Are you ready for a New Year? How different will it be from last year? Will you be far less anxious? Will you have much greater clarity about your life purpose? Will you free yourself of your negative self-talk? Will you love your partner as well as you’d like to—or finally attract the kind of partner you’ve always wanted? Will you be less reactive with your kids and model equanimity for them?
How to make this year different
If you do the things mentioned above will you feel more satisfied in your life? For me, the answer is “yes.” So, how do we continue to grow, feel less anxious, live our purpose, stop our negative self-talk, and love better?
The answer is paradoxical in that it requires not focusing on these specific challenges, which is what most of us do on a regular basis. Most of us who are interested in our own personal growth try to solve or address our challenges by focusing on them. That’s not always the best solution.
Our solution rests on the famous Einstein quote:
We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.
When Hannah and I first learned to use Perception Language—a way of speaking that helps us be more conscious—we saw that it was one way to access a different level of thinking. And, it is, but it’s not the whole story. Think about this . . . imagine being in a cluttered room—a room cluttered with your fears, habits, immature behaviors and your endless internal dialogue,—and you want to get to another room, one that is free and clear of all that clutter. To do so, you have to walk down a hallway to get to the next room. Well, Perception Language is like the hallway, it helps you get out of the cluttered room.
But if you want to gain access to the uncluttered room, a room you may be only vaguely familiar with, how do you do that? As Einstein said, you need a “different level of thinking” or different level of consciousness. Do you remember the famous Apple Computer ad campaign, “Think Different”? That’s what I’m talking about, learning to think different.
Stop focusing on the “problems”
You see, all those “problems” that are part of life, they don’t stop, they don’t go away—ever—they just change faces over time because they are part of being alive. And when we encounter those “problems”—the clutter in our minds—we almost always react from the same place. We react in ways to make ourselves feel safe and secure. Most of the time it’s not our physical safety we are concerned about, although sometimes it is, but more often it’s about feeling secure in who we are. When something threatens our sense of feeling okay about ourselves we are most likely to react, not with equanimity, but with resistance.
If you say something critical about me, I’ll resist. If you suggest I made a mistake, I’ll resist. If you ask me to step outside of my comfort zone, I’ll resist. If I make a mistake or behave poorly, I’ll resist owning my mistake or poor behavior. If I neglect you and you point it out to me, I’ll resist seeing myself. I resist that which threatens my need to feel good about myself.
All of this is happening in one room—the cluttered room—which represents a certain level of thinking, a certain way of seeing the world, and this is what I call “safety consciousness.” It’s not a bad place or a bad way to think or see the world, in fact, it’s totally essential that we live in safety consciousness because that’s the state of mind we use to accomplish things, be productive, and form relationships. It’s 100% necessary. And it’s limiting.
Freeing yourself of mental clutter
What I’ve found is that by spending time in other rooms—rooms with no clutter—I experience a completely different level of thinking, a different way of seeing the world. And from these other rooms, I don’t feel the need to protect myself, compete, pressure myself, or defend myself. The more time I spend in these other rooms the easier it becomes to move out of safety consciousness and into a whole other way of living.
This “other way of living” is one in which the problems and challenges of life are no longer problems or challenges. It’s not that they change, they still exist, but I no longer see them as problems, challenges, or obstacles.
Since I no longer see life events as problems, I stop resisting them. As soon as I stop resisting them—whoosh, I’m free of all my clutter, emotional baggage, reactivity, defensiveness and confusion.
This is exactly what we share with people in our retreats—how to live in this other way. During our retreats we see that all of the participants face similar challenges. As a group of twenty people we form a community, and none of us escapes the challenges of being human— the challenges just take on slightly different forms in each person. After realizing this, and with the support of the community, we start to feel more self-accepting of our own situations. Then, together, we learn to navigate through our cluttered rooms, because we all have them, and then we learn how to access the other rooms.
It’s not a ten-minute conversation or a quick read of an article that helps us make this huge shift, that’s why we put on these week-long retreats. We need a week so that we can all immerse ourselves and learn to “think different.” And it’s not just “think different,” it’s also be different, love different, speak different, eat different, exercise different, mediate different, accept different, and live different.
I can tell you more about the other rooms we learn to enter, but I can’t do them justice in a short article, maybe not even in a long one. This is about an experience, an experience of a different way of living your life so that you feel better about yourself as a result of becoming more mature, opening your heart, loving more generously, and living without anxiety. Is that really possible? Can we actually live without anxiety? No, not when we limit ourselves to safety-consciousness—the room with all that clutter.
But when we walk down the hall and use the key to open the doors to those other rooms, yes, we can live without anxiety. It takes work and practice, but the irony is that after we learn to do this, life is easier.
If you want to live different, fill out the Personal Information Form below and then we’ll schedule a time to talk by phone and figure out the next steps.