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Why Is Change So Hard (Healing Your Life, Part 1)

Why Is Change So Hard?  Or, why do we think it’s so hard?  Have you ever heard someone say that real change takes a long time to lock in?  

Is that maybe something you’ve said yourself?

Here’s the thing – if you’re telling yourself, or your friends, or (god-forbid) your children this…you’re doing them a major disservice.  You’re setting everyone in your life up for failure….  

Change doesn’t take a long time to happen.

That’s a myth.  Change is actually instantaneous. We cling to this belief that change has to be hard, but it’s really  our own resistance to change that slows us down.  I can already hear you sputtering…

“But, but, but…you can only change one thing at a time!  Willpower is limited!”

That’s just not true.  In fact, the fastest kind of change happens without any willpower at all.

Our Past is The Burden That Stops Us From Changing…

Let’s be clear, there is no rule that we have to keep carrying our past.

Do you know my story?  (If not, trust me you will.  I hammer on about it all the time.)  Anyway, the short version is this: physical abuse followed by drug abuse followed by homelessness and rock bottom.

I was so angry and stuck in the “victim mindset” – I didn’t even ask to be born!  Why is this so hard?! – and because of that, I was projecting out onto the world all these negative thoughts and feelings.  

Everything looked ugly to me.

Finally, I woke up to the core concept: we’re all one and we’re only fighting ourselves. Through that realization, I got down to “wow, I’m just fighting myself…. Nobody’s punching me in the face anymore… I don’t have any of the challenges of my childhood, but I’m dragging them forward from my past with my core story.”

What Is A Core Story?

Our core story begins with something that happens to us when we’re very young. And we carry it with us, we live into that story until we change it for ourselves.  

As babies, we were completely dependent on our parents, and for most of us, we received everything we needed until a certain point in time…and then suddenly, we didn’t.  

Mom didn’t come when we cried.  The food we were given wasn’t enough to fill us up.  The universe became uncertain and unsafe.

Human beings fill in the reason for that uncertainty with meaning.  Meaning makes us feel safe. But that meaning, if set up a certain way, can affect us for the rest of our lives.

Sometimes we rationalize with an explanation like “I’m not enough.”  And once that seed has been planted, we start to see it everywhere, every time something doesn’t work out for us.

It becomes our core story.

So What happens If We Change Our Story?  

What happens if you start talking to yourself differently about what’s possible and who you want to be?  I did that for myself, and I literally dropped my whole victim identity and came into a new sense of what was possible for me and who I was.

Over just a few years I went from homeless to working as a clerk in a mailroom to VP of a corporation in Philadelphia – all with no credentials – building out a software business for them and making a very nice exit.

Now, listen…you might already be saying “that’s never going to work for me.”  But I promise I had absolutely nothing back then that you don’t have right now.

And do you want to know a secret?  It can be as simple as the questions you ask…what if there were right and wrong questions to ask yourself?

Become The Author of Your Core Story

If you have been trying to make changes in your life, but you feel like you’re going around in circles, the reason may be as simple as your core story being out of whack.

And while this remains unconscious to you – whatever you do to try to solve your problems just reinforce that story

You end up trying to change and ask yourself questions like, what’s wrong with me? why am I such a loser? when will I finally earn enough to be happy?   But all you’re really doing is beating yourself down.

You’re trying to change and grow but instead, you’ve become your own worst enemy and it doesn’t solve anything.

In fact, things can get worse.  The results might be extreme procrastination, frustration, anger, desperation, learned helplessness, and lashing out at others – even loved ones. You can push hard and burn out trying to reach success, but…

You’re Going to Wind Up With Incremental Change At Best

So what happens when you ask the right questions?  Things like…

Who do I need to become to make this change? What kind of person does what I want to do effortlessly?  

When you ask these kinds of questions, you can immediately shift your way into success.

The results are motivation, passion, happiness, clarity, and grit.  You see all these results because you’ve developed self-worth and self-love.  

Seriously, you are amazing.

There is no one else on earth with your unique perspective, and there never will be again.  You deserve so much more than incremental change – and the rest of the world deserves to share in what you have to offer! So…

Are You Ready to Bloom?

Honestly, this article might be enough for you to finally grab hold of the life you want.  Sometimes we just need the awareness of the burdens we carry – and once we see that weight for what it is, we drop it and move on.  I was able to change my core story, and maybe you can too.

But you might need to go deeper.  You might need to understand why you procrastinate change, and how you can let go of your fears long enough to allow this shift to happen in your life.

If that’s the case, then find support.  Get a mentor when you can.  And keep an eye out for the next article in this series.  It’s all about why we procrastinate.

I’ll talk with you then…

Dealing with Death – Ours and Others

We lose loved ones all the time. We hope for an afterlife. The self wants to grow and be powerful and young. It is completely opposed to it’s own extinction. So there is fear and panic around the thought of death for many. In fact, many people can’t even discuss it. But all living things seem to pass away. How do we deal with that?

Today we’re going to talk about death of the body, but also death of the self. We’ll talk about how meditation relates to death, and how putting your life in perspective can be meaningful. We’ll talk about the death of others and how to deal with that. We’ll talk about the desire for an afterlife, and how death really makes everything deeply meaningful. Death is a part of life, so let’s talk about it.

We’ve discussed in the past, that we are not only self. We are also in some way connected to everything. Can that other identity help us deal not only with our own death, but also the death of others, and finally other types of change as well?

All living things die. But we can expand the idea of death from there. Situations die, friends change, we get divorced. All of these things are mini-deaths. We “die” in a different way as well. I am not the same 10 year old boy I once was. That boy is gone forever. So we are all changing. Everything is in a state of change. Death s a kind of change.

Meditation actually teaches us a death of self. We are putting down the ego and just identifying with the big mind. You obviously don’t actually die, and you can retain your “self” as much as you wish, but each time you enter this other mind, you will see it is a death of self in that moment. You will find that this type of practice can change you fundamentally. It can make you more able to deal with change, and hence your own death, and the death of others.

Truly being in the Now is about not thinking about the future. The entire thing is to watch the mind that wants to leave this moment. So in that, the Now becomes much fuller. Our entire attention is on it, and it becomes rich and thick. The understanding of this type of mind leads spiritual leaders to talk about eternity. Many talk about no death, in the death of self. So the temporary idea of you, or your ego, dies in that moment. And what is born is a fuller understanding of timelessness, or eternity.

Pulling away from your life and looking at it on a time line is very helpful and can put your life into a different context. Often we find ourselves just drifting along, but all events are precious, so it can be useful to find that context and check in.

There’s an old saying, or it might have been a viral email that went around way back, about filling a jar with a marble for every year of your life expectancy, and removing one on your birthday. It shows the significance of our lives. That could potentially give a deeper context to your life as well.

The desire for an afterlife comes from the mind that that is unhappy and wants salvation. It also may have been used as a carrot and stick for controlling people. But whether that’s true or not, it is really important to expose the mind that craves a better future, the ultimate of which would be a glorious afterlife.

We think that to stay moral, our culture needs to be held in a “proper space” with the appropriate carrot and stick. Meaning, if I were to take away the idea of living a good life being the thing that gets us into heaven, people might begin to behave poorly because there’s no point in behaving well. The idea of putting down the external carrot and stick scares many people. They immediately image anarchy and insanity ensuing from removing those guidelines. But a sincere morality comes from seeing the beauty that’s here, not a future hoped for beauty.

We need to become OK with who we are, without the hope for a prize. Because fear of not getting the prize does not work as our motivation. Fear based morality will not work. The example of extremists who die to get to heaven also cause great pain and suffering. They want the “prize” too much. Their morality is quite different, but also belief based. Either type of morality doesn’t seem to be working. To be clear, I’m not attacking peoples beliefs necessarily, I’m just saying that the mind that thinks about salvation, or hopes for it, or gets attached to it, is not the healthiest mind. It is ego based, and fear based. Seeing the beauty right in front of us, rather than being controlled by fear will work much better.

Death of others is very hard to deal with. It is very hard to lose a family member or loved one. We are attached to permanence, which doesn’t exist. This is a fault of the egoic mind. While losing things we care about will always be hard, I want to point out that the natural desire for permanence can make dealing with death and change even more difficult. If we realize that nothing is permanent, then we don’t have unrealistic expectations around things like a loved one dying. We need to learn to face non-permanence.

Fear of death and the unknown is enormous. But death makes everything matter. Living forever would take value away from lots of things. You’d be able to take literally forever to master things, so being a master chef as an example would have little meaning. We’d constantly be approaching everyone knowing everything, with no risk because we’d have forever to fix any problems, etc. It would be a very different existence for sure. Certainly different than most people would fantasize. Death is a part of life, and it is something we’ll do well to get more comfortable with.

Show Music: Live At Tonic by Christian McBride

[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/robscott-audio/DealingwithDeatOursandOthers.mp3]

The Gift of Trauma

Trauma is horrible, and we shouldn’t forget that. We all have trauma to one degree or another. We all have “our stuff.”

Trauma has the potential to widen and deepen our experience of pain. Which allows us to have a higher “high.” Imagine someone who hasn’t had much stimulation in either direction, good or bad. Their circumstances are not as wide and as varied to draw from. They have a skinnier history to draw from. So something somewhat “bad” seems potentially horrible – like gas prices going up. Whereas, someone who has lived through a rape, or a major car accident, might not be as affected by social issues. They care, they just have a different historical comparison to weight the situation against.

Trauma also allows us to see that we survived. We went through that stuff and are still here. It didn’t kill us.

This is not to say that we should look for trauma, or inflict it on others. Life brings enough of it on it’s own.

How does pain and trauma allow for growth? Well, let’s look again at someone who is sheltered. They never get the challenges to test themselves. The Buddha is the iconic representation of this. He left his palace to learn about life and pain. He was unsatisfied with being given everything. You, your kids, and loved ones will be equally unsatisfied. Have you seen wealthy kids at the mall who have everything? Nothing surprises them, nothing thrills them. They are bored. These kids may begin looking for trauma. They won’t know that’s what they are doing, but their boredom has the potential to make them look for thrills. Those thrills, in the form of drugs, etc. can end up giving those kids their share of pain. This is a stereotype used only to make the point that pain and growth is a part of life. We can use pain to stimulate our desire to live differently.

Pleasure and pain are related. In the spectrum of self, pleasure and pain mirror one another. To leave the ego realm of pleasure and pain, it can help to go through enough pain to say “I don’t want to live this way any more.”

It is really important that we process our trauma. We need to begin to work with our pain, and process it fully. We need to feel it, rather than run from it.

Our pain is the substance that we are supposed to traverse to grow. The more of it, the more we want to wake up from it. So as we hate it, from a certain point of view it is a blessing.

We can relax a little with our children and loved ones. We can realize that pain is a part of life, and that we need to allow for some of it to grow. It is often a dis-service to over-protect a child. Pain in general is there to wake you up. It’s asking for you to be present. To drop the valuation of the situation. To open your consciousness. This is how we can begin to kill the ego, or wake up from it.

Trauma can jar us free of the ego. It can re-prioritize our lives. Sadness, fear, and anxiety that is the result of trauma can become so loud that we want to put it down. Without that pain, we might never have woken up. We can become sick of being unhappy. That is a very healthy state to be in.

So how do we want to relate to our trauma? Do we want to be fearful of it, or realize that we’ve been through it, and we’ve beaten it? It’s important that we don’t continue the cycle of abuse. It’s our responsibility to end the cycle of abuse.

Show Music: The Shanghai Restoration Project

[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/robscott-audio/TheGiftofTrauma.mp3]