The Danger of Letting the Past Dictate Present Decision-Making

Piggybacking on my previous post in only finding clarity in the present, focusing more on the idea that we must make decisions in the now rather than focusing on future outcomes, it is also important not to let the past dictate our current decisions either.

Here, we are talking about specific experiences that might be influencing your current decision-making, whether it is career or relationships. I have recently noticed my own thinking being influenced by events of the past when it came to career. Some people might feel they are owed certain things because of their tenure at a company, or conversely, feel they should give up on a certain career because much time has passed and have still seen no reward.

When you realize that time does not have anything to do with expertise or give merit to stop something just because you have been working on it for a long time with no real progress, it is a light bulb-moment. The only moment that matters is right now. What is your expertise right now, regardless of how much time you have spent in your profession? Does that expertise warrant a promotion? What is your ambition to succeed in your currently unsuccessful venture? Do you still have a drive to work on it NOW?

We must ask ourselves these sort of questions without reasoning back to the past, how much time we have invested in something or how much time has passed with no success. The same is true with relationships. There are many couples that have stayed together primarily because of how much time had been invested in the relationship and the thought of starting over would be proof that they have just wasted all of this time. This very consideration of past events and investment is what they have based their decision to stay in the relationship on. Now, what if they had instead asked themselves how they felt in this present moment without consideration of the past? Perhaps there would have been more reason to go and move on because in that present moment you are unhappy and here is where a decision must be made, without influence from the past.

There is no such thing as the past. All of the good times we have had in the past are no longer, all we have is now. All of the bad times we have had in the past are no longer, all we have is now. We cannot accumulative evidence based on the past if it no longer exists in the present. I encourage us all to think about how you are feeling now, what you are contemplating doing right now, and decide in this very moment without looking back on who you were, how things went in the past and giving it more influence than it ever deserves.

If you have a drive to be successful in business but have not sold anything in the three years you’ve been invested? Please do not consider those three years when deciding whether or not to give up or continue. What do you believe in right now? Those three years do not exist. What do you want for yourself in this very moment?

Others will also expect you to give up and reason with you that if nothing has happened in three years, it will never happen. People might influence you to believe that the past has credibility, but you know that it does not.

We Can Only Find Clarity In The Present

Take a moment to reflect on the things that give you major and minor anxieties in the everyday. Such examples might be as simple as waiting on a text message from a friend, waiting in line at the Starbucks or thinking about what you are going to eat for dinner tonight. Some might be a bit deeper, thinking about if you are in the right marriage, if you and your friends will still be friends 20 years from now, if you are going to be broke your whole life or well-off.

If I asked you what all of these worries had in common, what would you say?

These anxieties are all attributed to the uncertainty about the FUTURE.

Many of us spend more time worrying about the future throughout the day than the very moment in the day itself. Ever drive to work and not even know how you got there because of all of the things you were thinking about on the drive? Ever leave the house and not remembering if you brushed your teeth because of all of the things running through your head during your brush?

Our minds are so flooded with these future worries that we do not focus on what we are doing in the moment we have. We are not even guaranteed to have those moments we focus too much energy on in the future. What if you have been imagining cooking a steak for dinner the whole day, what you are going to serve it with, who will be there, what drink you will wash the meal down with, and then when you get to your house, you find out the steak had expired 2 weeks ago. The reality of the situation is that you have been ignoring many of the days moments that you had with this daydream about a rotten piece of meat that you can no longer eat and satisfy your fantasy with. Sadly, we waste away moment in the day for trivial thoughts like this all of the time without even noticing.

The most disappointing part of all of this is the fact that we worry about things that are never guaranteed to us. We live life with a need to know, trying to solve life’s equations that are unsolvable because we will never know the future or have complete certainty. All we know is the truth in the moment we are experiencing right now.

This brings me to the next point about decision making. Sometimes when we feel this angst about the uncertainty in our lives, whether is it questioning if we are in the right career, relationship, friend-group or even workout class. In our heads, we can run through an extensive pros and cons list until it drives us crazy, and oddly enough, it will still not even bring us CLARITY we are looking for in making the right decision.

Why is this? Because we cannot make clear decisions when trying to predicting the future. It is okay to consider the future but we cannot try to predict it because these anxieties then fog our heads with fear, worry, and doubt in the present moment. Thinking is oftentimes not the answer to decision-making at all. In fact, NOT thinking and just being in the moment is where we will find more clarity. In these moments, you will feel engaged and free from emotion, anxieties, and stress about the future.

Rather, you are putting one foot in front of the other and navigating the bumps and cracks to step over along the path. Here we are clear on where to walk, whereas THINKING about where our next step should be might cause us to fall in a ditch we would have never seen coming.

All of this is to say that when you are considering a life change, minor or major, remain engaged in the present moment where you are free from anxiety and see your next step clearly. Thinking about the next step will only cause a cloud in your judgment filled with fear and worry which may misdirect your journey altogether. Let us not confused fear with intuition, for intuition can only exist in the present.

Allow the present to be our guiding light as we put one foot in front of the other and navigate down our path.

 

Luck or Attraction?

Many of us have a tendency to credit “luck” for things both good and bad. When something positive happens to us, we may say we just “got lucky”, and when something negative happens we say we just had “bad luck”. I have never been a proponent of the idea that things happen for no reason at all and we also had nothing to do with it.

For a simple example, I think about why a particularly negative co-worker of mine constantly has problems with his computer, outlook, traffic, and the list goes on, while I find myself to never have any of these issues or at least not to the extent he experiences.

Our energies have much more to do with the way our life is going more than just sheer luck. I will paraphrase the Alchemist saying, when you want something, the universe conspires to help you achieve it. The same is true with negative thoughts. If we are constantly complaining and being negative, that is the energy that is sent out into the universe and the universe will return this energy in a negative form because you have asked for it.

Now, with all of that being said, being more of a believer in attraction than in dumb luck, I am beginning to understand that luck does exist in some form. It is luck to be born into a family with wealth, connections and experience, for example. Perhaps you aspire to be a doctor and your father happens to be a successful doctor, alumni to a prestigious university and well connected at the school. Even if your grades upon application to medical school are average, do you think you might have a better chance at gaining admission than someone who is slightly above average with no connections at all? Of course you do, and you were simply born with that advantage. There is no way you would have been able to manifest this fate in the womb of your mother.

However, we are all dealt a different deck of cards when we are born. Some of us are luck in other ways, more simply, even just being born in a safe neighborhood in the United States of America has been your luck.

Still, luck can be the starting point for some people but attraction remains to be the more determining factor when it comes to the trajectory of the rest of your life. Dealt a good or bad hand, as we grow up, it is up to us to determine what we will attract in our lives. We have full responsibility.

Perhaps the student who grew up with a well-connected doctor father who is an alumni of a prestigious university DOES have a better chance at getting in than you do, BUT you have the ability to ATTRACT a similar advantage.

Even without luck, we can manifest this same chance luck with attraction. Perhaps you are able to network and connect with another well-connected doctor and university alumni through your research and effort to reach out to befriend this person. You may not have been born into this connection but you were able to create this connection and the same advantage as the student born into connection.

It is easy to make an excuse for other’s success and say things like “oh, well they have a shore house because the grandmother left them money, we can’t do that” or “oh yeah, she got that job because her father knew the principal of the school, lucky her.” Yes, maybe these people did have a built-in advantage but it does not mean that just because you did not have one that you cannot achieve the same.

I encourage us all to define what we want to do in our lives, and begin to live each day manifesting positive thoughts for the accomplishment of what we want to do and recognizing opportunities for action that will help you get there even if you were not luck enough to have it given to you. Attract it.

Better than None; Worst than None

Over the past few days I have been thinking about the concept of jealousy and, conversely, superiority. The feeling of jealousy and superiority may be juxtaposes but they do ultimately come from the same place, for both of these beliefs are rooted in the fear of not being worthy.

In jealousy, we feel unworthy when we hear of someone traveling to a place you’ve always wanted to go to, someone getting engaged as you await a confirmation from your partner or someone earning an income greater than your own. Although many of us are ashamed to admit our jealousies, all of us experience them at one time or another.

On the other hand, the feeling of superiority is also reflective of our feeling of unworthiness because feeling like we are better than another, constantly comparing our status and accomplishments to someone of a lower status and few accomplishments to make ourselves feel better is just the same.

For myself, I have been guilty of possessing a perfectionism mentality which has perpetually made me strive to do better than others in order to prove a sense of “worthiness” to myself.

“BUT the gag is” (Keke Palmer 1) this is not true worthiness.

True worthiness is the acceptance of yourself in whatever position or status you are in REGARDLESS of accomplishment, failure or comparison to others.

Many of us may feel guilty about this feeling of jealousy and/or superiority, knowing that we are no better or worse off than anyone else because we are equality worth of love, compassion, understanding and belonging, but in the events of the day to day, especially in a social-media-drive society, we all fall victim to these reactions. Luckily, recognizing our reaction is the first step in truly understanding our feelings of jealousy and/or superiority in order to take a better look at ourselves and letting go of these feelings.

For myself, my true intention IN LIFE is to remain grateful for all I have and never yearn for more than what I have in the present moment. I wish the same for my friends and family, so each day I meditate and pray for each of them individually, sending them peace, love and happiness in their days.

Even in having this intention, the feeling of jealousy may arise, for example. So, how do I transform jealousy into genuinely joy for another’s accomplishments then?

The answer I have found is recognizing that because of the intention you have for another, YOU are partially responsible for their achievement. YOU are partially responsible for the joy they are experiencing in that moment. If our intention is for another to genuinely experience joy in their day, and the effect of that intention was an accomplishment that brought them joy. And how can we feel jealousy when we ultimately nourished that very accomplishment?

To free ourselves of jealousy and superiority we must truly understand we are no worse nor any better than another. It is understanding that we are all silent contributors to the story of another. It is the acceptance of ourselves for who we are and where we are in our lives in the present moment.

 

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Think about a time in your life when you had interpreted someone’s “Yes.” (emphasis on the period) via text as he or she harboring frustration with you. You then begin to analyze this event and bring reason to why they are mad at you and assume they are irritated with something you said. But how much of that is the truth? Rather, this is the story we tell ourselves to bring a story line into a trigger event to help make sense of it. Yet, that IS all we are really doing, making up a story, and not even considering the truth in the situation.

Perhaps after confronting this friend regarding the text message, she does not even remember it because there was not emotion attached to the response at all. Meanwhile, you had suffered for days thinking constantly about this response which turned out to be a misinterpretation at the end of the day. Dr. Brene Brown speaks of how the brain actually rewards us for creating a storyline such as this to help to make sense of a situation whether it is a truthful storyline or not. As a result, however, we may be so committed to our story that we never end up finding the truth.

Brene Brown speaks about how these trigger moments, such as the “Yes.” text message response are opportunities for self-reflection. Our recognition of the tendency to craft a story in this moment is the sign to begin our self-reflection. To take the same example, once we are triggered by this text message and recognize our minds readiness to craft this entire story about our friend, we stop and reflect. Here, we are given the opportunity to figure out what about this response had triggered us?

The interesting thing is that we will always find that it everything to do with us, and nothing to do with the other person. The person on the sending end had no foul intention or malicious vengeance with a “Yes.” text response but because of our own inner insecurities and fear of rejection, we are sensitive to the short diction.

Since we are the creators of our reality, if we believe the story we tell ourselves all of the time, we may never give ourselves the opportunity to find truth or use this opportunity for self-reflection. By constantly believing the story we tell ourselves to be true, we can ruin various relationships in our lives. We may blame the actions of others for the way we are feeling or the failure of a relationship on the faults of another. How much truth is in these storylines? Are they merely just stories we tell ourselves?

Next time you feel the urge to develop a storyline in a trigger situation, recognize it as fiction and question what about YOU allowed for this to be a trigger event. You may find out more about yourself than you’d like to admit.

Uncovering the Fear of Losing Control and What to Do About It

I have been battling for a solution to my life-long irritation towards sounds, and recently, I have grown intolerable to the sound my co-worker makes in the cubicle next to mine. The sound of chewing, slurping and clanging on the bowl of cheerios has urged me to flee from the building while pulling the hairs out of my head. This is not a new irritation to me, for I had always been bothered with various sounds others make ever since I was a child, always prompting the same feeling of discomfort and need to run away. Now, I have forced myself to take a deeper look at what the root of this problem has been all of these years because it is beginning to make me have disdain for people I like and impedes my ability to focus.

What I found to be the deeper issue is, not my resentments towards my co-worker or the pitch of the clank on the bowl, but it is my fear of losing control (of my life). You may be asking yourself, “What the heck does that have to do with people making annoying sounds?” right? It does sound far-fetched but let me explain with a more obvious example. Why do we get so irritated and impatient when we are stuck in traffic? It is because things are not going our way, or as we planned. If it was up to us, we would never sit in traffic, and since we have no control over it, we are frustrated when we find ourselves idling on the parkway, sitting bumper to bumper. In applying this scenario to the one I am personal struggling with, I find that if it was up to me, there would be silence in all situation and everyone would have perfect food etiquette (like the one I would be so delusional to think I have ;P). Since this is a situation I do not have control over, this same impatience, irritation and need to change circumstance grows and grows as I continue to recognize how much I am losing control over the present. I urge you to think about the times you have felt irritated by something just as trivial, a fight you got into with your partner, or quitting something when things change and became more difficult. Did you ever consider these reactions to be your fear of losing control in some way? The fear of rejection and judgment can even be under the fear of losing control, for we cannot control what people think of us or if they will like us, so this worry and frustration causes us to act in ways we would not if we did not have this need for control.

Now that I know the irritation towards my co-workers cereal chewing, for example, is an indicator of my fear of losing control, what can I do to ease this burden? Can I stop him from eating cereal every day? Can I throw a blanket over my head in an attempt to block out the sound? OR, do I have to change something within myself? Since this is an external irritant, our only viable option in conquering this trigger long-term is to change something within ourselves.

My first step in conquering this irritant was identifying it as a trigger for my fear of losing control. Next, I began to breathe throughout the duration of this occurrence and focus solely on myself and the present moment. Then, I began to affirm that my co-worker is a good person and does not deserve the disdain I am feeling towards him, so I thought of him positively. Finally, understanding that I will NEVER have control over the actions, thoughts and feelings of other people has provided me with a peace which I can apply to other aspects of my life, from my fear of being judged and rejected to my fear of losing control.

Next time you are annoyed with someone or something, take a deeper look to find out if it is because you cannot control it. Instead of acting from a place of fear, recognize it as so and let it go with actions similar to those I took on my own. My co-worker’s cereal chopping is still a bit irritating but to a MUCH lower intensity, so I call that progress.

Be Careful Not to Inherit the Conditionings of Others

I have spoken much about conditioning in this blog so I will not go on and on about the importance of recognizing our own conditionings, but the main objective of this post is to understand the conditionings of OTHERS before allowing for their conditioning to impact our own. We must begin to understand where people are coming from when they provide us with their own opinions before accepting them as fact.

Why do we take advice from others who are not in where we want to be in life? Unless we wish to live a similar life as the one providing advice, we must question its relevance to ourselves and what we are looking to accomplish. It is similar in questioning whether we would take financial advice from someone who has filed for bankruptcy a number of times. We simply would not do so. There are people in our lives who serve as resources for a variety of challenges, but not for all.

Many people who provide us with advice are sourcing their words straight from their conditionings. Their beliefs may have been handed down to them by their parents, by community, by friends and neighbors, who more than likely ended up in the same place. Now, these same individuals are making the effort to influence you with these same conditionings. By understanding their conditioned fears and how they played out in their lives, we can be empowered to make the choice to own this condition or not.

For example, if my father has always had a fear of losing his job, belief that working at a big corporation was the best career and was an extremely religious person, what would you expect of my beliefs? Without the awareness of these beliefs being HIS conditionings and not my own (YET), I am likely to inherit his same fears, lack of aspiration, and narrow-mindedness towards other religious beliefs or ideas other than his, and now my, own.

We will inherit conditionings inevitably without our knowledge, for many of them had been engrained at a young age, but as we grow older and gain an awareness of the origin of these conditionings and who/where/what they are coming from, we can take the power back to reject or accept them as we see fit.