Warning: Read this blog post slowly. It’s absolutely packed with invaluable insights. Each of which can be expanded into separate blog posts, workshops, books or months of coaching and mentoring. This is an attempt at trying to share the essence of my personal transformations the last couple of years – and as such, I’m just scratching the surface. If you find something unclear or confusing please feel free to ask.
This is the story of my journey and learning the last two and a half years, quickly and honestly. They have left me profoundly changed at a deep level as a much more empowered, happier, tender and loving person. I’m writing this partially for inspiration for what’s possible – and partially to leave some breadcrumbs behind for others to possibly follow.
I used the word «learning», but a lot of the «learning» has actually been more like «unlearning». That means letting go of a lot of illusions that my mind and thinking had been learning from well-meaning friends and family, educational institutions and society at large.
The insight that started it all.
My first big aha moment came out of 3 Principles. The really short version of it states that we cannot feel anything but our thinking in the moment. And that our thoughts and feelings are like the weather – they come and go – and that trying to control thoughts is like trying to control the weather. It’s only going to lead to misery. It’s based on insights – we get these moments where we go «Ah, of course it’s like that». Working with my coach Mamoon Yusaf (based in Barcelona, Spain) and reading Clarity by Jamie Smart helped me transform the insight from intellectual knowledge to actually living the experience. (This is the same difference as reading a book about biking (intellectual knowledge) versus knowing how to ride a bike (experience and skill).)
It means that happiness is not something that is dependent on outcomes. I don’t have to succeed in the world to be happy. I don’t have to get the girl, get good grades, get clients, get friends, avoid losing the house, avoid conflicts, avoid losing, grow my business … Because that stuff on the outside of me was never where the feeling came from in the first place! Only the way I interpret and think about that stuff can make me happy.
Now, if only I could think positive thoughts – then I’d be happy…?
HUGE BREAKTHROUGH #2!
Great question. Remember that trying to control thoughts is like trying to control the weather? All our trying to control the weather is only going to make us feel more miserable. Feeling bad is only the result of «bad thinking» going on. No need to struggle to try to correct that. It naturally corrects itself. Just as the weather. After rain there is sun. And with that insight and realization-in-the-moment I learned to relax and wait for the natural state of happiness to return. Like it always does.
(You can also think about it this way: Freeing energy from trying to think positive thoughts actually gives you more energy to experience innate happiness.)
All my self-help learning of thinking positive, affirmations, positive questions, changing my posture to live up to an image, … dropped. And my life became better, I smiled more, I laughed more, I was happier without it!
Let that sink in: I got happier by dropping doing positive thinking.
The second big insight.
Now, it would make sense that I stopped growing. Because that is an assumption that is engrained in our culture and self-development: We have to do growth! We have to do self-help. Rather than that growth is a natural process when we stop holding ourselves back.
A friend introduced me to something he called tenderness and turning towards. And I got to meet his coach and mentor, Bert Bennett (based in Bellingham, WA, USA). Again, this is the short version.
Being mammals, when we are afraid the survival (fight/flight) mechanism in us is triggered. We feel we have to defend ourselves to survive. We have to attack (turn against) or get away (turn away) from the situation or circumstance that trigger the fear.
An example is having a conversation with a loved one. Suddenly the conversation is thrown into a discussion and then a verbal fight. And the only options seems to fight back, give up or run away. Turning against or turning away. Even though the situation really has nothing to do with survival.
POSSIBLY THE MOST VALUABLE SKILL EVER …
Turning towards is the third option. We acknowledge reality as it is. We tenderly rest into exactly what is alive inside of us. Suddenly many other options become available that is not about fighting og running away, but about tenderly and lovingly participate with precisely what’s going on. Which in the conversation above with the loved one means tenderness, connection and love shows up and is being expressed in the moment.
For me, it took a while to learn this. It’s like learning to ride a bike, you cannot think your way into knowing how to ride a bike. We actually have to practice. Also, I had 30 years of experience in being numb. That is, experiencing all these survival mechanisms be triggered – and NOT feeling it. Actually more like avoiding feeling it for any price. Using my intellect and thinking to «survive» situations that were uncomfortable. And all I ever did was getting really good at playing a limited game – with limited outcomes.
HUGE BREAKTHROUGH #3!
I can actually feel what I’m feeling. And not only will that help me be safe with whatever I’m feeling, it will also metabolize and digest my fear. So the next time a similar situation occurs, it will not feel as threatening as before and will be progressively easier to experience tender, loving connection with myself, others and the world.
And all of this, without doing anything. Just turning towards, acknowledge what’s actually there and resting into.
So much of my experience of the world and my expression in the world had been shaped from turning away or turning against. I’d been holding myself away from happiness, love, connection and success because I was afraid.
This is where all my coping strategies designed to keep me safe is starting to fall away (being metabolized). Thriving, true freedom and being authentically me becomes available.
A DEEPER INQUIRY INTO BALANCE, FLOW, CONNECTION, LOVE …
When I looked deeper into myself I see that what I truly want is to feel loved, to feelconnected, to experience inner peace and to live life from effortless flow. And along the way I’ve been confused and done a lot of this misguided stuff to try to get these things.
And this is where life really gets interesting.
It seems like, if I just give up trying to get these things they show up, not as something i have to do to get, but as experiences of gifts.
And there is a realization that anything worth having (balance, flow, connection, love, gratefulness, happiness…) is available in this very moment. And not in a mystical sense where I have to believe in some unknown force or energy. But in a very real, experienced and no-bullshit sense.
This bears repeating: When we’re trying to get (balance, flow, connection, love, happiness) the very act of getting moves us further away from experiencing the gifts (balance, flow, connection, love, happiness). We are the ones creating the gap between what we want and ourselves. By trying to get we persist the illusion that it is not available in the present moment and we rob ourselves of being empowered.
(This will be a good time to take a deep breath. Perhaps re-read some portions. There was a lot of stuff in there – enough to make the head spin for most of us.)
A really important point to make here is: I am not special – there is nothing unique with me in this way. I used to be a computer programmer. I’ve also seen and helped many others through similar journeys to become empowered, happier and more loving versions of themselves. If I can do this journey from the intellect to the heart, you can too.
And if you take away only one thing right now: Stop trying so hard – get there faster and live a happier life!
(This is what I’m enticed to shared with the world, and by reading this you are a part of that. Feel free to share. Thank you!)