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….

 

 

 

 

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Learning to tap dance

Shirley Temple was onto something. That perky little girl in old black and white movies always looked at life in a positive manner and found reason after reason to tap dance her way through any difficulty.

No, I’m not going to put on patent leather shoes and do a little jig across the living room floor.  I’m not that coordinated…or perky.

I will, however, sing the praises of a self-development tool called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), commonly known as “tapping.” The technique is used for releasing emotional traumas and negative/limiting beliefs as well as for intercepting physical and emotional pain. It looks silly and a lot of times it feels silly to do it, but in many cases, it works. I’ll explain the process shortly.

I learned about tapping years ago when I saw a YouTube video about the process. The video host, Jessica Ortner, promised it could help things like headaches, tension, stress and a host of other ailments. At the time, I was engrossed in researching any type of self-development tool on the market and I learned the basics through websites and a few free videos.

Like many self-development tools, you only get out of the process what you put into it, and I wasn’t really feeling too anxious about anything in particular. So I tapped a few times, labeled the process as “interesting” and filed it away in the back of my brain. There it sat with other things I have tried over the years, including meditation, the Sedona Technique, yoga, and other spiritual/development processes that promise self-fulfillment and peace.

Fast forward to last week, when I was feeling more stressed than I had in years. Work was out-of-this-world crazy and busy, my home life was distressing thanks to a bad roommate situation and my dog was just home from surgery and needing to recover. I was angry at the world and angry with myself and felt like I had no refuge in which to hide.

For the previous few weeks, I turned to medicine to relieve my stress. Painkillers and muscle relaxants helped ease the physical stress in my body but the effectiveness was quickly wearing off. I was also not sleeping without the use of some pretty heavy-duty sleeping pills–something that worried me. So when I found myself sleep deprived, anxious and tense, I knew something was going to give.

Monday, I reached my limit. I snapped at coworkers and yelled at my best friend (my little dog, Bloo). Muscles in my back started to spasm and I could barely turn my neck from side to side. Knowing I still had work to do that night that would require concentration, I knew I couldn’t medicate myself into oblivion so I started thinking about alternative ways to get me back on my feet.

That’s when tapping/EFT came to mind. I had recently recommended the process to an acquaintance who complained of migraine headaches but I had otherwise not thought about using EFT on myself. Remembering the simplicity of EFT, I sat down on the couch and started tapping.

The technique

The premise to EFT/tapping is simple. You think about—out loud—something that’s bothering you and begin tapping the pads of your fingers on specific points on your head, neck and torso. The points correspond to meridian points used for centuries in Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Meridian points are considered “energy centers” where the body stores and regulates the pulses of electricity that make up our universe (the “life force” of our physical universe).

As you begin tapping rhythmically on these meridian points, you send signals to your brain and body to relax. The body calms and energy starts flowing normally through your system. As I noted, it’s not too unlike acupuncture but without the needles. The process begins with a set-up statement, where you acknowledge the problem before you as well as a reminder that you “accept yourself deeply and completely.” After the set-up statement, you tap through the points on your head, working your way down the body as you talk about the problem aloud.

When I began tapping, I was reminded of the silliness of the process. It feels weird to do it the first few times, although I remembered easily the meridian points and the process itself. Wanting anything that might give me relief, I tapped through several rounds on my most pressing issues.

Those several rounds turned into over an hour of work. I tapped on feeling overwhelmed at work, I tapped on the stress with my roommate, I tapped on the feeling of helplessness I felt for my recovering puppy. After every few rounds of tapping, I checked the effectiveness of the session, using a 0-10 scale of intensity to see if I was making progress. I was.

I kept at it for almost two hours, with a few breaks thrown in for good measure. And in the end, I was…tired. I had reduced my stress to a “0” or “1” on most issues and I felt an ease and comfort in my body that I hadn’t felt in quite a while. My body had released a great amount of tension and I felt free. I was also sleepy and decided to jump into bed and capitalize on the feeling. That night, I slept eight solid hours without a sleeping pill or Advil and woke up feeling great.

As luck would have it, or more accurately as Law of Attraction would have it, the next day I saw an advertisement for a new book on tapping from Nick Ortner, one of the big names in EFT/tapping. His book, The Tapping Solution, had just been published that week and I noted the synchronicity. The Tapping Solution is an excellent introduction to the modality of tapping and takes the reader through the common uses for tapping as well as provides sample scripts to read while banging away at the head and chest.

Going deeper

While I had great success the first night of using tapping, my next attempt wasn’t so fruitful. I tried to tap on recurring issues that were bothersome but not intense, and felt like I wasn’t making any headway. Using guidance from Ortner, I pressed on and continued to look for the root causes of my stress and the beliefs behind them.

The Tapping Solution is a great resource for anyone studying conscious creation. The precepts are the same: identify limiting beliefs you may hold and either release them or change them into positive beliefs. At the same time, you can learn to let go of emotions, memories and blockages that keep you from feeling healthy, centered and strong.

On the second night of tapping, I began to develop a throbbing muscle spasm in the middle of my back. I tried a round of tapping with a general focus on the spasm itself as well as the pain it was causing. After 15 minutes, the pain was still there and the muscle would not relax. So, I tapped on my frustration that tapping wasn’t working and that I’d be stuck with this ailment for quite a while. Again, there was little relief.

Intuitively, I knew that I wasn’t going deep enough. I believed my emotions and thoughts were causing the back pain but I couldn’t seem to connect with the right emotion, belief or memory that was causing the tension. I took a break and let my subconscious play with the thought while I brushed my teeth. That’s when I had my mini “ah ha” moment. The pain had started a few days earlier when I took the dog to the vet.

My first reaction was that the spasm was simply a pulled muscle, caused by lifting the 113 lb. dog into the back of my truck. A pesky little voice inside my head said there was more too it, however.

I sat down and tapped again. This time, I focused on my feelings about the dog, noting sadness about him having surgery and a feeling of fear about the diagnosis. I also became conscious of a helpless feeling, not knowing exactly how I was going to keep him well during his recovery.

I consciously and slowly tapped through all of these feelings, checking every few minutes for improvement in my back. On the last round, I tapped on the feeling of guilt. I felt guilty for him not being able to run and play while he healed and wondered if I was giving myself sympathy pain, constricting my own movement in a show of sympathy. I tapped one more round when I felt the shift.

Just like that, the muscle relaxed. I felt the pain go from an “8” to a “0” in just under two minutes. I had found the “in” I was looking for.

It’s not a sweet trip to the candy shop, it’s hard work

Much of Ortner’s book sounds like an infomercial for EFT/tapping. Story after story of successful EFT experiences sounds impressive until you reach a roadblock in your own development. Still, there are a lot of scientific and medical studies to back-up the claims on EFT and thousands of satisfied customers who have used tapping to move through tough issues and physical challenges.

As he explains in the book, tapping is best used consistently and thoroughly. Ortner lays out questions to ask yourself about a myriad of subjects including health, relationships, finances, phobias, trauma and more. This is where the real work begins. After identifying symptoms, emotions, memories and beliefs, you tap on each area until you feel relief.

Sometimes there are great shifts in energy—such as my back relaxing—and sometimes it’s a more subtle energy shift that takes a few days to recognize.

For example, I worked specifically on my neck pain for several days. I attributed the problem to a lack of sleep and poor sleep habits but knew deep down that the culprits were more likely to be emotional congestion and limiting beliefs. Round after round, I tapped on many pressing issues related to work and home life and after a few days, I was able to turn my head in all directions and the pain started to subside.

In the past several days, I’ve started digging deeper into my own psyche, taking notebook in hand to write down my beliefs about different challenges including finances, relationships, work, motivation and finally a resistance to change.

The tapping continues.

Is tapping a cure-all for every problem you encounter? Probably not. But it is an effective tool to have in your self-development arsenal if you’re truly dedicated to bettering your life. And if all else fails, you can put on those patent leather shoes and dance around the living room. Couldn’t hurt, could it?

Resources

For a general introduction to tapping, including a short video on the meridian points, visit Nick Ortner’s website.

In this YouTube video, you can see Nick Ortner work with the queen of self-help, Louise Hay, as she taps on a childhood memory. I was particularly taken with this video as it shows that even the most pioneering self-help guru can still be held back with emotional and physical pain. This is one of those rare therapy moments where you can actually witness someone transforming her life in real time. 

Brad Yates is an EFT/Tapping coach who works with athletes, children and everyday clients to help them overcome emotional and physical challenges. His YouTube channel has a host of videos to get you started on basic tapping scripts.

You can get The Tapping Solution at national booksellers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble & Hay House

Disclosure:

Although I frequently review books as part of the Hay House Book Nook program, I purchased a copy of The Tapping Solution myself. I was not compensated in any way for this endorsement in my blog.

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.

Aloha.

 

 

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 Little River Band, Tom Petty and the Expectations

You’d think for someone who wrote an entire blog post about “signs from the universe,” that I’d be happily navigating my days in constant communication with the big U. You might think I’ve become quite adept at asking questions and receiving answers from the great unknown, but sometimes when you’re looking for signs, you simply don’t see them.

That’s the way the past few weeks have been for me as I’ve searched for answers. I’ve asked the universe for direction on a great number of things, from “what shall I do with my life?” to “what shall I have for dinner?” Perhaps the most frustrating set of questions arose from a book I’m reviewing for Hay House. In E-Squared, author Pam Grout has her readers perform “scientific experiments” to test (and ultimately believe) the theory that we do create our own universe with our thoughts, beliefs, emotions and expectations.

The book seemed a natural for me, having studied the material for several years. But when I set out to start the first experiment, I failed miserably. Grout asks her readers to set an intention and a timeline for a response. In this case, it was asking the universe for some kind of blessing that proves—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that the universe exists and is predisposed in my direction. The time limit: 48 hours. After 96 hours, I was still waiting for that blessing.

I’ll share more of my experience with the book in a future review, but the entire set of experiments set off a new chapter in my own learning. I was disappointed and frustrated in my attempts at affecting the universe on a small scale, which made my big-ticket goals feel even further out of reach.  For example, I couldn’t seem to manifest orange cars. That is, I set an intention to see orange cars for a 24-hour period. I waited and waited and after three days, I saw none.

How in the world could I manifest a new career if I couldn’t find any orange cars in a city with more than three million of them?

While the experience frustrated me, it didn’t change my views on conscious creation. I still DO believe that we form our own lives through our thoughts. I still DO believe that our emotions and expectations can bring us some pretty amazing things. Unfortunately, I also felt like these abilities were out of my reach and I would have to settle for my uncanny ability to manifest negative events and circumstances. I’m damn good at that.

I did not, however, allow myself to be swayed long by my frustration. Part of the rules of the road when you’re on the spiritual path is to see how quickly you can get back on the path when you’ve wandered off. I put my frustration aside and kept going with my other projects (the science experiments would have to wait).

This morning, the desire to receive answers about my life was again with me, as it is most mornings. But today instead of dwelling on the questions, I simply acknowledged them and sent them on their way. I went to work and put my concentration on some projects that needed my attention. At lunchtime I decided to walk down the street for some fast food and casually thought to myself, “when’s it going to happen?”

The question itself encompassed many other questions, but it was a silent and powerful plea to the universe that I was ready for information. Unlike other attempts at communicating with the universe, however, I didn’t stand and wait for any kind of answer. I simply placed my attention back into the present moment and enjoyed the sunshine and walk to the restaurant.

As I swung open the restaurant door, a song from my youth greeted me. The song was in mid-chorus but I recognized it immediately.

Hang on

Help is on its way

I’ll be there as fast as I can

Hang on

The tiny voice did say

From somewhere deep inside the inner man

I’d be pretty dense not to recognize the message. For at that point in time, the Little River Band decided to give me some much-needed TLC. They quickly reminded me that the universe is answering my questions and I need to be in the right frame-of-mind to hear it.

The musical interlude also reminded me of a similar experience just a week prior. I was on the same street, at lunchtime, and I distinctly remember asking the universe, “When are things going to change in my favor?”

As I prepared to cross the street, a car sped up and blazed past me fast enough to make me step back to the curb. As the car passed, I could hear another familiar song blaring from the open windows:

The waiting is the hardest part

Every day you get one more yard

You take it on faith; you take it to the heart

The waiting is the hardest part

In this instance, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers decided to play the role of the universe in the play that is my life. They spoke directly to me, answering the question that I had just posed. I interpreted the event as meaning my time was coming and that I needed to be patient.

So two musical notes from the universe were swirling in my head as I waited for my food. Both events helped me feel at ease with life and allowed me to see clearly that I had forgotten one of the most important parts of conscious creation: being nonchalant with expectation.

When approaching a change in beliefs or purposely outlining a goal, it is important to remember the role of expectation. Expectation works with your thoughts and emotions to affect the universe and set into motion all of the millions of little details that will end up working in your favor. Expectation means you believe it will happen. But when you’re wandering into uncharted territory, how do you know for sure that it will work out?

You don’t.  That’s where faith an a nonchalant attitude come in.

Expectation is a hard skill to learn and even folks who are pretty good at it still must flex their expectation muscles on a regular basis. But the key is to remember to use expectation nonchalantly. It’s almost as if you’re saying to the world, “It’s no big deal, it will happen.” Or, “Hey, I know it’s going to happen, so much so that I won’t even bother giving it a second thought.”

When you want to reach across the table to grab a cup of coffee, you expect your body to perform accordingly. You expect your arm to move, your hand to grasp the cup and your mind to coordinate the entire process so that soon the cup is at your mouth and you’re taking a sip. That kind of expectation is what you’re aiming for when it comes to conscious creation. You don’t think about it; you expect it and let the universe (or your body in this case), work out the details.

It’s a small point but one I needed desperately to hear and remember.

The universe is answering my questions and the universe is pointing me in the right direction. For now, I’m adopting an attitude of nonchalentness when it comes to my expectations, especially with the expectation that I’ll receive answers from the universe. Just to be sure, I’m going to turn on the radio right now.

Are you ready (I mean REALLY ready) for change?

Prove it with the HYS Five-Day Reality Challenge ™ Contract

realitychallengecontract_photoIn grade school, my parents insisted I take violin lessons. I had no interest in the violin. The lessons were, shall we say, painful. I couldn’t produce one sound that even somewhat resembled a musical note. To be quite blunt, I sucked.

After several weeks of lessons, we finally discovered the biggest stumbling block to my lack of musical ability: I didn’t know how to read music. I panicked whenever the instructor asked me to play a note—I didn’t have a clue what I was looking at on the sheet music and would randomly place my hands on the instrument and hope for the best. After discovering my inability to read music, I was off the hook.

There is a point to this story, I promise. After I finally learned to read music and selected a different instrument—one I wanted to play–I became a better musician. As I progressed in school and joined the band and orchestra, I spent more and more time practicing my instrument, learning scales, challenging myself with new music and enjoying the process much more.

What’s this have to do with conscious creation?

Before I was exposed to spirituality and specifically the concept of conscious creation, I often wished for a better life. Overall my life was fine but, like everyone else, there were things I wanted to change. I yearned for a more fulfilling existence, great relationships and, of course, material things.

But without knowledge of spiritual principles, I was simply repeating those damn violin lessons. I hoped to make beautiful music with my life when all I was doing was annoying the hell out myself and everyone else. I didn’t have the tools I needed to change my life effectively; I was going about it the hard way.

Many years later, I would acquire the knowledge, skills and tools needed to help transform my life. I got excited about the prospect of change. I read a lot of books, studied the principles and talked about them with my friends. I was ready for a complete transformation of my life.

And so I waited. And waited. And waited. Why wasn’t my life changing in leaps and bounds?

The problem, of course, was that I wasn’t practicing. That’s like someone pointing out where to place your fingers on a saxophone and expecting you to immediately join a jazz ensemble. It takes more than reading music and understanding your instrument before you become adept at making beautiful music. Learning how to use conscious creation to your benefit requires practice, too.

Old habits die hard

The principles of conscious creation often sound really simple. Think about what you want and you can make it happen. Change your thoughts and change your life. Focus on the good things in life and you’ll get more of them. The list goes on and on. You can read a lot about these principles in the archives of the Honor Your Spirit blog.

However, reading about and understanding conscious creation is one thing, living it is another. When you set out to change your thoughts and beliefs, you’re pushing against a lifetime of learned and practiced behavior. Unbeknownst to you, you have practiced yourself right into the person you are today. So when you want to change that person, you’ll have to push through a lot of self-imposed resistance.

This is proven to me frequently whenever I talk to my best friend on the phone. Despite knowing and studying conscious creation, we often find ourselves replaying the same conversation over and over again. It goes something like this:

Me: You won’t believe what happened at work this week! It was such a bad week and I’m tired of all the bullshit that goes on there.

Bob: Oh I understand. I’ve had to work 14-hour days for the past six days in a row and I’m not convinced they’ll ever hire anyone to help alleviate the situation.

Me: I know I should be thinking positive thoughts but I’m really tired of living this way. Can’t I just win the lottery?

Bob: Oh I hear ya. Sometimes I wonder if this stuff works or not.

You can see how even well versed and well-intentioned spiritual seekers can get caught in the undertow of old habits and thought patterns. The moral of our phone conversations is this: we know better. We know how important it is to direct our thoughts toward what we want. We know it’s important to focus on solutions, not challenges. We know that staying stuck in complaining mode is disastrous to the spirit. We know those things and yet consciously choose to keep going down the familiar road.

After one such recent phone call, I decided a firm commitment to change was in order—real, honest, palpable change. I needed a change in my thoughts, actions, and beliefs. In short, I needed to walk the talk I espouse to on this blog.  Although I’ve made great strides in my own spiritual development in the past several years, I could see where my own blocks were staring me in the face and it was time to knock them down.

Guidelines to operate by

I decided I needed to write a contract with myself, one that would spell out some of the basic conscious creation principles I try to live by.  The contract would serve as a visual reminder of the basic things I feel are important to crating a better life. This will be fun, I told myself.

And then I started to panic.

There were an awful lot of things on the list, certainly too many to remember, let alone accomplish. I looked at what I had written and felt like it was too much to tackle all at once. Changing my life would have to wait. That’s when I realized what my ego was up to. It had already jumped ahead and decided the plan wasn’t going to work because it (my ego) didn’t want to change. It was comfortable where it was. It likes to complain and to gripe and keep me in the same thought patterns because it finds them comfortable. That’s when I knew I was on the right track.

To help appease my ego, I decided to put a time limit on the contract: five days. That way, if I gave my absolute best to the process and really worked hard, five days should show me that I’m either on the right track or I’m full of bunk. I know five days is barely scratching the surface when it comes to changing beliefs or behavior, but everyone has to start somewhere so I decided a full-on commitment to my spiritual principles for five days was the least I could do to honor myself.

Share the wealth

Why limit my excitement (or my fear, for that matter) to just myself when I can invite my blog readers to join along with me in changing their lives? Activities that are challenging to your body, mind or ego (like exercise or skydiving) seem to be a little easier when you have others joining you.

The Contract

If you think you’re up to the challenge, start by downloading and printing the form at the bottom of this post. You’re going to pick five consecutive days to start and end your Honor Your Spirit contract. You’ll see on the contract itself that there are two categories: things you WILL DO for the next five days and things that you WILL NOT DO for the next five days.

The items are relatively self-explanatory. In essence, you’re attempting to first observe and then adjust your thoughts accordingly. Some points may be easier than others. For example, I’ve become very good at following my impulses when I can recognize them but I find I still must consciously work on not complaining…that’s a skill I’ve honed over many, many years.

It’s important to remember that you won’t be 100 percent effective at your new thoughts and behaviors. You’re aiming for a noticeable change in your behavior/thoughts/beliefs. It won’t be easy but keep at it and if you fall off the horse, so to speak, get right back on and adjust accordingly. The willingness to undertake this challenge shows your inner self that you’re serious about making positive change.

In addition to the listed points, feel free to add one or two items of your own. These are things that honor your spirit, things that fuel you at a deep level.

They can be spiritual, physical or mental items—whatever helps accelerate your own spiritual development. For example, I’ve decided to make breakfast for the week since I usually don’t eat until lunch or dinnertime. You may wish to include things like exercising, stretching or calling your siblings.

Paging Mr. Power, Mr. Will Power

Let’s be honest. If it were really, really easy to change your life by changing your thoughts, you would have done it a long time ago, right? Even with the best intentions to change deeply ingrained thoughts and beliefs, you will most likely find yourself struggling with some of the ideas presented here.

It’s hard to break old habits like complaining, ruminating and focusing on problems. They are simply old habits. They need to be kicked to the curb and out of your life so you can make room for more positive arrivals. Because of this, you may have to search deep inside for willpower. Your will is your intent—you want to change your life. Use some power with your intent to try these activities for five days. Reason with your ego and/or your conscious mind. Remind yourself how much you will gain from doing this exercise. And, remind yourself that if you don’t see the slightest bit of change in five days, you can chuck the whole thing.

And remember the biggest conscious creation lesson from our friend Seth: “You get what you concentrate upon. There is no other main rule.” That means if you keep telling yourself over and over how hard it is to do these things, you’ll get more hard work coming your way. If you exclaim to everyone that you can’t do these things, you indeed will not be able to do them.

It’s time to write a new script for your life and the next five days can provide the space and time to write your first draft.

Share your experiences

If you decide to participate in the HYS Five-Day Reality Challenge, I’d love to hear from you. Simply use the “reply” button on this post and let me know how things worked or didn’t work for you. You can also chime in on my Facebook page.

Download the contract below

HYS_fivedaychallengeform

Your impulses guide the way

Your impulses guide your soul toward fulfillment. Follow them.

Your impulses guide your soul toward fulfillment. Follow them.

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