Do you know what’s driving you?

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.” Mahatma Gandhi

How many times do you keep doing something you don’t really want to do? And how many times do you find yourself not doing the things you would like to do or should do? We often diagnose for ourselves a simple lack of motivation, but it goes deeper than that.

If you’re not getting the results you desire in your life, the first step is to identify your actions or lack of action in this area. That’s the easy part. But how do you change your actions, especially those that have become bad habits? You’ve probably tried the “white-knuckle strategy,” in which you bang your teeth, grit your fists, and clench your head against the wall until you summon up the necessary willpower to either resist an action or commit to one. And I’m sure you’ve found that this doesn’t work, at least not for very long.

The second step is to examine your feelings surrounding the action you’d like to change. Emotions are what cause our body to take action (or not take it). Our bodies are heavy and slow things (no offense intended!) and it’s hard for our minds alone to get them into motion. Strong enough feelings have the power to spur our bodies to action. The word E-Motion clues you in to this principle. If you’ve ever read an inspiring book or attended a motivating training, and you wanted to implement what you learned in your life, but just couldn’t get yourself to do it, it’s probably because you lacked sufficient emotion to move your body into the action required to attain your goal. If your feelings are strong enough, you will follow through, as surely as your shadow follows you in the sunshine.

Now, simply identifying the feeling underlying your actions (or lack thereof) isn’t very helpful on its own. How did those feelings come to be? How can you change a negative feeling? How do you develop a powerful positive emotion? Look at the attached graphic organizer. It’s your thoughts that determine what your emotions will be. In a future blog post I will address the chemistry behind the creation of emotions; it’s absolutely fascinating to me. But for now, all you really need to know is that thoughts are the precursors of emotions.

What is meant by “thoughts?” Here’s a short list:

  • ideas
  • memories
  • information
  • assumptions
  • expectations
  • beliefs
  • paradigms
  • perceptions

Thoughts like these build on and amplify each other, or they can negate one another and cancel each other out. It can get to be a tangled mess. The “perceptions” one is a biggie, because we almost never stop to think about how we perceive things and whether or not we perceive accurately.

How can you alter what’s going on inside you to get your desired results? You need to amplify the positive thoughts and feelings and release the yucky negative stuff. There are ways to retrain your brain, even if you’ve been running the same mental programs for most of your life. If you create a visualization and a verbalization about what you want, it can be done, and it’s so worth it. (I plan to teach you some tools to help you with this. Stay posted.)

For now, I’ll just say that simply being aware of what’s going on in your mind will cause a shift. Like I discussed in my previous post, simple awareness will reveal a multiplicity of choices, giving you the opportunity to make the choice that will serve you best. Here is a little exercise to help you become more aware of your thoughts behind the emotions and actions that are causing a particular result in your life. Each prompt may seem the same at first, but each one is designed to engage a different part of your mind.

To identify the thoughts and feelings that are running you, think of particular results you’re currently experiencing and finish these sentences:

  • “I see I get these results because…”
  • “I hear I get these results because…”
  • “I think I get these results because…”
  • “I feel I get these results because…”
  • “What I say creates … because…”
  • “What I do creates…because…”

Write these down. When you see it written down, you can determine if it’s true and accurate, and decide if you want that to stay in your head, or kick it to the curb. When you clean yourself out in this way, putting it all out in the open, you become aware of your subconscious programming, and then it can’t run you anymore. You can work to be consciously in control of a better mental process until you eventually establish a new default pattern.

If I could add a segment to this wheel, it would be to insert “Situations” right before “Thoughts.” The situation can be anything that causes a thought to come into our minds, whether something from the external world, or internal wants and needs. There’s often little we can do about these situations that arise, so the #1 biggest thing we have control over is our thoughts.

If you’ll notice from the wheel, your results contribute to the quality of your life, which in turn generates new thoughts, and the wheel keeps going around. If your thoughts are positive, it will create an upward spiral rather than a downward one.

I hope you have learned something from the “Karmic Wheel.” It has revolutionized my life to discover that every result I’ve ever had can be traced back to the thoughts inside my head. When you change your thoughts, you can change your life!

Proliferation of Choice

Freedom. Autonomy. Agency. Whichever term you use, the ability to choose for ourselves, after life itself, is the greatest blessing given by God to man. Recorded history is replete with accounts of those who take away the freedom of others. But how often do we deny ourselves the opportunity to make a choice?

Man will always choose what serves him. Even self-destructive behaviors bring short-term pleasure or alleviation of pain. Those who serve others may also indirectly be serving themselves, whether through the positive feelings this service generates, the satisfaction of fulfilling a duty to their fellow humans, or the promise of rewards in subsequent lives.

When there are choices before you, but you are not aware of them, you feel trapped. Imagine that you’ve been locked in a room. You call for help, push against the walls and door, but to no avail. Feeling trapped, it seems as though your choices have been taken away from you. But say, for example, there’s been a key in your pocket the whole time that can unlock the door. If you remain unaware of that key, you remain trapped. It is the awareness of the key that suddenly provides you with a choice: whether to stay in the room or walk through the door. To take it further, say you were also unaware of the brick on the floor you could use to break the window and escape. Not only that, but maybe you just didn’t notice the bust of Abraham Lincoln in the center of the room that, when pushed, opens up a secret passageway through the fireplace. It is possible to be surrounded by choices and options, but be blind to them. It is in this way that awareness actually creates our choices.

Our society conditions us to believe that our emotions happen TO us, and that we have no choice but to live with them, or at least manage them. (I am aware that certain mental health conditions exist for some that make immensely difficult for them to make a different choice. While I feel compassion for these individuals, my remarks here are directed towards those unaffected by such diagnoses.)

I used to be a victim of the idea that my emotional state was largely out of my control. When I was sad, I felt consigned to it, and that the only choice I had was whether to be sad alone or try to get comfort from the influence of others. In fact, I was so used to being trapped by this belief that when my dad tried to get me to see that I could choose my emotions, I reacted in anger and frustration. People don’t accept change very easily, and I wasn’t at a place in my life where I was quick to embrace change. I had gotten used to feeling like a victim, and although it’s not fun to feel that way, I had gotten comfortable with it. I had even incorporated it into my perception of my own identity.

I feel liberated as I’ve become increasingly aware of the limitless choices I have when it comes to my own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. I have learned and put into practice tools that help me to make a better choice. Before I knew about these tools, I felt helpless, hopeless, drowning in negative emotions, yearning for positive thoughts and feelings but not knowing how to get them. If you currently feel this way, please know that there is hope. The answers are inside you.

Follow this blog and I will share with you some of the skills and strategies that have been illuminating and empowering for me. When applied with intention, I believe they can improve your life as well. Break free!

The Silver Platter Principle

“Riches, both material and spiritual, can choke you if you do not use them fairly. Let us remain as empty as possible so that God can fill us up. God does not impose himself on us. Even God cannot put anything in a heart that is already full. …Fill the world with the love God has bestowed on you.” 

-Mother Teresa

I am a seeker and a messenger. What do I seek for? Truth. And when I find it, it often transforms into a message burning inside me, and all I want to do is to share that message. Reader, you are a seeker too, or you wouldn’t be spending your time reading right now. I’m going to let you in on something. The secret to obtaining more truth is … be a messenger as well.

Truth (which I’ll refer to as “gold nuggets”) is bigger and purer than we humans. It originates from our higher power, and is given to us as we seek it in order to do good. My higher power is God, whom I call my Heavenly Father. He sends me these gold nuggets of truth and knowledge, usually by means of other people, through teaching and example. The process is very simple. For example, someone will recommend a certain book, author, practice, or training program, and I’ll feel something like an itch I can’t scratch until I’ve taken the necessary action, and the truth I find from that source changes my life in some way. I know it’s no coincidence. 

Sometimes I’m given a gold nugget as a result of asking for it specifically, but other times it feels like it just comes to me freely. When this happens, I ponder on these questions: For what reason did this knowledge come into my life at this time? What am I meant to do with this knowledge? To whom am I supposed to teach this truth? The answers to these questions make me feel profoundly humbled and greatly loved, simultaneously. 

However, when I know that I need to share these gold nuggets with others, and I choose instead to keep them to myself, I start to feel something akin to depression. I feel selfish for holding back this truth, which enriches my own life so much, from others, depriving their lives through omission. This is my motivation for starting a blog. (While one-on-one mentoring is an ideal setting for teaching these principles and motivating change, I can only influence a limited number of people in such a way.)

The “Silver Platter” is simply a way to visualize what you can choose to do with the knowledge and truth that comes to you. I picture myself holding a large oblique silver platter on my forearms. Gold nuggets are placed on my platter. Eventually they become heaped up so high that I have no room left, and some of the nuggets begin to fall from the platter. I instinctively tip the platter in toward myself, to keep them from falling off, and to allow more to continue to heap up. But it cannot continue this way. I feel increasingly burdened as I try to balance and hold the weight, and I feel a sense of loss over each new nugget that falls before I can even catch a glimpse of it.

So what’s the alternative? As the nuggets come to my platter, instead of tipping it toward myself, as I’m naturally inclined to do, I will tip the platter away from myself, into the hands of others. My platter will soon become empty, but each nugget I shared makes an impression on me that I will have forever, without needing to continue to bear the burden of its weight. What’s more, the platter never stays empty after being tipping out. The next time, I notice twice the number of nuggets of insights and ideas coming to my platter, even more brilliant and pure than the first had been. I tip those out as well, and the next time, it’s threefold, and then fourfold. I will have enriched myself more than I ever thought possible, and enriching all those around me who were willing to receive. I also feel weightless and unencumbered by the responsibility to share.

I aspire to tipping my silver platter out to you, readers, through this blog. I hope that the tools, insights, and principles you find here will benefit you as they have me. And I hope that you remember to tip your own platters out at every chance you get, because that’s when life truly becomes yummy!