Thursday, June 11, 2009

Belief, Identity and Caring for Yourself first. #HSM

My friends Chris Raine (@ckraine) and Simon Lawry (@simonlawry) have been discussing beliefs on their blogs as of late. Not just talking about beliefs , they have been challenging their own, reframing them, questioning status quo and the beliefs that we subsequently form as a result. It is thought-provoking and honest. Its real. And, more importantly for me, it forces me to look in the face my own beliefs. To challenge them. To question them. To find the deeper meaning behind them. And given the circumstances, it is something I feel like I need to do.

Here we go.

Last night I found this on Armano's blog.

You come to a point in your life when you really don't care about what people think about you, you just care what you think about yourself."
Robert 'Evil' Knivel, 1938-2007

"Great mate, you found a Evil Knivel quote, what has that got to do with anything?"
I could have just ignored it on its face value. After all, I am a bit of 'quote-junkie': I read, write, store, quotes all the time. But on a deeper level, i knew it was confronting. It scared me. I am big believer in Synchrodestiny and, at that point, I knew that it was an coincidence that needed addressing.

Here were the circumstances. You have to understand this: David Armano is a big name in digital circles. Logic and Emotion receives a fair amount of traffic, and, without a doubt, he is arguably one of the leading edge 'thought-leaders' in everything visual thinking, marketing, and social media. With that identity comes the dual swords to maintain: reputation and expectation. But then on this fateful day of Friday, November 30, 2007, Armano posted the aforementioned picture and quote with a simple Goodbye as its header. He did not write another post till about a month later, which in social media land, is a LONG time.

Put frankly: he did not give a shit what others thought.
No sorry. No real justification.Just plain and simple: Goodbye.He had other priorities clearly.
And when I ponder this matter further, the more I realise how confronting that is for me. How much I admire that. No courage necessary: just does it. To not care what others think, especially if they have a warped view of you. To do what you need to do for yourself.

Let me step back. I have always a knack with people. When I was Grade One, I poured a whole bottle of glue on my chair and sat on it, thinking it would provoke a fit of llaughter in the class. It did and I was branded the coolest kid at St Joe's that day. When I was in high school, I use to pride myself on having the ability 'to connect with anyone'. I would go sit with the jocks, the weirdos, the richkids, the drugies, the geeks, the boarders: you name it, I could assimilate and connect with all. In university days when I studied Communications (i wonder why?!), I was one of those eccentric types, involved in everything, and became president at my residential college in my 3rd year. I loved it: I had to inspire others and I had the opportunity to do my 'the high school thing' all over again.

My experiences reinforced and gave me belief system around my ability to 'connect with others'. It is what gave me the courage to fuck off in Asia by myself, I knew I could meet people. It is why I love social media so much: being a social butterfly is what I do. My self-identity is attached to others. Our society permits this: it is an unspoken rule that successful types have to be sociable. Thus, my beliefs extrapolated: Wow, I am deemed "successful" if I can connect with others. Consequently, my sense identity hardens.

As Taoism notes, however, nothing is ever good or bad, it just is. Dichotomies are man-made Anything you do in excess, or don't do, has the potential to be good or bad.
(Look at the Yin-Yang Circle and you will understand.) So here is my issues: when you have a belief system that is centered around people and the notion of success, you automatically feel cognitive dissonance when experiences do not reinforce that.

Warped Beliefs:

- I do not like it when people think negatively of me.
- i do not like it whenI let people down and disappoint others.
- I like it when people think highly of me.
- If I am not 'on the path to success', I feel unworthy.
- If I am going through hardship (like now), somehow I feel my self-worth is less.
- If I don't have my intelligence and people skills, I won't be liked.
- When I get depressed and unsociable, which I do atm, I feel like I am not "me".

Let me state: these are deep subconscious beliefs. And whenever self-analysing yourself, it always comes with bias, so I am not sure if this is, in fact, an accurate picture of my own identity. Nevertheless, it serves as a good exercise. In saying that all this, I am being harsh on myself (again). To some degree, everyone cares what others think of them - we are inherent social beings and you would not be human if you didn't. The challenge is to find the balance.

So upon reflection, here some new thoughts:

- I want (not I will) to look after myself and my own needs first; because only then will I be in a solid position to look after others. (You can't change the world, if you don't change yourself first.)

- There will always a few people who have a "different" view of me. That is fine. Reality is subjective. People bring their own realities to the cards, so what they think 'negatively' of you is probably something in their own belief systems that they are bringing to the table. There is no one reality - that is a myth. Also, your mistakes are not you. What you do badly is not all of you - just something that happen at that period. Humans are easy to take one experience as "theirs" - we forget how much time doesn't really exist. Past, Present, Future are one thing, if you think about.

- "Successful' is an arbitrary concept, created by us, others and our society. Successful is what you make it. It means nothing in the end. You can only do what you have in this moment. The Present is the only reality - the past and the future are constructs of the mind.

-Hardship is spiritual training. It creates strong, deeper self-worth., empathy, less ego, understanding (especially of the delusions that exist in modern society). Challenging your ego allows you to get in touch with the deeper you. Break the ego. The spaciousness as Tolle describes it.

- This is a bit cynical but true: Most people don't give a shit about you, they are only thinking of themselves.

- My intelligence and skills are only 'one aspect' of my identity. People who are really attracted to me see the deeper side. Perhaps not rationally, but intuitively. Not you are not are not. Simple.

- People always come in and out of your life. Life is always changing. Be like the river, make the most of the surroundings and then continue on, floating, knowing that some will follow and others will go in different directions. High school happen: ended. College happen: ends. Solo travel happen: ends. This era is happening: it will end. Embrace it.

- I do not have to rationally justify everything to everyone. I can do things even if they don't make sense. Our paradigm mode of thinking is centred around 'answers'. But I don't need to provide answers. Words are not the best methods of conveying what you intuitively know is correct. If it feels right, do it. That is all.

- Back to Buddhist and Taoist ideas. Everything is impermanent. You have been very reliable in the past - that led to admiration and loyalty. At the same token, you have been disappointed others as well - that led to loss of self-worth. The two are intertwined. Disappointing people is often a failure to look after your own needs first. When you are not looking after yoruself, you want a quick dosage of 'confidence', so you look towards others. Others are always fleeting. Your inner strength needs to come from yourself.

- You know you have a deeper, introverted side Ed. You finally 'discovered' it on the road. You enjoy hanging with yourself: you kind of prefer it at times. So realise when you are depressed, and/or not sociable, you are NOT not being yourself. That is you. Comtemptation and Solitude are important. They provide serenity.

- I am good person doing the best I can with what I have got. Stop feeling anxious when you think that people "think less of you". It doesn't matter. Think good about yourself.
Actually, when I think about it, by being completely yourself - unashamedly being all that you are - you are allowing others to free themselves of their egos. Giving them permission to share their light, and darkness freely; to free them of their own identities and realise they are much more than just that.

Spontaneous prose is awesome: you never know what the hell comes out. The main takeaway is this: your beliefs are fleeting, they are not you, only a fragment of you. If you are self-aware enough, you can take action and change those beliefs. Life is all about kaizen.So, since it started with a quote and picture, I'll end it with one as well.

"Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing." Lincoln

Maximiliam Edwards

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