we don’t feel the same way anymore, or we get tingles, feel light headed or as some doomed lover once declared we feel like “the king of the world”. Euphoric and goose bumpy equals in love, miserable or indifferent equals out of love. You will hear songs about how he still gets goosebumps ten years later when he sees her, or how he is like a pill that makes her ill. Some guys will scale mountains or swim oceans, some girls get restraining orders. Mostly its starts out warm and fuzzy and ends up with complaints that the romance has died. Sounds like I am talking about the rise and fall of love, but I am not. None of this is describing love anymore than the feeling of contentment describes the pizza I just ate. Love is not a feeling. Love sometimes results in a feeling, and often it doesn’t.

Still think that the feeling is love? I don’t blame you. TV says it is, the radio says it is, the magazine says it is, the gift shops makes a fortune on Valentines Day saying that it is. Feelings are powerful things, they can start wars and unite nations, but here is why love isn’t a feeling: It can so easily go away. Look closer at what a feeling really is and you will wonder how we could reduce love to such a basic biological response. First of all let’s refine our definition. When we are talking about feeling love, we are really talking about an emotion. The feeling is how the emotion makes itself known to you. Let’s take happiness for example, the emotion you call love and the emotion of happiness both have their source in the Limbic System, without going into too much detail, happiness is nothing more than neuropeptides that get released in response to a thought and connect to the trillions of cells in your body, resulting in the feeling. That feeling you call love is essentially the same thing, except that it is a cocktail of hormones and peptides that converge to produce a powerful effect. What you call love is nothing more than a naturally occurring and highly addictive cocktail the works within the body to elevate mood and inspire irrational behaviour. It is nature’s way to fool you into procreating. The love between a parent and child is nothing more than a supremely powerful instinct, some parents don’t have it.

It might take a little while for the shock to wear off, the truth is you have been crowning an impostor. You have based the health of your relationships on the presence or absence of a feeling that ironically is not designed to last, certainly not in the way you experience it at the start of a relationship. You have also allowed yourself to base your sense of self worth on the presence or absence of this feeling.

So what is love then? God is love. Ok, that might not fly with you, so let me explain. If you want to know what love is, then you will need to buy a plane ticket and fly to South America, trek deep into the Amazon Jungle and find a place that has not been interfered with and just watch for a season or two. If you can’t do this, here is what you will notice: Effortless abundance. This is achieved by an unseen force that manages the balance of the ecosystem: Something dies, something is born, something hunts, something flies, something is poisonous, something is edible, sometimes the rain falls, sometimes it doesn’t. All of these seemingly random acts occur so that there might be balance – so that there might be abundance. Love is the force that works to maintain the balance that results in abundance.

Understanding this is crucial to repairing the mess we make in our lives. When we choose fear instead of love we start interfering in our own lives. We do this by forcing things. We rush into relationships, we take out bank loans, we drive too fast, we push our kids too hard, we strive for the things we think we want, we look for distractions instead of engaging with our world. Fear leads us to believe that relationships must always feel good, that there must always be plenty, that our kids must do as we say, and that working hard is the right way to get what we want.  Fear makes us want to be in control.

Love doesn’t work that way. To choose love instead of fear is to let go of control and accept that everything that happens in your life, whether you like it or not, is designed to restore or manage the balance of your life, and that is the only natural way to a life of abundance. Wow is that ever easier said than done though? To the ego, letting go of control is tantamount to suicide. Have you ever tried just allowing the pieces to fall where they will and accepting it? It means that sometimes you will feel bad, and that’s ok. Love moves us through the feelings, this is why we have things like forgiveness – feelings are not designed to be lived in, but moved through.

As I have said before, you can only grow when you are balanced. If your life is spent catching up, you will never get ahead. So if you are always pushing yourself off balance, then how do you expect to enjoy the abundance that comes from balance? But then how do you achieve balance? You stop interfering and controlling, you take a deep breath and a step back, and you accept life as it is. I might as well be saying, “Put a gun to your head and pull the trigger”, it’s really that hard. So you have to make it easy, start small, do it in scenarios that aren’t too painful, and build from there. You have had a lifetime of interfering and controlling, it’s all you know and you certainly are encouraged to continue doing this by society.

So living a life of love will really be going against the flow for you, but enjoying the fruit of it is worth it. Compassion, joy, peace, generosity, beauty, kindness, all these and more are the results of living a life of love. Examples abound: Jesus Christ, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Ghandi, Richard Branson, the list goes on. These are all people who in their own way “Let go and let God”. I know you may be thinking, “No thanks, it’s not for me!” So how is your way working for you?

Remember, it’s ALL in your mind! www.imagineif.co.za

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Me, myself, and I, and I, and I

383193_9453I have long suspected that I have multiple personality disorder. Put me in a room full of people and I get shy, put me on a stage and I perform. I am calm in traffic, but impatient when my PC drags. Call it what you will, I am a different person in different contexts. Wierd. I am wrong about one thing though, it isn’t a disorder.

The fact is that we all have multiple personalities. We flow effortlessly from personality to personality as the situation requires, the only time it becomes a disorder is when that flow gets disrupted and we get our personalities confused. You would not be the person you are at work when you are with your kids right? You would be the person you are with your girlfriend/boyfriend when you are with your parents right? Surely this is just the same person choosing different behaviours? Perhaps, but when you understand personality you will see that a rose is not a rose when it is a daffodil.

Personality is nothing more than the unique product of a number of beliefs and values working together. Like the ingredients of a cake they produce the yummy end result, but change an ingredient and you no longer have the same cake. The reason why you are a different person in different circumstances is because you are accessing a different set of beliefs and values to match that environment, you pick the beliefs and values that will produce the kind of behaviour that you think will be the most appropriate. The fact that you sometimes produce the wrong behaviour is not a symptom of a disorder, but rather a sign that you need to keep learning.

Personality, in other words, is nothing more than what happens as a result of learning to cope. It always has a goal, personality is designed to get you something. Think about, you crack a joke, why? You pass an opinion, why? You hold your tongue, why? Personality is a strategy designed with a specific outcome in mind. Think of you computer, it has many programs that are all different, you wouldn’t say that any of them are the same program, yet all a program is is code arranged in a certain way to produce a certain result.

There is a lot of freedom in accepting that your personalities are nothing more than programming designed to get a certain result. It means that if you can learn to design a personality then you can pick one that will get you the results you want. This raises an interesting question, if you are not your personality, then who are you?  For now it is suffice to say that “you” are the one who can observe all your personalities. Try this, take a step back (mentally) and watch the stream of thoughts flowing through your mind, now you are getting closer to the real you. So personality is actually nothing more than a coat you wear, and you can change it at will (although it is mostly done unconsciously). Try something else now, pretend to be happy for a second, go on, try it. Smile, stretch, throw your head back. Now pretend to be cross, knit your eyebrows, fold your arms, growl. You just changed clothes and it was that easy.

Ok, so I know that you simply react in a circumstance, it’s not like you consciously choose to behave a certain way. What starts out as a reaction, if repeated enough times, becomes unconscious behaviour. The same also applies if you choose to respond in a certain way in a circumstance, if you repeat that response a few times, it will become unconscious behaviour. Reacting is basically a fear response, it is fight or flight in action. A life of reaction results in undesirable behaviours. Responding on the other hand, is stopping and thinking and choosing your behaviour – and choosing means choosing the best possible ones. If a certain behaviour doesn’t work, you choose another, and another, until you find one that does. This is how a brilliant personality is formed.

A documentary came out recently that nicely demonstrated this point. “Kumare” is about a young man who decides to grow a beard and pretend to be a Guru, and then film the journey. He “pretends” to be the best possible version of himself (actually not really a version, a whole different personality). The results was that he gained followers, he changed lives, and most of all, he changed himself in the process. It makes a powerful statement about the choices you make and stick with (behaviour wise). I dare you to try it, think of the best possible version of yourself and pretend to be that person. Every time you look in the mirror, decide to be someone you really like and admire. It’s not easy, so just try it a little here and little there. You will be astounded with the results. Actually you probably won’t even notice them, real change is like that, it happens quietly over time.

It’s all in your mind! http://www.imagineif.co.za

 

Hide and Seek

910278_47990856aI am working through a book by a spiritual teacher called Gangaji, in this book she tells of how she went to India to study under a guru as she was desperate to find peace. She asked the guru what she should do and he asked her if she was ready to do nothing, this perplexed her and she again asked what she should do, again he said “nothing”. She was to let go of all of her strategies and plans and just face herself in the rawest way possible. I must admit, this stumped me for a while, and like so many spiritual lessons it was something I just had to catch for myself. What strategies? What plans? And then it occurred to, how much do I do in order to hide from naked reality and raw emotion, and how much time do I spend doing it? The answer to both questions is “A lot.”

Let me define what I mean by “hiding”, in this context it means anything you do to numb or distract yourself from the present moment. Why would you want to hide from the present moment? Well here is where it gets a bit crazy, it is when you have nothing to do that you start to think about all the things that scare you silly; bills that need to be paid, conflict that is looming, kids that need new shoes, etc. So you get busy doing something, anything you can do that will get your mind off these things. Hiding. What you have yet to realise is that it is only when you do nothing and simply face reality as it is, and accept it as it is, that it starts to change. Another way to look at it is that your reality is nothing more than a mirror image of what is going on inside of you, so if you ignore reality then reality will ignore you and remain unchanged. To continue with this mirror analogy, does it feel like your circumstances are your enemy? That is because you treat them so by hiding from them, what would happen if you accepted your circumstances with a feeling of love and gratitude? You would experience love and gratitude in your reality.

I will be the first to admit that all of this seems incredibly counter-intuitive. If there is a bear in my garden my instinct is to run like mad, not to put on a pot of tea and ask it about its day, so it is understandable that you want to just get busy hiding from all the pain in your life. Until you realise that the bear is in your garden because you put it there! I think of it as being like going to a restaurant, if the waiter asked you what you wanted and you said “anything”, then there would be an excellent chance that you would be upset with what he brings and the next time you would simply ignore him and then simply go hungry. Until you learn to smile at the waiter and find new and better ways to find out what you really want and then ask for it, you will go hungry.

It is pain than causes you to hide, as the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy”. So if reality bites you find increasingly more effective ways to hide, after all, if it bites once it can bite again. When reality bites though, it uses your teeth.

So what does hiding look like? What are some of the things people do to hide? Is it a coincidence that hiding behaviours are also “addictive” behaviours? Lets see: TV, internet (social media), pornography, drinking, drugs, work (that’s right, I said work), shopping, sleeping, charity work – and that’s just to name a few. What can you add to this list? You will note that seemingly “good” deeds can be used to help you hide, and that makes it all the more easier, after all, you are doing a good deed.

Thinking about it, it occurred to me that I couldn’t name one successful and happy person who got there by spending all of his/her time hiding from reality. They all seemed to be fully present in their lives and faced up to their realities, but with an almost insane optimism. This is not to say that they didn’t face challenges, I am sure they did, but they faced them, they didn’t hide from them.

Stress is what we call the fear response that makes us want to run and hide, but accepting reality as it is and allowing it to simply unfold as it will is a tremendously peaceful thing to do. As Peter O’Toole said in the classic “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The trick is not minding that it hurts.” So learning to be fully present in the moment, accepting reality as it is, and not minding that it sometimes hurts, is the key to life transformation. The question is, will you come out of hiding long enough to realise that? Do you even realise that you are in fact hiding? While it may feel better to be in hiding, and downright terrifying to face reality, you need to realise that hiding only serves to perpetuate the circumstances you are running from. Standing in the sun beats freezing in the shadows any day, so recognize your hiding strategies and start making the shift today!!!

For some pretty life changing stuff, tune into Zeronaughts Radio

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Present and Accounted For

1279418_50347591aIt amazes me how many people tie the knot then fail to show up for the marriage. It’s like marriage was something on their to-do list and now that they have ticked it off they can get on with their lives. Thus begins the pattern of “taking for granted”. To save a marriage you have to start when it begins.

I remember watching a  reality TV show where the characters started off with the promotion and then had to work to keep it, I think it should be that way in a marriage – start off with the perfect marriage and then work to keep it that way. Avoid the trap of getting so used to the other person that you simply stop being present in the marriage, friends and sport (and things like that) should come a distant second in any marriage. The thing is that you don’t notice the slip when it starts happening, you usually only wake up when the distance is great between your partner and you. For a happy marriage you will pay: You will pay with attention, or you will pay with pain. My advice? Start paying attention now.

Notice those little things that are becoming more important that building the marriage, being right is one of them. You can either be right, or you can be happy, you can rarely be both at the same time. It’s easy at the start, when the relationship is new, but just like anything else, you get bored with it when you get used to it. Like a beautiful garden, a relationship needs constant attention in little ways. Letting it go to weed only leads to a battle you can’t win, instead of keeping a garden beautiful you will be trying to keep it free of weeds. You will go from tending to fighting. Pay attention now, or pay with pain.

Life change, the easy way. http://www.imagineif.co.za

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Relationship Assassins – The Best Defence

Over the past few weeks I have spoken a lot about what can destroy a relationship, and I am sure the list is by no means complete, but I believe that all of these assassins are the same thing wearing different masks. A person who is not at peace with themselves will be at war with everyone else. What you fail to find within, you seek without, but the problem is that it cannot be found without.

If you are not at peace with yourself, you open the door for all kinds of destructive forces. If you are not at peace with yourself you will make decisions that will lead to some dark places. The trouble with always looking outside of yourself is that you are never to blame, and it is always the other person that must change. If you are not at peace with yourself the other person can do all the changing in the world and you will still be unhappy. I do realise the other person has responsibility in the relationship, but you alone are responsible for your happiness. A person who is not at peace with themselves looks to everyone else to make them happy.

My advice to single people is that they first learn to be at peace with themselves before they look for a relationship, but alas most people look for it in a relationship and then find out that it can’t be found there. So many people contact me for relationship advice, and the only advice I can give them (if they want a long-term solution) is to learn how to be at peace with themselves.  Sadly most people want a quicker fix, or for me to tell them how to change the person they are with and sadly, while these things may offer short-term relief they fail in the long-term. If you want to be really happy, I mean content in every sense of the word, them learning to be at peace with yourself is the only way to find it.

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Relationship Assassins – Judge and Jury

Not knowing what we don’t know is one of the potential pitfalls in a relationship. A pitfall being something we blindly stumble into when we simply do not know the truth of a situation. So many disagreements and irreconcilable differences are composed of such pitfalls. I catch myself saying so often when watching couples relate on TV, “Just talk to each other,” so often the “crisis” the people are facing is nothing more than a simple misunderstanding, people responding to a situation while they don’t know what they don’t know. How often do people in the real world do exactly the same? Becoming judge and jury in cases where they simply don’t have all the facts.

One thing that you simple can never know, unless you ask, is the true motive behind something. Isn’t it usually “why” you think someone did something that upsets you the most? The average human being thinks that it is all about them and that the world is out to get them. The average human being tends to be wrong a lot of the time. If I was to tell you that behind every action, regardless of how good or bad you think it is, is a good motive, would you believe me? See, we do everything for one of two reasons: to pursue pleasure or avoid pain. We are always about meeting our own needs, even the most altruistic of us. If we do it, there is something in it for us, and it has to do with pursuing pleasure or avoiding pain. We are all selfish, get over it.

The truth is that when it comes to your significant other it is never about you it is about them, and vice versa. When you chastise someone for doing something you don’t like without seeing it from their side, you ignore the motive and stir up resentment in the other person. If he or she did it, then in their minds they had a good reason to. It might not make any sense to you, but then it wasn’t your idea. Give the other person a chance to explain; really seek to understand where he/she is coming from; acknowledge their point of view and let them know from your side how their behaviour affected you and how it can be fixed. Punishment tends to turn us into liars, but love invites the truth.