Have a talk with yourself


We spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to convince others of our worthiness. We talk, write, sell, present and plead for others to see us for who we are.

But those actions only speak to the ego. They are false ideas of the self.

To live from a truly authentic place, you need to convince yourself of your own worthiness. You need to see it first-hand. You need to understand and feel your own worth and place in the universe. You must keep your mind focused on your own sense of value and learn to believe in it wholeheartedly.

When you do, others will automatically see you for who you are: a beautiful extension of All That Is. Pure energy. Pure brilliance. Pure love.


Death of the salesman

The sales pitch started over coffee.

Actually, it started over spilled coffee. I had unscrewed the carafe on my coffee pot a little too far causing the entire pot of hot java to spew across the counter and onto my freshly pressed slacks. It was going to be one of those days. Moments earlier I thought how good I looked–almost like a salesman—coiffed and polished and ready to take on anything.

“Really? This is how the day is going to start?” I asked of the universe. I didn’t expect an answer but felt that asking the question would somehow quell any further drama. I tried to brush off my anger and simply get on with the day. No sense in crying over spilled coffee.

Not willing to go without my ritual coffee, I decided to head over to the local coffee shop. As I walked in, I saw one of my favorite baristas, Karen, a young woman who always has a smile on her face and a cheerful attitude. I greeted her as warmly as I could without any coffee in my system.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Oh my God! I’m so tired this morning. I didn’t sleep a wink and I feel like I’m in a fog. I have a paper due for class later today and I didn’t even get it finished,” she replied. Her response was like projectile negativity, it came out hard and fast and messy. She was trying desperately to sell me on the idea that her morning was rough.

It almost worked until my own inner salesman stepped forward. He quickly realized he could outsell her. She was but a mere amateur. He stooped down to her level as he started his sales pitch.

“Oh I know. I’ve been having trouble sleeping for a week and feel like a walking zombie. My dog just had surgery and I’ve been so worried about him and now I’m headed to work and it’s going to be a crazy, crazy day. Did I mention the dog might have cancer?”

It didn’t stop there. We traded tales of woe for about five minutes while she prepared my order, trying to out-do each other with how terrible the day was and how much worse it was going to get.

“Wow, I had no idea,” she told me. My salesman had won this round. I took my order to go and headed to the office.

Moments later, I was talking out loud to the universe again. This time, I was complaining about the lack of parking near my office. Why aren’t there any parking spaces? Why do I always have to park on the street? I’ll probably end up with a ticket by noon. Why do they always have to lock the back door? Why…. Why… Why….

I looked forward to an evening out with my mom and aunt. The two had just returned from vacation and I was excited to hear about their adventure. But as we sat down for dinner, the conversation quickly turned to my problems. I told them about my job, my hatred of my job, my dog and his surgery and generally anything that could convince them that life pretty much sucked.

The salesman had returned yet again, wanting to close another deal. He wouldn’t be satisfied until he convinced everyone that life does indeed suck and that they should buy into that concept wholeheartedly. Instead of money or a fat bonus, my salesman sought different kinds of commissions: pity, nurturing, understanding and sympathy. He earned his commission easily over dinner.

Driving home, however, I finally woke up to the salesman’s presence. I had grown so accustomed to his actions and to his sales pitch that I didn’t even realize he had accompanied me all day. I thought back to his presentations, remembering each interaction where he sought to change people’s minds. I remembered his actions, the feeling in his voice and the high-pressure tactics he used to sell his wares. Who exactly was this salesman and where did he come from? I wondered as I pulled in the driveway.

As I undressed for bed, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Suddenly the salesman had a name, a personality. Finally I knew whom I was dealing with. There he was, standing naked before me: the salesman was my ego.

He’s a clever guy, that ego. He had been wearing my clothes, acting like “me” and taking on my personality. In actuality, he had taken over my personality and I unwittingly became part of his growing sales force. Our goal: to convince others that life is hard, that you can’t get ahead no matter how hard you try and that the universe is always working against you.

Seeing my ego for what it was, I could then get a better grasp on this whole “reality creation” business I write about. Reviewing my day, I thought about all of the times I silently (or sometimes loudly) questioned the universe about my problems. I revisited the conversations I had with others when I shared my challenges, my frustrations and my lack of conviction. I saw all too clearly that I was arguing for my own limitations. And what shocked me most of all was the realization that I wasn’t just trying to convince others that the universe was against me, I was trying to convince myself.

I’m not trying to bash the ego, for I believe it serves a valuable purpose. It is designed to help us navigate the physical world, to help us make sense of it and to work with the intellect and our spirit to create the life we experience. But the ego gets rigid and frightened, and when it does, it overreacts. The ego has a limited scope, unable to see the big picture of the universe like other parts of our spirit can.

The ego likes justification. So those times when we feel stuck and unable to move forward, the ego ups the sales pitch a few notches, telling the world, “See! I told you so. There’s no way out of this mess!” A deceptive sales pitch? You betcha, but it’s an effective one.

When we use language to convince others of our limitations, we end up limiting ourselves further. When we habitually complain about our problems, we end up causing more of them. When we justify unsavory events as happening to us, we create more of the same. It’s a vicious cycle and if it’s not intercepted, it ends up causing more damage.

Take note of your own words and thoughts. Are you arguing “what is” in order to feel justified? Do you tell others about your problems in hopes of gaining sympathy? Are you acting like a salesman or saleswoman, convincing others that you have it worse off than anyone else?

If you find yourself answering affirmatively to any of these statements, you are becoming adept at sales. In these cases, you’re not out to convince anyone but yourself of your limitations, so it’s time to switch to a new strategy.

Try a new sales technique, a gentler one. I don’t necessarily mean becoming Pollyanna and lying about how you feel, but rather gently switching your focus to telling the story you want to live. Talk about things that are true and positive. Remember what you love and enjoy and tell others about them. Above all, remind yourself constantly that just because things aren’t going your way doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for positive change. There is room for change and talking about it in the affirmative helps get the energy moving in that direction.

As for my own salesman, I’ve decided to let him switch careers. I now see him as a “leadership trainee,” showing others that it’s possible to live a good life. His technique will be that of example, letting others see, first-hand, how good life can be and letting them ask, “what’s your secret?” No more selling for this ego, he’s retired from that position.

Now about that commission….





Take your mind on vacation

Take your mind on a vacation

Take your mind on a vacation

Have you ever taken one of those vacations where you feel like you become a new person? The kind where your body relaxes, your mind frees itself and you are, well, happier?

In those instances, you haven’t become a new person; instead, you have shed layers of egotistical crap from your psyche and become the person you really are. The vacation isn’t changing you per se, it’s allowing you to become who you really are. Yes, deep down inside you really are a happy and joyful person.

This thought came about as I walked down the street today, frantically running late to a meeting. Most of the people I passed were either hurriedly walking somewhere purposely or had their head buried in a smartphone. But one young woman stood out from everyone else. She was walking a bit slower than others, her posture was relaxed and I saw that she looked around her with a sense of wonder. As I passed her, she beamed out a warm, inviting smile at me that was impossible not to feel physically. I smiled back and instantly felt less stressed.

The scene reminded me of one of my favorite vacations in Hawai’i years ago. After dinner, a friend and I were walking one of the busiest streets in Honolulu near the marketplace where street vendors vie for the attention—and money—of tourists. But on this splendidly warm evening, everyone on the street was relaxed. Soft Hawaiian music played in the background and tourists languished on the street, taking in the sights and sounds of the tropical paradise.

That night I became aware of the friendly atmosphere of Hawai’i. No one was rushing to get anywhere. No one appeared angry. In fact, almost everyone we passed looked us in the eyes and smiled as they strolled down the street. We didn’t feel pressured to be anywhere or to do anything and in fact the biggest decision was where to stop and have a glass of wine. Sounds pretty nice, huh?

Family vacations notwithstanding, this kind of reaction is common when we go on holiday. We literally feel stress sink into the sand on some exotic beach, allow our troubles to float away while on a canoe in a mountain lake or let our enthusiasm rise in a crowded European marketplace. So why the hell can’t we do this at home?

We can.

During vacation, we purposely turn our attention and awareness in new directions. We notice our surroundings (which are generally new and exciting to the senses) and become emerged in the present moment. Most astonishingly, we feel that it’s okay to relax and quite proper to simply forget our problems for the time being. It’s a trick of the mind.

I’m not saying that vacations aren’t a wonderful thing. I’m certainly not saying that we shouldn’t allow ourselves the pleasure of going on vacation, quite the opposite in fact. I’m a big advocate for getting out of Dodge whenever possible.

I am, however, saying that it’s possible to bring vacation-type awareness back to the regular work-a-day world where it can really do us a lot of good. It starts with conscious choices of where we place our thoughts and emotions.

My interaction with the young woman on the street is a great example. Her smile and the subsequent reminder of vacation made me realize that I have a choice in how I approach each moment. So for the rest of the walk to my meeting, I slowed down and took note of my surroundings. I purposely felt the sun on my face and the slight breeze blowing around me. I made a point to look at everyone I passed and smile at them whether they noticed or not.

I remembered how great it felt to walk down the street in Honolulu and held that image and awareness for the rest of my walk. I wasn’t really on the island but my thoughts were and that allowed me to bring a piece of heaven back home to Colorado.

Bring the beach back with you (or the Eiffel Tower)

When you’re feeling stressed out, over burdened or just plain wiped out, try using some of these simple techniques to adjust your thinking:

  • Stop and remind yourself that you have a choice in each moment. You can feel stressed out or you can allow yourself to feel calm. This is a hard one to do in certain situations, but give it a whirl.
  • Immerse yourself in the present moment. Stop talking, slow your thoughts, and look carefully at the world around you. Take note of small details wherever you are—anything from the bright orange of a pencil on your desk to the coffee cup on the floor of the subway. Investigate with your eyes, your ears and your sense of touch, smell and taste. Engage your senses so that your mind can take a mini-vacation. Above all, breathe deep as you check out your surroundings.
  • Refuse to worry. Even if it’s only for five minutes, tell yourself that you won’t worry and won’t concentrate on problems, challenges, negative people or unwanted shit. Give yourself a break. You can always pick up those thoughts in a while but for now, they’re banished.
  • Change a pattern. Take a new way home from work. Put your pants on the opposite leg first. Order a cheeseburger if you normally get a chicken sandwich. The point here is to engage your mind from a different perspective, much like you’d have to do on a vacation in an unfamiliar place.
  • Send your mind to the beach (or wherever makes you happy). Sit and close your eyes and remember one of your favorite vacations (or people or places). Remember as vividly as possible what you were doing, how you felt, what you wore, what it smelled like and what the temperature was. What did the ground feel like under your feet? Were you in the water? How did it feel against your skin? The trick here is to remember as much detail as possible (happy details!) and keep your mind engaged for several minutes to allow your nervous system to reset itself.

You don’t have to go to the beach to take a vacation. All you need is a purposeful intent, some creativity and a willingness to bring the beach home with you. Change your focus by pretending what it’s like to be on vacation—even if it’s in the middle of a busy day.




This ego needs a laxative

Constipated energy causes problems.

I can’t lay claim to that wonderful observation, it came from my dear friend Allison as she tried to reassure me after a not-so-pleasant confrontation with my roommate this past weekend. The analogy couldn’t be more accurate.

I made what I thought was a reasonable request of my roommate: to move some boxes from the living room to a storage room. Sounds simple, right? The problem, however, isn’t so much the request, but the fact that the boxes had been sitting there for months and months, a fact I chose to ignore time and time again.

Each time I entered the living room, I saw the boxes and would get upset with them being there. But each time I purposely ignored the little voice inside my head that said to confront him. That voice was a clear impulse to action, urging me to address the issue before it became a real problem.

I wanted to keep the peace, so each time I turned a deaf ear to the impulse and hoped the situation would resolve itself. I didn’t stop there, however. I talked to my friends and family about it, I thought about it frequently and had a steady stream of daydreams about it. In turn, I was letting my negative reaction to the boxes become a big energy block.

I reached my limit when I discovered the boxes had multiplied in the past several weeks. Instantly, I felt energy draw up into my body, surging its way through my system as if I stuck my finger in a light socket. My face flushed and my heart raced. It was strong enough that I had to close my eyes for a moment before I could even think about my next move.

Thankfully, I was able to regain my senses and contain my anger long enough to finally talk to my roommate directly in a tactful and careful manner. I immediately felt better although I was a bit shaky. Without getting into detail, let’s just say that the situation went downhill from there.

The take away from this story is this: how unnatural and odd it felt to honor myself by taking action. It seemed as if I was taking back my power by standing up for myself, yet I felt worse than I had before the confrontation. Why?

Allison’s reassuring words put me at ease.

“Saying something, I think, is way better than saying nothing. It lets energy out, lets steam out. Constipated energy causes problems, so way to go,” she wrote in an email.

She is right, of course, and while I felt better about honoring myself, I had a new enemy to fight: my ego. For the next several hours, I was embroiled in a full-on battle with my thoughts and imaginations. I remained conscious enough to attempt—many, many times—to direct my thoughts in a more positive direction but each time my ego emerged the victor. Even when I was lucky enough to distract myself for a few moments by taking a walk or doing chores, I caught my imagination replaying the confrontation or dreaming up future arguments, none of which were honoring to my roommate or myself.

The challenge, of course, is that I didn’t act on the original impulse—the one that said, “You should talk to him about this before it gets out of hand.” Instead of taking action, I chose to internalize the problem, which my ego was then only too happy to grab a hold of and not let go. Each time I chose inaction, my ego became further attached and the problem (as well as my ego) got bigger and stronger.

Ignoring impulses leads to a degradation of spirit. Impulses come from deep within the inner self, pointing the way to effective outcomes. So when we choose to ignore the directions from the inner self, we trap constructive energy within the psyche where it leads to problems.

Damming up energy, such as emotions, can only go on for so long. Energy always seeks movement and release, so bottling it up causes pressure to build, stagnate and eventually erupt. As the energy builds, we may not always see it directly or acknowledge it, but it’s there, waiting for us to do something with it.

No prescription needed

As a result of all this, I’m proposing a slightly offbeat solution: an ego laxative. You don’t need a prescription and there are no pesky side effects. In fact, your spirit will actually be strengthened. You will, however, need to follow directions.

When presented with an impulse, honor it as much as possible. Impulses may appear strange, often presenting a confusing or undesirable path of action. But the action only appears undesirable because we’re conditioned to not trust our impulses. Or, we let our ego and intellect interfere and come up with a whole list of reasons why we shouldn’t act on the impulse.

Acting on impulses is honoring to the spirit, even if you don’t act on the first one, or second, or third. Those impulses are your soul’s way of saying “this is a good move for you” and it’s your job to take notice and do something with the information. When my roommate situation came to a head, I had the impulse to finally assert myself and take action. It was loud and clear. It may have taken some time for me to act, but I finally did and in the end was the best solution.

When we get in the habit of honoring our impulses, the ego relaxes. It comes to accept those messages form the inner self and in time begins to understand that they represent trusted, quality information. A soft, flexible ego is the goal and impulses are a way to get there.

Give yourself an ego laxative when you’re presented with an opportunity to act on an impulse even if it feels strange to do so. It takes practice but is very worthwhile in the end.






The value of doing nothing

If I were in kindergarten, I would be crying. I was losing a real-world game of hide and seek and time was running out. Instead of looking for someone, however, I was looking for something. In this case, the right words to a book review I was trying to write for my blog. The words simply didn’t want to be found.

I put off the task for several days, hoping that my creative subconscious would work on the project while I attended to that little thing called life. I dutifully kept my normal schedule: work, chores, cooking and walking the dog, hoping I could sit down and knock out the review once it had time to brew in the back of my mind.

The longer I put it off, however, the harder it became. So I sat down, determined to write something—anything—to get started and still, the words would not come. What did appear was a realization that my creative block was deeper than it seemed on the surface. I wasn’t blocked; I was unmotivated, toward writing and toward life itself.

I could hypothesize all kinds of reasons for my lack of motivation: I had a busier than usual fall, working on a big writing project, wading through rivers of projects at work and dealing with a lot of personal change. Yes, all of these things can take a toll on the human spirit and they certainly did with mine. Yet a little voice kept nagging me to stop complaining, get moving, get writing and get on with my life.

After meditating, I decided to ignore that little voice. I poured myself a cup of coffee, sat down and did absolutely nothing for several hours.

Whose voice is that anyway?

The reason for ignoring the little voice in my head was simple: it was my ego. As he’s prone to do, my ego was feeling anxious about not completing the writing project. Hard work, attention to detail and deadlines are the handmaidens of the ego and he wanted to make sure I didn’t forget it.

It took me a few days to recognize the voice of the ego, but there were a few tell tale signs that helped me make a positive identification. Repeatedly, I was hearing a lot of “should” and “need to” statements coming from the voice. Things like, “you should really finish that book review,” or “You really need to be doing something with your blog,” or “You shouldn’t be slacking off right now.” I grew irritated with the voice.

The ego wants us to move forward, work and make sure that we are living up to the standards set by society, our families and our responsibilities. The ego doesn’t see the benefit of slacking off; instead, he takes us to task on completing our to-do lists.

After a little introspection, I was more than happy to ignore the ego this time.

Following impulses

Impulses toward action are a wonderful thing. Impulses come to us from deep in the soul and inner self, urging us to move in the direction of our fondest goals and desires. We tend to be distrustful of impulses, however, because they frequently seem foreign to the rational mind. When we don’t understand an impulse intellectually, we tend to dismiss it and miss an excellent opportunity for growth.

So if following impulses is a good thing, why was I having the impulse to do nothing? Why was my psyche telling me to sit one out, regroup, and let the world move on by for a few days? And why was I fighting it?

Inaction as action

This may be hard to digest, but the act of “doing nothing,” is actually “doing something.” We have simply conditioned ourselves to believe that we must constantly work toward some arbitrary goal or we’ll fail miserably at life.

While the intellect views inaction as wrong or lazy, the spirit looks at inaction as:

  • Replenishing the body and spirit
  • Allowing the inner self to come up with fabulous new ideas
  • Giving the universe the space and time to arrange details in our favor
  • Arranging events that are more advantageous or avoiding situations that are harmful

When to accept “doing nothing”

I won’t argue that it’s hard to accept “doing nothing” as a much-needed part of daily living. It’s easier to accept this notion on vacation and even then, “doing nothing” seems suspect. How do you know when it’s okay to do nothing?

Generally, it’s best to discover whether you’ve got the impulse to do nothing or if you are instead trying to avoid doing something. I’m referring here to procrastination, where the urge to “do nothing” or the urge to “do absolutely anything but” something is key. Procrastination is avoidance and you probably have a whole handful (or mindful) of reasons why you don’t want to do something.

Sit down, get quiet for a few moments and let go of thought. You’re trying to feel your way through this exercise. Let your body talk to you through feeling (emotional or physical) and intuition. What kinds of things do you discover?

When I did this exercise, I felt a slight fatigue in my body; but, more than anything, I had the urge to sit in my favorite chair. I didn’t feel the urge to read or write. There was no impulse to surf the Internet. My body told me it only wanted to sit and be still for a while. For how long, I didn’t know.

It did take a few hours for my ego to stop whining about my inactivity. I reassured him constantly about the benefits of this new plan and how much better life would be in the long run. After I truly gave in and relaxed into inactivity, I could feel a shift in my energy and in my enthusiasm.

Accepting the impulse toward inaction is important. It’s not the norm in society and your friends, family members and coworkers may chastise you for it. Your own ego may chastise you as well. However, it’s in the fighting of the impulse to do nothing where energy gets blocked and problems appear.

Reality Challenge™

Doing nothing can be a scary proposition. It can also be one of the most fulfilling things your soul can experience. This week, I invite you to look for–to feel for–times when your spirit is telling you to slow down and take a break. The same holds true for your body, as the impulse to rest is equally as important to the body as it is the spirit.

If you identify the impulse to do nothing, accept it. Remind your ego that you’re trying something new and to stop whining. Allow yourself the luxury to do nothing, at least as much as you can without “have to” responsibilities. Try it and feel for a shift. Your spirit may thank you.




Change the channel

If you live in the United States, you’re probably sick right about now. No, not because of the cold weather, but because we’re a week away from a general election and the number of political ads on television, radio and the Internet is at an all-time high. No matter where you turn, you’re likely to see or hear an ad promoting (or bashing) a political candidate, referendum or party. It’s enough to make anyone a little queasy.

It’s no surprise then that a lot of people have learned to modify their own behavior during the last few weeks before the election. Many friends tell me they watch television with the remote control in hand, ready to change the channel at every break to avoid seeing the ads. Some friends have told me they are no longer answering the phone with the barrage of “robocalls” going out to registered voters. People have had enough and many are realizing they have a choice.

That choice is the conscious decision to tune out specific incoming—and annoying—data. It’s a choice to turn your attention to other things. This choice, however, doesn’t need to start and end with the election. We can apply the concept of choice to our own limiting thoughts and destructive fantasies; it just takes some time and practice.

Not just for politicians

We all have some limiting thoughts that vie for our attention (and for some people, more than a few). And like the early stages of an election, we tend to listen to and entertain those thoughts on a consistent basis. Those thoughts are usually born from fear, uncertainty, self-doubt, powerlessness or panic and they can be effective…if we let them. Sometimes the thoughts don’t even appear to be negative at all yet they can be limiting nonetheless. The same holds true with daydreams and fantasies: they can quickly turn to negative attacks on our wellbeing and growth.

The ego approves of this message

When we aren’t vigilant about our own thoughts and fantasies, we’re at the mercy of a negative advertising campaign sponsored by the ego. And like any good political campaign, the ego will pull out all the stops to get you to see things its way. The ego uses scare tactics, inflexible attitudes and harsh imagery to get your attention. And like a political candidate, the ego only wants what’s best for you. The ego means well—it really does. It simply isn’t used to looking at the world through any other window but its own.

The path to self-development starts with awareness, specifically of your own repetitive thoughts, emotions and mental imagery. It means taking note of those times when you are unhappy or that you are complaining or when you try to put too much physical or mental effort into a situation that simply won’t budge. It often takes time to realize these kinds of limiting thoughts but with a little investigation, you can see them plain as day.

Quite unknowingly, these types of limiting thoughts start to mimic political advertising. Before you know it, the thoughts are everywhere. The mental movies play in your head while you’re driving to work. Negative self-talk is whispering in your ear while you read a book. Sometimes the ego even enlists the invisible help of your friends and family when you suddenly hear a familiar voice spouting talking points in your brain over dinner.

So what next?

Once you’ve become aware of thoughts you don’t want, it’s time to start exercising your right to vote for something different. This is the right to change your mind by changing your focus and it requires as much diligence as changing the channel every time a political ad appears on TV.

Changing your focus can be accomplished several ways. For starters, acknowledge where you are. For example, when you catch yourself saying, “I’ll never be able to lose this extra weight,” first admit what you’re doing. Tell yourself, “That’s a limiting thought and it’s simply a statement based on my own thinking. I have a choice in the way I approach this weight loss challenge.” Okay, so maybe you won’t be so formal with yourself, but acknowledging that you are having a limiting thought is the best way to turn it around in your favor.

From there, you can try substituting the limiting thought with a positive one. Keeping with our example, “I am making healthy choices when I eat lunch and that’s a good first start to losing this weight.” In a similar fashion, stating the exact opposite is sometimes effective, too: “I am losing this extra weight.” That statement may not be true in this moment, so tell yourself that for right now, you will accept the statement as fact and a starting point for a new pattern.

Time for change (even small change)

For many of us (myself included), this is sometimes an incremental process with very slight adjustments that will add up to measureable success. As Esther Hicks and Abraham are fond of telling us, “sometimes it’s just a matter of reaching for a better feeling thought.” That’s excellent advice and one that I turn to frequently. That better feeling thought may be only a small shift (such as realizing your big toe feels good when the rest of your body is in pain) but it’s important to start the process.

Changing fantasies and mental imagery is also important when shifting to a new thought pattern. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else and frequently must reconstruct my drama-dreams into constructive-dreams. Too often I find myself acting out a negative or limiting thought pattern in my head with all the vividness of a Hollywood blockbuster. When I “wake up” and catch myself, I stop and consciously choose a new (happier) ending for that same movie.

What else is on?

When all else fails, one of the best techniques to utilize in thought-movement is simply to distract yourself with something else. Like changing the channel on the TV, look for other things to give your attention. Take a walk, read a book, or listen to some music. Engross yourself in housework or head to the grocery store—anything that gets your mind off of the limiting thought or situation can help calm your ego and give it something else to work on. A small warming, however: if you decide to call a friend, don’t let yourself get wrapped up in the thought or idea you’re trying to change. You have the choice to think a new thought and try a different approach. Use that new approach now.

Vote now

Changing repetitive and limiting thoughts is a tough thing to do. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone and shedding the familiar thoughts you’ve come to know and accept (note I didn’t say “know and love”). Like those annoying political ads you keep hearing, you will eventually reach a saturation point with your limiting thoughts and know it’s time to take action. Turn the channel on your own thoughts and look for things that make you happy.

Elect to put new and better thoughts into your current awareness. It’s your choice…vote now. ;-p



Forget the Joneses

“Because I have to.”

That’s the usual response I get from friends when I inquire why they are involved in so many activities—activities that are clearly causing stress and fatigue. I see this a lot in families with young kids: adults racing around from work to school to the practice field to piano lessons to… the list goes on and on.

It’s not limited to families, however. I also see my single friends in similar situations. Work, happy hour, a second job, and social engagements fill their calendars to the max. So who’s the culprit behind all of this running around?

It’s those damn Joneses.

Of course I’m referring to the age-old parable of “keeping up with the Joneses,” those famous neighbors/friends we all love to hate. We see the Joneses in all parts of the city. In the suburbs, they’re the ones with the better house, the better lawn, and the kids in four after school activities. In urban areas, the Joneses are the jetsetters, driving their fancy cars to lavish parties, expensive restaurants and going on ultimate vacations. The Joneses can be found in every corner of the world.

It’s not them, it’s you

Behind their backs, most people hate the Joneses. But it’s not the Jonses that are the problem, it’s the constant comparison of our own lives in relation to the Jonses that is the problem. To make matters worse, our constantly-connected world now allows us to keep up with the Joneses 24 hours a day through social media. We fill our computer screens and minds with evidence of our own lack in comparison to others. This non-stop storyline causes us to feel jealous, empty and inadequate.

That perceived inadequacy is what causes us to overextend ourselves. As our social networks grow larger, I’m noticing even more of a drive for people to try and live up to some unachievable lifestyle, and they’re willing to put their health and sanity on the line to get it. It’s the reason I so often hear, “Because I have to.”

But do you have to? No, you don’t.

It’s time we reclaim the perfection that is our own lives. It’s time we focus on our own accomplishments, our own victories and our own contributions to the world. It’s time we remember that through our own unique lives, we are positively affecting the universe. We just don’t always see it.

The reason we don’t see our impact is because of our old friend the ego. The ego is our interface with the physical world. It examines the world and helps us make sense of the landscape around us and it determines how we should interact with others.

The ego isn’t always right. Yes, it means well. Its job is to protect Number One—the “self” that we know and relate to. But the ego suffers from not having all of the information available. It becomes scared and overprotective. It blows things out of proportion and causes us to question our own motives.

The ego is susceptible to the constant comparison with the Joneses. It views the success of others as a threat, reasoning that we will be judged negatively by the world if we don’t act the same way, achieve the same things or do better than our neighbors, friends and coworkers.

Most of us don’t take the time to question the ego, we simply rely on it to guide our actions and responses to the world and call it good. But this is only the beginning of our troubles, for when we accept—unquestioningly—data from the ego we get a skewed view of ourselves.

When we don’t challenge that data, we simply assume that we have to keep up with the Joneses. We accept that the world will judge us negatively if we don’t do everything in our power to live up to standards set by the media, coworkers, friends, family, or our own one-sided egos. We feel trapped and hypothesize that the only way to live is to keep up with the rest of the world, whether we want to or not.

Reality challenge™

This week, I invite you to challenge your relationship with the Joneses and your ego. Whenever you catch yourself feeling overextended, overwhelmed, or are doing something you really don’t want to do, stop and ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Am I doing this activity because I really want to?
  2. Am I getting any pleasure out of this activity?
  3. Who am I expecting to notice that I am doing this activity? (friends, spouse, kids, neighbors, PTA president)?
  4. What’s the worst thing that would happen if I didn’t do this activity?
  5. Would I still be involved in this activity if no one knew who I was?
  6. Could I quit this activity tomorrow?

As you can see from the questions, what you’re trying to do is get your ego to be a little more objective. Yes, there are certain things you have to do, like going to work and taking care of the kids. But is anyone forcing you to volunteer your time every night of the week?

The answers you give to the questions above should help you see how much you are trying to keep up with the Joneses or if you are really wanting to involve yourself in activities that give you a good return. What advice would you give to a friend who gave you the same answers?

We oftentimes don’t see how we have painted ourselves into a corner with our lives. When we let prestige, honor, materialism or acceptance rule our activities, we seldom get a good return. When we use our time in purposeful, nurturing,  and fulfilling ways, we get an excellent return.

So, which will it be? A good return on your time or a stress and fatigue trying to keep up with the Joneses? This week, make it a priority to find out.











Don’t let the little things get you down

I knew better: never check a work email at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday after you’ve left the office.

Don’t check it especially if it’s from someone whom you know will cause your blood to boil. The email was from a coworker on a small project we had been working on for several months. I knew it would probably contain bad news but I couldn’t help myself and opened it anyway. True to form, in three sentences, I was belittled, insulted and turned down on a simple request.

Knowing there wasn’t much I could do, I tried to put the email out of my mind and I grabbed the dog to take a walk. Walking usually clears my head and makes me feel better, so I was eager to step out into fall air. But after several blocks, I realized I was caught in viscous thought-pattern. I was not only re-reading the email in my mind, I was thinking of all of the ways I could respond to it in writing, or in person, or in some other imaginary way. None of them were good.

Sometimes it’s helpful to allow your emotions full reign to allow them to leave your system. If I had left my thoughts after a few blocks, I would have been fine. But I realized after a mile of walking that I hadn’t even paid attention to where I was or where I was going. My ego and my thoughts were too embroiled in the email to let it go. That’s when I decided
 I had had enough.

I realized this woman was not worth my time and energy any longer. This issue was trivial and not worth getting upset over. Both of these were little things and they didn’t deserve any of the valuable real estate of my conscious thoughts. I had ruminated about the situation enough; now was the time to stop.

It wasn’t easy at first. I had to mentally force myself to think about other things. I took note of the color of the fall sky. I looked at the changing leaves of the trees. I knelt down and gave my dog a big hug and petted him for a few minutes. Every time my thoughts would drift back to the woman and the situation, I reminded myself that they were not going to ruin a perfectly good Friday evening. Little people and little issues don’t deserve to take up residence in my mind.

That’s the thing about learning and applying conscious creation–once you know better, you have plenty of opportunities to put new thoughts and actions into practice. It takes time to do this. When you accept the fact that you are in control of your life, you must be purposeful in your approach. You must be conscious enough and selective enough to determine where you put your mental focus.

By the end of my walk, I had forgotten about the email. I trained my thoughts away from it and onto more important matters, like thinking about the fun weekend ahead. When I did remember the email later in the weekend, it had lost its grip on my ego and my conscious thoughts and I was able to think about it without a lot of attached baggage.

Don’t let the little things get you down and don’t let the petty people around you dissuade you from your dreams. You’re bigger and smarter than that.

Pessimistic me

When the intellect gets in the way

The detail would have escaped anyone else’s notice. From the vantage point of my deck, it was a beautiful summer evening, complete with a little cloud cover to keep the temperature at a comfortable 80 degrees. The humidity was low, the air was still and a lukewarm breeze caressed my face. Yet, my eyes continued to return to the same spot, over and over: three yellow leaves on one of the trees.

Within a few moments of noticing those little leaves, my heart sank. Instantly, my mood was transformed into molasses, sinking heaver and heavier into the patio chair beneath me. There was nothing you could do to convince me to the contrary—summer was over.

To others, summer isn’t over on Aug. 6, not by a long shot. In this case, I was being subjected to the harsh and sometimes unrelenting view of the intellect. The intellect is that piece of the personality that helps make sense of the world. It sorts, classifies and categorizes information from the senses to help build a personalized view of the world. It uses memories to form opinions. It works with the imagination to then project those opinions into the future.

Like the ego, however, the intellect doesn’t have access to all of the information available. The intellect generally works as more of a “surface dweller,” taking things it sees on face value. Its relationship to memories and the physical world help it form what it thinks should be happening and what it thinks will happen in the future. The intellect is always operating but in a lot of cases, it’s operating under false pretenses.

When the intellect develops a line of thinking around a pretense (false or true), it works in a rather straightforward manner, like a horse with blinders on. When the intellect makes up its mind, it literally becomes obsessed with finding information to support its claim and it will ignore information to the contrary.

For example, my yellow leaves. When I looked out at the lush greenery of my back yard, all I could spot were those three yellow leaves. I didn’t notice the pot of pink, red and purple flowers right in front of me. I skipped right over the purple butterfly bush and yellow flowers in the garden below. Instead, I noticed that it was starting to get dark earlier than just a few weeks prior. I noticed that it was a little colder that evening than in evenings past. In that moment, I was hooked into the intellect’s power play and I was losing.

I love summer. I adore summer. Or, I should say, I adore and love early summer. There is a romantic quality when the earth starts to thaw and new life begins to sprout. Late summer, by contrast, has always been a bit depressing to me because it means fall is right around the corner. School will start again and the leaves will drop.

Soon after that, the snow will come and I’ll be holed up in the house until May. When I examine my beliefs about it, I realize that I believe summer is in short supply. There simply is not enough of it to satisfy my soul. Forget about the present moment, forget about the four months of summer, in my belief structure, true summer lasts between May and July.

So that’s what my intellect honed in on. And when it did, it directed my thoughts in such a way that I started to become depressed. I started to think about all the things I hadn’t accomplished and became worried about the things that would soon pile up in September. The intellect was pushing me out of the present moment and keeping me from enjoying a beautiful summer evening.

The intellect is extremely susceptible to your beliefs and will filter reality around those beliefs. If supporting evidence fits with those beliefs (in my case—summer ends in July), the intellect will work with your faculties to help quantify those beliefs (like noticing the leaves or the earlier nightfall). It will also ignore or downplay other information that may be valuable, like the thousands of green leaves, the warm temperature or the singing crickets and cicadas that I had missed earlier in the evening. When the intellect internalizes beliefs, when it accepts those beliefs as its own, it focuses thinking along a thin line with little room for erroneous information.

You’re too smart for your own good

Working with the intellect can be as tricky as working with the ego. Both of these parts of the personality believe they are helping and protecting us by showing us a world that fits our beliefs. Sometimes, however, we want to see the world in new and different ways and when we do, it’s important to change our perceptions accordingly.

A great deal of data that we receive on a day-to-day basis comes to us from sources other than the intellect. The ego works with the physical senses to bring us information on temperature, taste, smell, sights and sounds. Our intuitions tap into unspoken language as well as the vast universal mind, allowing us to perceive things that can’t be explained otherwise.

The intellect needs this intuitional data—any other source of data—to help operate efficiently. When it shuts out those other data, the intellect feels responsible for running the show and can stress the body and mind. This is the normal operating procedure for most us: trying to think our way out of any problem or challenge we’re faced with.

The way to get these other kinds of data through to the conscious mind is by changing focus. Like an awakening, you must catch yourself in the act of thinking and evaluate what you see, think and feel. As you do this, the intellect still tries to operate, continually trying to classify the information you just identified and make sense of it all.

On the deck, I had to consciously choose to examine other pieces of data in my field of perception. I focused on wearing shorts at 11:00 p.m. I tuned my hearing to the crickets and cicadas that were chirping loudly and I consciously reminded myself that there were still several weeks of warm weather ahead.

Intuitionally, I know that yellow leaves may be a sign of things to come, but I had to reassure my intellect that fall is not descending on the earth now. I had to use my willpower to focus on the present moment and return my feelings to comfort and joy.

Should I stay or should I go?

This “catching the intellect in the act” is especially important when you’re trying to solve problems. A friend of mine recently had to decide whether to take a new job out of state. And as part of that process, he tried to collect supporting evidence both for and against the move. But when both lists started to compare evenly, he was stymied.

Again, the intellect doesn’t have all information available. It only has a small taste. In problems and challenges such as this, it takes a look inside the mind and body to help the intellect make good decisions. For my friend, that meant examining how he felt about the move, how he would feel if he stayed, how he would feel if he moved and then determine if one decision “felt” better than the others.

The intuitive capabilities of the personality are in direct communication with the universal mind. They are able to travel the earth and look through many probabilities that exist and send back pulses of information to the conscious mind. Those pulses—we like to think of them as ‘impulses’ or ‘urgings’—can then be used by the intellect to help shape decisions.

Taking a conscious look at your thoughts, looking inside for intuitive information and using your intellect together can help bring about the best decisions: big or small. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to prune back a few leaves in my tree and enjoy the rest of my summer.

Stop trying to prove yourself

I felt like a child standing on the diving board above the swimming pool. In reality I was at work, sitting in a marketing meeting discussing the rollout of a new project. I had stopped listening to the presenter because of a distracting inner voice that was practically screaming for attention.

“Mom! Dad! Look at me! Look! Are you watching? Do you want to see me dive in?” it shouted. “Are you sure you’re watching?” it reiterated as if waiting for confirmation from my invisible parents.

The situations, while seemingly different, both stem from the same basic need. A part of me was crying out for attention, wanting to prove myself to my peers. I felt unable to concentrate in the meeting, wanting others to know of my great experience on the subject we were discussing. Certainly I had more knowledge of the project than anyone else. Why couldn’t they see it?

I couldn’t see it myself.

In this particular instance, my experience wasn’t needed. In fact, decisions had already been made and we were simply being informed of the outcomes. Yes, I could spot the flaws in the plan. Yes, I could see where improvements could be made. Yet it was only when I stopped and reflected on the meeting that I saw what was really bothering me: I wanted to be acknowledged.

The need for acknowledgement is a powerful force in our lives, driving us to achieve and “do” more and more. In fact, as I looked around the room, I could see the effects of this powerful force in vivid detail. There was an abundance of people with advanced education at the table. Some had come from other successful businesses; some had been with the company for years. Many looked tired and run down, the byproduct of working long hours and overtime on the new project. Everywhere I looked was a hardworking employee, trying desperately to be acknowledged and rewarded. Each of them was trying to prove themselves.

This approach to business and to life has been with us for some time but seems to be increasing in our world. The economy has tightened the job market, causing many people to be watchful of their employment. Others who are out of work are desperately trying to find jobs while many retirees are returning to work to make ends meet.

The economy isn’t the only culprit in this game. Our culture, especially in the United States, is causing people to seek more and more. Athletes are supposed to be faster, leaner and make more money than their earlier counterparts. Musicians are supposed to sell multi-platinum albums. And even the average citizen is swept up in the daily pursuit to have the fastest computer, best smartphone and newest car.

We seek these things—status, possessions, fame, and money—in order to prove our own worth. We feel that that we don’t measure up to anyone else unless we are maintaining or surpassing the lifestyle of our peers. We can no longer see through the possessions, through the fame and through the struggle to keep up. If we did, we might just get a glimpse of how wonderful we really are.

What does it mean to “be”?

One of my favorite summertime activities is to go stargazing at my mountain cabin.  Far away from the light pollution of the city, the night sky comes alive. Billions of stars and planets shine and twinkle for my wondrous eyes as I try to come to terms with the vastness of the universe I’m witnessing. As I look up, I’m always struck at the perfect “rightness” of the world and my place in it.

The ego is like light pollution, keeping us from seeing the wonder of our own spirit. As our primary protector, the ego wants us to grow and succeed but it wants to do so on its terms. When threatened, the ego hardens and becomes wary of others. It pushes us to go further and relax less in order to reach our goals. The ego aligns closely with the intellect, convinced that the path to happiness lies in hard work, suffering and empty achievements.

Learning how to “be” is like turning down a dial on the ego. As the ego becomes softer and we become more attuned to the present moment, we can start to experience the magnificence of the inner self.  “Being” is synonymous with “accepting,” that sublime state of existence where we realize how perfect we really are. “Being” is understanding that we already “are” everything we want to be. All we need to do is learn how to see it clearly.

Softening the ego

Uncovering your own miraculous self is a little like exercise. You have to work at it at first, flexing muscles that have atrophied and building your endurance. It can be done and the rewards are stunning.

First, you must understand your own rightness and your own perfection. Your existence in this universe gives you that by birthright. As we age, we take on the pollution of others. We’re told we’re not good enough; we compare ourselves to those who have more; and we cover up the inner self with doubt, fear and jealousy.

In this instance, you may have to rely on faith to kick-start your understanding. Also, spending time in nature may help remind you of your own glory. As you see and experience the beauty of the natural world, you begin to get a sense of your own connectedness and therefore your own uniqueness.

Next, you must stop trying to prove yourself in every situation. Yes, there are times when it’s important to let the ego take control, like during a job interview when you’re putting your best foot forward. Overall, however, you’re fighting a losing battle by trying to constantly prove yourself.

When you’re comfortable with your own being, you radiate a vibration that tells the world, “I am enough!” It’s a powerful, magnetic vibration. It needs no proof of its existence. Your own true self will pull to it the people and experiences you need to grow and it will happen with less effort than you ever thought possible.

You need to understand yourself in order to uncover your own uniqueness. What makes you excited? What angers you? What makes you feel alive? When you stop trying to please others or be something you’re not, you start living authentically. When you stop trying to keep up with others, you’re living authentically. That authenticity carves out a specific groove made just for you. Happiness and fulfillment are yours when you dance through life in your own groove. Following your impulses helps you discover what makes you, you.

Lastly, it’s important to remind yourself of your uniqueness and value every single day. The pollution of the ego can creep up on you and cover up your shining light. Taking a few quiet moments of solitude each day and purposely remembering your glory keeps the ego more flexible. And, the reflection will help the subconscious remind you throughout the day how truly wonderful you are.

Just underneath the surface of your ego is an authentic self that has as much beauty, as much power and as much awe as the night sky. You are a natural extension of the universe. Prove yourself to no one…you don’t need to. Stop pushing, start accepting and see how the real you comes out to play. The universe is watching.

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