Sunday, 13 April 2014

Shrug Off Shame

Some of us tend to be get embarrassed on behalf of other people in anticipation of possible humiliation. Even more if we feel we share a connection with them. It might be from a misguided sense of responsibility, a weak inner self confidence or our need to be in control of everything. This behaviour damages relationships. We should not project our views unto others to judge them by it.

  • Do not carry a burden that is not yours. If they cause embarrassment it is theirs to carry, you can share connection without taking responsibility for all their actions. Unless you associate yourself by reacting, people tend to be more objective and will most probably not even think of you when assigning blame.
  • Don't react because of the possibility of a reaction. All that you are doing is taking a potential uncomfortable situation and making it unavoidable. Keep in mind that in uncomfortable situations people tend to be highly influenced by the first responders. If you want to help, shrug it off.
  • Accept that which is out of your control and not your responsibility and relax. People handle things differently and many approaches fit the individual. If something doesn't work for you, it doesn't mean it won't for the other. Most moments of embarrassment are fleeting, quickly forgotten. Don't give it much thought.

Being overly conscious of others’ opinions invites doubt and escalates any potential embarrassment for yourself and others. We look back to life events and remember the outliers. Living in a perfect environment is not only impractical, but it robs you of enriching stories that remind you of a life lived and not just passed through.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Deception by Fact

Contrary to popular belief, facts do not usually point to a single truth. Most of the time they do not even point in the same direction. We favour facts that are aligned to our way of thinking and present them in such a way that they do (confirmation bias).

We use facts as premises for our hypotheses to prove their validity and to encourage uptake by others. This, however, is an illusion. Most facts are collected after forming an opinion in search of supporting proof. In all cases there is a story that brings them together and ultimately does the convincing as they stand powerless on their own. Consider the following scenario:


  • Bank robber dies in botched bank robber
  • Mother of two dies in bank robbery as innocent bystander in cross fire
  • Bank robber is parent of cancer child

Possible stories:

  1. Desperate parent dies in botched robbery in attempt to get finances for medical treatment for his dying son
  2. Bank robber kills innocent hostage in shootout with police in broad daylight

The idea of an absolute truth requires a complete understanding of all the facts (influences, context, players, history, etc.), an unbiased view as well as black and white values. An idealistic concept at best. This is why we tend to place our faith in the council of many, as they are a representative collective of perspectives. Consider some modern structures:
  • Parliament vs. King
  • A board of directors vs. Owner
  • UN vs. Single country army

In truth our conclusion is a belief based on our biased view of the partial facts we are exposed to. There are of course though different levels of ignorance when it comes to constructing a hypothesis, but we can never claim absolute truth.

Do not be lured into believing in the infallibility of your hypotheses as it will impede your ability to learn from others. We should welcome the opportunity to discover new facts from other people's breadcrumbs. Their bits of knowledge seen through their eyes can open your mind to insights you might have never gained on your own.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Tapping Into Past Happiness

We can increase our current level of happiness especially in difficult times by tapping into good past memories. This provides more stability where your state of mind is determined by more than your mental stamina and current environment.

We are in control of how we interpret the past. Selective memory by means of capturing and recalling specific moments or associated feelings is vital in controlling how we see the past. We are both the lead character and the author of how we tell and relive our life stories. Forming a story that we remember in a positive light does not require a holistic and step-by-step factual description. You take what you want and ignore the rest, even if it means reconstructing it with a different underlying message than you first thought it told. We change and so can our interpretation of the past.

If you don't like the stories you have or feel there are some missing be sure to push your unwanted past back by forming stories you can tell with pride. Take control of today as it is in your grasp and own your experiences with confidence. Remember the focus is today. Do not live in the past, but use it to enrich the present.

Choose your recollection method. If it is from a healthy memory choose the moments you dwell on carefully. If you use photos or videos don't hesitate to capture often and find time and means to relive them. If the trigger is music or locations make time to revisit them and build up references. This is a form of reconditioning that helps you to appreciate your past rather than let it bring you down.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Wall up knowledge

Don't flood people with your knowledge. Live in your full awareness, but only reveal your depth up to the level it is understood and appreciated.

If you release an excessive wave of knowledge people will be unable to properly interpret and build associations (people can only learn that what they almost already know) and quickly loose interest.

It's not the facts that make up knowledge which change us, but our approach towards assimilating it into our way of thinking (See 'Own It'). By releasing knowledge in bite size chunks we can increase the probability that our shared knowledge will make lasting contributions to others.

Do not let your words lose their weight by wasting them on an unappreciative audience. Take time to continuously assert their interest and ability to comprehend the conveyed knowledge before continuing. The weight of your words is not measured in quantity, but in the movement it inspires.

It is important not to confuse the level of comprehension with the target audience's intelligence. Engagement is more often build up from related experience that forms a contextual platform.

Just because something intrigues you doesn't mean others should share your 
interest or choice in conversation.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Own It

Where does our strength come from? People are empowered by concepts like their career success, riches, heritage and past experiences. Why do some fill you with pride and determination while others pass by without a second thought?

I believe that the core activator is the individual's ability to 'own' an idea by assimilating it into who they are. This is an active commitment to the affiliation; not observing from a distance, but making it part of you.

It starts with exposure. You cannot draw power from something you don't know. Ideas do draw the individual with different intensities - these forces are a complicated mixture of sources, like past experiences, culture, environment and friends. They act like a catalyst and can help you in making the commitment, BUT they are not the source which you will draw from. Your ability to take ownership of the idea will be the measure.

The 'what' is less important than the depth of the concept’s integration into the individual’s way of life and the regard in which is held.

We tend to incorporate many ideas and beliefs. These are the pillars that define who we are. Keep in mind that a wider pillar selection can provide strong support, but can also increase internal conflict and require much effort to sustain a deep commitment. The purest and strongest form of empowerment is a single complete devotion that directs every aspect of your life, a single truth you live by. The danger of this is clear, and its effect undeniable.

Quantifiable skillsets and training is slightly different, because the result is measured not by the individual’s value system but from a shared perspective. The core principle, however, is still applicable: in order to gain the most from new knowledge you will need to assimilate it into your practices as your own.

Finally it is important to master incremental assimilation. You do not need to wait until you have a complete understanding before committing to an idea. Learn to assimilate in bite sizes so that you can draw from underlying principles while you are discovering it in depth. This will give you a competitive advantage to those who are more reluctant to commit in stages. Another valuable practice is to link the learning to other areas to allow you to add to a global body of knowledge/taxonomy for a more complete view on life.

These pillars inspire and empower us to go beyond our limitations, grow them and not hesitate to draw power from them when needed.

Monday, 29 July 2013

The Flash of Good

It can be difficult to spend time with anyone without picking up traits or habits that you dislike in them.

For many people these negative elements quickly shape into the dislike of the person. Without allowing room for differences and mistakes our journey can be littered with a sequence of shortlived engagements. This in turn can result in having a very select group of friends with a narrow spectrum of insight, potentially limiting both your personal growth and exposure to the diversity of life.

The 'Flash of Good' principle challenges one to invert your thoughts by searching for the one key aspect you can respect and appreciate from every person you meet. This can be a skill, accomplishment or even  something as superficial as aesthetics. Make this your key association, and as you become aware of issues force yourself to focus on their ‘Flash of Good’ so that your feelings don't easily get routed by negativity.

Try to separate a person from actions, behavior and faults. Throw emotions at events, not the person. This is not forgetting, excusing or supporting the differences; it is purely an approach to abstract negative feelings from how you treat people.

Have a very low baseline expectation from everyone. People are self-serving, weak, overbearing, untrustworthy, cold and unforgiving. Every single exception that contradicts the dark corners of our nature is something worth appreciating and a potential candidate for their 'Flash of Good'.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Mental Reconditioning

How do we define what we are? We have impulses, desires and feelings within our environment that forms strong gravitational forces. These forces influence our decision making and how we interpret the outcome.

Two extreme views:
1.       What we feel is what we are. The belief that our nature is given to us; our emotions are our guide on the path of self-discovery.
2.       We become what we want to be. Nothing is set in stone, we are who we choose to be, a constant work in progress.

Fully understanding yourself is difficult. The intricate journey that comes together in our present self is very difficult to express in black and white ideologies. With that said, my philosophy is heavily weighted towards crafting yourself into what you want to be.

Some points I take to heart from the opposing viewpoint include:
·         Some behaviors are near impossible to alter after passing a certain point.
·         Simply embracing life is more spontaneous.

My primary concerns:
·         The belief that our nature is provided puts distance between us and the results of our actions. Removing the need to take responsibility for your actions, because as long as it feels right, it must be.
·         With no direction there is no control of what one becomes. I have little confidence in the general good of humanity. We are not isolated and our choices affect those around us. If not for one’s self the individual should be mindful of who they are becoming to those around them.

Can we change our nature?

I believe that these Silent Forces that come from within is our minds interpretation of a very complex assimilation of our complete past and current environment. The part that we could gain some control over is the interpretation - the area I refer to as your Inner Core’s 'Chamber of Thoughts'.

Stop believing in your feelings. You might be surprised to find how much of your nature started with a flip of a coin and slowly grew into the pillars you hold them to be.

Most people treat this room as a black box, a magic Eight Ball that has the supposed wisdom of their true self. This is because the outcome can become fairly predictable even though the mechanism seems mysterious. Complexity is, however, not a reason to shy away from self-discovery. Start by firstly identifying the forces (observe inner responses to a wide range of situations) and then methodically dissecting them into raw principles and finding their potencial origins. By reflecting on them you are able to make adjustments to your current foundation.

An effective strategy for reconditioning is ‘Black Bagging’ (See previous post) unwanted thoughts as they form, declaring your new view and quickly moving on.

This takes time and dedication; it is a slow disciplined process that requires continuous introspection. The more time you spend in this room the more you will develop a thought-driven lifestyle that will allow you a deeper understanding and control over your nature. Take time to think, organize and examine what happens around you. Making a specific alteration is heavily dependent on how deep you allowed yourself to go down the opposing rabbit-hole and how strongly you want to change.

The philosophy:
I am the result of past choices and experiences, my character and emotions are a result and not the origin of who I am. My life is my responsibility, even in areas influenced by others; I solely take responsibility for who I am today as well as working towards what I want to become.

1.       Change your thoughts, as they are the seeds that form your nature.
2.       Change your actions. Make conscious changes to align to new viewpoint.
3.       Allow the new actions to fall into predictable behavioral patterns.
4.       When the new view is in harmony between what you think, what you do and how you feel then you have successfully reconditioned yourself.

The longer you continue on this path the easier it will become. Do not get over confident in your ability to change. There is no easy removing of the old ways - only creating new ones over them. Avoid triggers that can pull you back e.g. fondly indulging memories that are in opposition to your current viewpoint.

The battle is in your mind and usually happens long before you are faced with a choice.