Why We Need to Stay in Our Discomfort

I am walking down Commercial Drive in East Van (Vancouver) on another cool and rainy day. Every step I take tells me to get out of my discomfort and into temporary relief. I could get some nice pastry, maybe some pizza, or a double macchiato latte topped with whipped cream. Don’t get me wrong here. I love my comfort foods. Who doesn’t? Everything in moderation.

So why stay in the discomfort? What is so great about the negative irritations inside? Why can’t I just use sugar to rid myself of it? Discomfort is the message that we all get inside each day that lets us know that we have a place in our lives where growth is needed. It is like code to tell us that we aren’t finished with our growth. New growth is calling us. When we stay with the discomfort, it can begin to inform us. I first started doing this work about 30 years ago. Most of the world thought that dealing with the negative experiences internally was just a waste of time. The most common method of trying to stimulate growth was to just tell someone else repeatedly what they needed to change and to just get over whatever they were feeling. It was paired with an even worse method of telling you how bad you were and somehow expecting that because you know all of this that you were suddenly going to change. Who hasn’t had a teacher, a parent, or a boss that has used these methods?

Are we further along today than 30 years? It is hard to say. The old methods prevail. The newer ones are difficult to take hold. A simple way to begin to take steps that will lead to new growth is to start with the belief that your inner being always desires change in a positive direction. There are no days off where it is not going to want to have a new capacity, a new virtue, a new positive energy. Knowing that this is true can accelerate everything and make growth constant. It may want calmness, tranquility, firmness, courage, confidence, intimacy, love, determination or any one of an infinite number of other capacities. And it is always insistent. When you have a certain level of one capacity like patience, then suddenly a new one like creativity shows us asking to be developed. There is no such a thing for human beings to say what a lot of people say to get out of change work like I am not the type of person who takes chances or I am introvert, meaning that they are not going to have to be friendly or take risks in life. Everyone has to learn how to be friendly and every extroverted person needs to learn how to meditate and go inward.

In my experience worldwide the most discomfort people have is connected with developing closeness. There are a lot of cultures where there is warmth or friendliness, but even in those cultures true intimacy is uncommon. The largest portion of our negative feelings is centered around our inability to get close to others. When you wake up in the morning and feel the negative feelings inside of you, most of the time it is going to be about your relationships with other human beings. It is because we are all underdeveloped in this area. Think about the range of emotions you can wake up with as you think about relating others. You can feel anger, hurt, guilt, embarrassment, fear, anxiety, envy, jealousy, shame, frustration, disappointment or sadness. It is all there.

What to do? First feel it. Next stay with it because it is leading you somewhere to a more intimate space with others. Each emotion is like a code to tell you where you need to go. In the next 12 posts I am going to write about the code of each negative emotion. The starting point will be fear.

The Morning Call to Changework

It is raining a Vancouver rain this morning as Erika and I are walking our young puppies along our usual path. We are doing what we usually do (besides cleaning up after the dogs). We are sharing our dreams from the previous evening’s sleep and working through some daily issues. Vancouver rain reminds me of what the work with transformation is like. It is steady, not too forceful, and cool. As dramatic as a hurricane or tornado may be the change work that comes from dreams and daily life is usually like Vancouver rain, constant without a lot of drama. We can stay in the comfort of our soft couches ignoring the gifts that lie in the cool and wet morning air, but choosing to go out into our discomfort is where the progress is. Today’s first question is not unlike the one’s I have heard in many dream meetings. When I lie in bed processing, I suddenly forget parts of the dream. Why does this happen? How do we go into memory loss? Memory loss tends to happen the moment we dissociate from the feelings in an experience. Dissociation tends to occur when the feelings we are having our uncomfortable. To be able to process so that you can get to the positive change the choice is about the rain. Am I going to go out in the rain or stay on the couch? Choosing the rain is choosing change. It is feeling the discomfort of today’s fear or worry or other feeling and then making the effort to transform it to something more positive. Some days the sun shines, but not today. Today it is raining inwardly and outwardly. What higher state is my inner rain calling to me?

The Power of Positive Memories to Propel Creative Advances into Novelty

It is difficult for me to think of a more powerful inner process than the ability to access and maintain positive memories in my attention. As easy as this might seem negative memories have an uncanny ability to override the positive. The mind more readily goes to the negative rather than positive. I am sure that this has survival element to it that goes back many millennia. It turns out that when I can hold a positive memory in my attention, I am able to not only repeat it, but also to have a creative advance into new experiences. The purpose of dwelling on negative memories is some sort of survival so usually it means that when I dwell on them, I tend to not go after new things, to not go beyond my current borders. Being able to take risks relies heavily on the ability to access positive memories from the past and at the same time letting go the negative ones. When we hold onto negative memories such as when we were punished or hurt in a relationship, then our lives are ruled by fear. After the third time I was fired for being a risk taker in my career as an educator, my mind somehow would only go to negative memories. It got me to stop taking major risks by playing the negative memories over and over. When I wanted to take new risks, the memories of having been fired just incessantly reappeared. I kept trying to solve the reasons behind the injustice in being fired. The revelation to me is that the goal is not to prevent the firing. If I would be foolish enough to work for another relatively conservative administrator, I would be fired again. I have no doubt about it. Taking risks frightens conservatives because they are fearful of losing their advantage or their position or whatever they have. The goal for me is to let go of the negative memories of having been fired so that I can access the positive memories of risk taking. The benefits of risk taking, of using my creativity to go after new things far exceeds the inconvenience of having been fired. What is important to realize, in this process, is that I can not have it both ways. I cannot try to hold the negative memory and the positive one at the same time. There is only space for one. I can either have the positive memory of risk taking and go forward or I can hold the negative memory so that I will stop. I cannot stop and go at the same time. While there important reasons to stop certain activities, it doesn’t apply to me at this time in my life.

Animal Dreams 1: Dogs

Have you ever dreamed of an animal? Animals are great as symbols because they are fairly easy to interpret. Here is what you do. Say you are dreaming about a dog, and the dog bites you. This is a negative dream so you have to start with how you feel. When you get bitten, the negative emotion you feel is hurt. OUCH!. In real life the dog doesn’t represent a real dog. It is a symbol for friendship and loyalty. So if you get hurt by a dog, it means that you are hurt or bit by friendship. You can ask yourself who the dog is in real life, which friendship or which person. Then you get to the big lesson. The lesson when you see an animal in a dream is for you to become more like the positive qualities of the animal. Dogs are very friendly and loyal. When you are hurt by someone, the tendency of the ego side of you is to turn away from the person and stop being friends, or to bite back. But the spiritual lesson is to learn how to forgive, to let go, and then stay in a loving friendship. If you had the type of friendship that was poisonous, where you would need to avoid it, you would get something like a venomous snake dream, not a dog dream. Lots of us get hurt and then turn away from our friends. Try letting go and be like a dog.

How Where You Are Stuck in Time Affects What Virtues You Resist Developing.

The virtues like self-discipline, organization, and determination are rooted in time in the past whereas virtues like courage, optimism, and idealism are found in the future. When they work together in perfect unity, they are capable of achieving almost anything. When you are stuck in the past because of fear, such as the fear of terrorists attacking your country or the fear of immigrants taking your job, then it becomes almost impossible to have the virtues connected to the future such as optimism and creativity and courage.  You look to the past for your answers and believe that the answers lie in the past. It becomes hard to develop new abilities or to express yourself in creative endeavors. Oftentimes, you look for a leader who will restore order, restore the past.

IMG_7220When you are stuck in the future because of the fear of tyrants or bad authority, then it is difficult to be organized and determined.  You consistently look to the future to solve everything when maybe what you need is in the past like sticking to a plan that has given you great results. For a large portion of my professional life I had to deal with authority figures who tried to keep creativity out of the organizations. As a result I had the tendency to not develop the virtues like determination and organization. I was fighting against the way the leadership was relying on tradition for doing things and not letting in new approaches. When leadership was more balanced, then I could be self-disciplined and creative, trying out new things and using older ones.

For some people the past always looks bright and the future looks very frightening.  The goal is to hold onto the past.   For others the future always has the solution because the past was full of inequalities and abuses of power.  To achieve great things there is always a need for a balance of both energies.    Courage to try new things balances with determination to finish what you began.

When we are in a state of fear, one way or the other, that we tend to not relate to time in a balanced manner.    Where are you stuck in fear?  Do you look for the past for solutions primarily or the future?

Changing the “Getting Rid Of” Paradigm to the “Adding On” One.

When there a bully in the schoolyard, he takes advantage of the fact that most of the children have a lot of fear.  He can push his weight and size around because he is pretty certain no one is going to challenge him.  He gains access to the feeling of power and getting what he wants.   In the traditional approach to dealing with the bully, the bully is the problem that the school has to get rid of.    A lot of effort is put into disciplining the bully.     What isn’t so apparent is that the bully is only taking advantage of the fact that there is a huge amount of fear.      If the school were filled with the virtue of courage,  the energy it doesn’t have now,  then the bully could be easily taken care of.

Courage is the capacity to go for a particular goal where there is a risk involved.    If you just look at the above scenario in terms of the bully, then you don’t see that the people in the environment do not have the virtue of going after goals where there is some risk involved.   They shrink into fear because of the risk, and then the bully has its way.    If the environment promoted courage, a place where people could takes risks safely,  then bullies would go away on their own.    Schools traditionally don’t promote courage or taking risks.  They do the opposite.  They promote conformity and following the rules because the ability to take risks is such a threat to the established ways of doing things.   If you can promote courage, then when you get rid of the bully, he stays away.

Counseling Work with Richard Hastings

When people have on-going digestion problems,  they have a tendency to go for physical remedies like antacids or digestive enzymes or other medications.     The first place they go shopping for a remedy is the medical one.  The idea is to get rid of the digestive issue and return to the good ole days when you could eat anything at anytime.      What if the fear was the cause of digestive issues, that is,  that you live in such a state of fear that the body’s digestive processes just don’t work well?     Medication, when there is fear involved,  just gets you relief for a time.    Your system can go back to where it was temporarily.    After some time, however, the physical remedies stop working, the problems return, and the fear is as present as ever.    This happens because the fear which comes from the ego is insistent.  It isn’t going to go away by physical means.   It is has an emotional cause rooted in some experiences.   It calls for a new capacity, a new energy,  or virtue because the person living with the fear is not fit spiritually to participate fully in what life is asking of him/her.    Maybe the person needs determination, but is fearful that going forward means being treated unjustly by bad leadership.    If this were the case, then as soon as determination is in place and the fear is gone, then the digestive enzymes would start working because the body would not be held in a tension filled state from fear anymore.

The logic of this approach is so simple and easy to understand.   The physical problems are mostly held in by negative emotional patterns.     Fear, anxiety, grief, anger, disappointment, frustration and jealousy cause the body to hold negative tension which cause physical problems.    When you replace the ego patterns with higher new ones such as compassion, honesty,  generosity,  wisdom, and patience,  then the body releases its tension filled energy with new energy that is healthier.

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The higher energy is the lure to us.    Our spiritual qualities are our purpose in life that never stop developing..  Life is about constant change and transformation everyday.   Who you are today will be asked to change tomorrow to someone even better.   It doesn’t ever stop.   The higher being, your spirit, will be asking you to change.   It will show you your places of change in your negative emotional patterns and the bodies reaction to them.    What is your life needing right now to make it work?   Where are you being challenged?     Get out of the old pattern of trying to return to an old state of being.  Advance to the new state.

What holds true for the individual also holds true for humanity?   Some leaders are gaining a lot of support these days by trying to get people to go back to old worn-out ideologies like nationalism and racism and sexism because they feel so utterly incompetent in a world based upon cooperation, respect for the rights of others,  equity, and lifting the downtrodden for the same reason that the bully in the schoolyard doesn’t want to have to share a swing.   The bully just wants to be able to have the swing whenever it pleases.   He is scared to death of having to share.

A lot of people are going to go kicking and screaming into the world of equality and unity and will experience a lot of pain in the process, but the higher self of the world is moving to higher energy.  It isn’t going backwards.   It is only going to go forward.    Shouldn’t you be doing the same in your life? Find the virtue that is calling to you and let it develop without so much resistance.     Try some tranquility for a change.  Or maybe some tolerance.   And by the way,  tonight when you dream, your dreams will be showing you the way.

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Living Life as a Metaphor: Interpreting Your Life as if it were a Dream

Below is a picture of my youngest grandchild being on a surfboard for the first time in her life.    She was so ready to stand and ride a wave that after only about the third wave she stood right up and felt  hugely exhilarated.   After several more successful waves, she was beaming with confidence.

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In the old paradigm of life, when the spiritual world was not so real (in the old days, hahaha),  teachers would put their children through long periods of training and skill building without doing anything in the real world.    I have watched martial arts teachers train children for a whole year without them ever “fighting”.       When I did my P.E. classes,  I almost always had them play the game first, and then the skills later.     It is not that the skills are not important,  but the game is the purpose.    Let them play, try.   Then gradually add the skills.    Give the kids a few rules and then let them fight.    The game, the fighting are the thing!!!!!!

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When my kindergarten children would have their first experience on the climbing wall,  I would tell them that the class was about courage.   What better way could anyone have thought up to help a child to learn how to face fears.    Courage is an invisible thing as is fear.  It belongs to the spiritual world.    When you live life like a metaphor,  you learn to recognize the invisible energies and then name them.   It is seeing “God within” and then being in awe of it.   Many children would inevitably reach a difficult challenge on the wall that required a leap of faith, a leap of courage.   The fear would grip them causing them to hesitate or stop.    If they did not meet the challenge on that day, many would go home and carry it in their mind thinking a lot about the next time when they were going to reach their goal.     At some point most of them took the leap of courage.   They transformed themselves.    They were lured in by the vision of the challenge,  faced the fear,  put it aside and went for it.      That is living life metaphorically!!!!    You don’t have to ask a child about why they should climb.   They don’t need to answer.   They just know it is a great thing to do.

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Running a marathon or a half (as in this case) is not so much about courage.  It is more about endurance.    Endurance is about feeling the pain of tiredness and weary legs, but going forward anyway.    You always come to a point in the race where you feel really tired and you have to push through an energy gap.   You have to set aside the pain and stay determined to get to the end.    It usually feels so great in the beginning.  The end hurts.    Climbing is just the opposite.   You just have one moment of really hairy fear, you leap and then you feel great.    Endurance running is about maintaining your joy and energy kilometer after kilometer.    The weird thing is that you can be in terrible pain at the end after the grueling pace, but then when you cross the line, you start thinking about the next time.    Something happened when you finished.   You ended with God Within, the God of Determination and Endurance.   Then you suddenly feel elated.

I read this article today, http://digg.com/video/running-is-the-worst-way-to-get-fit-video,  and I have to say it really turned me off.    Essentially the article says that if you do sprinting and  strength building you will lose body fat and gain more lean muscle.   What it should have said is that if you want to look pretty,  do sprinting and strength building.   But instead they made an untrue statement about running by actually saying that running is the worst way to get fit.  Hello, sprinting is running!!!

If you look at life metaphorically,  then sprinting is about getting somewhere in the near distance very quickly.    It is what businesses are trying to do all the time.  Of course, sprinting is getting popular because the people who don’t want to do the endurance work which is staying with something for a long period of time,  are trying to do a dash to the finish.   They don’t enjoy the long process of getting somewhere.   They want to get there yesterday.

If you live life metaphorically, it means that you can assess where you are and what kinds of qualities you need.   Do you need determination and endurance or do you need courage and initiative?    Do you need to be more honest and forthcoming or do you need wisdom and compassion?   Could your life use more peacefulness and tranquility?  How is your joy?   What is your generosity like?   When you need peacefulness and you live your life metaphorically, it means that you pick metaphoric experiences to help you like walking in the forest and being by a clear and calm lake.   You pick the experiences that stimulate the virtue you need..

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How would you get to the feeling of awe, that something much bigger and positive is at play?

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it is pretty hard to live life metaphorically if you are stuck in the material world solely looking after your material possessions.   It kills your spirit and the God within.

You can begin to think of life as if it were a dream and the invisible energy around as the real life.  The material life is only here for a small fragment of time.   The life filled with invisible positive energies is eternal.  Don’t just think of your dream life as the only place where you are dreaming.   The whole thing is more like a metaphoric dream.

I think I will go for some joyfulness today.  How about you?

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Crashing Dreams: How to Slow Down, Stop, or Reverse Time

Dreams For Peace

I just had a dream last night that I was driving really fast down a dirt road and I couldn’t slow down so I crashed into a truck and the truck fell over into the ditch with a small stream. I felt really guilty.  When I found a place to pull over and came back to see if everyone was ok.  I was riding a bicycle.  Then it became night time and I drove to an area of a city with lots of people and restaurants. I parked and went out and was hanging out with an old friend and her newborn. Then I went to try to find my car but couldn’t find it. I was wandering around a dark parking lot with lots of levels and started to get really scared because I could hear a group of guys notice me and then start to come after me.

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Bear Dreams: Getting to Your Empowerment

Dreams For Peace

I dreamed I was in a house which was being invaded by bears the size of Sasquatch. Someone told me to not worry they know what they are doing, and they had some sort of trick to get them out, but it seemed to me the bears were going to attack. I felt so small. The presenting feeling was being over-powered – standing close to the bear and it looking down on me. But when I saw it that close it looked like a person in a bear costume who stood about 7 feet tall.

Empowerment is the ability to be able to finish what you set out to achieve by doing what it takes to get where you are going.   It means that you are using your power, your strength, your skills to get to the positive end.   You need strength and skills because any goal worth achieving puts…

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How to Use Negative Emotions to Your Advantage: Part 1A FEAR

The upcoming negative emotion that I am going to write about is anxiety.  Stay tuned in.  It is such a prevalent emotion in lives of most people, but first I am going to write a bit more on how to be more enthusiastic when you are addressing a fear.

The problem that fear addresses is how your ego self continues to operate in old patterns that are not longer useful.    When you feel a fear inside of you, it is saying loud and clear that you do not have the new capacity to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

When fear is your friend rather than your enemy,  then the fear is just a messenger that says you need to develop something new inside of you.   What it does, which is its purpose, is to show you just how incapable you actually are.    It is like getting a phone call that allows you know exactly what you need to overcome to get to the next phase of life.    When it is the enemy, it is treated with disdain.   The goal is to just rid yourself of the fear by whatever means necessary.   People seek alleviation.   The proper attitude is to seek curiosity and enthusiasm about what is the new capacity that is coming into place.    It it human nature to always be seeking new growth.   We are beings that are driven by the impulse of inner growth, of new capacities that will benefit others.

If you go to most medical professionals including most psychiatrists,  they are interested in helping you get rid of things so that the negative that you are feeling goes away.  The thinking is that if the fear goes away, then everything will be back to normal and you can return to happiness.    In my model of dealing with fear, the fear is the messenger that is telling you that in your current so-called normal state, your life isn’t getting to where it is supposed to go.   It is a very different way of looking at fear.   Fear is the friend that is going to take you to your growth.  If you don’t have it, you won’t grow.

I am going to use my own example of skiing here.    After I retired from working overseas in international schools,   my wife and I moved back to Vancouver, Canada.    The previous two decades we had lived in warm climates that never saw snow, but on return to Canada, we had the joy of lots of snow in our local mountains during the winter months.  My previous experiences with snow were with snowboarding,  but it just seemed like, with my age, it would be better to return to skiing.     We have just completed our second winter of skiing.    Every new challenge is exactly the same when I am skiing.    It starts with a degree of fear on going down a new run that is a little more difficult than the ones I feel comfortable on.    The process is always similar.   I see the new run start heading down it, get into difficulties that I haven’t encountered before, tense, stress, hold back, and then wonder if I am ever going to make it down the hill because usually I have already fallen.   After getting down to the bottom,  I usually try to find someone who will help me or encourage me in improving technique.   My eyes tell me that it is really steep and that I am not going to be able to do the turns, that I am going to go out of control and get really hurt.    When I let go of what my eyes are seeing and let go of making a big deal out of a possible fall and injury, relax and remember how to turn, then the run goes really well and is exhilarating.    It is so difficult to remember to relax and go forward and turn.   I can just tense and get stiff and lose all of my flow.      When I do the run for the second time and then the third,  remembering to relax and flow and turn,  then it becomes exhilarating.    My capacity for skiing on a more difficulty run increases run by run.   What I can do now compared to two years ago is significantly different.    My joy keeps multiplying.

The big question is not about how I get rid of the fear because it would be easy to just not try the new runs.   The question is about where  the fear wants to take me that is new and positive?   Where does your fear want to take you?   That is a life altering question.

What is your fear and where does it want to take you?

Inherited, Acquired, and Innate Qualities

Dreams For Peace

One of the big questions people have, when they are embarking on a new change process, is how to find where the problems originated and then how to let go of them so that the new energy can function fully.   The first question I ask others or myself is what the biggest issue is that they are facing right now.   That is where you always start.  It is pretty easy and developmentally sound.  It is not a big search problem.  However you are feeling the most negative is where you need to change the most.

I broke up with boyfriend.  My best friend betrayed me.   My mother or father died.   I lost my job.  My children are out of control. 

There are three types of origins to issues, and they always unfold in this order.   The first are issues that arise from your inheritance, that began in your family or…

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How to Use Negative Emotions to Your Advantage: Part 1 Fear

The purpose of the next few posts is help people understand how you can use negative emotions as powerful vehicles for change.   The idea of a negative emotion is not to run away from it but to use it as a way to get to the really positive energy that wants to develop in you.   Wouldn’t it be great if you could take a negative emotion, find out what it is communicating and then develop something new inside of you?

All negative energy is fear-related in one way or another because the purpose of  every fear is to stop something from happening. When you become friends with the fear, you have a starting point for the new growth. This is a repeated message that I am trying to communicate throughout my work so that it becomes so believed that you will rush to deal with negative emotions all the time. Negative emotions are just messengers. Period. They are there for our assistance. They are not the enemy. So many people are so reluctant to deal with negative emotions because they see fear and all of the other emotions as enemies and then rush to war against them and others.

Fear is a negative emotion that makes you feel reluctant or stopped or fleeing from a particular negative force. It differs from anxiety in that it is a specific force that is known rather than vague illusion. You can be fearful of almost anything. In most types of fear what happens internally is that the negative force seems much bigger than it actually is. Here are some examples.

Fear of Authority– the authority figure seems larger and more powerful than they actually are.
Fear of the Future– the future seems a lot worse than it actually is.
Fear of the Past– what you have done in the past seems a lot worse than it actually is.
Fear of being excluded– the people doing the exclusion seem much more influential than they actually are.
Fear of closed in spaces– the space seems bigger and closer than it is.

The problem with fear is that it tends to be  much more powerful than the rational mind. Part of what may be wrong with current science is that it treats fear as a noun rather than a verb. Because it can be so powerful and science has not been all that competent in its infancy to change fears, it often considers fear a permanent condition rather than just a signal of the necessity to change. If you think of it as a verb, that is, you are fearing, then it is much easier to change. The first step is to know what it is trying to communicate. Using the above examples in a very general way, you can change fear into its positive opposite and then understand where your true self is moving.

Fear of Authority
What you are fearful of with authority is bad authority, that is, the misuse of authority by others so get to to their selfish ends.  When you are feeling the fear of authority, you get the communication inside that you should act in exactly the way the authority wants or you will be dismissed in some way.   The positive solution to the fear is to use of the authority of your own true self to accomplish great goals. Authority of self is similar to being able to take initiative. What prevents initiative is that negative authority makes you feel like you are smaller, and they are larger. You become fearful of taking initiative because you believe that you are much less powerful than the bad authority. What you need to know is that the true self is a 1000 times more powerful than the worst tyrant. The goal is believe that the true self is enormously powerful and then to understand how to take initiative in the current place you are.   It doesn’t mean that you need to suddenly become rebellious or resistance.  On the contrary, you don’t have to be disloyal or disobedient at all.    When you feel fear, it means that the virtue of taking initiative is not strong enough inside of you, that the bad authority trumps your initiative.   The place for taking initiative will begin to appear in your life (maybe not even at work) and then it will produce amazing results that you may not ever have thought possible.

The fear of authority leads to a strong authority of self (initiative).

Fear of the Future
When you envision the future and see horrible events happening, it means that your true self has not imagined the future in a positive enough manner. The worse your future is in your imagination, the more positive your true self wants to imagine it. The future is meant to be extremely positive because the true self only thinks in positives. The reason that the future becomes so fearful for people is that their negative experiences in the past are so magnified. The goal is to imagine the future magnificently by diminishing the value of the negative past.

Fear of the Past
The past is where you acquire all of your confidence so that you can go forward into the future. When you have fear of the past, it means that you have something negative back there that you believe is going to catch up to the present and affect what you are doing. If you have taken short cuts as in taking the easy way out, the past will have a way of creating paranoia in you. If you don’t deal with the paranoia, it will expand and generalize to nearly everything and everyone. The simple way to overcome the fear of the past is to go back to the past and do honestly what you did in a slip shot or dishonest way previously. Many relationships fail because people enter them for the wrong reasons trying get something from the other person without doing the honest work. The solution to fear of the past is to find the positive quality of your true self that was hidden in the past and work on making it huge in your life. Overcoming the fear means admitting the weakness and not seeing it as so difficult to do.

 

Fear of Being Excluded
This is the root fear of all fears. Sooner or later we all have to face it.  The fear of being excluded is about seeing and believing that the negative power of others to exclude as much greater than your own true self’s power to include. The way to solve it is to see positive qualities in others and see how you can weave a strong web of unity in all of your associations.

Fear of Closed-in Spaces
When you are feeling closed in, it means that the negative forces around you seem too large and  too close, that they are even smothering or right next to you menacing you. It means that the true self is wanting to have lots of positive options and express a great deal of creativity in them. You can solve this fear by seeing many positive options and going wild with expression.

Positive Opposite Exercise

List some of your fears either present ones or ones you have had, and then write a positive opposite statement to solve them, followed by a brief explanation. (e.g. fear of losing a big game- positive opposite- winning at developing a huge skill. What I am fearful of is how disappointed others will be if we lose. This shows that the fear originates outside of one’s control. You can develop and improve skills which you have control over that will assist the team to perform better and then you can feeling fantastic about it. Most people love the development of a new skill much more than they love winning a single game.

How to Make the Past Better than You Remember and then Super Increase Your Ability to Achieve What Your Goal is

It is the fall of 1967.  My teammates and I are playing in the football playoffs for a chance to be champions in Southern California.   It is tight game.  The score goes back and forth, but in the end our team loses.   It is a devastating sense of failure.  For a long time my mind holds tenaciously onto the loss as I replay all of the the things I/we did that could have turned the game around to be the winners.   Not surprisingly nothing I do in my mind helps.  No matter how many replays and switches the score never changes.

All of us have these kinds of memories where we felt devastating loss that we know could have had a different outcome.    It is leaves us defeated.

What is wrong with my thinking in the above scenario?   Among other things the only possible outcome that I gave myself for extreme joy was to win the game and be able to call myself a champion.  It caused me to hold the memory of the loss inside.     Holding onto negative experiences and feelings is the process we do that takes away from having amazingly positive memories and then being highly motivated to do more.

I am on a local ski hill with my 9 year old granddaughter.   She is thrilled at her progress and wants to follow my ski-mate and myself down a difficult hill.   We get to the hill and as we look down it is obviously a much bigger challenge for her than she anticipated, but as she insisted, she goes forward.   Three times she comes to a complete stop.  Her speed is snail’s pace at best, but after a few minutes she reaches the bottom.  Her mother joyously cheers for her.   She has done her first black diamond.  It was way over her ability,  but through her diligence and the encouragement of the adults around her,  she came out of it with a big sense of victory.   It was never about the speed or technique.  It was just making it to the bottom.   She did it.    The fear that the hill presented to her did not persist in her body.   The rest of the day she kept taking new challenges.

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In my high school football experience the only joy was in the win.   It was not in the individual amazing plays.  It was only the final score.    To get to the same kind of joy that my granddaughter experienced I have to let go of the loss.   The score was not important.  As I let go of the loss, now I have access to the positive things I did, the memory is enhanced in its fullness, and I am ready to tackle new experiences with a lot of energy.

This morning I organized a tennis date with some friends at an indoor tennis center about 40 minutes from my house.   It is winter in Vancouver with lots of rain so having indoor facilities is tantamount to having a great winter.    When I get to the tennis center, we find that they made a mistake on the booking.  We are not on the list.  Instead of 2 hours of play we end up with only 1.   Disappointment wants to rush in and ruin my experience.  It is seeking to take over me.   I let it go and play the best hour of tennis in the season.  Even as I write I am remembering how great my serves and approach shots were.   I am excited for my next tennis date.

Letting go of the disappointment and remembering the great play must have helped because when I arrive home I register for the Vancouver half-marathon something I have putting off.     Today I have discovered how to open up my past in ways that I couldn’t ever do before and it has produced so much energy.

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The formula for enhancing the past to feel more positive feelings is as follows.

  1.  Take an experience that should have been more positive, but because someone did something or something happened, the outcome was not so favorable.
  2.  Find out what you are holding onto like anger toward someone.
  3.  Practice letting go of the feeling like taking it and sending it far away.   Notice what is left when the negative things you are holding onto just go away.   And notice how much energy you have.

Daily Change: Chapter 1 What Are You Paying Attention to?

Chapter 1
What are you paying attention to?

One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise. When this is done, one can be a friend to the whole human race. If, however, we look at people from the standpoint of their faults, then being a friend to them is a formidable task.(Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 169)

You are being asked to give a speech in front of a group on a certain topic. Instead of feeling hopeful and enthusiastic about the message that you are about to deliver, your body is filled with fear.

Many parents and teachers in the world have the idea that if they point out to children all of the things that they are doing wrong, that they will somehow learn to be much better in life in all things. Instead of paying attention to the positive things that their children do, a lot of people almost exclusively attend to the negative. If you have a grown up in a world like this, where your negatives have been constantly pointed out, then your mind will have the habit of looking for the negatives in everything you do. If you have a room full of people ready to hear you, your mind believes that they are all going to find only your negatives. My own experience, fortunately, was quite the opposite. When I was young preparing for a speech, my father and mother prepared me well to appear before a group. They taught me how to deliver a speech and how to make it interesting so that when I delivered it, I received very positive responses from the audience. Later, if the opposite happened, that is, I didn’t get the response I wanted, I learned to adjust the presentations to get better responses, but I never have had a lot of fear about public speaking because in my mind I see positive responses.

So when we want to change, the first thing we can do is simply find the way the mind is paying attention to the current situation. When there is fear, it means that the mind is attending to something negative.  Consider what happens to your mind when you are running a marathon.  At 38 kilometres in a marathon, the mental battle between the part of you that wants you to stop and the one that wants to finish in a positive way is extremely brutal. It is like a blitzkrieg of negative energy trying to get you to stop. Getting one leg to follow another is like a debate in the Security Council at the United Nations. One part has so much logical sense in why you should not go forward in what seems to be a really foolish endeavour, while the other is full of hope and confidence in a successful ending. At 38 kilometres, despite the pain, the end is too near to give into its constant chatter and so a happy ending usually occurs.

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Training for running a marathon is a process that requires keeping your mind constantly focused on positives. Almost everyday in training the negative feelings can get so intense that you want to stop. The thing that keeps you going is that the mind keeps paying attention to positives, keeps seeing the positive end.

When a five-year-old child faces the climbing wall for the first time, they inevitably feel fear when they get to a certain part of the wall. Instead of attending to the joy of climbing and reaching new heights, they attend to the possibility of falling and hurting themselves which sends feelings of fear throughout their young bodies. As they practice, the fear gives way to the positive thoughts by taking a few more steps each day. This is really what daily change is all about. You train your mind to attend to the positive things by changing how the mind is attending to the negatives.

Daily Change: Introduction

The Power of Daily Change
Introduction
The End is in the Beginning

“Consider not the present condition, but rather foresee the future and the end. A seed in the beginning is very small, but in the end a great tree. One should not consider the seed, but the tree and its abundance of blossoms, leaves and fruits.”   Baha’u’llah

“We are going to Vancouver.”

It is 5:00 PM the day before the last day of school, the day of anticipation of the long awaited and deserved rest period. I have just arrived in my apartment and am about to lie down on the living room couch to get a few moments of rest. The phone rings. It is the executive secretary of the acting director. She tells me that I have a meeting with the executive committee of the school council the next morning. I fear the worst in the same manner that any of the 750 students do when an administrator suddenly pulls them out of the middle of a class. It must be bad, but I quickly dismiss it with a host of other reasons for the meeting. When I mention the call to my wife, she is certain that my fear will be realized. She calls our children in Vancouver to say that we may be spending the next year with them. Then we sit down at the dining room table to consult about our options should the worst actually occur. Should we stay or should we go? That is the question. We both agree to return to Vancouver if it happens. Our children are already leading cheers for the worst in hopes that our bad is their gain. We also talk about going to the Pantanal, a huge watershed in Brazil, known for wildlife observing if the worst does not happen. My wife begins to pack and make a list of all the household items we should sell. She is certain.
Before the meeting I tell her that in an hour I will tell her whether we are going to the Pantanal or to Vancouver. I walk into the meeting and realize that the end has come. They tell me that I am disconnected from the school. It is a strange word for me even in Portuguese to be disconnected as if I had ever been connected to them. They give a few reasons. I ask them why I haven’t been informed previously about the perceived weaknesses. They tell me that they have been giving me signs, but I haven’t been reading them correctly. At that point I know that any chance for justice is impossible. I arise from my chair, turn, and walk away.
From the meeting room to my wife’s classroom is about a 100-meter walk. I move slowly and deliberately trying not be noticed. The reality has not fully set in. I approach her door, gaze at her, and say, “We are going to Vancouver.” The words now spoken make the decision of the Council suddenly feel real. My voice cracks, tears begin to flow.

I am not expecting to make such a radical departure from Brazil, but it happens. The executive committee changes my life in a flash. It is traumatic. Like most traumas the first moments of shock seem rather unreal as in the death of a relative or close friend. It is a radical change, but not the one that I had planned for. Being fired as abruptly as I was alters everything, or does it?

As in previous traumas when I am suddenly forced to make a change, I begin by searching through the inspirational writings of my faith, the Baha’i Faith. In one of the mystical writings I find some solace. It recounts a story of a lovesick young man who is ready to end his life because he has lost his lover. He leaves his house in the middle of the night ready to be finished with his weariness, when, on a sudden, a watchman sees him and begins to chase after him. The weary lover begins a frantic attempt to escape by running as fast as he can. After awhile other watchmen enter the chase, and it seems as if his life will be ended not by his own hands, but by the guards. He comes to a dead end where the only choice he has to survive is to scale a huge wall. With all of the effort he can muster, he climbs the wall and leaps down to the other side. There he finds himself in a beautiful garden and before him is his lover holding a ring.

The writing goes on to say that if he had known his end in the beginning, he would have paid the watchmen a big sum of money, but as he was blinded, he could only moan and complain. He had been stuck in his grief, but the seeming injustice of the watchman became the cause of him finding his heart’s desire.

Since I am newly fired, my ears want no thought of paying riches to the executive committee for firing me as if it will be the cause of finding what I am truly looking for like in the story of weary lover, but this is the change I must make if I am to have a bright future. How is it possible to think positively when I have just been thrown out? I want revenge. My temporary solace is that all of my staff are angry, crying, and shocked. Their evaluation of me is 180 degrees opposite of the executive committee. A new leaf is about to turn over in the book of my life, full of bright and new opportunities and wonder, but right now I am sitting in huge pool of grief and anger.

I read the story of the weary lover again and again hoping that the brightness of the future will burn away the pain of the current moment. The pain lingers. I am worn out. I retreat to the living room couch and turn the TV on hoping it will dull the pain and let me forget for a little while.

How to get the bright lights of the future to turn back on again after having had such a dark thing happen is what ‘daily change’ is all about. Being fired, losing a loved one, having a devastating illness, or having all of your money stolen are tough. Imagine the difficulties of a child survivor of the great tsunami of 2004 who has lost his parents and all of his brothers and sisters. How is his light ever going to be bright again? Who wants to be hopeful about a future where the possibility of things being taken away is so great?

Lesson one in daily change is the belief that the future is bright; that there are unlimited possibilities ahead and that the greatest source of learning is the book of your own life, especially the dark chapters. No one wants painful difficulties, but everyone has them. It is part of being human. It is where the great learning is, the rich reference libraries from which you can do great research. A life without much negative experience has less potential for positive things to happen.

Lesson two is that lesson one about the future being bright is not a guarantee. Everyone learns his way to a bright future. There is no such a thing as a positive future that is just given to you. World peace is something that humanity is going to have to learn. It is not coming down from the clouds. If it were going to come down from the clouds, it would have already come. We need difficulties and challenges so that the future can keep growing in brightness. But just having difficulties is no guarantee that you will deal with them in the right way. Most people don’t. Most people are overcome by them. Tests are hard. Life can be hard, but getting to the bright side is worth all of the work.

Lesson three about having a brighter future is that the brighter it is, the brighter it can become. We used to think that a person’s potential was fixed. Now we understand that every time we actualize a new capability, we open the door for more positive capabilities that make things better. Therefore, change is done best, when it is done everyday. Don’t try to change all at once nor expect that world peace is going to come in one moment. The future is made better by making positive change habitual. Monumental change is done by changing everyday.

If I want to have big change in my life, then what I can do is just change everyday. I don’t have to have some great restructuring scheme or magical plan. What I need is the ability to make key changes everyday and when I consistently do that, they become huge. It seems to me that the great majority of us are trying to change by hitting the jackpot. We are hoping that one day we will win the lottery so that our whole life will be better. Executives often try to do a whole restructuring of companies or organizations to try to make their companies a lot of profit in a short period. It is certain that winning a large sum of money will change some things from one day to the next and that a company may get some short term growth by restructuring, but if a couple was fighting constantly as a way of resolving problems before they won the money, the money isn’t going to stop the fighting nor will restructuring solve the reason a company had the problems in the first place.

I am not against restructuring as a concept even though, like most of the people who are reading this book, I have lived through some really horrendous restructuring schemes. I wish that restructuring or winning the jackpot worked, but the premise just doesn’t make common sense to me. You can help the grass grow with fertilizer and sunshine and water, but you just can’t yank the plant out of the seed. When you make a physical restructuring of a company or win a big sum of money, you still basically have the same people running and working the company who haven’t yet made very many personal changes. The people who have won a large sum of money usually have the same bad strategies that kept them from having money before; so getting lots of it will just mean that they will use the same bad strategies with a lot more money. If they were used to losing their money very quickly before, now they will just lose a lot of it very quickly. Change, first and foremost, is about changing our own selves and the way we do things. When we change ourselves, the restructuring and the jackpots follow more naturally and actually work.

What should make you suspicious about restructuring, if you are not so already, is the fact that the people at the top keep getting wealthier while the people at the bottom become fewer. Now if a company would cut wages at the very top that would be radical change, but for the most part companies just replace one person with someone else who has been reared with basically the same strategies and then pay them more. Real change rarely occurs because you can’t get top executives who think that what they are making in comparison to the bottom is ludicrous. If you compare the growth of salary for someone, who is at the top, like a television anchorperson on major networks in the United States with the growth of salary of reporters or camera operators since the 1980s, you will see that the people at the top have grown in salary maybe 100 times what they were getting in the 1970s. The camera operators maybe have raised their salaries 1 time. If that doesn’t make you suspicious about the people at the top and their motives, I don’t know what will.

It is the spring of 1998. I have been fired from a job that I was in for 8 years where I have had nothing but very high evaluations. I am victim of restructuring. But right now that is not on my mind. I have about 6 kilometres to go in 42 k marathon in Vancouver and I feel like I am going to die. Some children offer me candy from the side of the road along the way which I take hoping that anything will spur me forward. I walk for a while, and then continue the run. At last as I approach the finish line the announcer calls out my name. I am in the middle of the pact of some 2500 runners. He is calling out my name over the PA system. I feel so encouraged. As I cross the finish line I find that I am overcome with emotion that I simply cannot explain. I am fired, but I am still running. I am on the wrong end of restructuring for the first time in my life. My future feels really bright. The small group who did the restructuring do not know it, but their days are numbered. Soon they will be gone as will the organization. It takes about 8 years before their doors are permanently closed. My running days have barely begun.

The idea of restructuring is that you can gain a lot of physical reward, by making sudden shifts in the physical structure. It is the same reason so many athletes want to take a drug to help their performance. Restructuring is like trying to take drugs to improve your life. At its best it gives short-term benefits. At its worst it kills us. It is a form of cheating; taking the easy way out and it just doesn’t work in the long term. If we attack a country to have a change of government believing that the change of government is going to greatly benefit the country overnight, we are in for a rude awakening. If the old government was characterized by cheating and corruption, restructuring is not going to change what is essentially a systemic process issue. There is always only one way forward in life, changing your own self for the better.

I wish I could just point a finger at the re-structurers in the world and tell them that they need to change, but the truth is, that as a member of the culture that created restructuring and lotteries, I am quite vulnerable to its way of thinking as well. I just want change right now really fast with a huge share of the rewards so that my life will be better and happier. I wish that I could say that I was completely free of restructuring thinking, but the truth is I am not and it would be difficult to find even one person who is not at least partially infected by its curse.

We are living in a time when two strategies of change, the jackpot-restructuring approach and the consistent process approach, are in a competitive struggle with each other. I have participated in many sports in my life and was in highly competitive sports all through high school. What we all worshiped was being number one, the winner, and we didn’t want to be second place, so when my high school football team came in second place in the state playoffs, it was extremely painful for me even though I can remember that it was one of the best games of my life and that we had had the best team in the history of the school. I was in playing very hard and doing some things that I hadn’t been able to do before, but because we lost, I felt dejected and heart-broken. I wanted the game to be the jackpot, to have it give me a lot of rewards, but we lost the game and I missed the point. Fortunately, in the 1970s a huge new movement of physical activity began in the world, a movement based upon the value of participation over the value of winning or losing. One of the manifestations of the movement was road running. Whereas before there were only a few crazy cross country runners, suddenly large numbers of people began training to run huge distances like 5 kilometres. With 1000 people in a race the chances of winning were very slim, but the joy of participating and winning a participation shirt drew large numbers into a field where before there had only been a handful. Although we still had the super athletes, the participation movement gave rise to the idea that every ordinary person was capable of changing their lives for the better. You could finish in the middle of the pack and feel fantastic because you made a huge effort and maybe set a personal best.

Although the 1980s saw the jackpot theory reappear more viciously with such ideas as trickle-down economics where the rich made a lot more money than ever before and where they were suddenly supposed to give it to everyone else, but to no one’s surprise kept it, participation as a dynamic since the late 90s has increased dramatically as a powerful force. People have taken to the streets in larger numbers than ever to improve themselves.
We have, on the one hand, a culture that rewards the best athletes, the top executives, the big stars with huge amounts of money. A person playing baseball can earn $10,000 just for playing one game for a couple of hours. A soccer player in Europe can earn $250,000 per week. On the other hand we have millions of people participating in sports like never before without the hope of any financial reward. They do it because they love it and the participation brings a lot of satisfaction about the growth they are experiencing.

A few people, on the one hand, have really hit the jackpot financially in the sports world or other financial worlds, and at the same time, millions and millions of people are hitting the participation jackpot as well, that is, they are reaping the rewards of change through constant participation.

We could argue for a long time about the justice of whether or not a player or company executive doing restructuring should earn so many 1000 times more financially than the ordinary participant. It hardly seems fair especially since the amount of effort isn’t a 1000 times more, but the purpose in writing about change is not to focus on justice or the need for it. The world is obviously in a state of extreme injustice. We have all probably been treated unjustly and been hurt in horrific ways by it. I don’t doubt that it will continue for some time to come. I am not interested at this point in history in restructuring the way we pay people especially how much more we pay a few people. What I am interested in is encouraging the movement that has already begun in the rest of us, the daily change movement. At some point, I am sure that the injustice will right itself because the force of the daily change movement, which is based in participation, will be just too large for the jack potters to resist and it is just so much more rewarding than the physical rewards.

We now stand on the threshold of creating a new culture, one where change is constant and daily and where we all take over the world and participate in it fully.  Stay tuned for Chapter 1, What Are You Paying Attention To.

How to Get to Results that are Better than you Imagined.

There I am looking down the barrel of a gun.  I am about to be killed.  I start to beg for my life and try to get away.    The person with the gun laughs at me in my humiliated state and let’s me go. This dream is followed by a series of other ones where some plans are killed or people walk away from me.

I know enough about dreams to realize that when a nightmare or super negative dream occurs that I am at the beginning of a new process.   In the dream world a gun is weapon people use to put others down so that they feel better or higher.   I am put down and full on into fear just by the thought of a put down in the dream.   How could this happen after so much work with put downs?   It is like my plans and memory of my higher self are killed with the imagination of negative criticism.

Because  the imagined thought of criticism can destroy or kill my plans,  I realize that the capacity that is calling me is that of being able to get to places that are better than my positive mine can imagined.  The difficulty is the fear of being so killed in a psychological sense that my ego takes completely over.  I have worked with people over the years who are so into power and dominance that there true self seems to have completely left them, but I have forgotten when I was in a state where fear had so completely taken over me  that it was as if my true self  was not there at all.    This happened somewhere around the age of 18, my first year away from home, when I was in a very negative environment.   It is a memory I have buried or not wished to face, but one that one of best friends pointed out about a week ago.

It is sobering thought for me to realize that a group of people could have had that kind of power over me and that I was so weak that I seemed to have completely lost my true self.   They did it through constant criticism and a lot of yelling where nothing  I did was ever quite right.   Not everyone lost themselves in that environment which makes my feelings about myself even worse.   I seemed to have buried myself.   What was left was a lot of acting on the basis of fear.

After processing the fear state for about an hour this morning and answering some dream emails,  I decided to go out for a walk.   The new process of being able to get further than the imagined state was starting to kick in.   Instead of walking for about 15 minutes as planned, the walk ended up being 90 minutes.  It was not  particularly taxing exercise for me, but it showed the progress.  My imagination went for a 15-20 minute walk, but my true self went for 90 minutes.   Is that really possible that your true self can go further than your imagination.  It is counter-intuitive for me.

The killing process was deliberate or so they said.  They actual said it out loud.  The plan was to destroy me (us) as I knew it and then be recreated in their image.   While I never was remade in their image,  I now realize and have to be truthful that they achieved the first part.  My true self got buried, blurred, difficult to access.   I ended up quitting one thing after another for about two years.   It was only when my mother gave me a copy of the book, Psycho-Cybernetics, by Maxwell Maltz that my true self seem to rise from the grave.   Shortly after that I left the school.

Forget about putting restrictions on guns if you are an American.  What you really need to work on is eliminating how vicious criticism kills the soul.   It killed me.   I wished that I would have been stronger, but I was not.  Call me a wimp if you will.  I was.

It was not until I began to do the Psycho-Cybernetics exercises that I could regain a sense of who my true self really was.  By and large it is memory work.   It is positive memory work.  It is remembering positive aspects of yourself and then living in those memories.  It is not easy to let go of loud and constant memories of authority figures telling you that you are worthless scum. That is what I was up against, a killing machine, much more deadly than the thousands of nuclear warheads we had.   It is a soul killer.

What is the key to reviving your soul?   I am not sure that I have all of the answers, but the process is pretty straightforward.  Here are some initial steps.

  1.  Realize that anyone who is doing a lot of negative mongering is doing it for their own gain.  There is no positive intention other than domination.   When you understand this, it puts you in a state of mind that allows the yelling and criticism to be let go of.   There must of been a part of me that believed them.   I wish that I would have been stronger back them, but I wasn’t.
  2.  The second step is to stop listening to the negative criticism in your head by just turning down the volume.   You can just turn it right off.   You start listening and then you turn it off.  It is simple.  Try it.   Imagine someone really criticizing or yelling at you and then just turn it right down to nothing.
  3.  The third step is access your positive voice inside your mind that reminds you of all of your positive abilities.   Just turn up the volume and hear it.  It will probably generate positive visual memories as well.
  4.  After that you can start with negative and as you are turning the volume down, you can turn the volume of  the positive up.   This will change from dead to alive right before your ears. 

You will need to practice the above exercise lots of times if your memories are severe.

The next step is to imagine positives things and then go out and do them.   If you have extremely positive memories being generated in your mind rather than fear, the reality is actually going to end up better than the imagination.   You have to try this.   Start with the hearing yourself speak about your positive capacities and memories, then feel yourself inside the memory.  After this do the imagination work.   Your results are going to surprise you.

Wild Fires in the Dream World: Building the Virtue of Hope

Counseling Work with Richard Hastings

I am currently in a small town in northern British Columbia in Canada after having done a workshop with some young people on the weekend because our car had some troubles as we were leaving town.     It just so happened that this area was hit really hard this past summer with raging fires on large areas of land.  Thousands of the people had to be evacuated.  Everyone has a story about the fires.

It got me to thinking about the metaphor of raging fires in nature and what it means in terms of one’s functioning in the world.   Here is a short post with some of my thoughts.   The way you are overcome by fire inside  means that something is burning you up.   Being burnt up inside happens when you are stuck in the negative present tense.  What does this mean?  If you are a coal miner in the U.S. or used to working in lumber mills in Canada, you could be stuck in the negative present tense because how you made a living is no longer as viable.  You look around and become angered about the fact that something that used to be so lucrative is now gone.   It is the emotion of anger about the present conditions that causes the roaring fire inside.   It can literally consume your mind and actions.

When a fire like that is burning inside of you because of the current conditions,  you can just be so caught up in blame that your life becomes ruined.    At first you may look for a leader who is going to get  your work back, as is the current case in the U.S., but really an industry like coal is a dead one.  What works instead is to engage the virtue of hope.    Hope is what moves you into the future.  It sees positive possibilities of a different kind of future and then gets you into action toward them.    Hope is an amazing energy, but to get to it you absolutely have to let go of the fiery blaming conditions inside.   This is the key.

To exercise hope you can practice this exercise.  When you take your next vacation, just plan your destination and maybe a couple of nights of where you are going to stay.  Leave everything else open.   When you get to the destination, starting feeling hope by checking out all of the positive possibilities to do in the location.  Then do them one after another.   By the end hope will be huge in you.

My Recurring Dream of the Air Force Academy and Why People Think the Current President is Correct

This is where I spent the first three years of my university education.  It is called the Air Force Academy.  Its purpose is to train young men and women to become officers in the U.S. Air Force.   When I was a young person and they started recruiting me because I was a good student and played football,  I somehow believed that if I went there I would be able to handle everything in life much better.  I wanted to not be affected by criticism or be timid in life.    I don’t know how I came up with this kind of imagination.    It just looked like the place to give me that kind of confidence.    Unfortunately or fortunately depending on the way you look at it, it didn’t work.    The methodology of the military is that if you are in a higher rank you can criticize wildly and are expected to do so to the lower ranks.   If you are of a lower rank, you are just supposed to obey and take it.    Criticism of the lower ranks to the higher ranks is like a mortal sin.   So after about 3 years of fighting with myself,  I realized that I really didn’t want to have anything to do with that kind of system.  I packed my bags and left.

Over the course of the last 40 years I continue to have occasional dreams of the Air Force Academy.   In the dream I am the age I am currently going back there to try to graduate.    Somewhere in the middle of the dream I realize that it is not the place for me and I have to figure out how to quit again.   It is a stubborn recurring dream.  It doesn’t want to go away.  Last night I had it again so I decided to try to find out why.   That is when I discovered the illusion that graduating from there was going to somehow magically make me overcome timidity and difficulty handling criticism.   I am still holding onto the illusion that a military environment is the key to my transformation.  I am actually pretty embarrassed to admit it.      I could go on for a long time about why a military environment doesn’t work,  but science has already done a pretty good job of proving why it is ineffective.   The kind of environment that is conducive to change includes a high level of encouragement,  frank and open consultations,  respect for everyone’s role, and also respect for the authority.    Criticism has consistently been shown to be the least effective method of change,  yet most military organizations still cling to it, but only in one direction, downward on the chain of command.   Effective organizations invite feedback from everyone.

I am slow to let go of the illusion despite the science.    Why is that?   Today I am letting it go.

The current president of the U.S. comes from a military school training and his method seems to be what they taught us at the Air Force Academy which is that it is OK and highly desirable for the positions of higher rank to criticize the lower rank, but not the other way around.    If you give him feedback on his actions, like criticizing an officer in the military,  it seems to be viewed as insubordination.   This is the same thing that happens in so many families in the world.  A father assumes the military authority that he can criticize at will and others have to do exactly as he demands.   Feedback to him is insubordination.     The real fear in the officer corps at the Air Force Academy was that maybe the feedback of the lower ranks was actually right. We were right when we gave them feedback on the haircut policy.   The length of one’s hair had nothing to do with self-discipline as they claimed.   So if they were wrong about that, what else were they wrong about.    Stopping the feedback allows them to not have to face their own incompetence.     They can make others look bad so they are not seen as incompetent.

Race is a perfect place where this kind of attitude comes into play.   If you are of race that has traditionally been seen as higher and treated as a higher ranking race,  you may have the tendency to see other races as insubordinate when they give feedback like taking a knee during the national anthem.     This happens because you don’t want to be seen as incompetent.    If you are of a superior rank, how could someone of a lower rank give accurate feedback that is actually true.    If you accept the feedback, you accept the equality.    If you accept the equality, you have to come to terms with your own incompetence.

The dream says that the illusion that the military way of doing things where the higher rank is allowed to criticize the lower rank, but not the other way around is a strategy that is ineffective because it doesn’t make people less timid or able to handle criticism better.  It makes them more timid and less able to receive feedback.   What works is encouragement,  seeing the best in others and honoring it, not criticism.   Encouragement is an effective change strategy because it builds the will to change the weaker parts.     When you are confident in who you are already, you will be excited about developing those aspects of yourself that are not so strong.    The meaning of the dream is that encouragement works.

In Search of a Better World: Book Promotion

In Search of a Better World is an incredible book that helps us all move from the world of not knowing what to do about the conditions of the world to being inspired to act in our communities on the theme of justice.    Payam recounts his own challenges growing up in Canada as an immigrant after having been a religious refugee from Iran in the 1970s.   This is done in the back drop of the historical conditions of the world.   It is not written in an us versus them format, nor does it claim to have clear definitive answers.  It is one man’s struggle to promote justice after having been a lawyer in the war crimes trials for the atrocities committed in Bosnia and witnessed the aftermath in other places like Cambodia and Rwanda.

Don’t miss this opportunity to get your hands on this incredible book.  You won’t be able to put it down.

Are You Planning Your Life According the Old Paradigm or the New One?

What is the Old Paradigm?    In the old way of doing things there was an effort on people who had the advantage like leaders or certain cultural groups to keep things just the way they are.   While they won’t admit it, the effort is to hold onto the status quo where they have the power and control.  One of the keys to maintaining the old paradigm is to have an enemy.    The current enemy seems to be immigrants, terrorists, and money for social improvements.   You are living unconsciously in this paradigm if you are planning your future as if things are going to be the same in a few decades.    The essence of the paradigm is that those who have privilege are going to still have it in the future.   You can also be living in the paradigm on the side of exclusion by remaining in fear of not having resources or privileges.    The people with privilege are obviously not going to change that willingly,  but the people who are excluded also can have a terrible time with change because they often believe that the solution is for them to have privilege.

The new paradigm is built on one major process,  change.     What is happening and is just going to accelerate is the ability for people to make significant changes in their lives.  The science of change is improving all the time.    The future is going to look so different that we will hardly recognize it, and not like those post-apocalyptic movies.   It is going to be extremely positive in every way except to those who want to keep privilege.   Privilege is on its way out.  What is in is the ability to get better and more positive everyday.   People are going to get so good at change that they will not be able to imagine that a day can go buy where they are not involved in a major change process.   Everyday they will looking forward to a new capacity coming in.    Every capacity and new ones will be developed by millions and millions each day.  The time is coming when material things will not be the major concern.   The major concern will be for the welfare of the whole and everyone in it.   We will be like a living organism of constant growth.

Which paradigm or you in?   Time to get into the new paradigm.  Start changing and learning how to do it.

The Miracle Cure for Negative Self-Talk

As you are reading this post imagine that you could go out into the future and visit your positive self that had solved the current biggest challenges you are facing.   That self, out there in the future, would have a voice, most likely a very enthusiastic one, and it would be so giving you tons and tons of encouragement.

When you watch tennis matches on TV, you are seeing professional players who have been training incessantly day in and day out for years upon years.  They have made it to where they are with raw talent that is combined with good coaching and hard work.    But they sometimes have days where the opponent frustrates them completely or days when they frustrate themselves.    When this happens, you can see them going into their negative self talk to begin the process of beating themselves up.    It is as if they have this belief that if you talk negatively to yourself in a loud and harsh manner, that it is somehow going to knock themselves out of their current state and into a more positive one that can solve the opponent.

When we get stuck in a cycle of negative self talk about a particular situation like what to do in a relationship or how to get a business moving forward,  it is called ruminating.  It would be so great if we could just turn on a clock, start ruminating, and then come out on the other end with a positive solution.    The problem is that it just doesn’t work.   Negative self talk is critical, blaming, judgmental and all of the bad things we say that you shouldn’t do to yourself or others.

The miracle cure for negative self talk that will get you moving in a positive direction is to hear the positive you out in the future that has already solved the situation.   The reason that it is a miracle cure is because that future self is upbeat, positive, encouraging,  devoid of all of the negative characteristics of the negative self-talk.  When you hear that positive voice, it gets you aligned with your higher positive self,  then the solutions begin coming to you.

The problem with ruminating is that it just keeps throwing the same tired solutions, that didn’t work in the past, right in your face.   It is a no-win process.   The positive voice out in the future aligns you with your higher being that is aligned with the Greater Spirit.  Then all positive things begin to happen.   Back to tennis!  Roger Federer, who already is way beyond the age where nearly every professional retires, won two grand slam tennis tournaments this year.   How did he do it?   Basically he seems to have the ability to keep a positive frame of mind and then solve the problems that are in front of him.    He keeps inventing new solutions to his game that solve the challenges in front of him.    You hardly ever see him engaging in negative self talk.  He keeps positive and then looks for new solutions.

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Why is it a miracle?   It is a miracle because it takes you out of your ego, your lower self, that keeps repeating the same mistakes,  and puts you right into your higher self, that is aligned with the energies where are the positive solutions are.  Try listening to the voice in the future that has solved the current challenges.

 

 

Why People Cannot Develop Their Own Gifts

My last two posts were about how being confident with your gifts is the antidote to worry.   This short post is about some cultural factors that don’t allow most people to develop their inner unique talents.

I don’t want to get too complex about this.   If you go to almost any school in the entire planet (with a few exceptions),  there are basically three virtues that teachers and administrators love to see in their students,  obedience, respect,  and determination.  “Do what I say and do it for as long as you can?”   When students act in this manner,  teachers are really happy.  I am not saying that there are not a lot of teachers who promote creativity, taking risks, or lateral thinking.    It is just that the system in general is preparing students to work really hard so that they can be workaholics for others.    If you look at some of the treasured professions like law and medicine,  the professions are characterized by extremely long work hours that follow prescribed ways of acting.

To get to other gifts besides determination and respect and obedience you need environments that allow for less production and more experimenting and curiosity, less results and more risk taking.   In the last school that I worked in a typical student in the International Baccalaureate program hardly had a moment to breathe and no free time on weekends.  Every moment from early morning to late at night was taken up by someone else’s requirements.  It is nice an environment that is conducive to developing your own uniqueness and special talents.    It is for your participation in the culture as it is.

 

Counseling Work with Richard Hastings

What is more helpful which many companies are beginning to realize is that you need both determination-type qualities and those that allow more freedom and exploration.   It is a dynamic balance, that is not that easy to achieve.  You shouldn’t try to pack your whole calendar for the week, for instance, because you need time for emergent outcomes that come out of creative inspiration.   It is not an either-or proposition.  It is a both/and dynamic.   We can work hard and we can be free and creative.

My experience is that when you are tuned into your dreams or your inspiration, then the gifts you need to develop will readily come calling.   You just have to be paying attention.

Dealing with Worry Part 2: How to Not Allow Worry to Take You Over the Edge to the Dark Side

In part one of dealing with worry I was trying to show that when you are confident with your internal gifts and act out of them, then positive things begin to show up all around.   What happens when worry gets the better of you?  

Human beings have two aspects to themselves, an ego, which is where there negative emotions are, and their true selves, which is where their positive capacities that do beneficial things live.   Both work together in a dynamic way to help you grow.   Since the ego is our animal heritage, it has a tendency to do what animals do under threat, fight or flee.   If the ego is in control of the person,  it just completely blocks the true self and does all kinds of things for self-interest or self-glorification or self-protection.

  • Worry, in our current world, seems to be at epidemic proportions.  It is definitely in control.  The internal true self of the world is definitely not in control.  It is moving and becoming stronger, but  worry is still having its day, hopefully its last day.   There are certain historical leaders who really took advantage of their worried states and then became extremely brutal.  How did they do it?   Worry sees the future as negative.  It sees threats from various directions and makes one feel out of control with it, often overwhelmed.    If you are on the fighting end of an ego response and you win some fights, the result of winning is a feeling of power.   It is a drug-like feeling.   As a person continues to fight and win, the addiction to the power grows and then the ego is totally out of control and becomes brutal.   It can be in a family, a city, or a nation.  There is no difference.

If worry is on the fleeing side, it still starts with seeing the future as negative, but instead of fighting and perhaps winning,  it runs away into areas other than where you are gifted.   When you flee with worry, you stay far away from your true self. You can seriously into mental illness.

The first step in dealing with worry or for that matter any negative emotion is to become friendly with it.  Think of worry as your best friend.  If you know the secret to transformation, then it is relatively easy to make it your best friend.   You are not trying to get rid of worry.  You are just trying to act more and more out of your gifts.   Worry will go away by itself when you know what it’s purpose is.   The purpose of worry is to wake you up and tell you that you are not acting out of your gifts.

When an emotion like worry is at epidemic proportions like it is right now in the world, it simply means that the masses of humanity are not acting out of their gifted selves.   They are either fleeing or fighting into their protected selves to deal with the negative future that they are perceiving.   It is why parents in certain cultures never allow their children moments when they are free to think or play.   They just try to keep them busy in structured activities from the time they wake up to the time they sleep.  They are worried that if they don’t do this, that they are going to end up on the street or in a less paying profession.  They see the future as negative.   Worry is the wake up call that lets you know that your future is really messed up.   It needs an overhaul.    All we have to do is change our futures from negative to positive and then begin acting out of our gifted selves.

Change your negative future right now.  See a positive future where people cooperate,  get along, help each other.

 

Getting Over Worry and Living Freely in Your Gifted Self

Worry a.k.a. anxiety is the negative emotion that projects a negative illusion onto the future so that you can maintain your present state in a protected manner.   If you are more conservative in your views or politics,  you see the future as someone coming in and taking away what you already have.   It causes you to fight for the present state.   If, however, you are more liberal in your views,  you will see the future as more of the same where, for instance the rich have a decided advantage.   Then you will fight for the present state where the possibility of change is alive.     Here is something that you may not have considered.  The enemy isn’t the other party or people who espouse the opposite views.   The enemy is worry.

Take the Republican Party in the U.S. or the Conservatives in the U.K..   In their worried future they see foreign invaders coming to take all of the jobs and promote terrorism.   On the other hand the Democrats or Liberals feel threatened by the conservatives closing all of the doors to the less wealthy and all opportunities to expand commerce with other countries.   Both sides have really valid arguments.   The problem is that when worry rules the day, as it does right now,  both sides gets entrenched.

How does worry work and how do you let it go?    Worry happens when people do not have confidence in their own gifted selves.   We all are extremely gifted by nature.  There is no one left out,   but when we stop relying on our gifts and being extremely confident in them,  then the future goes from a positive state to a negative one.   If you are relying on your own inner gifts,  then you naturally will be enthusiastic and positive about the future.  As soon as worry creeps in, the future changes in a negative direction so that the present can be protected.

We all just need to feel more gifted.  Then we will be able to talk to each other and find mutual solutions.   When we lose our worry, we start seeing people as gifted and then we want to be with them even though they may be of a different culture or religion.   When we relate inwardly to our own gifts and then outwardly to other people’s gifts, then our worry goes away because we act out of our true selves with very positive energy.    We don’t have to label ourselves as conservative or liberal.  We can say that we are gifted.

Exercise to get rid of worry.

  1.  Start to feel worried and then see the negative vision that it projects.    Write the negative vision on a paper.   If you can then turn the negative vision into a metaphoric vision it will be better.    For instance, you may be worried that your child is not going to university because he/she doesn’t work hard.   Feel the worry, project the image,  and see if metaphorically like he is going to end up in wasteland with no food or drink.
  2.  Say to yourself that this is just worry.  It is not real.   I need to live in my gifts.
  3. Make a list of your top 5 gifts such as your ability to connect to others, your ability to attend to details,  your ability to solve complex problems, or your ability to hold firm to a principle.   Then with each gift write some times when you acted out of that energy.   Relive the experiences as many times as you can.
  4. As you relive your gifts,  you will notice that your future begins to shift from negative to positive.  You might even feel enthusiastic.
  5. Take the vision of the negative future and let it just vanish away while you take on a really positive one where you are using your gifts.

 

Dealing With Blemishes in Dreams and in Real Life

This is really great for being self-conscious especially with young people.

Dreams For Peace

A blemish in a dream is an imperfection.   Everyone has blemishes because everyone is imperfect.   The modern culture seems to want me to be like this photo below.   I pick up my copy of Runner’s World Magazine which is full of good articles and good advice, but the cover shot is the perfect man image.   The visual image is the unconscious goal, not everything else about a healthy life style, good health, etc..  Look perfect like the guy in the photo!  That is the message.

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How did we get here to where we have to look perfect all the time?   This is actually not a new phenomenon.  It has been with us for quite some time now, more with women than men.   Making mistakes, having weaknesses, blemishes in appearance have been and continue to be a source of great shame in the culture.   I wish I could…

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Catastrophe/Apocalyptic Dreams

This post was written about 5 years ago, but it is just as applicable today. When you think of an apocalypse, make it personal rather than global because you can change your own personal apocalypse into something amazingly wonderful. You can land in paradise.

Dreams For Peace

A few nights I was in Singapore doing a dream meeting with about 25 people.  There were quite a few interesting dreams as there always are, but one thing that really caught a great deal of interest for me was that of dreaming about catastrophes.     In the particular dream, the dreamer said that he dreamt that something extremely terrible was going to happen, that he was frozen in his response to it, and that he rarely remembered many dreams.

When you do dream work,  it is always solution oriented.  This is a bit different than when you go to a therapist’s office and get dream analysis based upon the the therapist’s interpretation of the symbols.    The symbolic work is pretty straight forward.  It just requires having a pretty lengthy knowledge of analogies.  The purpose of dream work, while it includes analysis,  does not stop there.   The important…

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Sometimes the Fear You Feel is Not Yours

I woke up with a dream this morning that reminded me of some feelings that I had in elementary school.    The primary feeling was fear, but there didn’t seem to be any reason for the fear.    I was reluctant to relate to people even though they were friendly, open, and hospitable really wanting me to join them.    When I woke up, I thought to myself,  “What am I afraid of?”

Then I remembered my first-ever day of school where I felt completely overwhelmed and hesitant to go into the school setting.   There wasn’t a lot to be afraid of,  but what I was feeling, which at the time was completely unconscious to me, was all the fear and anxiety from everyone else.   It was their feelings that I was feeling, but it felt so much like my own feelings.   I was absorbing their fear.    I am sure this is the case for many people. It could explain why it is so  difficult for people to reach out and readily initiate inclusion in the world.   In fact it seems to me that it is the people who are less empathetic that seem to be running the world.

Empathy is a positive quality because it informs you of how others feel, but if you have no way of knowing which feelings are yours and which belong to others,  then it can be a huge nightmare.   Sensitive people, without training,  can get totally overwhelmed and wiped out.

What I have learned is that you can sense what others are experiencing and be trained in how to recognize the different states,  and then even young children are good at helping others cope with what they are feeling,  but to be unconscious of the feelings of others means that you will probably take them on as if they are your own.    Once you know that the state belongs to someone else,  then you can begin to have a lot of choice about what to do in the environment.    You can ignore the situation or help the person with fear, for instance.   You can maintain your functional state rather than being overcome by all of the fear.

 

 

 

Lucid Dreaming When You Are Awake

Dreams For Peace

Two nights ago I had a dream where I was going downhill in a sort of half walk, half- run trot about the speed of a camel, and as I approached the bottom a group of about 4 children around the age of 10 or 11 went racing up the hill full of energy and life.

The speed I was running in the dream was about the same that I had done in real life the day before at Cherating Beach in Malaysia after I had been surfing the day before for a few hours in water that had a really strong current which made paddling and walking a real effort.

So when I woke up after the dream and prepared to go out and a do a run I was already feeling tired and depressed, but I also realized that the boys in the dream were symbols for how…

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Dealing with Nightmares in the Real or Dream World

Dreams For Peace

What should your attitude be after you have had an intense nightmare or have gone through a horrific experience in real life?

When most people begin working with what is happening with themselves,  the first goal they have is to get rid of the recurrence of the negative feelings.   When you are feeling a great deal of fear because the memories of some horror like being in war or being with an abusive person get triggered constantly,  the actual experience in your body of the negative emotion can be so awful that the only thing you can think of is getting rid of it as quickly as possible.     Most people do a lot of coping strategies like alcohol or drugs or relationships to forget the pain.

As awful as the feelings are to cope with, the goal is NOT to completely forget the nightmare or keep it from recurring.  Nightmares…

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When You Dream About Snakes, Start Looking for Jealousy

Dreams For Peace

If you have ever been to one of my dream meetings, you will almost always hear me say that snakes are about change, transformation especially at the beginning stages of change, but there is hardly another animal on the planet that evokes so much fear as a snake.   Part of the problems with snakes is that you can’t see them until you are right upon it.    If it is poisonous, then its effects from biting you can be really deadly.

Jealousy as an emotion most simulates the way a poisonous snake acts.    People who have problems with jealousy tend to use vicious poison in a hidden way so that they can protect the power and things, especially relationships, that they already have.  Its dirtiest weapon is usually backbiting.  Backbiting is the act of trying to maintain what you have by purposely spreading negative information about another so that they will…

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