Self Awareness

What’s in Your Bag of Shit?

I was listening to Neil Strauss the other day on Tom Bilyeu’s youtube interview series called “Inside Quest” and something he said really stuck out to me. He said that we all carry around a “bag of shit” or in other words- some story we’ve made up about our unworthiness or how we’re unlovable.  Then we operate and interact with the outside world looking for evidence to add to our “bag of shit” and to support our dis-empowering story we have made up about ourselves.  We will even fabricate and alter certain events through our own skewed perceptive filter just to support our story and give us a sense of certainty that we are right. We then often times use this “bag of shit” we carry around with us to motivate us to achieve more, acquire more or to hunt for the perfect spouse or partner.  We really believe that if we get that prized possession or relationship- then we will finally be enough, lovable or feel good about ourselves. Some people spend their whole life seeking the very thing they believe will help them let go of and forget about their “bag of shit”.  The irony is that as long as you are holding onto the bag of shit and keep your inferiority saga in the recesses of your mind, nothing and no one will ever give you the feelings of being enough or being lovable. 

 

The only way to free yourself from this trap is to let go of your bag of shit and to become aware of the narrative that is running your life. The old story is driven by fear, lack and scarcity. If you don’t believe you are enough right now, no amount of money, fame, relationships, or anything outside of you will ever be able to give you the feelings of security, significance and love you are seeking. Those external rewards only magnify the relationship you have internally with yourself. If you love yourself, feel worthy and have a loving and compassionate relationship with yourself- then you will have healthy and loving relationships with others, money, possessions, etc. 

 

What is largely running people in our world is an error in self definition. A major error. A colossal mistake in perception and judgement. People use money, relationships, power, status, jobs, religious affiliation and much more to define themselves. They create a fictional game about how their person-hood and self worth is tied to their success or effectiveness in one or more of these areas. The issue with this approach to defining yourself is these external things are largely, if not completely outside of our control. One of my favorite authors, Robert Greene says that we only have control over 5-6% of what happens in our world and experience on this earth. ONLY 5-6%. He also affirmed that the way to best impact our world is to only focus and exert our energy in that small window (5-6%) of where we actually have control. Therefore if we maximize our focus, attention and energy to improve and affect only what we can control, then we will be able to change our circumstances and impact the world. Where most people go wrong is they spend the majority of their time, attention and energy on the 94-95% of things that are 100% outside of their control. This leaves them powerless and victims of their circumstances.  Therefore if you are going to define yourself and base your identity on your job, relationship, status or any external thing, you are due to be a slave to circumstances, others and the world. As Joe Donnelly says, 

 

“You can either be the CEO of your own life or you can be life’s employee”. 

 

I am not proposing that you say “hell with it” to creating a business, forming relationships, making money or seeking things externally. I am just warning you of the trap of being attached to those external things. And more importantly the emotional death you will experience if you tie your identity to them and sell your soul for them.  I have been in relationships where I put my girlfriend up on a pedestal and derived my sense of self from being her boyfriend. At first it was an exhilarating rush of oxytocin, but it soon became pure slavery. Obligations, ownership, and expectations within the relationship crippled my ability to do anything else in the world and to feel like I was living my true purpose. 

 

What I am proposing is balance. Like the Samurai warriors of ancient Japan, they embodied balance probably better than anyone. On one hand they were very masculine, tough, hard-driving and resilient. They were some of the toughest and most skilled warriors in the history of the world and they protected their villages by killing and eliminating the enemy. Yes this was their rigid and strong masculine side. However they did not live 100% of the time on this side of their nervous system. They also had a feminine side, which was more flowing, compassionate and flexible. They would write poetry, dance, play the flute and make love to their wives. They intuitively understood that they needed to balance their lives and their nervous systems in order to be the most fulfilled, the happiest and healthiest they could be. 

 

If they lived 100% of the time in their masculine warrior motif, they would have died much younger. The cortisol would have be firing at all times and this inevitably would have decreased their lifespan and diminished their overall level of life satisfaction. Conversely they innately knew that operating in the feminine side of their nervous system was going to give them fulfillment and rejuvenate their soul and spirit. 

 

All too often today we see individuals lack balance. They are all Type A power, strength and aggression. Sure they might achieve some pretty great success, but at what price? At the price of their enjoyment and fulfillment on this earth?  Then we see others who operate on the other side of the dialectic. They are accepting, flowing and peaceful. Yet they have no drive and contribute very little to the world. Finding the middle of the paradox is a way to strike a balance and achieve both the science of success and the art of fulfillment. 

 

Life is the most hilarious and ironic teacher around. We set a goal and we invest everything into that goal, only to find out that once we actually attain the goal, that the very goal/prize itself is not what we really wanted after all. Here are some higher values that I believe are the things we are really after:

 

1. Flow– a level of presence, creativity and mindfulness of enjoying an activity/interaction just for the sake of engaging in it. 

 

2. Contribution– the secret to living is giving. PERIOD. Nothing lights up and energizes the human spirit like giving and serving a fellow man.  Depression, anxiety and all forms of mental health impairments vanish when one looks to give and contribute.

 

3. Growth– I don’t care how many friends you have, how successful you have been- if you are experiencing progress in your life- you are dying. What does the Bible say? “Where there is no vision, the people perish”

 

4. Who we become. It is not the accolades, money, possessions that truly fulfills us at the end of the day, but it is rather the person we have to become in order to solve those problems and achieve those goals. The ultimate satisfaction in life is complete 100% CONGRUENCE. Living in alignment with your values is the ultimate fulfillment. 

 

 

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BOOK OF THE WEEK: I: Reality and Subjectivity by David Hawkins

This is the third book in David Hawkins’ Power vs. Force trilogy. His first book in the trilogy is Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior (1994) and the second book is The Eye of the I: From Which Nothing is Hidden. I have highlighted the first two books in prior weeks and though there is a lot of repetitive material, I highly recommend reading the third book I: Reality and Subjectivity.  Reading this trilogy is not an exercise in accumulating more knowledge, rather it is a practice in advancing one’s level of consciousness. Just the mere experience of reading Hawkins’ work can shift you at an emotional level and raise your consciousness.  I spent the last three months reading this whole trilogy. I would spend on average 30-60 minutes a day just letting his words wash over me. When you sit down with these dense books, it is best to read them slowly and be patient with your comprehension of the material. Insights will come to you that you have never thought before- I guarantee it. It is a spiritual experience. Personally, I see it as a form of meditation and consciousness building.

I am not going to go into great detail about the content of this third book, because the experience of reading it for yourself is going to be transformative for you. I however did want to share a fair amount of passages from the book which I found to meaningful.

Profound Passages

“There was the ability to perceive the reality that underlay personalities and that the origin of emotional sickness lay in people’s belief that they were their personalities” (xx)

“The Presence is silent and conveys a state of peace that is the space which and by which All Is and has its existence and unfolds. It is infinitely gentle and yet like a rock. With it, all fear disappears. Spiritual joy occurs on a quiet level of inexplicable ecstasy. The experience of time stops; there is no apprehension or regret, no pain or anticipation. The source of joy is unending and ever present. With no beginning or ending, there is no loss or grief or desire. Nothing needs to be done as everything is already perfect and complete.” (xxv)

“People wonder ‘How does one reach this state of awareness’, but few follow the steps because they are so simple. First, the desire to reach the state was intense. Then began the discipline to act with constant and universal forgiveness and gentleness, without exception. One has to be compassionate towards everything, including one’s own self and thoughts. Next came a willingness to hold desires in abeyance and surrender personal will at every moment. As each thought, feeling, desire or deed was surrendered to God, the mind became increasingly silent. At first, it released whole stories and paragraphs, then ideas and concepts.  As one lets go of wanting to own these thoughts, they no longer reach such elaboration and begin to fragment while only half formed. Finally it was possible to surrender the energy behind the very process of thinking itself before it even became thought” (xxvi)

“There is also the path to sudden enlightenment, which may occur in a seemingly spontaneous manner or as a result of meditation or some spiritual practice, or merely by being in the presence of an enlightened teacher.  Great leaps in consciousness result from surrendering oneself to God at great depth. This is seen in our society in people who have hit rock bottom. Willfulness/pride surrenders and transformation occurs. From the pits of hell, paradoxically, heaven is close by… Thus many levels of consciousness can be transcended. These are often preceded by long periods of inner agony.” (19)

“People hate me” stems from one’s own inner hatreds. ‘People don’t care about me’ stems from one’s narcissistic absorption with one’s happiness and gain instead of that of others. “I don’t get enough love” stems from not giving love to others. “People are rude to me” stems from lack of cordiality to others. “People are jealous of me” arises from inner jealousy of others. Thus, if we take responsibility for being the author of our world, we come close to its source where we can correct it. By being loving toward others, we discover that we are surrounded by love and lovingness. When we unreservedly support life without expecting gain, life supports us in return. When we abandon gain as motive, life responds with unexpected generosity. When we perceive in this way, the miraculous begins to appear in the life of ever spiritual aspirant. Harmony manifests as the unexpected discovery, the fortuitous coincidence and the lucky break, and finally the realization occurs that these are the ripples coming back to oneself from the seat of consciousness” (22) 

“In reality, nothing thoughts say about oneself or others have any reality. All statements are fallacious and represent programming and positionalities. There are also positive statements about one’s worth, merit, or value that are equally based on fiction. The true self is invisible and has no characteristics by which it can be judged.” (25)

 

“Goal fulfillment is self-rewarding if the goal of the aspirant is one of direction. Then a life dedicated to God is endlessly self fulfilling, whereas, in contrast, a life devoted to gain is full of pitfalls and suffering” (26)

“It is necessary to examine the nature of an attachment.  It is based on a belief and a desire. The belief is that a mental content will bring happiness and solve problems; therefore, the attachment is to the implied promise that it is the thinking itself that is the road to happiness (success, wealth, love, etc). To let go of the thinking therefore seems frightening because it is also seen as the main tool of survival; plus, it is ‘me’. As ‘me’, it is viewed as unique, personal and precious, and it constitutes the main data base of identification of ‘who I am’. The fear of the loss of self- identity brings up resistance. As we get closer to the discovery of the source of the ego’s tenacity, we make the amazing critical discovery that we are enamored with our self.  Even if thoughts are loaded with pain and failure and have been a disaster and source of suffering, we still cling to them because they are who I am, resulting in love/hate relationship with them. To ensure its survival, the self also learned how to juice satisfaction and energy from the negative emotional states. It thrives on injustice, martyrdom, failure and guilt. The ego secretly loves and clings to the position of victimhood and extracts a distorted pleasure and grim justification from pain and suffering. This can be seen in many cases as an addiction and a lifestyle. All along we have been in love with our thoughts and we cherish them. We defend them and make excuses for them. We are jealous of our beliefs. We prize them and alternately despise and punish ourselves with guilt and self hatred. Altogether, it is infatuation. The self-image gets glamorized because it is the stage upon which the drama of our life parades. To let go of love brings up fear of loss. To the self, all love objects are seen as a source of happiness. The next core problem is letting go of emotional love- not because of the love itself, but because of the attachment to that which is loved. We think that the loss of a love object brings grief, but actually, the grief is about the loss of the attachment itself, which is due to viewing the object of love as the source of happiness. Grief is due to the illusion that one has lost a source of happiness, and that the source of happiness is ‘out there’. If one looks at the feeling of happiness, it becomes clear that it is actually located within, although the trigger may appear to come from outside oneself; the sensation, however, is totally an inner feeling of pleasure. The source of happiness is therefore actually within and is released under favorable circumstances when the mind experiences a desired outcome. By inner examination, one will discover that the event merely triggers an inner innate capacity. With the discovery that the source of happiness is actually within one’s inner self and therefore cannot be lost, there is a reduction of fear. Viewed from reality, thoughts are actually an ‘out there’. Although it may sound amazing, they can totally be dispensed with because they interfere with the achievement of true happiness” (40-41)

Some Axiomatic Positionalities of the Ego

Phenomena are either good or bad, right or wrong, just or unjust, fair or unfair.

The ‘bad’ deserve to be punished and the ‘good’ rewarded.

Things happen by accident or else they are the fault of somebody else.

The mind is capable of comprehending and recognizing truth from falsehood.

The world causes and deternines one’s experiences.

Life is unfair because the innocent suffer while the wicked go unpunished.

People can be different than they are.

It is critical and necessary to be right.

It is critical and necessary to win.

Wrongs must be righted.

Righteousness must prevail.

Perceptions represent reality (45)

“Surrender is a constant process of not resisting or clinging to the moment but instead, continuously turning it over to God. The attention is thus focused on the process of letting go and not on the content of ‘what’ is being surrendered.” (48)

“The Source of joy of spiritual endeavor stems from the work itself and is not dependent on outcomes or the achievement of goals.The replacement of resentment with peaceful acceptance is its own reward. There is a progressive alteration in one’s view of self and others. When this happens, one’s life story can then be re-contextualized from a more compassionate understanding” (53).

 

“The ‘politically correct’ activists seem to precipitate an endless series of social conflicts and strife. What is the core of the problem?  They are elitist and calibrate at 180, the level of pride and vanity of egotism.  The error is again one of ignoring context. Although supposedly egalitarian, they paradoxically adopt superior attitudes and pose as high moral ground. They attempt to gain power and control over others by romanticized idealism.” (62)

 “What is the best attitude to view society? One of compassionate benevolence. The average person’s psyche is overwhelmed by layers of programmed belief systems of which they are unaware. Out of naivete and the belief in the principle of causality, the supposed causes and their solutions are sough ‘out there'” (81)

“It is actually more exciting because one learns to live on the crest of the current moment instead of on the back of the wave, which is the past, or on the front of the wave, which is the future. There is greater freedom from living on the exciting knife edge of the moment than being a prisoner of the past or having expectations of the future. If the goal of life is to the very best one can do at each unfolding moment of existence, then, through spiritual work, one has already escaped the primary cause of suffering. In the stop frame of the radical present, there is no life story to react to or edit.” (94)

“Compassion and forgiveness do not mean approval” (113)

“We that trying to overcome the ego without really understanding it brings up guilt, self-condemnation and other negative feelings, which is one of the main reasons why many people are reluctant to become involved in spiritual work. Because of this, people are afraid to be honest with themselves and tend to project the downside of the ego onto others or even onto God” (113)

“Humility and surrender at great depth, as well as prayer, can shorten the process. The seeming duration of time is because one is looking for a result. Even when the ego’s energies have been disconnected, its momentum seems to need to run out. For instance, when a giant ship, such as a great tanker, stops its engine, it often continues for several miles farther before it finally comes to stop.” (120)

“What characteristics facilitate comprehension and transformation? Dedication, devotion, faith, prayer, surrender and inspiration. When the barriers are relinquished, Truth reveals itself spontaneously” (135)

“What does the Self feel like? It is central, solid, profound, still, immutable, nonlocal, diffuse, all encompassing, peaceful, tranquil, comfortable, secure, emotionless, joy, infinite lovingness, protection, closeness, safety, complete fulfillment and ultrafamiliar” (138)

“How does one then live in the world? One participates but is not involved in or attached to it. One can observe without being judgmental. Detachment would require withdrawal from the world, whereas nonattachment allows participation as there is no stake in outcomes. The game is entertaining, but which side ‘wins’ is of no importance.” (146)

“By analogy, fear arises from perception, and its concomitant is a release of adrenaline. Discovering where adrenaline arises from in the body does not explain fear because adrenaline is merely a consequence and a concomitant, not the cause, which has already occurred in the consciousness field of perception. It would be naive to assume that to discover where joy is experienced by the brain is the cause of that joy. The brain and its physiology exist within the world of form, and spiritual states originate within the nonlinear reality of nonform.” (148)

“True spiritual authority is rooted in Truth and thus has no need or desire to be authoritarian.  It has no argument nor does it have a desire or a need for acceptance.  It would be a misuse of spiritual power to try to use it to control the minds of people. Authoritarianism is intrinsically insecure and therefore has to insist on agreement with its belief system; it is the antithesis of freedom” (160)

“To successfully transcend the seeming opposites, it is only necessary to see that what appear to be two different or opposing concepts are actually just gradations of possibilities that change quality as they progress along a single base line of perception” (169)

“How did a good God create a world that includes evil?’ The answer, of course, is that He did not. The seeming opposites exist in the mind of man as perceptions and positionalities.” (173)

 “Detachment from positionalities, and especially the positionalities occasioned by labeling, leads to serenity, freedom and security. Greater serenity arises from relating to the context of life, rather than to the content which is primarily a game board of interacting egos. The broader style of relating to life leads to greater compassion and emancipation from being at the effect of the world” (179).

“The human psyche becomes attached to qualifying and rating everything on arbitrary social scales of desirability, appeal or value. Whole lives can become devoted to pursuing some mystique in which subtle distinctions become inflated and sought after for their social symbolism. This can lead to an endless seeking of status, possessions, wealth and symbols of endless seeking of status, possessions, wealth, and symbols of distinctions, as well as the need to be right about everything” (187).

“To undo the endless sequences of wanting and craving, it is useful to dissemble them by doing an exercise called “and then what?” I want (a better job, more money, better car, college degree or whatever), followed by the question, “and then what?” It will be found that the answer is always the final belief that “and then I will be happy”. (190)

“There is a great joy in the realization that one does not actually need anything at all to be happy, not even external stimuli, such as television, music, conversation, or the presence of other people or activities” (191)

“The common element  of most fears is that they are based on the illusion that happiness is dependent on externals and therefore vulnerable.  To overcome the illusion of vulnerability brings great relief and the correction of being run by fear so that life becomes benign and filled with satisfaction and an easy-going, confident attitude instead of constant guardedness.  Cessation of fear is the result of learning that the source of happiness and joy is from within. It stems from recognizing that its source of joy is one’s own existence, which is continuous and not dependent on externals.  This results from surrendering expectations and demands on one’s self, the world and others. The thought ‘I can only be happy if I win or get what I want’ is a guarantee of worry, anxiety and unhappiness” (200)

“Thus, poverty is not basically a financial condition but is instead a concomitant and consequence of a specific level of consciousness that cannot be cured by financial assistance. More often, financial aid worsens the poverty as it gives a stimulus to the already excessive birth rate which then brings even further poverty” (206)

“Healthy self interest includes concern for the welfare of others, whereas selfishness disregards others. Self-interest is not destructive to others and is therefore integrous and increases self-esteem. Egotism is separatist and seeks gain at a cost to others, leading to a loss of inner self-esteem. It is therefore vulnerable, non-integrous, and an illusory self-inflation that leads to loss of self-respect” (234)

“The attachment to love is really the trap and the barrier to enlightenment. In Reality, love is freedom, but attachment to love is a limitation” (281)

“This illustrates the phenomenon of entrainment which was described in Power vs. Force. Clinically, this phenomenon is well-known in twelve-step recovery groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, in which the aspirant is advised to “just keep going to meetings and you will get it by osmosis.” Exposure to the group’s aura (at 540) results in the miracle of recovery. It takes a very powerful energy field to overcome the very strong entrapment of addiction. As long as the sober person stays within the protection of the field, sobriety continues, but relapse occurs if they leave unless their own calibrated level of consciousness has advanced to the necessary level of 540.” (306)

“The ego’s addiction and survival are based on the secret pleasure of negativity, which cannot be abandoned until it is first recognized, identified and owned without shame or guilt” (311).

“The ego’s focus is narrow and constricted by intention, which is therefore selective. It constantly seeks ‘problems’. To the ego, everything can be seen as a problem. As a consequence, the ego’s evaluation of situations is often prone to very serious error and miscalculation” (318)

“The ego is potentially deadly and would rather see you dead than admit it is wrong” (319)

“While the world may have the expectation that the life of a spiritually committed person should be holy and tranquil, quite often the opposite may occur. The karma is activated and brought up into awareness. Major changes may occur in the aspirant’s life and relationships. For some years, life may appear to be tumultuous as profound inner changes take place. These may involve lifestyle, vocation, relationships, and possessions, all of which may rapidly come and go. Change in geographic location is common. Friends and family in the world may think the devotee has gone mad, left reality and gone overboard” (337)

“Enlightenment means that the former personal identity and all that had been believe about it have been erased, removed, transcended, dissolved and displaced. The particular has been replaced by universal, qualities have been replaced by essence, the linear has been replaced by the nonlinear, and the discrete has been replaced by the unlimited” (346)

“Man thinks, but thinking is a two edged sword. The bird flies about, enjoying its life and does not need to study ornithology or even know that it is a bird.  It doesn’t need to understand or know anything because it just is.

“Any approach will reveal that attachments are the core problem to be overcome through relinquishment. The problem is not money, or sex or pleasure but the attachment to them, plus the illusion that the source of happiness is external, which brings up fear of loss.” (349)

“Attachment is a very peculiar quality of the ego. It can be totally undone in all its pervasive and multitudinous forms of clinging by simply letting go of one’s faith in it or belief in its value as a reality. This one giant step is a confrontation to being unaware of one’s attachments. The attachment to ‘self’ or ‘me’ or ‘I’ is a basic trap. The mind is attached to the very process of attachment itself as a survival tool.” (350-351)

“Humor is a means of detachment or re-contextualizing the events of life.  It is a way of being light hearted and wearing the world like a loose garment.  It leads to compassion for the totality of human life and reveals the option that one can play at life without getting involved in it as though it were an exhausting life-and-death struggle. Humor is inclusive of life and is a level of compassion. Indifference, in contrast, is exclusive of life. Humor allows for participation; indifference leads to nonparticipation.  Humor enjoys while indifference yields flatness and ennui” (354-355)

“One has to discern the difference between ‘rights’ and ‘privileges’. All so-called rights are merely privileges that are granted by societal agreement. To understand that concept spells the difference between gratitude and arrogance.  The illusion of rights is an ego inflation which can lead to a narcissistic positionality of entitlement, with its hostile, demanding, unappreciative, and paranoid attitudes. One cannot acquire rights by oneself; they are an earned gift from free society.” (377)

 “The way to truth is via radical honesty” (383)

“The rebirth of the eog/self/I occurs again every morning upon awakening. With observation, one can see that awareness returns at first as merely the return of conscious awareness. As the identifications slowly reappear, one becomes aware of location, but the awakening mind doesn’t even know what day it is. Then it slowly again identifies with the world, place, time and name and all the past identifications return from memory.” (385-386)

“It is useful to pretend that one has no memory” (386)

“Nonattachment does not mean passivity or nonaction; thus, one can take a stance in the world to defend innocence as a commitment to the integrity of truth.  As we saw prior to World War II, the passivity and naivety of Neville Chamberlin invited Nazi aggression to pursue the rabbit. In mountain country, everyone knows that to run from the mountain lion invites its attack. If life is sacred, then to defend life is aligned with the will of God, and it is not intrinsically an act of aggression” (396)

“The inner ‘high’ of righteous indignation, being right or hating enemies turns out to be disappointing in hollow illusions of victory.  The mature spiritual aspirant is one who has explored the ego’s options and false promises of happiness.  The ego’s final song, after examination, is represented by a famous singer’s poignant song, “Is This All There Is?” (397)

The Absolute Worst Thing You Can Do When You Feel Down or Depressed

Over the course of the past 5 years I have read a lot of books on emotions, depression, peak performance, anxiety and overall cognitive functioning. Through my aikido, meditation and several other practices have begun to understand these things on an experiential level. I have been to the lowest of lows (a deep depression) and the highest of highs. And after enough time spent in both places, I have come to some level of observation and self awareness with what goes on during each of those experiences. Today, I want to present to you a simple strategy for dealing with a down moment or a bout of depression that takes you under and engulfs you. 

I am speaking from my own experience in a depressed state as well as several other people who report a similar experience. In an emotional state of depression, everything looks bleak. I feel lonely, disconnected from society, helpless and hopeless. I see absolutely zero potential for anything positive to happen in my future whether it be in terms of relationships, money, experiences, work- whatever. I literally feel like a “shit-magnet”. Bad shit seems to stick to me. Everyone I encounter is a selfish jerk. The best way I can describe depression is a complete and overwhelming tunnel vision for everything negative. And as Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania has affirmed, the bleak perception of our reality feels permanent (like it’s going to last forever), pervasive (like every aspect of our life is fucked) and highly personal (like we as a person are majorly defective). 

 I have noticed that when I have been depressed, I will freeze frame my current “shitty” reality and conceptualize it in my mind that it is going to be this way forever. It makes me not even want to live anymore. I feel like giving up. I then begin to ask myself questions like, “what is wrong with me?” and “what’s the point anyway?”. I try to go up in my head and think my way out of the problem.  If there is one thing to take away from the lesson today it is this:

Intellectualizing and trying to rationally think your way out of a troubling emotional state is the worst thing you can possibly be doing to feel better. Your trying to solve a problem from a impaired level of thinking. It makes no sense, however we as humans love to see ourselves as smart creatures who can think our way out of shit. 

Einstein nailed it right on the head when he said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. And this quote is quite applicable to depression.  When we are in a low level of consciousness, it is impossible to get ourselves out of it by thinking more. 

Instead what needs to be understood is that our feelings are a signal. And this powerful signal of “I feel like death” is telling us that our thinking is off!  Way off. Therefore, the only thing you have to do when you start feeling like absolute crap is begin to not believe in the thoughts that are creeping into your mind. I just read Garrett Kramer’s peak performance books Stillpower and The Path of No Resistance and I really love his paradigm regarding this. He asserts that you should “feel what you feel, but don’t believe what you think”. Our terrible feelings are a powerful signal- to disregard and be disbelieving of our thoughts- not to cling to them and try to rationally joust with them. 

The more you can begin to simply sit with your feelings and not try to create a story around them about why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling- this is when you will escape the grips of your depression. What keeps the depression in place is the constant thinking that ‘this event’ or ‘that person’ is to blame for my depression. This type of thinking is not going to get you out of your depression, it is only going to ensure that you stay in that state of mind longer. If you just sit still and begin to quietly retreat to the silent confines of your mind- you will start to notice that your depression will begin to subside and eventually drift away. Our brains and bodies have the natural tendency to self-correct. There is a built auto-pilot mechanism built into our nervous system if we simply let go of needing to control every process along the way. 

When we try to think our way of our depression- we are trying to “will” it and control every step in the process. This absolutely shuts off our self-corrective mechanism in our brain that is the skeleton key to our emotional regulation. The less energy and power you give your depressing thoughts- the sooner you will start to see your emotional state rise. And then pretty soon thereafter your perception will begin to broaden. You will start to see things in brighter color, see the hopeful (and realistic) future and get out the blame-game you’ve been playing with yourself. 

This process takes a keen level of self awareness. Most people get into a depressed state and they try to fight it- but that just gives it more energy. Think about depression like your little brother or that neighbor of yours who is a shit-grinning twerp. The more you engage with your little brother, the more he is going to try to annoy you and rattle you. However when you laugh at him and not let what he is doing bother you- he goes away because it is no fun for him anymore. Depression is the same way. Begin to watch your hopeless thoughts come into your awareness. Don’t let them hook you, just watch them and be accepting of them. Sit there through the painful experience and become an outstanding observer of your own mind. This is the secret to mastering your inner world- becoming a master observer of your own mind and it’s default patterns and tendencies. 

Once you begin to observe and not absorb or attach to these negative thoughts- your consciousness will begin to rise and the heavy feelings will start to lighten drastically. It will feel like a exhilarating experience. The more you can practice this, the better you will get. As Garrett Kramer loves to say, it’s all about STAYING IN THE GAME. If you hang around long enough and don’t fight the negative thoughts and bleak perspective- it will all turn around. It always does. But the minute you begin to try to understand why you are feeling like crap and begin to create some narrative about your depression- you have lost the game. 

We all have a unique inner life force. I believe it is God within us, others call it a whole lot of different things. However, this force is the very thing that guides us intuitively and if given the freedom to work for us- can produce miracles. I know relinquishing control and not engaging with the depressing thoughts is a major challenge that most will probably fail at their first few times. Yet, all it takes is one breakthrough and it will change your life forever. One experience of letting your inner guide take over and guide you out of your depression will allow you to never be a hostage to this crippling condition ever again. It’s amazing. 

So you have 2 choices. You can either be a victim and continue to fight with your annoying shit-grinning little brother (depressive thoughts) and continue to feel agitated (depression). Or you can begin to observe and allow your annoying little brother to “try” to bother you, but never actually bite the hook (depressive thoughts)- therefore making him disinterested and leaving you alone so that you can be in peace (free of depression).

 If you tend to fall down the “rabbit hole” of depression, I suggest hanging two signs around your place as a reminder. One is from Kramer’s book:

“STAY IN THE GAME”

And the other is from the Navy Seal movie Lone Survivor:

“No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets or no matter how far you fall, you are never out of the fight.”

The second quote is what gave me the hope to carry on in the darkest of my depression a couple years ago. Though I really had no where to turn and felt almost entirely hopeless- I kept looking at that quote and it kept me looking for another way- another answer. I’d read another book, I’d watch another youtube video, I just kept going. Until pretty soon, I was guided to meet my mentor. And that was the moment that changed everything. So I suggest you adopt this belief. If you believe there is always a way- you will find a way. People, when their either going to die or succeed- they tend to succeed. Hunger is your greatest asset. Plain and simple. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Eye of the I: From Which Nothing is Hidden, by David Hawkins

Last week I highlighted David Hawkins’ most popular book- Power vs. Force, this week we will look at the second book of the Power vs. Force trilogy entitled The Eye of I: From Which Nothing is Hidden.  While Power vs. Force is a great appetizer on the subject of human consciousness, this book is definitely the entrée. It goes into much greater depth about the nature of duality and how our ego misperceives the world and is the cause of our suffering. I recommend this book for anyone who wants more peace, love and compassion in their life. I do think it is probably best to read this trilogy in order because they do build on each other. 

The aspect I love most about Hawkins’ writing is how it shifts the reader at an emotional level while they are reading. Similar to meditation or a martial art- how you get in that flow or zen-like state of love, peace and joy- the same thing occurs when you read Hawkins. I found this elevation in consciousness to be particularly profound in this book of his. This is not a book to be read in a weekend. I believe one will get the most out of reading this book if they take one chapter a day and spend about 3 weeks to a month with this book.  Thus, one’s consciousness will be elevated throughout the 3-4 weeks of reading it. I also found it particularly helpful to read a chapter of this book, then immediately spend 30 minutes to an hour in quiet meditation. This book is meditative in nature, so adding a formal meditative practice along with this book adds another element to it. 

When I started my journey into the personal development years ago, I didn’t intend to get into books on spirituality and consciousness. Yet, in hindsight I now understand why my journey has led me to reading books by authors like David Hawkins, Eckhart Tolle and David Singer. These books all address the ego. The ego is the part of ourselves as humans which is responsible for our suffering. By gaining a greater understanding of what our ego is and how it works, we can learn to cultivate a friendlier relationship with it and reduce and eliminate much of the suffering that plagues our lives. After reading numerous books on the ego, I believe The Eye of the I and the third book in the trilogy (I: Reality & Subjectivity) to be the two best books in regards to explaining the ego. 

And as always, here are the passages that I highlighted during my reading of the book. These really spoke to me and are a great daily reminder for me.

 

“One becomes enamored of this precious ‘self’, which then becomes an obsession and the subjective focus of languaging and thought. The self becomes glamorized as the hero of one’s life story and drama. This requires that the self be defended and that its survival become all important. This includes the necessity to be right at any cost.”

“The value of memory also becomes diminished by the realization that only does the mind misperceive in the present, but it routinely does so in the past, and what one is remembering is really the record of past illusions. All past actions were based on the illusion of what one thought one was at the time.”

“The relinquishment of the ego self as one’s central focus involves letting go of all these layers of attachments and vanities, and one eventually comes face to face with the ego’s primary function of control to ensure continuance and survival. Therefore the ego clings to all its faculties because their basic purpose, to ensure its survival, is the reason behind its obsession with gain, winning, learning, alliances, and accumulation of possessions, data and skills. The ego has endless schemes for enhancing survival- some gross, some obvious, others subtle and hidden”

“The only simple task to be accomplished is to let go of the identification with the ego as one’s real self!”

“Sometimes the ego misidentifies itself more specifically as the personality. It thinks, “I am such-and-such a person.” And it says, “Well, that’s who I am”. From this illusion arises the fear that one will lose one’s personality if the ego is relinquished. This is feared as the death of ‘who I am’.”

“The modern trend toward ‘political correctness’ is a great source of conflict, strife and suffering.  It is based on the imaginary ‘rights’. In reality there are no such things as rights. These are all social imaginings. Nothing in the universe has any rights. The whole area of ‘rights’ leads to a ‘chip on the shoulder’ attitude, victim, illusions of causality and revenge. All this displaces personal responsibility for one’s own experience of life.”

“The problem with the ego is not that it is wrong; it is just that it is limited and distorted. To conceive of the ego as an enemy is to become polarized, bringing forth conflict, guilt, anger and shame. Positionalities support the ego. By enlarging context, opposites are transcended and problems are dissolved. Humility removes the ego’s underpinnings of judgmentalism, positionality and moralizing.”

“in a system of considerable complexity, there is a very precise point where even a small amount of energy applied brings about a major change. A giant clockworks has a vulnerable point at which even a slight pressure stops the whole works. A giant locomotive can be halted in you know exactly where to place your finger.  The great clockwork of human society likewise has points where major change can occur as a result of a slight amount of pressure.”

“Love is misunderstood to be an emotion; actually, it is a state of awareness, a way of being in the world, a way of seeing oneself and others.  Love for God or nature or even one’s pets opens the door to spiritual inspiration. The desire to make others happy overrides selfishness. The more we give love, the greater our capacity to do so. It is a good beginning practice to merely mentally wish others well in the course of the day. Love blossoms into lovingness which becomes progressively more intense, nonselective and joyful. There comes a time one ‘falls in love’ with everything and everyone they meet. This tendency to be intensely loving has to be curtailed because love, curiously enough, frightens many people. Many people cannot look fully into another person’s eyes for more than a brief second, if at all. 

“Our society is one of excesses; it swings like a pendulum too far in one direction and then too far in the opposite because it gets caught in the duality of either/or and this and that. Maturity results in a middle way that allows for both ends of the spectrum of human behavior.” 

“Pride is at the core of the ego beyond all else. Pride in the form of the vanity of thought, mentation, concepts and opinions are all the basis of ignorance. The antidote is radical humility, which undoes the domination of perception. Ask for the truth to be revealed instead of assuming that you already know it.”

“One can enjoy beautiful music without the ego’s claiming authorship for the origination of the music itself. If one claims authorship for music, then many anxieties and feelings arise which have to do with belief systems about perfection, approval, desirability and acceptance.”

Conquering the Greatest Fear of All

Many would think that people’s greatest fear in their lives is the fear of death. It should be, however our egos have very sneaky ways of deleting the fact that we’re all going to die someday. It would actually be very healthy for society if the fear of death was number 1 on the list- this would like be a sign of a higher level of consciousness at the societal level and definitely an overall diminished ego. However studies continually report that public speaking is man’s greatest fear. It’s not the speaking their afraid of, so let’s cut to the core of what fear drives the masses. It’s the fear or rejection- plain and simple. The fear of rejection is the reason for public speaking being #1 on the list. At a evolutionary level, the fear of rejection makes sense. Those cavemen and primitive homo sapiens who were rejected and ostracized from the tribe died. The group was a safe space that provided our ancient ancestors with the resources for survival, therefore rejection resulted in the ultimate pain of death.  However in our society today, rejection is not a matter of survival. Perhaps this fear of rejection is still wired into our nervous system and our genes from thousands of years ago- I don’t know, that’s one theory. What I do know is that we as humans have 5 basic needs (survival, love/connection, significance, fun and freedom) and two of these are directly related to our overdeveloped fear of rejection.  In particular, our needs for love/connection and significance/competence are linked to this fear of rejection. Humans do crazy things to ensure that they feel connected to others. They join gangs, they do drugs, they join cults. They also do crazy things to feel a sense of significance. People get tattoos and earrings all over their body just so they can feel special and unique. These needs for connection/love and significance are so visceral that if they are not met, humans will experience anxiety and massive amounts of fear. Additionally, people will settle for avenues to meet these needs on such a short term basis that they inevitably sacrifice their long term fulfillment and happiness. For example, people will marry the wrong person because they fear not getting these needs met if they were to break up with them tomorrow and God forbid have to be single for a little while. The fear of rejection is the outward manifestation of the scarce belief of human beings that their needs of connection and significance are not going to be met.

 Another reason people so desperately fear being rejected by a potential mate, friend, group or client because they falsely attribute this as a sign that they are not worthy, lovable or a significant human being.  They have erroneous beliefs that if they get rejected by that one person, then they are all of the sudden unlovable or insignificant and that they will not be able to be loved ever again. It’s hilarious if you take a step back and look at this silly dynamic.  

 You now understand what is behind this fear of rejection, but what keeps it in place? What keeps it so firmly rooted that it continues to run our society? There are factors in our society and our family systems that really lock it in, so it keeps its frightening effect. Our families and school systems have implicit rules that if you behave and act like you’re supposed to- you will be a part of our group- you will fit in and therefore be accepted. Most don’t even see that this is going on in their own family. They have been playing the same role for the last 20-30 years that they think all is fine and dandy. However, a person will see this dynamic the minute they stop playing their ascribed role and begin to either play something different or don’t follow the underlying family rules. It is in this moment when the feeling of being ostracized, or no longer part of group begins to sting. Whether it be in a group or a family, this disconnect feels like death. One minute you felt love, connection and significant because of all the closeness and support of those around you. Then the next moment you feel like it all got taken away from you. A great sense of loss sweeps over you. The feelings can mimic that of death. You feel like someone just stole all your oxygen and now you have nothing to breathe. You lose your entire sense of certainty and begin to wonder, “who the hell am I?”. You identified for so many years with your family, group or clique that now you feel naked and unworthy. You feel like you must go back to playing that old role you had been conforming to for so many years just to get the love and approval back that you feel like has been lost. 

 Many people have no idea what I am talking about. They are still the fish in the water. They don’t yet have the awareness to get outside of their limited perception of what keeps the family, group or system in homeostasis. They don’t understand the rules, the roles and the rituals that keep the dysfunction at bay.  However, if you are at this point or have experienced this, this is not a tragedy. This is the greatest opportunity of your life. That feeling of loss of love and significance is an ILLUSION OF LOSS!  What this whole shit show of a scenario has revealed to you is that you have been basing your whole self worth and sense of self on other people’s opinions and behavior. In the words of Leslie Cameron Bandler, you have become an emotional hostage to other people. You have unconsciously learned that in order to feel good, feel loved, feel worthy and feel significant- someone else has to do something for you- they have to give it to you. This is a major opportunity for personal growth and massive breakthrough. You were living life under the assumption that everyone else had the oxygen and you had to do something or be someone for them in order to get it so that you could breathe. This is not the case, there is an unlimited amount of oxygen and you can get it yourself without having to rely on someone acting some certain way toward you. This faulty belief that people outside of you were the source of your happiness and self worth is the biggest lie and the handcuffs to your happiness and potential. Self actualization is about harnessing your inner power and living life on your own terms- not an emotional hostage to other people. 

 This level of awareness is the first step out of victimhood. Our society is saturated with codependent relationships and emotional hostage taking that it has almost become the norm. People are unaware of it- they see no problem. We have been brainwashed from a young age through Hollywood, the media , politicians and advertisers to get our sense of significance and love from others. This unconscious decision on our part to become dependent on other people is exactly the mechanism that keeps them in power. I am not telling you that you should say “fuck off” to all other human beings. What I am suggesting is that you begin to wake up and escape the cultural hypnosis that something outside yourself is going to be the mechanism for your peace, happiness and self worth. 

 In order to be free from the fear of rejection you must adopt the belief that you are in control of your emotional state and the way you feel. Nothing and no one can change the way you feel. I know this is a tall task, but this belief is the underlying belief that will free you from your fear of rejection and your victimhood. I will discuss practical tactics to allow you to free yourself from the chains of this fear of rejection, people pleasing and approval seeking in posts down the road. This is merely a discussion to raise awareness of the issue. 

 

The greatest irony of all is that once you can conquer your fear of rejection- you actually will receive even more love/connection and a greater sense of significance. No longer can anyone take anything away from you. There is no illusion of loss anymore. You are supplying your energy, your life force and your feelings of significance. People will actually flock to you because you are offering them a unique proposition. You are inherently offering them the opportunity at a real relationship with no emotional hostage taking or victimhood. It is the ultimate freedom for both parties. Both people can show up to the relationship and be exactly as they are. There are no expectations, obligations or invisible rules that dictate that people should be different or act different than they currently are. 

 I believe this topic is the crux of personal development that gets ignored and is rarely spoken about.  It is time to pull the curtain back and reveal what is running people’s lives in our culture in this day and age. It’s the fear of rejection- PERIOD.  It is behind the look in every office workers eyes when they look up from their cubicle to see their coworker leaving to pursue their dream- start their own business or move to their dream spot on the globe. The fear of rejection keeps people planted where they are, living lives of quiet desperation. Kill the monster when it’s small, because when the fear gets too big, it feels nearly impossible to overtake. 

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life

Once you’ve read a number of self help books you’ve probably adopted the understanding that the world is quite subjective.  The media, politicians, advertisers and pretty much any ruling entity convey to the world that there is an objective reality. A lot of people buy into this objective reality that is being fed to them, and consequently, their lives tend to be filled with fear, suffering and hardship.  With an understanding of our subjective experience as humans being, the world in which we interact with typically takes the form of the beliefs we hold about it. Generally speaking, our experience in the world is a result of our beliefs about the external world, beliefs about ourselves and beliefs about other people.  The vast majority of these beliefs we are not aware of. They are unconscious beliefs.  A very wealthy person has certain beliefs about himself, the world and others that allows him to become very wealthy. The same goes for a happy person, a depressed person, a peaceful person, a spiritual person- you get my point. The world in which we live in is a direct result of the beliefs we have about that world, ourselves and others. Think of our beliefs as the glasses in which we view the world through. The lens of our glasses determine the world in which we perceive and therefore experience. If we see a bright, colorful, exciting world- that’s exactly what we’ll get. If we see a gloomy, dark and depressing world- that’s what we’ll get.

Our beliefs about the world and other people can be referred to as our ‘model of the world’ or ‘world view’. A person who thinks that humans are generally evil and always looking to take advantage of other humans will live in a world he believes to be challenging, and he will ultimately engage in fear driven behavior in order to protect himself.  On the other hand, an individual who believes that money is easily accessible and that money-making opportunities are like buses will inevitably become very wealthy and find such opportunities to grow his wealth. 

Our beliefs about ourselves is often times referred to as our ‘self image’ or our ‘identity’. Our identity is the bag which holds our individual beliefs about ourselves. If you believe yourself to be one of the fittest human beings on earth, you will likely have very specific rituals in which you are dedicated to that will enhance your physical condition. If you believe yourself to be a worthless slob, you will probably not be very sociable and could possible not take care of your hygiene. 

In order to change one’s life they must change either their model of the world and their identity. However, changing these things seem to be quite difficult- because how many people do you know who have been effective at changing their life?  The number is likely very small and possible zero. The reason for this is because those who have failed to make tangible changes in their life don’t understand the power of identity, beliefs and their model of the world. Understanding the implications of these factors is the first step towards creating change. Once these are understood, then the questions of “how do you change your identity? How do you change your model of the world? How do you change your beliefs?” can be asked.

One expedient means to shifting your beliefs (both your identity and your model of the world) is through questions. Our minds utilizes questions as the mechanism in which beliefs are transformed into action. In other words, questions are the active form of beliefs. The questions we ask ourselves- both consciously and unconsciously- demonstrates our beliefs (both our identity and our model of the world). You might be saying to yourself, “Well, I don’t ask myself questions”. Yea- you aren’t consciously asking questions, however at an unconscious level- questions are always being asked. That is how our mind processes the external stimuli and information it is receiving from the outside environment. Our brain is constantly asking these two questions:

1. “What does this mean?” 

2. “What should I do?”. 

However in addition to these two questions, our minds also likes to link another question to question 1 in the form of a presupposition. The question “what does this mean” is very vague- it is missing an important part of information. It is absent of a recipient. So our brain rather asks the question “what does this mean about ______? The blank space is for whatever is pertinent in the person’s life. The blank space is typically related to one of our 5 primary needs as a human being. For someone it might be related to their survival needs (food, shelter, protection against violence, etc). For others it might be about whether they will receive love or approval. For a third person, it may be about their level of competency or significance. But typically, our unconscious questions are centered on ensuring that at least one of our 5 basic needs are being met in that particular moment. For a quick review, here are the 5 basic needs that William Glasser outlined in what he called Choice Theory (formerly Control Theory):

1. Survival

2. Love/Connection

3. Competence/Significance/Power

4. Freedom

5. Fun

We tend to live in a variety of questions- depending on the context. If Dave goes on a date with a girl, he may be unconsciously asking the question, “How can I have fun tonight?” (FUN). or “How can I get laid (Fun or Significance or love or it could be all three needs- depending on his belief system). Or he may be asking the question “How can I make sure I don’t embarrass myself?” (which is coming from survival or competence. The question that Dave asks himself going into the date will have a drastic impact on what likely occurs during his date. Our questions determine our reality. This scenario is an example of contextual questions. You will probably ask different questions in different contexts and situations.  It is probably likely that you’ll ask different questions if you are going to a party or if you are going to church. The contextual questions you ask yourself (unconsciously) are important to become aware of and begin to ask them consciously. These contextual questions have the power (if asked with enough repetition and focus) to change your experience in any given context.

Contextual questions are powerful, however we as humans tend to live in 1 or 2 global questions that colors our entire experience in every context. One person’s global question might be, “What do I have to do to feel significant?”, while another person’s question might be “Who do I have to be for everyone to like me?”.  Identifying your global question comes down to identifying the unconscious story you are living in. We are all operating out of some story that is related to our past. The typical structure of a person’s story is this:

A. Something bad or limiting occurred in their past

B. They devise some plan to make up for that past transgression in their life.

C. They pursue this goal or set of circumstances with the belief that once they get the goal or life circumstances they will finally “have made it” and be okay.

D. They never actually feel okay with themselves (even if they do get the thing they’ve been chasing)- because that feeling of being okay is an internal state that can’t be met by anything or anyone outside of them self. 

E. They either select something else to chase or they give up and begin to feel hopeless or helpless about life (depending on whether they were able to reach their contrived goal/picture perfect life). 

If you can identify the unconscious story you have been living in, you’ve made a huge step. Most people never gain the self awareness to be able to see past their narrow and tilted view of reality. Once you know your story, it is time to find out what unconscious global question you’ve been living in. It should be pretty easy once you understand the story you have been telling yourself. Unless you are poverty stricken and struggle meeting your basic survival needs, our global questions (and subsequent stories) tend to revolve around our need for love/connection and/or our need for competence/significance/power. Once you uncover the global question that has been directing your life, you now have the power to change the question consciously and begin to rehearse over and over. Awareness and then rehearsal of this new question is one approach to changing your beliefs- which take the form as your model of the world and your identity.  Many people chase money, relationships, possessions, titles, prestige thinking that it is going to finally deliver on and make up for their greatest insecurity- when in reality all they are ever after is an internal feeling, an emotion or a perception- which can only be given to them from their own doing. 

 

A Life Worth Living is a Life Worth Recording: The Power of Journaling

It is said that we think somewhere in the vicinity of 50,000 to 100,000 thoughts a day. Some of these thoughts might be meaningless, others might be a million dollar idea or distinction.  Have you ever come up with some groundbreaking or innovative idea- maybe a business idea, an invention or some concept you thought could change the world?  And maybe you thought about it for a brief moment and then you let it pass by and you failed to take the action that would set it into motion?  And then one day while you’re watching tv or browsing the internet- that same idea you came up with a few years earlier is now the next big thing and is an incredible success?   Undoubtedly those who take massive action have a significantly greater probability of success than those who do not. However, at a closer look, there is an intermediate step in this process of creation that probably separates the truly innovative (and successful) entrepreneurs from John Doe who comes up with the same creative idea in his head.  It is their critical thinking and problem solving abilities.  How does one cultivate such an ability?  For starters- a burning curiosity, a devoted commitment to learning, strategic thinking and intense self reflection.  An invaluable way to begin to cultivate all three invaluable skills is through journaling. You look at some highly successful people like Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn, Darren Hardy, etc. and they all are highly dedicated to the process of journaling. As Jim Rohn once said, “a life worth living is a life worth recording”.

What is the value of journaling?

Since our brains are being inundated with an abundance of information and other external stimuli, a journal is the very mechanism that can help us to straighten out our priorities, thoughts and emotions. It also provides an effective avenue to chart one’s progress, successes, areas of improvement and future goals. The great thing about writing (especially when it relates to ourselves) is that it tends to make us look at our lives in a more objective manner. By writing and reflecting about ourselves we can separate from our egos and look at ourselves from an independent, 3rd party’s point of view.

Writing also takes something (a thought or idea) that is intangible and make it concrete- literally, you are taking an abstract concept and through the stroke of a pen, it is physically real and tangible- engraved on a sheet of paper. When we write we are also sharpening our strategic thinking, logic and reasoning abilities. Writing can also help you let go of an unhealthy obsession, attachment or resistance to something.  Yes, journaling is an incredibly therapeutic activity. Next time your frustrated, fuming or raging over something or someone- write about it or write that person a letter explaining how you feel. Then let it be and look at it the next day or a week.. You will likely see how irrational and overly emotional you were probably being in that moment. Heck, it might even give you a good laugh.  Hindsight tends to have that effect. If all you did in your journal was express your most intense emotions and events in your life- the benefit would be unbelievable. Your internal communication with yourself and your inner emotional world would be completely different after 6 months of this simple activity.

Journals are great for listing your daily rituals and holding yourself accountable for living these practices. This exercise is great because instead of evaluating your progress toward a goal based on whether or not you achieved the grand plan- you are able celebrate your small successes of completing all 4 or 5 of your daily rituals in that given day. And after a year of doing that- imagine where you’ll be.

Journaling is also a great tool for breaking the habit of being yourself and gaining a greater degree of self awareness. If you log everything you do in a week (and by this I mean down to the very minute), you can see where you are spending your time. You’d be surprised how much of your time is spent in dead end activities and unnecessary endeavors that aren’t progressing you toward your ultimate vision.  I know for me I haven’t turned on the tv in the past 9 months and the reward has been incredible. To take this one step further- log all your emotional states you live in during that given week. Really see where you live emotionally. This is a great indicator of how effective you are in living your life. Because our quality of life is directly determined by the quality of emotions we experience on a minute to minute and day to day basis. If you’re not spending the vast majority of your time in emotional states that empower you and move you toward your ultimate destiny then you have to make a massive change in your life (which I’ve probably detailed in past posts or will detail in the future).

So what you should you be writing in your journal?

1. Everyday outline your daily practices (musts) and other clerical and odd job tasks you need to complete for that day. Get into the habit of checking off every item from that list throughout the day when you complete it. This builds serious psychological muscle. When you do this you are teaching your brain- I GET SHIT DONE! and it also massively shifts your identity from a procrastinator to someone who takes massive action. You can list these practices the night before.

2. Finish each day with a set period of time 15-30 minutes of journaling. In this time I like to reflect on the day and answer specific questions. Here is a list of questions that are really good to not only create some closure for your day but also really highlight some key emotional states and the progress you have made (to shut up your ego who is always looking for bigger/better/more):

1.What have I given today? How have I been loving today?

2. What bad habit did I break today? How did I break the habit of being myself today?

3. How am I better? What did I do today that improved myself?

4. How can I improve in the future? Where did I not be my best self?

5. Were my intentions and actions congruent and just today? Am I living consistent with the man I want to become?

6. What did I learn today? (hopefully this is an extensive answer) What do I want to learn/study tomorrow?

7. Who did I touch today?

8. What is the life I want and demand of myself? How did I work toward that today? How did I live that life today?

9. What emotions did I live in today? What emotions must I live in tomorrow?

10. What fear did I face today and stand up to?

11. What did I do today to contribute to my happiness?

12. What detracted from my happiness today?

13. What problems did I solve today? How was I resourceful?

14. What do I want/need to work on in the future? tomorrow?

15. What was funny about today? What made me laugh today?

16. What am I truly grateful for in my life?

17. What is the one little thing that if I change/do tomorrow could transform the quality of my life and redirect me in a completely new direction?

3. Track your long term progress. Reflect back often and see the incredible progress you made over the past year or the last 6 months- really look at how far you’ve come. So many times we only focus on how far away we are from where we want to be and forget about how far we’ve come. This is a recipe for disaster because you are letting your ego win and training your brain to always be unsatisfied- so that if someday you ultimately do achieve that goal- you will be unfulfilled, looking on toward the next goal and likely ask yourself the question “Is this all there is?” This gets back to the whole gratitude piece, but if you are constantly focused on not being cool with where you are in the process, and needing results- you will never actually get the results. I know this sounds weird, but in order to get to where you want to go, you must be comfortable with where you currently are first.