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Consciousness

What Your Most ‘Reasonable’ Justifications For Not Doing Things Really Say About Your Self-Growth

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If you are acutely aware of your built-in instinct to be happy and grow, chances are that you have already identified things in your life that you would love to improve.  Perhaps it might be the quality of your relationships, your sense of community, or fulfilment at work, or maybe you hope to have less stress or a sense of greater mobility, abundance, and ease.

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In the deeply transformational work I do with clients as an intuitive life strategist, what I have come to know is that these desires really push you to take inventory of your situation — the state of your emotions, energy levels, finances, schedule, well-being, and health.

And in taking this inventory and coming into an updated view of the level at which you have been functioning, if you are not happy with what you are seeing, it is completely natural for you to feel like you need to take charge — to take back control over your life.

For example, you might feel moved to start attending a mindfulness, meditation, or yoga class as a way of helping yourself become more centred, relaxed, and in-tune with your body, thoughts around self-growth, and soul-level needs.  Or you might feel like you need to look at your finances to see what other opportunities for re-training, travel, and recreation your current budget will enable you to afford.

Another thing you might do is look closely at your schedule and see where you have perhaps been frittering away your time towards no definite end.  Facebook, the internet, and television are good examples of devices that, in today’s technology driven world, many people use as ways to clear their minds or otherwise relax and ‘zone out.’

Taking a longer term look at your schedule, say over the next 3 to 12 months, also allows you to identify windows of time that you can devote exclusively to tuning into your wisdom and self-care, say through retreats or long weekend getaways with those you consider to be your tribe.

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These are all very common DIY remedies that I see my clients embark on once they have gotten to a place where they have become so dissatisfied or disillusioned with functioning at a diminished capacity that every cell in their bodies becomes infused with the impulse for serious life-change.

If you too have for some time been committed to taking steps such as these, huge kudos to you!

They are so important and necessary because they are all ways of putting your relationship with yourself first, in order that you can be of any meaningful service to others in each of your other roles.

Honouring your needs in these ways — ways that feel more aligned with who you fundamentally know yourself to be — is nothing less than you taking the first steps on your journey of transformation and change.

And it does sometimes happen that you stumble into the very person, modality, or experience that acts as a catalyst to mobilise you further along from that inner place of determination and commitment to change.

But what if you’ve already been carving out this sacred time for yourself for a while and you feel that, rather than living an authentic life filled with validation and love, you are seeking refuge from a life that, if you are really honest, still doesn’t actually honour and celebrate YOU?

This happens so much more frequently than you think!

It can be quite demoralising to know that you’ve been trying so earnestly to do everything within your power to change your situation, and despite your best intentions, there isn’t much in your external life that has actually changed.

Sadly, I encounter so many people in precisely this situation who feel unsure of themselves, de-motivated, disempowered, and to a certain degree, defeated and stuck.

What is always tremendously interesting however, is that if I sit with folks like these and we look deeply together at their thinking and innermost fears, almost always, we uncover that that person is actually at a place where their limiting beliefs have been kicking in, oftentimes in a very highly sophisticated way.  The reason for this is because as a human being, you were born with an inborn instinct to survive.  The idea of stepping into unknown territory can trigger either a reaction of excitement or one of fear.

If you have been doing all the ‘right’ things to improve your happiness levels, enjoyment, and fulfilment of life but haven’t been able to get things in your outer world to change, there is a very strong possibility that there is a limiting system of beliefs in your psyche at work.

Why would this be?

The answer is that you are ready to step into a whole new level of possibilities for yourself, and without being able to put your finger on it, you have likely been at this place for a very long time.

In some ways, you have already been aware that stepping into this new level will require you to completely close the door on the outdated relationships and various situations in your life.

In this new place there is little sense of control of the type you get when you consciously decide you are going to go to mediation or yoga class, or mark out protected time for your self-care.  In this new place there is little familiarity because you have finally said NO to all the things that haven’t been honouring the REAL you, and YES to having much more of who you really ARE.  Once you’ve done this, to begin with, you will find yourself on new terrain with your self-trust and trust in the universal intelligence built into all things as your unfailing guides.

It is vitally important to realise as you feel deeply into this new place that it is perfectly natural to feel fearful.  Your inborn needs are just that — they are your NEEDS.  They are not negotiable and they will never expire.  You are being called to leave behind all of the old things that no longer serve you but which, up to this point, because of their predictability, have kept you feeling relatively safe.

And even more curious about being at this place of huge potential for life-change is that the fear you experience causes a kind of spiritual amnesia that dulls your memory and deep understanding of how capable you truly are.

It is however a universal truth that trusting yourself and your soul-level need to be happy and to thrive is actually the ONLY way that your life can change.  

It isn’t uncommon for you to struggle against the internal tide that is trying to turn deep within you in order that you can maintain the illusion of ‘knowing what you are doing,’ feeling or being seen to be ‘taking charge’ or ‘in control.’

And from this place of deep inner resistance and fear, you latch rigidly on to what seem to be perfectly legitimate justifications that you should continue doing whatever it is you’ve already been doing.

This can sound like any one or all of the following:

  • I can’t afford it right now.
  • I don’t have the time.
  • It would be best for me to revisit this opportunity next year.
  • My kids are too little.
  • My parents, partner, or spouse wouldn’t approve.
  • After x or y happens, it will be a much better time.
  • I feel like I need to see what I’ve got, on my own.
  • I will come up against too much resistance, judgement, and even rejection if I do.

The thing is, no one has ever created big, meaningful life-changes by doing what they’ve always done.

If any of these justifications sound familiar, consider that you would be doing yourself perhaps the biggest service EVER by being 100% honest and transparent right now and asking yourself the following 8 questions:

  1. What is my biggest challenge in moving forward and creating my ideal life?
  2. What am I afraid of, and why?
  3. Why am I so invested in this story I’ve been telling myself?
  4. What would be possible for me if I were to let it go?
  5. Am I READY to let it go?
  6. Am I READY to make a sacred commitment to myself to do whatever it takes to be happy and to thrive — no matter what?
  7. What is one thing that I’ve been avoiding doing or saying that will help me cement this sacred promise to myself and commitment to my permanent healing and self-growth?
  8. I commit to taking this action (enter a date within the next 5 days).

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Consciousness

When Marilyn Manson Speaks, This Is Why We Should Listen

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    To those who have not heard Marilyn Manson speak, many may conclude on appearance alone that he has nothing meaningful to say.

  • Reflect On:

    What could be the value for people on their spiritual journey to examine the practices and words of someone who so starkly embodies the paradox of darkness and light?

For many people, Marilyn Manson should not be seen or heard. The very essence of his intentional persona–dark, irreverent, grotesque–makes many recoil in horror and disgust. Yet perhaps that is the very reason we may find value in listening to what he has to say.

Fans of his goth-shock rock show aside, individuals seeking to ascend the ladder of consciousness may be able to see in Marilyn Manson a part of their own suppressed fear and darkness turned inside-out. Coming to terms with Marilyn Manson could in some ways help us come to terms with ourselves.

To begin with, most people who have heard Marilyn Manson speak are aware that he is clearly not as he appears to be. In fact, he relishes embodying the paradox of darkness and light like few others. He is thoughtful, soft-spoken, and usually sprinkles in his disarming wit when we are least expecting it. What is undeniable is that he has given much contemplation to the philosophy of life, not in the academic sense as much as with regards to the embodiment of spiritual principles he believes in.

The Rejection Of Religious Dogma

One of the mainstays of Manson’s spiritual paradigm is the recognition that the fundamentalist side of Christianity within Western society is not going to lead to any healing or growth on the part of human individuals. This is because the rituals of Christianity, like going to church and repeating phrases mindlessly, only serve to keep our personal darkness hidden from us. These practices may temporarily assuage our trepidation about our inner chaos, but this is gained at the cost of relinquishing our sense of power to heal ourselves. In the video below, Manson touches upon his views about true spiritual practice:

I think church has very little to do with spirituality. I think it’s something you have to find in yourself, it’s about expressing your deepest fears and emotions, and putting it in something. It’s not about living in fear, and praying, and hoping you’re not going to go to hell, that’s not very spiritual to me.

Manson makes an important distinction between the teachings of Jesus and the trappings of fundamentalist Christianity, and it is a point of discernment that is certainly worth contemplating. He considers himself to be aligned with many of Jesus’ teachings and even suggests in his usual irreverent way that his own life and the life of Jesus have many similarities:

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Usually people hate what they’re afraid of, it’s in the classic story, I think that even kinda goes back to Jesus, you know, they were afraid, didn’t understand him, so they killed him. I think the same thing exists in music, you know, maybe I should just become a Christian, and make them all happy, but, I think if I found Jesus, which–I didn’t know he was lost in the first place–if I did, I don’t think he would probably be that much different than me, you know, he’s a long-haired guy that likes to dress sexy. A lot of chicks were into him.

It’s not that different from what I do, you know, that probably horrifies Christians more than anything to hear that, but, I don’t disagree with a lot of the ideals that he was trying to get across. I just don’t like the way people abuse them to exploit others, and make, even children, feel guilty for having imagination or wanting to be individuals.

It is certainly thought-provoking to imagine how a dark shock-rocker sees similarities between himself and the pure-white savior of mankind. After all, Manson is a strong advocate of Aliester Crowley’s Law of Thelema, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” Does this not contradict the Golden Rule that was espoused by Jesus, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?

Walking The Knife’s Edge

Not necessarily. But we need to be able to walk the knife’s edge in order to see how these two aspects can co-exist. And as you come to understand how these aspects can coexist, you are able to resolve the paradox named Marilyn Monroe Charles Manson.

Manson’s rejection of Christianity is based on his own experience that virtues like individuality, self-expression, and creativity are repressed in orthodox Christian practice. Certainly Friedrich Nietzsche, who Manson greatly admires, had the same condemnation for the institution that was the Catholic Church, where he criticizes the church for its attack on individual passion, desire, and by extension life itself. As Nietzsche says in his book Twilight of the Idols,

The church fights passion with excision in every sense: its practice, its “cure,” is castration. It never asks: “How can one spiritualize, beautify, deify a desire?” It has at all times laid the stress of discipline on extirpation–of sensuality, of pride, of the lust to rule, of avarice, of vengefulness. But an attack on the roots of passion means an attack on the roots of life: the practice of the church is hostile to life.

Manson became a flashpoint for many people because he embodied their highest hope: freedom from the restrictive structures of church and state. His popularity among his followers is in part founded on his embodiment of the emancipation of passion, desire, and individual self-expression, no matter that it is an expression of darkness more often than of light.

Humility

I won’t deny that Marilyn Manson is a troubled person that still has many inner wounds to heal, and the outward projection of that trauma can often be angry and violent. That being said, it seems clear that Manson understands the golden rule as self-evident, and when grounded, his orientation is towards being of service to other people. In general, he is humble enough not to take himself as seriously as many others do, and sees himself as a frail and fallible individual who continues searching for ways to find inner peace and fulfillment.

I like to look at all different religions, you know, I find valuable elements in, you know, Judaism, and Satanism, and Buddhism, and in Christianity as well, I think you can take different things that you can apply to your life, but if you follow anything solely, that’s as stupid as listening to everything that I have to say.

The Takeaway

Insofar as Marilyn Manson embodies a person who is willing to be vulnerable and authentically speak his mind, he inspires people to become more aware of who they are and whether or not they are living authentically. His recognition that we all must be willing to express our deepest fears and emotions, and in so doing expose them to the light of consciousness, is the reason we may be able to find some interesting clues within his provocative life about our own healing journey.

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Consciousness

6 Signs Of Growth To Start Giving Yourself Credit For

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Most of us are our own biggest critics in life. And while that self-criticism can at times be helpful when it comes to accountability, it can also be quite detrimental if all we ever do is mentally bully ourselves.

  • Reflect On:

    What does your internal dialogue primarily consist of? Are you giving yourself enough credit for how you've grown over the years, are do you instead choose to beat yourself up for what you're not?

Whether or not you find yourself regularly on the receiving end of criticism from others, most would agree that the old adage that we are our own toughest critics is true. Even when we manage to accomplish one of the many goals we set out for ourselves, it typically doesn’t take our mind very long to find something within it to criticize.

A common reason for this is that the subjective expectation that so many of us set for ourselves, both consciously and subconsciously, is perfection. And while this frame of mind may seem both ambitious and healthy, as Tony Robbins infamously reminds us:

“Perfection is the lowest standard in the world. Because if you’re trying to be perfect, you know you can’t be. So what you really have is a standard you can never achieve.”

While there are plenty of tools, such as affirmations, meditation and the emotional freedom technique, designed to help us cut back on negative thought–which has been found to take up upwards of 70% of our mental chatter–I’ve found that one of the strongest antidotes is concrete evidence of the opposite.

Start Giving Yourself Credit For Your Successes

To assist in creating this, I’ve put together a list of six signs of growth that we all need to start giving ourselves credit for:

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1. You’re Less Impacted By The Opinions Of Others

While part of this certainly comes naturally with age, the ability to genuinely be YOU regardless of what others may think, say or do about it deserves plenty of recognition. This is especially true in the social media driven world that so many of us are entrenched in, where sending and receiving criticism has never been easier.

So even if there are only certain areas of your life where you can confidently say you are not impacted by the opinions of others, each of those areas is a great accomplishment to celebrate.

2. You’re Not Afraid To Say “No”

To some of us, it comes naturally, while to others it’s one of the toughest words to say despite being only two letters and one syllable. This is especially true when it comes to situations in which it must be said to either a loved one or a figure of authority.

The ability to say ‘no’ to situations you would genuinely not be comfortable in, tasks that you do not have the capacity for, and ideas you don’t believe in, is a superpower that if you are lucky enough to boast, is worth giving yourself credit for.

3. You’re Grateful For Your Past

Whether or not a substantial portion of your past has been riddled in hardship, everything that you’ve experienced in life thus far has played a role in making you into who you are today. The ability to recognize that, by seeing the bigger picture to even the most unfortunate of situations, rather than opting to forever dwell in fear, blame or regret is quite the accomplishment.

4. You Trust The Process

One thing is for certain: no matter our age, body of experience, or list of accomplishments in life, we are all consistently a work-in-progress. The ability to recognize that and know that even a rougher today is paving the way for a smoother tomorrow, rather than overreacting to any and all hardship that comes your way is a rare trait to behold and appreciate.

5. You’re Willing To Genuinely Listen

Despite how seemingly natural listening is, it’s amazing how few of us can genuinely classify ourselves as an effective listener. Unsure as to whether or not you are? Think back on the last non-drama filled conversation that you had with a friend or colleague. When not speaking, did you actually pay attention to and process everything that was said to you? Or did you either find your mind drifting to something unrelated or consistently formulating your next response?

If you not only know how to effectively listen, but you recognize the importance of it and how much can be given and gained from it, give yourself credit for that rare skill.

6. You Celebrate Rather Than Compare Yourself To Others

No matter how accomplished you are in life, you will never be the only one to attain goals similar to those that you are striving for–thankfully! And one of the clearest indicators of growth is gauging your reaction when you first discover the successes of others.

Do you choose to be genuinely happy for them and further inspired by their feat? Or do you find yourself riddled in envy? If you are best described by the first option, then be uplifted by your ability to be a true team player.


Originally written for and published by UPLIFT Connect as 6 Signs You’re Making Great Progress In Life.

Ready to change your life today? Get FREE access to download a copy of my eBook on ‘5 Quick Daily Hacks for a GENUINELY Happier Life’ by signing up here.

And for more brutally honest personal development content designed for those who actually want to change, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and to follow me on Facebook.

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Consciousness

Are You A Spiritual Narcissist?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Narcissism, in a nutshell, is self-absorption to the extent that it will adopt any set of rationale to protect the ego which often includes a degree of self-deception. Is this happening to many in spiritual trends?

  • Reflect On:

    There is authentic being, and then there is self-absorption which pretending to be authenticity, are we aware of the difference?

We humans often have a hard time finding middle ground. We may be drowning in lack of self-worth one moment, and trampling over other’s with our own self indulgence the next as we struggle to find balance. Narcissism is not simply about enjoying selfies in our social media-saturated world, it goes deeper than that.

It appears as liberation but is a trap that can ruin relationships, increase personal suffering, and keep a person from their true spiritual aspirations. Not surprisingly, increased mindfulness and compassion for this tricky human quirk is the best way to heal it.

What is Spiritual Narcissism?

The capacity to become overly self-indulgent is within all of us, and it becomes increasingly dangerous when we confuse it with spirituality. In many ways it is easy to see that all of humanity is dealing with a certain degree of self-absorption while we desecrate forests and oceans, causing plants and animals to go extinct on our material quests. In his famous book, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, Chogyam Trungpa gave a good foundation for westerners to navigate the pitfalls of our materialistic abundance.

Alt text here
The capacity to become overly self-indulgent is within all of us

We do not have to be ashamed of what we are. As sentient beings we have wonderful backgrounds. These backgrounds may not be particularly enlightened or peaceful or intelligent. Nevertheless, we have soil good enough to cultivate; we can plant anything in it. – Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

There is a difference between ego-self and the deeper universal soul within us, differentiating the two is important. Sadly, we have spiritual philosophies and religions that have been constructed to feed the ego, inflate self-righteousness, and create division while giving justification for all manner of activities including killing, exploitation, and oppression. Ethical conduct, regardless of spirituality, requires honoring the other and the self as one with each deserving to be respected, heard, and seen with compassion.

No matter what the practice or teaching, ego loves to wait in ambush to appropriate spirituality for its own survival and gain. – Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

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There is a difference between ego-self and the deeper universal soul within us

Finding the Antidote to Self-absorption

Narcissism, in a nutshell, is self-absorption to the extent that it will adopt any set of rationale to protect the ego which often includes a degree of self-deception. Ego is an important aspect of our selves, it is part of self-preservation but when it becomes out of balance it actually has the ability to destroy us and harm relationships.

Many spiritual practices seek to increase our ability to witness and bring mindful awareness to ego drives which allow us to master, instead of being enslaved by our ego. When ego gets too big it can be hard to swallow, yet spiritual liberation invites us to expand our sense of self beyond the ego, beyond time and space.

The goal is to find a balance between the inner experience and the outer reality. How do we embody healthy self-love without becoming an ego-maniac and hurting personal relationships? Meanwhile, self-loathing, and low self-esteem are also manifestations of ego out of balance. Selflessness can often be quite selfish, over-engagement can be as problematic as disengagement socially. Luckily we are here to find this balance through living fully, from making mistakes, and evolving our sense of self-awareness. Healthy self-awareness is the only antidote to self-absorption.

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How do we embody healthy self-love without becoming an ego-maniac?

The Story of Narcissus and Echo

One day Narcissus was walking in the woods when Echo, an Oread (mountain nymph) saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted “Who’s there?”. Echo repeated “Who’s there?”. She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. She was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her. Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, learned of this story and decided to punish Narcissus. She lured him to a pool where he saw his own reflection. He didn’t realize it was only an image and fell in love with it. He eventually recognized that his love could not be reciprocated and committed suicide. -Wikipedia

Since intention is subjective, a person is often understood within their community by their actions or image. This becomes extra tricky in our age of social media and the materialism that has found it’s way into yoga, meditation, and spirituality. It is possible to put on a good act, to fool those around us and ourselves (temporarily).

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Narcissus mesmerized by his own reflection

We can have the latest yoga clothes, read the right books and hang out with all the “cool” people, but if our actions are not grounded in a deeper spiritual practice, basic consideration for others, and respect, it is still hollow. A common analogy is the guy who everyone likes but then goes home kicks his dog, or is rude and unaccountable to his wife.

Deep spirituality makes us more sensitive to the feeling of others, encouraging an open stance of courage where we can drop our protective shields and accept the vulnerability to be seen as we are. Narcissistic sensitivity, however, is focused solely on the subtle nuances one’s own internality, and resists looking at hard, uncomfortable truths that may upset the self image. One who is narcissistically sensitive is easily offended by the “coarseness” of others, seeks to make his environment change to align with the contours of his needs, and gets angry or offended when this does not happen. -The Allure of Narcissistic Spirituality, Huffington Post

How to Identify Narcissistic Behavior

The ability to identify narcissistic behavior in yourself and others is the best way to heal it. It is not your job to diagnose others or tell them they are narcissistic if they are not interested in hearing it or healing it. However, if you draw appropriate boundaries for them you will protect yourself and encourage them to become more mindful. This is a loving and compassionate way to handle narcissism.

Alt text hereThe ability to identify narcissistic behavior in yourself and others is the best way to heal it

It is always healthy to make boundaries and speak your truth in a loving and compassionate way. Whether the narcissist hears it or not is out of your control. Common responses from narcissists will include belittling your feelings, a hollow apology without effort to modify behavior, or ignoring you altogether. Basically, they will use any excuse they can in order to not look at it, or to make the situation your fault. This is your cue to make appropriate boundaries for yourself.

Within yourself be open and receptive when others tell you that you have been inconsiderate of them. Accepting constructive feedback from loved ones is a great way to keep a balance between internal needs and external relationships. This is also how we grow as individuals.

Common traits of narcissism courtesy of BPD Central.

  • Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
Alt text hereLearning to stop keeping all the love for ourselves

Evolving Unhealthy Patterns

Hopefully, this will help you navigate tough interpersonal relationships and also better yourself. It is a beautiful thing that psychology is allowing us to have terms to identify and evolve unhealthy patterns emotionally. As we learn to live in community, we learn many aspects of love. This is how we help ourselves and those around us grow!

I’m republishing,  for the CE audience, this piece I wrote for Uplift Connect.

Help Support Collective Evolution

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

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