Archive | October 2016

The BIG Change – Social Reactions

The Big Change: Social Reactions:

When I started writing about the big change to cut my long hair, I was focused on the physical reactions I would have and the psychological reactions and how to tailor both of those to create the future for myself that I wanted. focusing in on the change and how the change effected me. This has been something that has helped me grown in profound ways that I have shared already. The thing that caught me off guard was the social reactions that have arisen from this change. I knew that I would be treated a little differently by those that knew me and probably significantly differently by those that don’t know me. I did not expect the profound ripple effect that I had on the world directly around me.

The small changes in how people interacted with me where just what I expected and for those that already knew me, they were slight and disappeared into the background noise of life very quickly. The change in how people approach and talk to me has been a bit more noticeable. I have become more acceptable in the eyes of the normative culture and as such, more people are talking to be out of the blue and interacting with me on a more familiar level than they had when I had long hair. I am getting to see how the socially created snap judgments affect how people respond in their day to day lives. That has been fascinating to watch and all, but didn’t shake my expectations of the world around me.

The change that did shake that foundation was the social change that occurred in direct response to this change.  I work for a long standing (over 100 years old), conservative company and have for a few years now. The change to cut my hair was catalyzed by the company. The long hair was against dress code and after two years, somebody finally decided to demand that the dress code be enforced. Since I had been thinking of making this change for many years now, I took it as a sign from the universe that it was time and walked into the change with joy and excitement instead of anger or annoyance.

A little over a week after I had cut my hair, I was once again called into my manager’s office and advised to remember that I was a trailblazer.  As it turns out, the whole incident with my hair rippled up the chain to the director of human resources who decided that keeping good employees was more important than that part of the dress code. The dress code for the company now only defines that men’s hair be well groomed and doesn’t have the stipulation that it be cut so as not to touch the collar. Going one step further, they have allowed earrings in all employees as long as they are not gauges. Now, let’s really drive this change home as it was driven home for me. This company is over 100 years old, at this point and seen as a conservative company in the industry. To the point that just this past year they have allowed employees to wear jeans to work once a week. This isn’t a position where the employees are in front of the customer all the time, or even frequently, but we still could not  wear jeans, even as recent as a year ago. Now it is only okay to wear jeans, once a week. My situation caused this change averse and steadfast company to make a massive change in the way they interact with their employees.

That change was completely unexpected in my world, but has become a symbol of the Fact  that I can affect on the world around me. It has been an empowerment for me and will serve as a reminder of what I am capable of for years to come.  

The BIG Change – Psychological Reactions

The Big Change: Psychological Reactions

It has been a little bit since I have cut my hair and made that big change in my life. The impact of the physical change has begun to fade at this point and I am getting used to the whole thing on that level. It is at this point that I am starting to discover the mental changes that have been showing up and I wanted to take a little time to share those.

First off, when I did the change, xiaoyi and I developed some mental ideas of how the change would affect me. These were not just guessing at what the change might be, but rather a deliberate and active focus we wanted to move forward with the change. This is an example of the active and deliberate living that we are practicing and helping others to learn and grow through. The basic idea is that we decided how we wanted the change to affect us emotionally and mentally rather than just roll and dice and see what came up. To that effect, we decided that the change would be a symbol of my change and growth  as well as my desire to keep moving towards the person that I want to be. We decided that it would be a turning point to really drive into my psyche those changes that I wanted. To that end we created a self-talk script that I use at least twice a day. To put it simple, it is a script that reminds me of the intentions that I went in to the change with so that I can be active and deliberate in my daily actions to adhere to that.

The intention and the reality of the change have been right on and I expect that it has more to do with going into the change with an outcome in mind than anything else. Every day I read that script and refocus my mind and emotions on that outcome and then, during the day, anything that reminds me of the short hair is also a reminder of the outcome that I wanted in life. This has resulted in me being a happier and healthier person all around. That is what I was going for, that I would embrace the joys in life more fully and find the joys in life so that I was happier and healthier person. That intention and the fact that I remind myself of that intention every day and every time I am reminded of the change has worked to put that intention into place and change the way I interact with the world. The change has been a wonderful one and an experience I plan to take into any other large changes into my life. The extension of deliberate living into this avenue of change has been a wonderful and growing experience.

I would suggest that you look at your life and see what changes are on the horizon for you. Once you have identified them, take the time to be deliberate about the mental and emotional changes you want to move forward with in regards to that change.

 

The BIG Change – Physical Reactions

The Big Change: Physical Reactions:

Recently I went through a major physical change in my life and have decided that I want to keep an eye on the corresponding changes that I noticed in my life that occurred as well. The change was simple in terms of what happened, but also profound and I wanted to make sure that I maintained an awareness as I get used to the change. Since I was in grade school, I have had long hair and always wore it in a ponytail. This was a part of my identity for the past twenty-plus years.

I cut my hair.

Now I am not talking about trimming it back some or changing how I wear it, I am saying that I chopped it all off. I now have a mostly buzzed head with a shock of longer hair in the center. Needless to say, this change is producing many strange things in my life as I adapt to the new situation.

The first things that I have been noticing since making this change are they physical change. The back of my head has been covered for most of my life and now the slightest breeze can be felt. It is unnerving at present to feel these sensations that I have never actually felt before in my conscious remembrance. I have even startled and flinched now and then as I feel something along the back of my head that my brain can’t identify immediately. This has been both a little nerve wracking, but laced with excitement as well. The new sensations are as thrilling as they are surprising and I am finding that I am becoming over stimulated almost constantly. This has tipped my brain into a sort of light headed feeling for most of the day.

In some ways, this reminds me of the slight discomforts I have felt emotionally as xiaoyi and I continue working with our network marketing and I take the steps to have the financial freedom I desire.  An odd discomfort that isn’t really all that scary but that can, at times, make me flinch as I grow into the new skill sets and ways of thinking.  

My morning routine has been odd as well as I have adapted to a very different process to get ready. I once used a brush to get a well-groomed ponytail in place. Now I am using a comb and some water to try and get the unruly hair on the top of my head into some semblance of order. I think I might be changing my perception, so that the chaos isn’t a bad thing.

The reaction of those around me has also been interesting. Most acquaintances take a fast double-take and then comment on the change. Some comment a couple times, but that has been it. The reaction from xiaoyi has been fun though. She has been doing constant double takes and commenting on it again and again. We even caught her modifying her subconscious behavior at home, as if we had a guest over, because that portion of her brain doesn’t recognize me yet. This has been fascinating and I am looking forward to seeing how other people I am very close to react to the change. I haven’t told any of them about it yet and am waiting to see them in person to let them in on the secret.

The physical changes have been interesting enough, but I am really looking forward to the mental changes that are coming, both the ones that I am guiding for positive change in my life as well as the ones that are going to blindside me. It should be an interesting ride.

Values

Hardship and Values:

I have talk at length about finding the core values that drive our lives, the things that we hold close and dear to us. Our core values are something we need to identify and understand so that we can make the decisions in life that keep us aligned with those values. This is the only way that we can look at our life and be happy with the choices we have made. Values define how we interact with our world and if we a disingenuous to those value we will not be happy with the life we are leading.

The real problem comes in the immediate consequences that we face while holding to our values. Many of us have values that don’t coincide with the dominant culture or the corporate culture that we find ourselves in. We find that we are constantly having to decide if we want to make our lives easier and go with the values of the majority or if we hold to our values and be at odds with the majority. This is an immediate and painful reaction that we face when wwe choose to live by the values that we hold dear and makes it very difficult to stay the course and make those choices that adhere to our values. The key here is to remember the big picture, the life and world that we want to live. If we get to where we want to be and look back at a journey full of compromises and slights we forced on our core values, we are going to be unhappy with the life we are leading, even it exceeds our expectations on paper. We have traded the nourishment of our core in order to make the journey easier for us and that will only lead to unhappiness and disillusionment.

The pain in the moment is terrible difficult to see past. I know for sure since I am in that quandary right now and am having trouble seeing past it. In a group that I am a part of, a nasty split has occurred due to the egos a of some people involved and though both of them say and might believe that they are fighting for the good of the community, the struggle between them is doing damage to the community in actuality. They are getting legal counsel involved instead of actually working together to bring peace and unity back to the community, something that the community finds as a vital value of its own. It is a value that I share, but my voice hasn’t been heard by these people. So I had to make a decision in a effort to protect the community by throwing my hat in with the aggressor in this situation so that if that person ends up winning the fight, there is still someone in a position of power that will work for the good of the community. I hate the choice and am starting to be ostracized by the community for “siding” with the person the community deems as the transgressor, but the choice was made to adhere to my values of protecting the community if the worst comes to pass. The pain is real and full and in force currently, but I know that in the long run it will be for the benefit of the community. Perhaps the choice will result in me no longer being part of the community, but if that is the price of the community becoming stronger and remaining a whole, then I will have lived my values and can take heart in that.

So remember as you hold to you values that it isn’t going to be an easy path. There will be situations and people in life that will make choosing your values and holding to them very difficult. There will even be situations in our lives that our values will be detrimental to us personally in one aspect or another, but when you look in the mirror a year down the line when all is said and done, you will be able to be happy in your choice to live your values.

More Growing Pains

Pain in Growth:

There are some constants in life that we can’t avoid. One of those that we are going to run into time and time again as we strive towards the goals we have set out for ourselves is pain. There is no avoiding it, with growth comes pain and from pain we can develop growth. This is something we need to look at, come to terms with and accept as we keep pushing towards our future.  Unlike the pain of physical injury though, this kind of pain can be a good thing, it can be a catalyst to the changes that we need and it can give us fuel so that we can drive towards what we want, if for no other reason than to avoid that pain in the future.

The pain we experience as we grow comes in two main forms that we need to understand and accept. The first is the pain that we feel while we are growing. This is the pain that manifests as worry, anxiety and fear. It is the pain of an unknown and unknowable future that we are diving into. It can also be the pain of losing some things that we are growing beyond. This can be activities that we enjoyed that hold nostalgia for us, but no longer serve us. Most frequently, it is going to be the pain of losing people that were once close to us. The fact of it is, that people don’t like change and as we change and grow, those people are going to become fearful and try to knock us back down into the place that they are comfortable with us in. If we want to grow, we may end up losing the relationship that we did have with them. If we are smart, mindful, and a little lucky, we can just transition that relationship into something else that is fulfilling, but that isn’t something to count on. Instead, we need to accept that this pain is going to occur and realize that the life we are striving for will be much better than where we are now. And that we will grow and gain new friendships and relationships along the way as well.  

The second kind of pain we will experience in our lives are those events that change us profoundly. These are points in our lives that change us on a fundamental level and cause us to see the world and interact with the world in a vastly different way. To reach the goals that we have set out, we need to understand that when these events happen, we have a choice on how they affect our lives. They can be catalyst that drives us towards the future we want, or they can be wounds that keep us from moving forward. By knowing that the choice is ours, when we have these events in our lives we can be mindful of our choice so that the choice isn’t made for us by our subconscious mind.

One of these events in my life was in my last year of high school and it changed the way that I interacted with the world for most of my life. In fact, I still find it adding filters to my perceptions that I have to fight constantly as they are not filters that serve me anymore. In high school I started to play soccer and got rather good at the sport. I had a natural talent that propelled me quickly in skill. In my junior year during the off season, I played for a semi-professional team and traveled around the nearby states to play. It was a wonderful time in my life and I look back on it fondly. Then, in the tryouts of varsity soccer in my senior year, I was cut from the team. To this day I have theories on why I was cut, but no actual answers to the question. Look at that, I had just come off playing semi-pro and the high school varsity team cut me? I was in shock to be honest and let the decision of how this was going to affect my life be made without my input.

The effect in my life is that I developed an understanding that I was never actually good enough. It didn’t matter what the situation or my abilities or achievements, I was never good enough. This has plagued my life ever since high school and even knowing it, I have to fight it.

So what does this have to do with pain? Had I been mindful of pain at that point in my life, I could have chosen how that pain would change me and taken steps to make it into a pain that fueled my life instead of being a detriment to it. I could have used it as fuel to show that coach, through my actions, that he was an idiot. I might even been playing professional soccer at this point if I had been conscious of my choice. Instead, I haven’t actually excelled at anything in my life. I have been competent, but in my own mind, never good enough. Now I am acting to change that.  I have taken control of my own life and of the pain that experience caused me and am using it to help better myself instead of belittling myself.

The moral here is that being active and mindful of the way that these painful events can change us is a key to shaping our lives in the ways that we want it to shaped. From here on out, we don’t have to let the traumatic events in our lives define our futures, it is our choice on how we move forward.

 

A Grimm Stroll in the Dark

A Grimm Stroll in the Dark:

The wind howled like the souls of the tormented dead, whipping the snow into a blinding frenzy just outside the stone archway. Grimm watched the weather from inside the small and decrepit structure that Lady Wessex had found to shield them from the blizzard. Warmth began to thaw out his limbs as the small coal stove contraption the Lady had brought kindled to life. Grimm looked at it dubiously as he judged the amount of coal in it to the weather outside. Grimm had never been an optimist; life in the slums of a major city beat that kind of mindset out of him early on. Besides, it was hard to keep a positive outlook on life when you couldn’t feel your toes. Shivering, Grimm huddled into the musky fur he wore and moved away from the open door. He knew that the skin would start smelling soon as they had not had time to properly cure the hide of the Wolfe, but at least it was something to battle the wind until then.

Lady Wessex sat across the coal stove from the entrance with her back against the wall of the building and studied their surroundings. The place made her feel nervous, a large stone warehouse in the middle of a primeval forest filled with decaying wooden crates, their contents gone or rotted way. Something just didn’t feel right about it all, but she hoped it was just a lost way station for travelers.  Then there was the large machine in the corner that looked like nothing so much as a steel cage. Strange or not, the building would keep them alive until the weather passed at least. She watched as Grimm moved to the fire and hunched into the hide that she had stripped from the Wolfe. A slightly evil smile spread her lips as she luxuriated in the warm winter clothes and boots she had taken to deal with the weather. No reason to tell her companion that a heating augmentation had been built into the expensive winter gear.

“Will this little stove be enough to outlast the storm?” Grimm asked, his doubt dripping from his tone.

“There is dry wood here if the coal runs out hunter, the stove will be sufficient unless the storm is a true monster. Anyways, I have read that death from the cold is rather pleasant. At some point, you just go to sleep and never wake up.” The Lady advised.

“Wonderfully comforting thought, thank you for that,” Grimm mumbled as he hunched as close to the stove as he could without lighting his tattered clothes on fire. Between the fight with the aberrant in town and the tussle with the primordial wolf the night before, they had left his long coat and fine clothes in a state of shredded rags. Grimm continued to mumble to himself as he settled and drew out a large curved dagger and began to clean it. The methodical practice began to calm his mind and body as his habits took over. Once the knife was in proper order, he withdrew his augmented shotgun and started the process on it as well. He had been lucky that he hadn’t lost the small tool kit he kept to work on the firearm in either of the battles. Finding another would be hard enough in a city much less the woods.

Lady Wessex watched with interest as Grimm began going over the shotgun with a set of fine tools, cleaning any dirt, blood, and gore from the large hooks that allowed it to lock into an opponent’s flesh. The pistons and gears that drove the hooks came next as Grimm went over them making sure the actions were clean and in good repair and that the connection points where secure and undamaged. The actually machinery that drove the pistons was next in line to be taken care of and Lady Wessex had to fight her growing weariness as she watched the aberrant hunter work. His motions were sure and practiced and he was meditative as he took care of his weapons.

Sleep snuck up on the Lady as she watched Grimm work on his weapons. When he came out of the calming state that the work dropped him into, he found her curled up with her large cloak used as a blanket and her pack as a pillow. The expensive clothing still looked incredibly good even with the dirt and grime it had accumulated in the past day. Grimm silently wished he had a set of clothing like that, doubtless it would be better in this blizzard than the scraps that he still wore. Maybe he could bully her into buying him some in the next town they reached.

Satisfied that his weapons were in good repair and convincing himself that he would wake up if they fell asleep, Grimm found the most comfortable position he could on the cold stone floor and pulled the skin tighter around him. The musky scent of the great predator actually worked to calm the hunter’s mind and he allowed his lids to fall closed and drifted into an exhausted sleep.

 

What are you doing? Can you actually tell?

Mindfulness:

Where are you right now? What are you doing? If you are anything like I have been most of my life, your answers are going to be surface, cursory ones. I’m at work and filing, I am at school and learning, I am at home and cooking. This is the level of thinking about where we are at any given time that we have learned. So much of our attention and thought has been trained to either be reviewing the past or preparing for the future. These are both good things to do, but it is leaving one aspect of our life to operate under autopilot, our present.

The place where we are, right now, has more impact on the rest of our lives than anything in the future will or anything in the past has. This is simple because the now defines how we see those things and how decide to move forward. It is the now that defines where we are headed from moment to moment and in the bigger picture of things.

If the present has such an impact on us, why do we leave that important job to the automated portion of our mind? Because it is easy and frees up our mind and resources for other thing? But what other things? News, social media, the songs over the radio? This isn’t a way to live out a fulfilling life. Instead we need to develop the skill to really be in the moment we are in, to really feel and experience everything about that moment.  This is what it means to practice mindfulness, the ability to be in the moment and to experience where we are at any given point.

Now why is this practice so important to us? It comes down to perception and intent. We have talked about the effect that our perception has on our lives and the way we see the world. Intent is much the same in that it defines how we plan to interact with that world and bring our dreams to fruition. Intent is not a game plan, but on overarching drive that we set for ourselves. The simple fact of humans is that our perception and our intent change constantly and are as much as product of our immediate physical and mental state as they are on a cerebral decision making process. That means that the moment we are in can affect the basic tools we use to make the world into the place that we want it to be. Yet, we leave the understanding of those moments to the back of our mind when we should be a cognizant of them as we are or our intent and perceptions as they will all affect one another.

It is time to state taking ourselves off of autopilot when it comes to the present. We need to learn how to be in the moment and make decisions and plans based off that understanding of ourselves. If you are filing something, take time to really feel the paper in your hands.  If you are typing, how do the keys feel under your fingers.  What is your goal in doing the activity?  Do you feel a sense of accomplishments when you finish each task?  If so, enjoy that feeling!  Focus on it and embrace that you did indeed finish that task.  

We need to develop our mindfulness and exercise it in our daily lives. To do this, take some time today to stop what you are doing and look inside yourself. Take note of where you are on a mental and physical level. Take a look at the emotions running through you and how they are affecting your current outlook. Take note all the little things that are acting on you in that moment. Once you have done that, make a mental choice on which ones are serving you and which ones are just reactions.

Now the hard part, try to let the reactions and detrimental portions fall away and leave you in the space you want to be to move forward. Keep doing this several times a day, preferably in those moments that are the hardest to deal with during the day, whatever they happen to be. With practice it will become an easy exercise and will be another major tool in shaping the way the world is for us.  

 

Failure=Success! YES Really!

Experiments in Failure:

For the vast majority of us, failure is something that we avoid. We go to incredible lengths to make sure that we don’t make a misstep that will result in us failing. The amount of effort we put into this is amazing if you really look at it, and when it comes down to it, that effort is counterproductive. Experimentation is the only way that we learn, grow and find new things that will better our lives. The one constant that we can be assured of is that the vast majority of experiments fail. That is a truth in experimentation and it is because, by definition, an experiment is trying something new. We are not following a template that someone else has laid out or a system that is in place, we are attempting to create something new and when we create new things, we rack up a pile of failures in the process.

The important thing to remember in this process is that those failures are as much a learning and growing experience as any success is going to be. We learn very little from those things in life that work or that are handed to us in the form of a system or a template. Instead, we learn much more when we make mistakes and suffer the consequences. These things teach us vast lessons that we can take moving forward to better our methods and to finally reach those successful experiments. In this regard, we need to learn to embrace those failures and learn lessons from them that further our goals rather than lessons of fear.

Finally, the successes that come after all those failures are going to be the game changers for us. They are going to be the jewels in our lives that propel us along our path to our goals and only through embracing the failures along the way and refining our processes and thoughts will we be able  reach those successes. The failures are the groundwork that needs to be lead to build the successes we want in out lives.

What experiments will you put in place and fail at miserably as you reach for those successes? How are you going to learn and refine from those rather than let them breed fear and worry in you?

Blind Spots

Blind Spots:

We are a aproduct of our perceptions. They define who we are and the way that we interact with the world. They are the lynchpin in our lives and as such, they are the portion of our lives that we need to work on the most if we want to change the way that we live in an effort to reach the life that we want.  

The problem is, that since we interact with the world through theses perception filters, we end up becoming blind to things outside those filters more often than not. I most certainly have become blind to some things in the course of my life and work on and refine the perception filters that I have and I have watched others with the same issue. I can watch those around me making the same mistakes over and over again because their blind spots keep tripping them up and they never even notice what is actually going on. I know that I am the same way and that when I trip up, my filters translate that into something that the filter understands rather than seeing it as the blind spot that it really is. For example, somewhere in my youth I was trained that people that are overweight don’t contribute as well or effectively as people who are fit. I haven’t been able to track down where that perception came from and it isn’t something that I am proud to know that I have at all, but I have to realize it to see the blind spot it creates in me. It makes it so that I pre-judge people who are overweight in a negative way and subconsciously dismiss their contributions and their abilities. This is a perception that I am working hard to change, but part of that change is accepting that I have it so that the filters it places in my don’t work outside my notice. Everyone has these kinds of perception filters and blind spots.

I have decided that this is unacceptable for me and now I have to add another step into my learning. I am going looking for those blind spots. Since they are not something that I will see and understand with my current perception filter when they occur, I need to build an extra layer into my current filter. For me, this is a layer that stops me when something trips me up and takes steps to analysis what actually happened, and more importantly, how my actions contributed to that outcome. This gives me the space to look at the situation and identify the blind spot I had that allowed that outcome to happen.  Armed with this new filter and the new way of looking at the world, I can find those parts of my filters and obscure and keep those blind spots hidden. Once I know about those spots, I can take steps to modify or work on them and that will create a better and more fulfilled me and therefore a more fulfilled life.

This is a process that I have to go through on a constant basis and requires me to seek out not only the faults in my own outlook on the world, but to find outlooks that differ from mine so that I can expand my horizons and my ability to see things in new lights. Maybe the things I learn don’t actually serve me in my life, but it does serve to adapt my perceptions so that I can see the world in a more robust and effective way, and that will only work to increase my ability to travel the path to my ultimate goals.

What blind spots have you found in the past and how have you adapted your filters so that you can see them and grow beyond them tripping you up?