Monthly Archives: April 2014

Losing

I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by giving, by losing. Anais Nin

If you fail at something, you are a loser… right?

If you lose a game, you are not good enough…right?

If you question some forms of authority, you are a loser… right?

If you are different, you are a loser… right?

Hmm, I wonder… If we believed the above statements, and the millions of other similar statements, we would all be losers!

What is wrong with that?

There is nothing wrong with losing, one could argue that the driving force of progress and civilization is the ability to lose and use that loss as a foundation for change! The problem with losing is the judgment that results from it, or in some cases actually causes it. This judgment comes from a perceived expectation of yourself or another about what is right and wrong, and as such is nothing more than an idea or a fixed perspective.

Mature people, something which we all strive to be I presume, have the ability to take their losses and use them as a foundation for change. For them, loss is nothing more than fuel which they use to drive them forward into their success.

Losing seems to force a person to find the courage to do three things;

  1. To live life irrespective of the outcome and be responsible for it.

  2. Change one’s approach

  3. Reassess their personal resources and re allocate those resources.

Managing loss allows one to strip away the outer layer of expectation, illusion and false identity. It allows one to find their strength and their true identity, and it allows one to achieve exactly what one wants to achieve without external limitation. We all have only two choices when facing loss, we can either enslave ourselves to it, or we can use it to succeed. As soon as we decide to use loss, the above mentioned three resources guide us towards our success. It is a natural evolutionary progression. All we have to do is decide and act on that decision.

 

Take some time to look at your personal losses in life so far. See how you have recovered from those losses and how you can use your loss to fine tune your path to success.

 

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Patience

Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.

Carl Jung

Here is a challenge for you, a challenge as old as the wise men and women, the sages of old. Embrace your bad times, give your drama, that stuff that is, or has the potential to make you miserable. Go on, give it a mental and emotional hug, thank it for being in your life, and appreciate how much depth and flavour that negative stuff has added to your life!

How do you feel about all that negative stuff now?

Does it still have the same amount of power over you?

Notice that not much actually happened to you. You embraced your fears and negativity and you are still here!

Was that so hard?

What you in essence are doing is allowing yourself to see things in your life from a different perspective. Remember when you last attempted a jigsaw puzzle. Remember that crazy piece that you turned around again and again trying to fit it in all over the place. By turning it around and around, you were changing the way you were perceiving that piece, and in so doing, you were solving your problem. By embracing the problem and understanding it, you can solve that problem, by hiding from it, or plastering over it, you cant!

The secret ingredient to this process is patience. Patience allows you to let the problem solving to mature, and in letting it mature, you have time to strategise and plan a way forward. Patience allows you to gracefully change your perspective so you can move through both good times and bad times with grace and ease.

Give that drama a hug, what have you got to lose?

You may just surprise yourself!

 

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Guilt

“Guilt for being rich, and guilt thinking that perhaps love and peace isn’t enough and you have to go and get shot or something.” John Lennon

 

Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that violation – Wikipedia

A spiritual teacher once told me that guilt is a society induced emotion that keeps every one in line. It is a way of moulding behaviour to fit in with a particular social norm. We need rules to function as a collective, it is how the system that we function within on earth works, and in most cases it works well. Do we need excessive guilt though?

Have you ever thought about how and why you do or do not do things?

What regulates your behaviour?

Why are you not …..?

The observation that I would like to encourage today is not an exercise in anarchy, but rather an exercise in self empowerment. All of us know what is right and what is wrong, so do you need to feel guilty about X, Y and Z?

I remember having a revelation as a child. I dropped and broke on of my mothers best crystal glasses. My friend quickly invented a story to say that the dog bumped me and I dropped the glass. This sounded great as responsibility was shifting away from me and landing squarely on the dog! I spent the rest of the afternoon playing, but feeling apprehensive and guilty. By the time my mom got home from work, I blurted out that I had dropped the glass and broken it by accident! The relief was immense!

I was confused that I had told the truth and put myself in the way of a potential hiding, yet felt relieved! I spoke to my mom about it and she said that I had told the truth, so need not fear reprisal or feel guilt.

By reducing our guilt, we can reduce our frustration, our anger and our depression, BUT, that reduction comes with a price. I propose that the more personal responsibility we exercise, the less guilt we should need to experience.

Personal responsibility presumes that you are able to be accountable for your actions. You can not blame another, or defer that responsibility to the collective as and when you see fit!

In a similar vein, this week observe your feelings of guilt.

Where do they come from?

What purpose do they serve?

If you are honest with yourself, do you still need these feelings of guilt?

How would your life be if you took greater personal responsibility?

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Compassion and Empathy

Compassion – The emotion that we feel in response to the suffering of others – Wikipedia

Empathy – The capacity to recognise emotions that are being experienced by another sentient being – Wikipedia

As a child I was brought up to be compassionate. To love my neighbour, to turn the other cheek, to be an all round nice guy … and a pushover. After many years of contemplation I made the following observations;

Compassion is a rather selfish endeavour who’s main purpose is to help people less fortunate and butter up our personal egos. Compassion presumes the existence of a victim and a saviour, and as such it forces us to make a judgement from our own life experience as to where we fit into the compassion duality – either a victim or a saviour. Only after this observation and judgement, can we embark upon a course of action that twill result in the act of compassion. This was one of those fabled gestalt moments for me!

I realised that there was nothing at all wrong with what and how I was feeling. The problem was that I was trying to force myself to feel and act within the framework of compassion. This in its self was a good thing, but there were many time where it was inappropriate and I was feeling guilty about it!

I then discovered empathy. Empathy recognises the other as they are in the moment. One does not need a reference point form within ones own life to function in and apply empathy. Empathy involves the respect for the other as they are, no judgement, no presumption and no obligation to save. This represents the ultimate respect that any person can have for another. Respect them in the moment. Once we have observed this respect, we can then decide how we can impact on the other in a way that is appropriate for both them and us.

Go out this week and play with these concepts and observe how you feel!

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Your Ego

One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.

G. K. Chesterton

What is your ego?

Have you ever observed the moment in time when your ego triggers?

Are you by any chance insecure or threatened in some what when your ego triggers…?

From this we can deduce that the famous gurus and spiritual teachers either only told us half the truth about ego, or that they have been conveniently miss interpreted. The goal of life is not to destroy the ego, the goal of life should be to befriend and cultivate the ego. Mold the ego into a positive survival force in our lives.

your ego is not a bad thing! The sole purpose of the ego is to keep you alive. It is an integral part of our subconscious, primitive survival response. Think of the ego as a viscous guard dog. You can either be afraid of the dog and regret times when the dog escapes and attacks people unnecessarily, or you can love the dog, feed it and care for it and enjoy the unquestioning loyalty of a beloved pet, knowing that the dog will protect you only when commanded to. The guard dog has no choice in the matter, it is just doing what it feels it needs to do to survive!

In most cases our ego triggers when we feel as if we have something to lose – either physical stuff, or social position, or our own sense of importance. The ego kicks in to try and prevent that loss. Remember that self worth, self identity and who we feel that we need to present ourselves as to the world out there are all integral aspects of the triggers that trip our individual ego responses. Each set of triggers and experiences are going to be unique to you.

To observe this and to start to choose more appropriate responses, try to implement the following;

  • When your ego triggers, back off for a moment and ask why?

  • Look for the physical thing that triggered the response (even being cut off in the traffic triggers an ego response!)

  • Ask yourself what you have to lose, or why you feel threatened in that space.

  • Is it actually important to you?

  • Why?

  • How would you like to respond in the future?

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