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Category Archives: Empowering You
In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz mentions four principles we might want to follow to live a more present, joyous and drama-free life.
1). Be impeccable with your word.
2). Always do your best.
3). Don’t take anything personally.
4). Don’t make assumptions.
Ahhhhh . . . yes. Assumptions.
We assume all the time about all sorts of things, and mostly the assumptions (often generated from fearful thinking) leave us feeling empty, powerless, agitated and disconnected.
Assumptions aren’t based in fact. Most of the assumptions we make come from our subjective past experiences that we then recall when something gets emotionally triggered within us that cause us to worry, catastrophe-ize and come up with doom-and-gloom scenarios.
The assumptions triggered by past experiences and habits of thought then keep reinforcing our negative self-images, so they help feed a self-perpetuating, negative cycle.
So assumptions literally become a rejection of self.
You go to an audition and you beat yourself up for making a mistake assuming the casting agent thinks you’re awful.
You don’t hear from your girlfriend and assume you did something wrong or she hates you.
You get rejected by a manager and assume you have no talent or are unhirable.
Assumptions reinforce the inaccurate ways that we see ourselves through a limited prism from which no one else sees us, based on our own self-limitations and self-judgments. We create unnecessary pain by listening to the stories we weave from an assumptive statement. So we reject ourselves even if someone else hasn’t.
So assumptions have less to do with what we project onto – or assume – about another person or an experience. And they have more to do with our own limited beliefs and low self-worth as we spin scenarios in our heads that further support how unworthy we are, or how we F***ed up, or are stupid.
And they’re also a distinction of not being in the moment because the very nature of assuming something is a fast forwarding into the future.
Perhaps that realization right there is the easiest way to recover from an assumption. As you catch yourself out of the moment you actually become present.
So take a breath. Breathe. And relax into knowing that there’s nothing really to assume anyway. It’s a waste of energy and time to engage in that kind of guesswork and conjecture when the truth will ultimately reveal itself.
So assume less. And wait for proof. You’ll be glad you did. Because even if the news isn’t what you were wanting or expecting, it’s still never worst than the assumptions you made.
When you assume you make an ass out of you and me.
Because assumptions aren’t based in fact.
But we love to make them because they pull us out of the present moment and send us speeding into a projected future that distracts us from now. We’re so familiar with letting our mind run rampant into the future that we spend an inordinate amount of time and energy there. And there’s a pay-off. (But more on that in a minute.)
Assumptions often get us into trouble because they generally stem from our fixed conditioned mind patterns that assume things incorrectly based on our paradigms of doubt, fear, cynicism and scarcity-thinking.
We assume things without having the breadth and scope of the whole picture. We get triggered and our minds run on autopilot, misinterpreting events. So we rewrite history in our heads.
We don’t book the job or an agent rejects us. We assume we suck. We assume they didn’t like us. We assume we lack talent.
These are assumptions based on our inner paradigms that keep us locked into a closed-system. That system wants us to remain closed because if we had to give up assumptions, we might have to give up our conditioned beliefs about ourselves that we’ve been holding onto for a long, long time.
You know the ones. They suck. They don’t serve us. They make us feel like shit about ourselves. But we would rather (unconsciously) stay in that negative feedback loop that assumptions provide, than step into greater clarity and empowerment. Step into who we can become.
You mean there’s a part of us that would rather remain jaded? Cynical? Bitter? A complainer?
I know it’s hard to swallow but it’s true. Because if we had to give up those assumptive responses to events occurring in our lives it would mean we’d have to rewrite our story. And who wants to do that? It takes work.
We’d be held accountable in a new way. We’d have to step into our power. We’d have to show up in the world in a more conscious way. We’d have to take responsibility and rise to the level we really desire – but are often scared of – in our life and career.
But of course, the deeper part of you wants to do that. That’s why we’re all here on this planet.
To step through to the other side. But in order to embrace that new, undiscovered, unknown, infinitely creative domain – you have to give up assumptions.
About yourself. Your life. The business. Success. People. Money. The way things “work.” Your past. Your future. In short, lots of things.
One of the easiest ways to get there is to begin questioning everything you tell yourself. Take a look at where your thoughts and beliefs come from. Discover that many of them are based on false assumptions about life.
What would happen if you could try this for a week?
Assume you can do it. Because you can.
“Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in.” ~ Alan Alda
People often ask me, “Why do we have ego?”
Well without it, you wouldn’t be able to know that there’s another part of you. Something grander. More brave. More joyous.
The soulful part of you. Spirit. Infinite Intelligence. The Creative Matrix. Potential.
Living in a world of duality, you can’t know something without having the experience of its opposite.
We know joy because we’ve experienced sorrow. We know what compassion is because we’ve been indifferent. We know what generosity is because we’ve experienced greed. And so on.
So to have ego creates the possibility to know the bigger part of you.
But ego tries to keep us in the dark, hiding from our Light. And its incompatible with creativity.
The journey of our lives in general – and of our artistic expression specifically – is to try to dismantle the ego so we live more and more in potential. But that’s difficult because the ego’s job is self-preservation. And its been preserving you for a very long time.
When we work on things creatively that bring up our vulnerability – which is (ironically) our natural state – the ego will kick in to preserve the self – our identity. When we hear criticism in this state of vulnerability – it’s not what we hear now that causes the ego to rear its ugly head. It’s that you actually hear it incorrectly from your 8-year old wounded self who was made to feel unsafe or unprotected or exposed. Your ego protected you at that time (perhaps legitimately), but instead of hearing the criticism from a neutral place of now, the ego misperceives and distorts how you receive it, confusing it as an attack. Just like when you were in the 3rd grade. Ego goes into full-on preservation mode. And it shuts out possibility.
But like anything, awareness is the first step to change.
This week, if you’re in any of the 8 “S’s” you’re in a state governed by the ego -
Stuck — Shut down – Shut Out – Saboteur – Safe – Separate – Small – Self Centered.
They are just states of self-preservation. Become aware of them, breathe, and let them go. Your 8-year old self can thank them. But they don’t serve you anymore.
“Are you placing enough interesting, freakish, long shot, weirdo bets?” ~ Tom Peters
Do you realize how powerful you are? How you can become actualized in your life in a way that empowers yourself and others?
As you become more and more self-actualized (which is really self-empowerment) you move from a preponderance of insignificant upsets, distractions and nuisances in your life to greater accomplishments.
You stop spending time with people who drain your energy. You stop killing time doing things that . . . well . . . kill time. You stop complaining and gossiping and getting caught up in petty aggravations.
You start feeling better. You have more energy. You give up the drama. You contribute more. Become more impactful. Make a difference. Have more fun. Show up in your life in a new way.
And have you noticed that as you start tapping into this reservoir of empowerment that lies within each of us, many of those people who used to distract you from being your best self start to fall away? You stop hanging out with them. They magically stop calling you. You meet new people who inspire you and encourage you to be your best self.
And isn’t that what we’re all after? To be our best self?
Our potential – how empowered we can each be – is the largest bulk of what makes up our being. This is your best self.
It’s analogous to water.
Our bodies are made up of 75% of it. You possess the same powerful properties. You are transformative, expansive, fluid, resilient.
Water is a conductor.
Start conducting! Become the conductor of your own life.
Channel this expansive power you possess into things that serve you. Inspire you. Delight you.
You’re never going to conduct the left brain. Ever. It’s got its own discordant symphony going on in there and it’s mostly loud, off-key, distracting noise.
But you can learn to minimize it.
Try this week. How? Don’t judge yourself for one day.
That’s a way to start.
“Brick wall, waterfall man u think u got it all But u don’t, I do, so boom with that attitude; Peace punch Cap’n Crunch I got something u can’t touch Bing bang choo choo train wind me up I do my thing; Reese’s Pieces 7 Up don’t mess with me I’m going Up, Up, Up!”
Our self-judgments originate from all sorts of unreliable sources. They then take roost in our left brains and create a neural groove that reboots itself over and over as our self-dialogue becomes infected with these untruths.
If you’ve survived in any business for any length of time, you’ve probably heard it all.
Hearing something someone says and then repeating it over and over to yourself doesn’t mean it’s true.
Don’t allow other peoples’ limitations of you limit you. Don’t let your own conditioned judgments of yourself limit you.
If it doesn’t feel good – then what you’re hearing is not the truth.
“You’re too fat. You’re too old. You’re too gay acting. You’re ‘green.’ You don’t have any credits. You don’t look like Brad Pitt. You need a nose job. You have too many freckles. Your breasts are too small. Your breasts are too big. Are those your real breasts? You’re too tall. You’re too short. You aren’t leading-man material. You don’t have leading-actress looks. You’re not funny. You look odd. You’re not 18. You fall between the cracks. You aren’t original. You have a weird voice. I wouldn’t know what to do with you. You’re not hot. There aren’t a lot of jobs for your ‘type’ right now. You haven’t done any major TV shows. You’re not what’s hot in the market right now. I already have 10 people who are exactly like you. You’d be a conflict with some of my other clients who look like you. You aren’t unique. You’re too unique. You’re too exotic. What are you? African American or Native American? Are you Japanese or Korean? You don’t read ethnic. You’re too ethnic. You’re not ethnic enough. I’m looking for the next Lea Michele. You’re too much like Lea Michele. I don’t think you’re TV material. You should stick to independent films. You’re not commercial. You’re not conventionally handsome. You’re not beautiful. You’re eyes are a little off. You’re not desirable. All you’ve done is theatre. I don’t like to take risks on talent. I don’t develop talent anymore. I want only established actors. If you haven’t done a TV show by the time you’re 30, you might as well quit. If you were more character-looking I could do something with you. You’re too character-looking. You can’t play character. The market only wants hot teenagers. You’re past your prime.”
Don’t ever subject yourself to anyone or any comment that marginalizes you, diminishes you, makes you doubt yourself or tries to break your spirit
And for goodness’ sake, stop saying it to yourself!
This week’s homework: You are not allowed to judge yourself.
“Take your life in your own hands and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.” ~ Erica Jong
Do we ever graduate from school?
The wanting to be liked? Or popular? Or more attractive? Or more “cool?”
At one level – no – because what everyone struggles with as adults are the same core issues that high school traumas (like surviving lunch period!) brought up for us: thinking that we’re not good enough or we’re inadequate or flawed in some way. We’re not worthy or desirable. We’re weird or unlovable.
What you are feeling is what everyone else is feeling. You’re not living in a vacuum.
When actors go into an audition room, they incorrectly think they’re the only ones who feel insecure. Everyone in the room is! We all have the same vulnerabilities. It may seem like the people making the decisions have the power but we’re all on equal footing here. At a business level, they need you as much as you need them. And at a core human level everyone wants to be liked and understood. Everyone wants to be seen and heard. Everyone is trying to do their best. And just like you’re wanting the casting director to like you – they’re answering to producers. Who are in turn answering to a director. Who in turn might be answering to a company.
The key to it all this is to learn to become more internally referenced. You’re never going to get out of that high school lunchroom if you keep looking outside yourself for the answers or the confirmation or the support or the love or the appreciation. First of all, “out there” is a reflection of “in here.” So what you are seeking out there is something you aren’t fulfilling for yourself internally.
People are fickle. Why? Because they’re (especially in this business) externally referenced. Judgments are made by your last job or how you look or how skinny you are or how much money you make or how young you are or hot or who you know. But those things change. You’re on top today; tomorrow you’re fired. Your show is cancelled. If you’re identity is based on the external, what happens when the externals are taken away?
If you’re waiting to hear it from your husband or your teacher or your lover or your coach or your mother or your best friend or your kids or your peers – it’s possible you may never hear it. Or what you do hear won’t be enough. Or it won’t be said the way you want to hear it. You have to give this to yourself first.
Work toward doing it for you. Work toward applauding you. Work toward the validation and acceptance and love and support coming from you. (And ironically, when you do that, you’ll begin to see it starting to show up more often in your external world.)
If other people give it to you – well golly! – that’s a nice bonus. If they don’t, it won’t be the end of the world.
Because the true victories in life are in conquering the noise in our heads that take us back to high school lunchroom periods over and over again.
“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” — Albert Einstein
Life is full of challenges. That’s the way it is. It makes it interesting and builds character. But we don’t like them, do we?
We mislabel them as “problems” because we’re taught culturally to seek pleasure and avoid pain at all costs. We’re spoon-fed images that life is about having the perfect house with the picket fence or vacationing on a pristine beach sipping piña coladas.
So when something occurs in life that makes us feel uncomfortable or isn’t easy or doesn’t fulfill those perfect airbrushed images we’re inundated with, we label these challenges as “bad” or “unwanted.” We overlay our drama on top of what is a natural part of life. Challenges are normal. Our misinterpretation of these challenges and labeling them negatively is not.
Your life’s challenges hold the seeds for all of your life’s victories and without them your life would be a dull, lifeless, horizontal line. All victories are born out of your challenges and they are essential in order for us to fulfill our potential.
And they help hasten us on our vertical journey.
We’re all evolving upwards. When we aspire to become our best selves and are inspired to create from that truth – these simple and yet profound actions are forces that create alchemy in our lives. It’s alchemical – it changes us – because challenges (when we meet and overcome them) forge new qualities within us. We discover new patience and compassion. We find new resolve, new reservoirs of strength. We make more choices out of love and not fear. We become less judgmental. We “lighten” up, have more fun. These qualities are aspects of a person evolving upwards on a vertical journey. It’s vertical because you evolve. This is simply not possible without overcoming the challenges that lead to new awareness. The challenges are what create the “ah ha’s.”
As you implement new ways to face your stuff, you’ll begin to witness a transformation in your life.
So try, if you can, to start enjoying your challenges a little more. Or at the very least, learn to become a little more neutral about them. They are the yin to your life’s yang.
And save the drama for the stage!
“When acting is free, it seems uncomplicated. When acting is blocked it all seems very complicated.” — Declan Donnellan
Life is about shortening the gap between where we are and where we’d like to be.
In all aspects.
Think about it. You want to get healthier or lose weight. You want to have a more committed spiritual practice. You want to be more creative and book more creative work.
The only way you’re going to get there is to keep going. There’s no other solution. No quick fix. No short cut. And that’s how you shorten the gap.
And it takes time.
NPR’s Ira Glass talks about shortening the gap in the creative process between your creative desires and your output of work. He says that when we first begin to create, we do so because we have “great taste.” But as we start creating, our work is bad. It doesn’t fulfill the picture we have in our minds of what we want to be doing. He says there’s only one way to get to where we want to go in our creative lives.
Most people stop during this phase because what they’re creating doesn’t match their vision. But by continuing to do the work, you eventually start to create better and better work. Work you’re excited about. Work that means something. Work you can be proud of.
I think the biggest gap we need to shorten is the gap we create by judging our creative selves. We have such unkind things to say to ourselves, that we shut down creativity before it’s had a chance to take root and flower. And so again, we stop.
The judgments force stoppage.
The only way you’re going to get past the loudness of the noise in your head is by doing. Constantly. And eventually, the outpouring of work exceeds the things you say about yourself. That’s the tipping point. And you’ve then shortened the gap and gotten to the other side.
Every time you judge yourself this week, what if you took the energy and time you wasted on those negative beliefs and put them toward creating something that means something to you instead?
This is how you shorten the gap.
“Life is diving off the diving board without knowing if there is any water in the pool.” — Richard Holbrooke
Listen up Drama Queens!
What if we understood conflict from a new scientific quantum perspective, gaining a new awareness of how to use conflict when it arises in a way that’s healthy and creative?
If you look at your life, the periods of greatest conflict also were the opportunities for greatest growth and awareness. You were stressed about a job, had an argument with your spouse, decided to take a risk to do something new. These situations were either fueled by inner conflict or outer conflict with another. But by staying in the conflict – not running away, not shutting down, not ignoring it – you got to the other side. A resolution was created and with that came possibility. Access to something new and undiscovered. Potential. An ‘ah ha’ moment. Creativity.
But we often bail when things get crunchy before we experience the positive results that are born through conflict. Why do we avoid it?
1). We’re not taught how to be conscious in conflict so it shuts us down.
2). We let it defeat us. We give up. We quit. We don’t realize conflict is not only ok, but is also essential to transform us.
3). We misinterpret it. We think just because there is conflict in our lives that there must be something wrong with us. Or we’re a failure. Or other people don’t have it.
If life were devoid of conflict, there would be no opportunity for evolution. We would exist in a state of nothingness. Homeostasis. Stagnation. From a biological standpoint, all species evolution has occurred through the triumphing over conflict to adapt. It’s called Natural Selection.
Stop making conflict so scary. Stop making it be bad. Stop confusing conflict with drama.
Drama is your story about conflict.
Conflict is just a part of life’s process to spurn you to your next level.
Talk about it less. Resolve it more.
“If you’re going to dream, dream big. It’s free.” — Azzam Alwash