It’s not you, it’s me.

The third edition or tool in this blog series is understanding nearly all our interactions are not personal, meaning it’s not about US, it’s usually about the other person.

This practice can help you reframe context in the moment and shift your perspective instantly. Practicing this can elevate your communication skills at home, work and your social life.

There are a few things to consider as a baseline for this tool. Firstly, if you look at a road map it can give you a good idea of where you are, or where you want to go from a routing standpoint, which streets to take and direction to go. A map though will not tell you where the pot-holes are, or stop signs, or “no left turn”, or “one-way” roads.

A map will give you guidance, but the terrain is a much different animal. Our perspectives on life are very much the same. Many of us have heard the axiom “perception is reality”. This is true as far as the individual who is doing the perceiving.

When we are communicating with others, our thoughts and perceptions are very different from theirs, even with friends and loved ones. We may see eye to eye on most things, but you’ll notice a few areas where you an even your closest relation have differing opinions.

Understanding people have very different perceptions than our own, and that “perception is reality”, we can see how a simple mis-understanding, or saying something a certain way can trigger us or the other party.

When we trigger somebody in this way, it has nothing to do with us and is a chance for us to learn a touch point, and gain further insight into the reaction. More on this on another day.

If we are triggered by something, then we have an opportunity to learn a touch point about ourselves, and we get to work on healing it. We get to see where we can grow mentally in these areas as they are highlighted to us.

Another baseline concept is that people are always making the best choices available to them, at that moment. People want to be good, and often they do what is perceived to be the best thing for them even when it’s at the expense of someone/something else.

Ever wonder why that co-worker threw you under the bus with the boss? It wasn’t about you, it was about them advancing their own agenda.

Lastly, the mirror effect is a well known concept which can be a tough one to accept for many. Essentially, what we see in this world is a mirror of what we are giving, putting out into the world. Imagine if all you see is sickness, misery and a world falling apart? That’s a hard pill to swallow and accept it’s not the world who’s crumbling, but you.

The mirror effect though is a real thing. This isn’t to say it’s fair, nice, considerate or compassionate to your circumstances. It can be magical, it can also be brutal. The good news is we have a choice in the matter.

What we experience from other people is a mirror of what we are displaying. It’s never about how we’re being treated as much as it is how we are treating others. It’s not personal FROM others to us, though it is entirely personal from us TO others. This brings us back to perspective. A nice clean circle.

When we are being treated, or experiencing things we don’t like we have to look inward to ourselves first.

The world we live in, the perspective we have, the live we create is entirely up to us and only us to adapt as we choose. When we allow ourselves to be persecuted, attacked, and get down on ourselves and our surroundings we will simply have more of this.

When we realize the world is doing what the world does, and people are doing what people do, and it will all happen whether we are here to experience it or not.

If you’ve ever missed an event you were invited to, a birthday, a recital, a wedding, a baseball game, you name it. The even still happened even if you didn’t show up. That is the world we live in. It’s not personal unless we take it personally, which all to often many of us do.

Creating power in your life means taking ownership of everything you experience. If you don’t like it, find a way to change it. It’s not easy, but it is simple by design.

When you start to use these tools together inside of your daily life you will begin to see shifts in how things transpire. It doesn’t happen overnight, and this is a practice which will take time to learn, hone and improve upon.

Choosing to shift our thoughts is one thing. Consistently practicing over the long term to create lasting change in us, and therefore around us is another thing. The good news is the choices are ours, and when we regress we can always shift back on track again.

Stay tuned for part 4 of this series of tools to upgrade your thoughts.

A practice in presence

A simple and highly effective way to upgrade your thoughts, part 2.

Following up on my last blog post, this is the first of four follow up posts diving just a bit deeper into a few concepts. These four protocols as I have come to know them are simple, proven concepts and when applied individually yield great results. Though when used in concert with each other, consistently the results can be truly powerful.

I’m going to focus today on being present in each moment. We’ve all heard this before, and the idea of being present in the moment has been a topic as far back into history as we can find. It’s for good reason too. The best things always stand the test of time. The best things are often also simple in concept and powerful in result, yet not always easy in practice.

I’m going to focus on the practice part today instead of the value behind being present, you’re probably aware already of the benefits of being present. However, to give a similar example between of the difference between knowledge and practice, just because you understand how an airplane flies, doesn’t mean you can actually fly one.

Why is it so hard to be present, and in the moment? For one our society basically programs us to be anything and everything BUT present. We’re taught to worry about the future and plan for what’s to come. Think about the concept of retirement, work your whole life so you can spend a few quality years of “enjoyment” at the tail end of life. The entire idea is rooted in future tense.

Advertisements bombard us from billboards, to online ads, print, TV commercials etc. of things we need to have to be happy. Social media is a another platform(s) which by it’s nature creates a thought pattern of comparing ourselves to others, of wanting to have what the “influencers” have, be it a rockin’ body, a custom car, or the latest fashion or the new vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, soyless, what-cha-ma-call-it-but-its-not-meat-substitute!

All of this and we still haven’t walked out the door and interacted with people yet!

Our brains are moving a billion miles an hour, slowing them down, even for a short time takes patience and practice. Even when we do slow them down we tend to still think about all the things we should be doing, want to do, forgot to do, etc…

Now I ask you to notice the thought(s) you are having right this moment.

Stop reading and notice if you are only reading this, or if you are reading this while thinking of something else. Notice what is going through your mind in this moment, without judgment of good, bad, simply notice it and be ok with whatever it is.

I am going to challenge you to practice something for one day. Once you do this for one day I ask you do it for two, then three, then four, all the way to ten days, one day at a time.

Pick a thing you do each day, for instance driving to/from work. Pick something where you have a defined period of time allocated each day, and take a five minute chunk of that time and dedicate it to noticing what is going on around you, and nothing else.

When you first try this, and realize in less than a full minute your mind has already moved on to something else, notice you are thinking of something else and bring yourself back to what you area doing at that moment. DO NOT JUDGE yourself or be harsh, simply notice the mind wandering and come back to what you are doing. Peacefully and calmly.

Even when your mind wanders 30 times in a 5 minute span, simply notice it and come back. Judging yourself for a wandering is counter-productive. If you do reactionarily judge yourself, notice this too, notice the act of judging yourself. Notice it for what it is, a reactionary emotion which is neither good nor bad in this moment.

I like to do this while driving because I can turn off the radio and it also helps me release my judgement of how others drive, which gives me a much calmer and more peaceful trip to the office and back. The idea though is to pick a segment of time, the same time (roughly) and activity everyday to practice noticing your thoughts.

This will help build consistency and a habit of doing this while you do the activity everyday. This won’t be as easy as it sounds, and even if you think you “failed” at it don’t give up, it’s all the more reason to keep trying. Practicing a thing means you will get it wrong, alot, before you start to get it right.

Notice, without judgement your thoughts. While you are practicing being “in the moment” focus on the smells you are smelling, what you are feeling physically (like the material of the seat, steering wheel, clothing) and what you are feeling emotionally.

Are you happy, sad, frustrated, joyous, something else altogether? Notice the scenery around you and the details of it. If you’re driving you can notice the other cars around you, how is the traffic flowing together, or is it stop and go? What kind of cars are travelling with you?

If you’ve taken note of all these things and then simply sit with the feeling you are having, the emotion you are experiencing. Feel it, breathe it, welcome it.

The simple act of noticing our immediate environment is the best way to begin the process of presence. Soon, you will find yourself in a conversation with something totally engaged with this person or persons and thinking of nothing but the person in front of you.

This is easy with an “important” person. It’s more difficult when you find yourself interrupted unexpectedly by someone who you want to blow off, but now you notice your desire to blow them off, and instead of reacting on this desire, you engage with them wholly.

This is where the miracles of life happen, in the most unexpected places, and they happen often when we are paying attention.

I’d like to hear from you on how your practice is going, I invite you to send me a note directly at roger@powerfullifeinc.com to tell me about your experience with this.

Stay tuned for the next installment, which will focus on finding the good in any event.

Carry your flag.

Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone where you are truly confused as to how they can hold the position they do? No amount of trying to convince them to change their mind has even budged them, AND their side of the argument is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard?

Most of us can easily conjure up a few quick examples of this, be it from our relationships, talk of politics and/or religion with friends and family, perhaps in discussions with co-workers about how to move the company forward. If you can’t think of anything, flip on some sports talk radio after the local football team looses, or find a local political talk show and you’ll quickly be brought up to speed.

Perhaps it’s something closer to home, maybe your a parent trying to get your kids to stay on track in the midst of the chaos of a teenagers world. Perhaps its’ trying to get your significant other to see the benefits of changing some habits to create a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps we’re trying to help a friend see the relationship they’re in is toxic, yet their blind to the concept. It can be hugely frustrating to watch someone we love and care about do (or not do) things which are ultimately hurting themselves. Often times this makes us try even harder to get our message across, even to try and force our perception onto them so they can finally see the light!

Perhaps though it’s us who need to see the light in instances such as this. I’ve come to realize people need to come to their own conclusions, in their own time if they are truly to learn the lessons. Perhaps the best we can do as we care for those we see heading down an unhealthy path is to give them space to experience what they must. (To be clear I’m not talking about a physically abusive or life threatening scenario, these obviously need to be handled with a more direct urgency.)

I am talking about guiding our children to create their own path in this world. I am referring to relationships where we feel we can help a spouse or friend to begin exercising or eating healthier. I am speaking about someone who needs to realize on their own they are far better than the current relationship is treating them. I am speaking about creating a long term sustainable change for the wellbeing of those we care about.

If you’ve ever noticed, life is lived in patterns and tends to repeat itself until we learn the lesson in the pattern. Many people find themselves in and out of relationships, yet when evaluating the relationships they realize they’ve all been the same, simply the other person changed and the scenarios are all too similar. The same goes for jobs, financial health, mental and physical health. Perhaps you’ve been working towards financial freedom for years and feel like you’ve made progress, you have a better job, a nicer home, a new car. Things are good! Yet you still don’t have any money in the bank, you still can’t afford to up and quit your job… Things really haven’t changed, only the scenery.

These patterns are in all of our lives and in all kinds of ways. Try as we might many of us will never even realize these patterns exist. These souls are the ones who end up beat down in the long run, who’s luck “ran out” on them. Our education system sure isn’t going to teach us about these things, neither is any of the mainstream educational outlets. People who notice these patterns, and find them in their own lives are the ones who actively sought the cause of what was holding them back in a certain area or areas of life.

When we try and provide our perspectives to others we are giving them the benefit of our experience. This is a great tool when we share this in a way which allows for the listener to make their own choice to utilize our experience for themselves, or not. When we try and force our opinion or perspective onto someone, we are much more likely to drive them away from us and towards the very thing we are trying to save them from.

“if you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you it’s yours. If it doesn’t it was never yours in the first place.”

When we give somebody the space to make their own choice, (especially when we think it’s wrong) we give them the opportunity to learn a life lesson and shatter the pattern, thereby giving the ability to fully move past it. This is a tough concept to accept, and even harder to apply in the moment it matters most. It is also a powerful one which can benefit all when done right.

In my last blog post I talked about acceptance of self, and therefore the world around us. Letting go of what we think others “should do” is a continuation of that thought.

In the past I used to joke how I liked to “learn lessons the hard way” which was by going through the painful experience or process on my own, even when so many people around me told me exactly what was going to happen. More often than not they were right and ultimately I would give them the old “I should have listened to you” line. A few times though, things turned out so much better because I went through it and found a new way to accomplish what I wanted, when no one (even myself sometimes) saw the path.

These times which went my way where always meant to go that way, yet there is no way to know on the front end. These are all lessons I would have had to repeat over and over again in some way until I succeeded. For all the good intentions of others, had I listened I wouldn’t have walked my path, but theirs. In each case creating a repeatable pattern in my own life.

When we truly love somebody we desire only the highest and best for them. Yet we know not what that actually is. As a father, husband, brother, son, business owner and so much else this used to be a very painful approach for me. The more I practice it and understand it though, the more I know my fear of what might happen is nothing compared to the growth and long term development of everyone involved. All will be exactly as it should, and I accept that.

I choose to carry my own flag, as I support others to carry their own.

blindspot

One thing I’ve noticed. We are the blind spot in our own mirror.

Al pretenses aside, I have tried to bury my own creative spirit for a long time now. For as long as I can remember I have been a numbers guy, analytical in my thinking and very much business oriented. I like this aspect of who I get to be. I have also forgotten that I am by nature a creative at heart, and this creativity reveals itself every step of the way.

While I have stifled this creativity in the name of “I need to go to bed”, or “I don’t have time for this/that”, I have also come to realize I am as much the problem as the solution. I have coached people through all kinds of things, and yet I find my myself at the need of my own advise.

Simplify.

I have been my own worst enemy for as long as I know. Not on purpose, not intentionally or rationally. At some level I have been telling myself I “have to go to bed at X time”, “I need a day off to “relax”” and other such things. I have done this as long as I can remember, yet at the same time I have created in my life many things which I love to do. Yet I still have retained the “I need to break away” mantra and the result is that I simply don’t break away. It doesn’t matter if it’s Wednesday or Saturday, Christmas or the middle of June.

I love my life, my wife, my daughters and the business I get to drive towards the coming years. I have a great life and am happy, yet I find myself wanting to “rest” from it. This “rest” is based upon an idea which isn’t even mine, but a societal structure which I’ve long resisted. I’ve never subscribed to the mantra of working for somebody during my prime years, save your money only to retire at the twilight of life and hope I still have my health an ability to enjoy a few years before passing on. Yet some part of me has held to this concept when it comes to my the hours of my day. I’m embarrassed to admit this, mainly because it’s so damned obviously a hole in my perception.

If I was coaching somebody else with this same issue I know the questions I would ask to highlight the situation clearly for the person. Yet because this time it is me, and the uncomfortable truth is that it’s easier to overlook my own faults than face and correct them.

We all have blind spots and while we may ignore them for a time, they will persist until we address them. We don’t consciously ignore these things, it’s almost always beneath the surface and only reveals itself once we’re ready to deal with it. There’s no use in wasting time or energy wishing something was different, that I’d adjusted sooner. For some reason I may not ever understand I wasn’t ready earlier, yet I am now. This is all that matters.

While we are our own blind-spots, we are also the only ones who can choose to see this. When you feel that things aren’t going as planned or there is a dis-connect you experience, the answer and re-connection is always within you. It’s not easy to find our own faults and coaches can help immensely in this area. Not to tell us things we don’t know, but to highlight those things we don’t see which are in front of us, and make all the difference.