All posts by Andrew

The Survivability Of Blame

blame

The ugly truth about blame is we humans tend to view the world from the dualistic perspective of me here, you there. Perhaps a leftover from ancient survivability hard wiring, but it is time to shift gears. That separation thinking is cutting you off from the richness of life. Blame only adds fuel to the fire.

At the quantum level we are all separated by space, including  within our own bodies, but so then is the entire universe. That doesn’t mean we are separate. It is all comes down to perspective.

We hunker down in survival mode. Me here, you there. Our self-serving defacto axiom states when things go awry, someone/something has to be named at fault/blame… and it ain’t gonna be me!

Blame is really just a disguised self-protective red herring.  Perhaps when you blame someone, underneath what you are really feeling is disappointment. Instead of acknowledging that and expressing that, you dump it on the other person under disgusted causation.

The first step in changing this reaction is get to the root of  ‘what is’. Sometimes it’s hard to parse out the details, so let’s start with using the weather as an example. The sky doesn’t know you and what it does is completely out of your control.

On a sunny day, that is ‘what is’…sunny. You plan to go swimming after work with your friends. The sun shining aligns with your needs and you can’t wait for the work day to end. Fun is just around the corner.

Throughout the afternoon you notice some stray clouds setting in. Suddenly at 4:37 things drastically change. That once big blue sky is now a cascading disappointment. What started with a few rain drops hesitantly falling out of the sky is now a downpour. You gaze out the window. The fact it is raining, with no end in sight, finally sinks in.

You might be upset, disappointed, sad, or frustrated because the rain thwarted your plans. After a hectic work week, your need was to be outside with your friends around the pool. Clearly that is not going to happen.

Is the sky at fault?  Are you going to blame the sky by raising your fists upwards and screaming out “I can’t believe you are doing this to me!”? Of course not.

– Eliminate ‘me/you’.
– Notice ‘what is’.
– In/Out of your control?
– Identify true feelings.
– Identify needs not met.
– Make requests.
– Take action steps to meet needs.

You can choose to accept or resist. There are many objective (scientific) reasons for the surprise rain shower.

Filing the planned pool-squashing rain shower under ‘what is’ doesn’t end your fun options. You can pivot by making a request of your friends to do something else indoors. Your reaction and action is 100% in your control.

If you apply this ‘what is’ principal to everything out your control, you wouldn’t believe how much happier you’ll be.

Again, we humans tend to view the world from the perspective me/you. Test this theory next time you are stuck in rush hour traffic. Notice your mind and body reaction. It will probably go something like this:  “I can’t believe there is so much traffic and it is ridiculous how bad everyone drives!”

Funny we talk about traffic but don’t include ourselves. The folks in the cars behind you are probably thinking the same thing– but this time it includes you. Our me/you separation perspective masks it. That way we can participate in blame game of ‘those dam drivers!’ instead of realizing we are all in it together.

Even when things are in our control, we try to outsource the blame or resort to  blaming ourselves. Imagine another sunny day. You pour yourself a refreshing glass of iced tea to quench your thirst. Without much thoughtful consideration you place the glass on top of a just purchased book on the kitchen counter in order to check your phone. When you pick the glass back up you notice the condensation gathered around the bottom of the glass created a circular stain mark on the book.

Your fault investigators begin an investigation and start the blame campaign–– it might include the book publisher because they made a cheap cover that soaks in moisture easily. Ignoring basic condensation science when cold meets hot air you somehow fault the glass too. I am sure you could come up with a few more reasons like if the counter wasn’t so crowded by your spouse’s stuff, there would be room for the glass.

Depending on your personality, you might blame yourself internally instead of going the external route.  A quick juggler move would be calling yourself an idiot, as you believe only an idiot would do something so recklessly insane.

While blaming others or yourself is always an option, it is fruitless.  Commit now to getting to the core and practice a new well being.

If you truly examine it, you can probably find how you participated. Look at it like a row of dominoes. Go back to the point where you tipped yours. The stained ringed book was created by putting a sweating glass on it. That is ‘what is’. Non judgmentally note it.

Let’s look underneath if there are any other factors going on. It could be as simply as you weren’t paying attention. Maybe you were trying to multi-task a bit too much and a recommitment to mindfulness is in order. Or maybe your thoughts were preoccupied by a planned conversation with your spouse later that day and you hadn’t acknowledged how nervous you were.

The faster you get to the core, the faster you can actually do something about it and move forward. Going back the traffic scenario, what were your options besides making everybody else wrong? Accept the ‘what is’ that traffic was jammed and moving slow. Ask yourself if blaming the other drivers are really just disguised feelings attributed to something else. How did you participate being in this situation? (Perhaps you tried to jam too many things in at work and you left later then usual.)

The traffic is ‘what is’ and out of your control.  Your response and any ensuing choices are within your control. You could simply accept it will take you 40 minutes longer to get home or choose to get off the highway and take side streets. How about going to a park to take a walk until traffic subsides or stopping at a bookstore for awhile?

The options are infinite. Blaming is a finite dead end keeping you stuck in your own proverbial traffic. Pick a lane and remember life’s highway is always wide and open.

always love,
Andrew

Stop Censoring The Calling

couch

When is the last time you missed out on an experience because you censored yourself? Instead of heeding to your calling, you filtered it first through someone else’s eyes or dragged out a story in your past to prove why it wasn’t a good idea.

We make so many assumptions.  Those assumptions filter out magical experiences that make us feel connected and alive. We are missing out on so much.

Censor your censor and a whole new world will open up to you. That is when the magic of helpful strangers, timing, and opportunity appears.

Some callings are monumental.  My friend John Langford, a commercial photographer whose client roster included the likes of Sony, Nike and 3M, took a big leap creating back-to-back magical experiences traversing the globe for three years straight. His recent book chronicled his adventures into a series of humorous insightful stories that is an inspiring and engaging read:   Link here

Years ago I delightfully hitchhiked from Hamburg, Germany to Biella, Italy.  Each of the eight rides where truly magical, so much so I was a bit sad to arrive at my final destination so fast!

One particular ride zoomed along the autobahn at 110 miles per hour in a sleek black Porsche. By the time we arrived in his city of Baden Baden, he commissioned me to do 6 large paintings for his interior design client.  After returning home to the United States I made those paintings and shipped them overseas.  It paid for my entire overseas trip several times over.

Yes it is true traveling the world for three years is a pretty big swing or hitchhiking in Europe is not an everyday adventure. But how about the little ones in life, like taking a new class or reaching out to someone you want to know? Are you following through or making excuses?

We will often censor our initial calling until we line everything up, but the universe doesn’t work like that.  “Never wait until all the lights are green before you leave home or you’ll never get started on your trip.”

Some of our callings might not logically make sense but trust your feeling or knowing. Pay attention to that kind of bell, as it supersedes your thinking mind.

Remember your brain’s job is to protect you from all danger, real or imagined. Unless you are about to head into a jungle full of tigers, walk into a snake pit or swim with the crocodiles, most dangers are really just a story perceived as real.

Regret manifests from giving into your censor and overriding your initial calling ping. In hindsight, after time passes we can see what really happened and we say “I wish I would have done that!”

Take a moment to reflect:

1. How did you censor yourself in the past week?
2. How about in the last 6 months?
3. What are your greatest hits of self-censoring?
4. What story did you make up about each of those that initial created the censoring?
5. What patterns are you now discovering?

Censoring comes in forms big and small. It might be as simple as declining last week’s pool party invitation because you didn’t think your bathing suit looked right. Unless all your friends are extremely shallow, frankly no one really cares. It’s a story. They invited you, not your bathing suit.

The good news is you can spot your own pattern of censoring and change course going forward. Life is just full of paper tigers. If you choose to take this on, a whole new world will open up to you.

always love,
Andrew

 

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The Great Soaring “What If?”

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Writers have a technique to expand the possibilities of a story by asking the question “What If?”.  It will instantly crowbar open the door to infinite flow. Your logical mind will release and previously un-thought of scenarios will magically appear.

When we are stuck on a problem or in an argument, we get hunkered down on a fixed position in thinking monkey mind. Einstein espoused the wonderful advice pearl: “You can’t solve a problem from the position you created it”.  Put another way by the wonderful Buddhist monk Mingyur Rinpoche:  “When we become fixed in our perceptions we lose our ability to fly.”

Using a “What If?” can radically shift your fixed position instantly.

Imagine you are in heated back and forth exchange with your beloved over some bills not getting paid. Play that out as the clock ticks. What will be the net result of the “he said, she said” cycle of blame, shame, criticism, projection, stress, etc?  You’ll probably both go to bed upset without a clear resolution and it will only reappear again in the future, more then likely disguised as a different problem.

If you could create anything in the moment, what would it be?
An argument?
Remember you have the power to create your reality. Choose love.

Imagine if one of you instead asked:   “What If we tied a 4 foot piece of string connecting our ankles and walked around the block right now?” Play that out. At first it might be odd, but the string will create a natural alignment to work together.

You’ll refocus your monkey mind instantly because now you’re pulling open kitchen drawers looking for that string you remembered once putting there, while the other searches for a pair of scissors.

Goofily you tie the string on your ankles by getting down on the floor. Note: a physical change of position just occurred.

Out the door on the walk you go. Naturally to be successful you’ll have to sync your walking. No one can go too far ahead or fall behind. You are together…just like in your relationship…together.  Do you want arguing together or loving together?  It really is a simple choice.  (Don’t leave it up to monkey mind to decide.)

Very quickly you’ll realize the absurdity of the entire disagreement and instead of bickering,  you’ll arrive at an equitable loving solution, that is if you make that choice.

I hope you do.

always love,
Andrew

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Lizards Don’t Choose What To Do On A Sunday

Lizard

Science is finally catching up to what the mystics have known for thousands of years– you are what you eat, think, feel, do, express and share. The results are determined from the choices you’ve made, rooted in the myriad of conscious and unconscious beliefs you have, negative or positive, set in year’s past.  Hmmm, depending how you view it, this could either be good or bad news for you.

Choosing is a commitment to practice a way of life. As in the eastern tradition of the word, practice is a gentle focused approach. Become aware of your actions. Notice the results. If you don’t like the results, make different choices. It really is that simple.

What literally shows up in your life now is effectively the end result of what you have chosen. I know, tough love. Honestly look around, because what you see IS WHAT IS.

If you take on that you created all of it, the good, bad, and ugly, you’ll be able to make some huge profound shifts.  Happiness will follow in ways that will surprise you.

The exception to this is what I call big ticket items. Take the meteor that recently crashed in Russia. An intergalactic rock hurling through space that smashes your car should be filed under WTF or I have no earthly idea. There was no rhyme or reason to that meteor shower crashing down, hence no direct individual cause.

Those big ticket item rarely happen.

The frequently asked question is, “but what about a particular medical illness?”  We all know smoking cigarettes will lead to cancer. Excessive drinking will cause liver problems. High cholesterol causes heart disease. We obviously understand those correlations. But what about your general poor food choices, like chemical laden processed foods, which directly affects one’s gene expression and can lead to all kind of downstream diseases? On some level you know this. So if years later you leave the doctor with a particular diagnoses, will you file it as an ‘unexplainable big ticket item?’

Health, relationships, career, money, etc. are all results of the choices you made. If you go to the beach and choose to forgo the suntan lotion, you’ll probably look like a lobster the next day. If you keep piling up papers on your desk, you’ll have a messy desk. If you start an arguments with you spouse, I can’t imagine s/he will feel sexy later that day. Cause = Effect. Pretty simple stuff.

Choosing is a commitment to practice a way of life. As in the eastern tradition of the word, practice is a gentle focused approach. Become aware of your actions. Notice the results.  If you don’t like the results, make different choices. It really is that simple.

Lizards don’t consider whether they want to bask in the sun 20 minutes longer, go for a run, or make plans with a friend. The unique part of being human is you get to.

always love,

Andrew Long
Ultra Life Coach

 

An Enlightened No is a Big YES!

flowers

We learn early in life the meaning associated with YES and NO. Much of it had to do with our emotional connection to reward or denial. Those two little words still trigger us today. (Notice what emotions or body sensations come up for you as you read the words YES or NO.)

Reflect back to childhood. The reply NO was usually upsetting, even a grave disappointment. It left us defeated and powerless.

“Mommy, can I have cookie?”
“NO, it is too close to dinner and you’ll spoil your appetite.”

“Dad, can I go with my friends over to the rec center to play basketball.”
“NO, you need to do your chores.”

Use your whole body intelligence. If you get a resonating YES, then hallelujah, by all means say YES. If it is anything else, employ one of your superpowers, the ENLIGHTENED NO.

In both of these examples there is cause. The Mom wants the child to have a good appetite and get the proper nutrition. The Dad is mindful of responsibility and commitments.  The kid doesn’t get any of this. Instead it might be experienced as a form of rejection, or at the very least negative and unpleasant. The brain interprets meaning and then stores in subconscious and keeps referring to.

As adults we have a hard time seeing a NO as an opportunity, especially when outside our control. The job we didn’t get or a soured relationship inquiry leaves us with the interpretation that we didn’t get what we wanted or there is something wrong with us.

Every experience and event in our life connects to the ones that follow. All of them inform, teach, and give us the tools to move consciously through the next one. What a gift! Sometimes it takes years to get that. One day we will look back and with great clarity understand how that particular job was never really a good fit and the “No” brought us down the path to a better one.

Those examples refer to getting a NO. How about generating one? NO, as your choice, is a great opportunity, yet are shy from using. It makes total sense in adulthood why we have such a hard time saying NO:

– Don’t want to be rude or offending.
– Afraid we won’t be offered the opportunity at hand again.
– Fear of missing out on the opportunity at hand.
– Feelings of guilt we will disappoint the other.
– It may ruffle theirs or someone else’s feathers
– What will they think of me if I say no?
– You want to be the hero and solve the problem.
– You believe you are obligated or “should”.

If you want your create a life that is expansive you’ll need to start answering in a way that reflects truly how you feel. First thing is to get out of your head. Arrive at the answer by asking your whole body intelligence the question. If you get a resonating YES, then hallelujah, by all means say YES. If it is anything else, employ one of your superpowers, the ENLIGHTENED NO.

If someone asked you “You want to grab a drink after work?” and you really want to go for a walk instead, use your ENLIGHTENED NO. Create a YES for your walk, health, piece of mind, etc.

It is all very simple. Make choices that are congruent with what you want and aligns with your needs. Rewrite what a NO means. Start using your inner ENLIGHTENED NO and see what happens. I imagine you’ll be smiling a whole lot more!

always love,

Andrew Long
Ultra Life Coach

The Great Energy Drain

sink

When the pain of changing is less then the pain of staying where you are, you’ll change. Your reptilian brain will kick in. Survivability is a must.

If your refrigerator is empty, eventually you’ll go out or call for delivery,
when the hunger is too much.

If you are cold, eventually you’ll turn up the heat or put on more clothing,
when the temperature gets too unbearable.

If you have to go to the bathroom, you’ll stop what you’re doing,
when you just can’t hold it any longer.

It’s not a complicated concept. That’s the reason millions of taxpayers rush to complete their tax forms on April 14th. The pain point (penalty) is greater then the effort it takes to complete.

If you want to create a major life shift, proactively engage your joy points. Don’t wait to avoid the greater pain.

Let’s use taxes as the example. You may be wondering how completing your taxes could possibly have the net effect of a joy point when so many people associate it as painful. Taxes and pain seem to go hand in hand.

Imagine what you could do with all that newly freed up energy. Use it to powerfully create what you do want.

First, let’s state the obvious. Regardless of your personal feelings about–– it is the law, mandatory, and inevitable. Delinquency will parlay it, but you’ll need to deal with it eventually one day.

Like interlocking building blocks, everything in your life is interconnected. Here are some ways it will unknowingly affect you.

– Energy: Fretting and procrastination are a constant energy drain.
– Energy: The repeating thought of needing to complete is stealing away from the energy you could use elsewhere to be creating/expanding.
– Space: Your brain’s temporary storage capacity is like computer RAM. Holding onto the repeating ‘to do’ thought dramatically slows you down.
– Creation: You can’t increase your financial wealth if your affairs are in a disarray. It is all connected.
– Collateral Damage: Not having your taxes done will inhibit you from getting a loan or an investment opportunity that requires financials.
– State: Triggers a dose of shame and self-criticism which affects your energy and output.
– Alignment: All of the above gunk up your system, your flow.

Take some time today to jot out places in you life where you are stuck. What pain is associated with it and how painful will it need to get before you make a change?

If you moved through it and completed, what will the net effect be?  How will that affect you positively, i.e your joy points?

Getting  really clear about it will make it much easier to get started. Completion is just around the corner. So is the fun that follows!

always love,
Andrew

 

Photo: Flickr:spierzchala

 

 

 

 

Carrying Around Your Pile Of Rocks

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Damn they are heavy. Those rocks. The ones you keep carrying around. It doesn’t take a doctor to figure out why you are so tired. (Perhaps a geologist might be helpful.)

Grab a piece of paper and start writing down what the rocks represent for you. Include your reoccurring mind chattering content, things that inhibit your peak performance, other people’s beliefs that do not align with your dreams and authentic self, and everything  you think about that is out of your control.  Such as:

– Thoughts connected to phrases like “I probably should”, “I wish I could”, “If only…”, “I want to.”
– Friends, co-workers, or acquaintances that are toxic.
– Food or drink you ingest that make you feel icky.
– Fears about money.
– Living your life according to others’ expectations.
– Lamenting about your age or time past.
– Trips that you want to take but don’t.
– Something you keep thinking about but don’t do.
– Trying to gain your parent or sibling approval.
– Resentment, anger, jealousy, spite, meanness.
– Task incompletes (your to-do list items that never gets completed.)
– Worries, anxieties, trepidations that are out of your control.
– Anything out of your control

Your brain is like a factory that operates 24-7-365. It needs to constantly be processing. (It even has a rouge unit in the basement called your subconscious that has some of the biggest, nastiest, heaviest rocks! Go find them and light the dynamite.)

This is where mindfulness comes in. You train your brain to focus on items that help expand and empower yourself, cultivate compassion, lessen your load, see bigger picture, connect deeper, be at peace, and just be. It takes practice.

1. Make your rocks list. Keep adding onto it as you think of more.
2. Own you are the one continually fulfilling that list in your life.
3. Commit to changing.
4. Begin a daily mindfulness practice.
5. Breathe.
6. Smile
7. When you intermittently stop your practice (and you will), go back to step #2.

always love,
Andrew

Is It Really That Bad?

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When something unexpectedly goes awry, our monkey minds have the tendency
to frame it in a stuck negative position… as if it will always be that way!  Crazy huh?

Take for instant food poisoning or strep throat. It is an event with a clear time signature. But in the throws of feeling horrible, our thoughts hunker down into a position that our life is horrible. We extrapolate and futurize, overlaying our ill feelings onto EVERYTHING.

Catch yourself.

Learn how to discern what is really happening.

It is alright and even helpful to acknowledge what is happening such as,  “in this moment I am experiencing extreme discomfort”, but be aware of the key phrase  “in this moment.”

Remind the monkeys gone amok in your brain this is not a permanent position, just an event, and it too shall pass. It truly is a case of noticing “what is.” Unless you are really committed to creating a crappy life, the “oh everything is forever horrible” only promotes cascading negative thoughts that are useless and waste of energy.

As a big footnote: This is why a daily meditation practice is so helpful. You are creating neural pathways of clarity, calm, and strength that will assist you later on when the monkeys begin to rattle the cage so things don’t get out of hand.

always love,
Andrew

What Kind Of Old Junk Are You Framing?

Framing

If you lived alone in the forest or a cave long enough, you would have little use for what others thought of you. Your appearance (hair/clothes) would not matter. Your status, Facebook likes, net worth, kind of car you owned, etc. would be meaningless. So would subjective reflections such as “am I worthy?” or “what do they think of me?” All of that would eventually fall away.


Access your intuitive self:
FOLLOW THAT

Open up your heart center:
FOLLOW THAT

Notice your breath:
FOLLOW THAT

Your thoughts would be centered on immediate needs of food, shelter, water, and safety. If an impending storm loomed, you would focus on gathering berries to ensure you had something to eat the next day. If you didn’t gather enough, you would make a mental note for the next time a similar situation occurred.

You are born with a clear mind, an empty box. It was void of self-created beliefs, stories, and patterns. As you grow up, you selectively filtered and categorized meaning based on the depth of the emotional impact. You created meaning. Everything that followed was built upon the previous with variations and mutations. Naturally you can see how the input affects the outputs. How powerfully our childhood experiences are.

As an adult, thoughts and actions are framed by the subconscious. Until we sort it out, we’ll be ruled by other people’s stories and fears instead of one’s own inner guidance. One of the keys to happiness is understanding your subconscious framing and dismantling it.

A good place to start is assume everything is an illusion. It is all made up out of thin air and meaning is subjective. Train your mind to expand rather then contract. The following are several direct action steps to start incorporating into your daily life:

– Strengthen your neural wiring by consciously creating positive thoughts and experiences. (Remember, your brain can’t distinguish between a put-on smile and the real thing.)

– Notice what is the previous thought before the anxiety, nervousness, or fear arises. Delve into that truth. There are only rare instances that a real tiger, lion, or bear is in your presence and can harm you.

– Remind your central nervous system you are safe and taken care of by writing down five gratitudes per day.

– Increase your appreciation of others. This will open your heart center and connect you deeply to others.

– Daily meditation. 20 minutes. It can be continuous or 20 individual one minute sessions. There is no “right way” to meditate. Just sit quietly and you’ll naturally discover the pathway.

– Notice your breathing. Breathe deep from your abdomen instead of your chest.

– Pick someone who is doing what you are inhibited to do and use their playbook. Take the emotion out and literally copy them.

always love,

Andrew