Sometimes the cashier doesn’t make eye-contact and tells you to have a nice day in a tone of voice that sounds more like a thinly veiled “go to hell.”
Sometimes a customer or a coworker communicates in an off-putting way. Where I thought I deserved appreciation, I received reprimand.
The mail doesn’t come on time. The dishwasher stops working… You get the gist.
We all run into these mundane “obstacles” in our lives.
Yesterday I experienced a bit of pain with someone where I thought I deserved appreciation and instead I received reproach.
I see where I was not prepared for that situation, and I let it take me down momentarily.
Here are a few ways I’ve been turning this pain into power (and by “power” I mean “energy” or “the ability to respond” i.e., “responsibility”). Maybe by reading my experience you can find some insight to more efficiently alchemize adverse situations in your own life:
Practicing conscious forgiveness and compassion
Part of me wants to condemn this person. “They have no right to speak to me like that, etc.” When I remind myself that this person was doing the best they could in the moment, I can summon some degree of compassion. I don’t know what’s really going on in their life. I don’t know what difficult experiences they’ve been through that could have them communicating with me out of a place of trauma or unconsciousness.
I’ve been asking for help from my Qigong and other spiritual masters whom I often talk to. “Please help me forgive this person. Please help me to understand any lessons I can learn from this experience. Please help me to have compassion and not to condemn.”
I know that forgiveness and compassion are the keys to my healing and spiritual development. And I want to heal and develop spiritually. I also know that harboring anger and hatred is damaging to my health and I want to experience robust vitality. I don’t want to hurt myself by holding a grudge.
So I keep asking my spiritual masters for help until I feel clear.
Mundane adversity can trigger much larger pre-existing trauma
When a small affront or adversity triggers a disproportionately large emotional response, that is a flashing red light clue that there is a deeper trauma being pointed to, and this is actually an excellent opportunity for freedom.
It was important for me to admit to myself that I felt hurt by the experience, and even that it hurt much more than it “should” have. This is not condemning the person at the level of pain I’m experiencing, this is recognizing and admitting a personal level of pain that until I accept it, I will not be able to fully let it go, to fully heal.
This also allows me an opportunity to ask important, transformational questions:
Why did this seemingly trivial slight feel so extreme?
I can brainstorm for some old, unhelpful beliefs which may have been there the whole time before, influencing my life from behind the scenes, just out of reach of my awareness:
“No one cares about me.”
“I don’t get the appreciation I deserve.”
“I need love and I don’t get it.”
“I’m not enough.”
“I’m not respected enough.”
And the list can go on.
The value in identifying these unhelpful beliefs is that by becoming aware of them I have taken the first step toward eradicating them, and I can then plant the seeds of new beliefs which serve me much better:
“I care about me!”
“Many people DO care about me!”
“Many people appreciate me, and I always appreciate myself whether or not others appreciate me.”
“I am love and love is forever.”
“I am enough.”
“I respect myself regardless of the respect I perceive coming from others.”
In these types of situations, the Ho’Opono Pono can also be extraordinarly useful:
“I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” (Repeat multiple times.)
The goal is to forgive, to let go of anger, to relax our hearts and keep awareness in the heart-space. The Ho’Oponopono brings awareness straight back to the heart every time.
External vs internal validation
I can also begin to see the ways in which I might be relying on an external source for my sense of value, appreciation, respect and happiness.
The degree to which we rely on an external source for our sense of “enoughness” is the degree to which our sense of enoughness will rise and fall. E.g., when people love me or validate me, I’m elated. When people don’t love me or don’t treat me well, I’m devastated.
This is not to say that asking for and expecting respect, love and appreciation is not critical. Of course it is. I’m not suggesting anyone should tolerate abuse.
What I’m suggesting, in this examples, is that we recognize and remember that sometimes in life people are going to let us down when we expect them to treat us how we would like to be treated.
Unless I admit total responsibility for my own experience, I will remain a victim. To the extent that I blame an external source for my misery, I disempower myself. I pretend I’m not free. Pretending I’m not free (that is to say, responsible) is counterproductive to my freedom and wellbeing.
To quote the famous stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius, from his treatise Meditations:
“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”
Grist for the mill
As a result of processing our run-of-the-mill or “ordinary adversity,” as I’ve called it, we can come out the other side as more mature people, more capable of forgiveness and compassion, more deeply rooted in a sustainable, internally-sourced wellbeing, less reliant on the vagaries of external validation for our happiness.
In this way, we turn our pain into power. Adversity becomes fuel for our ever-growing aliveness.
P.S. If you’d like to experience turning your pain into power in an accelerated way, to step into more of your brilliance, to align more fully with your life’s purpose, or to gain more clarity and quicker results in your health, wealth or relationships, sign up for some 1-1 life coaching with me here. Also, please share this post with 1 person who might enjoy it!
We all fall off the ol’ horse from time to time.
I’ve fallen off plenty of times myself, and for much longer periods of time than I’d care to admit.
In life there are two general paths: The easy road which becomes more difficult or the difficult road which becomes easier over time.
Whenever I slip into habits of procrastination or of choosing short-term gratification over long-term gratification, sooner or later a dullness, a lackluster sense of existence starts to seep into my sense of wellbeing.
However, the sooner I notice what is happening and make the decision to embrace long-term gratification decisions, the sooner my sense of ALIVEness and wellbeing starts to improve.
We can fall off of the proverbial horse for 5-10 minutes, for 5-10 hours, for 5-10 days, months, years, maybe even lifetimes.
Short Term vs Long Term Gratification
The longer we stay on the short term gratification (STG) road, the harder things become.
Most of us are familiar with our own STG (short term gratification) mainstays. Maybe it’s junk-food, mindless social media scrolling, computer or video games, binge-watching episodes of the flavor of the week, mindless date application swiping, porn, weed, alcohol or any other means of attempting to escape the intensity of being truly present to our lives.
The Buddha taught that the more we attempt to escape pain, the more pain we encounter. It’s only by turning toward our suffering that we begin to experience less suffering.
My Own Recent Fall Off Of The Horse
Recently I went through about month of “falling off the horse” and attempting to escape my life. I was playing a Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game which hijacked the “progress machinery” in my brain to trick me into thinking I was making progress in my life. I would get excited about playing the game, and I would play for several hours a day at a time because it was fun to advance skill levels and watch my character get stronger and unlock new abilities through completing quests.
All of my coachees have heard me repeat the phrase, “Progress equals happiness.” It’s an idea that Tony Robbins often repeats, and I love it because it’s true.
So there I was, tricking my brain into making me feel like I was making progress in my life and getting those temporary quick hits of dopamine when *REALLY* I was not fooling myself.
When I wasn’t playing the game, I felt down, dull, and a bit lifeless. I needed the game to distract me from the fact that I had fallen off my horse. It was a classic escapism-addiction scenario.
Almost as soon as I decided to turn back toward my life fully, to give my life my ALL again, I felt the life returning to my body.
This was around the turn of the year, and the momentum I started building then has continued to grow.
I’ve optimized my schedule, my routines, I’m polishing up my REAL life skills day in and day out, and I’m consciously looking for and finding great contentment and appreciation of my daily routines.
I’m embracing my life at a new level and as a result I’m feeling much more ALIVE.
No matter how long you’ve been on the proverbial ground in your life after falling off the horse, whether it’s been for 15 minutes or for 15 months or years or whatever, you can at any time make the decision to embrace what you ALREADY know you’ve been procrastinating.
Yes, it can be a real challenge to do that, and that’s exactly why it is going to energize you. Life gets boring without a challenge.
Don’t go so crazy that you get in over your head. Find that sweet spot where it’s not overwhelming, but it’s not under-whelming either. Get back in the flow-zone.
Put ONE thing in your schedule RIGHT NOW that you know will line you up with your life’s purpose.
Maybe that ONE THING is making a phone call you’ve been thinking about for a while. Maybe it’s scheduling a self-date or self-care session. Maybe it’s signing up for that class that has been calling you out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s having a difficult conversation you’ve been procrastinating.
EITHER DO IT RIGHT NOW OR PUT IT IN YOUR SCHEDULE! (DO THAT NOW!) I’LL WAIT.
It’s just a matter of making the decision to do it.
No amount of quick-hit, easy-fix, silver-bullet short term (de)gratification is going to get your pleasure levels anywhere close to the sustainable fire of passion that burns sweetly within you when you are practicing the purpose of your life.
Don’t try to do all of it, just do that one thing. And then do the next thing after that. The journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step.
Get back on that damn horse!
There’s nothing better than practicing your purpose–than living your purpose.
Living your purpose is how to be fully ALIVE.
P.S. Sometimes we can use a helping hand to “get back on the horse” or some accountability to STAY on the horse. If you’d like some wholehearted support, sign up for some life coaching sessions with me here.
Recently someone sent me a Snapchat video of the landscape scenery as they rode in a vehicle along the highway. The weather was gray and cloudy, wet and rainy, as it is this morning while I type this.
“It’s beautiful!” he proclaimed.
And I loved that he said that.
Where some would see gloom and nastiness, he saw beauty.
Why did he see beauty when so many others would have not recognized it?
He saw beauty because he was, however consciously or unconsciously, acknowledging his inner state of being.
What we perceive, and how we perceive, is a reflection of our inner state.
When you feel good, the world seems more beautiful. When you feel miserable, even a bright, sunshine-filled Saturday morning festival might not lift your spirits.
So the lesson is to do our best to care for our inner state because when we do, everything else takes care of itself much more readily.
Take small steps each day which are aligned with your life’s purpose, and patiently be satisfied with that.
Even small steps in the right direction is progress.
And progress = happiness.
P.S. If you would like to achieve specific goals in living your life’s purpose and to experience more vitality, abundance and human connection click here.
Do you want to front-load your energy for the day?
That’s the real question.
Because you’ll have a drop off later.
Sitting with this question, you can be more conscious as you may choose to consume your capricious caffeine.
Short and sweet today 😉
Love you more than coffee.
Don’t let your ideas, your facts, your righteousness disconnect you from each other.
We’re all in this together.
Don’t neglect what you’re sure of. Share it.
The key is to stay connected while you share.
Listen to yourself, listen to each other. Listen more deeply than the words and ideas.
Let yourself experience whatever it is you’re experiencing. Don’t try to numb it, push it down, or away.
Just be with your experience without letting it run the show.
Hold your experience as you would hold a small, scared child.
Stay connected with yourself, stay connected with each other.
Transformation can be really intense.
The irrational thoughts can ramp up and become more extreme. The ideas can take on a life of their own…
Thoughts like, “I can’t do this. I’m not going to be ok. We’re not going to make it through.”
Notice the thoughts and stay with the sensations in your body.
Notice how the thoughts emerge like rocket-ships, and it’s up to you whether you latch onto them or let go of them.
Practice letting go, and watch as they disappear or burst into fireworks.
They are ideas. Some of them might be accurate, some of them might not be. But no matter their degree of accuracy, your ideas are not YOU.
YOU are much bigger, much more powerful than any of those ideas.
And when you stay connected to whom you really are, to what really matters, to whom or what you care about, you will be energized by the increased energy flowing through you in this time of transformation, instead of debilitated by it. And then you can use that energy to create more of what the world needs right now. You’ll be more empowered.
Yes, the storm is intense right now, and it may increase in its intensity for a while, but it is still a storm, doing what storms do; and storms never last forever.
We will get through this, and we will do it together.
I love you.
Keep it open.
Let me know if I can help.
You can think of a practice as any action you consistently take.
For example, brushing your teeth, showering, (I know I’m making assumptions for some of you here😉), eating, communicating, driving the car, exercising, working/creating, meditating, walking, sleeping.
🌟Basically, everything you do can become a practice, if you choose to look at it that way.🌟
Do you normally think of every personal interaction as a practice? What about your interactions with your significant other? Could that be a practice?
Do you think of living your life and all the actions you take in it itself as *skills* that you can practice and get better at?
I’m talking about how you make your morning (bulletproof) coffee/tea, the way you walk to your car from your house, the way you enter your office, what you choose to put your focus on during the drive *to* your office, etc.
I recommend adopting this viewpoint, that every action you take is a practice, one of YOUR practices, because implied with the word “practice” is the idea that we’re improving our action over time, in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.
***quickly rubs hands together with enthusiastic anticipation***
Does anyone else get as excited as I do about effectiveness and efficiency?
Someone might say, “Effectiveness and efficiency, Aaron, blah blah blah…”
⚡️But not so fast!
The more we practice something, with consciousness, the more likely we are to tilt toward mastery of that practice. And there is a deep fulfillment available to us in Mastery.
💲Masters of their craft not only tend to make more money (they are in high demand), they also experience more happiness and fulfillment in their lives.
Research has shown that the most critical factor in determining one’s mastery of a skill is not innate talent, but the person’s decision that they will practice their given craft for the rest of their lives.
So, will YOU be practicing these different “crafts” for the rest of your life?
🌠Of course you will!
And there’s something about taking this long-term “Practice of Mastery” perspective on our current circumstances that also helps us experience more patience, and to shift some of our energy from attachment to the desired outcome toward enjoyment of the process itself.
🎲Then, since we are more deeply engaged with the practices themselves, this leads to more enjoyment of life right now, instead of gambling on potential happiness in the future.
Have an awesome day.