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Clear Thinking for the weekend

Courtesy: Stalin S, Project Director, Essar Projects India Ltd.

Bro. BK Mike George - 4th October 2009 - Do YOU Have the Power of Protection?

Do you need protection? Are you strong enough to protect yourself? Or do you need someone to protect you? We tend to think of protection on a physical level and the idea that if you are physically strong enough you will be able to protect your self. And if you are not then there are three options.

a) Go to the gym build your muscles b) Get someone to protect you. c) Stay in!

Discos employ bouncers, armies train soldiers and the rich and famous hire bodyguards. But the vast majority of us will never need to worry about being hurt by others as our average day carries very little physical threat. However if we move to the mental/emotional level there appears to be a different kind of possibility that we may get ‘hurt’. Indeed it seems that some of us believe we are being mentally or emotionally ‘hurt’ almost every day. Our symptoms of hurt are the behaviours that emerge as a result e.g. blaming, complaining and accusing others for ‘making me feel this way’. Is that because, like physical hurt, we are not strong enough or not powerful enough to protect ourselves, or is it because we feel we are at the mercy of other people and circumstances regardless of how powerful we are? Does it mean we need some kind of mental/emotional protection or do we need to manage our hurt feelings a little more discretely? Do we need some kind of ‘bouncer system’ standing guard at the widows of our minds and at the doors of our heart?

In order to clearly see what kind of protection we may need, it’s useful to consider exactly how ‘hurt’ happens. These are the seven main reasons why we might feel that we are ‘hurting’ mentally or emotionally.

Insulted - “How dare you say that to me!”

Whether someone calls us names or makes derogatory remarks about our personality, it seems many of us can easily feel personally insulted.

Offended. - “Can you believe what they just said about ‘my’ religion”

Similar to a personal insult being offended means we are disapproving of someone’s behavior or words. In our ‘judgment’ of the other we see them as doing or saying something against our beliefs or values. It could be a slander towards our race or religion. Some have come to habitually feel so easily affronted they consciously seek for reasons to be offended.

Let Down - “I am so disappointed in you because you’ve let me down”

A sense of hurt is the form of disappointment that follows quickly from the perception that someone has let us down. Whether they turned up late or just didn’t meet a commitment, we take it personally and once our sadness and anger (hurt) have faded, we put a black mark against that persons name in filing cabinet called memory.

Betrayed - “How could you tell them what I said, how can I ever trust you again” When we take others into our ‘confidence’ we do so with the expectation that they will keep that confidence confidential! We do not expect them to pass it on to any old ‘other’! And when they do we feel the hurt of betrayal.

Robbed - “They took everything from me”

Perhaps one of the deepest hurts is when we have something we deem precious taken from us. Sometimes we feel it’s not just thieves, but we perceive some businesses are out to take as much from as many of us as they can for their product or service, and we then call it daylight robbery!

Broken Promise - “But you promised me…”!

We all know the moment of personal hurt when someone breaks a promise, whether it’s a parent who fails to buy that bike at Christmas, the boss who fails to deliver a promised promotion or the friend who fails to return a precious item on time.

Excluded - “You didn’t invite me…”

It’s that moment when you realise that you are not included in what you desired to be a part of. Any hurt feelings are often followed by, “What’s wrong with me?”

Life seems to throw up so many good reasons to feel hurt which means to feel powerless in the face of other’s behaviours and prevailing circumstances. In some areas this can happen so frequently to so many people that eventually the government has to create a ‘protection agency’ to ensure ‘the people’ are not exploited by others.

So how do we build our mental and emotional strength, how do we empower our self so that we don’t experience these feelings of hurt? How can we build the inner power to protect our self from our own mental and emotional suffering? Perhaps ‘protection’ is not the right word! Perhaps the real question is how do we not create, or break the habit of creating, our own suffering, our own hurt, in the first place?

Here are some suggestions in the form of the basic principles of ‘Self emPOWERment’ which can both eliminate all hurt and eventually give you the strength not to create it :-

1. Accept Responsibility - Sometimes it’s hard to see, never mind accept, that we are each responsible for our thoughts and feelings at all times and in all situations. Our first responsibility in life is our ‘ability to respond’. This means any ‘hurt’ feelings are entirely our own creation and it’s never the other person or the situation. Easy theory but hard to put into practice in the ‘heat of the moment’, especially after a lifetime of believing ‘it’s them’. But if we can apply the principle of self responsibility, even after the situation has receded, we will begin to look for the cause of our hurt within our self as opposed to continue projecting our emotions on to others. And when we look we will almost certainly find that we feel hurt because the world is not dancing to our tune.

2. End Controlling - It’s just not possible to control anyone else’s words or behaviours…ever! And most of our hurt comes because others are not saying or doing what we want, or they are saying/doing what we don’t want. Our emotional reaction is a sign that we are trying to control what we cannot control. Our ‘hurt’ is a sign that we are unhappy, and believe they are ‘making’ us unhappy. But ‘reality’ reminds us that the world is not designed to dance to ‘my tune’ and neither is the world, which includes other people, responsible for our happiness.

3. Be Happy Anyway - Being responsible for our own happiness is also a challenge in a world that sends us hundreds of messages every day to say you cannot be happy until you have this, go there, consume that and acquire these etc. But as long as we make our happiness dependent on anything or anyone outside our self our emotions will fluctuate wildly and we will be unable to be at peace with our self, unable to give the gift of our peace to others, unable to extend the light of our love consistently to others. We will be unable to stop hurting our self emotionally or mentally. Realising that our happiness is an ‘inside job’ frees us from our dependencies and then there is nothing anyone can do that would ‘let us down’.

4. Letting Go - If you explore the root of any hurt and all your unhappiness you will always find some form of attachment. Holding on to things, ideas and images of how others ‘should’ speak and act, is the real cause of our hurt feelings. Letting go or being detached does not mean we don’t care or that we are ‘avoiding’, it simply means we are free, our energy, our power is not trapped or blocked by old attachments, and we are able use our energy to respond positively to whatever happens.

5. Self Awareness - The one place we tend not to look and learn is the inner space of our self. Cultivating self awareness allows us to see how and why we are ‘feeling’ hurt. It reminds us we are always responsible for our feelings and that we have the inner power to choose our feelings regardless of what others say or do. We may even see that we too have the ‘occasional inclination’ to insult, offend, exclude, let others down. And as we do we also realise that in the reality of real life these are things some people intend to do. And we can do absolutely nothing about others intentions and what they eventually do. All we can do is not be ‘affected’ by what they do. Some people do try to protect themselves from such behaviours but only by avoiding them. Much better to empower our self so that we don’t ‘hurt’ our own feelings, our self, when we see and hear ‘them’ attempting to insult, offend, exclude, rob etc.

You know when you are self-empowered, you know when you are standing in your power when:

* No one can hurt you by insulting you, as you now see you are not whatever ‘name/s’ they may call you. It is just words (sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me! )

* You can no longer be ‘offended’ because you are no longer ‘attached’ to a particular belief or belief system about how others ‘should’ speak, act, wear their clothes and live their lives.

* You are can never be hurt by some one who lets you down because you have learned not to make your happiness dependent on having your expectations met by others.

* You can never be hurt by betrayal because you are no longer dependent on what others think about you for your self worth and self esteem and you know that you cannot control what others will do with what you share.

* You cannot be robbed of anything of real value because in truth you know you possess nothing (you can’t take it with when you go) and everything comes and goes, and you have no control over the manner in which it may leave! And ou now know your primary values are intangible and internal not those tangible and external things you are taught to acquire.

* You can no longer be hurt by a broken promise because you know and accept that that is what people sometimes do, they break their promises, and your happiness is no longer dependent on others keeping their promises.

* You are no longer devastated when you appear to be excluded. You do not take it personally. Your self-esteem and self-worth are no longer dependent on the approval of others. You no longer need to be involved in anything to be content within your self. You know there is nothing ‘wrong’ with you. You are a free spirit, and if the invitations come that’s OK, but if they don’t come that’s also OK.

* In truth you cannot be protected against ‘hurt’ at a mental/emotional level because you create the hurt feelings yourself. But if you are still ‘hurting’ then it’s a signal to head for the mental/emotional gym and embark on some mental muscle building. And the first exercise is realising it’s ‘not them, it’s me’.

Question: Which of the above seven reasons tends to be the ‘trigger’ (not cause) of your hurt feelings. Reflection: How could you free your self from all hurt? Action: Take five minutes at the end of each day this week and note down all the moments you felt hurt by someone or something and see if you can see why it was you and not ‘them’.

What’s Your Passion? Is there anything in your life you are passionate about? What is your passion? Are you sure it’s real passion? Passion is another of those concepts whose meaning has become grey at best, totally blurred at worst. The word passion tends to be loosely and vaguely mixed with a variety of concepts including love, anger, suffering and enthusiasm.

The most common meaning attributed to passion is ‘a strong sexual desire’. In the classic ‘love’ stories it is that heated moment, usually around midnight, when physical feelings and strong emotions take control in the name of ‘making love’. Actually ‘making love’ is, in itself, a misnomer, as love cannot be made, it already is! But this kind of passion is not love it’s usually just lust, and lust is not love. Lust has been more accurately described as, “the selfish pursuit of the fulfilment of a physical desire”. If we are to call lust passion, and lust is not love, then passion is not love. And if lust is just another addiction that means passion, if it is lust, is rather unhealthy.

Some confuse passion with anger. They justify their anger towards some perceived injustice as a demonstration of their passion and they even say, “Of course I’m angry, it’s because I am passionate about this issue, it shows how much I care”. But care is not anger, and to call anger passion is more likely to be a way of avoiding self-control because the presence of anger means there has been a loss of control. So passion is not anger, anger is anger! In biblical times passion was confused with suffering. As a theological term, the Passions of Christ refer to his sufferings subsequent to the last supper and crucifixion. But is passion a form of suffering? Surely suffering is suffering and, at an emotional level, it will be based in some form of loss. And whoever heard of passion meaning loss?

In all three examples of possible meanings of passion there is one thing in common; passion is being perceived as an “intense emotion born of desire or loss” which, if not resolved, will end in even further disappointment and sorrow.

If true passion is not physical stimulation, not anger and not emotional suffering, what is it? Beyond the physical and the emotional there is the spiritual. Perhaps we may find the real meaning of passion in the territory of spirit. The root meaning of enthusiasm lies in the Greek term ‘entheos’ which describes the natural, unhindered energy of spirit. It means to be filled with the ‘energy of God’ or divine energy. When our core energy, our spiritual energy, moves through us and out into the world in a natural, creative way, we experience and feel what is known as enthusiasm. We all know this experience. Think of a time when you were being creative. Notice your enthusiasm during the process. Notice your enthusiasm as you talk about your creative experience to others. And notice your enthusiasm to return to create some more. All artists know this kind of enthusiasm and it means they have found their ‘passion’.

We are all artists as we all get to create our own lives. We do this by creating thoughts, decisions and building relationships with others. So why do so many of us lack enthusiasm in life, why the lack of ‘a passion’ for living. Because we learn to miscreate! We create desires, anger and sorrow instead, and it’s these miscreations that kill our enthusiasm. They destroy our passion for living, and participating fully in our own life. As you can probably see, finding your passion in life, and therefore living enthusiastically, requires a degree of self-awareness and self-understanding not normally learned in most peoples lives. It means realizing life is a creative process in itself, and the energy required to fulfill that process is unlimited in supply within your own heart. When discovered you will know enthusiasm, you will be enthusiastic and others will see someone living their life ‘with a passion’.

Question: Which of the three road blocks mentioned above do you find drain your enthusiasm – the desire to be physically stimulated, an attack of the ‘anger’ or the wallowing in the occasional suffering (poor me?) Reflection: When was the last time you were genuinely and consistently enthusiastic? Action: No matter what you do today, attempt to be enthusiastic before you start and during the process. Then stop, reflect and see what gets in the way.

1st November 2009 - The Seat of Power – Are YOU in it?

Where lies true power? Who has power today and why exactly are they powerful? There is a tendency to externalize the idea of power. We look at other people and organizations and we call them ‘powerful’. Why? Because they seem to have a significant effect on the world around them. This gives us a simple but accurate definition of power as ‘the ability to influence future change’. And as we look out into the world we see so many are vying with each other to become powerful as they seek to become the ‘main influencers’ of future change in a particular sphere of life. But as we watch others attempting to exercise their power and attempt to change the world around them, we often forget the most important ‘place of future change’, the place where we always ‘potentially’ have maximum power of influence. And that is of course within our own consciousness. We don’t tend see consciousness, the self, as a place of power, a seat of power, a source of power.

There are a variety of signs that tend to indicate how powerful you are in the universe of your own consciousness. These are only three.

Your Awakening - Your first thoughts on awakening each morning indicate how much influence YOU will have over your thoughts and decisions. A ‘have to’ attitude to yet another day means you are likely to surrender your seat of power to forthcoming events and circumstances as you see yourself unhappily struggling to get through another day. Whereas a ‘want to’ attitude that accompanies your daily awakening to the world indicates you are more in charge of how you meet the world and the conscious shaping of your actions in your exchanges with others. The ‘want to’ person also tends to have greater strength and resilience in dealing with any adversities that may arise.

Your Responses - Whenever we ‘react’ to others it means our emotions are sitting on our inner seat of power and they are shaping the energies, the thoughts and actions that we create and give out. Whereas when we respond without being reactive it is a sign that we are back on our throne and ruling the inner kingdom of our consciousness.

Your Influence - Attempting to force someone to do something usually begets resistance in return. This is a sign of a lack of power, and it usually ends in conflict. Being influential and effecting change around us without invoking resistance in others is one sign that we are using our energy, our consciousness, intelligently. The enlightened soul knows the difference between force and power, never attempts to force things, using all their energies with the wisdom of acceptance and flow.

So how can we fully exploit the power of consciousness, the power of the self? First we need to see the difference between energy and power.

Come with me for a moment back in time to your childhood and school. Do you remember playing with a magnifying glass in the sun and setting fire to the grass or some other such material? Most of us did, but we didn’t realise at the time that what we did was going to be a powerful metaphor for the rest of our life. Notice the sun is freely radiating energy in all directions in the form of light and heat. What we did was as follows. With the aim of setting fire to the grass we focused the energy of the sun through a magnifying glass so that it became so powerful it could set fire to dry grass. We converted energy into power, which had the ability to change the form of the material upon which we focused it.

This is also a great metaphor for human consciousness because we each have the capacity to take the energy of our consciousness and turn it into something very powerful. The equivalent of the magnifying glass is of course a clear sense of PURPOSE, this is what focuses and concentrates our thinking and informs our decision-making, empowering us to potentially ‘influence change’ around us and make a significant impact in the world.

But purpose is not enough to turn energy into power, we also need a specific AIM and clear set of VALUES to guide the use of that power because, just as there are many ways to skin a cat as they say in some places, there are many ways to achieve a PURPOSE and an AIM, and if we don’t use the ‘right way’ then we will not only diminish the consistency and longevity of our power, but we may also affect others in a detrimental way along the way!

For example once upon a time there was a fast food chain whose leaders were split into two camps. Each group shared the same sense of purpose for their company, which was to provide high quality fast food to the general public. But the two groups differed in how that service should be delivered – one group said they should be honest and transparent, open and clear, regarding how the ingredients were sourced and prepared, while the other group said they should spin, obfuscate, manipulate the facts and disguise both source and preparation. So there was a common purpose but a clash of values. For some time the company went down the route of obfuscation and the bending of the facts, until they were exposed.

They lost ‘good will’ and eventually customers, and then attempted to turn it around by turning over a new leaf and opting to guide their purpose and aims with the other set of transparent values.

Once upon another time there was a man who decided his PURPOSE was to make money. His AIM was to be a millionaire within a year. But because his values and principles were primarily founded on ‘speed’, on ‘the end justifies the means’, on ‘relaxation’, which for him meant staying in bed as long as possible, he robbed banks! To achieve his aim he took other peoples money, affected others lives in a detrimental way and when he got caught he lost his freedom. He had not realized one of his deepest values was freedom… until he lost it!

If, for a moment, we connect this process and principle of power to the various challenges that we all now face in the current national and international context i.e. climate change, resource depletion, financial polarization, social upheaval, food shortages, homelessness, expanding and drifting populations, etc. We would probably find some, if not many, ‘flaws’ within the decision making process at the level of purpose, aim and values in all these areas, otherwise these issues would not be concerning us all so significantly today.

No point in pointing the finger of blame as that only wastes our energy and thereby diminishes our power to influence future change here and now. We can influence these scenarios. But before that is possible it seems obvious that we need to harness and focus the energy of our own consciousness. Then perhaps we can influence future change in the wider world.

And so your purpose, this very day, could look and sound something like the following:

Recognising you are a source of conscious energy, i.e. the energy of consciousness, with the potential to make that energy a source of power in the world….

Acknowledging that there are no limits to what that energy can achieve given the right purpose, aim and values which will shape your decision making process …

Accepting that your life today is far from perfect due to the possible absence of a clear purpose, perhaps the lack of a clear aim/s or simply the wrong choice of values with which to guide your purpose and aims into the world….

Your mission today, should you decide to accept it (!), ‘could’ be to give your self some time to review and reflect on your purpose, consider your aim/s and select the right values so that you are able turn the ‘energy’ of your consciousness, your self, into a power that may influence future change.

What is your purpose? What is/are your aims? And what are your core values? And are they being translated into action? Not easy questions. No quick and easy answers until there has been time spent in reflection, introspectively living deeply within the questions themselves. But how else are we to influence future change than by beginning with the energy of our own consciousness. That’s where the future is created in the present. That’s’ where you can focus the energy of your consciousness into ‘the power’ that your life can be.

Question: What is your purpose and what are your aims?

Reflection: You already contain the values you need to make your purpose a powerful force in the world - what might those values be?

Action: Take ten minutes every day this week and explore purpose, aim and values, being patient and playful, until clear insight and answers emerge.

Bro. BK Mike George - Clear Thinking - Weekly Reflections - The Secrets of Self Esteem - Part 1

Part 1 – How we sabotage our self esteem

At some stage in life most of us will become aware of the solidity and stability of our self-esteem, or lack of, as the case may be. How we esteem ourselves underpins all our actions. It seems however, that the vast majority will not be aware of how this internal influence will affect absolutely everything we think, feel and do. Made up of the strands of self-respect, self-worth and self-value, if our self-esteem is not clearly founded in who we truly are, it will undermine our ability to act and interact positively and proactively. It will sabotage our ability to maintain calm and focus. And it will therefore not allow us to be content with our self. There are four common errors we all learn to make, usually in childhood, which will ensure our self-esteem is not as solid and stable as it could be.

1 People who base their self-respect on their reputation in the eyes of others will not have real self- esteem. Inevitably the praise, acclaim or applause will die. It may even turn to criticism. In that moment the person who has become dependent on others 'feeding' them with respect will collapse inside and may even turn to other sources such as drugs to replace the loss. Their self-esteem, which has been built on the expressed feelings and behaviours of others towards them, will dissolve.

2 People who base their self-confidence only on their skills and abilities will not have real self- esteem. They will always find themselves in situations where they won't have the necessary skills. If their self-esteem is only based on the skills they already have, they will feel at a loss and unable to cope in such situations, though they may attempt to bluff their way through. They may even spend much time and energy on trying to disguise their inadequacy. Eventually they will be found out. Someone with real self-esteem will simply say, "I don't have the skills to handle this task/situation…yet! But I can learn. Now, what do I need to learn?"

3 People who base their self-worth on their possessions will not have real self esteem. This is perhaps the most common mistake. We learn to measure our worth by external things like possessions, position, pay and perhaps another person in our life. (look who my partner is!) There is nothing more certain than they will one day either leave us, be taken away or will have to be given up. This inner knowledge then adds to the original mistake and generates feelings of insecurity and a free-floating, continuous background anxiety. Hence one of the reasons why the vast majority lead quietly desperate lives.

4 People who base their self-image on their appearance will not have real self esteem. This is the illusion that we are what we see in the mirror. This will ensure a lifetime of anxiety and frustration quietly eating away at our self-esteem. For some it will become an obsession as they try to slow, or even halt, the inevitable ageing and decay that must happen to their physical image. Not to mention the slightest derogatory comment about their appearance triggering hours, perhaps days, of angst and self-doubt.

Next week we will explore how to build our self-esteem from inside out and not outside in.

Question: Which of all of the above traps do you tend to fall into most?

Reflection : Take a moment to write down what you think is the antidote to each of the above, and see if you can see what your self-esteem should be based on.

Action: Do three things differently this week that will affirm/build your self-esteem

Clear Thinking - BK Mike George - The Secrets of Self Esteem - Part 2 -

Uniqueness, Beauty and Value

Our self esteem is essentially shaped in our early childhood years. It only takes the negative vision of one parent or an older sibling to negatively affect our creation of our self-image/belief and thereby distort our self esteem. It takes only one traumatic moment of parental rejection and we learn that we are rejectable, and we learn to reject ourselves. The voices that told us who we are and what we are like are planted in our subconscious, and can affect how we feel about ourselves, not to mention all that we will think, say, and do, for the rest of our life.

So how can we check and change our self esteem? A working definition is useful. Self -esteem is the knowledge and consistent awareness of your own uniqueness, beauty and value.

Uniqueness - Perhaps the most common habit we all learn to develop is to compare our self with others. Every time you compare yourself with another watch for thoughts like, "They seem to be doing better than me.. I wonder what it's like to be them... how come they get all the luck... they are much better than me at that..." Behind these thoughts you are really saying you would like to be them, live like them, and be in the position they are in. In that moment you forget YOU are absolutely unique. You can only be your self. There is no one the same as you, and you can never be the same as someone else. If you keep thinking in this way you only sustain an underlying sense of failure which eats away at your self-respect and self-esteem.

Never compare your self with anyone else, realise and remember you are a one-off!

Beauty - We are surrounded and easily indoctrinated by the 'beauty myth' which says that if you are not drop-dead stunningly gorgeous, you cannot be successful and happy. Our monthly glossy magazines are filled with beautiful people, sleek, slim and airbrushed to perfection accompanied with the subliminal exhortation, "You too can and should look like this and, if you buy the little bottle that you see at the bottom of the page, and splash it all over, you will look like this and you will then be beautiful, successful and happy"! We then buy the bottle, splash it all over and wonder why nothing changes! Yet we all know real beauty lies within. We have all walked away from someone who said or done something that touched our heart, and we either said or thought, "Wasn't she/he just a beautiful person". In that moment we acknowledge the idea that beauty comes from character. Every character, including your own, contains that 'beauty potential'. Yet few of us are able to find it and consist. Never base your beauty on your looks, transfer it to beautify your character.

Value - How do you know your own value? Only from others in the context of your relationships. It's when people say things like, "Well done, great job, thank you so much, you were great," that we get our sense of value in life. Yet, when we do hear this from others, a little voice in our head may pop up and say, "Nah, it was a fluke... it was just luck... it won't last..." In that moment we puncture the possible affirmation of our value, the value of our life to others. Conversely, others dis-belief in themselves is such that they crave such feedback and they will say, "Tell me again, did I really do OK. Are you sure it was that good. How good was I again?" They are the needy individual who, somewhere in the past have become addicted to and dependent upon the approval of others.

Neither crave nor reject positive feedback. When it comes accept it, affirm it, express appreciation and move on.

The sure knowledge and continuous awareness of your uniqueness, beauty and value are the foundations of your self esteem from which will come your self confidence, the ability to overcome adversity and withstand criticism.

Question: Whom do you find yourself comparing yourself with most?

Reflection: What three attributes do you see that are beautiful within your own character? Action: Say thanks for saying thanks to whoever says thanks to you this week

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