I can still remember that vivid moment of clarity when my mind stopped being so self-obsessed and held nothingness for a moment – or was it an eternity?
I was able to project my own consciousness and experience a state of immersive empathy that was unparalleled. I was the joyful child running in the sand and kicking the shallow water with his tiny feet. I was the father rushing to sweep him off before he fell face first into the sea. And, I was the seagull, glancing from above as he soared higher into the clouds.
And I was all of those things at once…
I had decided to embark on a journey to grapple with my fears, re-frame my stories and decipher all the ‘lies’ my mind was telling me – and it was one of the scariest and most exciting experiences of my life.
Allow me to share glimpses of this experience with you:
What brings positive energy into your life? Which activities give you the feeling of clarity, calmness, creativity, and success?
Self-awareness is the most important and vital skill to have in order to begin to live a life full of purpose, peace and clarity. If we are not aware of our values, how will we know when you we been derailed off the path? And if we are not in tune with our authentic selves – how will you know how to discern the lies that our minds tell us? Know yourself.
What’s stopping you from taking personal responsibility for the things that you can change in your life?
We all share the same human condition. No matter what transgressions we have been exposed to, what things have been done on to us and what horrors we have lived through – someone, somewhere has had it worse. And someone, somewhere has had it better. So let’s come to terms with the fact that there are only three things that we can control: our thoughts, our emotions and our actions. In his excellent book called ‘The 4 Agreements’- the Toltec shaman Don Miguel Ruiz says that when we always do our best then we leave no room for remorse or regret. That’s excellent advice. So, let’s take personal responsibility for our thoughts, actions and emotional states and – if we don’t like something then let’s change it. And always do our best!
What do you spend most of your energy thinking about?
The awareness that the world is a fleeting, changing and malleable place allowed me to become much more mindful and less reactive to what goes on the outside. What was even more important was the capacity to observe my own thoughts and even design them. I remember how I used to struggle with my childhood traumas, my dark memories, my father’s death, my parent’s divorce, my own divorce, that terrifying car accident, my best friend who died so young, the pain, the suffering, the wars…. And it just went on and on. There is a concept known as neurogenesis which states that our thoughts create lasting neural pathways that continue to affect our emotional states and the more we ‘use’ those paths the stronger they become. But – we can create new pathways based on new experiences and visualization as well. So let’s be conscious of our own mental energy and make a choice to focus in on the positive and also direct that powerful attention towards that which we desire and not that which we fear. Our subconscious only wants to prove us right and it does not know the difference between reality and illusion. So let’s be conscious of our thoughts and choose a compelling, exciting and beautiful future.
How do your fears get in the way of your own mental calm?
When we hold that space and focus in on our breathing, do we find that our fears have an uncanny way of creeping in? Do we find ourselves still judging our actions and our reactions? In my own coaching practice we did a wonderful exercise called ‘Taming the Gremlin’ and it is a fantastic way to objectify the ego (or the acute stress response syndrome) or the base ‘Self’ or whatever we wish to attribute the source of our fears to. In all cases, it is important to come to the terms with the most simple of truths: our brains are just organs and their purpose it to provide us with thoughts. It is our responsibility to discern which of those thoughts are true… and which are false. So the beautiful and elusive gifts of meta-cognition and presence are crucial in our journey towards mental calm. And we must be able to have the self-compassion to smile silently at our own minds as they continue with their feverish upheavals, endless drama and distorted images of doom. After all, they are only trying to protect us.
What stories do you tell yourself about yourself and how does that affect your view of others?
This question forced me to look at my own subjective narratives and my own personal biases as well. If the world we see around us is a projection of our own internal reality then we better work hard to ensure that we are being the light we wish to see in the world. From experience I would say that it is impossible not to judge others because it would mean that we are in a state of nothingness all the time. But what we can do is to learn to be more aware of that gap between stimulus and response. As the excellent Dr. Covey states: responsibility is our ability to respond. So let’s make an effort to really by patient with ourselves and also with others. We don’t know their stories, or their struggles or their victories. Let’s learn to see through our own subjective narratives and understand that our thoughts and biases have a way of causing us suffering – because the world is a mirror to our hearts.
What one thing that you can do today to give yourself more self-confidence?
I’ve always has a high sense of achievement and have had an unwavering capacity to propel myself towards action and results. But I used to do this for all the wrong reasons. What I know now is that I challenge myself and I push towards my goals because of my own need for self-actualization. Sure – it’s awesome to be recognized, applauded, appreciated and acknowledged. And it’s horrible to be condemned, criticized, ignored and rejected. But it’s much more important to rely on our achievements for our own source of validation. There is an exercise in positive psychology called ‘The Door’ which asks us to imagine an experience that we really wanted to happen that didn’t come through. Then it asks us to look at all the opportunities, experiences and people that came into our lives as a result of that event not happening. It’s a powerful exercise that helps us to come to grips with the power of our own actions and also the rules of fate – which we are not privy to fully comprehend or understand. So we accept and we march on in with our self-validation propelling us and compelling us to keep going – no matter what.
How do you contribute to your own stress?
It’s incredible how much we are responsible for our own stress. Between the constant chatter, the negative self-talk, the negativity bias, the lack of gratitude, the drama, the fear, the scarcity mindset…. The list just goes on and on.
Affirmations are a very powerful tool for hacking our own minds and continually aligning them to our true authentic selves.
It’s not that we are lying to ourselves by saying something that is untrue – it is that we are neutralizing the lies that we are already telling ourselves by saying or writing that which IS true.
And the importance of positive self-talk cannot be underestimated either. We must become very aware of the language that we use with ourselves and with the people in our lives. ‘Words make worlds’ is a powerful quote that can help us to become aware of the power of language. What we say to ourselves is very important in our journey towards wellbeing and calmness.
Reality is abundant and our fears can sometimes get in the way of our own success and if we are able to break through our own perceived limitations then perhaps we can seek out, identify and make use of the rich abundance in the world. That being said, when our vibration and frequency is aligned and we take action towards our goals with gratitude, patience and resilience – the Universe has a tendency to conspire to make our dreams come true. So I don’t think that visualizing a gorgeous ocean-front villa on the Mediterranean will make it manifest but perhaps it will give us the passion, inspiration and energy to get up, take action and make it all happen!