San Francisco and The Egg

Standard

San Francisco!

While I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to experience a new place, I can’t help but offer up thankfulness for my own home. Around every corner of this city is someone who is clearly without a home. I am reminded on a daily basis of all I have to be thankful for!

1000

Life is full of ups and down—good days and bad. But when I look at my life collectively, I have been blessed more than one man truly deserves. And yet, I still believe more blessings are right around the corner. I still look forward to learning and growing every day. I am still mesmerized by the little things in life. I am still blown away by the unique people I call my friends and family. I am still awestruck when someone chooses to open their heart and share their delicate stories with me.

843

I am well-aware that life is not perfect.

I am well-aware that I have shortcomings and responses that are not always politically correct.

I am well-aware that family and friends may look at aspects of my life and question my judgement or my motives.

I am well-aware that the life presented on social media is far from the real thoughts and emotions people feel when all their distractions are silenced.

I am well-aware it’s easy to look at another’s life and know exactly what is best for them—we’re all experts on everyone’s lives but our own.

I am well-aware of all our imperfections, and yet, I choose to believe we are all perfectly imperfect.

889

All of this deep thought today reminds me of something Kelsi shared with me a couple weeks ago. It’s called The Egg by Andy Weir. It’s actually mind-blowing and will have you thinking for days too……

 

You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that’s when you met me.

“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”

“Yup,” I said.

“I… I died?”

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”

“More or less,” I said.

“Are you god?” You asked.

“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

“What about them?”

“Will they be all right?”

“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”

“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”

You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”

“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”

“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.

“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”

“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

“Where you come from?” You said.

“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”

“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”

“So what’s the point of it all?”

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”

“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.

I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”

“Just me? What about everyone else?”

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”

You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

“I’m every human being who ever lived?”

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.

“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

“I’m Jesus?”

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

You fell silent.

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

You thought for a long time.

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”

“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”

And I sent you on your way.

929

Apparently there was an active shooter situation here in San Francisco earlier today. A guy walked into a UPS warehouse and opened fire. I struggle to understand what leads someone to believe violence is their only option. When does inflicting pain on another ever make the world a better place to live? Could this person have talked to a counselor and worked through whatever was bothering him? Life is so short already!!

962

We all have to do whatever it takes to nurture our own mental health.

We have to find what sets our soul on fire otherwise we could lose our sanity in the process.

With so much beauty in the world, how could we waste even one minute focusing on the negativity?

Because what we focus on grows, I choose to focus on creating a life full of joy, love, happiness, laughter, abundance, growth, and positivity.

I am truly thankful for this life and each new day I am given to experience!

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

938

Man Enough

Standard

Man Enough: Fathers, Sons, and the Search for Masculinity is an amazing book I recently read by Frank Pittman. I highly recommend this book to any man. I also recommend it to any woman trying to understand men—either her partner or even her father. Below I have included some of the highlights that stood out to me and I hope it gives you something to think about. 




Philanderer, Contender, and Controller


“If the boy becomes over-programmed in the art of seduction, he may become a philanderer, reassuring himself that he is a man by escaping the woman at home and seducing the women away from home, thus winning double victories over the ‘opposite’ sex. If he practices competition too compulsively, he may become a contender, seeing life as a contest with other boys, in which only the winner of the most contests gets to be considered a man. And if he becomes too rule bound he may become a controller, assuming it is his job to act like the boss and keep those around him under his control. All three varieties of masculopathy, pathologically overdeveloped masculinity, occur when the father is not around, not involved enough, and not sure enough of his own masculinity to tell the boy he’s doing it all quite well enough and can cool down the masculine display. Each of the three syndromes of masculopathy cripples the boy in his efforts to mate, to live comfortably in a family, or even to live in peace and comfort with the world around him. As we strive to be man enough, the world does not really penalize us for failing to live up to the masculine mystique, but for anxiously overdoing it.”



Am I Man Enough? 


“Some of the men I see are masculopathic, in one or more of the three syndromes, but others are just trying to be the men they think they are expected to be, and in doing so make a mess of their lives and the lives of those around them. Their battle is not with their wives, not even with their mothers, as much as it is with their fathers—even if they haven’t seen their fathers in years, or ever. These men seem locked into a struggle to somehow finally get their fathers to anoint them, and declare them man enough.”



The Power of Myth


“To be mythic, a story must connect with something primordial, deep within human consciousness; it must offer some profound, shared insight into the human condition. It is a story which is so true it transcends the mere words. Myths not only enlighten us, they connect us. And as the world changes, we change, and our myths must change, so we get a new crop all the time, and some of them work, so we keep them. Our modern mythmakers are busy tackling the relationships between fathers and sons, to find connections between pre-patriarchal and post-patriarchal consciousness, between the old fear of the too powerful father and the new longing for a father to love and teach and anoint us. The pain and grief and shame from the failed father-son relationship seem universal.”



Sometimes, Manhood is Lonely


“Male friendships are not like female friendships: men are not as likely to have confidants as they are to have playmates. Most of the time male friendships don’t need to be like female friendships. Men can silently assume that we have all been through the same ordeals and we all feel pretty much the same about everything. Being together and not having to talk about it is wonderfully comfortable. I sometimes think that if men didn’t talk to women, they might not talk to anybody: they might go through life telling dirty jokes and quoting baseball statistics to one another. But sometimes there is something that a man needs to reveal, needs to talk over with another man, and there may be no man available to him. Sometimes, manhood is lonely.” 



Archetypes of Masculinity


“The heroes that continue to inspire boys and men are characterized by aspects of masculine identity that psychoanalyst Carl Jung calls ‘archetypes.’ These myths and heroes resonate with something inside us, something of our own, something universal. They make us aware of what is inside ourselves. If we choose certain heroes as our heroes, and put their voices in our male chorus, their voices can encourage and inspire their special aspects of our character. 

The four archetypes of the mature masculine, as described by Jungian analysts, mythologists, and Bly colleagues Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, are King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover. The King is the energy of just and creative ordering, which makes rules and maintains order, which provides fertility and blessing—I think of the patriarchal father. The Warrior is the energy of self-disciplined, aggressive action, concerned with skill, power, accuracy, and control, with knowing when to take action—I think of the athlete. The Magician is the energy of initiation and transformation, who understands the unseen world and can think through the issues that are not obvious to others, the energy of awareness, insight, and bullshit detection—I think of the psychotherapist or the court jester. The Lover is the energy that connects men to others and the world, the energy of play, of sensual pleasure, and of passion without shame, of aesthetic consciousness and understanding through feeling rather than just through intellect—I think of Mozart. 

When these archetypes that are in all of us are not developed into their fullness and are not used to connect with others, when we fear we don’t have enough of them so we overdo them, instead of a King we get a Tyrant, instead of a Warrior we get a Bully or a Sadist, instead of a Magician we get a Detached Manipulator, instead of a Lover we get a Love Addict. My practice, my movie screen, and my world are all filled with men who are grotesquely overdoing one or more of these masculine archetypes.

Controllers and other domestic tyrants, in their shame, are Shadow Kings, bullying others and trying to display the power and position they don’t find inside themselves. Contenders, who never get enough and can’t let any other man have a moment of victory, are Shadow Warriors, trying to prove they are winners because inside they feel like losers. Philanderers, sex addicts, and love addicts, who can’t love a real partner because they spend all their time getting reassurance or escaping into ‘in-love’ fantasies, who try to define their masculinity through sex, are Shadow Lovers.”



Men and a Woman’s Anger


“Men hear anything a woman says with strong emotion as just hysterical carrying-on. And while a woman’s anger is as terrifying to a man as the wrath of an angry god, we don’t hear what a woman says when she’s angry; we only hear that she is angry and we strap ourselves in, turn off our receivers, and wait in terror for the storm to pass. When we men have any important message to deliver, we deliver it as logically and unemotionally as possible. We know that what we say when we’re angry should be ignored, and our friends do us the favor of ignoring it. We often wish women would do the same.”



The Healing Power of Fatherhood


“These guys who fear becoming fathers don’t understand that fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man. The end product of child-raising is not the child but the parents; the child on whom the parent has been practicing and learning how to be a human being must then go on and learn it for himself by practicing on his own children. That is the way it works. As parents, we must remember to be grateful to children for letting us practice people-making skills on them. If we don’t make our children aware of what the process was, and how it felt, and what we got out of it, they may opt to skip it themselves. They would deprive themselves of the most productive stage of their development, when in the process of child-raising we examine and question everything we thought we knew about human development, about masculinity and femininity, and about the nature of the human condition.

Being a father, to our own children or to someone else’s, or being something like a father—an uncle, a mentor, a coach, a teacher, a therapist—is the real way to become a man. We gain our masculinity not by waving it from flagpoles or measuring and testing it before cheering crowds but by teaching it to boys and girls, and to men and women who haven’t known a man up close and don’t know what men and masculinity are all about. If men would raise children, it would not only save the world in a generation or two, it would save them their lives. 

Will this generation discover the healing power of fatherhood?”





I hope you enjoyed these excerpts as much as I enjoyed reading the book. I realize it’s Mother’s Day, but Father’s Day is coming next month so this will give you time to read the book.  😉 



Peace my Friends! 


~Travis

I’ve Struggled with Relationships Lately

Standard

We feel jaded when someone treats us poorly.

 

We are furious when someone acts different than we think they should.

 

We pull away from those who have hurt us because it makes sense to protect ourselves.

 

We carry life-long grudges for minor disagreements.

 

We attempt to control and manipulate those around us.

 

We desperately seek genuine love from others even though we’re disingenuous.

 

We were hurt, broken, used, abused, traumatized, betrayed, and nearly shattered.

 

And, yet, we continue to push forward, timidly trusting the motto Love Wins.

 

 

Last week, I spent two full days in training for my next profession. I took part in The Gottman Institute’s Level 1 Clinical Training: Gottman Method Couples Therapy. I’ve read several John Gottman books in the past and gained a lot of insight so I was sure the training would be well worth my time and money. Throughout the two days, my mind kept wandering to so many people that are struggling relationally. So many of us have issues with either our mates, our families, our friends, or our coworkers. Relationship issues are at the core of nearly every emotional difficulty we experience.

 

 

For the better part of two decades, I have been reading and studying most anything I could get my hands on. My studies generally encompassed human developmental topics like self-help, religion, philosophy, writing, and relationships. Because of my thirst for knowledge, I strive to learn as much as I can for my own sake—not because I want to have all the right answers, be the smartest, or prove people wrong—I genuinely love learning and growing.

With all that knowledge and experience, one would think I have a pretty good handle on what it takes to have good relationships. Often when someone is having relationship issues, it seems like human nature to instantly blame the other party or disregard your own shortcomings. That wasn’t where my thoughts went. Instead, as I went through the training last weekend, I kept being reminded of ways I fall short.

 

 

So. . .

Anytime I’m wrestling with something, I find it most useful to write about it; so, in the spirit of self-disclosure, this was the outcome:

 

 

You struggle with relationships!

 

 

You struggle with women. Somewhere along the way, something was shattered in you. Somehow you consistently attempt to be man enough for a woman but fail miserably. A marriage dashed on the rocks, one on the ropes, and multiple shipwrecks in-between. You’re smart enough to know it’s more than just picking the right one and crossing your fingers (or holding your breath).

You have uncertainties you take to a woman and then punish her when she’s helpless to answer them. When things get difficult, you bow and try to sneak backstage, away from the bright lights and scrutinizing eyes. When it’s your turn to speak your lines, something in you detests having to play the part. You’re perfectly fine saying your lines inside your head thank-you-very-much. It seems like a fine approach, but the audience and other cast members are left guessing what you think, how you feel, why you’re mute. They know your lines, they could say them for you, but they are supposed to come from your lips just like you rehearsed so many times. Say them!

 

 

You struggle with family. You have so many relationships with one foot out the door and the other on a banana peel. Each of your family members would love to talk to you and you could benefit from their relationships. Why do you withdraw, bow out, keep quiet? Some of them could use some support, a listening ear, a friendly hello. What holds you back? How do you expect them to get to know you better if you don’t communicate with them? How might they explain to you their perspectives on life, love, and happily-ever-after if never given the chance?

 

 

You struggle with friends. So many times, friends have fallen by the wayside because you allowed the friendship to wither and die. As soon as the friendship required something significant from you, you crawled back into your shell. Your fear of being wholly known for who you truly are keeps you silent. Life is messy, relationships are messy, love is messy, feelings are messy, emotions are messy, being close friends with others may get messy. Don’t shrink. Take the risk of being authentic. Say what you mean and share your experience with others.

 

 

You struggle with being a father. Remember when you were growing up and you had no idea about life and what to expect out of it? You simply did the best you could. You did what you thought was right whether it was right or not. You faked it til you made it. Guess what, you have a million life experiences your children could learn from. Tell them. Speak up. Start talking and keep talking. The best decisions are always made when we have the most information. Why would you not give them all the information you possibly could? Just because you had to figure everything out on your own doesn’t mean they should. Tell them stories every chance you get—you won’t regret it and neither will they!

 

 

Just because you struggle doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Practice makes perfect. Being authentic isn’t always the easy option but it is the right one for you. If anyone can turn these struggles into triumphs, it’s you! “To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight—and never stop fighting.” E.E. Cummings

 

I would like to share more about the Couples Therapy training but I’ll save that for another day. In the meantime, I want you to know that if you struggle with any relationships, you are not alone. I fully support and acknowledge your desire for love and belonging.

 

Peace,

 

~Travis

 

Travis Quotes4

Top 10 Reasons Why I am Becoming a Counselor

Standard

10. Mental health issues are not going away any time soon.

For reasons that aren’t exactly clear, mental health issues continue to plague our society. On a large scale; mass shootings, suicide bombings, and terrorist activity has become a mainstay on our nightly news feeds. On a more personal note; depression, anxiety, and irrational beliefs are just a few mental health issues that significantly effects all of our lives on a daily basis. Every family faces the burden of mental health issues in one way or another.

 

plastic figure standing in front of a hole in a puzzle

 

9.  It’s a natural fit for my skill set.

For as long as I can remember, people have naturally opened up to me. I have often wondered if there was a sign on my forehead that said tell me your darkest secrets. During countless conversations I have heard the same sentence, “I have never told this to anyone before.” I consider it an honor when someone shares the deepest parts of their journey with me. I don’t seek to offer advice or fix their problems, but I attempt to be present with them and offer active listening skills. Surprisingly (or not surprisingly), people really open up when they feel they are being listened to.

 

counseling-testing-lets-talk-logo

 

8.  I have always been intrigued with the dynamics of interpersonal relationships.

Ever since my first encounter with marriage counseling over two decades ago, I have been fascinated by what makes people tick. You could say I have become an existential investigator of this intriguing species known as humans. Our beliefs and worldviews are continuously shaped by the interactions we have with others. Two people that come together for any possible reason will walk away altered as a result of their meeting—no matter how lengthy or short-lived. Every couple weeks I’m reading a new book about life, relationships, meaning, religion, therapy, or any other new thing that interests me. A long time ago I declared myself to be a life-long learner and my natural curiosity has led me to never run out of material.

 

FB_IMG_1445608514033

 

7.  I want to help people feel comfortable with their humanness.

I’ve heard it said many times that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. We all find ourselves on this giant rock hurling through the galaxy. Our time on this rock is a measly tip-of-the-needle dot compared to the history of our civilization. Alan Watts once said we are all God playing hide-and-go-seek with himself. If we could all grasp the greatness that resides in each one of us, the world would be a much better place. Being comfortable with your humanness means you accept yourself exactly the way you are; and when you are comfortable with your own humanness, you realize you are more comfortable with others’ as well.

 

love-actually-andrew-lincoln

 

6.  It’s the greatest honor in the world to sit with someone who is wrestling with the big questions of life.

“Why am I here?” “What is this all for?” “What’s the point?” No matter who you are, you eventually start to ask yourself some pretty deep questions. It’s nearly impossible to go through life without searching for some kind of meaning for your existence. Many great philosophers and teachers have given their ideas, but we each have to decide our own version of what is true for us. I am fascinated each and every time I have one of these conversations with another person and I’m honored to wrestle alongside them as they search for their truth.

 

wp-1466887534487.jpg

 

5.  The Religious “Nones” are growing rapidly.

In an ongoing Religious Landscape Study by the Pew Research Center, the Religiously Unaffiliated adults (or “Nones”) in America grew from 36.6 million in 2007 to 55.8 million in 2014. That is an awful lot of people left trying to sort through their missing religious beliefs. Choosing to walk away from previously held beliefs and childhood indoctrination takes a tremendous toll on an individual. Many people were taught what to think, while few were taught how to think. Offering a safe, nonjudgmental place to decipher one’s beliefs is at the top of my priority list.

 

facebook_1444086352825

 

4.  Advocacy for anyone that needs a voice.

All too often, minority groups or people left on the fringes of society are either laughed at or simply ignored. Discrimination, bullying, or flat-out exploitation result in serious personal mental health issues and wreak havoc on our society in general. We all must remind ourselves that just because someone is different than us; that doesn’t make them bad, evil, or wrong. Each and every one of us is unique and marvelous just the way we are. I’m willing to speak up for those that may need help finding their voice.

 

Screenshot_2016-02-19-14-33-05-1

 

3.  Every person is unique and has a story to tell.

As I just mentioned, we are all unique. We all have a past that makes our story unlike anyone else in the world. We have each come so far but we have so far to go. The events in your life that transpired to bring you where you are now has shaped you into the person you’ve become. I’m eager to hear those stories and I’m looking forward to helping as many people celebrate their uniqueness as possible.

 

dd853aa63c96e13d3c6479ed8d28a6ab

 

2.  The time is right.

When I graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor’s in Family Life Education, I was eager to start a Master’s right away and continue my education. I wrestled with that for a while. Being a divorced dad with two kids meant any time I spent pursuing my education was time not spent with them. I basically had to decide whether to pursue my education or spend as much time with my children as possible. Needless to say, I chose the latter and it’s a decision I will never regret. I’ve had the honor to attend nearly every sporting event they participated in, coached each of them in several sports, and was there for virtually every activity. Being their father has been the greatest gift of my life and if I had to choose between my education or time with them again, I would choose them each and every lifetime!

 

105_0409

 

1.  It’s what I have been called to do.

Many years ago, a wise friend spoke truth into my life. She said, “Ya know, I can really see you counseling, writing, and speaking.” That nonchalant statement worked its way into my soul and has never left. After many years of applying myself and consistently learning and growing, I know this is exactly what I am meant to do with my life. I’m extremely thankful for the life my current job has afforded me and my family, but I will be spending the rest of my working days helping as many people as I possibly can.

 

psychology session sign vector

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

 

counselingawareness-1-copy

You Don’t Have to Try

Standard

Last week, my daughter and I went to see Colbie Caillat perform at the Kalamazoo State Theatre. There were several touching moments throughout the evening Kelsi and I will never forget from my much-anticipated Father’s Day gift. With so many ego-filled performers to choose from, Colbie is a breath of fresh air whose mesmerizing voice is only outdone by her positive message.

The moment forever burned in my memory and heart was her performance of Try. With my beautiful daughter by my side, Colbie opened up about her very real struggles of being an awkward introvert and her terrifying stage fright. She slowly played the piano while introducing the song, and I felt the hair on my arms stand up. Leading into the song, she drove her point home that who you are is good enough. You don’t have to try.

And then she sang this song, Try . . . .

Why do we feel like we have to try so hard?

I agree with Colbie.

You don’t have to try!

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

img_20161019_002150

Eleven Facts About People

Standard

Your-Brain-on-Love-with-Stan-Tatkin-PsyD

 

I recently listened to Your Brain on Love by Dr. Stan Tatkin. He gave these eleven facts about people:

 

 

  • There’s nothing more difficult on the planet than another person.

 

  • All people are, by nature, annoying.

 

  • There is no such thing as a low-maintenance person.

 

  • Romantic relationships—or primary attachment relationships—are burdensome.

 

  • In love relationships, nobody comes pre-trained. As a result, partners need to train each other.

 

  • The need to be parented never really ends.

 

  • Romantic partners are responsible for each other’s pasts.

 

  • Most of the time we don’t really know what we are doing, or why.

 

  • What we don’t know, we make up.

 

  • Our brains are built more for war than for love.

 

  • In order to succeed and fully thrive in the world, we need to be tethered to at least one other person.

 

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Dr. Tatkin’s facts about people?

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

 

 

We’re Expecting!!!

Standard

Sometimes while I’m reading a book I’ll have one of those moments when it feels like the author is speaking directly to me. Even if the book was sold to millions of people I can’t help but think the author had me in mind when he wrote it. This happened to me recently while reading about relationships and expectations in How to Live in the World and Still Be Happy by Hugh Prather.

“Whenever you feel a tinge of irritation or disapproval, you can be sure that you have an underlying expectation.”  Hugh Prather

Ouch!

I didn’t believe it; at first I tried denying it. But several days and many tinges of irritation and disapproval later, I finally admitted to myself that Prather was right.

FB_IMG_1465266194788

My expectations of the other person–not the other person’s actions–are the real cause of my frustrations. That’s a tough pill to swallow! That means I am fully responsible for my own emotions. That means the crafty little story my brain comes up with to make the other person a villain and make me the poor helpless victim is completely false.

“An expectation is looking for something rather than looking at something. We anticipate one thing and do not clearly see the other thing that is at hand….. Our expectations are based on the past and are blind to the present.”  Hugh Prather

It seems impossible to live without expectations but how much less dramatic would my life be without the disappointments of unmet expectations? Most of my pain and suffering is self-induced. I hold on to hurt or grudges for years because of unmet expectations.

“An emotional reaction leaves you stuck, unable to move forward until you look more deeply at whatever the emotion is trying to tell you.”  Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. in The Mastery of Self

This leaves me stuck for a very long time. I let years (or even decades) go by because I refuse to look into my emotional reactions. If I could get out of my own way for just a minute I could see the other person as an ally instead of a villain. If their actions cause me irritation or disappointment, that tells me something about me, not them!

And, yet, I feel so justified in making it all about them. I don’t have to do any hard work if I take the position that they are wrong for not meeting my expectations.

FB_IMG_1463627820353

We all do this. Listen for it the next story someone tells you. Any story you hear where someone was upset or disappointed you will be able to trace it back to an underlying expectation. Every time! They won’t say it, but this is what’s behind their words, “I expected this, but they did that instead.”

We’re all doing it every day. We’re expecting one thing and we get another. As a result we’re disappointed.

FB_IMG_1462676128435

I’ve found if I live in the present moment without any expectations life can be full of joy. Looking at each moment as it comes without any stories from my ego is heaven on earth. Of course, it’s easy to slip back into old habits but the minute I turn to awareness any disappointment I had melts away.

Am I alone in any of this?

Do you have any expectations that are causing you frustration?

Instead of looking for, might we all try looking at?

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis