Lately I’ve been noticing something pretty typical yet always poignant rising up around me, in work and in life. With worldly success comes many challenges. The biggest one, I think, is the ability to remember, or even have an awareness of what is important. If you didn’t hold many values going into your cultivation of worldly success, you are naturally more susceptible to it’s psychological perils. If you were prepared with some sort of armor in the form of things like humility, a desire to be kind, to be selfless, to be loving, truthful, giving, forgiving, etc., you might have an easier time at battle.

But what I see happening so much more often and so much more easily than I would normally guess to see…is worldly success in the form of status, money, praise, place in ‘society’, or success whether it be personally or professionally – causing a sort of zombified state of tunnel vision to occur amongst people. A fog that falls over their vision, causing them to see things in a different way. I don’t think that this happens with our permission – I think it happens without us even being aware of it, and by the time we do, its usually deep in a conversation with someone who knows us well telling us that we need to re-evaluate. (IF we are lucky enough to have a person willing to say those words to us!).

The rise to success, where you find yourself in a place where you have things that other people want, or where you walk into a room feeling ‘important’, where the sound of others constantly giving you praise drowns out the sound of the small voice trying to get you to look at yourself. A place where you use your money or status to make yourself feel even MORE important, accomplished, or perhaps to pay for and feed addictions that even moreso snuff out that small voice that is tugging at you about ‘something’ that you just can’t stop to look at right now because it would tear your train completely off the tracks.

Humility is something that a person who is lost in this place sees as another thing that will lift up their status in the crowd. When in fact, true humility brings them down. Not down to a bad place, but down to a real place. A place free of delusion, and self-induced, world encouraged hypnosis. A place where you are forced to ask yourself, “WHY am I doing what I am doing?”. Also a place where you are forced to acknowledge that you, yourself, being successful, accomplished and important – is not the point. A place where you feel motivated to look around you on that bottom tier at all of the innocent suffering that happens there…and ask yourself if your daily actions and treatment of others is contributing to righting what is wrong through leading by example of both your behavior and your vision.

This includes how we treat people. Looking at people as “lesser than”, whether that be on the street, in your workplace, in your family, in your circles of friends – in any way is one of the most dangerous positions a person can ever be in, in life. Why? Because it officially marks your state of being and perception of reality as not only deluded…but as controlled by something that seeks to destroy.

Don’t allow this to happen to you – and if it does, re-evaluate, and figure out what you need to do to change this. Because to be honest, the entire world rests and teeters on a cliff that could go one way or another with something as small as a tiny wind to give more weight to one side rather than the other. Figure out what side you want to be on, and use things like humility to help get yourself, and all of us, there.

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Starting over.

Have you ever had to start all over again? Had everything you knew or thought was true disappear behind you as though it were all just a dream? Letting go is hard. So is humbling yourself when things don’t go as planned.

Life has a way of making everything fall apart just so that we can build something new again. And that may mean doing things we don’t really want to do ~ it may mean working hard to create something new ~ it may even mean letting go of who we thought we were and trusting that even though we don’t know what lies ahead – we can know that it will be more fitting for us than anything ever has been before.

I love this video, “Way To Go” by Survival Guide. It really captures something I personally went through so perfectly – seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when you really aren’t sure – and continuing marching forward even when it hurts or is painful – is so key. When we do this, we are making a statement that we have faith, and that we trust. And when we do this……providence follows…..and the right path always opens up.

Choices, choices.

Every minute, we have a choice.

We are surrounded by distractions, by temptations…by the encouragement of addictions, the encouragement of self-centeredness and the nurturing of narcissism…the odds are so against us in so many ways to become and be good people in a world that is set up like pleasure island in Pinocchio. A world that plays upon our weaknesses and has been manufactured to tickle the shortcomings of our character and convince it that it’s all ok…

Well – it’s not ok.

And even though we are surrounded by a myriad of subtle sabatoge from all angles at any given moment – in every given moment, over and over again – we have a choice. We can choose whether that action is going to be to give in to whatever that is…or choose another action that might better serve us.

We can choose over and over again – even if we screw up over and over again, or don’t realize we are choosing to indulge our weaknesses until they affect us negatively – to choose the right thing. We have that choice, and we should remember it in this world that would prefer us to forget.

Choose wisely – and if you don’t….. well, try again!!

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When we lie to ourselves.

One thing I have learned: When there is something that we won’t allow ourselves to look at…something that we know is true, yet we can’t for whatever reason bring ourselves to fully acknowledge…we create a lie. And that kind of lie then goes to work creating a fortress around itself to protect itself from judgement or exposure. If it should be exposed, it might bring all things crashing down – or it might mean we will really have to change something.

And because that possibility seems way too terrifying and impossible — we allow the lie to continue. We allow it to continue, and we build an entire story around it to convince ourselves of it….over and over again – every time we ignore that slightly sick feeling in our gut, or that subtle knowing feeling that something is not quite right – we tell ourselves its ok, and this lie that we are telling ourselves to make everything ok continues on its way…a little blind dog leading us further into darkness. Whoops. We unknowingly just hired a little blind dog to lead us down the path…

Point being that this represents a lie that started out as something we didn’t want to fully look at…something we couldn’t acknowledge as being the truth because it was way too scary. And it now has its own bedroom – its own house with a yard and a pool it is now sitting by sipping margaritas. Sh*T! Now what do we do?

Well – it is now going to be quite a bit harder to look at the real truth because over time, we have created a story around this lie – told ourselves over and over again that it was all good, that the lie was the truth, and that the truth which we didn’t want to look at was the lie. Its a really, really tough situation to be in. A lot of times sh*t has to hit to the fan in order for the lie to truly be exposed and acknowledged…maybe sometimes it can be extracted and we can bring ourselves to admit the truth to ourselves of our own free will – but this scenario I think is far less common… Its hard.

But we will one day have to tell ourselves the truth, whether we like it or not. For some it may be sooner than others – I think some hang on to the lies they’ve created until the day they die. Others who are more adept at feeling and have a stronger conscience obviously will crumble sooner and change their lives completely based on the acknowledgement of whatever lie they’ve been telling themselves. I think the scariest thing is that when you lie to yourself about something for a long enough period of time – you TRULY and honestly start to believe it!! You find yourself not even thinking about it anymore as it has now simply become a wayside truth. Your brain now believes it due to the repetitious affirmation of what you have tried to tell yourself over and over and over again….that sick feeling is now replaced with complacency and maybe not even be a blip on the screen anymore…

The good news is that all lies will eventually be exposed, one way or another. Because the divine conspires for our good, all lies will eventually have light shed on them. It may take a ground-shaking, life changing event – or everything turning inside out – or maybe just a heartfelt conversation with another or with yourself with lots of tears where you really just finally acknowledge the truth. Either way it has to happen somehow… This is all so different for everybody — some people have little secrets, some people have huge lies that the entire foundation of their life is built on – whereas still others are in life situations that they have created based on little white lies they tell themselves – or really big lies they tell themselves. I think we’ve all had our own version of this somewhere along the line.

But the point is – that we don’t have to live that way. Sometimes we think we do – because the alternative is too scary. But the truth is that we don’t . And even if that means your whole life has to turn upside down in favor of the truth — the forces of good WILL conspire to lift you back up and re arrange things in the way that they should be — based on truth. A foundation of truth will last, and won’t feel yucky or weird. May we all have the courage to tell the truth to ourselves about any and all things as often as possible…and may we be given the strength to chainsaw through any lies we have told ourselves — in favor of a future that we may not necessarily be able to see — but is far more likely to be providential…and better than the one where we turned a lie into the the truth and then believed it.

It is by no means easy…but it IS the right thing…and we WILL see the fruits of our courage if we can bring ourselves to look at and tell the truth – to ourselves.

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I can’t change.

This message goes out to anyone who feels like they cannot change.

I heard a song recently called “Low Life”, by the X-Ambassadors, that inspired me to write this post.

Listening to this song made me feel both sad and angry…realizing that some people come to a point in their lives where they believe that they are pretty much just – a low-life, a failure, an a**hole, a jerk, whatever – and they are going to simply accept that about themselves and live it. On another scale, many people simply accept their character flaws as “who they are” because thats easier than looking at those character flaws square in the eyes.

For those who really have ‘accepted’ this “low-life” mentality about yourselves:
…Maybe you were told that you were a “bad” kid, and so you continued to prove them right until it seemed to become who you really were. Maybe you were the “black sheep” of the family in some way, or have screwed up so badly in your life or hurt so many people that you feel like that is simply who you are and you might as well just embrace it… Maybe you’re apathetic, listless or don’t really care about others – yet you watch other people who seem to be full of love and pure heart and wish that you could be like them… Maybe you’re narcissistic and either wear it like a badge of honor, or live as a completely fabricated character to hide who you really are… Or maybe you’re just a regular person who wishes they could be less selfish, kinder, more patient.

I think we are bred or conditioned into becoming these things…Sometimes we become them out of survival. Sometimes it seems built into who we are, like we were born that way. Or maybe we’ve failed and hurt others so many times that we’ve given up trying to do things right. Either way, it is so easy to simply accept these qualities about ourselves and chalk it up to “Oh, well, thats the way I am”, or “I’ve been this way for so long, and I keep failing at getting better, so whatever – who cares – I’m done, this is me, like it or leave it”, or “I don’t want to change, I like being this way”, or “Every time I try to change, I fail, so f*ck it.”, or my personal favorite – “There’s nothing wrong with me – everyone else has the problem!”

Well, listen up.

Truly changing yourself is NOT EASY. Its not a cakewalk! It is HARD WORK. Actually looking at yourself and what you ARE doing that you DON’T want to look at?? Its NOT comfortable! It HURTS. In the sense that your head might explode! (Or feel like its going to). In fact sometimes its so uncomfortable that you’re not sure you’re going to be ok if you really look at this ’thing’! And this kind of change happens slowly…(but surely). Sometimes there are moments of epiphany, and sometimes you find that you’ve suddenly shifted significantly – but those are all based on many many many movements that you’ve already made – conditioning yourself – refusing to do the old behavior you would normally do even though it feels like it might kill you to turn the train left onto these rusty train tracks when you’re used to always turning right at the Y! Over and over and over again you do this!

Practice makes perfect! (Or rather, practice makes better!) You don’t HAVE to be stuck in ANY old behaviors! If you think that you do – you’re wearing the wrong glasses.

If there’s one sickness – a disease, in my opinion – that really deludes a lot of folks, is a lazy, selfish fog that makes you feel like either you don’t care or that there’s no point in trying…no reward…no high potential of success in changing yourself or who you are…so why try?

TRY because you CAN. Are you really going to lie there on your death bed never having TRIED?? Or given up trying? Its just so sad to me to hear people confessing that they see themselves as low-lifes or stuck the way they are and have accepted that. I just want to shake them and tell them to wake up, to not believe that lie… Maybe I just really believe in miracles, or maybe its easier to see into others from the outside – but I just hope that more people who have resigned to a life where they accept the “a**hole nature” of themselves – or they’ve simply stopped caring how that nature affects others around them – can give up their sorry song of complacency and realize that it is simply a deluded fog that is keeping them from seeing that they CAN change their ways.

I think some people also have the more and more common problem of not really being able to feel. It seems to me that many either have no idea they are missing empathy, (though it is usually quite apparent to many around them). Or they recognize it in others and learn how to feign it, but have no hope for it to ever come naturally to them…which may be valid…but I believe the more you try to face those parts of yourself that don’t want to change – and force those behaviors to be different, time and time again – you start whittling and chipping away at something that seems very hard – but then slowly becomes soft and more open. And you can then begin to FEEL – truly feel – into places and things you didn’t know you had capacity for.

The larger reasons and motivations for us to change are more wide and broad than could even be explained here… But I liken them to this analogy:

A small, starving child alone on the streets has nothing… and you appear and offer them some food. You hold out your hand and give them some bread and they look up at you with huge, wide eyes as they take the bread from your hands. You watch them eat, and smile and a tear rolls down your face as they thank you. You wish you could take them home and feed them every night – but you look down the street and there are more children, hungry and crouched down – and they need to be fed too. …This is just one minute scenario of billions that exist in our human lives… That child is real – one of so many…and a reason WHY its IMPORTANT to CHANGE. Because your love, your life, and your actions are needed to be of service in SOME way or another. And if you can’t be bothered to take action on yourself because its easy for you to look the other way and continue down that grey road – you will surely regret it, one day.

So everybody – don’t be lazy. Don’t look the other way. Don’t just accept your character flaws and resulting actions. Change them and change your heart – because the more you do – the more you will discover what love really means – not the kind of love that is for show – but the kind that can genuinely serve. and be able to show itself to others who really need it. Don’t give up on yourself. Its not easy, but you can change anything about yourself if you choose to believe the truth of possibility rather than the lie of complacency…and see what happens.

Video for the song here if you’d like a reference for why I felt compelled to write this post: 

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Get back up.

I have climbed over many mountains in my life, and felt like I’ve fallen from many cliffs…the one thing that has never left me is an unwaivering faith that all things will work out as they are supposed to, and the drive to forge ahead with tenacity no matter how many disappointments or obstacles I encounter. With all of the ongoing and never-ending challenges in life – it is so easy to get the wind knocked out of you, to feel like giving up, and to believe the fear that tells you things are not going to be ok. We have a lot to fight through and whenever there is a break in the storm, inevitably another one will be brewing. I think the key is to always continue working hard, showing as much love and kindness as you can to those around you, and knowing that even when tragedy or obstacles strike – there really is something bigger at play that has our backs. And there are ALWAYS creative ways to work through things. They may not always go as we plan – but by remaining humble, willing to give, and drumming up that drive to push forward – the doors that are supposed to open, will.

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