Resistance

To this day, our brains respond to threat as if we were still living in the caveman age. A threat used to be a wild animal and our brains would respond by making our bodies fight, flight or freeze. Modern age is here and our brains evolved but not as fast, their main goal is for us to survive so they look out for any danger. Threats, however, have changed form. Wild animals are replaced by the fear of being seen. Modern day threat is an email you want to send or an article you want to express your opinion in like this one I’m writing where people can see into you.

Your precious brain is still protecting you. It plays the resistance card by coming up with all excuses to avoid the pain of potential future criticism or failure. When you want to hit “submit” on that application, it either plays stories in your head that “this might not work” (fight) or you casually check some other fun social media platform (flight) or you stare at the form reading it over and over (freeze). The resistance symptoms you experience fueled by the old small almond-shaped part of your brain called amygdala will kick in whenever you want to do something out of your comfort zone. Because, with no immediate physical threats like the ones faced by our ancestors, the brain mistakes sharing your work with the world as the new threat and tries to convince you to stay where you will survive, as going out there is not safe.

Does resistance go away, you may ask? Well, it doesn’t. But the masters of resistance like Steven Pressfield and Seth Godin recommend acknowledging it and dancing with it. They say if you notice it waking up from its slumber when you consider a new idea it means you are on to something, follow the lead.

Resistance

You’re Nervous

You’re nervous. Something happened and you don’t like it and you started making up stories about what it means. You’re analyzing that look you saw in their eyes, or the way they talked to you. You notice the onset of the usual accompanying bodily symptoms.You feel your heart racing and mind speeding to negative conclusions. Your hands are clenching and your breath is shortening, your face is flushing. You’re hooked. Hooked on your emotional reaction to the story you made up about what happened. You missed the window between thought and emotion. You believed the story.

What do you do now?
You grab a pen and paper. You write. You ask: “What’s the story I’m making up in my mind about this situation?” You write like the 5-year old version of you would write. You whine and complain as much as you want. This is what the author Brené Brown calls SFD, or shitty first draft (use “stormy”for kids and workplace). She uses this term that author Anne Lamott coined when writing a novel to get over the perfectionist in her and get herself started.
You pour out your heart in this draft. You know you got this exercise right if it fulfills these 4 criteria: it is honest, unfiltered, unedited and possibly unshareable.
After that, it’s time to read your SFD and think about what you need to learn or understand about others or yourself or the world, about your triggers that the situation awakened, and where you still need to grow.

You might decide to talk to the other party involved in the situation after proccessing your emotions and removing their sharp edge. You might say something like: “when you gave me that look, the story I made up is that my presentation/my outfit/my cooking …etc was awful and you hated it. Is everything ok?”

Next time you get that look again, but maybe just maybe, hopefully you’ll slow down your reactive mode, you would remember that such looks invoke inadequacy feelings in you that are not true. You become aware and don’t bite the hook this time. You become present. You let it go. Lesson is learned.

Ready for the next one?

You’re Nervous

Turning words into works

As one of my goals this year, I agreed with my mentor that I will not read or listen to anything new this month but share what I learned so far from all the books I previously read.

She reminded me about the difference between a stagnant receiving lake and a giving waterfall, and that I need to be more of the latter this year.

Few days into this “fasting” I noticed I’m taking some time to dive deeper into my daily spiritual lessons. For example I’m re-reading a book called the daily stoic for the 2nd year which is about the Greek stoic way of living. I love their ideas so much and they make so much sense to me. I noticed, however, that I skipped the very important introduction about the history of this philosophy last year. This time I was more intentional (since I’m not to read anything else) and took the time.

I was also too busy the last couple of days of 2017 that I missed reading the lesson of 31st Dec. I read it today. Guess what was it about? Putting away books and “turning words into works”! Imagine my big aha moment!

Thankful for this sign I’m on the right path. Maybe this month would have an extension. I can’t wait to find out.

Turning words into works

You suffer when you hate

“What the ego doesn’t want us to see is that our pain doesn’t come from the love we weren’t given in the past, but from the love we ourselves aren’t giving in the present.”

-Marianne Williamson

“If I think I’m unkind to you, I’m not comfortable within myself. I cause my own suffering, and I stop for my own sake. I take care of myself, and in that you, too, are taken care of. My kindness ultimately has nothing to do with you. We’re all responsible for our own peace.”

-Byron Katie

Marianne Williamson’s quote based on the teachings of “a course in miracles” stopped me in my tracks when I read it in my most favorite book “A return to love”; the only book I got copies from to gift to my friends.

Did it occur to you that when we are in pain in any of our relationships, feeling hurt and hate, withdrawing into ourselves and stonewalling the other, that it’s not because of what the other did or said? Not really. It’s because when that situation happened we took a decision. The decision to close our heart to them. To stop being loving and kind to them. They don’t “deserve” our love, we concluded. Let them feel how much they would miss our love.

This decision of closing the flow of love is one that is guaranteed to hurt the decision-maker first and foremost. We are in pain because we are blocking the natural state of our hearts that are supposed to be open to life and love all the time. Otherwise, we suffer.

Here is where Byron’s quote comes in, from her amazing book that I just finished “loving what is” -can’t believe how late I discovered this book but then again maybe this is the most ready version of myself for it- she’s saying when I am kind to you, it’s out of self-interest, I’m doing myself a favor when I speak nicely to you! If I’m unkind to you, however, this idea of “not being a kind person” will cause me very unnecassary suffering. Is it worth it?

Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean we keep unhealthy drama in our lives, we still let them go when it’s the right thing. But keeping our heart open means we wish them well far away from us. Easier said than done. We can’t do it without mindfulness and intention and most importantly faith in a power greater than our own.

As Katie says, we’re responsible for own peace of mind. So we keep re-opening our hearts no matter how hard the ego convinces us not to and lies to us that we would be better off . We act kindly and generously, because that’s who we are. We fail and go back to our old belief that hate works, then wake up and start again. We remove the blocks to love one mindful moment at a time and we turn them into bridges of connection. We return to love.

You suffer when you hate

Authenticity

When I was in my early twenties I used to be subscriber of “O, the Oprah magazine” and received it on monthly basis in our mailbox. Now, I’m a subscriber to the digital version of it. Not as enjoyable, but definitely more accessible.

One of the themes of an issue back then was “authenticity”. All columnists and contributors wrote their perspective on it and how they embodied it in their life. I was really intrigued by this topic because the closest term I knew that resembled it was “just be yourself” at the time.

Almost a decade later, I think I am starting to really get it. Authenticity is revealing nd acting as your true self unapologetically.

How does that practically look like in my life?

Before I got more comfortable with my self I used to shy away from sharing my opinion about something fearing I would not look cool. What life taught me and the aweosme Brené Brown uncovered in her book “The gifts of imperfection” is this “Cool is an emotional straightjacket; it prevents emotional growth and movement”. Acting cool is like hiding yourself just to fit in. I’m pretty sure we agree that childhood and peer pressure in school has a lot to do with it for most of us.

I used to go out to places I didn’t like just to see the gang, now if I prefer to stay home and sleep early I say that. I don’t worry as much what others might think of me. If I didn’t like a certain event or movie I just say that while before I really worried about disagreeing with others. It felt like all I wanted was to get along with them and be on the same page. Otherwise it would feel too weird and maybe lonely.

Even sharing with others that I wake up at 5am to journal and have my own time feels like a huge leap of authenticity. I get the casual “you’re crazy to do that”. I explain it only to people who really want to know more. I don’t need to do that with everyone because not everyone has earned the right to hear my story. Even recognizing that is huge milestone in how I express myself and to whom.

Still learning how to be true to my self. How to say No to things that don’t fit who I see myself becoming while also being braver in saying Yes to growth opportunities.

I thought before that my opinion about something was still immature because I still needed to learn more and read more. So I didn’t have so many clear ideas about where I stood regarding some topics. Maybe that was really what I needed at the time. But now I’m better at taking stands and believing myself and hearing my own voice.

It’s really a work in progress but I can’t be everything for everyone and I’m really just realizing it.

Authenticity

This is a prayer

Not my usual kind of posts.

It is a prayer to God to send more people my way whom I can have with those fire-in-heart-setting conversations. More of those people please, dear God. They remind me of what I love about myself and my life and how helpful we can be to each other when we are on the same path. Some of us are far ahead and some are just starting but we respect where we are in our paths and learn and teach one another.

Thank you dear God for giving me the gift of recognizing my tribe. It started by showing the world who I am and they responded by showing up everywhere. My beautiful tribe. Now I know you. Grateful for you. My journey is richer because of you.

More Please. More.

This is a prayer

A thief lives in your house

Your smartphone has two jobs.

On one hand, it was hired by you to accomplish certain tasks. In the scheme of things, it’s a screaming bargain and a miracle.

But most of the time, your phone works for corporations, assorted acquaintances and large social networks. They’ve hired it to put you to work for them. You’re not the customer, you’re the product. Your attention and your anxiety is getting sold, cheap.

When your phone grabs your attention, when it makes you feel inadequate, when it pushes you to catch up, to consume and to fret, it’s not working for you, is it?

On demand doesn’t mean you do things when the device demands.

by Seth Godin

Reading this reminded me that I think of my phone as the morning thief. Yes. I use it in the morning for sharing one photo of my coffee or journal for example and this turns into a chat or automatic scrolling and before I know it 17 minutes of my precious morning routine have passed.

Since I’m starting the year with a being off from work for few days, I decided to do some kind of digital detox by turning off ALL phone notifications, all those whistles and breaking news that steal away my limited attention whenever I reach out for my phone to do a simple task like googling something. This is an easy option on my android. I only kept sms notifications because people who know me know it’s best to sms me if they think it’s important as they would get a response faster.

One less drastic way to complete my morning routine without being sneaked on by my phone is to keep it out of the room while I’m working or out of sight as some research suggests. At the same time I keep a handy notebook or small stack of post-its by me to write down reminders I need to set on the phone or calls I need to make or things I absolutely feel the need to search after I finish. Some call such notes the distractions lists. I take these notes with me or take a photo of them when I retrieve my phone after I’m done with the my priority tasks. Some “urgent” notes I wrote feel silly after I check them later. That’s how our mind works to avoid important focused work.

I’m sharing this so you would consider becoming more mindful about your own usage and think for a moment who’s really being used whenever you interact with your device. Maybe you will find some ways that work for you like I did.

A thief lives in your house