Archive for January, 2015

“Why on earth did you do that?”

The voice came out of the blue.

It sounded like my father’s advice to me as I was growing up. I could hear the voice clearly in my head but dismissed it as being an old tape playing. Like a conversation that you had years ago that you can easily recall.

Only problem was that it made perfect sense. Like a voice of logic.

I argued back that I was only 17 at the time. That I didn’t know.

“But couldn’t you see that buying that car was a waste of money?” 

I then came out with a cliche of my own, “If only I knew then what I know now.”

Making decisions about what to do with current situations is easy if you have an all knowing spiritual being helping you. A Scrooge-like character that advises what will happen if you take a particular course of action. He doesn’t judge your actions. He is a passive observer that can be called on at any time. He just talks to you calmly and then drifts away whilst you get on with your original plan. It’s years later that you learn to listen to his sage advice. It’s only after time and time again of him being right that you realise that common sense does prevail.

That is what this book is about. It’s about separating the chatter of well meaning internal dialogue and acting on reliable advice. The kind of advice that is in all of us. It just gets rationalised by our emotions. Remember that emotions are knee-jerk reactions that are a result of past experiences. Problem is they get twisted and in the end we act contrary to what we know is right.

Our lives are punctuated by trauma.

Unfortunately the enlightenment we seek happens at the end of the trauma. Can’t we have the enlightenment without the trauma? Can’t we just learn the lesson without the pain? Why do the good feelings hide under the trauma in a game of hide and seek?

Each time we experience difficulty, we look to the enlightenment that we know comes as a result.

“What’s my lesson I have to learn?” I say.

Whether we like it or not, we have to face each impending disaster.  We wait until the event is over but often are doomed to repeat the situation. Unless we grow. Unless we learn.

We look to avert the next disaster by seeking refuge in religion, distraction, cheap thrills or addictions.

The big question is how many traumas does it take? We are often traumatised by life’s rotten apples and have even given it a name. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s actually an opportunity for growth if we can separate our emotions. Post traumatic Stress Opportunity. PTSO.

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That sounds better.

(The ebook, “If Only I Knew Then What I Know Now” is due for release via Kindle in February 2015. Follow this blog to learn more)

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We all do it. 

You probably did it as you read the title.

Choosing thoughts needs to be quick.

You definitely did it as you looked at the picture.

Our critical mind judges in an instant.

We play ‘devil’s advocate’ and call it ‘reality’.
This process was originally designed to save your life in the form of an adrenaline surge when we were flooded with fear after hearing a lion’s roar. It demanded our attention and jolted us out of our daily chores.

Makes sense so far.

Later, we detected situations where danger was likely and the same thoughts entered our conscious mind. Then adrenalin. Just like Pavlov’s dog, we found ourselves sweating as we entered the scene of our last encounter. But it helped us to survive. Being smarter than the average bear, the signs and signals of danger made a permanent imprint on our minds and we gained control over most situations.

This permanent imprint now follows us and creates it’s own havoc today. With few situations that threaten to cull our population, the thought process continues. It means we remember the negative more than the positive.

We need to un-learn this, but not completely as it still has value.

So where to now?

We need perspective. And a story to illustrate the process that is necessary.

The Monk And The River

Two monks were walking on a narrow trail near the base of the Tian Shan Mountains, in Northern China. They had both taken a vow of celibacy and silence. Mile after mile they consciously walked without talking. After a while they came to a shallow river. At the bank of the river was a beautiful young girl who was looking for a crossing. As the monks approached, the first monk picked her up, carried her across the river, put her down and continued walking. The other monk was exasperated and after sometime could hold back no more. He exclaimed, “How could you do that? How could you pick up that beautiful young girl?”

The other monk replied, “My friend, I put her down on the bank of the river. Why are you still carrying her?

It’s Not That Hard.

So like the monk, we need to drop mental baggage when we decide it is not necessary. Deciding on the validity of a thought can happen in a split second. Without energy. The trick is to smile as you do it.

Smile? Yes, smile. Well maybe not on the outside but on the inside.

You see, we may not have the ability to stop a thought from entering our head, but we sure can decide on whether or not it is useful.

Here is an example:

Imagine waking up from a nightmare. As we realise we were asleep, our logic says, “It was just a dream’. We instantly relax and smile. The same process can help us weed out negative thoughts.

“Ah, it’s just anger.”

“Ah, it’s just jealousy.”

“Ah, it’s just regret.”

Labelling thoughts puts them in a box and allows us to move to something that will help us enjoy life. To enjoy the moment.

Your next thought will come whether you like it or not.

It just did then.

“Wake up. It’s just dream.”