Advice for My Dear Friend

Standard

I have a great friend who recently retired and while messaging she mentioned she’s struggling with commitments.  She said, “I can’t seem to make them.  When asked to join bible study, weekly classes, or take on a part time job I just can’t do it.  Perhaps it’s because I was so committed to my job (for over thirty years).  I love grabbing life at the moment and shaking it for all its worth.”

The following is my personal response to my dear friend.

FB_IMG_1445637973867

Dear Susie,

(Name changed to protect this rock star’s identity)

Let me be the first to tell you there’s nothing wrong with you!  You just finished a long and rewarding career that anyone should be proud of.  You have given of yourself for the betterment of others.  People looked to you to get the job done because you were reliable.  But more than that–you cared.  You cared deeply for the people you worked with.  They looked up to you–as they wisely should have–because they knew you would be there to take care of them.

Maybe some of these people took you for granted but they’re getting a clear dose of reality now that you’re gone.  I know I speak for many people when I say you are truly missed!!  Your presence is one that cannot be denied.  When you walk into the room, you bring a zest for life and a deep knowing.  Your presence is truly undeniable!

So now that I have reminded you of what you already know about yourself, I would like to touch on the commitments you referred to.  There are several good things you mentioned that you could commit to; bible study, weekly classes, or part time job.  All are very good things you could add to your life and they may even add some enrichment.

But the question I have is where does the urge to completely fill our calendars come from?  Why are we so inclined to feel like we need to be doing something all the time?

I am no expert on such things.  I will, however, attempt to shine light on our humanness and will try to answer the question of what you should do with your time.

Life gives us an infinite amount of choices from which we can choose.  Is there any choice we can make that is wrong?  Let’s look at nature and see: take for instance the wave crashing onto the beach.  Do we look at the wave and say “You’re doing it all wrong! That was a terrible choice for a wave to make!”  Or how about the clouds?  Have you ever seen a cloud in the sky that was grossly in error for its choice of shape?  What about the banana or apple?  Do we scold them for their poor choices of becoming bananas and apples?  Have you ever looked at your newborn grand-baby and been disgusted by their choice of eye color?

I realize I am making some large exaggerations but for very good reason.  Your life will unfold in perfect timing and with such crystal clear purpose as soon as you realize one thing: What you are doing this very second is what you are supposed to be doing.  In a world of infinite possibilities, whatever you choose to do needs to be with this attitude; “I’m going to try this for awhile.”  Then, upon making that choice to have that experience you may decide instantly that you want to have another experience.  That’s perfectly acceptable!  Do we criticize the cloud for joining another cloud and giving us rain?  Do we fault the grape for being the wrong variety to mix into our Cabernet Sauvignon?

I believe you answered your own question to me without even realizing it. You said you want to “grab life by the moment and shake it for all its worth,” which I wholeheartedly applaud!  To me, it seems you don’t want to join a bible study, weekly class, or take on a part time job.  That’s perfect, don’t!  In a world of infinite possibilities, what do you want to do?  Do you want to go fishing, play with your grand-baby, share a bottle of wine with a friend, or drive your dad around in your fancy new car?  There is literally no wrong choice you can make.  Which brings me to another question:

Are there people in your life that suggest you need to be in a bible study, weekly class, or take on a part time job?  If so, are these well-meaning people a source of guilt for you?  Remember, no one can make you feel guilty without your permission.  You no longer have to explain yourself to anyone since only you can experience life for you.  Your well-meaning friends and family can’t experience the life you choose anymore than you can experience the life of a racoon.

FB_IMG_1445608514033

I came across a quote earlier that reminded me of your situation: “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”  So I must ask you; what sets your soul on fire? If you’re worried about making commitments then only make one and let everyone know what it is.  Commit to making the best choice for yourself in every situation.  Some weeks that may involve a bible study or a weekend retreat but you will unapologetically commit to living your life one day at a time, moment by moment.

One of my favorite philosophers, Alan Watts, once said, “Paradoxical as it may seem, the purposeful life has no content, no point.  It hurries on and on, and misses everything.  Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world.”

So we are given this life of infinite possibilities and we stress about what we should do with it.  What if the answer can never be found in the “doing?”  What if the only real answer is in the “being?”  We are called a human being not a human doing, but somewhere along the way we forget that.

As we go through school growing up we are told the world is a certain way, so we believe it.  We are told we are supposed to either go to college or get a job, so we believe it.  We are told we need to buy a house and save for the future, so we believe it.  We are told we need to get married and have a family, so we believe it.  We are always striving for the next thing we are supposed to be doing, all the while, forgetting the importance of being in the present moment.

What if we’ve been lied to?  What if being nothing more than a cog in the giant economical wheel is not what our souls yearn for?  What if your worth has nothing to do with the choices you’ve made but instead has everything to do with the person you are?  And in your case, you’re a pretty amazing person!

Here’s my final plea for you, my friend; ruthlessly and unapologetically commit to only what makes your heart explode with joy.  Life is short and none of us are getting out alive, but oh how beautiful living can be while we’re here!  The world needs more people like you who “grab life by the moment and shake it for all its worth” so please don’t stop being you!

In a world of infinite possibilities, I suggest you be your bad-ass self every single day, for your sake, for the world’s sake!

Peace my Friend!!

~Travis

FB_IMG_1445569355854

Toxic People Suck!!

Standard

images.duckduckgo.com

We all have people in our lives that like to give us their opinion whether we ask for it or not.  Sometimes we have the courage to say “thanks but no thanks.”  Other times we grit our teeth and let them steamroll us with their tirade.

Whether these people are well-meaning or whether they are evil, sadistic, destructive, and hostile; you have the right to set a healthy boundary with them.  There is no law (that I’m aware of at least) that says you must continue to get shit on over and over and never put an end to it.  You may assume because they’re family or a life-long best friend you feel obligated to “take it,” but that thinking must be given careful reconsideration.

In The Art of Being, Erich Fromm says, “There is no contact between human beings that does not affect both of them.  (Bold added for effect) No meeting between two people, no conversation between them, except perhaps the most casual one, leaves either one of them unchanged–even though the change may be so minimal as to be unrecognizable except by its cumulative effect when such meetings are frequent.”

So I dare ask the question; have you ever gauged how healthy the interactions are that you have with people?

How many times have you been with a person and felt more alive, or in a better mood, or discovered new energy you didn’t realize you had?  You could have the worst headache in the world or cramps from hell (this applies a little more to my female readers in case you’re confused guys) and then an exchange with another human you admire will lift the headache like the sun lifts the early morning fog.  While talking to them you completely forget about your cramps and instantly life is good.

On the other hand, who hasn’t experienced the opposite effect?  You look at your ringing phone and your stomach turns when you see who’s calling.  Or that coworker who literally drains all your energy sits by you at lunch.  An exchange with someone that depletes your energy, causes you being depressed, makes you feel hopeless, or is an emotional vampire–they suck the life right out of you–these are the people you must establish a healthy boundary for.

FB_IMG_1443654443142

But if setting a safe distance or healthy boundary is not an option at the moment; Fromm gives some great advice: “Inasmuch as one cannot avoid bad company, one should not be deceived: One should see the insecurity behind the mask of friendliness, the destructiveness behind the mask of eternal complaints about unhappiness, the narcissism behind the charm.  One should also not act as if he or she were taken in by the other’s deceptive appearance–in order to avoid being forced into a certain dishonesty oneself.  One need not speak to them about what one sees, but one should not attempt to convince them that one is blind.”  So basically, in a nutshell, Fromm is saying to pay attention!  Don’t be sucked into their game and don’t fall for their fake niceness.

I can relate to being “forced into a certain dishonesty” like Fromm suggests.  I have been with people who have taken me in with their deceptive niceness and/or appearance only to realize after the fact that I was sucked into dishonesty–at the very least dishonesty with myself.

If you don’t feel the freedom to be your true self with someone, set a boundary.

If they cross the line over and over with their unwanted opinion, set a boundary.

If someone is an emotional vampire and is sucking the life from you, set a boundary.

If in your interactions with someone you notice you always give and they always take, set a boundary.

If you find you don’t like yourself very much after spending time with a certain person, set a boundary.

If someone always guilts you into seeing them, set a boundary.

Fromm goes on to give you the permission you may need to help yourself create healthy boundaries.  Remember, there is no contact between human beings that does not affect both of them.  With that thought in mind, he says; “If other people do not understand our behavior–so what? Their request that we must only do what they understand is an attempt to dictate to us.  If this is being ‘asocial’ or ‘irrational’ in their eyes, so be it.  Mostly they resent our freedom and our courage to be ourselves.  We owe nobody an explanation or an accounting, as long as our acts do not hurt or infringe on them.  How many lives have been ruined by this need to ‘explain,’ which usually implies that the explanation be ‘understood,’ i.e., approved.  Let your deeds be judged, and from your deeds your real intentions, but know that a free person owes an explanation only to himself–to his reason and conscience–and to the few who may have a justified claim for explanation.”

tumblr_m5riv2H8a01r5cz1yo1_r1_500

There’s a healthy process we all go through while growing from a little boy or little girl into a healthy adult.  That process may be slowed–or halted altogether–if we lack the ability to set boundaries.  Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or siblings–anyone who stakes a claim on your well-being–may be too attached to your life and your activities.  There’s a fine line in families between love and support and then the opposite which is manipulation and control.

Assuming you’re an adult and can make your own choices, what is stopping you from setting healthy boundaries from the controlling, manipulating, or opinionated figure in your life?  There’s a way you can tell who these people are without even being in their presence; you find yourself having conversations with them in your head when they aren’t even there.  You may be trying to justify an action or explain yourself to them before they even ask you about it.  That’s when you know you may have an issue.

Let’s be clear about something: A healthy boundary doesn’t mean you stop loving the person or you never talk to them again.  You can still love someone even if from a safe distance.  Like Fromm implied, Pay Attention!  If you feel like you can’t be yourself with a certain person, set a boundary.  It should go without saying, but the those that love you unconditionally will love you inside and out, top to bottom, whether they agree with everything about you or not.

images.duckduckgo.com

The bottom line is this: Spend as much time as possible with the people that give you energy and life.  Limit your time with people that suck the life out of you or try to manipulate and control you.

Toxic people suck! Avoid them at all cost!

I have more to say, but enough for now.

Peace my friends!

~Travis

The Little Boy, Authentic Self, and a touch of TMI

Standard

Do you ever wish you could soak in all of the world’s wisdom in one day? In one week? One year? In a lifetime?

As I sit in my office and I look at my bookshelf behind me, I’m moved by the wisdom that resides in my house.  Men and women who took the time to put their ideas out into the world.  Human beings who decided to make a difference.  They sat at their desk or their kitchen table and they purposefully wrote down their ideas to share with all of humanity.

Some authors state that what they wrote about wasn’t really what they had in mind; but instead the ideas simply flowed through them as though they were basically the vessel for the idea to be born through.  They talk as though all they did was take dictation for the idea to share itself through them.  It makes me wonder what ideas want to be born through me or through you?

cc201ca2df2ec33ea4b5c4dbde7e598a

————————————————————————————

When I think back on my life, I rarely find much to regret.  I have lived a joy-filled forty-plus years on this planet and have many fond memories.  Sometimes I turn the clock of my memory way back to my childhood and watch an insecure young boy trying his darnedest to figure life out.  I wish I could report to that little boy to not give up on himself or on seeking wisdom and eventually he would figure life out.

That little boy was resilient!  He was handed a rule book for how he was supposed to conduct himself but unfortunately that rule book was blank.  So that little boy decided he would pay attention and try as hard as he could to fill the rule book himself.  Certain things he did were met with a harsh scolding so he wrote down his behavior in order not to do that foolish act again.  Other times his behavior resulted in spankings so he tried real hard to not forget those rules.  The little boy eventually filled the rule book up pretty full and learned when to talk and when not to talk, when to be funny and when to be serious, and the final most important lesson he learned was to make sure he was everything everyone else wanted him to be.

With that lesson firmly in place, he lost all contact with his authentic self.  For a long time, that young boy did nothing but try to survive by being whoever he needed to be just to get by.  He had genuine glimpses of his true authentic self and even attempted to share that part of himself with his family and teachers.  But more times than not, being authentic was strongly discouraged; and usually with a belt.

That little boy didn’t give up though.  He kept playing the parts he was expected to play.  He said what he was supposed to say, did what he was supposed to do.  But in the back of his mind he still held out hope that one day he would throw away the rule book he so carefully filled.

Eventually when the little boy became a teenager, he realized that some things were worth breaking the rules for–mainly girls.  The seductive and sensual taste and smell of the opposite sex caused the young boy to rethink his position on keeping ALL the rules.  Surely he could relax on some of the rules for his own enjoyment as long as he skillfully continued to APPEAR he was on the straight and narrow.

When that young, robotic, rule-keeping boy discovered the female body, something in his heart woke up (Okay, thanks Captain Obvious, yes I know something else woke up too).  But instead of feeling guilty like before when he broke the rules, now he felt more alive than ever.  His experiences catapulted him to a whole new level of personal satisfaction that could never be attained by just sticking to the rules.

Life has a funny way of calling out to your heart and inviting you to stop faking it.  Even tho you think you’re living authentically, your heart never lies.  Opportunities along the way call out to you–sometimes scream at you–and mysteriously pull on your heartstrings.

I recently read The Five Levels of Attachment by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. and he discussed this authenticity.  “There is a moment when the Authentic Self becomes no longer an abstract term, but an experience.  I believe we all experience such a moment.  It could be during meditation, while painting or dancing, working or working out, lecturing or talking, making love, eating, or playing.  It’s the moment when judgment stops and pure harmony takes over.”

You could say when that young man first experienced the long and slow touch from his high school sweetheart he also discovered his Authentic Self.  The sensual act unleashed something in him that was more than just sensual or sexual.  For the first time in forever, he felt alive!  He felt like he could conquer the world–or at least die trying.  Sure, he was experiencing new and exciting things, but more importantly, his Authentic Self was coming to life.

Fast forward five years and he was still playing the roles and living by rules that he did not write for himself.  In his early twenties, he made the assumption that he was supposed to get married. . .

. . . So he did.

After he was married for a while, they thought they were supposed to have children. . .

. . . So they did.

A couple years after that he grew sick of playing by everyone’s rules and wanted to do his own thing. . .

. . . So he did.

His actions were less than exemplary for a loving husband and father so his wife warned him she would leave. . .

. . . So she did.

He heard once a man regains his freedom he could party like a rock star and sleep around all he wanted. . .

. . . So he did.

Then he heard from a dear friend that told him he was a great guy and if he wanted a great girl he would need to start being a man a great girl would want. . .

. . . So he did.

At that point he realized he needed to start reading books and changing his life. . .

. . . So he did.

He learned all about the ego, his Authentic Self, breathing techniques, people who were revolutionary characters, how people shape their beliefs based off their accumulated knowledge, how people are human beings not human doings, how real joy and happiness can be found in life only in the present moment, and how our society and environment shape our opinions and outlooks which cause our unintentional shift away from our authentic selves.

He also learned that his relationships with women were unhealthy–He was either trying to manipulate them to sleep with him or he was . . . well, he was basically trying to manipulate them to sleep with him.  Furthermore, when it came to women, he had a tendency to pick the ones who never liked him for exactly who he was.  He always seemed to pick the reflection of who he was on the inside.  If he wasn’t happy with himself, he picked girls that weren’t happy with him either.  He attempted to heal his wounds relying on women who were incapable to offer him healing.

I’m not bagging on all the females that crossed his path or trying to blame them for his shortcomings.  He dated many phenomenal women who were wonderful people, but his mistake was taking his ultimate question to them for an answer.  He didn’t ask them directly and most of the time he rarely comprehended he was even asking them anything at all by his actions; but, nonetheless, he took his question to them anyway.

Am I Good Enough?!?!?

It wasn’t until he answered the question for himself (with a resounding YES, by the way) that he was able to steer clear from the nagging external approval he so desperately sought.

I think it’s safe to say that little boy who desperately longed to know all the rules and lived his life for everyone else’s approval has finally grown up.  Through the help of years of counseling and a decade of deprogramming, I feel more authentic now than ever.  I still have a ton to learn and a lifetime of authors yet to read, but my Authentic Self is finally in the driver’s seat for the rest of this journey.  I’ve taken that young boy by the hand, thrown away the rule book, and gave him just one rule to remember–first for himself and then for others–LOVE!!

authentic-self

Peace,

~Travis

I Copy People!

Standard

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Jim Rohn

20120320-211242.jpg

If you were trying to become a better basketball player and wanted to learn everything about the game you could, wouldn’t you want to hang around people that could help you get better? If you’re trying to improve at basketball, wouldn’t it make more sense to hang around Magic Johnson or Larry Bird than to spend time with Kelly Clarkson and Oprah Winfrey? I know it sounds completely obvious but that is what most of us do on a daily basis. We hang around people assuming we are different than them when all along we are becoming the average of the people we spend the most time with.

Several years ago I read The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and he gives a whole topic to this subject. It is a known fact: YOU BECOME LIKE THE PEOPLE YOU SPEND THE MOST TIME WITH!

If you become like the people you spend the most time with, it seems rather important, then, to surround yourself with the kind of people you are trying to become. Canfield has a great suggestion that might give you a hand, “Make a list of everyone you spend time with on a regular basis–your family members, coworkers, neighbors, friends, people in your civic organization, fellow members of your religious group, and so on.
When you’ve completed your list, go back and put a minus sign (-) next to those people who are negative and toxic, and a plus sign (+) next to those who are positive and nurturing. As you make a decision about each person, you might find that a pattern will begin to form. Perhaps your entire workplace is filled with toxic personalities. Or perhaps it’s your friends who naysay everything you do. Or maybe it’s your family members who constantly put you down and undermine your self-esteem and self-confidence. You have to free yourself from the negative influence of others.
Think about it. I’m sure you know people who only have to walk into the room to totally drain you of energy. I refer to these people as psychic vampires. They literally suck the life energy right out of you. Stop spending time with them.
Are there people in your life who are always complaining and blaming others for their circumstances? Are there people who are always judging others, spreading negative gossip, and talking about how bad it is? Stop spending time with them as well.
Until you reach the point in your self-development where you no longer allow people to affect you with their negativity, you need to avoid toxic people at all costs. Your better off spending time alone than spending time with people who will hold you back with their victim mentality and their mediocre standards.
Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive, nourishing, and uplifting people–people who believe in you, encourage you to go after your dreams, and applaud your victories. Surround yourself with possibility thinkers, idealists, and visionaries.”

Sorry about the long quote but I felt like it was all so necessary. We really have to surround ourselves with people who want what’s best for us. Even if its family, try and distance yourself from the psychic vampires in your life. There is no reason to let someone completely suck the energy right out of you. I especially think of us parents; we don’t want our kids to hang out with the kids we know are bad news. Why do we think those kids are bad news?? Chances are its because we can sense they are not a positive influence on our children. If we strongly encourage our children to surround themselves with great friends and uplifting people, then why don’t we take our own advice?????

If you’re getting emotionally beat up by the same person over and over, put an end to it. If you’re getting talked down to by your family or disrespected by somebody at your work, put an end to it. I have a sticker in my office that says, “SPEAK YOUR MIND–EVEN IF YOUR VOICE SHAKES!

Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself before the psychic and emotional vampires will put their fangs away. They need to know you’re serious about your own health, dreams, and success. Call them on their crap in front of others if their trying to bully you or make you feel less than. Better yet, maybe you should play the song, Mean, by Taylor Swift for them.

One of the best movies I saw last year, hands down, was The Help. The most touching scene in the whole movie was when the maid was leaving the house and took the little girl in her arms and repeated with her, “You is Kind! You is Smart! You is Important!” Tear jerker for sure!!

I believe you are kind, you are smart, and you are important. Kind, smart, and important enough to surround yourself with nothing but the best!

So, in conclusion, if you now know you are an average of the five people you spend the most time with, how does that impact how you move forward? What are your top five people like? Self-centered, unkind, egotistical, lazy, judgmental, or just plain mean? Or are your top five people kind, smart, important, inspiring, passionate, and uplifting?

You are the one who chooses to spend most of your time with these people, nobody else. So, if you find your energy shifted by the people you’re spending time with, change it! I had a person who every time I was around them I would get sleepy and yawn almost every minute or two. I never realized until I read this book that they were an energy zapper for me. I mean a
literal
physical
energy
zapper
for me!
Finally, I realized I needed to avoid them. Nothing personal, just needed to spend more quality time with someone who would give me energy, not take it away.

Spend some time doing the exercise in the quote above. You might be surprised by what you find.

Until next time. . .

~Travis

PS. I love this quote below and found it fitting for some of the vampires I’m referring to. 😉

20120320-215520.jpg

Your Flow Has Got To Go!!

Standard

20120317-121251.jpg

Your Flow Has Got To Go!!

Continuing with the theme from last night, what can we do when someone keeps messing with your flow? Do you ever wonder why it seems so easy to get sucked into somebody’s drama? Whether they’re your spouse, relative, acquaintance, or coworker, you don’t have to accept their garbage.

I’m trying to figure something out. If someone drove their truck to your house, let down the tailgate, and started throwing their trash all over your yard you would be furious. You would demand they pick up THEIR trash and you would probably never allow them back to your place. Why, then, do you willingly serve as a human dumpster for other people’s emotional garbage?

Dumped garbage in your yard; you’re instantly furious.

Dumped emotional garbage on your flow; you let them drop it off and leave while you are left to clean it up.

Whenever I’m coaching someone I always tell them, “You teach people how to treat you.” What you’re willing to put up with is a loud and clear unspoken message for how you feel you deserve to be treated. You have a parent that goes way beyond their healthy boundaries? They will continue to until you teach them how to treat you. You have a spouse that walks all over you? They will continue to until you teach them how to treat you. You have a coworker that is driving you nuts? They will continue to until you teach them how to treat you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with defining how you will be treated by others. More specifically, you MUST protect your flow at all cost. If you are not vigilantly protecting your flow on a daily basis, someone will most certainly disrupt it.

Having healthy expectations and clear boundaries are essential to keeping in touch with your mysterious flow. Fanning the flames to your dreams and actively pursuing them are also essential to staying in the flow.

Let’s face it, you probably come across somebody on a daily basis whose flow is disrupting your flow. Instead of taking it personal or getting sucked into their drama, simply tell them their flow has got to go! It’s their garbage, not yours, so don’t take ownership of one ounce of it. Remember, you’re teaching them how you’re willing to be treated with every encounter.

Good luck!

~Travis