by Sylvain | Aug 27, 2010 | Shift
You want to improve your health, finances, your life.
You really want to go forward towards your goals, but you’re afraid of what it takes to accomplish a change.
A world of changes where everybody stays the same
Everybody wants to change something, but everybody is also scared of it.
Have you noticed how most people, when talking about change, want the change to come from someone else?
The government, a company, their employer, their spouse or friends. Rarely we find someone who truly understands that any change worth making comes from within.
And that’s not surprising, humans are creatures of habits, we cherish both comfort and safety, and we find them in routine.
However messy and always-changing the lives of some of us are, they still provide habits and comfort, if only by their unpredictable nature. It can be the food you’re eating, the TV you’re watching, but most importantly the image that other people have of you.
Change IS scary.
Simple: you know you can survive in your current situation, you know you can handle how people see you, because you are! But any change that threatens the status quo begs the question: will I survive this? How much pain might I encounter along the way? Will I succeed? Will I fail? How people will look at me either way?
It doesn’t matter whether it looks like a good change or not, if it is significant enough, fear always creeps up.
It doesn’t mean you should never change. On the contrary, sometimes, fear shows us what we care about.
When to consider a change
Simply, when you feel the current situation isn’t right, when it doesn’t satisfy you. When you wake up dreading your work, or even worse, feeling completely apathetic.
Now, if you don’t know what to change, or how to change it, your mind will trick you into believing you don’t want/need the change.
Acknowledging you want a change and knowing how the hell you’re gonna make it are two completely different things. The first step is bringing more truth. If you want to change, accept it. Only then, look at your options. It might take time, be patient.
What if you don’t feel ready?
Why don’t you?
If you believe you’ll be ready when you’re not afraid of the change anymore, the next change you’ll make is going six feet under.
Do NOT wait for the fear to disappear, the more you care about the change, the more the fear will try to stall you. As Susan Jeffers wrote, feel the fear and do it anyway.
Now, if you wonder if you’re ready because of your financial situation, or career, or [insert very good excuse here], does that also prevent you from taking one step forward?
No, you do not need to quit your job tomorrow, but what about looking for classes to improve your skills or job offers to see how the market is going?
Assume the change you want to make, and start gathering information, go to workshop, the momentum will help you go forward. Your worst enemy is inertia. The more steps you’ll take, the easier it’ll get, even if the fear stays.
If you still doubt, here’s the killer trick: on your deathbed, what will you regret more? Making a scary change in order to attain your dreams, even if you fail, or stalling to keep the fear and safety under control (and failing by default)?
Share what you can do today to bring you closer.
Thanks to Bon for inspiring this post.
by Sylvain | Aug 3, 2010 | Spirituality
Do you think God can save us from evil, wars, pain, everything that’s bad or that we don’t want?
There is a number of believers who say that if we act “right”, God will save us. But if we don’t, well, I guess it’s hell and eternal damnation.
I’ve never tackled spirituality on this blog, but the human mind has a desire and a need to believe, and whether we admit it or not, religious beliefs have a huge impact, on most aspects of our lives. And unfortunately, our religious beliefs are not questioned enough.
Suggested music while reading this post: Linkin Park – The Catalyst.
God and the universe
According to most religions on this earth, God created the universe, all the planets, including our own, nature, all the animal world and finally, mankind. Never mind the number of (Earth) days it took to do that, it was a huge undertaking.
From what I understand (and I’m no expert), we are all children of God, and God loves mankind more that he loves everything else: more than the trees we destroy for plantations, more than the mosquitoes we kill when they bother us, more than the cattle we slaughter so we can have burgers everyday.
When taking a human perspective, even though we despise the thought or the accusation, it is not uncommon for a parent to have a preference for one child over the others. So, like a random parent, God loves us more than his other creations.
Wait… we’re talking about God here, the perfect one. How does it make sense than God would love one of its creation more than another to the point of letting one use, abuse, destroy, the others?
But we are worth more than plants and animals. Aren’t we?
If we are worth more than others because we are men and women, or because we belong to the right people, because we follow God’s wish, or are righteous (whatever that means given the society, time and religion), then it makes more sense.
We, being righteous, believe we are worthy because we are not murderers, or thieves, or whoever whose behavior is not approved by God.
But what about all the exceptions?
Can we kill someone who has killed? Steal someone who has stolen? Judge someone who has judged? Does that make us less worthy?
But we do that all the time.
So how come we are better? Oh yeah, we’re righteous, we follow rules.
Does it really matter?
God save us all
We want to be saved from what we don’t want, sometimes we also want to be saved from things and situations we need, that would teach us compassion and how to love unconditionally.
Do we get to choose?
Let’s take another perspective.
Why are we on Earth?
Are we here to be saved? to be righteous? to follow the rules? to reproduce so that our offspring could worship the same God?
What’s the point?
Being born to sustain the society doesn’t make sense from a higher perspective, having children so they worship a God is useless to a almighty one.
And to be saved… that’s circular. If we’re not here, we don’t need to be saved.
Besides, if we can be truly saved, it can only really happens once we’re dead, so it’s completely irrelevant in this life.
Wanting to be saved put responsibility and power into God’s hands.
If God exists, don’t you think he wants us to be responsible for our own path and destiny? For our own actions? Otherwise it would have made more sense to talk to each of us directly and whisper to our ear each action he wants his Sims to carry out.
It’d be easier. And so boring.
He’s given us the task of discovering what to do by ourselves. Isn’t that a sign?
A sign that says: you explore and learn, but you bear the responsibility.
If God loves everyone the same way, and he put us here simply to live and experience, from what are we supposed to be “saved”?
We don’t need to be saved
I don’t even want to be “saved”. I want to experience, I want to live, I want the universe (or God) to fill my path with opportunities to learn and grow.
If there is something to be done in this world, whether it’s God’s will or not doesn’t matter, you have to take responsibility to do your part. You can see a sign anytime anywhere, or disregard a thousand of them because they don’t fit your belief system.
Ultimately, every action you take, every word you say, every feeling you feel is your choice. Yes, we all have pasts and experiences and genes that influence our lives, but ultimately, we have the responsibility to attend to ourselves.
If you want to be saved from a meaningless life, be passionate about what you do and respect who you are, because it’s the only way to honor who you were designed to be.
by Sylvain | Jul 2, 2010 | Clarity, Uncategorized
Is everything clear?
Have you ever felt like something wasn’t right, without being able to point out what it is or why it’s giving you this feeling?
It might be your career, your personal life or simply the number of items on that damn new restaurant menu.
Wouldn’t it be nice if everything just made perfect sense? No wondering, no hesitation, just the feeling of knowing…
Would you like some clarity on the side?
Having clarity means knowing what your current situation is, what you’d like it be to, how they differ, but most importantly, how to close the gap and achieve what you want.
If you know where you want to go, and how to get there, congratulations! You can stop reading now. Otherwise, stay with me.
“I had the perfect plan!”
Awesome! Me too! It involved me being rich and famous (basically ruling the world) by 25. Hasn’t happened yet. Nor do I still want it to happen, mind you, but I digress.
If life always went according to plan, it’d be way easier, or at least, more comfortable. Unfortunality for our controling nature, life rarely goes according to (our) plan.
All the unexpected events and unforeseen consequences in your life slowly changed the picture. But worse, most of the time, they don’t actually brag about it, so you might not realize that the circumstances have changed until way later. That creates confusion, not only about the present situation, but also about the future: what’s ahead and what’s possible (or not). If you’re in your forties but still dream about competing in the Olympics, sorry to destroy your dreams: never gonna happen.
Maybe it’s time to move on and shop for some new goals.
Focus on why, not how
Imagine you go to the store to get a dishwasher. After a few minutes wandering around, you find yourself in front of a list of all the characteristics of the machine: speed, capacity, eco-friendliness, price, etc. And while these informations may give you some idea of how that particular piece of machinery will behave, it is easy to get caught up in all the details and forget why you wanted it in the first place: to help you reduce your burden, save time, and enjoy more of the rest.
Whether you’re looking for a dishwasher or a job doesn’t actually matter, if you have enough clarity to know what you want and why you want it, you’ll know how to choose the right match for your goals and the life you want. Besides, you’ll be less prone to influences from third parties, who have their own goals, which quite often conflict with yours.
Doing or buying one thing because that’s what your peers expect is not a good enough reason to act. Knowing why you’re doing something is the only way to be invested in it while going forward.
When you are confused, your mind is reluctant to go forward and take any action. The best first step to get unstuck on your path, is to get more clarity.
“Naah, it’s fine, I’ll just figure it out while going along”
Seriously? Is that your answer or the fear talking?
Do you know where you current path leads?
Do you know where you want to go?
If both destinations are the same, great, you can simply act as usual and continue on your current path. But if the answers are not clear, or are inconsistent, you need to ask why. What on your path is not aligned with who you are and where you want to go? How can you change it?
Having clarity means you:
- know where you are, what are the paths available to you, and what they entail
- understand why you’re doing what you’re doing
- are motivated to act and go forward because you know exactly what you’ll get
- can decide in an instant what to do because everything is clear in your mind
- are less stressed by everything that goes in your way because you can process them easily and effectively
- know what you need to go forward, and are less hesitant to ask for it
I see no reason not to want that (but if you do, please share in the comments!).
Gain more clarity
It is very difficult to get more clarity when overwhelmed with things and thoughts. Past a certain point, you need, at the very least, a wall to bounce things off. Here are a few things to get you started on the road to clarity:
- put your thoughts on paper, see where they go
- draw a mind map of your situation
- ask a trusted friend and exchange with her your thoughts about your condition
- try new things: a cooking class, a new sport
- go for a walk in an unknown place.
Getting a new frame of reference will help you gain more perspective.
A life of uncertainty
If you’ve been tolerating something that’s not right for you for months or years, you’ll probably struggle to even acknowledge that you don’t need nor want that thing in your life. It’s easier to make excuses than to challenge one’s whole life, it’s easier to tolerate and say “it’s not that bad”.
But it is.
Take any given situation in your life and ask yourself–“why?” Is it giving you what you want? If not, then why not? What can you change in your life to get what you want? Does your current environment support you in your goals? If not, why don’t you drop it?
Do you need help? Do you want help? Would you be willing to use it? Or would you rather listen carefully and then do nothing?
If you’re not ready to try anything different, acknowledge your fear, and deal with it before asking again. But if you’re curious enough and want to actually try, go for it!
Connections create clarity
Sometimes you can’t do it on your own. There’s no shame in that, on the contrary, knowing when to ask for help and actually doing it is a sign of wisdom and courage. The smartest guy in town is the one who populates his entourage with people more competent (or specialized) than he is.
Look for help, ask for help. Meet with a friend, a counselor, a priest, a coach, a mentor, read a book, watch a documentary, or a fiction. Whoever and whatever can help you get more acquainted with your situation and go forward.
Clarity is one of the most important tool when you want to be conscious about your choices and your life. It’s also one of the most overlooked. Too bad, because it’s very easy to know when you need it: in case of doubt, seek more clarity.
What do you need more clarity on today?
by Sylvain | Mar 23, 2010 | Shift
A completely normal to-do list
You probably have had or still have a student loan, a mortgage, or some credit card debt. The concept of a debt is easy to grasp, you borrow something from someone, and you have to give it back, with interests. If you don’t pay it back according to the agreement, you increase the debt, and hence the leverage against you. And if you have too many debts and you can’t pay them all easily, you get overwhelmed, stuck. A debt will keep you in line and working so you can reimburse it.
What do you think of all these things you have to do?
Submit a report by tomorrow, mown the grass, talk to your spouse about the kids’ education, gather the courage to finally ask for a raise or quit your job, read a dozen books to increase your skills, and probably more.
Each time you decide you should do something, whether you actually put it on your To-Do list or not, you make a contract with yourself (or someone else), that says that you will get it done in a reasonable amount of time. As the time goes by and until you fulfill the contract, you feel more and more in debt, and increasingly more stuck with all the items on the list.
These moral contracts might prevent you to plan a week-end trip the same way your financial debts can. You feel bad about yourself for not keeping up enough, so you increase the speed, try to fulfill more of them, so that maybe one day, they’ll all be done and gone.
There is no end
But the truth is, they’ll never be done. Just like your debts will never be completely reimbursed.
Simply because we grow comfortable with the pressure, we know we can go on with a comfortable amount of debt, so when we reduce the amount, we see all the possibilities that open right in front of us: a new TV, a new house, a new hobby, more holidays, some kind of “investment” or golden opportunity that nobody ever thought of.
Can you imagine yourself without debts?
Imagine yourself without any kind of debt, financial or moral, money you owe, or actions you should do for yourself or others. Try it for a minute or two.
You don’t have any debts.
You have done everything on your To-Do list.
If you’re anything like me, you feel free… and fricking scared!
Now that you don’t have any item left to check off your list, you are free to decide what to do, free to create and more.
And it is so overwhelming.
The first unconscious instinct is to try to go back to the previous situation: get more on your plate, start a dozen new projects, buy new stuff, etc. So that, ironically, the situation gets manageable again.
But you’ll keep running in circles.
The only way is to try again, and slowly get comfortable with the freedom.
The important thing to realize is that, while being in any kind of debt puts pressure on you, it also gives you a direction, as you “have to” get out of it, and you do what feels necessary to attain that goal. But being completely out of debt and of things “to do” is also very hard, because it puts you back in control of your actions and your time. Remember that from a very young age, we’ve been taught that parents, teachers, bosses control our time and actions. Even though we aspire to freedom, there is a price to pay.
The stereotype of the artist is someone completely broke, disconnected from the world and unaware of the basic workings of his society.
And in a way, it is true.
When creating, the artist disconnects himself from the debts and influences of the world in order to be completely free to be who he is, not what others expect him to be or to do in order to pay their debts. This freedom is necessary to produce great work of art as the concept of pure creation is disconnected from any feeling of debt to oneself.
If you are “in” the world, and struggling to create, take a look at all your debts, as they might keep you in “debt payment” mode whereas what you need is “free-flowing creation” mode.
Knowledge and action
You cannot act on your debts, unless you are aware of what they are. If you don’t already have a list, make one: write down everything that you feel obliged to do, or that you feel you should do. Anything that makes you feel some kind of guilt or shame if you’re not doing it.
Feel the pressure on you. Realize that whether you think about them or not, the pressure is always there.
Then, in your mind, try to get comfortable with a life without debts. The first time you probably won’t be, so each time you think about your debts, find one thing that’s great about a life without them.
As you review your To-Do list, either abandon the debts and pressure, or establish a plan to reimburse and fulfill them, whether it means talking to your spouse or boss, or hiring someone to paint a wall.
You’ll probably want to do both. Nothing’s stopping you but yourself.
What do you want?
It is a good thing to have lots of possibilities and things that you can do. But it’s better to be able to do them without being pressured too much so you can be open to new possibilities.
There are always new things to put on your list, but isn’t it better when there is nothing on it that prevents you from doing what is really important for you?
If you want to be free of these past debts, it is only up to you, and it starts now. What can you do today to walk on the path of freedom?
by Sylvain | Mar 8, 2010 | Shift
Do you believe curiosity is a sin? I’m sure you’ve been told at least once that you should be less curious. But curiosity is a natural quality of every human being.
You were born curious.
Have you ever witnessed a toddler just going around and trying everything they possibly can, without fear of consequences?
It’s beautiful, isn’t it?
If you thought “it’s annoying”, it means you probably unconsciously formed the idea as a kid that if you are too curious, people will stop loving you. And if your parents stop loving you, they might abandon you, and you’ll die (not that fun anymore, right?).
Being curious was a risk.
So you “grew up”.
Adam and Eve
In the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve are permitted to eat from any tree, but the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, “for on the day you eat of it you shall surely die”. From this point on, two things appear: the desire to know what is unknown and hidden, and the fear of death. While curiosity and fear are deeply linked to each other in the Scripture, as one exists only in relation to the other, they are also antagonist, as fully expressing one means fully suppressing the other.
Ultimately, fear is about avoiding the ultimate divine punishment: death. It is a primal feeling, based on previous experiences, meant as a warning for dangerous situations, which could lead to pain, whether physical or emotional. It is a perfectly valid feeling, as it has helped countless generations of beings stay alive until they can reproduce and ensure the survival of the species.
The problem is that, given our advances in civilization, we are mostly safe from the historical life-threatening dangers.
And in the absence of these, we have moved our fears to more mundane subjects: being rejected by a potential partner or a boss, not having enough money to afford the mortgage or the new car, or even the kid’s education. While they are all perfectly valid concerns, they are far from life-threatening. Given the worse, we could still go a bit closer to the equator and live in a tent on the beach.
Waking up to the sun reflecting on the water is not such a scary thought, is it?
Fear has one major consequence on the body: bring up the fight or fly response, which basically shuts down the part of our brain related to thinking and problem solving.
Let me rephrase that: if you are afraid, you can’t think.
Any high-level brain function is sacrificed in order to increase your chances of survival.
If you don’t resonate with the word fear, replace it with worry or stress, it’s all the same thing. If you’re too stressed, you’ll get stuck and accept whatever promise of relief you can get: sucking up to your boss, your spouse, your kids, a self-proclaimed guru, anything. Which is understandable, because when the stress is overwhelming, you need some help.
Curiosity is a state of free flowing and being. You are emotionally available and craving to explore a new subject or experience. There is no real care for consequences as one relinquishes fear and realizes that nothing really bad will happen, but lots of good things might. When we are curious, we can discover new territories (America?), new talents we didn’t know we had, and simply be willing to do more, learn more, train more, be more.
It’s asking “what if?” and going on a quest to discover the answers. There might be consequences, yes, but the desire of learning is stronger than the fear of potential bad consequences.
The whole learning process, as long as it’s natural and not forced, is based on intrinsic curiosity. This is how we grow, this is how we discover. Whatever new things you discovered in your life, you did so because you were curious enough to be open to them. You could have feared, you could have closed yourself up, but you were curious.
I believe that there is one type of energy, with a definite amount, that you can decide to feed your fear, or your curiosity. That is, if you decide to feed your curiosity, you will have less energy to feed your fear. And on the other hand, if you’re looking for every reason to be afraid of an endeavor, you will crush your curiosity and be miserable.
Once you realize that you’re in control of your energy, you can choose to focus on your fears, or on your curiosity. And if you worry or believe you’re not curious, well, the worry is the fear itself. Let go of it, ask your heart what it wants, and simply follow.
Fear makes one focus on the dangers of an unknown path, and triggers an avoidance mechanism thereby depriving of the experience and pleasure of the activity. It also impairs the ability to learn and integrate new habits and working knowledge. At the end of it, fear prevents creativity.
Being curious, on the contrary, is about feeling free and having the desire to discover new things, to learn how they work and how we relate and feel about them. Curiosity promotes the sharing of information, experiences, social connections, and more.
You can choose
As Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, you can decide for yourself whether you prefer to be stuck and afraid, or free and curious. It might not change your life completely in a day, but if you don’t choose to get unstuck from your fear, it will never change anyway, as you’ll stay in your own knowledge-deprived version of Eden. That’s too bad, because life on Earth is pretty damn interesting…
What steps are you taking to feed your curiosity?