"One of the greatest things about science is it's assumption that what it thinks it knows today will probably be proven wrong tomorrow. The theories of yesterday have served as platforms to climb higher, as Sir Isaac Newton meant when he said, 'If I have been privileged to see farther than others, it's because I stood on the shoulders of giants.'"
~ What The Bleep Do We Know
We're often so used to operating from our subconscious mind and moving through life on autopilot that we neglect to pay attention to our ubiquitous assumptions. We tally up observations about the things we've done and the people we've been, and we use these to form arbitrary beliefs about ourselves and others. We judge people we know for doing certain things, judge ourselves for doing the same, judge that others must be judging us for this... and the insanity continues. With complete disregard for scientific inquiry we often hold these assumptions to be true for the duration of our physical existence on this planet.
While it might sound like a nice idea to simply cast our assumptions and judgments aside, this is an unreasonable task. We will never be entirely free of judgment, just as we will never be entirely free of the egoic mind. Judgment can provide an intuitive purpose and offers a protective function to the self-preserving nature of the ego. Judgments are there for survival, to serve as defense mechanisms; it is in bringing awareness to our defenses that we are able to harness our power, willfully choosing our thoughts, words, and subsequent actions. What if? Rather than casting our assumptions aside, we took a page from Sir Isaac Newton's figurative book and became our own giants, standing on the shoulders of our previous identities. Don't we all have that supreme power? The power to be our greatest heroes and our most threatening foes?
I was speaking with somebody several weeks ago regarding his incredible physical transformation in health and the mental hurdles he overcame in the process. I had asked him what had made the difference. When had he decided he had enough? When did he first have the realization that he had a choice in the circumstances he accepted in his life? When did he first feel the sides of his mouth begin to curl upward into a subtle smirk at the thought of his transformation? His response to me was both familiar and surprising. It was simple, logical, and somewhat counterintuitive, I could relate.
He felt comfortable stepping into his TRUE self when he had moved for a job, to a place where he knew absolutely nobody. What shocked me about his statement was the sudden realization that it sparked within me. There wasn't anything tangibly real that had been holding him back. It wasn't the place he moved to that gave him the freedom to be himself, it was the LOSS of the place he had been in previously, the people he had been surrounded by, the continual reminders of who he had been. We (professionals) in the wellness and medical field place huge emphasis on having a support system in place when making drastic life changes. Moving for a job away from friends and family and simultaneously deciding to make incredibly challenging life changes (both mentally and physically) sounds inordinate. Yet, I completely understand the inclination. On a completely human level, I get it. It's a highly valuable lesson to learn that you can often be your greatest support system.
"One story sounds good until another is told."
It took him being away from everyone for him to realize how the assumptions in his environment (physical, social, etc.) had impacted his personal choices. He had succumb, as we frequently do, to the theory of the looking-glass-self and the ideology that we are who people say we are. His thoughts and beliefs about himself were in agreement with the thoughts and beliefs others displayed towards him. As Charles Horton Cooley says: "I imagine your mind, and especially what your mind thinks about my mind, and what your mind thinks about what my mind thinks about your mind." It wasn't until he was in a new place, where nobody knew who he had been, that he suddenly felt the freedom to become who he really wanted to be.
We hold a lot of assumptions and judgments regarding our own identities. We like to label things neatly and put them into boxes, people included. Sometimes we allow our established masks (even if we no longer connect with them) to shackle us to the empty shell of our past lives, hindering our personal growth and further development. There is great power and freedom in losing the reminders of all the identities you have previously embodied. It is clear that in this process of self-forgetting we move on from who we have been and into who we are meant to be. After all it is often change that brings about the chance for new opportunity. So let's throw off those masks, run towards change, and take a giant leap outside of our proverbial comfort zone.
"No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you've come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself."
I have personally experienced this freedom as I have recreated myself more times than I can count. I have changed through every friendship, relationship, breakup, job, educational experience, and self-perpetuating pattern in my life. I lost bits of myself in every situation I participated in that didn't resonate with my higher calling. The beautiful thing about life is that it is also in these places that I discovered my own divinity, and ultimately found myself in the process. It is always safe to come home to your true self, no matter how much time you've spent away. There are so many things in my life that I am grateful to have experienced and entirely elated to have moved on from. New places can sometimes give us the freedom and confidence to have the courage to be someone we've never been before.
"Why do we keep recreating the same reality? Why do we keep having the same relationships? Why do we keep getting the same jobs over and over again? In this infinite sea of potentials that exist around us, how come we keep recreating the same realities?"
~ Dr. Joe Dispenza
I encourage you to own your story, leave the pieces of yourself you've lost behind, and start gathering the new pieces you find. Come home to yourself. Be a scientist in your own life and employ the belief that what you assume about yourself today will in all likelihood be proven wrong tomorrow. Take note of the assumptions held by those you surround yourself with and bring awareness to your own judgments. These can serve as the mountains you struggle to climb or the giants whose shoulders can take you to new heights in your life, the choice is yours. Encourage yourself, support yourself, by God reach out to me if I can be of any service, or reach out to those you love if you need a helping hand. Stand on the shoulders of giants to see farther than you ever have before. Recreate yourself, again, and again, and then once more, and become the person YOU decide you want to be. There's a certain freedom to be found in losing yourself in the woods of self-discovery and finding your creative power, coming out the other side a totally new YOU. We are all in this together.
"Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don't have to like it.... It's just easier if you do."
~ Byron Katie
Life will continue to happen around us and within us, whether we participate actively or not. The debate on free will rears its head here as we have a choice in the ways in which we participate in life. The only constant in life is that nothing is constant, or as Heraclitus (one of the Greek philosophers) eloquently puts it: "Change is the only constant in life." The oxymoronic nature of this reminds us that we are surrounded by dichotomy in life. We are often pointed in a direction we don't much like, guided to practice the one thing we can battle our entire lives, acceptance. It is because of this denial and rebellion towards acceptance that we suffer. We stubbornly continue on, strangling life under the grip of our neurotic control, breaking ourselves into pieces in the process; and yet, in this coming undone life insists on offering us the choice to accept the beautiful gift of peace, surrender.
"Our suffering comes from our attachment to people and things, our repeated attempts to find something lasting where there is nothing lasting to be found."
~ Philip Martin
Are we not living in absolute insanity? Isn't the social construct in which we choose to structure our entire lives built around the intangible and unrealistic hope that we will one day be "safe" from the ever-changing perils of this world? Why do we chase stability? When there is none to be had. Please do not get me wrong and twist my words to justify staying in an unhealthily unstable relationship, or use this as a justification or excuse to give up on searching for the truth you so desperately seek. The truth is out there, and by out there I totally mean solely within yourself, so please, keep searching. I am merely suggesting that we may be searching for the wrong thing in entirely all the wrong places.
If life is a beautiful display of uncertainty, then why do we refuse to accept and surrender to the cascading improvisation? Why are we so fanatically determined to control it in all it's simple complexity? Why must we manipulate it to our liking? Is it not our attachment to outcomes we determined to be "valuable" that keeps us locked in our neuroses? Maniacal and grasping for any sense of control and power over our own lives. Society told us to value stability, to value a predictable and transfixed future. We were trained to think that all of life revolves around us, that we'll be "safe" as long as we don't break pattern and venture too far from the herd.
Ironically, it is this flawed and illogical perception that we can control everything that keeps us trapped in this insanity; confined to our own ordinary existence. It is the embrace of ultimate surrender, facing ourselves and removing the mask of character, that liberates us from the confines of our biological plane of bone and blood. It is in accepting that we ultimately have no direct sovereignty over the world and those in it that we are given real power in our lives. Creativity and choice offer us the power to choose how we act and react in the situations life presents us.
"Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced."
~ Soren Kierkegaard
It is in the act of tapping in to the flow of life that we find our freedom. Letting each and every experience, regardless of whether we perceive them to be "good" or "bad," (as this will be dictated as we prescribe judgment according to our conditioned perceptions), pass through us, moment by moment, fully felt and fully released. It is how we see life and how we experience its vastness and wondrous instability that ultimately gives us this opportunity to become newly transfixed with its awe-inspiring-splendor, and suddenly, our existence becomes anything but ordinary.
"I am responsible. Although I may not be able to prevent the worst from happening, I am responsible for my attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken life. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself."
~ Walter Anderson
The power of choice is one of our greatest treasures. We can never control what happens to us, but we can control how we choose to perceive all that we encounter on the many walks of life. In The Transtheoretical Model of behavioral change practiced in health and wellness coaching and psychology, there is an emphasis placed on a client's locus of control (internal vs. external). A client with an internal locus of control believes that they can influence events and their outcomes, while clients with an external locus of control blame everything on forces outside of themselves. There have been numerous studies paying particular attention to the correlation between resiliency in life and locus of control; it should be no surprise that there is a high correlation between the incidence of resiliency and an exaggerated internal locus of control coinciding. I will also note that if we so choose, we have the ability to intentionally alter the way in which we naturally present ourselves in life and the perceptions we give attention to, thus giving us the opportunity to change our locus of control.
All of this leads me to beg the question: God doesn't protect us from the lessons that we need to learn, so why do people try to? The universe doesn't spend eternity toying with us, maybe the things that are presenting themselves to you in your life are there for a reason. Could they have something to teach you? If they did, what would the lesson be? Whether we're practicing codependence by trying to save others from learning their own lessons, or simply trying to take the "easy" road in our own lives by playing the victim (which - spoiler alert - winds up being the much more challenging and destructive road in the long run) this isn't doing anybody any favors, including yourself. Life isn't using all of its ever-expanding intelligent consciousness to do things to you, it's like Byron Katie says, everything happens as it is meant to..."You don't have to like it.... It's just easier if you do." So I will leave you with this my friends - Why not seek comfortability in your instability? And let adaptation be your constant.
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
~ Mary Oliver
Lots of Love,
"There's no weakness as great as false strength."
~ Stefan Molyneux
I wanted to bring up this concept of projecting falsity because it has come up for me several times in conversation over the last several weeks. I think it's important to note that in our fast-paced and social-media-driven world it's challenging to be able to decipher the truth about who we really are. So don't even get me started on how questionable it can be to try and gauge the authenticity of another persons relationship with themselves.
Something that has repeatedly come up has been the concept of "teachers" in the health and wellness world - whether it be mental, physical or spiritual. I have seen several examples of people who "look" like they have it all together and are more than happy to preach to others about how they should live their lives. Their approach has a subtle undertone of narcissism and something about them always just feels "off" for me. Several times I have ignored that feeling and thought to myself that for whatever reason they just didn't click with me, only later to find out that it their "teaching" was all a show. What I've now recognized is it's okay to listen to that small quiet voice when it whispers that everything they're about screams "trying too hard."
These "teachers" often have a great message, amazing gifts, talents and a genuine desire to help others. The problem that I see is that there are a lot of people out there desperately seeking help in the areas of wellbeing and when doing so they are forgetting to have a discerning mind. The important thing about being a teacher and a role-model for others is not egocentric, it is not important how well you can project an image of perfection - news flash, nobody is perfect and most of us barely have it all together. What is of the greatest importance in being a leader (especially on these subjects) is that you have taken a good look at yourself, the life you are TRULY living and taken inventory of what you find, inviting awareness in, without judgment.
People can be a mess inside, hanging onto any semblance of thread to look like they have it all together and project that false image onto the world. Oftentimes they're so deluded that they believe the mask they wear in public is their true identity, lacking true awareness. While their intentions and messages can be good it is important to use extreme caution in guiding others when you have not fully looked at yourself first. One of my favorite proverbs that I find so true about life is "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." You can do a lot of harm under the guise of assistance, oftentimes with the best of intentions.
I think I have developed a little bit of a knack for being able to recognize it more easily now, because in it I recognize pieces of myself. I was there, many times in my life. Trying so hard to be okay on the outside and convince others that I was a noble and helpful person; consuming my time with "helping others" so that I could avoid helping myself and dealing with my own personal pain. I hadn't yet fully accepted myself, dark side and all, and while I have made incredible headway in this aspect,I imagine that it will be a lifelong practice. We live in a world that continually tells us to run from ourselves, that we aren't good enough, that we always need more OUT THERE which inevitably leads to the avoidance of what is IN HERE.
I think this is especially relevant now as we have begun to see a wider acceptance of health and wellness and the continual development of ourselves, as they have become rather trendy these days. While I welcome things that are universally beneficial to the world, such as wellbeing, becoming trends I also hold some concerns. Living in a world that makes money off of us staying perpetually lost to ourselves helps me to value the true weight of responsibility that teaching entails. People are waking up and genuinely seeking guidance and it can be more damaging than beneficial to be "taught" how to live and experience things for further growth by somebody who hasn't looked within themselves fully.
The more people I come into contact with and the older I get the more I realize that none of us really know what we're doing in this wild thing we call life. We're all just doing the best we can with what we know, the issue is that we live in a society that doesn't emphasize the right things, the things that truly give life meaning. Unless we welcome our deprogramming, in that area, some of us are much more confused than others.
"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."
~ Daniel J. Boorstin
The ego is clever and very admirable in its ability to survive, it can convince us that teaching others how to live the way we have chosen to is a noble and beneficial act, when in reality it is a mere scheme to avoid dealing with our own baggage. A genuine teacher will not promise to have all of the answers and they will not tell you how to live your life. They may offer guidance and share the tools that they have seen work for people which may or may not work for you. There is no one right way of handling the complexity of all of life and its plethora of unforeseeable circumstances. It is not a teachers place to judge where their students are, but it is the teachers responsibility to meet them there.
If you are seeking guidance in the health world, I remind you all to follow your heart and use a discerning mind in choosing whom to take advice from. If you are a teacher in this realm, I urge you to be cautious with your abilities and be aware of the responsibility of impact that you have on another's life. Listen to your intuition above all else, you will always be your greatest guide.
Lots of Love,