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Ego

Ego

You are not who you think you are. Who you think you are is who you think you are.
A friend called me egotistical the other day. It’s not the first time I’ve been accused of having an ego. Usually, I just laugh and brush it off, even take it as a compliment. I don’t mind being a little cocky. The statement was laced with undertones so I knew she wasn’t simply referring to me as arrogant, she was poking at something deeper. I was defensive about it naturally, but I’ve been turning it over in my mind lately.
There is the idea of ego as arrogance or pride, the internal narrative of being superior to others. we all know some people like that (yours truly, lol..just half kidding). And yes, this element of pride always comes into play in some form when we talk about egos. But there is the deeper layer of the ego as the ‘false self’ according to Eastern and Verdic tradition. This false self is a bundle of expectations, anxieties, insecurities and neurosis. Your ego/self is so desperate to remain alive and validated it becomes a scared tyrant attacking every perceived threat or thing that contradicts it. You clam up, you wall off, you resist life, only accepting the things that make sense to your ego.
Lately I’ve been thinking…’Sometimes you don’t accept a thing into your life because you think you need or deserve other things because of who you think you are in your head, things that actually wouldn’t fulfil you when you get them but are really just accessories to complement your ego. You miss out on the things that would actually make you happy’.
Your true self is deeper than that. Once you strip away everything, the ideas of who you are, and the boxes that places you in, you get the opportunity to meet life as it truly is. To connect authentically with others, to be vulnerable, to hurt and forgive, to learn, to grow, to expand, to be truly and harmoniously human.
Abundance

Abundance

Abundance is not something we acquire, its something we tune into – Wayne Dwyer

If you want to birth any reality on the physical plane, you must first create it in your inner realm – the realm of spirit. Whatever exists in the physical world will always revert to its corresponding state in the spirit. If you want to be prosperous, you must first be prosperous within. This is the foundational concept.

The second is to realize that the universe is an abundant one. There is more than enough for everyone and still more being created every day. With this knowledge, you can shift your perspective from one of scarcity and zero sum games to one of abundance. Your wealth would not mean another person’s poverty, in fact the opposite, your wealth blesses all around you.

The third is to recognize the abundance already present in your reality. It might be quite difficult even when you are facing bills and lack, but shift your focus a little bit and you will see where you already have abundance. You have life and energy, air in your lungs. You have friends and comrades to help you. You have ideas. You live in a time of great potential, of many problems and challenges waiting to be solved. You have the next meal. You have the internet, the portal to all human knowledge. What you focus on expands…when you express gratitude for what you already have, its raises your vibration and attracts even more to you.

The fourth concept is to raise your energy. You cannot attract opportunities and prosperity if you are carrying around dead, depressed energy. Clean your surroundings, cook a good meal, take a long walk, meditate and focus on your desires, do some exercise, spend time with friends. Do what you can to lift your spirits and increase the joy in your life.

The fifth is to give. If you want to be truly prosperous, then you must become a conduit. Freely give of the value that you possess – your ideas, your skills. Do more than is required, bless the world with your true gifts and the world will give you the things you desire and more.

This is the path to prosperity.

Trust the process

Trust the process

Some days, all you have is the process…

If you want to achieve anything spectacular, it’s not going to happen in one furious instant of glory. It will take time and effort and death by a thousand cuts. You have to major in the day to day. You have to break down the big project, the big hairy audacious goal into its component parts and integrate those pieces into ur daily life. If you just focus on getting each day right, on eating the proverbial elephant one bite at a time, eventually the elephant will be done.

But you have to focus, and trust the process. Not just on the days when you are motivated and fired up, the days where everything goes your way. Even the days it seems like nothing is going right, when the challenges and pressure mounts up, or when people fall away because your thing is taking too long. All you need to do is focus on the process. One step after the other. On the good days, on the bad days, just keep ploughing through. One day, you will find yourself on the other side.

As you can see, this requires patience, and a clear long-term view. You have to be playing the long game here, and you have to be playing to win. It will help you stay focused, it will keep you from falling prey to distraction. The process helps to keep you accountable. It doesn’t matter what happened today, if that deal fell through, the client didn’t pay, your boss shouted at you, your girlfriend ignored you. Shit happens! The question is, did YOU do YOUR job, did you trust the process, did you handle that lil chunk of elephant meat for the day?

Especially if you feel like you are starting from the bottom, with the odds stacked against you; but you got big dreams and the stars in your eyes, then you better hunker down and get started on the process. Ignore all that noise around you, the naysayers, the social media, the petty shit and keep your mind and eyes dead focused on the prize. Write the piece, make the call, make the art, learn the skill, read the book, watch the documentary, take the chance, do your job for the day, rinse, repeat.

On openness and related ideas

On openness and related ideas

Openness is the big thing for me this year. I’ve been toying with it, trying to see what happens when I stay open as much as possible. It’s something I intuitively decided to focus on and expand in my experience and is an ongoing experiment. I wanted to write this to try to explain what I mean by openness and how it looks in action.

I choose openness because there are so many things I want, things I have no idea how to get. I choose openness because I realize that I’m very very very small…in the large-scale scheme of things. The entire river of life and existence flows with or without me (the consciousness that thinks I’m me in this body). There is a lot that I don’t know, and that I’m not even aware of. I choose openness because I believe that there is something much bigger than me with more knowledge and wisdom than I have and by being open I allow myself to hear and respond to the nudges and prompts from this thing/being.

The opposite of openness is being closed or…resistance. A lot of things happen in us, and to us. I notice in myself the tendency to cringe, to tense up and shut myself off from things I don’t like. For example, I’m chilling, lazing around or just mulling things over and I get a call, a client needs something done urgently. Usually my frame of mind is that of resistance, being slightly annoyed at the fact that I have to interrupt my laziness to focus my mind on working. With a mindset of openness however, I don’t fight it, I give in. I may still feel annoyed, but I let the feeling sit and then I move my mind towards the task at hand and try to dive into it as much as possible. Another example would be sitting or working with people I’m unfamiliar with. I would typically tense up and get a bit self conscious, try to do the ‘right’ things or impress. Being open, I focus on relaxing and just being, interacting as naturally as I would with people I was comfortable with, but remaining clear and focused on the present.

Openness as I’ve been experimenting with means not resisting life. It means feeling life. It feels like living turned up all the time, living in a heightened state. It can be exhausting really. But it’s a rich experience. I feel like I lived every texture of every day. My days feel fuller, more intense. When I’m happy, I’m really happy, out right euphoric. When I feel pain, I feel it deep.

The past four weeks, I steadily dropped into a depression. Out of nowhere, I went from being really happy and excited about the way things were going to feeling like someone switched off the lights in my soul. No stranger to being depressed (I think  I’m a bit bipolar), I let it it sit…a week passed and it got deeper. Two weeks in, it was worse. I didn’t judge the depression; I didn’t judge myself for being sad. I just sat with it, lived with it, walked with it. To me, it was just a dark cloud, a condition that would eventually leave. But being open, I probed the feeling for direction and answers and it got me to think differently about a few things and make adjustments in my plans for the year.

Standing apart from the ego

“You are not who you think you are. Who you think you are is who you think you are”

Another vein of openness is being receptive to trying out new things, new ways of thinking and new ways of observing. It’s quite difficult, because you have to stay in a constant state of observing not just your thoughts but the frameworks that define your thoughts, the assumptions, the baselines, the logic behind it all.

I have a perception of myself, a mental image formed over the years based on my interpretation of things I have done, seen and experienced. This is commonly referred to as the ego. Who I am truly is not necessarily the same as this image, and I have had my own fair share of the dissonance that comes when life and my behavior does not match with this image.

Openness means that I stop identifying with this image so much as so I can constantly test out new ways of being. I have a mental image of me as a designer. Is that all I am? is that all I want to do? What else can I do and be? I didn’t think I was a very physical person. Could I actually build a fitness habit of running or exercising? Can I dive directly into the experience of things, maybe things I never considered could be a better fit than what I have now. It’s a fluid way to looking at identity and experimenting with it. Maybe I don’t have to be Oto, maybe I could be something else, or maybe my original definition of Oto as an id is too narrow, perhaps it could be expanded.

These are the ideas I’m playing with. Openness is not allowing the events or circumstances of life to overwhelm and deaden you, but to feel deeply, while remaining completely focused in the now, absorbing the knowledge and lessons that lay in plain sight and taking advantage of the opportunities in front of us.

 

Learning to Suffer

Learning to Suffer

A full month has rolled by, and we are left with 11 months of the year, a good time as any to look back and see if we have gotten off the starting blocks strong or if we are still stumbling over our shoelaces.

In my previous post, I spoke about my thoughts and general direction for the year ahead, and while since I have had a few ideas of what to write about next, the inspiration hasn’t felt quite right plus I’ve been busy putting my plans into motion.

Last night, and today however, I found my mind coming back to the idea of suffering. Something I wrote about here and here. And it comes as an extension on the ideas of presence and openness. As I take deliberate action towards each of my goals, I have decided to remain present, clear and connected…to my genius, to my desires, to my purpose…to life. Being open means not resisting, fearing and pushing back against things as they are, but accepting and dealing with them as they are, without judgment.

It is tough, because a big part of working towards growth and expansion is pain. It is hard to remain open, receptive, unflinching in the face of pain. It is tough allowing yourself to feel every bit and every texture of the emotions that go with living.

I have the repeated experience of synchronism in finding books directly linked to an idea I’m focused on at the time. I started reading ‘the Road less travelled’ by Scott Peck yesterday and the first line to jump out at me was “Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

Life is difficult…doing the right thing is difficult, working on your goals is difficult, and doing the work is difficult. You know what’s even worse…staring right at the things you have avoided so long because you didn’t want to feel the pain of dealing with it. Looking back at your actions and decisions and dealing with guilt and pain and disappointment. Looking at situations and deciding that they are simply unsatisfactory and change must be made, however painful. Looking at friends, and making the choice to go it alone because your values no longer align. Getting angry, arguing with people, apologizing, accepting criticism and conceding that perhaps, you have a lot to fix too.

Facing fear, feelings of inadequacy, pain…these are the things that MUST be done, to clear out the blockages in our lives and help us to make the true strides of growth that will help us make our widest dreams a reality. It is almost impossible to undertake this sort of self-work without a clear and compelling vision of what it is that you truly want, because the pain is merely a tunnel that leads you to a better place. The pain is the same as doing the work of breaking ground, smashing the rocks, pulling out the weeds and building a strong foundation for our dreams to stand on.

Facing reality is hard, speaking the truth is hard, and there is a lot of suffering involved. But if we will learn to live well, then we must learn to suffer well. We must accept the pain as a necessary part of the process, as inescapable, unavoidable and choose to walk right through the fire.

 

Self Reliance

Self Reliance

Being self-reliant is critical. To make yourself less dependent on others and so-called experts, you need to expand your repertoire of skills. And you need to feel more confident in your own judgment. Understand: we tend to overestimate other people’s abilities—after all, they are trying hard to make it look as if they knew what they were doing—and we tend to underestimate our own. You must compensate for this by trusting yourself more and others less. (The 33 Strategies of War – Robert Greene)

We are lazy fucks. We are always looking for the quick fix, the shortcut, the fast buck, the magic diet, the secret to success the latest gurus and experts to lead the way into the promise land of success, happiness and fulfillment. We are perpetually looking to be led and shown the way, and a lot of people make money off this. There are a lot of magazines and blogs and people just waiting to give you advice and show you how to do things.

And that is good…truth be told, I’ve learnt an immeasurable amount by reading the writings of others, by listening to people and soaking up from my environment.

I learnt something important this year, or perhaps a better way to put it is that I grew a little wiser this year…just a little bit. I saw that almost everyone is selling some sort of dream. No one really knows what they are doing, we’re all really just trying shit until something pops off. Hustling away, trying desperately to make it in a world where success is just as dependent on random luck as it is on hard work and persistence and all that. Nothing is assured; all you can do is increase the odds.

At some point, someone comes around in your life who looks like they have all the answers. They have the secret weapon, formula to get you to where you want to be…and perhaps they really do. And you follow them, soak up their every word and follow their direction judiciously. Over time, the luster fades and you begin to see the cracks, the fallibilities, imperfections and you realize perhaps they don’t know it all…

If you want to build success on a solid foundation, you have to shift your mentality from being so dependent on other people for direction and start doing the hard work of thinking for yourself. Cut the umbilical cord, no one is going to hold your hand and lead you through life. Instead of relying on second hand knowledge of the battlefield, run out to the frontlines and get a feel for it yourself.

Great mentors are invaluable; they have been around longer and have experience, learn from them, grow and when the time comes, move on. Coaches are awesome; the best are dedicated to understanding you and helping you tap into your peak performance. Relationships are great too; they offer a wonderful and enriching support system. In all of these situations however, never lose grip of the wheel. It is one thing to be connected to your core and relax into the tao of life. It’s another to be swept and tossed by the desires and intentions of others.

No one can be more you than you, you must trust yourself, and train yourself, be willing to bet on yourself and push yourself to grow and be as strong as you possibly can. Know what’s most important to you. Do not make people your crutches. Your deliverance, your lucky break, your income is not limited to just one person.

As selfish and self centered as this all sounds, the point is not isolation, but becoming more capable, dependable, strong in mind and spirit and ultimately more useful to the world around you.